By Claude Ponti
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books
Claude Ponti’s Chick and Chickie Play All Day! is a comic aimed for beginning readers, so like most children’s books for that earliest age, it’s a simple story. What impressed me almost off the bat, though, was how well Ponti uses the ideas behind sequential art storytelling in a way that will subtly teach those littlest of readers how to read comics. Presented in a landscape format, Ponti sometimes uses the two-page spread as a single panel, other times as two panels. In doing so, he’s showing his readers the progression of time, either through a panel border or through a long stretch of space. As they walk across the spreads, you get the sensation of scenes taking longer than a single moment; it’s impressive when you realize that he’s using these storytelling techniques for young readers who will almost certainly grab what he’s doing and take it with them.
The story itself in Chick and Chickie Play All Day! is cute, too; it’s about a pair of chicks who first make masks and scare one another, and then play with a massive, ambulatory letter A. The second half feels like a good way to introduce those little readers into the idea of there being more than one "A" sound, and to also play with the idea of inflection creating meaning. Add in some charming illustrations, and this is a winner for those new readers in your household. Plus, if that’s not enough, you can also start prepping them into the world of comics. Everyone wins.