We’ve finally hit the sweet spot in my house where we’re doing nightly reading with the kids — dubbed Books & Bed, yes I’m a professional writer — and they want to check out comics! I’m sure I’ve talked about this here and there, but actually reading comics with kids can be a little tricky. Even if they’re interested in the format, leading them along in the right order and keeping them invested for what can be a longer reading experience, can lead to boredom or even frustration. Now that our oldest is reading more and more on her own and has had a fair amount of experience with comics, though, she’s a lot more interested.
And that means I’m buying more kids comics, which I’m pretty stoked about. Over the summer we spent some time at my inlaws’ place and I found myself with an afternoon to myself and a new comic book shop called Midgard Comics & Games to explore! I usually dive through longboxes looking for random 90s comics that I’ve always been curious about, but that time I decided to lean into the kid’s rejuvenated love of the medium and walked away with Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones as well as the second volume of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, which I will get to in a later post.
One of my favorite aspects of parenthood is connecting my kids to the pieces of entertainment I enjoyed so much as a child. For every positive Honey, Shrunk The Kids experience, though, there are plenty of shows, books or movies that they just don’t get into. I’m going to keep trying, though.
A few years ago, I realized that I didn’t have any Roald Dahl books on hand for when my kids decided they wanted to get into longer form stories instead of just picture books. I lucked out and got a good batch of them in an eBay auction. Since then, my wife and daughter have read through The BFG, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Matilda and a few others. Our son likes the idea of reading chapter books, but doesn’t always have the attention span.
While cleaning out my car, I found a tome that I figured might work for him: Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile. I didn’t know anything about this book which was originally published in 1977, but soon realized that it was both short and packed with Quentin Blake’s illustrations! It seemed like a great middle ground for our son, so we gave it a whirl and he loved it! Continue reading
Before my daughter started kindergarten, we began a much more structured nighttime routine that involves watching a little TV with me while my wife puts our son to bed and then a few books in her room. We call this Books and Bed because we’re super creative. My daughter’s always been interested in books, but this new process has really boosted her interest, so I’m on the look out for new stories to dive into.
While perusing the aisles of the kids section at my local library I saw Carl Warner’s A World Of Food standing on top of the shelves and it immediately grabbed my attention. I mean, just look at this thing! I’d never heard of Warner, but I was super-impressed with his ability to craft these amazing landscapes out of food!
The story itself consists of a series of poems about what the world would be like if it were made out of foods of a certain color (orange is above). The rhymes are nice but they really accentuate the images by partially explaining what kinds of foods are in there. When I read this book to both kids, we definitely spent more time pointing out the items than reading. As you might imagine pink, brown and white (candy, chocolate and vanilla ice cream) were all very popular with them, but I was particularly impressed with silver which features a whole sea made out of fish.
I definitely recommend checking out Warner’s work — you can read more about him on his site — and I’ve already requested another one of his books from the library (and will keep an eye out for them at book stores/online). World Of Food would be an even better pick for kids who have an interest in cooking or food. I was impressed with how many items my kids were able to spot, but now they’re interested in couscous (which they’ve had, but didn’t recognize). As the cook in the family, I’m all for further food curiosity.
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:
And this is a picture of what my wife calls a Boyfriend Pillow, but what Target calls a Bed Rest Pillow.
Meanwhile, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is far more entertaining than Babes In Toyland.
I 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.
Book-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.
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.
This week’s Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval goes to Jack’s favorite toy, the Kid O Hide and Seek Discs!
Good 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!
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).
I 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.
Here‘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.
And finally, behold the glory of a more organized garage!
Every time I go to the library with my daughter I scope out the kid’s graphic novel section which sits adjacent to the computers and play tables she loves to frequent. I walked away the other day with a pretty solid haul, all of which happen to be written and drawn by influential comic book professionals.
Written and drawn by James Kochalka, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza is a fun comic book story about an alien and his talking backpack. Our hero gets what seems like a wrong number phone call ordering a pizza, but decides its his duty to actually make it happen, so he sets out on a wacky journey that introduces him to a new friend and a gigantic magic robot. It’s very much in the fun, crazy, surreal vein of other Kochalka works like Dragon Puncher and Johnny Boo when it comes to both artwork and story.
The 110 page book from First Second is a fun romp that might remind you of Adventure Time or something in that vein. As usual, I read these things before seeing if my three year old daughter is interested and I think I’m going to skip this one for now with her. There is a tiny bit of cartoon violence in there that and some talk of death — both of which are in Adventure Time, now that I think about it — but there’s a crazy twist at the end that I really don’t think she’d get right now. Maybe next year.
Two more quick things about Kochalka. First, if you do read this book, pass it to your kid and she or he digs it, make sure to check out his other books before passing them along. I mentioned Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher above which are both kids books, but he also does adult work like Magic Boy, his journal comic American Elf and (hopefully) obviously SuperF*ckers that you might not want to pass along just yet. Secondly, American Elf fully inspired me to start doing Photo Diary back in 2011.
Up next we have Jeff Smith’s adorable Little Mouse Gets Ready which won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor according to a shiny sticker on the copy I borrowed. This is an offering from Toon Books aimed at kids my daughter’s age as it shows a young mouse getting ready to go play in the barn with his mom, brothers and sisters.
I’m embarrassed to say that I still haven’t finished Smith’s amazing epic comic book series Bone, but I’ve read enough to know that this 31 page storybook for kids fits perfectly in with the visual style established in his other work. You get a pretty good idea of it from the cover image above which features bold lines, warm colors and delightful characters.
I did read this one with my daughter and she told me she liked it, but she hasn’t become obsessed with it like some other books. Though, to be fair, she hasn’t been obsessed about any books for a while, partially because she’s been skipping naps, falling asleep on the couch and thus not having her normal “Books and Bed Time” routine.
Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti happens to be another offering from the Toon line, this time Toon Graphics. I first heard about this combination of prose and pictures back in September when I wrote about the book getting optioned for a movie over on Spinoff Online. I’ve read Gaiman’s more grown-up books like Good Omens, Neverwhere, American Gods, the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors and the incredible Vertigo comic book series Sandman. I was pretty excited because he is a writer who deals with fables in all manor of ways and I was curious to see what he would do with the Grimm brothers tale.
And I’ve got to say, it wasn’t much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid telling of this story about a pair of siblings whose parents ditch them in the woods and they eventually discover a mean old woman in the woods with an edible house who has nefarious designs for them. But, there wasn’t as much Neil Gaiman-ness in there as I had hoped. However, Mattotti’s artwork really does bring something new to this story. His deep black brush strokes fill each two page spread with the kind of darkness and shadows that you want to pour over to see if anything spooky pops out.
Because of the scarier elements of this book — which doesn’t clean up the violence from the original, but also doesn’t revel in it — I will also hold off on reading this one to my daughter. Heck, it almost gave me nightmares, who knows what she’d think?!
All-in-all this was a fun reading experience for me, even if it didn’t necessarily net much in the way of kiddo reading time offerings. Still, I love the idea that these people whose comic work I love so much are making things in various formats that I can share with my kids at various times and hopefully show them the quality of the work that these people do while laying the groundwork for future suggestions.
If you’re curious about why I posted so little in October, you can check out all the links to what I wrote that month over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee.
I’m a big fan of Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse after reading it just the one time so far.
The movies I mentioned are My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales, My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks and Planes Fire and Rescue which were all are great. Still waiting to watch Maleficent.
A 90s Gak commercial, if you’re not familiar:
Even after several weeks, I’m still a big fan of Julius Jr.
DC SUPER HEROES: MY FIRST BOOK OF GIRL POWER is a must-get for comic book loving parents who want to introduce their kids to DC’s list of super-heroines and what it means to be a hero in general.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 77 covers Lu’s first two weeks of school, the difficulties of going to the grocery store and a few words on the NFL-based child abuse cases.
The cartoon I mentioned is called Peep And The Big Wide World.
Speaking of arts and crafts, Tomie dePaolo’s book The Art Lesson is a personal favorte. Above you can see the cover as well as the title page of my version which he signed back in 1991. The song I mentioned is called “Flowers Are Red.”
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 76 kicks off a new weekly release schedule, gives an update on the house stuff and chronicles Lu’s first kinda-sorta first day of school.
Tom by Tomie dePaolo is a pretty weird book that creeps me out, but my kid loves it.
Over the Hedge and My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales both get the thumb’s up from Lu and the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval from me. If you’re interested in my original thoughts on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, check them out here. The MLP movie I mentioned that’s on Netflix is called .
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 74 recaps the last two weeks, including our trip to New Hampshire (Jack’s first long car ride), a solid house update and a special appearance from this week’s co-host, Lucy.
I should note that when I said I was thinking of going to the store on Tuesday, I said “alone,” but meant “with the kids.”
If you’re in the area, keep an eye out for Tumblebus.
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince is fantastic. A funny, witty, clever and emotional personal story that I think all parents should read. It gives an interesting look behind the curtain of a young woman dealing with gender issues.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 73 gives a few house updates and gets into important subjects like Plastic Man cartoons, the state of Scooby-Doo and how I turned a laundry basket into a baby bathtub.
Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby Doo and the Weird Water Park and Scooby-Doo and Aliens, Too! aren’t the best Scooby-Doo offerings ever, but Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is pretty fantastic. Check it out on Netflix.
Here you can see my makeshift kitchen sink baby bath. It’s just a smaller laundry basket with an inflatable, waterproof back rest. It won’t work once he’s a bit taller, but for now, it’s just the ticket. Also if you check out the Photo Diary from April 6th, 2011 you can see the pool noodle tub solution I mentioned.