Neptune by Aron Nels Steinke
Hey look, it's another fine example of that rarest of comics: a kid's book that's also fun for adults. OK, I have no idea if this was technically meant as a children's book, but as it's the story of a fifth grade girl, her third grade brother and their newly-found dog, what else would you call it? It's not like Aron made it all dark and gritty to appeal to cynics like me, and it's occasionally damned near adorable. And that "damned" is as close as you're going to get to adult themes. Things start off with the fifth grader (Erika) being introduced to her new class, as her family has recently moved. Aron does a stellar job of drawing out the awkwardness of being introduced to a class of strangers and being asked to "tell us a little bit about yourself", lingering on a few mostly silent pages of confusion. Erika decides to tell the story of how she and her brother (Patrick) got expelled from their last school, and here's the traditional point in a review when I start wondering how much I should give away, as I've always thought that most of the joy in reading comics was being taken for a ride. Um, I don't mean that in the "cheated" sense, I mean it in the "sit back and enjoy" sense. I'll just say that Erika's story involved waking up to find a new dog in their kitchen (and being unsure if it came from their parents or just wandered in), reluctantly walking to school (as slowly as they can) after missing the bus, and being joined by their new dog on the road. THEN things get interesting. Aron does a great job of capturing both the conversation of children and their unwavering belief in things that are easily proven false, and then there's that art. Just about every page has the same level of detail as the cover (minus the color, of course), and the occasional silent bits are allowed to stand out because of it. It really is that rarest of all things: fun for all ages.