Raising small geeks is a lot of fun. For me – definitely, but my nieces also look quite happy about it. I do not always get it right, and showing Coraline to a three year old… hopefully won’t come out in therapy later in life a source of some major issues 😉 And Brave, after which she was afraid her mother would turn into a bear, was not actually my idea (and Madzia enjoyed both, it’s just that there were some after-effects)
Anyway, there are better and worse ideas. I keep them supplied with Ghibli movies and Marvel plushies and make sure there are plenty of books, carefully screened for artistic value and gender equality issues. I read them age-appropriate manga, we play games and tell each other stories. There even is a very special book she can read me!
It’s a chance for me to revisit some of the childhood’s favourites and find some new and exciting books. And in this area I’m not handicapped by living in Poland. Our fantasy is mostly mediocre (with notable exceptions, but still…), our s/f tends to be politically too far to the right for my liking, but kiddie books – we have plenty of the highest quality stuff. There are even some internationally recognised names, take a look.
Usually, though, I frequent the parts of the Internet that are English-only. And sometimes I find something so nice, I just have to buy it for the little ones. It’s not a problem now, it’s easy enough to translate on the fly, but soon they will want to read it all themselves… hopefully it will be a motivation to learn the language.
And so I present you little Madzia’s first comic book, colourful, fast-paced and inducing no nightmares 🙂
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, now a trilogy, is something I bought after reading an enthusiastic review, with a goal in mind to familiarize my niece with comic book as a form. It’s great for that. It is beautiful, bright-coloured, panels designed to be an easy read for young, inexperienced reader, level of details adjusted accordingly not to bore and tire young eyes.
Story of a little girl a bit too curious, which leads to her friend being kidnapped by aliens, and her heroic quest to get him back, is simple and enjoyable. No point in summarizing it here, but rest assured – although the danger will always be there, tension enough to keep the attention, but never big enough to scare (too much). There will be friends, misunderstood creatures that turn out to be really good, bullies that learn to be nice, personal growth and happy end. All clear, but not too obvious or boring.
In Madzia’s own words:
Zita and the mouse, mouse with a saddle Zita could sit on. She met her in another world, when she travelled far away. And she met spiders with pliers that pinched her. I think she will have more adventures and I would like to learn about them.
It’s also a brave little girl to the rescue, not a princess waiting to be saved, still an annoyingly common trope in children fiction. I’m not saying it needs to be totally eliminated, but definitely a balance is needed, in a world where gender equality is, if not a reality, than at least an obvious ideal. No one needs more picture books about girls learning to wash clothes when boys run around playing… that one made me angry!
So yeah, I’m now a careful man, aware that at the tender age of four Madzia is not ready for Watchmen or even Usagi, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great comic books to introduce her to the medium 🙂