Most weeks, the girl child is fairly uninterested in the title choices that I make for my Library Monday posts. I may, for example, ask her if there is something that we've read lately that she thinks I should write about, and she will answer something along the lines of "Oh, I don't know. Go look at my bookshelf." So, when she tells me that I should share a particular book or series with you, I figure that I should listen up and comply. I think of it as a nice way to respect her choices as a reader and to validate the fact that I think she has good taste. She likes that. And thus, I introduce to you the Cul de Sac comic strips, written and illustrated by Richard Thompson.
I think that I first happened upon Cul de Sac when Lori mentioned that her kids had really loved them. We don't currently read the newspaper at our house, so I hadn't seen the actual strip in a comics section and wasn't familiar with it. I trust Lori's taste pretty implicitly though (she's wicked funny but also very kind), and when the books went on sale on Amazon (I think they are still only $5.00!), I bought a couple for Mariam.
She has had her nose buried in them ever since.
Cul de Sac follows the comic adventures of preschooler Alice Otterloop, and the neurotic, hilarious family and friends that surround her. And as far as Mariam is concerned, the strips have it all. Gentle but intelligent humor, super quirky characters who have interactions that are really and truly funny and unexpected. Alice gives speeches atop manhole covers about a four year old's perspective on life, while her brother recreates the history of mankind in shoebox dioramas. There is even a guinea pig, something which I believe to be a strong indicator of good literature in my daughter's world view.
One of the things that I'm enjoying the most about our burgeoning collection of Cul de Sac anthologies is the fact that the comics have such broad appeal. Mariam loves the expressive illustrations and the face value humor of the storylines. I find myself chuckling at the references to the bland sameness of surburban life which is punctuated in such hilarious ways by our general ridiculousness as human beings. There have been occasions where a particular strip just seemed so true and so funny that I had to read it through three or four times and just appreciate the brilliance of it.
There is a whole lot to be said for books that use gentle humor to remind us to have a little chuckle at our own expense, as well as for comic strips that let us spend a few minutes eavesdropping on a bunch of kids chatting as they dig a hole to Disney World. There is a good reason why my kid is keeping a stack of Cul de Sac books in her bunkbed with a flashlight nearby.