Comic book art is often overlooked by the mainstream as disposable, pop oriented, and mass produced.  Within the comics world, artists are revered as Gods, but to get a non comic book fan to buy into that set of opinions is a challenge and takes something quite special to turn their heads.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present something quite special:

Title: Mouse Guard

Creator: David Petersen

Age Recommendation: 10 and Up

When I first picked up a hard back copy of Mouse Guard Fall 1152, it took all of 15 seconds for me to realize I need to shell out the $25 for it right then.  The artwork alone is something unique and refreshing in the comics medium.  Seemingly based in classic art school forms of watercolor and charcoal, Peterson crafts a world of iconic imagery and heroic themes by tapping into  hidden societies of nature.  It is a wonderful blender of fantasy, adventure, and art history that results in some of the most undeniably beautiful artwork in the industry.

Mouse Guard follows a civilization of mice as they struggle to survive amidst predators and live long, happy lives.  They burrow out fortresses in trees, ride rabbits across the snow, battle owls, and display a sense of honor and loyalty to one another that any parent can respect.  These are not your standard anthropomorphic cartoon mice.  The characters of Mouse Guard are complicated, ancient souls who live with purpose and can take their place amongst the great fantasy heroes of all time.

Mouse Guard does contain battle sequences and real life consequences, so I am skewing the age recommendation a little older, but I think parents will find the overall story to not be dissimilar to classic animated adventure movies.  There’s small amounts of blood and such, but there is a quality to the writing that is far more valuable to your child’s (hopefully) growing interest in reading, so take a gander at the book store if you’re nervous and I think any concerns over the adventure aspects of the book will be eased.

The great thing about Mouse Guard is it can grow with your child.  Repeated readings will unveil new layers as they grow, making this series something they will cherish for a lifetime.  It has even spawned a Role Playing Game (RPG) that will appeal to teens and above and help them explore the Mouse Territories even further.  Like I said, the hardback editions are not inexpensive, but they are big and beautiful and in my opinion, totally worth it.  However, a softback option at a more reasonable $12 and change on Amazon is available as well.  If I had a trophy to hand out to David Petersen right now I would.  This book is a treasure and should sit on your child’s shelf right along with Harry Potter and Shel Silverstein.