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Jack and the Box    by Art Spiegelman order for
Jack and the Box
by Art Spiegelman
Order:  USA  Can
Little Lit Library, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Michelle York

It looks like a comic. It feels like a book. It acts like a mini reading lesson.

What is it? An experiment!

Recently, the Little Lit Library launched a new series called Toon Books, comics in hard cover for children ages four and up. This is the first attempt by a publishing company to put such comics in the hands of emerging readers.

One of the first Toon Books to be released is Jack and the Box by Art Spiegelman. The story is cute. Jack, a boy bunny, has a toy named Zack that is reluctant to pop out of his box. It's quite a different tale than the one that earned Spiegelman a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 - a comic strip memoir of the Holocaust. But Spiegelman has the range to pull it off. Besides, educators have vetted this particular story, as well as the whole series, to make sure the language and mini-plot will help tots with their reading skills.

Comics were beloved by youngsters dating back to the 1930s. It's ironic that a new form of comics would emerge now, when many Americans say it feels like the '30s all over again. The question now is, will parents shell out $12.95 in these current hard economic times for a book that looks like a cartoon? Well, if it helps their child to read, perhaps they should. In the long run, that's the kind of investment that will really pay off.

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