Graphic Novels – Calvin and Hobbes, Binky the Space Cat, Zita the Spacegirl and Amulet

A Review of Graphic Novels

Book Review: Calvin and Hobbbes
By Bill Watterson

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Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger was first syndicated in 1985 and appeared in more than 2,400 newspapers when Bill Watterson retired on January 1, 1996. The entire body of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons published in a truly noteworthy tribute to this singular cartoon in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Composed of three hardcover, four-color volumes in a sturdy slipcase, this New York Times best-selling edition includes all Calvin and Hobbes cartoons that ever appeared in syndication. This is the treasure that all Calvin and Hobbes fans seek. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I realize Calvin and Hobbes was written for a newspaper and not truly a graphic novel, however, I am calling it a graphic novel because, for my children, it was the beginning of reading graphic novels.

Everyone of my kids loves to start reading Calvin and Hobbes in third grade. Many of the words and concepts are above their understanding and yet, they persist. In other books when things get too tough kids seem to give up, but not with Watterson’s comics. They key to their interest lies in the pictures and laughing over some of the comics that are at their level. They set out to solve the mystery of why the other comics they don’t understand are funny. In ways Calvin and Hobbes in comparable to Shakespeare because both are written on multiple levels to appeal to different audiences.

Each one of my kids have increased their reading comprehension and vocabulary while reading Calvin and Hobbes. The downside is that they are reading concepts in such short bursts they lose the desire to read longer books, at least for awhile.

I love Calvin and Hobbes just as much as the kids. One of my favorite compiled books is when Watterson explains his rational behind the comics as his own critic. Overall the work is brilliant. I highly recommend Calvin and Hobbes!

5 out of 5 stars
5 star

– the Mother


Book Review: Binky the Space Cat
By Ashley Spires


Binky is a space cat – at least in his own mind. He’s really a house cat who has never left the family “space station.” Unlike other house cats, Binky has a mission: to blast off into outer space (outside), explore unknown places (the backyard) and battle aliens (bugs). Binky must undergo rigorous training so he can repel the alien attacks that threaten his humans. As he builds his spaceship, he must be extremely careful with his blueprints – the enemy is always watching. Soon Binky is ready to voyage into outer space. His humans go out there every day and he’s sure they need a certified space cat to protect them. But just as he’s about to blast off with his co-pilot, Ted (stuffed mousie), Binky realizes that he’s left something very important behind ? and it’s not the zero-gravity kitty litter. In the first book in the Binky Adventure series, graphic-novel readers will delight in watching where this lovable and quirky cat’s imagination takes him. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Binky has a great appeal for kids about 6-9 years old. Sometimes it’s hard to peg what kids will find funny. A cat who believes he is in space and that bugs are aliens is an extremely funny premise that kids will giggle over. The downside for me is that there are also potty jokes in the series, however, the young audience also finds this funny. The simple drawings are very expressive and will keep reluctant readers moving from one adventure to another.

It is completely age appropriate.

3.5 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

Tween Point of View

He is a cute and imaginative cat.

4 out of 5 stars
4 star

– the tween boys


Book Review: Zita the Spacegirl
By Ben Hatke


Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Zita the Spacegirl is more complex than Binky the Space Cat and is age appropriate for about 8-10 year olds to read on their own. My boys have liked Zita too, which doesn’t always happen when the protagonist is female. Concepts present in Zita include dystopian future, multiple cultures, purpose of war, desire for liberation from an evil empire, mutation and situational ethics. On a broader scale it could be argued that Zita is seeking to redeem herself in saving her friend through her actions that caused his abduction. As the series continues we see more personal development within Zita.

Ultimately Zita is an engaging story which is why kids will love it. The drawings are so cute and varied. The action moves along at a crisp pace which will keep reluctant readers hopping. I enjoyed reading Zita and hope that she will have even more adventures.

4 out of 5 stars
4 star

– the Mother

Tween Point of View

I like all the creatures.

4 out of 5 stars
4 star

– the Tween boys

Book Review: Amulet, The Stonekeeper
By Kazu Kibuishi

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Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Amulet is more complex than Zita the Spacegirl, and is appropriate for about 9-12 year olds. The opening scene with the death of Em and Navin’s father is scary and sad as he plunges to his death in a car wreck. This scene is more horrific because it takes place in the real world. The dangers faced in the alternate universe than Em and Navin must travel to are unrealistic and consequently less frightening.

The illustrations are beautiful. The drawings show a depth that the other novels reviewed on this page don’t exhibit. The dark elf is terrifying, the children are wistful, the robots are grungy, the setting is unearthly. When Miskit, the rabbit, is introduced I laughed because he is incongruous with other drawings. I think the novel needs this whimsical rabbit to keep it from getting too dark for the audience.

My children keep making predictions of where the series will be going and are often correct. Even so, they keep re-reading Amulet and are begging for the seventh novel.

4.25 out of 5 stars
4 star

– the Mother

Tween Point of View

I will never forget Kibiushi, he is a great author. His drawings are the best, they are amazing! I love everything about it!

5 out of 5 stars
(They actually say it is worth 20 gold stars, but I only have up to 5.)
5 star

– the Tween boys


Our family has become a fan of graphic novels because they are approachable, we love the art and the complex ideas that can be incorporated. A series, like Amulet, is valuable because it sustains a longer story line and the reader has to keep all the details flowing from one book to the next. Sometimes graphic novels are confusing because of leaps that the reader needs to make from one picture to the next without words within the story line. Learning how to pull together facts from a minimal amount of information is also a valuable skill. The one thing I miss in a graphic novel are the beautiful sentences and descriptions in full length novels. Graphic novels definitely have a place in developing life long readers.

– Michelle




About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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