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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Jon Scieszka

Classic Children’s Comics

by Vic­ki Palmquist

No one I knew ever picked up Archie or Lulu or Den­nis the Men­ace because it was Required Read­ing. We read comics because we want­ed to see what was going to hap­pen. We want­ed to take that unex­pect­ed turn.” — Jon Sci­esz­ka

Toon Treasury of Classic Children's ComicsWhen I was in high school, I went on a hunt to find as many old comics as I could, learn­ing about the his­to­ry, the con­tro­ver­sy, the artists, and the love affair that swooped up so many kids and showed them that good sto­ries exist in many forms.

If you’d like to share clas­sic comics with your kids or your stu­dents, you’re in luck. Art Spiegel­man and Françoise Mouly, those folks behind Toon Books, sought out the fun, wacky, and adven­ture­some sto­ries that will have them turn­ing the pages for their next comics encounter. Spiegel­man and Mouly aimed for fun­ny and they found it—bullseye—in The Toon Trea­sury of Clas­sic Children’s Comics (Abrams Comi­cArts, 2009).

You’ll find comics that may be famil­iar to you such as Lit­tle Lulu, Pogo, Den­nis the Men­ace, Heck­le and Jeck­le, and the Lit­tle Archies (not the teenage ver­sion, but the young kids). You’ll read sto­ries and find char­ac­ters that I believe will be new to you as well.

Toon Treasury

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed Ger­ald McBo­ing Boing in “Boing Boing” by Theodore Seuss Geisel and P.D. East­man. The graph­ic line, the col­ors, the poet­ry, the sto­ry … I won’t ruin the end­ing but it’s com­fort­ing to know that there’s a place for every­one in this world.

In Melvin Mon­ster “Mice Busi­ness” by John Stan­ley, a fam­i­ly of mon­sters has a mouse prob­lem. This is the­ater of the absurd. Your chil­dren (and you) will howl over the antics of Mum­my and Bad­dy and their son, Melvin.

Little Lulu Five BabiesIn Lit­tle Lulu “Five Lit­tle Babies” by John Stan­ley and Irv­ing Tripp, the boys trick Lulu into look­ing fool­ish but she gets the best of them in a clever and iron­ic way.

Believe it or not, in Uncle Scrooge “Tral­la La” by Carl Barks, this high-ener­gy sto­ry lets us in on the secrets of cap­i­tal­ism and utopia.

Did you know that Walt Kel­ly of Pogo fame also did a series of comics called Fairy Tale Parade? “Prince Robin and the Dwarfs” is fast-paced, excit­ing, and fun­ny … and also a rip­ping good yarn. I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed study­ing his Map of the Fairy Tale Lands.

I don’t know if you can say these are favorites when I’ve list­ed so many of them, but “Cap­tain Mar­vel in the Land of Sur­re­al­ism” by C.C. Beck and Pete Con­stan­za is a true high point of the Trea­sury. When I start­ed this arti­cle I was going to say that there are no super­heroes in this col­lec­tion but they includ­ed Cap­tain Mar­vel in a sto­ry that will have you ques­tion­ing real­i­ty. (And there’s a sto­ry about Super­mouse, too.)

These six sto­ries are just a frac­tion of what’s avail­able in The Toon Trea­sury of Clas­sic Children’s Comics. There’s at least one sto­ry that will tick­le every reader’s fun­ny bone and I’m will­ing to bet you’ll have a hard time keep­ing your own favorites to a list of six.

Map of the Fairy Tale Lands

How lucky kids are today to have such ready access to a book that col­lects the best of an era when comics were new and exper­i­men­tal and, in the case of this Trea­sury, appro­pri­ate for child­hood.

As Mr. Spiegel­man and Ms. Mouly write in their intro­duc­tion, “But as par­ents we’ve des­per­ate­ly want­ed to keep our kids safe on the ever-shrink­ing island of child­hood, pro­tect­ed from the dan­gers of, say, Inter­net porn and the hor­rors of the night­ly news, while still prepar­ing them for the Real World. As evi­denced in so many of our select­ed sto­ries, adults can act very child­ish­ly, kids can be remark­ably clear-eyed, and the bat­tle between the ratio­nal and the irra­tional is more like a dance.”

I’m glad to have been invit­ed to that dance. I’ll pull this tome (it’s 1−1÷4” thick) down from the shelves when I need a book to light­en the mood. Thanks to my good friend Amy who knew this would be a cher­ished birth­day present.

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A Trip to the Art Museum

by Vic­ki Palmquist

Arlo's Artrageous Adventure!  

Arlo’s Artra­geous Adven­ture!

David LaRochelle
Ster­ling Children’s Books, 2013

When Arlo’s grand­moth­er drags him to the art muse­um, he can’t imag­ine how he’ll be inter­est­ed. Some­thing odd catch­es his eye and he soon real­izes the paint­ings have things to say that sur­prise and delight him—and the read­er. Fun and quirky, with illus­tra­tions that will make you smile and flaps to lift that will reveal nuances in much the same way you dis­cov­er some­thing new in a paint­ing each time you look at it … this is a good choice to pre­pare a child for a trip to the muse­um.

Art Dog  

Art Dog

Thacher Hurd
Harper­Collins, 1996

When the moon is full, Arthur Dog, secu­ri­ty guard at the Dogopo­lis Muse­um of Art becomes Art Dog, a masked artist paint­ing mas­ter­pieces. When an art heist occurs, Arthur must find the true crim­i­nals. Your read­ers will have fun rec­og­niz­ing the works of Pablo Poo­dle, Hen­ri Mutisse, and Vin­cent Van Dog.

Behind the Museum Door  

Behind the Muse­um Door:
Poems to Cel­e­brate the Won­der of Muse­ums

Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins, ed.
illus by Stacey Dressen-McQueen
Har­ry N. Abrams, 2007

An ide­al read-aloud to pre­pare for a  class trip, this col­lec­tion of poet­ry will be use­ful when dis­cussing art and artists. The poems are ener­getic and infor­ma­tive while Dressen-McQueen’s illus­tra­tions do an admi­ral job of visu­al­ly rep­re­sent­ing each poem.

Chasing Vermeer  

Chas­ing Ver­meer

Blue Bal­li­ett
Scholas­tic, 2004

Petra and Calder, 11-year-olds, become friends when they team up to solve the theft of a Ver­meer paint­ing which was en route to a muse­um in Chica­go, where they live. The thief leaves clues in the news­pa­per and our clever duo work hard to solve the puz­zles and mys­ter­ies that result. Your read­ers will learn about art while play­ing detec­tive.

Dog's Night  

Dog’s Night

Mered­ith Hoop­er
illus by Alan Cur­less
Frances Lin­coln, 2006

With a set­ting at London’s Nation­al Gallery, this is a tale of that one night a year when the dogs in the museum’s paint­ings are set free to come to life and play. A good way to intro­duce young peo­ple to fine art.

Eddie Red Undercover  

Eddie Red, Under­cov­er: Mys­tery on Muse­um Mile

Mar­cia Wells, illus by Mar­cos Calo
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2013

Edmund, an 11-year-old boy with a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry and a tal­ent for draw­ing, is hired by the NYPD to help them look for thieves plan­ning a major art heist. Filled with humor, inter­est­ing char­ac­ters, and a lot of clues to a sat­is­fy­ing mys­tery.

Framed  

Framed

Frank Cot­trell Boyce
Harper­Collins, 2006

When Dylan’s father leaves because their busi­ness, Snow­do­nia Oasis Auto Mar­vel, is fal­ter­ing, Dylan’s fam­i­ly tries to improve their cir­cum­stances. At the same time, paint­ings from the Nation­al Gallery are being moved to stor­age near Dylan’s Welsh town. Filled with art his­to­ry and col­or­ful, charis­mat­ic char­ac­ters, this book is sure to hook read­ers.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweil­er

E.L. Konigs­burg
Atheneum/Simon & Schus­ter, 1970

A clas­sic in which Clau­dia plans care­ful­ly for a week’s stay in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art to break the monot­o­ny of her life. She invites her younger broth­er, James, because he has mon­ey. A new sculp­ture in the muse­um is pos­si­bly a mar­ble angel cre­at­ed by Michelan­ge­lo, but no one knows for cer­tain. Clau­dia and James are deter­mined to help solve the mys­tery.

 

Going to the Getty  

Going to the Get­ty

Vivian Walsh
illus by J. Otto Sei­bold
J. Paul Get­ty Muse­um, 1997

The cre­ators of Olive, the Oth­er Rein­deer have cre­at­ed a pic­ture book that intro­duces young vis­i­tors to the Get­ty Muse­um in Los Ange­les, includ­ing art­work, gar­dens, and behind-the-scenes work spaces.

Katie and the Sunflowers  

Katie and the Sun­flow­ers

James May­hew
Orchard Books, 2001

When Katie vis­its the muse­um, it’s an adven­ture indeed! She finds she can reach into the paint­ings, such as Van Gogh’s Sun­flow­ers, while oth­er paint­ings come to life. There are a num­ber of Katie books in which she learns more about fine art, but this par­tic­u­lar title fea­tures Gau­g­in and Cezanne, the Post-Impres­sion­ists. Back mat­ter helps elu­ci­date more infor­ma­tion in a friend­ly way.

Masterpiece  

Mas­ter­piece

Elise Broach
illus by Kel­ly Mur­phy
Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt, 2008

An excel­lent mys­tery weav­ing togeth­er the world of art and the world of art theft. Mar­vin is a bee­tle who lives under the sink in James’ apart­ment. Mar­vin has a mar­velous tal­ent for draw­ing in minia­ture. So mar­velous that his draw­ings become a media sen­sa­tion … for which James receives the cred­it. Art forgery is required but the friend­ship between Mar­vin and James, nei­ther of whom can speak to the oth­er, is test­ed.

Matthew's Dream  

Matthew’s Dream

Leo Lion­ni
Ran­dom House, 1995

When Matthew the mouse goes on a field trip to the art muse­um with his class, he is over­come with the beau­ty and pow­er of the art­work hang­ing there. Inspired, he returns to his dusty and unin­spired attic and cre­ates art with things he’s nev­er rec­og­nized as hav­ing beau­ty, cre­at­ing paint­ings “filled with the shapes and col­ors of joy.”

Mrs Brown on Exhibit  

Mrs. Brown on Exhib­it and Oth­er Muse­um Poems

Susan Katz
illus R.W. Alley
Simon & Schus­ter, 2002

A book of poet­ry is writ­ten in the children’s own voic­es about their exu­ber­ant teacher, Mrs. Brown. She loves field trips to art exhibits and oth­er exot­ic muse­ums. A good book to show the breadth of col­lec­tions encom­passed by muse­ums.

Museum  

Muse­um

Susan Verde
illus by Peter H. Reynolds
Har­ry N. Abrams, 2013

On a vis­it to the muse­um, a young girl reacts with dif­fer­ing emo­tions to each paint­ing she sees, express­ing her­self with move­ment and sound and facial expres­sions. Drawn in a car­toon style, this book will help kids move beyond that feel­ing of rev­er­ence that muse­ums some­times inspire to exam­ine the works for a per­son­al con­nec­tion.

Museum ABC  

Muse­um ABC

New York Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art
Lit­tle Brown, 2002

An alpha­bet book intro­duc­ing chil­dren to the col­lec­tion of the New York Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, includ­ing Roy Lichtenstein’s Red Apple and Degas’ bal­leri­nas. It works well as a dis­cus­sion starter about art and as a guide to the museum’s trea­sures.

Museum Book  

Muse­um Book: a Guide to Strange and Won­der­ful Col­lec­tions

Jan Mark
illus Richard Hol­land
Chron­i­cle Books, 2007

There are anec­dotes, his­tor­i­cal facts, and invi­ta­tions galore in this book to look at muse­ums from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Top-notch.

Museum Trip  

Muse­um Trip

Bar­bara Lehmann
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2006

When a boy gets sep­a­rat­ed from his class on a field trip to a muse­um, won­drous things hap­pen when he stops to tie his shoe and gets sep­a­rat­ed from his class. He goes on an adven­ture that will have read­ers ask­ing, “Is that real?” Well, look for clues in the illus­tra­tions. It’s a word­less book, so your chil­dren will have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to tell the sto­ry in their own way.

Norman the doorman  

Nor­man the Door­man

Don Free­man
Pen­guin, 1959

In a book that has not aged, a dor­mouse is a door­man at the Majes­tic Muse­um of Art. He leads tours of small crea­tures to mar­vel in the paint­ings and sculp­tures stored in the museum’s base­ment. Inspired by a com­pe­ti­tion, Nor­man cre­ates his own entry out of mouse­traps set to catch him by the Muse­um guard. Filled with puns both ver­bal and visu­al, this is a must-have for your col­lec­tion.

Seen Art?  

Seen Art?

Jon Sci­esz­ka
illus by Lane Smith
Viking Books, 2005

In a quirky play on words, the nar­ra­tor is look­ing for his friend Art, but he’s direct­ed to the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art by a lady who thinks he’s look­ing for … art. While con­tin­u­ing to look for his friend, he encoun­ters paint­ings by Van Gogh, Licht­en­stein, Matisse, Klee, and more. A humor­ous way to approach fine art.

Shape Game  

Shape Game

Antho­ny Browne
Far­rar Straus Giroux, 2003

In an inspi­ra­tional, auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal pic­ture book, Antho­ny Browne shares his family’s vis­it to the Tate Muse­um in Lon­don that changed his way of look­ing at art. He exam­ines actu­al paint­ings hang­ing in the Tate in a man­ner that encour­ages the read­er to look more inten­tion­al­ly at art. The Shape Game is a fam­i­ly tra­di­tion, one that Anthony’s moth­er shares with him on the way home from the muse­um.

Speeding Down the Spiral  

Speed­ing Down the Spi­ral: an Art­ful Adven­ture

Deb­o­rah Good­man Davis
illus by Sophy Naess
Life in Print, 2012

A some­what longer pic­ture book that frames a look at art­work in the Guggen­heim Muse­um in New York City with a vis­it by a bored girl, her father, and her baby broth­er in a stroller. When the stroller gets away from her and heads down the spi­ral, a group of peo­ple give chase … and look at the art­work along the way!

Squeaking of Art  

Squeak­ing of Art: the Mice Go to the Muse­um

Mon­i­ca Welling­ton
Dut­ton, 2000

Using repro­duc­tions that look some­what like the orig­i­nal works of art, this book teach­es the vocab­u­lary and con­cepts that are so help­ful when one vis­its a muse­um.

Under the Egg  

Under the Egg

Lau­ra Marx Fitzger­ald
Dial Books, 2014

In this nov­el, 13-year-old Theo inher­its a paint­ing after her grand­fa­ther dies unex­pect­ed­ly. Iso­lat­ed by pover­ty and the lack of a respon­si­ble adult, Theo gains friends as she attempts to fig­ure out if the paint­ing is one of Raphael’s and why her grand­fa­ther had it. It’s a charm­ing book with a riv­et­ing mys­tery and fast-paced action.

Visiting the Art Museum  

Vis­it­ing the Art Muse­um

Lau­rene Kras­ny Brown
illus by Marc Brown
Dut­ton, 1986

When a young fam­i­ly goes to a muse­um, there is a great deal of com­plain­ing and expec­ta­tions of bore­dom. Instead they are drawn in by work rang­ing from Renoir, Pol­lack, Cezanne, Picas­so, and Warhol. Repro­duc­tions by Marc Brown of those famous paint­ings make this book acces­si­ble by younger and old­er chil­dren.

You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum  

You Can’t Take a Bal­loon Into the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um

Jacque­line P. Weitz­man
illus by Robin Preiss Glass­er
Dial Books, 1998

When a young girl and her grand­moth­er vis­it the muse­um, the guard tells them she can’t take her yel­low bal­loon in with her. He ties it to a rail­ing. The two muse­um vis­i­tors view works of wart while the yel­low bal­loon is untied by a pigeon to float through and explore New York City, often in par­al­lel adven­tures.

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Books Plus: The Goods by McSweeney’s

The Goods by McSweeney’s: Games and Activ­i­ties for Big Kids, Lit­tle Kids, and Medi­um-Size Kids edit­ed by Mac Bar­nett and Bri­an McMullen fea­tur­ing Adam Rex, Jon Sci­esz­ka, and more Big Pic­ture Press, an imprint of Can­dlewick Press, 2013 For your hol­i­day gift-giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion … An over­sized book filled with every imag­in­able dis­trac­tion, this should be […]

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