Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review - Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! The First Twelve Months of Parenthood by Lynn Johnston

Short review: A collection of mostly lovable but sometimes cloying one panel strips about the travails and joys of parenting  newborn through their first year of life.

The first year of life
In single panel cartoons
Silly, funny, cloying

Full review: Before she began writing For Better or For Worse, Lynn Johnston wrote a series of single panel strips focused on pregnancy and the first years of parenthood. Hi Mom! Hi Dad! is one hundred and one strips that highlight the first twelve months of parenthood. Although the characters in the strips are not the Pattersons, who would feature in Johnston's later work, the situations and style of comedy will be familiar to anyone who has ever read For Better or For Worse.

The strips are little vignettes concerning the ups and downs of parenting an infant, and as one might expect they are often more than a little cloying as a result of their sickly sweetness. Some of the strips, concerning out of touch fathers, overbearing grandmothers with plenty of child rearing advice, and overly enthusiastic siblings are a little dated in execution, but the themes they touch on are universal enough that they are still relevant enough to be funny. More or less equal parts sappy and touching, the strips are probably only truly funny to those who have had young children, but whose children have grown up enough that the frustrations of sleepless nights, vomit, and diaper changes are behind therm.

As noted before, there are only one hundred and one strips in the book, so it is quite short. That is probably a good thing, because too much more would probably provide enough syrupy sweetness to turn any reader into a diabetic. However, for anyone who is curious to see the ideas that became the long-running For Better or For Worse comic strip in embryonic form, this book is worth a quick read.

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