Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


****The Complete Peanuts

The Definitive Collection of Charles M. Schulz's Comic Strip Masterpiece

1955 to 1956

by Charles M. Schulz

introduction by Matt Groening

Reviewed June 20, 2005.
Fantagraphics Books, New York, 2005.  325 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#1, Humorous Nonfiction)

Now we’re up to the third volume of the collection that will eventually contain every Peanuts cartoon ever published.

The first two volumes filled me with feelings of nostalgia, since I’d seen some of the strips in a collection when I was a kid.  It was cute to see Linus looking like a baby, and Lucy still so young.  The third volume surprised me simply by how funny it is.

I was taking a flight from Frankfurt to London, and I was flying alone to see my husband.  I was nervous about the flight.  I started reading this book in the waiting area, thinking I’d just read a little bit before I settled into a novel during the flight.  Well, I couldn’t stop reading Peanuts.  What’s more, laughing over Charlie Brown and his friends was exactly what I needed to get rid of my nervousness.  I was far more relaxed and ready for the flight.

In this book, Snoopy starts doing his imitations that I have always thought were so funny.  Charlie Brown keeps pestering people by asking why they don’t like him.  (Sometimes I feel like that.)  Lucy makes up outrageous facts to teach Linus.  Lucy is jealous of Beethoven and warns readers of the perils of falling in love with a musician.  Linus gets more and more attached to his blanket.  (“When the going gets really tough, and when it seems that the whole world is against you. . . and when you don’t think you can stand it any longer. .  . then you’ll know. . . man’s best friend is his blanket!”)  Snoopy takes up his distinctive dancing.  Charlie Brown tries to convince his friends that a little rain shouldn’t keep them from playing baseball, and he also fails to swing and strikes out in a championship game.  And he valiantly tries to fly his kite.

I knew my ten-year-old son would relate to Charlie Brown in this strip, as he says, “I guess it’s just no use. . . everything I learn I learn the hard way!”  “What way is that, Charlie Brown?”  “In school!”

As Charlie Brown says in another strip, “Nobody understands me.  And that’s all I really want… just a little understanding. . . a little understanding and a little patience, a little tolerance, a little compassion. . . a little sympathy, a little pity, a little. . .”  Who can’t relate to that?  And yet we also relate to Violet, getting herself out of there with a decided “Good grief!”

This book is definitely good for several laughs and countless smiles, not to mention some warm-hearted nostalgia.

Reviews of other books about the work of Charles Schulz:
Peanuts:  The Art of Charles M. Schulz, edited by Chip Kidd
Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life, edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz

More books in the series:
The Complete Peanuts: 1950 to 1952
The Complete Peanuts: 1953 to 1954
The Complete Peanuts: 1967 to 1968
The Complete Peanuts: 1969 to 1970
The Complete Peanuts: 1971 to 1972
The Complete Peanuts: 1973 to 1974
The Complete Peanuts: 1999 to 2000

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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