Toon Books Keep Your Adult Kids From Living At Home

Out of all five of our kids, four of them are either reading or just getting started. Noah, at 9 is making the leap to basic chapter books, Allie has already established her dominance of the English language as a first grader, testing at a third grade level in her recent aptitude tests, while her sister Avery is making similar strides in Kindergarten. Harrison who is also in Kindergarten has actually been complaining that he’s not learning words fast enough to read the books that interest him. This is all fine by me. I mean, who’s going to argue that they’d prefer to have illiterate kids playing video games on their couch for then next thirty years? Not me, which is why when The Book Report Network asked me to review Toon Books for them, I could almost envision a life of peace and quiet as I caught up on re-runs of Matlock during my cruise to Florida.

Toon Books are a series written for children in a comic book format. I know the first impression one might get of comic books is that of a superheroes flying around on a few pages stapled together in between a glossy paper cover, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. The idea behind Toon Books is to combine the feeling of action created through multiple illustrated frames along with stories designed to foster the skills of beginning-level readers.

The first volume I read was Jack and the Box written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman, who has won the Pulitzer Prize for his powerful graphic novel Maus, A Survivor’s Tale as well recognition for a number of other works. In this Toon Book, Spiegelman tells the story of Jack and his newest toy, a goofy Jack in the box who does not fail when it comes to providing surprises. The drawing style manages to convey a bouncy sort of feel, while the words are simple and easy to read. Allie and Avery chose this book as their favorite. It’s perfect for kids from Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, and if they are fans of Dr Seuss then they’ll like Jack and the Box just as much.

Stinky by Eleanor Davis was the next volume I looked at. It’s a charming story (yes, I just used the word “charming”) of a swamp monster named Stinky who learns about the misperceptions he has after a little boy starts hanging out near Stinky’s home. The illustrations are colorful and well-drawn making for good eye candy, but at the same time, move the story along. I liked the fact it’s broken down into a couple chapters, which makes it perfect for our kids to read before bed and still allow for a few minutes discussion about the message behind the story. And honestly, who can resist a purple polka-dotted creature that loves pickled onions and has a pet named Wartbelly?

The last Toon Book is Mo and Jo and it incorporates the traditional superhero element of comics without sacrificing a clear moral lesson on getting along with others and working together. The story itself is about Joey and his sister Mona, who like all siblings, manage to fight about every petty little thing. When the mailman makes a surprising delivery involving a costume from the crime fighter, The Mighty MoJo, Joey and Mona inherit his superpowers. Unfortunately, brother and sister can’t quite get their act together fighting the villain Saw-Jaw until it’s almost too late. Like “Stinky”, this book, which was written by Jay Lynch of Garbage Pail Kid fame, is broken in chapters again making it convenient for reading. The chapter also allows readers to take in all the action illustrated by Dean Haspiel who has also drawn for DC and Marvel Comics which probably explains why, of all the Toon Books, this one has the closest feel to an actual comic.

Each of these books is designed for readers in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade and run about $12.95. That might seem steep at first, but keep in mind these are high quality books written by pedigreed, award-winning authors and illustrators and bound in a durable hardcover.

Combined with the other Toon Book titles, they make a great collection that will survive enough wear and tear to last for all your children. In fact, I’ve spent the weekend tossing the things around like ninja darts for a couple hours and the kids could still read them after I pulled them out of the sheetrock. Toon Books are the books you will keep around for the grandchildren to read and your grown children will recall them so fondly they will fight over them after you die. That’s all fine by me as long as my kids aren’t still living in the basement counting the days until my demise.

Anyone can purchase Toon Books from all major wholesalers or through Diamond Book Distributors. There’s even an avenue to order Toon Books for schools and libraries (there's even lesson plans associated with each book). You can also learn more about these titles to include their authors and illustrators at Toon Books. I’m not getting any huge kickbacks for this review or to tell you to purchase these books, but if you don’t want to be handing half your social security check over to your adult offspring so they can blow it on Playstation (version 10), then Toon Books is at least something to consider as tool to improve their ability to read more than just game cheat code books.

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