Thank G-d for Jeff Smith.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Bone: Tall Tales
published by Scholastic (grades 4-8)
108 pages, color
Story - Writer - Art
Smiley And The Bone Scouts - Jeff Smith - Jeff Smith
Powers That Be - Jeff Smith - Jeff Smith
Baby Johnson Bone Vs. Old Man Winter - Tom Sniegoski - Jeff Smith
Big Johnson Bone Vs. The Cobbler Gobbler - Tom Sniegoski - Jeff Smith
The Lost Tale Of Big Johnson Bone - Tom Sniegoski - Jeff Smith
In a day and age where comic books marketed as, if not specifically tagged as, “appropriate for all ages” include rape, baby murder, and some of the most gruesomely violent scenes just south of a Saw movie, Jeff Smith is a breath of fresh air. He reminds us that entertainment does not always have to be gritty, that humor does not have to be vulgar, and just because a villain can stuff a woman into a fridge that does not mean he has to in order to prove he is evil.
Bone: Tall Tales takes place after the events of Smith’s Bone series and centers around Smiley Bone and Bartleby telling stories to a troop of Bone Scouts named Ringo, Bingo, & Todd. Most of the stories, except for Bartleby’s, revolve around Big Johnson Bone, the explorer who founded Boneville who has become a Davie Crockett type of folk hero. While Smith provides the art for the entire 108 page collection, Tom Sniegoski proves himself a natural heir to Smith’s role as Bone’s wordsmith providing the script for three of the five tall tales, some of which are reprints from Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails.
One important thing to note, whereas Bone was an adventure book that happened to be family friendly, Tall Tales, published by Scholastic, is primarily a children’s book that adults can appreciate (think Animaniacs). As such, some of the cleverness associated with the original Bone series, and even some of the subsequent limited series, such as Rose, is replaced by kid friendly situations where Big Johnson Bone acts as the arrogant accidental hero to Boneville residents and a group of families in The Valley.
Included in this collection is the story explaining why the (Stupid Stupid) Rat Creatures cut their tales off at age one (“The Lost Tale Of Big Johnson Bone”) and, my personal favorite, “The Powers that Be” a tale told by Smiley taking us back to the Bones' days in The Valley and how Thorn tricked Phoney Bone into doing the laundry.
When I finished this book, I had a huge smile on my face, not only because I miss new Bone stories - I have already started re-reading the original series - but also because not only did I enjoy the pure innocent fun this book represent, but I cannot wait to show this to a child and watch as he/she is introduced to the world of Bone and (maybe) comic books for the first time.
In my opinion, the original Bone was consistently an A / A+ book; Tall Tales, continues to over achieve and the only critique I have is that I don’t have any children to read it to.
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