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.
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.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 66 covers Jack’s recent growth spurt, Lu’s early mornings and a few thoughts on the children’s books If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and In The Night Kitchen.
I can’t believe I haven’t written about the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock n’ Play Sleeper before here on the blog! It’s a great bed-side sleeper for infants and is also super portable and can be folded up during the day if you’re tight on space like we are. It gets the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval even though I didn’t say it int the episode!
Do your kids like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond and Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen? Also, the animated Sendak DVD I mentioned is called Where the Wild Things Are and Other Maurice Sendak Stories.
While talking about the cartoon I can’t remember all the way, I called it Nintendo instead of Nickelodeon. Woops!