A treat for you today, minions, a break from me! Wait… Anyway, a longtime friend from freshman year of university is posting today about required reading for her spawn. Hillary is the proud mama of two boys and just announced she has another baby on the way, so she’s clearly much further along the spawning process than I! If my kids turn out half as cute and fun as hers I’ll consider them a success. You can find her writing here.
Calvin captures so much of the imagination of childhood. He spends much of his time romping through the woods (or wishing he was) opening up whole different worlds with his mind as only a child can. His stuffed tiger, Hobbes, we all know is a real tiger and it’s only his parents and others that don’t understand that reality. Who didn’t want a pet tiger like Hobbes when they were growing up?
Calvin philosophizes about life all the time and uses language far too advanced for his 6 year-old brain, especially since he tries his best not to learn in school. It wasn’t until high school that I learned that Calvin and Hobbes were named after the philosophers John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, respectively.
Calvin plays pranks on everyone-his parents, his neighbor Suzie, Hobbes, and occasionally his classmates. Things we probably all thought of doing as children but never dared to actually attempt.
He creates monstrous and clever artwork out of snow. This is my favorite part (maybe because I never lived in snow as a kid).
Calvinball-a game where the only rule is you can’t play the same way twice. Brilliant.
One of my favorite reoccurring stories throughout the series is Calvin’s transmorgrifier/duplicator/ethicator/time machine box. It’s simply a cardboard box that he scribbles on and then it does whatever the words on the box say. In this box he is transformed into a tiger, visits the age of the dinosaurs, duplicates himself so he doesn’t have to go to school, and even creates his “good” side.
Despite Calvin’s prevalent mischievousness, he has a softer side that sometimes comes out when he finds an injured or dead animal or when he realizes Christmas morning that he has nothing to give Hobbes.
The comic also grows with you. I understood it much differently as a kid than I now do as an adult. I must add, now that I’m a parent of two little boys, I have much more sympathy for his parents.
I love that he lives a normal childhood, went to school, shirked homework, got into mischief, and just enjoyed being a kid. I think that’s what makes it such a great comic because so many people can relate to something in the strip. It makes me reminisce on all the things I did as a kid (or wish I had tried).
Calvin and Hobbes opens up childhood imagination, introduces a wide vocabulary, mixes in philosophy and art, and it’s just good writing in a form that kids (and adults) love reading. That is why it is required reading for my children, though perhaps I will not let my boys read them until they have a little more sense than does Calvin.