Rae’s Recs: All-Ages Comics Recap for FCBD

Has it been a month already? Time flies when you’re reading great comics. Collected below for your convenience are all of our resident expert Rae’s all-ages comics recs so far:

Created by James Sturm, Birdsong is a unique book in a few ways. The most obvious of ways is that it is told in the form of Kamishibai – Japanese paper theater. The story has no words, simply a series of beautifully rendered illustrations. Two cruel children are turned into monkeys and witness the cruelty of the world through new eyes in this story, but without words to guide us and tell what the exact meanings are, we’re free to choose how we understand the more specific details. This book is great for parents to read with their kids, deciding what things mean and learning the lesson of kindness together. This story may not teach your child bigger words or help with pronunciation, but it does an amazing job of developing ideas and understanding, as well as promoting critical thinking in all ages. (5/4/17)

Cover image KaBOOM!

Published by KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, Brave Chef Brianna is created by Sam Sykes and Selina Espiritu. This book follows, you guessed it, a brave little chef named Brianna, the youngest and only girl in her family of chefs vying to win their father’s cooking empire, legacy, and fortune by opening the best restaurant. She’s already at a disadvantage from being the most inexperienced, but when she takes a chance on a place called Monster City, she has to fight against both being an outsider and not quite knowing the laws were real laws. The art in this book is astounding, with creative and fun monsters making appearances all the time. What really strikes me, though, is the manifestation of her anxiety and self doubt into a visual format. It’s something I struggle with often myself, and to see it represented in a way that’s so familiar to me makes me really identify with Brianna, and I hope allows other people to see how those thoughts affect daily life and aspirations. This book’s second issue came out just yesterday, so there is still plenty of time to snag the first two! (4/6/17)

Cover Image Disney Comics

Produced by Disney Comics and Joe Books LTD, the Disney Princess series by Amy Mebberson has been a delight in every single issue. Each issue contains several short stories, typically four panels long, that takes place in or around the movies themselves. They don’t need to be read in order, nor do you have to have all of them to make a coherent story. The first five issues have already been collected into trade format, but because each issue contains many princesses, the new releases have been focusing on compiling each princess’s story into her own issue! This is a fun, cute series for any Disney fan, whether they are growing up with it now or grew up with it long ago. (4/13/17)

Cover Image BOOM! Studios

One of my favorite comics of all time, Jonesy is produced by BOOM! Studios. With the story by Sam Humphries and art by Susan Boyle, this story follows a young girl with the power to make anyone fall in love with anyone – or anything – aside from herself. Young and irresponsible, Jonesy uses this power in selfish and sometimes hurtful ways. Despite her mistakes, she makes friends and learns a lot each time. (Although, it does take a few tries before those lessons stick sometimes!) This book is fun not only in premise, but also in the fact that we get to watch a protagonist who is not necessarily a hero become a better person. Jonesy also features a diverse and accepting cast of characters, which makes this a great book to share with kids who don’t live in a world that’s like the one we see on most pages and screens. (4/13/17)

Cover image KaBOOM! Comics

From KaBOOM! Comics comes Mega Princess, written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Brianne Drouhard. In this fun and exciting story for kids, we meet Princess Maxine on her birthday. Like all princesses, she meets her fairy godmother and is gifted with the power of a princess, but not just any power. She’s gifted with all the powers of princesses everywhere. The only issue is that Maxine doesn’t even want to be a princess. She wants to be a detective! Soon after gaining her powers, though, her little brother Baby Bobs disappears! With the whole kingdom in a tizzy, Maxine goes investigating with her trusty, albeit kind of rude, pony to find him and bring in the culprit! (4/20/17)

Nameless City is more of a “mature” book than most of those that I include on the all ages listings, but it’s one that I feel very strongly about. Not for mature themes or anything graphic, but because the content is something younger kids who may still be new to reading won’t grasp readily. This book is, however, great for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra. Set in a valuable port city, its protagonist Kaidu is a member of the most recent in a line of invaders. In his interest to learn more about the city, he meets the local resident Rat, finding that there’s more to this city and it’s culture than his people have ever believed. The more he learns about the people, though, the more he realizes how mistreated they are. This story is a vibrant and beautiful tale of young people learning about one another’s cultures and ways. There’s nothing in this book that would specify it to be for older audiences, but I would urge parents to be ready to answer a few questions about vocabulary words and what this book tells us about the world around us every day. Written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks, colored by Jordie Bellaire, this comic is very visually similar to the Nickelodeon shows so many of us grew up on, but with less magic and a lot more running on rooftops. (4/27/17)

A manga series for all ages, Non Non Biyori is a cute, fun series that takes places in the tiny little country town of Asahigaoka. Hotaru has just moved from Tokyo to this sleepy country village to find that she is not only the only kid her age – there are only three other kids in the whole town. This sweet slice of life story follows these kids of all different ages hanging out, playing, and going to class. If it doesn’t sound very exciting – that’s a little bit of the point. If you or you kiddo like things that are fun and cute, this is a great story that’s a few volumes long. Similar to books like Yotsuba! and Sweetness and Lightning, writer and artist Atto takes a lot of the small parts of childhood and brings them back to life on the page. When you’re young, sometimes nothing exciting has to happen for you to be excited. (5/4/17)

Cover image First Second

Science Comics: Bats, published by First Second and created by Falynn Koch. I haven’t yet met a Science Comic I didn’t like, but this one hit really close to home for me. (There’s a whole page about Austin, TX in there!) I’m always a fan of learning new things, but I’m even more a fan of learning things in a way that is more than just reading facts off of a page. Koch used her graphic novel to impart information to me that I never knew and never would have remembered on my own. Each character is unique while still being just another bat we can learn about and the linear format of the storytelling made it easier to retain the information. If your kiddo likes animals or science, I would highly recommend this book, and if they’re scared of bats at all, I recommend it even more. It dispels a lot of myths about the furry little creatures and gives us a look at how they help us and how we can help them. (4/6/17)

Cover image, kaboom!

At this point, most people are familiar with Steven Universe, especially if they’re interested in any kind of all-ages merchandise. There’s a great new comics series for the Cartoon Network show out now from kaBOOM! Publishers, too! The cartoon was created by Rebecca Sugar and the comic is written by Melanie Gillman and drawn by Katy Farina. This fun, sweet comic doesn’t hold any specific continuity with the other comics or with the show, so even if you’re very far behind (like me) it doesn’t throw readers for a loop. Definitely pick up an issue of this soon, and if you missed the first or second one, that’s okay! They’re all stand-alone short stories, fun for anyone. (4/27/17)

Cover image, BOOM! Comics

Teen Dog is a short, simple, positive comic brought to us by BOOM! Comics and Jake Lawrence as both writer and artist. Teen Dog is the coolest in school, be they dog or person, and is best friends with Mariella, who is just about equally cool. This book is good, sweet fun and full of pizza, skateboarding, and accepting all types of people for exactly who they are. This book reminds me of an Archie comic set in the 90’s, but with far less love shenanigans and way more understanding. (4/20/17)

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