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Bow-Wow Board Books
posted October 20, 2007


Creators: Mark Newgarden, Megan Montague-Cash
Publishing Information: Red Wagon Books, board books, 18 pages, August 2007, $4.95
Ordering Numbers: 9780152058357 (Naps), 9780152058296 (Lunch)

I wasn't aware there was a designation called Board Books, but it makes sense and it's easy to figure what they're talking about: those kids' books with the super-thick pages, where every page is like the material that might make up the cover of a hard cover book. Bow-Wow Orders Lunch and Bow-Wow Naps by Numbers are sequels to the well-received Bow-Wow book by Megan-Montague-Cash and Mark Newgarden. For those unfamiliar with the name, many of his peers regard Newgarden as one of the most skilled practitioners of comics ever, with a pleasing line and an almost overpowering knowledge of comics page subtleties and effects. That makes his plunge into kids book authorship of interest to cartooning fans in general and fans of the RAW generation in particular. Neither volume disappoints, especially given the modest aims of the endeavor.

In the Bow-Wow books, Newgarden's skill set is applied to bring about subtle ripples within the framework of very simple and straight-forward stories -- the books are aimed at kids up to the age of 3 -- in a way that might set them apart from other books of this kind. Like the better children's book work by cartoonists, Bow-Wow Orders Lunch and Bow-Wow Naps by Numbers prove to be satisfying if not transcendent work for how its artist understands the book as a progression of visual moments. It's a comics effect that brings the reader a shiver of pleasure over something as simple as order being restored in the building of a sandwich (there's even a tiny wag of a tail). The rhythm established in the dream sequence that flowers in a lovely last page when our canine hero goes back to sleep and caps off his own mini-nightmare with a grace note, well, that's comics' ability to communicate through what has come before as much as the effect on the page. These are cute books, a must for Newgarden fans and something comics fans with a need for books in that age group might want to consider as well.