Peanuts: The Gang’s All Here by Charles M. Schulz

   Peanuts: The Gang’s All Here by Charles M. Schulz, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 9781524861797, 2020 This is a compilation of 2 previous published books, Snoopy: Cowabunga! (2013) and Charlie Brown and Friends (2014.)

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Paperback Graphic novel

What did you like about the book?  This re-packaging of some of Schulz’s beloved cartoons would be a good choice if your older editions are in tatters. Schulz’s masterful art has been nicely reproduced; those reading the comics for the first time will enjoy seeing his deftness with line, his occasional use of heavy areas of black for contrast (Lucy’s hair, Snoopy’s ears, the occasional shadow) and his peerless visual composition skills.  The reproductions are in full-color, which I’m guessing was added, because my memory is that the Peanuts gang ran as a daily black-and-white strip (usually 4 panels) with only the longer Sunday funnies appearing in color. Presumably the added color will make the collection more enticing to today’s readers. The Sunday special cartoons are instantly recognizable due to their larger cell size and use of pastel background colors. Each collection also includes a few pages of supplemental material, including how to make an origami dog house or flip book, fun facts about Charles Schulz, and making puppy chow snacks.

As for the content, the first collection focuses on Snoopy, with guest star Woodstock, plus occasional appearances by Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus. The Snoopy cartoons definitely skew older. A running gag is the beagle’s rejection letters from various publishing houses; that plus the pup’s reliance on a typewriter will telegraph THE PAST to younger readers. Still, there’s plenty of other cartoons that they can enjoy, like his drive to become a “Beagle Scout” and his obsession with various sports. The second collection heads into more familiar and existential territory as the focus shifts to the perennially hopeful but sad Charlie Brown and his struggle to understand life and be noticed.  Revisiting these strips as an adult made me see how much I missed as a kid, but it’s also a sign of Schulz’s unique ability to communicate at different levels. Children may skim through to get to the team on the ballfield, while adults linger over strips of Charlie Brown during his psychiatric visits. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. Groundbreaking for its time, the strips retain a freshness, despite the regular appearance of rotary telephones, little girls in dresses, and bulky television sets.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Great for old fans or new initiates. Very enticing for those learning to read comics as the layout is straightforward with lots of white space and the talk bubbles clearly linked to individual speakers.

Who should buy this book? All libraries with Peanuts groupies, regardless of age.

Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: October 29, 2020

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