As a parent, navigating the world of comic books can be tricky, at times. So very many of the “classic” super hero comics have shockingly mature story lines that are in no way appropriate for kids. Others rely so heavily on crossover issues (see: the entire Civil War story lines) that it’s just silly to even attempt to get your kid into one series. As such, I spend a lot of time pre-screening comics for my 3rd-grade daughter.
It’s not to say there aren’t series out there which aren’t kid-friendly. In fact, there are several. I’ve gathered several series for my daughter and I’m always telling parents about them. For the first series in this column, I’ve chosen my absolute favorite: Lumberjanes. This series is so damn good, it should be required reading.
The Series: Lumberjanes
Lumberjanes is, at its heart, a coming-of-age series about a group of girls at a summer camp that is totally not Girl Scouts but kind of is. In fact, if I had the time, money and inclination, I would try to recreate the Lumberjane concept in real life. The series involves magic, mythical monsters, epic quests, and a cast of strong girls who value friendship above all else.
Why you’ll love it:
Let me count the ways. First, it stars a diverse cast of female characters, none of whom fit into a neat and tidy descriptor. Example: April is, by her outward appearance, a girly girl who loves pink and makeup and her hair. She’s also a champion arm wrestler and the strongest (physically) of the girls. It’s a nice reinforcement that girls can like a wide variety of things; just because someone espouses traditional female gender stereotypes doesn’t mean they are a stereotype. It also reminds girls that it’s OK to like girly things, there is more than one way to be a girl.
Second, the girls are smart. The Lumberjanes organization preaches outdoorsmanship, friendship, and intellectualism. There’s an Everything Under the Sum badge, which is gained by excelling in mathematics. That’s awesome, k?
Third, the girls are friends, unquestionably. When someone’s in danger, they overcome fears to help. When someone is upset, they work to make them feel better. No ifs, ands or buts.
Four, it has a delightful sense of humor. The authors know the importance of levity, and a well-placed joke. It’s adventurous and silly, which is hard to find in traditional girl-centric offerings. Ripley (who has the most badass name ever, duh) is hilarious in every panel she’s in.
Why you might not love it:
The series has action, adventure, humor and sadness. But it’s not a chosen-one story (ala Harry Potter), it’s definitely not a super hero story, and it’s not a good versus evil story. In some ways, Lumberjanes reminds me very much of the old Babysitters Club books. It’s a story about girls doing girl things, albeit occasionally fantastical and magical. It’s girls doing things, with a subtle girl-positive message.
Soooooo it probably goes without saying that this comic is very much girl-focused. It’s not to say that boys won’t enjoy it, but it’s probably for a more mature-thinking boys, who don’t need to have constant bang-bang action and male main characters.
Where you can get it:
Amazon, Comixology, your local comic shop. Pick up the first volume for you or your daughter and I promise you’ll find something so utterly charming and delightful, you’ll wonder how you never read it before.