Reviews for Zig and Wikki in S
"This spring, Toon Books will be releasing its first science-based comic, Zig & Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. Penned by Nadja Spiegelman and drawn by Trade Loeffler, readers will enjoy this engaging story of intergalactic beings, coming to Earth in search of a class pet.
Below, Nadja Spiegelman talks about her experience as a first time author.
Esther: When and why did you begin writing? Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Do you have a desire to draw too? Nadja: I was always telling stories, from as early as I can remember. The very earliest were for my little brother, Dash, when we were walking home from school. We had three or four characters — a cat, a mouse, a magical bag — and they went on different adventures each time. I started writing stories down as soon as I learned how to type. All my stories back then were about magic, and I remember one specifically about a magical pencil — anything you drew with it became real. I still wish I had one of those. I’ve always loved drawing, and the sides of my notebooks are all filled with doodles, but I was incredibly lucky to have Trade to collaborate with on this project. Otherwise it would have been Zig and Wikki in Why Are We Stick Figures.
Esther: This book was a collaboration between writer and artist. Can you tell us more about the experience? What was the process like?
Nadja: Well, at first it was very tricky. My mother, the publisher, didn’t want to reveal to the artist, Trade, that I was her daughter to keep things as professional as could be so Trade and I communicated only in cyberspace. Still, writing the book was a process of true collaboration. I wrote a script, he sent back a panel-by-panel breakdown, I made changes to the story so it would flow better, he drew in new gags. It was really wonderful to work as a team. By the time Trade learned my true identity he had already voiced his genuine appreciation for my stories, which was very gratifying. Still, I’m looking forward to sitting next to him while we hash out the details of the next one.
Esther: My favorite parts of this book were the little scientific facts. As a school librarian, who’s always thinking about 'curricular connections,' I know this can be a perfect fit for science teachers. But on a personal level, I had a ‘squick out moment’ when I read that flies taste with their feet. Where did you dig up these facts? What made you put them in?
Nadja: When my brother Dash was little, all he brought home from the library were photo books about guinea pigs and sea turtles and I often found myself jealous of how many cool things he knew. I wanted to write a story that would have both hugs and bugs— a friendship and gross facts about flies.
Esther: What other adventures do you see Zig and Wikki going on?
Nadja: There are a few possibilities that I’m working through. I’d love to have them go under the sea because sea creatures are crazy weird. But I’d also like to try something completely different, and have them explore the physics of other dimensions. I’m still in the research phase right now.
Esther: Where did you come up with the names Zig and Wikki? (I have to admit, I keep thinking Ziggy for some reason.)
Nadja: Those characters had at least five different names each before we settled on those two. Wikki comes from Wikipedia. And Zig? Zig just looked like a Zig.
Esther: Often, people think that writing for children is easy. But as someone who dabbles in writing, I know that’s not the case. I’ve tried to pen a story for children… and it’s anything but easy! What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Nadja: I was finishing up my senior year of college while I was writing this, so I was stuck at school while Trade and my mother were in New York. They read the book to several classrooms of young children and, while I got to see all the notes, I would have loved to hear the kids laugh at the funny parts.
Esther: What or who has most influenced your life the most?
Nadja: My parents never let me watch television as I was growing up. When I turned fourteen I was finally allowed to watch half an hour a week that my dad recorded on a VHS tape, but only as long as I fast-forwarded the commercials. It sounds crazy to me now — I watch all the trashy television I can and I’d cry if anyone took my Gossip Girl away — but I never missed it when I was younger. I read all the time. I’d walk home from the library reading a book, looking up only to cross the street. I think that had a pretty big influence on me, at least insofar as it made me strange.
Esther: Do you see writing as a career?
Nadja: Yes. Although I find it incredibly difficult to make myself sit down and write. My dad tells me, 'A writer is someone who likes having written,' and I feel that way. I dread writing but I start to go a little crazy when I’m not writing.
Esther: It’s hard not to mention your parents in this interview. What sort of influence did they have in your life? What influence did they have on this project?
Nadja: My parents have had enormous influence on my life. I respect them both more than I can say — as people, as parents, and as artists. But I also find myself struggling to outrun their shadows. One of my goals in life is to have only my own achievements, not my father’s, come up when you google search my name.
Esther: So what’s next on your agenda? What else do you have on your plate?
Nadja: Well, right now I’m very focused on my Real Job in the Real World. I’m the Web Producer at The Jewish Weekly Forward, and I’m really enjoying it. I make podcasts and videos, moderate the comments, and work with some truly wonderful people. I have a nameplate above my desk with my name and my name in Hebrew (I didn’t even know I had a name in Hebrew). I’m also moonlighting as a waitress at the restaurant Balthazar downtown. And, of course, I’m plotting Zig and Wikki’s next big adventure."
"I adore the Toon Books line, a series of slim books for younger readers that merge comics and children’s books into a single entity. So now, every time there’s a new publication on the horizon, I found myself eager to read it for myself. In the case of the new Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, what I wasn’t expecting to find was a slightly educational story starring two aliens. But the more I read it, the more I find myself enjoying it. It’s a fairly simple plot; Zig is an alien who (thanks to his robotic pal Wikki) gets lost on his way to his grandmother’s home. Winding up on Earth, they decide to kill two birds with one stone and look for an animal to take back home and be part of the class zoo at Zig’s school. It sounds simple enough, until they actually leave the spaceship and the reader discovers that Zig and Wikki are at most several inches high. It was around that moment that I found myself fully charmed by the book; Zig and Wikki shows rather than tells in moments like that, letting the reader understand the situation that the characters themselves wouldn’t necessarily understand.
Nadja Spiegelman’s script brings Zig and Wikki through a small food chain, starting with a fly and then working its way up to a raccoon. It’s a fairly linear progression as it introduces younger readers to the idea that each animal depends on a different one in order to survive. It’s presented very matter-of-factly, without any lamenting the deaths of the smaller creatures but instead looking at it on a scientific basis. It’s a surprising tactic but one that I approve of; this is on some level a science lesson, and rather than get caught up in the emotion of the scenes we continue to move forward in the learning process. To aid that goal, Wikki’s forehead displays facts from time to time, letting the reader (and Zig) understand about each of the four different species that appear in Zig and Wikki.
Zig and Wikki is illustrated by Trade Loeffler, in his first print work. It’s a nice debut, as he balances the strange appearance of Zig with a realistic approach to the animals that show up throughout the book. He has a strong understanding of basic comic storytelling, something that is critical in a publication for younger readers. Each panel is solidly constructed and has a lot of background detail as well, giving the reader something to look at while the overall structure moves you from one to the next. I especially like how he draws Zig, though; a one-eyed, tentacle-armed creature could have looked grotesque, but instead he’s rather adorable. Whenever he rescues Wikki, there’s such a sense of relief on his face that you get a strong sense of his friendship with Wikki, despite (or perhaps because of) the trouble they get into with one another.
Toon Books has another success with Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. It’s fun and informative, that prized double-header of children’s literature. The format is durable enough, for that matter, that Spiegelman and Loeffler could easily create dozens of Zig and Wikki books on all sorts of subjects. (A book on the solar system seems like a natural, but the possibilities are literally endless.) With Toon Books’ usual impeccable production design, this is a slick looking book that I think parents will be eager to give to their children. Fortunately, Zig and Wikki is the sort of book that children will be eager to read. Definitely worth picking up for the younger reader in your life."
--Read About Comics
"Meet Zig, an alien, and Wikki, his sidekick. Zig is in the soup with his teacher for failing to turn in the latest homework assignment: bringing in a pet for the class zoo. When a wrong turn leads Zig and Wikki to Earth instead of grandma’s house, the boys decide to capture an Earth animal for their assignment. There’s just one problem: all of their potential pets are feistier and faster than they look! Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework
By Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler
Ages 6 – 8
2010, Toon Books, ISBN: 978-1935179023
40 pp., $12.95
Zig and Wikki is an entertaining addition to the Toon Books line, if not quite in the same league as Stinky or Benny and Penny in Just Pretend. Trade Loeffler’s art is bold and appealing, and helps bring the principal characters’ Mutt-and-Jeff relationship to life. Nadja Spiegelman’s script, on the other hand, is clever but a little aimless; the book could have been eight or ten pages shorter without doing violence to the basic concept.
The humor, in particular, is a mixed bag. Though kids may laugh at Zig and Wikki’s reactions to familiar animals, other jokes will be lost on the book’s intended audience. After Wikki is zapped with a shrink ray, for example, his dialogue appears in teeny print. It’s a cute gag, but less proficient readers may struggle with the small font size, while others might not make the connection between the change in typesetting and the change in Wikki’s height.
On the plus side, Spiegelman does a fine job of making Earth science an integral part of the story. The script features call-outs with information about the various “pets” that Zig and Wikki try to capture: a dragonfly, a frog, a raccoon, a common housefly. From an adult perspective, these facts may seem arbitrary, but from a kid’s, they add a whole new level of interest to the text; what five-year-old wouldn’t find it fascinating that some frogs shed and eat their skin, or that flies have the ability to sense whether food has spoiled?
The science content makes Zig and Wikki a good choice for classroom use, perhaps for a lesson on pond ecology. (All of the Earth scenes take place near a pond where the boys crash.) It also makes it a great bedtime read for budding naturalists, especially for those who gravitate towards insects, reptiles, and amphibians. The vocabulary and syntax are a little more complex than that found in other Toon Book readers, and are best suited for students in grades one, two, and three.
The title suggests that this is the first of several books about Zig and Wikki. I hope the series continues, as I think the basic concept — using a fun, fast-paced story as a Trojan Horse for scientific information — is terrific, and deserves a second chance to find its groove.
Review copy provided by the publisher."
--School Library Journal
"If you read my review from last year of the initial releases from TOON Books, the unique beginning reader books in comic book format, you know I was an instant fan. Their newest release, Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, does not disappoint. Zig and Wikki is written by recent college graduate Nadja Spiegelman and veteran cartoonist Trade Loeffler, the creator of the amazing online comic strips featuring Zip and Lil' Bit. These strips, which can be up to 62 web pages long, include Upside Down Me, Sky Kayak and Captain's Quest. Zig and Wikki represents yet another brilliant first for TOON Books : a beginning reader book with science facts woven into 'every twist of the exciting plot,' as the blurb on the back of the book notes.
In an interview in School Library Journal with Esther Keller, Nadja Spiegelman spoke of her inspiration for this book saying, 'When my brother Dash was little, all he brought home from the library were photo books about guinea pigs and sea turtles and I often found myself jealous of how many cool things he knew. I wanted to write a story that would have both hugs and bugs— a friendship and gross facts about flies.' As the parent of a son who was exactly the same way, I appreciate and greatly welcome this perspective! The lines between fiction and non-fiction are especially rigid in the realm of beginning readers, perhaps for no reason better than a lack of vision on the part of publishers. Once again, thankfully, TOON Books brings that vision, along with quality story telling, artwork and overall packaging, to the frequently bland world of beginning reader books.
The characters Zig and Wikki are wonderful. Zig is some kind of alien with his own spaceship and responsibility issues. Wikki, his best friend and partner in delinquency, is a computer-being who's screen pops on and displays pertinent facts throughout their adventure. And what an adventure it is! On the way to visit his grandmother, Zig's teacher rings in to remind Zig that his homework is LATE AGAIN! He needs to find a pet for the class zoo and fast. No worries, Zig can pick up a puffle pup at his grandma's. Except, the two don't end up at grandma's, they end up on EARTH! A few inches tall and armed only with a shrink ray and a net, the Zig and Wikki set off to find a pet.
They first encounter a fly, for which Wikki provides some icky facts that will surely delight kids. After failing to catch the fly, the two aliens move up the food chain in their hunt, always with more factoids from Wikki, and almost becoming part of the food chain themselves! Shaken and shrunken (in Wikki's case, anyway) the two return to the ship empty handed. But, as their ship heads home, they discover a stowaway who will save the day!
About further adventures for Zig and Wikki, Spiegelman says, 'There are a few possibilities that I’m working through. I’d love to have them go under the sea because sea creatures are crazy weird. But I’d also like to try something completely different, and have them explore the physics of other dimensions. I’m still in the research phase right now.' This book, I will definitely be waiting in line for, whether my non-reader is beyond it by the time it hits the shelves or not!"
--Books 4 Your Kids
“'I wanted to write a story that would have both hugs and bugs— a friendship and gross facts about flies.' -- Nadja Spiegelman in School Library Journal.
Poor Zig – he’s late with his homework and needs to find a pet for the class zoo or his teacher’s going to be calling his parents. Unfortunately for him, his best friend Wikki has been driving the spaceship again and the two friends always get lost when Wikki does the driving.
As luck would have it, the alien pair happen to arrive at a very familiar green and blue planet which has plenty of interesting animals for them to look at and maybe, if they’re not eaten in the process, they might even get to take one of them home for their class zoo – there are flies, frogs and raccoons waiting for them, and Wikki has lots of interesting facts about them all.
Zig And Wikki is just as lovely as every Toon Book I’ve seen so far, and the science is simple yet informative, perfect little interesting factoids ideal for the age range.
Just like author Nadja Spiegelman says in the interview – it’s all about bugs and hugs, and that just about describes this lovely little science based graphic novel. It’s absolutely perfect stuff, yet again, from Toon Books. The art of making delightful, simple, yet educational graphic novels aimed squarely at an early reader level is a very hard one, but time after time they get it just right.
Except, for this one moment…one panel in Zig And Wikki that just stopped me in my tracks, as Zig & Wikki lose the fly they’d been chasing…
Zig And Wikki is a new Toon Book with a twist; it’s the first non-fiction book they’ve published. So we get to look at a simple food chain and explore the wonder of nature on our own planet with these two extra-terrestrial visitors. There’s just enough science in the little factoids to interest the readers but it’s never allowed to dominate and things are always kept lovely and light.
New writer Nadja Spiegelman (yes, Art and Francoise’s daughter) does a grand job of laying everything out just right, getting the mix of facts and fun just right. And the art by Trade Loeffler is exactly what it needed to be – simple, fresh and fun.
It seems bugger is one of those words that really doesn’t mean the same thing over there as it does here. Think of it as a variation on “oh, drat” (See this website for more analysis), but it might have been an idea to edit it out for us foreigners and our children. But even with that little weird linguistic moment, Zig And Wikki is brilliant, wonderful stuff for those first readers and a great first non-fiction graphic novel from Toon Books."
No kid wants to hear those dread words: 'Your homework is late again.' For kids like Zig it’s a common occurrence. He and his friend, Wikki, are making a trip to grandma’s house to pick up a pet for Zig’s classroom zoo. They get a bit off track, thanks to too much gaming, and their space ship ends up near Earth. The two land and try to find a suitable pet for Zig to take to class. On their journey they discover a lot about animals and the food chain. From fly to dragonfly to frog to raccoon, with each possible pet, a larger predator comes along and devours the smaller leading the two to discover more and more about how the world works.
Nadja Spiegelman scrambles a science fiction setting and plot with nonfiction details about animals and the food chain, creating an engaging piece of science literature for kids.
The single-eyed, tentacle-armed Zig and electronic encyclopedia Wikki give kids the right dose of fantastical story with real life science taken right from the national standards. Their adventure almost gets them eaten, adding in excitement, but in the end they get their fly for the classroom zoo.
It is the sci-fi/nonfiction combo that does it for me. The story is so exciting for the reader because it makes use of two significant genres to tell the story (science and sci-fi). While Zig and Wikki act like humans, Earth’s creatures are not personified; they act like animals.
Throughout the book Wikki gives Zig (and the reader) all kinds of helpful hints about animals. We learn how flies eat (yuck) and how some frogs eat their own skin (even yuckier). Illustrator Trade Loeffler used real life pictures in these descriptions setting the fiction apart from the nonfiction. The two also included fun animal facts in the back.
ZIG AND WIKKI is a hit for young kids and is my absolute favorite Toon Book to date, a choice that is hard to make when the company publishes so many outstanding comic titles for kids.
My Rating: Emergent Readers
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 4 and older (grades K-3)
Emergent readers will need help reading ZIG AND WIKKI at first, but it won’t be long when they can read it themselves.
IN THE CLASSROOM
ZIG AND WIKKI is the perfect introduction to the food chain for early readers. I would suggest using the book as a whole class read aloud using a document camera. Other Toon Books are available electronically for free at the Professor Garfield website and it could be that ZIG AND WIKKI will eventually make it there as well."
--The Graphic Classroom
"Check out Toon Books' new title: Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, the first science-based early reader comic!!! Written by Nadja Spiegelman and illustrated by Trade Loeffler. A+ material for any early reader teacher of science!!!"
"Comics luminaries Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly are maintaining a consistently high quality for their line of comic-format picture books geared toward the youngest readers. The latest features Zig, a more-or-less responsible cyclopean alien, and his pal Wikki, a somewhat irresponsible computer-screen alien, as they are dispatched on a homework assignment to collect a specimen for the class zoo. And where better to pick up peculiar specimens than the planet Earth? This proves a fine opportunity to get into trouble with the old shrinking ray but also to learn all sorts of interesting information about forest denizens such as flies, dragonflies, and frogs. First-time author Spiegelman weaves the science facts into the breezy narrative cleverly and painlessly, and the art isn’t weighed down with the “SpongeBob aesthetic” that is beginning to prevail in young-reader graphic novels but, rather, balances comedic alien figures with realistic animals to support both the educational elements and the zingy story."
"Zig is a mischievous-looking little red alien; Wikki is his best friend, a sentient computer. Together, the two are always getting into trouble. Once again, Zig has forgotten to do his homework. So, on his way to grandma’s house, he figures he’ll complete his current assignment, to bring a pet for the class zoo. However, homework becomes an adventure when his buddy Wikki accidentally steers him to a strange planet called Earth. Armed with a shrink ray and a net, Zig and Wikki head out to capture a creature. But it seems that it is feeding time on planet Earth, as one creature becomes food for another, and another, and another. Will Zig and Wikki wind up part of the food chain? More importantly, will Zig get his homework done?
This is another attractive entry in the Toon Books line, for a slightly older audience than Benny and Penny or Little Mouse. While it is fun and educational, Something Ate My Homework lacks some of the charm of other Toon Books. This is no fault of the tremendously appealing, cartoony, brightly colored artwork. Rather, it’s the slightly stale story that makes this book drag ever so slightly. The wacky hijinks of Zig and Wikki feel tacked on to a well-done but fairly standard illustration of the food chain. Ramping up the educational value are additional facts about the creatures Zig and Wikki encounter; they're interspersed throughout the text via Wikki’s forehead screen. Instead of detracting from the text, these factoids, gross and strange, will go a long way to endearing this book to young readers.
Despite not feeling particularly fresh, Something Ate My Homework is a fun, educational read, and young comic fans definitely will want to see more of Zig and Wikki."
--Graphic Novel Reporter
"Zig and Wikki got lost on their way to grandma. Zig needs a pet for school zoo but thanks to Wikki's driving, he will sure be in big trouble. Unable to find their way, the two decided to drop by a strange looking planet and look for Zig's pet there. Upon landing, mischievous looking Zig, a red alien and his best friend Wikki, a computer realizes that the strange planet is home to odd looking creatures as well, now all they have to do is catch the perfect pet. What could possibly go wrong? Written by Nadja Spiegelman and illustrated by Trade Loeffler, Zig and Wikki is a new children's graphic novel your kids will sure love. Zig and Wikki was first published on April 19, 2010 by Toon Books."
--2 Clicks Comics
"Zig and Wikki are traveling together on a spaceship. Zig is a cute one-eyed alien. Wikki, Zig’s droid companion, seems to be a piece of paper with limbs (think 2 dimensional). Wikk is pretty handy to have around as his display provides useful information whenever the two are in need of it. During their flight, Zig’s teacher telecommunicates with the two. Once again, Zig has failed to complete his homework assignment: a pet for the class zoo. Zig promises to bring one to school that very day. Zig and Wikki take an unexpected detour and land on Earth and encounter several earth-bound creatures that would be excellent for a class zoo if they can catch one. As they encounter a fly, dragon, bullfrog, and then a raccoon Wikki’s display lights up to inform the two aliens of who and what they’re seeing. Wildlife on Earth proves to be dangerous for Zig and Wikki as each animal they encounter is a predator to the previous animal… the food chain in action. The two barely make it back to their spaceship before it takes off. As they fly home, they discover a castaway aboard their spaceship. Which animal will be Zig’s homework assignment? Any guesses? I’ve already gushed over Toon Books on my last post, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much. I think this book uses the great comic-style made up words: 'zoop', 'twap' and 'whew' which are great for putting sounds together and deciphering that don’t seem to have meaning. The ability to decode made up words is an excellent exercise for beginning readers. I like the non-fiction aspects of this title. I liked the mix of photographs and information mixed in with the story. (I even learned something; I didn’t know that some frogs shed their skin and then (ew) eat it.) The subject matter and format is sure to appeal to boys learning to read. I do have one question about this book that I wasn’t able to answer… Zig and Wikki are concerned about getting back to their spaceship before it takes off, but the text doesn’t address why that was an issue. Is it controlled by someone else? Is it on a timer? Does it matter? Nope, it was just a little confusing.
I did the readablity graph for this text… taking three random sets of one hundred words and counting sentences/100 words and syllables/100 words. The average number of sentences/100 words was 23.25 with an average of 122 syllables/100 words. According to the chart I use, that makes this title right smack in the middle of first grade. A solid easy reader.
I received a reviewing copy of Something Ate My Homework by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler from the publisher. This book is being donated to the library where I work for patron use."
"TOON Books loves them some old-fashioned, well-crafted comic illustration style. I read a lot of graphic novels for kids - basically, I read all of them - and it is always so soothing to open up a TOON book. The color palette is consistent and harmonious, there is contrast between backgrounds and foregrounds, shapes are easy to read. TOON artists deploy standard techniques and visual cues like motion lines, graphic text (ZOOM!), and using selective detail to indicate large areas of foliage or other flora, and they do these things well. This stuff is worth learning, and worth doing. It makes the reader's job easier, and especially when you're drawing for new readers, that should be a major consideration.
All right, that's my lecture for the week. Oh, except call me a fuddy-duddy, but I think using pens and brushes to draw children's comics is the way to go. Unless you are VERY good at digital illustration (Bob Staake), you can end up with a monotony of line value that makes it difficult to distinguish the main subject of a drawing.
God I'm such a geek.
Ok. Shake it off, baby. What's the what with Zig and Wikki? What's with those wacky names? How come there's a raccoon on the cover? Is my kid going to snatch this up or what?
Zig and Wikki are best friends - Wikki's a carefree, um, computer monitor with arms and legs; and Zig is a one-eyed tentacle-y type. They're both about seven or eight years old, I'd say, blessed with their own little spaceship and an unusual amount of autonomy.
Zig's homework assignment is to bring in an animal for the class zoo, and when they find themselves lost on Earth, they figure it's an ideal opportunity to capture something exotic. In their attempts to catch a housefly, a dragonfly, a frog and a raccoon, they observe some of each animal's more unusual characteristics, and Wikki's screen provides helpful and disgusting information. These little bits of fact are worked into the story in a perfectly unobtrusive way. Color photographs of each animal are visual code for 'this is really true!'.
It's awfully cute and funny, with lots of slapstick and unexpected results. I'd love to see more from Zig and Wikki, and so would my first grader."
"In Zig & Wikki, an alien and his talking encyclopedia/robot friend land on Earth looking to abscond with some local wildlife to fulfill the alien's homework assignment. They run across flies, dragonflies, frogs, and a raccoon, have a small adventure, and learn some science factoids courtesy of robot Wikki's encyclopedia screen. It's a cute and simple story, appropriate for all ages. There isn't too much to say with this one: like all of the Toon Books, I can pretty much guarantee that small children will like it."
--I Love Rob Liefeld
"A graphic novel for beginning readers, Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework is a fun story of two alien children who are flying around in their space ship. Zig gets a video message – his homework is late; Zig is the only alien who hasn't brought in a pet to the class zoo.
Paying no attention to where they are going (playing a hand-held video game), they crash land on Earth and decide to go looking for a pet. In a food-chain of events, they pursue a fly, which is eaten by a dragonfly, a frog and a raccoon.
The non-stop action and zany alien characters are sure to attract both beginning readers and older reluctant readers. The full-color graphic comics combined with close-up photographs of the earth animals mix well, as the photographs are accompanied by interesting facts – e.g. flies taste with their feet. The book concludes with Wikki's fun facts about the four animals featured in the story.
Give this book to children who clamor for books about cartoons and video games. Zig and Wikki take the chore away from reading and make it an amusing experience."
--Kristine Wildner, Curled Up with a Good
"Back in December 2008, I blogged about a set of books I’d been offered by TOON Books. Back then, I was enamoured by the concept of TOON books, and even more impressed by the product themselves. Here’s what I said back then:
They sent us three books: Jack and the Box, Mo and Jo, and Stinky. The very first night, Tristan read the entire Jack and the Box book from cover to cover out loud to Beloved and Simon. That’s 30-odd pages, and he’s only in Grade One. I was so impressed! And it’s not an overly simplistic book either. That’s what I liked about these books, that they’re accessible without being condescending. Beloved and Tristan took turns reading the next two books out loud over the subsequent nights.
I think the concept behind TOON books is terrific. Beloved is a comic book and graphic novel fan from way back, so that may bias us a bit, but I think the comic book format really engages the boys at a different level. In their own words:
TOON Books are the first high-quality comics designed for children ages four and up. Each book in the collection is just right for reading to the youngest child but perhaps more remarkable: this is the first collection ever designed to offer newly-emerging readers comics they can read themselves. Each TOON book has been vetted by educators to ensure that the language and the narratives will nurture young minds. Our books feature original stories and characters created by veteran children’s book authors, renowned cartoonists and new talents, all applying their extraordinary skills to fascinate young children with clearly told tales that will welcome them to the magic of reading.
Tristan was in the middle of Grade One when we received our first set of TOON books, and he read an entire book by himself the first night we had them. If your child is a beginning reader, you know how empowering it is for a child to be able to read an entire book on his or her own.
So when the nice folks at TOON books contacted me earlier this month and asked if I’d be interested in a few more titles to review, I was happy to accept — on the caveat that maybe they could send me two copies, one for my boys and one set to share with you.
I’d actually forgotten about the books by the time they arrived earlier this week. We’d stopped at the mail box on our habitual after-dinner walk, and the boys were delighted to hear that new books had arrived. We didn’t even make it into the house:
Tristan had read Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by the time they crawled into bed that night while Beloved and Simon (in senior kindergarten) read Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker together. These are wonderful little books! They’re hardcover, intelligent, well-drawn and engaging — what else could you possibly want from a book?
When I asked Tristan what he liked best about Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, he said he liked the story and found the animal facts at the end of the book very interesting. He was quite concerned, in fact, that I might give away his copy by mistake — he wanted to make sure he could keep it so he could read it again later.
Would you like to win Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework and Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker? (I promise, I won’t send you Tristan’s copy!)
Here’s the fine print:
1. To enter, simply leave a comment below and tell me a book you loved when you were a kid.
2. Both books will go to a single winner.
3. You must leave a valid e-mail address, and be willing to send me your mailing address if you win.
4. Entries will be accepted until noon EST on Tuesday, 27 April, 2010.
5. The winner will be chosen at random and posted no later than end of day Wednesday 28 April.
Thanks to TOON books for the excellent giveaway. Good luck!"
--Postcard From The Mothership
"I remember seeing Trade Loeffler's ZIP & LI'L BIT 'The Upside Down Me' and being impressed with the story and art. I sent him an email and told him point blank: I am a fan. We emailed back and forth about his comics and cartoons in general, and slowly found out that we both lived in Brooklyn at the time. After a couple more emails, we realized we lived within a couple of blocks of each other. Since then, we've gotten together for beers and burgers, and become pals.
ZIP & LI'L BIT, the Web comic that he created, began in 2006. They are a series of all-ages friendly adventures of a brother and sister.
2010 brings us his new ZIP & LI'L BIT story, 'The Captain's Quest,' which began last Sunday. And Trade's first work in print, ZIG AND WIKKI IN 'SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK,' has just been published by Toon Books.
Your ZIP & LI'L BIT stories seem inspired by McCay and Sendak (and maybe a wee bit of Lewis Carroll), who dealt with kids in strange dreams and having to use their wits to resolve their situation. This latest one promises to maybe have some hints of Segar. What cartoonists do you think of when producing ZIP & LI'L BIT?
I've definitely been inspired by all the artists you just mentioned. I would also list all the artists who worked on the old Disney cartoons and movies as having a tremendous influence on Zip and Li'l Bit.
How far ahead do you work? Is the story finished as of now or do you still have to write the ending? What percentage of the art is done before you post the first page on average?
The written portion of The Captain's Quest is finished. Other than the thumbnails I'll draw out as I'm writing, I won't do any artwork until I've got the story figured out. I find that I usually have to re-work my stories quite a few times before I'm happy with them. As far as the artwork goes, now that I've started posting the strip, I'm about ten pages ahead. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep that buffer there for the whole run of the story, but it's tough to keep up sometimes with a job and a kid.
What part is your favorite: the writing or the drawing?
The writing is definitely my favorite. I've always got a good idea of what's going to happen, or what needs to happen in a story, but I never know how it's going to happen. Figuring that out is always surprising to me and that's the funnest part of the whole process I think.
What is your workspace like?
Well, since I live in the city, my workspace is small and cramped. I've got my computer set up in our living room, and my drawing table is actually a dresser from IKEA. It's kind of silly because the surface of the dresser isn't even particularly smooth, so when I'm drawing or inking and I need a line to be nice and clean, I'll have to move the paper so it's over the smooth parts of the dresser. That probably doesn't sound too professional, does it?
What tools do you use when you draw?
I use markers. When I started drawing comics, I tried using those because they were nice and quick and I always told myself that as I got better, I'd switch over to a brush and ink, but those dang pens are so nice and quick for me, I haven't made the switch yet. Someday…
What cartoonists' work do you enjoy buying and reading now?
John Stanley's Thirteen Going on Eighteen is hands down the best comic book I've read lately. Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac strip is awesome! I've gotten my whole family hooked on that one.
Are there any plans for ZIP & LI'L BIT stuff to buy: books, t-shirts?
I wish I could say yes to that, but sadly the answer at this point in time is no.
You illustrated the book ZIG AND WIKKI IN 'SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK,' which will be out soon from TOON Books. How did you get the gig?
The editor at RAW Junior, Francoise Mouly, had seen Zip and Li'l Bit online and contacted me about doing a book for her TOON Books series, which is a series of comic books created for early readers. The lineup of artists and writers that have created books for the series is amazing, and the books are fantastic. My son who's six years old reads them over and over and over, which is the best endorsement you can give for a kids' book. Can I give a shameless plug for the TOON Books site? Go to: http://www.toonbooks.com/
Was it more challenging working with a writer and editor (Francoise Mouly) on ZIG AND WIKKI than doing your Web comic by yourself?
The big challenge for me was that it was the first time I'd done a lot of things. It was the first book I'd done for print. It was my first time working with an editor. It was my first time collaborating with a writer on a comic. The writer of the ZIG AND WIKKI book is Nadja Spiegelman (who is Francoise and Art's daughter), and the characters she came up with for the story were awesome, which was also challenging because then I had to come up with illustrations that could do justice to Nadja's characters. Overall, I think everyone was really happy with the finished product. I'm definitely proud of how the book turned out. I hope that kids will dig it.
What did it feel like when you saw it on the shelf at your local Rocketship Comic Book Store in Brooklyn?
I don't know if I should say this, but I wasn't as excited as I'd expected. I had finished work on the book awhile ago and had advance copies and all, so when I saw the book in the store, it didn't seem like that big of a deal. Now, if they're all sold out next time I go in the store, I'll be ecstatic.
Your wife is a successful working actress. Do you show her your work in progress?
Yes, I make my wife look at my comics as I'm working on them. Thankfully, she puts up with it and just gives me encouragement.
Will there a fourth ZIP & LI'L BIT? What future projects will there be?
There will definitely be a fourth Zip and Li'l Bit. I started writing it a while back, hit a wall with it, and have now started getting back into it. It's got some great characters that I'm really excited about. I don't know what projects other than that I'll have going on in the future. I've got a really fun twenty page story that doesn't star Zip and Li'l Bit that I've got written, I just don't know when I'll get a chance to do the artwork. If I could quit my job, that'd leave me more time to spend drawing and I could post more comics. Pray for me to win the lottery, will you?"
--Mike Lynch Cartoons
"While Zig (a young alien child) and Wikki (a walking computer) are out flying their spaceship, Zig gets a call from his teacher reminding him that his homework is late, again. Zig must find a pet for the class zoo, and his teacher warns him to not take Wikki with him since the two of them always get into mischief. Despite that, the two friends land on planet Earth in search of a pet. During their adventure, they learn about how the food chain operates, until Zig accidentally uses his shrink ray on Wikki instead of a raccoon. Each time they find a potential pet, Wikki's built-in computer screen flashes with a photographed image of the animal, as the book mixes appealing cartooning with informational 'Wikki's Fun Facts' about animals. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)"
"Two aliens land on Earth to search for and bring back a pet for a school project. Zig, a furry one-eyed fellow, is slightly larger than Wikki, who resembles a TV set with a face and limbs. They first encounter a fly that attacks Zig’s candy bar. As they try to capture it, a dragonfly devours it (“Wow! Those things are beautiful!” says Zig), and on up the food chain they go—including a raccoon, which nearly nabs Wikki! The cartoon-panel artwork makes clever use of photos with factual captions that appear on Wikki’s screen to help inform both the heroes and the book’s beginning readers. 'True facts about insects are stranger than anything I could ever make up,' says Nadja Spiegelman. 'I wanted to convey a sense of wonder at the small things we so easily take for granted. It’s a sense of wonder that aliens and children definitely share.' (Ages 4 & up)"
"Once again, we’ve assembled a crack team of experts to compile a list of this year’s best new comics for kids and teens. We tried to strike a balance between comics with literary merit - the 'good for you' books that adults sometimes appreciate more than kids - and comics that have obvious kid appeal. Our list is broken into three categories: Young Readers, Tweens, and Teens. Many of these books - Doug TenNapel’s Ghostopolis, for example - will work well for more than one age group; our categorization of each book is intended more as guidance about content and reading level than a firm recommendation for a particular age-group. Librarians wishing to purchase these books will find the ISBN numbers for every volume at the end of the list.
I'd like to thank Robin Brenner, Esther Keller, Scott Robins, Eva Volin, and Snow Wildsmith for their contributions to this list; their expertise and first-hand experience working with young readers are evident in all their recommendations. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments; we welcome feedback on our list.
BEST NEW COMICS FOR YOUNG READERS
ZIG AND WIKKI IN SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK
Written by Nadja Spiegelman, Illustrated by Trade Loeffler - TOON Books
Zig and Wikki, both aliens, travel to earth to find a new class pet for their homework assignment. Faced with unknown creatures like raccoons, bugs, and frogs, they combine learning with adventure. I would have forgotten about this title, except that my (just) eight-year-old nephew came over this weekend and wanted to read the book again. It’s been well over half a year since he’s been at my house, and I was amazed at what an impression this title made on him.
Please visit the School Library Journal Blog for the complete list."
--Esther Keller, School Library Journal
"You know the old story about how the dog ate a little kid's homework? Well, here's a funny spin on this - except the little kid is a little alien from space, and his homework is to bring in a class pet from a new planet. Second and third graders who are starting to read fluently, but still need action and pictures to bring stories alive will love the new graphic novel from TOON Books: Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. It's funny, quick moving, and works in quick facts about animals into the story in an effective blend of fiction and nonfiction.
Zig, a young alien child with one eye, is out flying in his spaceship with his best friend Wikki, a walking computer. When Zig's teacher calls telling him that his homework is late, Zig lands the spaceship on the nearest planet, Earth, in search of a class pet. Each time they meet an animal on Earth, Wikki's computer flashes with interesting information. 'FLY tasting: flies taste with the hair on their feet, so they can tell when they land if food is good.' But then the fly is eaten by a frog! In the spread below, you'll see how the nonfiction information is worked into the story.
In this debut, Spiegelman captures a great sense of timing and flow for young readers. They'll love the gross facts she includes, and will want to keep reading to find out what animal Zig takes home for show and tell. Along the way, Zig and Wikki learn about how the food chain operates, as each animal is eaten by a larger predator. As always, Zig and Wikki wind up in trouble. Zig accidentally zaps Wikki with the shrinking ray and now he's a mini-computer! Our take-away gross fact: 'FLY spitting: Flies use spit to turn their food into liquid, then they suck it up again' Eeew! Now, that's a great sentence with huge pay-off for a kid to read!
TOON has a fantastic site for kids: TOON Reader. You and your kids can read the entire Zig and Wikki at home, in English, French, Spanish, Russian or Chinese! The site will either read the book aloud, or let you click on each speech bubble to listen as you read at your own pace. They currently have eleven different books available - the full books, not just excerpts. It's really a wonderful site.
Zig and Wikki are in TOON's level 3, aimed at 2nd and 3rd graders. It works great for reluctant readers at an older level, since Zig and Wikki don't have an age. It also could work for younger readers who are comfortable reading whole sentences. The sentences are short, and the vocabulary reasonable simple except in the science information sections.
We're hoping that Zig and Wikki return for more adventures in outer space!
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support."
--Great Kid Books
"I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough graphic novels lately and Toon Books has just what young readers will enjoy such as Zig and Wikki: Something Ate My Homework (Zig & Wikki).
As they’re traveling through space, Zig and Wikki get a dreaded phone call from Zig’s teacher. Turns out, everyone in Zig’s class got a pet for the class zoo, but him. His teacher warns him that if he doesn’t bring in a pet today, he’s going to call Zig’s parents.
As they stumble upon a silly planet named 'Earth', they decide to land. Besides, maybe Zig could find a cool pet there. Zig and Wikki discover strange animals such as a fly, dragonfly, frog, and raccoon.
What really makes this book unique is that as Zig and Wikki discover each animal, the reader is introduced to a realistic picture and fun fact about it. For example, did you know flies taste with the hair on their feet, so they can tell when they land if food is good?
The graphic novel format adds to the humorous story and Zig and Wikki will keep young readers laughing as they crack jokes and even ride on the backs of frogs. But what does Zig get for a pet? You’ll just have to read it to find out!"
"Nepotism alert! Nadja Spiegelman, the daughter of TOON Books founders Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly makes her debut with ZIG AND WIKKI IN SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK. Lucky for her — and us — she’s obviously learned a lot about graphic storytelling from Mom and Dad. Illustrated by Trade Loeffler, Zig and Wikki are an alien-boy-thingie and a computer screen-thingie who travel together in a spaceship. Zig hasn’t yet turned in an animal for his classroom zoo yet, so they stop on a nearby planet — Earth — to capture a specimen.
As Zig comes across a fly, a frog, a dragonfly and a raccoon — learning about nature’s food chain along the way — Wikki’s mammoth forehead posts interesting facts about the creatures, regarding fly spit, frog shedding and the like, all of which will no doubt entertain the kindergarten set."
"The first Zig and Wikki book, on the other hand, is a little bit different for Toon Books. Written by Nadja Spiegelman with art by Trade Loeffler, it follows two aliens named Zig and Wikki as they try to find a creature on earth to complete Zig’s homework. In the process, they learn about diets and eating habits of various creatures as well as the food chain. Readers learn about each as facts appear on Wikki’s screen. As far as a beginning science book goes, it’s a lot of fun and I can imagine the content appealing to boys quite a bit. Zig and Wikki are odd-looking (Zig has one eye and tentacles for arms and Wikki is basically a monitor) and the animals they encounter — flies, frogs and more — are of the “gross” kind. Loeffler’s art is cartoony and playful, but it’s almost too cute in some cases — his adorable raccoon trying to eat an adorable frog is a bit jarring, even though that’s reality (luckily, the frog escapes). Spiegelman incorporates the 'educational' parts into the story easily and I think even I managed to learn something. I hope we get to see more of these two aliens and their adventures in the future.
Toon Books’ offerings continue to be strong and they’ve already created an incredibly impressive catalog. Buy these for the children in your life. Or yourself. I am obviously far out of the target age range, but I love them."
"Zig and Wikki, in Something Ate My Homework (by Nadja Spigleman and Trade Loeffler) tells of two alien kids who take a wrong turn in their space ship, and find themselves on earth. Zig had been hoping to arrive at his grandmother's house, where he planned to snag on of her puffle pups (his homework assignment, which is already late, was to find a class pet). Perhaps, think Zig and Wikki, Earth will have something to offer...but can two small aliens capture a fly? or a dragonfly? or a toad? Definitely Not a raccoon... Interspersed with tidbits of nature lore (I didn't know that toads ate their own skins) it's a fun alien adventure that ends happily..."
"Zig and Wikki make their debut in this science-based story. Zig and Wikki are aliens who land on Earth to find a pet for Zig’s homework assignment. Along the way, they learn a little something about Earth’s food chain. Zig and Wikki are characters that play off of each other well, and the science is presented in an interesting and entertaining way. I think this is another winner."
--The Blue Stocking Society
"By this point, it’s a given that any new Toon Books release is going to be impeccably well-designed and attractive. The covers of the books combine a large splash image with two smaller panels above to make the reader understand that this is not just a picture book, but a comic book. The size of the books are small enough for young readers to hold but large enough for them to enjoy the pictures. The Toon Books line has created, sui generis, its own tradition as the perfect comics for new readers. Series editor Francoise Mouly has cleverly brought in the cream of alt-cartoonists interested in doing comics for kids and children’s illustrators interested in doing comics to create a line with a great deal of appeal, especially in schools and libraries.
ZIG AND WIKKI represents a new undertaking for the line. According to a publisher press release, there was apparently interest in a book that was more directly educational than the stories published to date. This book not only delineates the concept of the food chain (complete with bite-sized infographics), it does so in the story framework of an alien boy trying to complete a homework assignment. In essence, this is homework about homework.
The authors are two relative newcomers. Nadja Spiegelman’s last name is an obvious giveaway as to her connection to the Toon Books line, but it’s clear that she has an intuitive understanding of how a comics page is constructed. Trade Loeffler’s art feels more than a little generic and perfunctory, even if clearly conveys the ideas of the story. It’s just nothing that I’m thrilled to look at in terms of its lushness (like the entries from this issue’s guest editor, Geoffrey Hayes), the way it creates a world (like Eleanor Davis’ STINKY) or the relentless energy that comics can convey (like the Jay Lynch/Dean Haspial MO AND JO or Harry Bliss’ LUKE ON THE LOOSE). One can sense Hayes’ hand at work here perhaps in the way several of the pages used a more open panel design, allowing information to be conveyed in a more fluid manner.
The story follows Zig, who needs to finish his homework assignment of finding a pet to bring in, and his impish friend, Wikki, as they fly around the galaxy and stumble upon earth. Wikki is a sort of anthropomorphic computer upon whose screen pops up random bits of information pertinent to the environment at hand. Landing in a swamp, the duo encounters a fly, a dragonflying trying to eat it, a frog trying to eat the dragonfly and finally a raccoon trying to eat the frog. When the animals do something odd, the reader (through Wikki) gets an infographic that tells us why flies spit on the food or how frogs eat their own skin. The book plays up the grosser (and hence, to kids, cooler) aspects of animals and how they prey on each other.
Spiegelman pulls out all the stops to keep up the reader’s interest on every page, despite the fact that this is essentially a natural science lesson with a story very loosely attached to it. We get chase scenes, costume changes, funny character designs and spaceships in an effort to keep the eye on every page. The main problem with the book is that it’s aimed at an age group (perhaps around 6 or 7) that would probably demand characters with a little more meat on them. The concepts discussed are a bit out of the age range where the thinness of the characters would be less of an issue. Zig in particular feels generic, with no particular desires other than to finish his homework. Even attaching one or two additional personality traits to straight-man Zig would draw the reader much deeper into the story. I’ll be curious to see how Spiegelman gets around this difficulty in future volumes, because the concept itself is gold."
--The Comics Journal
"I've become a big fan of TOON BOOKS since running into Otto's Orange Day nearly two years ago. According to their books and website, they are 'bringing new readers to the pleasure of comics.' They're also bringing old readers (like me) the new pleasure of comics. Zig and Wikki are entertaining characters that will make young readers laugh and the book's bright and colorful illustrations fit the traditional TOON BOOKS' mold. The pacing fits young readers and plot elements - video games, forgotten homework, lost in space - are just the thing to get young readers' attention.
But Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework gives a unique spin to comics that TOON BOOKS hasn't yet shown. In addition to an enjoyable story, author Nadja Spiegelman and illustrator Trade Loeffler weave photographs and science facts into their story, courtesy of Wikki's head (more about his head later). So what's that give us?
Graphic Novel + Nonfiction Facts = Zig and Wikki + Tons of Fun
Zig is a one-eyed, orange, tentacled young space creature who needs to complete his homework - find a pet to add to the class zoo. Wikki is walking 1950's flat screen, if such a thing existed, who tends to act before thinking out his actions. When they stumble upon Earth after Wikki gets them lost, they figure the swamp they discover would be a great place to find a class pet. A fly? A dragonfly? A frog? All would make great additions to the class zoo. If they could only catch them.
Each time they discover something new, the screen in the middle of Wikki's head turns on, offering photographs and descriptions of their new discovery, many times disgustingly awesome to young readers. Did you know flies spit on their food and then suck it back up again? Neither did Zig and Wikki until Wikki's screen told them.
The Zig and Wikki series - this interview suggest it will be a series, with Zig and Wikki possibly headed under the sea - will be an excellent way to introduce science topics to first or second graders. It's also an excellent way to introduce them to the joy of reading, especially comics."
--Help Readers Love Reading!
"ZIG AND WIKKI IN SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler is another terrific early reader book. The graphic novel tells the story of two aliens who fly to Earth in their spaceship. Once they land, Zig and Wikki encounter some animals including a dragon fly, frog and raccoon; and they end up receiving a mini-science lesson about them. I think kids, both boys and girls alike, are going to love Zig and Wikki! The characters are cute and funny, and their adventure is very entertaining. I like that the book is also educational because it teaches kids a few things about animals and nature. The publisher even claims that ZIG AND WIKKI is 'the first science-based early reader comic!'
ZIG AND WIKKI is considered a level 3 Toon book, and it is a little longer than some of the other Toon ones. It still has relatively few words per page as compared to the graphics, but it is divided into short chapters. I think it's just perfect for early readers, especially those interested in science!"
"TOON BOOKS' latest hardbound kids comic comes from Nadja Spiegelman (yes, that Nadja Spiegelman!) and Trade Loeffler and is the tale of two aliens on a mission to complete a late homework assignment when they discover a big ol' ball of blue called Earth. Wikki, a walking database, helps Zig learn about native wildlife as the two try to capture a species for class. I have trouble evaluating TOON BOOKS' titles because I've never taught elementary school and don't really see myself as good with gauging the interests of kids under ten. Luckily, my oldest son is just shy of 4, and his reactions to the texts typically tell me all I need to know since the goal of the company is to get young gals and guys interested in comics texts and in reading in general.
While my son was not as riveted with this text as he was with Little Mouse (but, to be fair, that book talks about underwear, a topic of absence in the Spiegelman and Loefller collaboration), I've never heard him guffaw with laughter quite like he did with this book. He loved the chase scenes and all the different animals. He also asked questions about the animals the two main characters chased. Each animal was one step up in the food chain, and he seemed to make the connection enough to ask why one critter was trying to eat the other. So, he was actively engaged with the text and clearly interested. I'd say that signifies 'mission accomplished.'
I asked him to tell me if he liked it outright, but he just looked at me wide-eyed and put his finger over his lips as if to say, 'I'll never tell!' This leads me to believe that he may be on to the Son Test.
After all, most of these TOON BOOKS have a similar look. Perhaps he knows what's coming. I can't read his mind, but I'd say that means to him that when daddy brings home a thin hardbound comic, it means he's in for a good time and a good read."
"This is something of a departure for the excellent Toon Books line of comics for early readers. It’s non-fiction, intended to interest kids in science.
Zig and Wikki are aliens, trying to capture something for the class zoo as a homework assignment. Zig is the one-eyed red one, with tentacle arms, while Wikki pops up factoids on his head screen. (That’s the educational part.) When they get lost and wind up on Earth, they discover some simple facts about flies, frogs, and raccoons.
I had a couple of questions about the material, since this is pitched as being educational. First, is 'tricky bugger' appropriate language for second graders? Next, the teacher makes a big deal out of Zig needing to complete his assignment by himself, but Zig and Wikki head out together anyway. I think Zig is right — it’s better to not go exploring alone on a strange planet — but that’s not clearly explained. It just looks like Zig doesn’t need to listen to his teacher.
The story is a somewhat simple 'get into danger, then run away and return home' structure, but the characters are approachable and entertaining to watch, while the animals look and behave in realistic fashion. Be sure to check out the Toon Books website, which has added a number of fun resources: kids can make their own cartoons or hear the books read aloud in various languages, while teachers can download lesson plans and other class ideas."
--Comics Worth Reading