Howdy! This page is part of a guide to comic books recommended for younger readers (along with some stuff their parents might like as well. This page covers the letter "P." Other books are linked to below.

So, come celebrate that groovy, geeky, magical medium that we all grew up on... and share that special sense of wonder with someone smaller and newer than you. By the way, this is a work in progress, and your recommendations are always welcome... )








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"Polo: The Adventures Of Polo"
Written by Regis Faller
Illustrated by Regis Faller
(Roaring Brook Press, 2002)

An absolutely brilliant, magical book... This fab fantasy from France is a wordless picturebook that stars Polo, a cheerful, indomitable cartoon dog with a flair for improvisation, bravery and boundless curiosity... The story starts with Polo walking out of his house -- a large oak tree on a tiny ocean island -- and setting out on an adventure with his trusty backpack and umbrella. From there it's a wild, wonderful ride where one thing leads to another: Polo climbs a ladder to the sky, is scooped up birds, imprisoned in an iceberg and climbs to the moon, where little green men welcome him into their mushroom-strewn underground world... Like Crockett Johnson's "Purple Crayon" series, the "Polo" books play on visual free association -- one inventive flight of fancy piles on top of another, although author-illustrator Regis Faller has crafted something much longer than any of the "Crayon" books, a large, bold graphic novel that clearly comes out of the European comicbook tradition, as bold and expansive as any of the "Tin-Tin" novels. Polo is a marvelous reading experience, and it expects as much from its readers as it gives back. Adults can guide children through the narrative, commenting on each panel, or summarizing entire pages, creating the narrative as they go along. Children can also spend hours alone, pouring over the panels and making up stories of their own. Faller has a wonderful intuitive grasp of fantasy and fantastic thought; his storytelling and graphic style are simply delightful... And, gee, are these books fun! Fantastic, exciting, perilous things happen on every page, but Polo never comes to any harm, he just has a great time and makes lots of friends. Highly recommended! One of our favorite books. (A+)


"Polo: The Runaway Book"
Written by Regis Faller
Illustrated by Regis Faller
(Roaring Brook Press, 2007)

Polo's back, and so are the little green men: one of them sneaks into Polo's bedroom and steals his new book, starting a chase that takes them across the oceans, up into the sky, into a weird, white Limbo and into a cloud kingdom with a delicate princess who becomes Polo's friend. Picking up other friends along the way, Polo crosses deserts and rides clouds, frees a genie and climbs a giant dandelion, like Jack climbed the the beanstalk. Finally, after seventy color-filled pages, he catches up to the little green guy, who is reading the runaway book to a group of his friends. Polo sits down to listen, and when the story is over, the green guy gives it back to him. (Since there are no words, you can insert an apology here, if you want. Another brilliant, breathless rollercoaster ride filled with fantastic, just-for-fun adventures. My kid will look at this book for hours by herself, but also loves when we read it together. Can't wait for more of these to come out in America -- so far it's just this one and the equally-fabulous The Adventures Of Polo. (A+)


"Power Pack, v.1: Pack Attack!"
(Marvel Adventures, 2005)

On the face of it, Marvel's Power Pack series -- about a family of middle-class American kids who are given superpowers by a nice, cuddly, unicorn-like alien, and who frequently save the world (and each other) while managing to hide their super-ness from their parents -- should be a great book for the littlest readers. However, as with the original Power Pack series from the 1990s, Marvel Comics can never quite get a handle on how "baby" to make the book, or how much of a serious superhero title it should be. Personally, I wish it were more of a baby book -- there's way more of a need for super-simple stories with an unscary tone, but this series lapses into the same sort of "gritty" tropes as comics that are pitched to older readers, and it's just a teensy bit darker than it needs to be. On the flipside, this allows the creators to have the siblings bicker with each other (ala The Fantastic Four) and present a more realistic version of family dynamics than is often shown in other comics. Still, the book wobbles back and forth between different narrative tones, and this uneven approach might make it a little hard to get into... Try it for your self and see what you think. (B-)


"Power Pack & X-Men -- The Power Of X"
(Marvel Adventures, 2005)

(B-)


"Power Pack & The Avengers -- Assemble!" (2006)
(Marvel Adventures, 2005)

(B-)


"Power Pack & Spider-Man -- Big City Super Heroes"
(Marvel Adventures, 2006)

(B-)


"Power Pack & Hulk -- Pack Smash!"
(Marvel Adventures, 2007)

(B-)


"Power Pack & Fantastic Four -- Favorite Son"
(Marvel Adventures, 2007)

Franklin (Son Of A Genius) Richards transfers to the same school as the Power Pack kids, which naturally leads to all of them getting kidnapped by Doctor Doom. A much mellower, wimpier Franklin than in his own books, but a fun story nonetheless. There's some overlap with the more humorous (and totally awesome) Franklin Richards series, since Katy Power often appears as a supporting character, and has a crush on the seemingly-oblivious Franklin. (B-)


"Power Pack & Iron Man -- Armored And Dangerous"
(Marvel Adventures, 2007)

(B-)


"Power Pack, v.7: Power Pack: Day One"
(Marvel Adventures, 2005)

(B-)


"Power Pack, v.8: Skrulls vs. Power Pack"
(Marvel Adventures, 2008)

(B-)


"Power Pack, v.9: Wolverine And Power Pack"
(Marvel Adventures, 2008)

(B-)




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