Art Spiegelman has been making the media rounds lately, promoting his line of comics for young readers. Toon Books are beautiful hardcover books aimed at readers between the ages of 5-8 or so. The goal of this series is to introduce very young readers to the comic book format. You may have noticed some of their earlier titles in book stores already (Silly Lilly, Otto's Orange Day, Benny and Penny). They are very eye-catching, and can potentially serve as the Beginner Books for a new generation. So, if you're looking for a quality Christmas gift for a young reader, I think any of the books Toon has put out would be good. I was sent three of the books to review, including Jack and the Box, which Spiegelman wrote and illustrated.
Jack and the Box was just released in comic shops this week. It's a very simple and surreal story of a young boy/bunny and his inability to control a fairy creepy-looking clown that keeps popping out of a box. The story is reminiscent of The Cat in the Hat, with the clown causing all sorts of trouble and messes when the boy's parents aren't looking. The art is really animated and fun, but I can't stop thinking about how much that clown would have scared me as a kid. But everything scared me.
Mo and Jo Fighting Together Forever by Dean Haspiel and Jay Lynch is a cute story about twins who are lucky enough to be given super powers. Their local super hero, the Mighty Mojo, decides to retire he gives his powers to the twins. The only catch: they have to share them. Mo gets elastic arms and Jo gets magnetic boots, meaning that they have to work together in order to equal the Mighty Mojo. Since these two fight about everything, it's a problem.
This is a fun book about cooperation and learning to love your sibling. Of the three books I was sent, it was the most like a traditional comic book, in terms of format, as well. I think this book would be a great way to get young readers started on super heroes at an early age.
Stinky by Eleanor Davis was my favourite of the three. The story is about a monster named Stinky who lives in a swamp on the outskirts of suburbia. He is afraid of humans, and is very agitated when a young boy builds a treehouse near his swamp. This book is really, really funny and has beautiful art. I was smiling the whole time I was reading it. It's also really adorable, especially as Stinky reluctantly befriends the boy, who is nothing but sweet and friendly to the monster.