Celebrate Father’s Day With Speyburn

speyburnWhen I get an email asking if I’d like to sample alcohol for review purposes, I respond with a hearty, “Yes please!” In other ways, I was ecstatic when I got an email asking if I wanted to check out a pair of Scottish whiskies from a company called Speyburn. I actually came home from a trip to Disney World — from the sun of Florida to the grayness of New York — to find the package waiting on my doorstep welcoming me back. It was a nice way to ease back in to regular life!

For a bit of Speyburn history, the company takes its name from the River Spey nearby. When the distillery was built back in 1897, the stones came directly from the river. To find out the closest distributor, head to the official site and pop in your zip code.

Above you can see both bottles with a shot poured of each, but for my first taste of each I actually poured about two fingers in a glass over my whisky stones. Now, I’m far from an expert on tasting spirits and explaining what makes each of them wildly unique, but I know what I like and I like both of these for a a few reasons.

Speyburn-10YO-LOW-res_2_0Let’s start with the Speyburn 10 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. According to the information I was given, this $29 bottle is described as having a “fresh, clean and aromatic with a rich lemony fruitiness” smell to it. The flavor is also described as having notes of toffee and butterscotch. I’ll be honest, the specific sweet notes didn’t light up the toffee and butterscotch sections of my tongue, but this one definitely has a cleaner, easier taste to it. There is a sweetness to it as well, but I can’t quite place what the sweetness reminds me of (maybe like a sweet coffee, but only just barely).

SPEYBURN-ARRANTA-PACK--LOWresUp next I tasted the $40-a-bottle Speyburn Arranta Casks Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Only available in the U.S., this spirit is created by using “first fill ex-bourbon casks” and comes with a more complex flavor. I personally don’t pick up on the citrus or honey notes in the description, but it is one of the more robust, fiery scotchs I’ve ever had. I’ll admit, at first it was a bit much for me, but the more I’ve sipped, the more I’ve come to really enjoy this one.

So, if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift — or gift for any Scotch drinker — you’ve got two solid choices here. I’d say the 10 Year Old works better as a smooth, clean sipping Scotch while the Arranta would be perfect for someone who’s a bit more adventurous and wants a wilder drinking experience.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop?

Dance Class panelI’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

dance class vol 1As usual, I picked up Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop? from the library. When my daughter checks out the computer games, I peruse the adjacent shelves of kid-oriented graphic novels. I’m trying to broaden my horizons in this arena by getting some books that might appeal more to her sensibilities. Since she’s taking a ballet/gymnastics class these days, Dance Class by French creators Beka and Crip from Papercutz seemed like a solid choice.

And it was actually pretty successful because she wanted to check this book out as soon as she saw it in the stack when we got home. I knew nothing about the comic, but we dove right in and she seemed to have a good time with it. The book actually has a lot of ties to the world of comic strips in that each page is a self contained gag or story, though some elements carry throughout like the performance of Sleeping Beauty and the dreamy new hip hop dance teacher (was this an Angelina Ballerina story too?). Like with Tiny Titans, I wasn’t sure if she would get the format or the gags, but she seemed to have a really good time with it.

dance class pageI must admit, I did find myself laughing at some of the jokes, which I wasn’t really expecting. I didn’t fully get into this book though because of a few characters and choices made in regards to them. First, there’s a young woman named Lucie who isn’t skinny as a rail (she looks like a normal kid, in other words) and she’s sometimes the butt of fat jokes. Many of those come from the mean girl character Carla. They’re far from the worst examples of either stereotype (as you can see in this panel), but I’m not super excited about presenting my kids with them, at least right now.

With that in mind, I planned on returning this book to the library and maybe not mentioning it again, but then I saw my daughter practicing her ballet movies with this book opened up to the page where they describe the different positions. I was blown away. So, I think I’ll maybe give these books a read-through ahead of time and note where some of the jokes I’m less comfortable with are so I can change or skip them when reading because she really seems to dig it right now.

Hey, Kids Comics! Scarygirl & The Creeps

adventures of scarygirlI had big plans for doing a series of Halloween-related posts here on the blog leading up to my favorite holiday, but it just didn’t happen thanks to that whole parenting thing and work getting in the way. I did, however, do some all-ages, Halloween themed reading that is worth posting about thanks to some books I picked up at the library.

The Adventures Of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius grabbed my attention just from the cover. I love cartoony art styles in comics and this book has it all over the place. The story itself follows the misadventures of the title character who makes friends with a sea monster and a somewhat magical rabbit. She wants to find out why she was dumped in the woods, remembering the face of a specific man, and heads towards his location. The adventure is fraught with betrayal, threats and other dangers that eventually make Scarygirl realize that this man might not be the source of enlightenment she hoped for.

Here’s the thing, though, this book is presented without dialogue. There are some sound effects in here and there are speech bubbles, but they’re filled with images of people and places or a handful of symbols. Even as a 32 year old adult who’s read comic books for a third of his life, I had some trouble following a few of the details, so I’m not sure if that will make it better or worse for a younger reader. I showed my 4-year-old some of the pictures and she dug the style, but she wasn’t too interested. When I read her other comics, I know she can get a bit lost as to which panel I’m reading from and she should be focusing on, so this one might not be the best choice. On the other hand, though, a lack of words might break down some barriers for kids, so I’d recommend checking this one out and presenting it to your kids. If they don’t get too freaked out by some of the pages, they might be all up for this one.

Speaking of the pages, dang this artwork is just gorgeous. While reading the book I found myself wishing I could play it like a video game. I must not have been the only one because it is also a video game that I now very much want to play. Has anyone played it?

the creeps vol 1 night of the frankenfrogsI was also very quickly and easily drawn to Chris Schweizer’s The Creeps Volume 1 Night Of The Frankenfrogs. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I love the films of the 80s aimed at kids that put them in real danger like Monster Squad, The Goonies, Cloak & Dagger, E.T. and even The Gate. I got that vibe just from the cover of this book from Amulet Books and was not disappointed.

The Creeps centers around a quartet of outcasts each with a specific set of skills that helps them rid their town of supernatural and sci-fi threats. These kids try to save the world from frakenfrogs while avoiding the rest of their classmates who hate them and dealing with the bad guys behind the infestation.

Again, I showed this one to my daughter but she wasn’t ready to make the commitment to a graphic novel. Still, she seemed to like the look of the characters and was appropriately grossed out by the monsters. To my mind, this book feels like it would fit in with the first batch of original Nickelodeon cartoons from the 90s like Doug, Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats. If that sounds like it might be up your kids’ alley (or yours) then go ahead and give this one a shot!

DC Super Hero Girls Looks Rad!

dc super hero girls 1DC Super Hero Girls is here and I’m already a big fan! The cross-platform initiative plans to take many of DC Entertainment’s popular female characters, re-envision them for a younger crowd and make them easily accessible to kids, specifically young girls. The general idea was announced in the past few months, but USA Today scored the first look at the roll out this afternoon. dc super hero girls cover

DCSHG will come to life in a variety of arenas. There’s a cartoon presented in webisode chunks (the first one is here) from WB Animation plus a line of toys from Mattel, comics from DC, books from Random House and a variety of other offerings that will presumably make themselves known through the official website.

As you can see in the aforementioned animation, the general conceit here is that all of these young heroes attend the same high school where they’re trained how to use their abilities for good. It sounds like a mix of Ultimate Spider-Man and Monster High or the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies. dc super hero girls 2

From checking out the character page of the official site, it looks like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batgirl, Katana and Bumblebee will take center stage, but others like Catwoman, Cheetah, Hawkgirl, Star Sapphire, Beast Boy and Hal Jordan will also appear. Follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to go through each of them, read through their bios and even click around to see their specific powers and abilities.

The characters will also make their way to toy aisles thanks to Mattel’s action dolls. USA Today got the first look at these. Above you can see the foot-tall versions of Wonder Woman and Supergirl alongside the 6-inch takes on Harley and Bumblebee!

As a lifelong fan of comic books — specifically the ones published by DC — I’m very excited about the track that DC and WB are taking with this concept. Ultimately, I wish we didn’t have to make such a big effort to create entertainment that doesn’t alienate girls from the world of super heroes, but this seems like a really solid move. My daughter already has a good deal of comic-related toys in her ever-growing collection, but the fact that more will be aimed specifically at her is aces in my book!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 101 Featuring Geof Grubb

pop poppa nap cast logoOn the 101st episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast, I’m joined by my longtime friend and internet superstar Geof Grubb. You can check out his Reddit (I don’t really know what that means) here and also the Instagram account he set up for the patches he draws on for his daughter Layla every day here. In the episode we talk about everything from being stay-at-home dads to the joys of spending some mindless decompression time with video games.

There aren’t much in the way of show notes this time around, so I’ll embarrass both of us by posting this picture of Geof and I from high school. This is us before prom our senior year. I cut out the ladies because I haven’t seen them in over a decade.

geof and me prom senior year

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 100

pop poppa nap cast logo

Hi Gang, welcome to the 100th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. I have an awesome guest with me this time and it’s my amazing wife Emily! This episode follows a brand new format and I think it’s pretty snazzy! If you want to compare this episode the first one, you can listen to it here.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the outline we were working on off of the big board:

ppnc 100 big board

And this is a picture of what my wife calls a Boyfriend Pillow, but what Target calls a Bed Rest Pillow.

boyfriend pillow

Meanwhile, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is far more entertaining than Babes In Toyland.

bedknobs and broomsticks posterPAW Patrol continues to entertain the kid and, literally the day after recording, I saw that they have another female dog who shows up every now and then called Everest, so that’s something.

paw patrol everestI thought Adventures Time Season 5 was parentally informative, but Em’s still not a big fan of our 4 year old watching it. We’re both not sure about Monster High.

jake the dadBook-wise, I’m a big fan of all three of these, even if Jack thinks books should all have touchscreens. Frozen Fever: Anna’s Birthday Surprise, Joy’s Greatest Joy/Simply Sadness and Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! are aces in my book.

When it comes to toys the Funko Mystery Mini Kyle from Despicable Me 2, DC Collectibles’ Krypto, Doc McStuffins Mobile Cart and the Little Tikes Big Dog Truck have all been big hits in our house.

Unfortunately, these two have seen better days, so I’m going to try cleaning them up with some Clearasil Stayclear Vanishing Acne Cream as suggested on this site. I’ll let you know how it goes.

blemished barbies

This week’s Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval goes to Jack’s favorite toy, the Kid O Hide and Seek Discs!

Drive-In Fun Times: Minions (2015)

minions

I remember watching Despicable Me with my wife back before we had kids and enjoying the movie, but not thinking much of it after that. By the time the sequel came out, our daughter had basically taken control of the television and it was nearly guaranteed that we watched the DreamWorks film on a regular basis. So, when Minions came out earlier this summer, we wanted to get her to the theaters to see it. Luckily, my dad was up for the task and took her a few weeks ago. But, they weren’t the only ones who wanted to catch it on the big screen, so when my wife and I saw that one of the local drive-ins was doing a Minions/Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation double bill, we jumped at the chance (my M:I 5 can be read here if you’re interested).

minions poster 2I’ve got to admit, though, I had no idea what this movie was about thanks to the commercials. I knew from covering movies for a living that it was some kind of prequel to DM, but that was about it aside from some odd scenes of a trio of Minions running around what looked like a British palace.

So, here’s the deal: the Minions evolved to serve the most despicable thing around. They did alright for a while, but after a series of dead masters, they found themselves holed up in some frozen mountains yearning for leadership. Three of their number — Kevin, Stuart and Bob — set out to find a new overlord and eventually come to find Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) who wants the British crown for herself. From there you get accidental betrayal, Minions in a palace and an epic fight at the end.

minions poster Minions did an excellent job of continuing on the fun and tone of the DM movies — which both feature a good deal of heart along with the out-there, sci-fi-tinged antics that come from classic movies and cartoons. I love how they were able to take those elements and portray them through a historical context that ties back into the main films by the end. In other words, this is one of the better prequels around because it didn’t get too caught up in the specific gags and events that made the first two movies popular, but instead carried on the tone and heart to its logical conclusion.

All that being said, I now hope that SPOILER Gru & The Minions becomes an animated series that I can watch with my kids on Netflix or something because that dynamic right there — mad scientist boy with nearly unlimited help — is perfect for ongoing antics.

 

Blu-Review: Adventure Time Season Five

adventure time complete fifth season blurayI realized something today: I’ve never properly written about Adventure Time here on Pop Poppa. I’ve compared everything from other cartoons and comics to the longrunning series created by Pendleton Ward, but haven’t really gotten into it much over here. I also reviewed the Blu-rays of the first two seasons, but that was over on UnitedMonkee.

In that post, I talked about how I first heard about the show and how much I appreciated and even loved the big, bright elements seen thanks to the fantastic Blu-ray presentation. That’s all still here in the fifth season, which originally aired between 2012 and 2014 in addition to the rad friendships and relationships between our heroes Finn and Jake.

I also mentioned how much my then-2-year-old daughter liked watching the first two seasons, which is still the case, though she’s far more taken with the larger number of kids channels we have after moving into a house last year. She still asked to put the Season One and Two Blus in from time to time, which raised a few eyebrows from my mom who watches the kids over here on a daily basis. When she was 2 I wasn’t worried about some of the heavier material, especially the stuff between Marceline and her dad or the episodes featuring the ultra spooky Lich because so much of that flies over their heads at that age. I would frequently ask if she was okay with what she was seeing and she’d say yes, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. Continue reading

DC Entertainment Offers Super Back To School Supplies

When I was a kid, there weren’t a lot of fun ways to show that you were a superhero fan. In the 80s and 90s, the heroes were somewhat well known, but nowhere near as ubiquitous as they are today. To give you an idea, it took over a year for me to find a shirt with a simple Superman symbol on it whereas today you have several options just at Target alone.

So, when I got an email from the fine folks over at Warner Bros. Consumer Products about a whole batch of superhero-themed back-to-school products for girls and boys I was equally excited and jealous. I would have LOVED a Superman lunchbox when I was a kid! But, I’m even more excited that my daughter will have her choice between Batman, Superman, Batgirl and Wonder Woman ones from Thermos when she goes back to school! Jinkies, there’s even a Scooby-Doo one. All five of these are well insulated and padded to keep lunches safe, while the superhero versions also come with a smaller zipper compartment along the bottom.

But, school’s about more than just lunch (apparently). To get all of those pesky books to school, you can use Fast Forward Inc.’s Supergirl or Batgirl Mini Backpacks or the Batman one which comes with a lunchkit.

Finally, dig these last few accessories. The Accutime Cape Watches featuring Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman will allow your kid to count down the minutes to recess all on their own. Meanwhile, the Batgirl Vaultz Locking Binder Pouches actually come with a combo lock to keep your phone, cash and other supplies from falling into the wrong hands and the Batman Vaultz Locking Pencil Box looks like it’ll keep your stuff secure while still looking like it came right out of the Batcave!

Real talk? I’m 32 and been out of school for about a decade, but I’ve got my eye on that Superman lunchbox, the Wonder Woman watch and the Batman box. Head on to your local school supply retailers or online to get while the getting is good.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 99

pop poppa nap cast logo

The crazy-delayed 99th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast is finally here, even though it was recorded nearly a month ago! Just push play to hear about surviving a sick house, going “down the Shore,” one crazy night and my first official comic book pitch!

The comic shop I mentioned visiting is called October Country. It’s in New Paltz and it’s rad.

lavalletteThis is what Lavallette, NJ looks like. It was pretty great, I’d definitely go back.

mermin 004I mentioned looking up the Oni site for a review I wrote for a great comic called Mermin. Check that out here and my take on the next two books here.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back for the next episode, but I’ve got a few fun things planned to celebrate the hundredth episode! Stay tuned!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Mermin Books 2 & 3

mermin book 3 am i doing it panel

I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

mermin book 2 the big catchAfter being drawn to the first volume of Joey Weister’s Mermin from Oni Press, I was already excited bout the next two books. As it happened, I was able to score Mermin Book 2: The Big Catch and Mermin Book 3: Deep Dive from the library and tore through them. To give a bit of a recap, the first volume found Mermin, prince of the underwater city of Mer heading to the surface where he started palling around with some kids.

The Big Catch picks up immediately afterwards with Mermin’s underwater pal Benni and fellow grade schooler Penny joining up with Mermin’s group of friends. While they deal with bullies and other usual school stuff, there’s also a pair of self appointed paranormal investigators trying to prove that our boy is an alien. This all comes together at the end as Mermin faces off against one of the agents in a homemade mech suit before ending in a cliffhanger revealing that he needs to return home!

mermin book 3 deep diveWhich, of course, leads right into the third book which finds Mermin bringing his pals underwater to Mer where tensions with neighboring Atlantis are taut as a fishing line. While there, the kids learn more and more about Mermin, his family and the deal with his brother. Without giving too much away, this one ends on an even bigger cliffhanger that takes Mermin’s friend Pete away to Atlantis!

Even without such an Empire Strikes Back-esque ending, I’d be hooked on this series because I love the kids — from Pete’s nervousness to Penny’s amazing courage — and am fully intrigued when it comes to the hows and whys of Mermin’s self-imposed exile on the surface. Weiser’s cartooning and storytelling chops continue to impress and stay incredibly consistent throughout all three books lending a continuity between all three volumes that makes it feel like one whole thing. The third book also allows Weiser to expand the visual look of the book which sounds like it will continue into the next, which hits in September.

In the red flag department, these next two volumes are pretty consistent with the first. There’s a bully kid named Randy who is a total jerk, the talked-about death of a particular character (who I think will pop up eventually) and more fisticuffs, but not anything more than you might see on an average Cartoon Network adventure series. Speaking of which, I’d love to see a Mermin cartoon if anyone’s paying attention. There’s a mountain of goodness to be mined here for a multi-season series.

This Week’s Menu: Quinoa, Ribs, Grilled Meat & More!

this weeks menu 7-6-15 I miss writing about food, you guys. I took all this time around Christmas to import my old food blog Monkeying Around The Kitchen over here and really haven’t taken advantage of the new digs. So, in an effort to get back on the horse, I figured I’d tip everyone off to the week’s upcoming menu on Monday and return to it either at the end of this week or early next. I also started writing the menu on this old chalkboard-painted pizza pan my mother-in-law gave me so we’ve got a nice visual.

A few weeks back I got all the ingredients for One Pan Mexican Quinoa from Damn Delicious. I’ve made this a few times before and it’s not just easy, but a great dinner that works well for a Meatless Monday if you’re down with that. I also appreciate how this one comes mostly from canned or boxed products meaning you can swing back around to it if you don’t get to it when planned. I will also be returning to the excellent Chicken Asiago Pasta from Chef Mickey.

Another pick-up for this week will be The Crockin’ Girls’ My Crock of Ribs using the St. Louis variety which were on sale last week. I’ll be doing this one on Thursday when I’m home along with the kids (if I remember to get them in the Crock Pot on time).

After I get everything ready for the quinoa dish tonight, I’m also going to work on the brine for Grilled Pork Chops with Corn, Tomatoes and Basil from Cooking Channel and grill that up tomorrow. Finally, as you can see, we will have some grilled beef. along with a vegetable. What kind? Not sure yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

5 Terrifying Things About The World Of Special Agent Oso

special agent osoFor the past six years parents have been half-watching the misadventures of Oso, a yellow bear who works for an organization known as U.N.I.Q.U.E. (The United Network for the Investigation of Quite Usual Events). He helps children figure out basic tasks like brushing their teeth and cleaning their rooms using Three Simple Steps. Kids love how Oso struggles with the same problems as their cartoon counterparts, but upon repeating viewings, it has become clear to me that the world of Special Agent Oso features some incredibly disturbing and potentially disastrous elements. Let’s discuss the five most prominent, shall we? Continue reading

Hey, Kids Comics! – Three Thieves Book One: Tower Of Treasure

three thieves tower of treasure panelI’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

three thieves tower of treasureI’ve had my eye on Scott Chantler’s Three Thieves Book One: Tower of Treasure for a while now. It’s on the top shelf of my library’s kid-friendly graphic novel section and I found myself drawn to it thanks to the title (which reminds me of an Indiana Jones installment) and the young heroine on the cover. I like how she’s dodging arrows on her own, but also worried about the situation as a whole.

Opening the book, I was treated to a tight cartooning style that reminds me of older newspaper strip artists but with a precise modern viewpoint. The clean coloring and composition of the book make it a big, bright, fun adventure on the whole even though there are several dark moments for our heroine and her pals to survive.

TowerofTreasureOnline_pg041Speaking of the heroine, her name is Dessa Redd and she’s an acrobat in a traveling circus along with her friends and coworkers Topper and Fisk. She has a mysterious past that involves a kidnapped younger brother that catches up with her during a performance that goes awry. Blamed by the circus folk for ruining their latest meal ticket, she decides to go along with Topper’s plan to rob the nearby treasure tower to make up for her earlier mistake. Given her acrobatic skills, she has relative ease making her way through the traps set up by the mysterious Greyfalcon, but the heist does not go off without a hitch and our heroes have to figure out a way to avoid capital punishment.

I’m personally not a fan of faux-medieval fantasy stories, but this one sticks more to the real world adventure (traps, escapes, treasure) than the mythical which I appreciate. It’s kind of a mix of the aforementioned Indiana Jones vibe and something like Princess Bride. The fantasy motifs allow for more interesting-looking characters like Topper and Fisk, but don’t take away from the reality of the situation which is pretty serious for the titular Three Thieves.

That’s also the biggest red flag of the book for parents. The main characters are threatened with hunger and death at various points and the Queen is an all around awful human being, but I would put this on the same level of your average Disney movie. Actually, while reading this book I kept thinking that it would make an awesome movie. I try not to get too far into that headspace when reading comics, because it’s not the point, but a live action version of this would be AMAZING, especially given the prominence of the young female character. I’d be stoked to take my daughter to see Tower Of Treasure on the big screen.

Anyway, Chantler’s world feels so lived in and interesting that I just want more of it, which is good because I’ve got the second and third books sitting here waiting to be read! If you want to check out more about Three Thieves, head over to the official website where you can actually read pages from the story to see if it’s up your and your kids’ alley.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Mermin Book 1: Out Of The Water

mermin 004

I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

mermin book 1 out of the waterEvery week or so, I head to the library with my daughter. She likes to start the visit by playing the kiddie games on the computers, which works out great for me because it’s right near the kids’ graphic novel section. I’m always looking for new books to check out and Joey Weiser’s Mermin Book One: Out Of Water practically jumped off the shelf at me. Ever since He-Man, I’ve been a big fan of merpeople and The Creature is my favorite of the Universal Monsters, so why not read what looked like a kid-friendly version of that?

This graphic novel from Oni is rated A for everyone according to their internal system and follows the adventures of Mermin, a merperson from Mer who appears on the beach one day and winds up going home with a kid as a thank you for saving his life. That in and of itself sounds like the set-up of a great 80s movie, but there’s also a mystery because Mermin doesn’t want to go anywhere near the water. Hmm, what could that be about?

mermin 013Well, I won’t spoil the mystery, but I thought Weiser strung it out at a nice clip while also putting Mermin and his pals through some of the usual trials and tribulations that come with school and kids not always being open to newcomers. There are plenty of solid lessons to be found in this book about acceptance, understanding, empathy, exploration and friendship without being hamfisted about them.

So let’s get into red flag territory. There is a degree of violence and destruction in this comic. A trio of Mermin’s fellows from Mer show up to bring him home and a battle that threatens his human friends in various ways ensues. While the situation remains serious (both to the story and in tone), it’s kept fairly cartoony. Basically, if you’re kid watches shows like Adventure Time, you’ll probably be okay with them checking out this book.

Speaking of the cartoony artwork, I love Weiser’s style. The figures are simple, but emotive and easy to love. When I had this book from the library my daughter wasn’t interested in reading comics (which has thankfully changed after a trip to the comic shop last weekend but I did show her the cover and a few pages. She seemed instantly drawn to Mermin and his friends. The cartoon-like nature of the characters makes it easy for kids who are used to those kinds of images from TV and storybooks to be drawn into a story even in a different format.

Overall, I give Mermin Book One a big thumbs up and recommend you give it a try. I’m going to see if my four-year-old’s interest in comics continues and will get this one back from the library to see how she likes it. Meanwhile, I’m going to move on to the next two books in the series and see where it goes from here!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 98

pop poppa nap cast logoGood golly it’s been a long time since I did one of these! The 98th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast features some stuff I recorded back in April and then follows it up with an update from this week! It’s not a complete update, but you’ll get the deets on both kids’ birthday parties, the swingset construction and more!

kite day

Guys, first off, Kite Day was more fun than I expected. Kites are rad, even cheapo ones from the drug store (just don’t get those crazy-long tails tangled up).

crawfishSpeaking of rad, crawfish parties are in that same category. I really miss hanging out with my friends, so these get-togethers are super important to me.

Both the Princess Power Barbie doll and DVD get the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval from this guy!

Charlie-and-Lola_0I talked about the Charlie & Lola cartoons back in PPNC #84, but here’s a look at the artwork I mentioned.

Charlie and Lola art sample

Birthdays! Cakes make kids even cuter. It’s a law of nature.

lu's partyHere‘s the list of tips I came up with for throwing a solid pre-schooler birthday party. It’s pretty much the best thing you’ll read all day.

organized garage

And finally, behold the glory of a more organized garage!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

10 Tips For Throwing A Successful Pre-School Birthday Party

swingsetA few weeks back we celebrated our daughter’s fourth birthday with a lot of her friends from school. I don’t mind saying that it was a huge success and I take basically no responsibility for that. My wife was the mastermind behind the festivities from invitations to decorations and games, but she doesn’t have a blog and I do, so I’m the one who’s going to throw down some advice. Continue reading