________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 13. . . .February 20, 2009.


CTON’s Super A-Maze-Ing Year of Crazy Comics: Puzzles, Mazes, Blobs, & More!

Clayton Hanmer.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2008.
56 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-2-89579-209-3.

Subject Headings:
Puzzles-Juvenile literature. Wit and humor-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Devon Greyson.





Blob's Road Trip
Check out Blob's summer highway adventure!

Day One – Morning
Packing car harder than me thought. Had to take out extra jelly and me kitchen sink

Day One – Lunch
Get stuck in Noburg Annual Bumpkin Parade...for too long

Day One – Afternoon
Stop at Woodchuck Gas, but no sell gas, only beans...yum!

Night One
Me stay in Fuzzy Forest. Funny noise outside. Lucky me at lots of beans, so monsters stay away! Ha ha.

     Readers of Canadian children's magazine Owl may recognize CTON and his Blobby friend from the activity pages at the end of issues. CTON, cartoon alter-ego of Toronto artist Clayton Hanmer, is a big orange...something-or-other. CTON and his buddies Blob (a green blob of slime), Suzie and Billy (humanoid children) co-host this short volume of “puzzles, mazes, blobs, & more.”

     Where's Waldo meets MAD Magazine in CTON's Super A-Maze-Ing Year of Crazy Comics. The paperback's slightly oversized pages are filled with goofy comic strips, silly facts (and fictions) about seasonal topics, and activity pages (e.g., learn to draw, unscramble the cartoon panels). The highlight of the book is the dense and somewhat text-heavy cartoon mazes which will draw young readers' noses close in to the page as they wind their ways through the adventures.

     The book is organized into four sections, one for each season. Each page is a self-contained activity, most of which could serve as springboards into related conversations or lessons in an instructional setting. Similar potential can be found in the descriptive, detailed and pleasantly bizarre characters that are introduced throughout the pages.

     In general, the cartoon-style illustrations are colourful, busy and engaging. The book has strong traditional “boy” appeal, but with prominent girl characters in the episodes, there is definite cross-gender interest. Culturally, this book is aimed at the contemporary, urban Canadian mainstream, featuring comedic episodes on trick-or-treating, a cousin from the country, sledding, city buses, and amusement parks. The humour is age-appropriate, often slapstick and sometimes gross. As with many graphic and comic volumes, this book holds very strong reluctant reader attraction, and the text is generally presented in lists, bubbles, or short blurbs, rather than paragraph form.

     Due to the larger than usual dimensions of the paperback (9.125 x 12.25 inches), the dense and often small text on the pages, and the activity pages, this is not a book that lends itself easily to group use. Some pages may be magnets for drawing-on in a library setting, as well. However, in a classroom or resource library setting, CTON's Super A-Maze-Ing Year of Crazy Comics may be a very nice hook for young readers who are not drawn to longer or plot-driven reading, and for individual use the book can certainly provide hours of fun pouring over the illustrated pages.


Devon Greyson is a librarian at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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