All Ages

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Read Like a Kid

Everyone seems to have a snazzy title for their reviews and now I do too! What do you think? One of the challenges in publishing good comics for kids is looking beyond nostalgia and contrived sophistication to create a book that will engage and speak to kids on their level. In essence, you really do need to read like a kid.

I promised Jen DeGuzman back in June when I met her at BEA that I'd review Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand so here's the first in long queue of reviews that I'll be posting periodically here. If you have a kids book (comics related or otherwise) that you'd like me to review please email me.

Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand
by Ian & Tyson Smith
96 pages, full-color
published by SLG

Emily spends her spare time selling lemonade to save up for the thing she wants more than anything in the world--a pony! Luckily she owns a robot that's one part lemonade juicer, but he's also one part perfect weapon and the Government won't stop until they have him. Throw in an intergalactic invasion, a rival friend and cute, but deadly, stranded alien and you have this latest graphic novel from Slave Labor Graphics.

Initially I had convinced myself that the Smith brothers had made a grave mistake in making the protagonist of a robot book female. Boys like robots, not girls right? This reaction is mostly informed by working in Book Clubs where most of the sales results we see are so gender-specific, or we assume they are. Girls like kittens and puppies and boys like cars and monsters. But after reading the entire book, I quickly realized the robot really wasn't the main focus but rather the experiences of a typical 10 year old little girl--the jealousy of a school rival, unexpected crushes, making hard 10 year old girl choices and realizing that the thing you really want might not be worth losing something else more important.

Emily is just a great package overall -- bold, bright colors, a 'Nickelodeon' feel to the book with its wacky sense of humor, great comedic timing and cute character design, and good messages that don't hit you over the head. It definitely earns its place in a start-up graphic novel library collection for kids.


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