Posts Tagged ‘Aldo Zelnick’

Aldo Zelnick: A Great New Comic Novel Series

When I first started hearing the buzz about Artsy-Fartsy and Bogus, the first two books in the new Aldo Zelnick comic novel series, I wasn’t too sure what to think. After all, any time words like “educational” and “moral” are used in conjunction with books, I approach with caution. I’m only interested in juvenile fiction if the characters and plot are compelling, as well.

I needn’t have worried, though. Not only is Aldo a delightful ten-year-old boy full of believable and endearing quirks, but he is surrounded by a supporting cast of equally charming characters. Since these journal-style novels are written and illustrated by Aldo, we are treated to his curmudgeonly perspective on exercise, vegetables, most girls, and using his precious allowance for anything other than Slushies. However, Aldo is coaxed along by his artist grandma, Goosy; his rock-hound best friend, Jack; his wise neighbor, retired teacher Mr. Mot; his athletic brother, Timothy; his outdoorsy, bird-watching mom, Claire; and a host of others, including a bully and a couple of dogs.

 To make all this even better, the pictures don’t simply illustrate the text. They add a whole other layer of meaning. Whether they are literal interpretations of metaphors (keep your eyes peeled), priceless expressions, allusions, or “hidden” pictures of the feature letter, the illustrations are as entertaining as they are adorable.

What about the educational vocabulary and the positive messages? First, I had no idea vocabulary could be so much fun. It is defined Aldo-style in the glossary. One of my favorites is “abysmal,” which is “really, really, hopelessly bad (the abyss of badness).” Or “alert: I don’t know…what’s a lert? Do you have a lert in your house? (Just kidding. It means paying close attention to what’s going on around you).” And the illustrations for “agape” show three things that are agape: a mouth, a door, and a pant’s zipper. As for the feel-good messages, they are woven into the stories so seamlessly that they are natural rather than treacly.

Best of all, these books pass the real litmus test: my students love them, too.

Here’s the author’s/illustrator’s website for the books: