Little Lit
These days, most comics really aren't for kids. But Little Lit fixes that with funny and fractured all-ages fairy tales by some of the best comic artists around. Annoying magic pumpkins, a horrible ogre queen, and strangely hungry horses are just some of the strange characters guaranteed to delight both children and adults.
Twelve great tales, some new and some retold classics, with weird and wacky pictures fill the pages of Little Lit. Comic fans will recognize the talents of Dan Clowes, Kaz, Joost Swarte, and many more. Kids will love the unexpected twists on old favorites, like the lions who populate Barbara McClintock's "The Princess and the Pea." Like all good fairy tales, many of these stories have lessons hidden in them. Maus creator Art Spiegelman tells the story of a young prince who finds out he doesn't have to change the thing he likes best about himself in "Prince Rooster." And Harry Bliss's "The Baker's Daughter" finds out the hard way that she shouldn't be stingy.
Walt Kelly's 1943 "The Gingerbread Man" gives today's kids a taste of the comic books of yesteryear. There are even activities, like Charles Burns's "Spookyland" and Bruce McCall's silly "What's Wrong with this Picture?" But the very best part of the whole wonderful package is the hilarious game included on the endpapers. It's called "Fairy Tale Road Rage," and it's beautifully illustrated with the exquisite, nostalgic art of Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan). Players race to complete a silly story. Bedtime was never better! (All ages) --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly
In this provocative anthology, husband-and-wife team Spiegelman (Open Me... I'm a Dog) and New Yorker art editor Mouly enlist well-known artists to retell traditional tales and invent visual games. Spiegelman himself kicks things off with "Prince Rooster," a typical be-yourself tale but for the references to R. Crumb's Mr. Natural, a guy whose knee-length white beard conceals his nudity. William Joyce offers "Humpty Trouble," a revisionist egg-stravaganza featuring ovoid voice bubbles and delicate watercolor images, while David Macaulay submits a straightforward pen-and-ink "Jack and the Beanstalk" and the lone female contributor, Barbara McClintock, pens a gentle, old-fashioned "Princess and the Pea." Among otherwise Western folktales, David Mazzucchelli's elegantly drawn Japanese legend ("The Fisherman and the Sea Princess") stands out for its active navy blue line, refined palette and generous use of negative space. Elsewhere, single-panel illustrations pay homage to brainteasers in Mad and nonsatirical children's magazines. Bruce McCall alludes to "Rapunzel" and his own What's Wrong With This Book? in a deliberately error-strewn painting, and Black Hole's Charles Burns contributes a gruesome scratchboard hide-and-seek that exhorts readers to "find all the snakes and eggs in this picture!" But by far the most adventuresome item comes from Jimmy Corrigan author Chris Ware, who turns the endpapers into a stylized board game called "Fairy Tale Road Rage." On Ware's ironic instruction sheet, two adults debate the game's "collectible resale value" before punching out the coin-sized paper playing pieces. "Road Rage" cuts to the ambivalent heart of Little Lit's fusion of cheap comic strips and glossy picture books. Spiegelman and Mouly's sophisticated collection, unified by a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale theme, lingers at the crossroad between kids and adults, classics and parodies, children's literature and comics. All ages. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 6-This is a cool book: cool in the sense that it is presented by 18 renowned cartoonists; cool in the McLuhan sense of comics as a medium that commands audience involvement through iconic forms; and cool in the sense of a marriage of form and content that is brilliant in concept. Cartoonists include Spiegelman, Walt Kelly, David Macaulay, William Joyce, and Kaz. Each uses a unique style of sequential art to interpret a fairy tale, either an original story using traditional motifs (Spiegelman's "Prince Rooster") or a familiar tale. Macaulay offers a version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and there is a fractured tale (Joyce's "Humpty [Dumpty] Trouble"). Some of the retellings like Daniel Clowes's sequel to "Sleeping Beauty" are told in formal language, others like Barbara McClintock's "The Princess and the Pea" are tongue-in-cheek. Comics and folktales have much in common. Both depend on our understanding of universal symbols and icons (think of the "smiley face") that are stripped down to amplify their meaning. Both are interactive forms that depend on the audience to fill in the details with their own imaginations. Chris Ware's "Fairy Tale Road Rage" game on the endpapers will acquaint children with the motifs and patterns of traditional tales. Librarians will hate it because processing will conceal part of the game and the punch-out game pieces will disappear. Nonetheless, the book will still circulate. This is a sensational introduction to traditional literature for a visually sophisticated generation. It will live happily ever after in the hands of readers everywhere.
Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Gr. 4-up. The 1992 presentation of a special Pulitzer Prize to Spiegelman for Maus signaled the arrival of a new art form: the graphic novel. What Spiegelman did has now taken firm root in the field of books for young readers, growing some of the most visually exciting books in ages. In this book Spiegelman and his wife, Francoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker , invited 15 stellar talents to create original graphic stories that poke often ironic fun at tales from that Mother Goose woman and other traditional sources. Some of the contributing artists will be familiar to lovers of children's lit: William Joyce, for example, has some fun with a cracked version of "Humpty Dumpty," and David Macaulay struts his creative stuff in "Jack and His Mom and the Beanstalk," perhaps the funniest and most aesthetically agreeable tale in the collection. Others--Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware, among them--will be more familiar to fans of graphic novels for adults. Still other talents and tales reflect the original inspiration for this art form: the Sunday funnies and "all in color for a dime" comic books. Regardless of their sources, though, all that's old is arrestingly new again in this delightfully eye- and imagination-stimulating collection. It's an extravagant treat for readers of all ages. Michael Cart
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