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Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

This entry is part 45 of 56 in the series 2022 Reads

As with other posts in this series, these #booksread2022 posts get published with some lag. I’m trying to be more punctual, though, and this one’s very recent.

I don’t note every book I’ve read to my son here, but this one sort of stands out. Aside from occasionally seeing it in the newspaper, I’d never actually read Calvin & Hobbes before my son stumbled onto this volume. It was one of many I’d ended up with thanks to a nearby bookstore’s regular bulk sales of kids’ books ($30 for a box of books, I think I got him five or six boxes over the years): the first Calvin & Hobbes collection ended up in one of the boxes, as I figured maybe he’d like it someday. 

Turned out I was right. He doesn’t get all the jokes, partly because he’s at that stage where he’s still sort of figuring out how jokes work, but partly because of the vocabulary being over his head, and some of the cultural references being foreign to him. (Also, as a friend correctly observed, it’s not like the jokes are actually written for kids. They’re much more 80s parent humor.)

And yet he still is utterly entranced by Calvin’s antics. He seems simultaneously to consider Calvin “crazy” and “so stupid” but also as familiar and a bit like himself. He sympathizes with Calvin’s parents, and I think he understands that Hobbes is an imaginary friend, though the comic plays fast and loose with what that means, since so much of it happens in Calvin’s imagination.

I can’t say this is the first time I’ve paused and considered changing what I was reading to him: we had some of those awful Skippyjon Jones books, and I couldn’t force myself to do the cheesy fake-Mexican accent that runs all through them. But since my wife and I never joke about death or killing, or even imply regret at being his parents, some of the parents’ banter seemed to surprise him somewhat.

Not much more to say about it, I guess. Maybe I’ll have more to say about the second volume, which I’m sure he’ll talk us into getting for him as soon as possible. 

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