Zig and Wikki: Something Ate My Homework
This is something of a departure for the excellent Toon Books line of comics for early readers. Zig and Wikki: Something Ate My Homework is non-fiction, intended to interest kids in science.
Zig and Wikki are aliens, trying to capture something for the class zoo as a homework assignment. Zig is the one-eyed red one, with tentacle arms, while Wikki pops up factoids on his head screen. (That’s the educational part.) When they get lost and wind up on Earth, they discover some simple facts about flies, frogs, and raccoons.
I had a couple of questions about the material, since this is pitched as being educational. First, is “tricky bugger” appropriate language for second graders? Next, the teacher makes a big deal out of Zig needing to complete his assignment by himself, but Zig and Wikki head out together anyway. I think Zig is right — it’s better to not go exploring alone on a strange planet — but that’s not clearly explained. It just looks like Zig doesn’t need to listen to his teacher.
The story by Nadja Spiegelman is a somewhat simple “get into danger, then run away and return home” structure, but the characters drawn by Trade Loeffler are approachable and entertaining to watch, while the animals look and behave in realistic fashion. Be sure to check out the Toon Books website, which has added a number of fun resources: kids can make their own cartoons or hear the books read aloud in various languages, while teachers can download lesson plans and other class ideas.