I’m a big fan of Lynda Barry (Marlys and Maybonne forever!), Jules Feiffer and Art Spiegelman. So a few years back, I introduced S & L to graphic novels. We started with the collection Little Lit: Folklore & Fairy Tale Funnies. Edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, it features contributions from 16 artists, including Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, and Chris Ware. Each story is a retelling of a classic folk tale, and the kids still get a kick out of the twisted plots. Because a lot of traditional tales have elements of the brutal and grotesque, the edgy illustrations feel just right. Here’s Daniel Clowes’s take on Sleeping Beauty:
The followup title, Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids, is even better than the first. The stories all have an unearthly, sort of Twilight Zone quality. S & L cannot get enough of the one called “The Day I Disappeared” by Paul Auster (!). In keeping with Auster’s usual obsessions, it’s about a man who wakes up invisible to others — possibly dead — and spends the day trailing his real, living self. The illustrations, by Jacques de Loustral, have a very Hopper-esque quality.
The only problem I had with the Little Lit books was that they were a bit complicated for my daughter to read on her own. So I was thrilled to discover the Toon Books series, also created by Mouly and Spiegelman, designed for emerging readers. When S finally started reading on her own, she must have read Stinky by Eleanor Davis (about an adorably disgusting monster who’s scared of kids) at least 15 times.