Friday, May 6, 2011

FCBD Preview - - Part 4 - - - worthwhile books for kids

GERONIMO STILTON AND THE SMURFS  (Papercutz, May 2011) 

geronimo

GERONIMO STILTON: DINOSAURS IN ACTION  Script by Andrea Dengri.  Interior illustration by Giuseppe Facciotto and Color by Giulia Zaffaroni.  Based on an original idea by Elisabetti Dami. www.geronimostilton.com.  Translation by Nanette McGuinness. Lettering by Ortho.

This is an excerpt  (the opening 18 pages) of GERONIMO STILTON Graphic Novel #7 - - DINOSAURS IN ACTION  - - published in the United States by Papercutz.  I had forgotten about this company since their short-lived revival of EC’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT etc. some years back.  They are now concentrating on publishing graphic novels - - and judging from this example - - high quality works for younger readers.

GERONIMO STILTON novels focus on the adventures of a society of civilized mice (they wear clothes, build cities, and go to work everyday just like us mundane humans) on Mouse Island.  The action centers around Geronimo Stilton, editor of The Rodent’s Gazete, his family and friends and their association with professor Von Volt and his time machine invention.  The time machine allows them to visit different periods in history, making the Stilton novels an amusing blend of fantasy and historical information.  The graphic novels each cover a different period - -  the discovery of America, the secret of The Sphinx, the Roman Coliseum, Marco Polo,  the Ice Age, the Mona Lisa, and now the dinosaur age.  Sprinkled throughout the story are bits of factual and informative data - - for example, a short paragraph on the Cretaceous Period.

Geronimo and his fellow mice are always being menaced by a group of pirate cats, who continually seek to steal the secrets of the time machine and other inventions.  Not all of the pirate cat band are competent foes, and their constant slip-ups and failings keep the humor level high.

The story has a lot of detail and may be a little too complex for the youngest readers.  But it would certainly be a worthy book to read to them and discuss and share the experience together.  Readers from the third grade level onward should have no problem and ought to be interested enough to keep reading.   I’m impressed at the level of quality here, from paper stock to vivid colors and good detail in the art (while still maintaining that younger reader ease of accessibility).  I’m reminded of the consistent quality always found in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES.

THE SMURFS: THE SMURF SUBMARINE  Written and drawn by Peyo.  (Belgium)  English translation by Joe Johnson.  Lettering by Michael Petranek.  www. smurf.com

Just in time for the upcoming Smurf movie, Papercutz has been publishing THE SMURFS graphic novels with six released so far, and three new books not far behind.  These are all translations of the original works.

I have long felt that the original Smurf material was far superior to the officially licensed U.S. adaptations in various formats.  I especially found the old Saturday morning SMURF cartoon shows to be tedious.  However,  I must admit that the TV show takes most of the credit for their former popularity in the United States. 

The story here in  the FCBD edition shows a much higher level of artistic achievement in both art and story.  Peyo is the master.  It’s a very amusing story of the creation of a Smurf submarine and inferior attempts by their nemesis, Gargamel the sorcerer, to duplicate it.

Just like Geronimo Stilton, this Smurf story just begs for parents to read it to their grateful children.  Check it out. 

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