The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book – Review

The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

Recently I was asked by someone what book I would bring with me if I was going to be stuck on an island for eternity. I thought about it for a long while before deciding on The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. I had toyed with the idea of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (the Illustrated Edition, of course!), Carl Sagan’s Cosmos or perhaps a big 900 page novel, like Shantaram.

Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary BookBut I thought about the book that I’d gotten the most replay value out of, and was drawn back to Calvin and Hobbes. The comic strips starring the overly articulate 6 year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes offered more than your typical Sunday morning strip. Reading Calvin and Hobbes as an adult is so much different than it was as an elementary school student, and it’s quite amazing that author Bill Waterson was able to write to both 7 year-olds and adults alike. He accomplished for Sunday morning comics what Pixar would later do in the movie industry. As I’ve aged, I’ve re-read many of the Calvin and Hobbes treasuries and find myself amazed at the messages and jokes Waterson packs into his three panel strips. This is not your ordinary 6 year-old boy, and this is not just any old stuffed tiger. These characters have depth, and the range of their conversations and antics knows no bounds. The dialgoues between Calvin and Hobbes often delve into the philosophical, and offer us a Fight Club-esque glimpse into the world of a child with an incredibly brilliant and active imagination.

The Tenth Anniversary book is a particularly good one to read, as it offers retrospective descriptions of various characters, stories, and particular strips. Short offerings from Watterson peppered throughout the book explain where his characters came from, the writing process, the troubles he had with newspapers, his thoughts on advertising, comic books as high art, and much, much more. If you have never read Calvin and Hobbes, this is a good a place as any to start. I can’t recommend this book enough.

And seeing as I’m writing this on, here is one of my favourite strips from Calvin about school. (There are more here.)

In university teacher education, at professional development seminars, in staff meetings, on Twitter, and in the media, we can’t seem to escape the buzzphrase 21st century learning. Here’s Calvin demanding opportunity in the classroom:

(Calvin was clearly ahead of his time.)


Now seriously, go buy this book. You will read it, your kids will read it, and then you’ll both want to read it again and eventually, you’ll end up buying The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Box Set as well. This was Fight Club for kids, ten years before before Pahalniuk; it had the mixture of adult and child humor of Toy Story long before Pixar; it is a timeless classic that deserves to be read again and again.

And for you teachers, students, and parents wondering…”What does this have to do with education?”

Calvin spends a good part of his day at school, and there are many education-themed comics to use in the classroom. A collection of some of them can be found here: Calvin at school.

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