Department of Mind-Blowing Theories

Department of Mind-Blowing Theories is the latest collection of Tom Gauld’s cartoons. I’ve loved his literary-themed comics, because they’re funny and smart. (Drawn & Quarterly has put out two previous collections, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack and Baking With Kafka.) There are plenty of cartoons out there about family life, for instance, but Gauld really emphasizes the life of the mind, whether it’s writers and their solitary pursuits or gags that require knowledge of literature (or at least […]

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Cassandra Darke

Thank goodness we have global internet commerce, because it’s the only way I can keep up with the work of one of my favorite artists, Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe, Gemma Bovery). I think someone mentioned on Twitter that she had a new book out at the end of last year, so I eagerly ordered Cassandra Darke. The title character is thoroughly unpleasant. She used to run an art gallery with her ex-husband, whom she feels wronged by, until her cheating […]

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Maker Comics: Grow a Garden!

The purpose of the Maker Comics line is admirable: to teach readers essential or entertaining skills in illustrated form. Unfortunately, while I was very interested in the topic, Maker Comics: Grow a Garden! by Alexis Frederick-Frost was the first series entry that disappointed me. It’s overwhelming. There’s too much background information provided too technically. Instead of feeling encouraged, as though I could try these processes myself (as I did after reading Maker Comics: Fix a Car!), I was frightened away. […]

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Science Comics: Crows: Genius Birds

Science Comics: Crows: Genius Birds by Kyla Vanderklugt offers amazing insight into just how intelligent these birds are. That’s why I love this series: I had no idea about any of these facts before reading, and now I am fascinated by corvids (crows, magpies, jays, and ravens). Vanderklugt beautifully navigates between drawing the bird as a bird and giving it the personality it needs to attract the reader and keep them interested. The crow gets a dog, Buddy, to help […]

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The Midwinter Witch

The Midwinter Witch completes the trilogy Molly Knox Ostertag began with The Witch Boy and continued with The Hidden Witch. Aster, the boy witch, and Ariel, his new friend (who’s a bit undisciplined in her abilities), are attempting to catch up on their magic training. The family is preparing for the Festival, a gathering of all the extended relatives that also features a magical competition to crown the Midwinter Witch. Aster wants to compete, for the first time, but there […]

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Ants Don’t Wear Pants!

Kevin McCloskey has a mini empire of educational comics about everyday wildlife from Toon Books called “Giggle and Learn”. They’re handsome hardcovers, aimed at grades K-1, that feature humor and gross facts. The newest, Ants Don’t Wear Pants!, joins the following: We Dig Worms! The Real Poop on Pigeons! Something’s Fishy Snails Are Just My Speed! Like the other books, this installment provides some basic facts: key bits of ant anatomy, the ant life cycle, how they communicate, some different […]

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A Brief Complete History of Minx, DC’s Imprint for Girls

Minx was DC’s imprint aimed at teen girls, first announced in 2006. It ran for two years before being shuttered in fall 2008 due to distribution struggles (not reaching the bookstores they aimed for) and potentially, lack of interest. I thought I’d sum up its history and releases, now that it would have been old enough to have read itself. DC was somewhat late to the party, since Scholastic had already launched Graphix and there were tons of girls reading […]

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Unicorn Bowling

Unicorn Bowling is the ninth in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series. (I’m behind; there have been two more books out since this one: The Unicorn Whisperer and Camping with Unicorns.) Most collect the comic strips; a couple are original, longer stories, but this isn’t one of them. That means this book is 170 or so pages of everyday witticisms, with a continuing theme following through at most four or five strips. It’s welcome light entertainment, particularly given how fresh […]

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