Thursday, December 4, 2008

Magic Trixie Sleeps Over: In my heart!

I think I used up all my queued linkages in the post I did earlier today, so on with the real content!

Magic Trixie Sleeps Over
By Jill Thompson



There's one word to describe Jill Thompson's Magic series of kids' books about a young witch, and that is adorable. Actually, there are plenty of other good descriptors, most of which will probably come up below, but that one is first and foremost. It fits everything about the book, from the rambunctious central character and everyone surrounding her; to the bright, colorful, exciting setting; to the organic lesson-teaching of the stories. Sure, it's meant for younger readers, but I find myself inexorably drawn into its maw of cuteness.

Last time, Magic Trixie realized how neat it is to have a younger sibling, and this installment sees her learn a similar lesson when she gets sick of her bedtime routine of bath-taking and tooth-brushing and decides to sleep over at each of her friends' houses. But having monstrous natures themselves, their own nighttime activities confound Magic Trixie, and she soon learns that maybe her own life isn't so bad after all.

The fun here is in the details; each of the friends have their own quirks and weirdnesses, and they rarely suit Magic Trixie's tastes. Her werewolf friend Loupie likes to tear around playing catch, run with her family (or "the pack"), and howl at the moon. Mummy princess Nefi sleeps in a crypt. Frankensteinian boy Stitch disassembles his body and sleeps in formaldehyde-filled jars. And so on; none of this compares to a warm bed and a story read by parents. It all seems so obvious, but kids gotta learn somehow.

And of course, the art is what really sells it; Thompson's detail-filled drawings and rich, lush watercolors give a gorgeous life to Magic Trixie's wacky world, whether in the beautiful landscapes:



Or the manic scenes of our heroine's witchity antics:



I love the sense of movement that she brings to the page, whether characters are rushing around with streaky speed lines behind them or simply suggesting a bunch of chaotic motion, as in the image above. And Trixie herself is a wonder to behold, like a little ball of energy, usually sporting wide eyes and a big, gap-toothed grin, and always surrounded by her mane of curly, orange-pink hair. I love the way her limbs bend like strands of spaghetti, but not unnaturally, but rather in a way that emphasizes her childlike nature:



And rather than always wearing the exact same witch costume, she has a variety of unique ensembles that all still manage to capture the spooky-cute nature of her character. It's a great design, and along with everything else in the book, it makes for enormously fun reading.

So, this probably isn't a surprise, but I highly recommend this book, at least as much as the first volume. Thompson is an incredible artist, and she has put together a great bit of kids' comics the imparts the obligatory lesson in a fun, engaging manner and is a blast to read. I hope the series continues into perpetuity.