October is shaping up to be a good month for all-ages books. Here’s a look at a few noteworthy titles:
“Amelia Rules: The Meaning of Life … and Other Stuff” by Jimmy Gownley (Simon and Schuster) — Last we visited Amelia, I was a little down on this awesome all-ages series for being, well, a downer. I’m pleased to say that things are looking up for our young heroine.
Yes, she’s still barreling towards adolescence, even joining the cheerleading squad, this feels more like the Amelia I’ve grown to love. The supporting cast is more in character, too, especially Reggie with the return of G.A.S.P. (the Gathering of Awesome Super Pals).
This issue is all about attitude. As school gets more serious, she gets in more trouble for hers. But unlike the principal, we get to see the whole story and how justified she is. She realizes when she makes a mistake and lashes out unfairly, and her heart is absolutely in the right place.
So it’s good to see the heart back in the series, including a nice little bit for Joan, who’s father has been in Iraq.
“Power Lunch” by J. Torres and Dean Trippe (Oni Press) — Torres has been one of my favorite comics writers since his days on “Copybook Tales,” so a new all-ages book by him is sure to be a treat. Indeed, “Power Lunch” is a fun, breezy read about Joey, a boy who gains super powers from eating everyday foods that are any color but white. Trail mix gives him super speed, for instance. On his first day at a new school, Joey meets Jerome, a fellow “weird” kid who’s the frequent victim of bully Bug. It’s a great intro. Joey spills his secret and helps out his new friend, but tryouts for the soccer team cause friction.
The art is fine, though I can’t say I’m a big fan. It’s very simplistic and looks like it was banged out in a bit of a rush.
The story is feather-light, even for a kid’s book, and it’s unfortunate Oni decided to go with a hardcover. That drives the price point up to $12.99 for a story that’s about as long as two $2.99 books from DC. But the story as is could have been told as effectively in fewer pages, allowing a deeper narrative. As cute as it is, and with such a great premise, the story just isn’t meaty enough (forgive the pun) to justify the price. Though I suppose it does put it in the range of a children’s picture book.
Still, I love the premise, which was explained in a bit more depth in a Free Comic Book day story. (It would have been helpful to see that reprinted here for those who missed it.) There’s all sorts of potential — is it the color or the food itself? Do different shades have different effects? What if he eats a bag of Skittles? Taste the rainbow, indeed.
“Sketch Monsters” by Joshua Williamson and Vinny Navarette (Oni Press) — I could just say, “Ditto,” and be done with it. Cute story, cute premise, but with better art, but still a tough sell at $12.99.
In this book, also previewed on Free Comic Book Day, Williamson introduces us to Mandy, an 8-year-old girl who has trouble showing emotion. Then her big sister heads to college and gives her a sketch book. Mandy can’t outwardly express how she feels about her sister leaving, so she does what she does best: draw monsters. But then those monsters escape the book, powered by her repressed emotions. Hmmm, when you see it like that, it sounds a LOT heavier than it really is.
Navarette’s art is cute, and his monster designs are adorable. They don’t necessarily telegraph what each monster’s emotion is, so there’s a bit of surprise for the reader.
Like “Power Lunch,” it’s a fun little confection that would have been more pocket-book friendly in a paperback edition for $5 or $6.