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Recommended Reading

This is in response to a discussion that developed in Pop Culture Update.

Three of my favorite comic books are probably not well known to the average person on the street. Usagi Yojimbo, Akiko, and Bone are, in my opinion, three of the smartest written comics on the market that are appropriate for younger and older readers alike.

All three of these comics are probably set apart, first, in that they were all originally printed in black and white, though they have gone over to color makeovers of some of their original work.

Usagi Yojimbo is set in feudal Japan and is populated by anthropomorphized animals. This fact, oddly, is never refered to in the comic, though Usagi is often called a "long eared ronin." In spite of this, the comic, while appropriate for kids, is far from childish. I learned a lot about feudal Japan by reading the stories, and the stories are extremely engaging and beautifully rendered.

Akiko is an innocent and rolicking story of a 4th grader who, one evening, has a spaceship pull up to her apartment window and whisk her away to all sorts of surreal adventures in an outer space that challenges every assumption we might have. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, she has her wits to face her formiddable opponents, and like Dorothy, she has a gang of mismatched friends, but that's more than sufficient and certainly entertaining.

stupidstupid.gifBone is about a little white creature called Fone Bone who stumbles into all sorts of trouble with his cousins, Phoncible P. and Smiley Bone, when they find themselves lost. They encounter danger, romance, friendship, and stupid, stupid rat creatures. The storyline, which is light and silly at first, gets increasingly darker as their friend and heroine Thorn's destiny is revealed.

Here is a wonderful album of art from Bone.

And these comics have lasting value. My children and I still read them years after the first read through and they have all become intrinsic to our vocabulary and family mythos.


Will definitely look the other two comics up now, as well. From a brief look, Bone seems like it would especially appeal to Josh's quirky sense of humor, and would encourage his reading skills. He's ahead of the curve at 5, but he still really doesn't like to read--it's so much easier to con your big brother into reading for you, you know... I'm home schooling (okay, actually e-schooling) both boys this year, so I've been looking for exactly this sort of thing to encourage him. Akiko sounds exactly like what I always wished would happen to me when I was in the 4th grade. :-) I'm sure my guys will enjoy it, too. Thanks!

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