Kids, teens, adults
The second in the popular Little Lit series, this book contains
16 stories and puzzle/joke pages by a raft of well known, highly
respected artists and writers. (In addition, Charles Burns supplied
- "The Several Selves of Shelby Sheldrake" (art spiegelman)
puts a very peculiar thing up Shelby's nose--and that's only
- "Roody Hooster"(Martin Handford) is a "Where's
Waldo"-type of seek-and-find by the author of Waldo himself.
- The "Cereal Baby Killer" (Maurice Sendak) has an
- "Can You Find...?" (Richard McGuire) is a cool
- The "Runaway Shadow" (Barbara McClintock) at first
exults in its freedom but quickly discovers that it's lost without
- "Pretty Ugly" (Ian Falconer and David Sedaris)
might remind you of a certain classic Twilight Zone episode,
but with a happier ending.
- "The Little House That Ran Away from Home" (Claude
Ponti) is looking for a more compatible owner.
- "Trapped in a Comic Book" (Jules Feiffer) proves
that life inside a superhero comic is less appealing than it
- "Mr. Frost" (Posy Simmonds) visits a pair of children
one day and grants their reckless wish.
- "These Cats Today!" (Kim Deitch) is a fond reminiscence
of what cats used to be.
- "Barnaby" (Crockett Johnson) is a reprint of the
first episode (1942) of the classic comic strip.
- "a-MAZE-ing Adventure" (Lewis Trondheim) is a follow-your-own-path
maze story with more bite to it than you might expect.
- "Joke Page" (Marc Rosenthal) supplies several jokes
in sequential art format.
- "The Day I Disappeared" (Jacques de Lostal and
Paul Auster) is the puzzled observation of a man who seems to
have left his body.
- "Strange Picture" (Francois Roca) is a find-the-odd-things-in-the-picture
- The endpapers/"Strange Cartoon Lessons" (Kaz) provide
two sets of absurd drawing lessons (e.g., "How to draw a
CUTE character" tells you to add a goatee and pierced nose).
The final page provides substantial information on every artist,
writer, and editor in the book.
I've seen but not read the previous book in the series; I knew
it was well regarded. Now, having read this one multiple times,
I'm gonna rush out and find the previous one. This is an exceptionally
strong set of stories and games for kids that will also be appealing
to teens and adults, because while they don't deal with "mature"
subject matter, they're skewed enough (and the art is cool enough)
that older readers will find plenty to enjoy.
The variety of art alone is enough to recommend the book.
From the familiar lines of Sendak and Feiffer to the classic
European style of de Lostal, the warm and soft British feel of
Simmonds, and the lush Deitch-fest, the book is a sort of mini-primer
of modern color comics, from the simple to the complex. (Such
publications as the Big
Book Of... titles could catch a clue from this kind of visual
variety.) But the stories and games are really well done, for
which I'm profoundly grateful. (I've been reading a lot of junk
lately; I can't believe I read a book of short stories about
the Hulk.) My favorites are "Trapped in a Comic Book,"
"Pretty Ugly," and "a-MAZE-ing Adventure,"
but they're all good. (The endpapers are GREAT, maybe the best
endpapers I've ever seen in any book.) "The Day I Disappeared"
is a little anomalous in that it focuses on an adult character
instead of a child, and the story is more serious than the rest
of the ones in the book. The games and jokes will be familiar
to adults but not to kids; they should get a good chuckle over
the silent sequence where a boy with a screw in his navel is
brought to the doctor, and the doctor unscrews it, and... well,
Most highly recommended for all collections and readers, especially
kids. There are a few kid-level icky images (all very cartoony,
not at all nasty), but I think the only ones who would object
to any of the contents of the book are the knee-jerks who object