Sometime last spring, Mariam discovered an old copy of a Calvin and Hobbes anthology on the shelf in our living room. And that was that. Since that day, it has been all comics all the time around here, with the occasional break taken to tear through a Nancy Drew mystery as needed. We've gone on library trips with the sole purpose of collecting Peanuts anthologies, there is almost always a Tintin book with us in the car when we go out to run errands or drive to a violin lesson. And, as you may already know, the latest issue of Alphabet Glue has a special feature on kid-friendly comics and graphic novels, complete with printable templates for making your own comic books.
Part of the reason that I decided to put together a list of comics and graphic novels that I found to be family friendly was because the recent rise in popularity of graphic novels has resulted in more and more libraries stocking a bigger selection of them, but not always knowing how to shelve them. They look like they are for kids- they are filled with cartoons, afterall- but a lot of them are definitely not for kids. As a parent of a relatively sensitive soul, I've found it to be helpful to have a list of graphic novels that she can pick up at the library without my having to reach behind her back to pull them out of the book bag.
When researching my list of graphic novels for Volume Eight, I came across Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires. I immediately knew that it was going to be a winner from the perspective of my eight year old cat enthusiast. And indeed, Mariam picked it up and read it front to back right away. The Binky series tells the story of an erstwhile housecat, trapped in a house with clueless humans who completely fail to recognize the fact that he is their only protection from a dangerous alien invasion. There are any number of jokes that the reader gets to be in on here, not least of all the fact that the "aliens" are actually just houseflies and that the text, which tells the story from Binky's perspective, is delightfully out of sync with the images in the cartoon panels themselves. In other words, Binky isn't quite understanding his situation as well as he would like us to think, and I love the way that this encourages young readers to really look at what the story is telling us rather than just taking the narrator's perspective at face value. Look at that! It's not just a comic; it's training for reading the classics!
The Binky books boast clever illustrations with clean lines and fun details, as well as stories that kids with a variety of interests are likely to find compelling. From ideas about space travel to the conundrum of well-meaning, ridiculous pet love, there is plenty here to please your crowd. I found that I enjoyed this one almost as much as Mariam. These books are newer, so library availability may be limited, but they are certainly worth looking for if you have comic enthusiasts under your roof.