Double Dose of Reviews: Johnny Boo 1 and 2
The holidays are approaching, and parents, it may be a bit difficult finding appropriate all-ages comic books for your little budding readers. The shelves are inundated with books of all shapes and sizes, and it can be hard trying to find the book that your child will like, without stumbling upon one that’s a bit too mature. Johnny Boo, the first two volumes of which hit the shelves this year, is written and illustrated by James Kochalka, whose work that ranges the spectrum from a daily semi-autobiographical webcomic to various all-ages graphic novels. His versatility with the medium has allowed him to create books that appeal to the child in all of us. It’s the perfect gift for young children who are just learning how to read on their own. Plus, it’s actually pretty funny!
Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World!
Age Range: All Ages
Johnny Boo: Twinkle Power
Age Range: All Ages
Release Date: Dec. 2008
Johnny Boo Volume 1 is a short, sweet, hardcover book that is just the right size for a young child’s attention span. It’s illustrated in full-color, with a cast of three: Johnny Boo, a mischievous ghost, Squiggle, a very small ghost who can fly, and the Ice Cream Monster, a towering pink and yellow “monster” who loves ice cream. There’s not much plot to be had; rather, it’s more a series of little vignettes surrounding the wonders of life (i.e. ice cream, giant monsters, and Boo Power). The narrative style is perfect, capturing all the nuances of how a children’s book should be, and encompassing the free-flowing, inventive consciousness of a child. Johnny Boo is the epitome of a five-year old hero. He’s charming, can talk his way out of any situation, bends and protests the rules, and is devoted to his best friend, Squiggle. He has what he has dubbed “Boo Power”, in which he can shout “BOO!” at the top of his lungs. Squiggle, on the other hand, has “Squiggle Power”. He can fly through the air and do loop-de-loops, much to Johnny Boo’s chagrin when they play tag. They both have a love for ice cream, but when the Ice Cream Monster comes for their delectable treat, they may not end up with any!
Book 2 of the Johnny Boo adventures, Twinkle Power, continues the innocent, youthful fun that the first book pulled off perfectly. A new caveat in this volume is Squiggle’s fascination with Johnny Boo’s “new hairdo”. However, when Squiggle starts laughing at Johnny’s hair, Johnny declares that a rock will be his new best friend. The problem is only exacerbated when Squiggle starts crying, and Johnny shouts “BOO!” at him to make him feel better. Later, the duo discovers a strange new power: Twinkle Power! Squiggle flies up to the stars to see if they can teach him how to twinkle. After he returns, he and Johnny discover yet another new power: Wiggle Power! The Ice Cream Monster goes “Wiggle Crazy!” and swears that he’ll never stop wiggling!
Johnny Boo is a timeless tale, built on the basic tenet of childhood: fun. James Kochalka has a real talent for articulating all the fun and adventures to be had when one has the carefree mindset of the very young. It’s also completely appropriate for all ages, and can even be read, picture-book style, to a child who doesn’t quite have a grasp on reading yet. It’s captivating, entirely readable (unlike other juvenile graphic novels that are overtly preachy), and a great bite-sized romp. Check it out as a great gift for the little one in your family this Christmas.