Sunday, August 9, 2015

Book Review: It's a Magical World by Bill Watterson

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros“I’d Say Some Promotions, Awards, Medals, and Advanced Degrees are in Order!”
Cons“Should We Get Them Before We Get in Trouble, or After?”
The Bottom Line:
This one last wild romp
Proves the strip still going strong
Thanks for all the laughs

“If You Couldn’t Find Any Weirdness, Maybe We’ll Just Have to Make Some!”

Sadly, all great things come to an end.  That was the case 20 years ago for fans of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, and we are still mourning the loss.  Fortunately, we get one last hurrah with It's A Magical World.  And the book is proof that the strip was still going strong even at the end.

By now, everyone is familiar with the world of Calvin, a six-year-old with a very active imagination.  For example, Hobbes is his stuffed tiger – at least to the rest of the world.  To Calvin, he’s very much alive and his best friend (when they aren’t arguing just like best friends do at that age).

This book contains some classic stories as Calvin and Hobbes hold an emergency meeting of G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) when their neighbor Susy spends the afternoon at their house when her mom is out.  Calvin’s standard conflict with his babysitter Rosalyn meets his favorite game – Calvinball.  His father tries to teach him how to ride his homicidal bike.  And, of course, he has to worry about whether he’s been good enough for Santa to bring him any presents.

There are about nine months’ worth of strips in this book, but what actually surprised me the most was how many of them either stood alone or were only stories that covered two or three days.  The epic stories are definitely in the earlier strips.

However, that’s not to say the humor is any less funny.  I still laugh every time I read the book, and I can’t remember how many times I’ve read these strips at this point.  Some of the jokes definitely work best if you know the characters since they are running gags that had been around for years at this point, but most of the punchlines everyone will still get.

As the strip went on, creator Bill Watterson took some swipes at the culture of the 1990’s.  We get some of that here with Calvin’s subscription to Chewing magazine which feeds into his constant desire to improve his hobby of chewing gum.  Then there’s his take on art with Calvin and his snowmen.  Finally, there’s his take on the political discourse of the day.  Sadly, that still rings true today as well.

The pictures that go along with the dialog are brilliant as well.  In fact, the sight gags are sometimes as hilarious as anything anyone says.  This book is a complete treat in every sense of the word.

The one thing I haven’t touched on is possibly the biggest storyline of the last few months.  Calvin has a leaf project for school that he procrastinates on.  No surprise there.  What is a surprise is when two aliens show up and Calvin sells them the planet for 50 leaves.  Why bring this up now?  Bill Watterson has said that he almost had this story play in to the end of the strip.  I’m so glad he didn’t.  Instead, the final strip leaves things open for Calvin and Hobbes to have many more great adventures together.  As sorry as I am that the series ended, the last strip is perfect just the way it is.

So if you have never found Calvin and Hobbes, you really do need to fix that today.  It's A Magical World might not be the best place to start since it is the end of the series, but it is a wonderful book that fans of the strip will treasure.  I know I do.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. Love Calvin and Hobbes, but didn't know about this compilation. Sounds like the perfect ending. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

    1. I'm jealous. You'll love reading this strips if you haven't read them yet.

  2. Calvin and Hobbes are two of my favorite characters of all time...shear genius!

    1. Yes, complete genius. That's a great description for the series.

  3. I so enjoyed sharing these fun characters with my kids!