Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Five fantastic comics to get your kids interested in reading!

Comics have always had a bit of a poor reputation when it comes to literacy, and yet they're such a fantastic way to engage reluctant readers. So why the bad rep? Let's try and redress the balance by showing you a heady mix of five utterly essential comics, graphic novels or comic strip collections that will give your child a brilliant head start and an urge to read more.

Kicking off with Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin's sublime "Akissi", the first collection has been translated into English and is now available through Flying Eye Books.

Akissi is the story of a little West African girl and her mischievous little life. She's definitely no prim and proper princess but she has a superbly infectious joie de vivre that saw the Akissi collection move straight into our Book of the Week slot.

Everything from a spot of sneaky subversive babysitting to a brand new family pet (a rather naughty monkey called BouBou) and of course a goodly dose of sibling rivalry between Akissi and her older brother and sister. The collection is brilliant (and quite gross in places, we'll warn you in advance about the last story in the Flying Eye collection that involves tapeworms, AIEEEE!) but it's riotously funny stuff.

Make way for Akissi, from Flying Eye Books

Sticking with Flying Eye for a moment...another superb comic heroine who now stars in 4 (soon to be 5) brilliant graphic novels...

"Hilda" by Luke Pearson is a sublime cocktail of Nordic-noir, child-friendly adventures and a whole ton of adventure and excitement that feels like it pays nods to the likes of Tintin and Asterix in scale and scope. The first "Hildafolk" (now renamed and republished as Hilda and the Troll) paved the way swiftly for Hilda and the Bird Parade, Hilda and The Midnight Giant and Hilda and the Black Hound (with Hilda and the Stone Forest arriving this September).

As with all our recommendations, this is a fantastic series that has strong appeal to both boys AND girls so catch up with Hilda's amazing adventures as soon as you can, and look forward to an upcoming Netflix series being worked on as we type! Cannot wait for that one.

Moving on from Hilda, more brilliance with a female protagonist this time hurling herself into a maelstrom of danger in a harsh and unforgiving landscape...

"Pirates of Pangaea" by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron is a strip that has regularly run in our favourite weekly comic, the mighty "Phoenix".
Collected together in volume one, you can now catch up with Sophie Delacourt, a young girl who embarks on a perilous journey to stay with her uncle but ends up kidnapped by nefarious pirates all set against a lost world landscape inhabited by dinosaurs. Pirates use these giant beasts to roam the landscape and in Book 1 we see Sophie largely adapting to a completely new way of life.

This plucky 12 year old's bravery is tested to the max as she learns the secret of how dinosaurs are tamed by a mysterious botanic concoction that subdues and controls them. Sophie herself ends up taming a T-Rex lovingly named Cornflower, and thus her adventures really begin.

The storytelling is tight, absolutely chock full of excitement and derring-do. Probably more suitable for older children but still an utterly fantastic introduction to the Phoenix Comic and the hugely talented folk who contribute to it.

Though we're not really doing it on purpose, we're still sticking with female heroes because...well because that's where all the cool stuff seems to be going on at the moment, and what's drawing us in the most.

Andi Watson's awesome "Gum Girl" is a fantastic mix of school tales and superhero (and super-villain) craziness. Gum Girl is an ordinary everyday girl who just happens to have a rather sticky but stupendous super-power. She can use her chemistry skills to make an amazing bubblegum that possesses super-strength, and can be moulded into tons of cool shapes to save Gumgirl in times of danger and crisis.

Gum Girl now stars in three separate collections, pitting her wits and gum against weird father christmases, absurd easter bunnies and a ton of nefarious characters hell bent on destroying her school and home town.

As you'd expect from a superhero comic, this is fast-paced action-packed stuff and if you'll pardon the pun, will give your little ones plenty to chew on!

Last but by no means least, we'll let the boys have a say. Go on then...

Garen Ewing's fantastic "Rainbow Orchid" series may not be brand new but it's still one of the most impressive comic collections we've ever seen. The stories of Julius Chancer, historian and adventurer, play out in a series of comic books (or you can just opt for the version we did and devour the whole lot in one glorious gulp!)

A heady mix of Tintin-esque adventuring, saturday morning pulp and swashbuckling action, it's one of those comics we return to again and again.

So that concludes our round-up. Suffice to say that we've merely dipped a toe into the water when it comes to the sheer brilliance on offer to today's kids when it comes to awesome comic action. If you've got a favourite and want to shout about it, please do drop a comment below as we're always on the hunt for the cream of comic action!