The Edge of the Forest--September '06
Snakes on a Blog

Manga! A Guest Column by TangognaT

Fond of a good palindrome, the blogger known as TangognaT is the author of the first library blog I ever read. I've been a fan ever since.  TangognaT writes frequently about manga, graphic novels, and comics, all wildly popular with children. I am so happy that TangognaT is Monday's guest columnist. Take it away, T.!  —Susan

It can be difficult to find good comic books and graphic novels for children aged 12 and under. Fortunately several publishing companies have recently started comic and graphic novel lines aimed at young readers. I’ll present several short reviews of kid-friendly comics from a variety of publishers.


Tokyopop started a series of “Manga Readers,” short works that are to regular manga what chapter books are to novels. All the books are produced originally in English; they are not translations of manga titles previously published in Japan. The line is rated for children from ages 8 to 12. Two of the inaugural manga reader titles are:

Kat and Mouse: Teacher Torture, by Alex de Campi and Federica Manfredi.  Kat relocates to New Hampshire when her father accepts a job as a science teacher at a boarding school. Most of the kids at her new school seem stupid and stuck-up, but she quickly becomes friends with Mouse, a fellow “cool nerd." When someone starts sabotaging the science classroom, Kat and Mouse use their skills to unravel the mystery. The art is very appealing and de Campi writes her characters with a great sense of humor, making Kat and Mouse a fun read for any kid who enjoys a detective story.

Zapt! by Shannon Denton, Keith Giffen, and Armand Villavert, Jr.  Although Armand is bullied and picked on at school, his life takes a turn for the extraterrestrial when he is suddenly warped out of the school bathroom and into the headquarters of the Pan-Galactic Order Of Police where he is inducted as a new recruit. Will he survive space pirates and giant robots? How can he work for an organization named P.O.O.P? Will he be able to get back to Earth before he misses school picture day? Zapt! is funny and features plenty of action.

The web site for Tokyopop’s Kids Manga is


Scholastic’s Graphix imprint features graphic novels based on popular series like The Baby-Sitters Club and Goosebumps. Graphix is also the new home of Jeff Smith’s Bone and a new series by Chynna Clugston called Queen Bee.

Bone, by Jeff Smith. Bone is a long running fantasy series that was originally issued in black and white. The Scholastic editions feature new colored artwork. The cousins Fone Bone, Smiley Bone & Phoney Bone get lost in a new world and quickly get caught up in an epic struggle of good and evil. Along the way they meet a princess, rat creatures, a dragon, and a mighty strong grandma. Jeff Smith’s art is reminiscent of classic cartoonists like Walt Kelley and Carl Barks. Kids who enjoy epic fantasy will be captivated by Bone.

Queen Bee, by Chynna Clugston. Queen Bee is set in one of the most treacherous environments known to mankind—middle school. When Haley transfers to a new school, she decides to leave her nerdy image behind. She decides to study how to be popular, and becomes one of the trendiest girls at her new school. But whenever she gets upset, objects around her move because she doesn’t have good control over her power of psychokinesis. When a new girl named Alexa starts becoming more popular than Haley, she doesn’t know what to do. Queen Bee has slapstick comedy, manga-influenced art, and retro pop cultural references.

Goosebumps. This book features three adaptations of previously published R.L. Stine novels. So, the plots are exactly what you’d expect from a graphic novel called Goosebumps. One of the things I appreciated about this title is the selection artists with wide-ranging styles showcased the versatility of black and white comics. Not having the comics in color actually made them look more moody and atmospheric.

The web site for Graphix is

First Second

First Second is a new graphic novel line from Henry Holt and Roaring Brook Press. It just launched recently, but it is clear that their graphic novels have wonderful production values and great artistic merit. First Second graphic novels are targeted at a variety of age ranges and several of their books are meant for young readers.

Sardine in Outer Space, by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar. Sardine travels through space on the ship Huckleberry with her piratical Uncle Yellowshoulder and her friend Little Louie. They frequently run into the villain Supermuscleman and manage to beat him every time. Other adventures include a visit to the disco planet and the dreaded No-Child-Left-Behind-School-II. The illustrations are colorful and filled with whimsy. Kids will enjoy all the extra details in the art, which features plenty of ooze, aliens, and parrots wearing sunglasses.

The web site for First Second is

I hope that this mini-tour of kid friendly comics has given you some new ideas to add to your reading list!


Absolutely. Thanks a million for being a guest columnist!


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Good stuff! Thanks, Susan, for bringing in a guest expert.

Cool, Susn. Thanks to TangognaT as well!

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