Children's Comics

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler. RAW Junior/Toon Books, $12.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-935179-02-3

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.)

Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunders Michael Townsend. Dial, $14.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3308-4

Hellenic heroes and mythic monsters from Greek mythology go to a whole new level with Townsend's cartoony, bright, and colorful art. This collection of whimsically told Greek myths include comical abridged stories about King Midas, Pandora, Pygmalion, Persephone, Arachne, Perseus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Icarus, and Hercules. A brief introduction informs readers on the “first things they should know about the world of Greek Mythology” complete with a show and tell of the gods' and monsters' character names and faces. The entertaining, lively, and action-packed stories are spiced with slapstick throughout, while the moral messages are contained within loud, flamboyant action, leaving readers with plenty of room for laughs. Ages 9—12. (Mar.)

Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 Eric Wight. Simon & Schuster, $9.99 paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-4169-6485-8

Frankie is really down on his luck in this second installment of the Frankie Pickle series. He's convinced he'll remain a Pygmy instead of advancing to Shrew in Possum Scouts as everyone else in his scout pack has advanced except for him. When his dad reminds him of the Pine Run 3000, a special race where scouts can compete regionally using hand-crafted model cars, Frankie believe his luck just might change. Through trial and error in designing the perfect car and using his imaginative day dreaming—shown in short easy chapters mixed with comics—Frankie realizes he may not have what it takes to produce the perfect race car. Simple black and white line art keeps the momentum of adventure moving forward and readers entertained. Ages 4—8. (Feb.)

Calamity Jack Shannon Hale, Dean Hall, and Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury, $14.99 paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-59990-373-6

Calamity Jack follows up Rapunzel's Revenge, the 2008 graphic novel that imagined the famous damsel in distress taking matters into her own hands. Children's author Shannon Hale and her husband, Dean, and illustrator Hall offer a charming update of Jack and Beanstalk, set in a world that combines elements of fairy tales, a Gilded Age American city, and the Wild West. Jack is a young huckster until one of his schemes leads him to stumble upon a dastardly plot by the evil giant who lives in a penthouse that towers above Shyport. Teaming again with Rapunzel, and a few other allies, Jack leads readers on adventure trekking through sewers and taking to the sky. The dynamic artwork fits well with Jack and Rapunzel's quick tongues, as they flirt their way through numerous hair-raising situations. Ages 10—up. (Jan.)

Mercury Hope Larson. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4169-3585-8

Beginning with a quick historical progression through the fictional town of French Hill in Nova Scotia, from the wilderness of 1400 through soldiers in 1775 to one of the story's main characters going for a run in 2009, this visual history, with fascinating detail, sets up the alternating narrations of the book. One takes place in 2009 and tells the story of Tara, while the other, set in 1850, tells the story of a girl named Josey. That the two are linked by blood is evident. They're also each in possession of the same necklace, a small glass pendant containing a drop of mercury with the mysterious ability to prospect for gold. The stories alternate in quick succession, making it sometimes difficult to keep track of narrative threads as crushes, friendships, and parental conflicts develop in both time periods. Larson's drawings are full of motion and life, her characters' faces expressive, and she uses decorative details to illustrate emotions and ideas. Compared with the wonderful art, the story comes up short, with little action for much of the book, but readers may take pleasure instead in the book's atmospheric appeal and the manga-like illustration of fluttery emotional states. Ages 12—up. (Jan.)

Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher, Jake Parker. Scholastic/Graphix, $21.99 (176p) ISBN 0-545-11714-3; $10.99 paper ISBN 0-545-11715-1

A secret agent for the Galactic Security Agency, Missile Mouse is independent, resourceful, a risk-taker, and in a lot of trouble with his boss. After a botched attempt at recovering a Star Compass, and one too many crashed spaceships, he's been assigned a partner, Agent Hyde, who has parents in high places. Now, their mission is to find a missing scientist and prevent the Rogue Imperium of Planets from manufacturing Dark Plasma to fuel a Star Crusher—a fearsome weapon of mass destruction. Along the way, they cross paths (and guns) with Mouse's rival, Gurne the mercenary; a robot filled with giant ants; and the shark-headed goons of the dreaded Rogue Imperium. The art, a smooth blend of Alex Toth by way of Chris Sanders, is clean and fun, and Parker combines sharp characterization with breakneck plotting that should keep aspiring space cadets turning pages furiously. Age 8—12. (Jan.)