Suggestions for Your Favorite Young Readers #2

A column article by: Penny Kenny

Let's admit it: we're all tired of the snow. We want sunshine and swimming parties, not snowsuits and long days stuck inside. That goes for double for kids. While I can't change the weather, I can recommend some recent Archie Comics releases that might break up the monotony and make everyone feel a little better.

Betty and Veronica Storybook: Archie & Friends All-Stars Vol. 7: In this handsome collection of reprints, Dan Parent renders Riverdale versions of "Alice in Wonderland," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Wizard of Oz," and "Cinderella." These amusing adaptations are true to the original stories, while having their own unique twists, such as Cinderbetty and Cinderonica driving themselves to the ball in "eco-friendly smartie cars" and Betty attending the Wonderland Mad Barbeque. Parent's art is bright and attractive and features some fun visuals. Readers as young as six and seven enjoy these stories for their mix of familiarity and humor. For older readers, the introductory notes for each story, Parent's afterword, and the sketchbook pages give background information and insight into the creative process.

The Archies & Josie and the Pussycats: Archie & Friends All-Stars Vol. 8 collects the Archie and Valarie romance storyline. I enjoyed the first part of this tale when it originally appeared and was delighted to see Parent wrote a sequel which details the rocky road the pair travels to try to make their relationship work. There is some great character work on display here; especially with Betty and Veronica who have to deal with the fact that they might be losing Archie. Parent does a nice job balancing the large cast, with just about everyone getting one great scene. Bill Galvan's pencils are beautiful. Add inks by Rich Koslowski and Jim Amash, lettering by Jack Morelli, and colors by Glenn Whitmore and Tom Chu and you have a gorgeous book filled with humor, betrayal, true friendship, and love. This type of extended romantic storyline really appeals to girls in the 4th-6th grade age range. Extras in the volume include a text piece by Parent, a history of the two bands that mixes fact and fantasy, and sketches by Galvan.

As you can guess from the title, the stories in Betty and Veronica Beach Party: Archie & Friends All-Stars Vol. 4 all have a beach theme. The girls try to combine babysitting and sunbathing; the girls throw a tiki party and compete for the attention of a new boy; the boys and girls compete for exclusive rights to a swimming hole. Written and illustrated by a variety of authors and illustrators, these stories capture the fun of summer vacation and will help make these winter days pass a bit faster.

Best of the Eighties Book 2: Archie Americana Series. Heavy Metal music. Wrestle-mania. Urban Country. Video games. Cable TV. Robocopy and Knight Rider and 8-bit graphics. This latest volume of the Archie Americana Series touches on them all. Though built around fads, these are still enjoyable stories that younger readers can get. The humor comes as much from the relationships between the characters and slapstick as it does from the fad. As these are newer stories, credits are listed for each story, which helps readers interested in following certain creators.

Sonic the Hedgehog Archives Volume 14. Sonic and the Freedom Fighters have defeated Robotnik, but new dangers arise when evil wizard Ixis Naugus is released. Collecting issues #51-54 of the Sonic comic, this volume is sure to be a hit with fans of the current Sonic storyline. With the return of Ixis Naugus to present continuity, this collection gives new readers a chance to find out something of the wizard's history. There is also a wonderful Casablanca-type story in these pages, featuring a very attractive 40s-style Sonic. Though the art is more cartoony looking than newer readers are accustomed to, it's attractive and dynamic and draws the reader into the story.

Sonic Select Book Three collects stories from Sonic Super Specials #1, 2, and 4, Mecha Madness, and Sonic Blast. Featuring everything from a battle between the Freedom Fighters and the Chaotix to an Acorn Civil War to the Forty Fathom Freedom Fighters dealing with Underworld Boss Eel Capone this book has something for just about everybody. There's humor, action, and even some heart-felt moments. Slightly taller than the Archive books, the Select editions give the art more room to breathe. The cartoon style lends itself to both comic and action scenes and there are an abundance of both in this volume. These stories are basically like the old Marvel Annuals – lots of rarely seen characters in a story that stands apart from the main storyline. In my library, younger students who love Sonic especially love this series of reprints. I think it's the sheer volume of characters on the page that appeals to them. They'll happily spend twenty minutes in silence looking for their favorite character.

Archie Comics may be taking the leap into the digital format arena, but their paperback graphic novel line makes this library parapro and her pre-tween and tween readers very happy. Your favorite youngster might enjoy it too.

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