By Chris Wilson
No kid wants to hear those dread words: “Your homework is late again.” For kids like Zig it’s a common occurrence. He and his friend, Wikki, are making a trip to grandma’s house to pick up a pet for Zig’s classroom zoo. They get a bit off track, thanks to too much gaming, and their space ship ends up near Earth.
The two land and try to find a suitable pet for Zig to take to class. On their journey they discover a lot about animals and the food chain. From fly to dragonfly to frog to raccoon, with each possible pet, a larger predator comes along and devours the smaller leading the two to discover more and more about how the world works.
Nadja Spiegelman scrambles a science fiction setting and plot with nonfiction details about animals and the food chain, creating an engaging piece of science literature for kids.
The single-eyed, tentacle-armed Zig and electronic encyclopedia Wikki give kids the right dose of fantastical story with real life science taken right from the national standards. Their adventure almost gets them eaten, adding in excitement, but in the end they get their fly for the classroom zoo.
It is the sci-fi/nonfiction combo that does it for me. The story is so exciting for the reader because it makes use of two significant genres to tell the story (science and sci-fi). While Zig and Wikki act like humans, Earth’s creatures are not personified; they act like animals.
Throughout the book Wikki gives Zig (and the reader) all kinds of helpful hints about animals. We learn how flies eat (yuck) and how some frogs eat their own skin (even yuckier). Illustrator Trade Loeffler used real life pictures in these descriptions setting the fiction apart from the nonfiction. The two also included fun animal facts in the back.
ZIG AND WIKKI is a hit for young kids and is my absolute favorite Toon Book to date, a choice that is hard to make when the company publishes so many outstanding comic titles for kids.
My Rating: Emergent Readers
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 4 and older (grades K-3)
Emergent readers will need help reading ZIG AND WIKKI at first, but it won’t be long when they can read it themselves.
IN THE CLASSROOM
ZIG AND WIKKI is the perfect introduction to the food chain for early readers. I would suggest using the book as a whole class read aloud using a document camera. Other Toon Books are available electronically for free at the Professor Garfield website and it could be that ZIG AND WIKKI will eventually make it there as well.
Author: Nadja Spiegelman
Illustrator: Trade Loeffler
Publisher: Toon Books
Genre: Science & Sci-Fi
Color: Full color
ISBN (13): 978-1-935179-02-3