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.