Review of Born to Draw Comics: The Story of Charles Schulz and the Creation of Peanuts

Born to Draw Comics: The Story of Charles Schulz and the Creation of Peanuts
by Ginger Wadsworth; illus. by Craig Orback
Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp.
9/19    978-1-250-17373-7    $18.99

From the time he was born, Charles Schulz’s (1922–2000) name was connected to comic strips, thanks to his uncle nicknaming him “Sparky” after a popular cartoon racehorse. Wadsworth thoughtfully spotlights biographical moments like this to emphasize Schulz’s lifelong love of drawing and comics, leading up to the creation of Peanuts. From his kindergarten teacher predicting he’d someday be an artist, to his reading the funny pages with his parents, to his sketch of childhood dog Spike (the inspiration for Snoopy) being published in the newspaper, each experience encouraged Sparky to become a professional cartoonist after high school — and the rest is cartoon history. Orback’s acrylic and gouache art pays tribute to Schulz’s love of comics, using thick-black-lined frames and sometimes incorporating panels to mimic a comic-strip layout. His clean-cut, realistic illustrations also inconspicuously include iconic Peanuts references (e.g., Snoopy’s doghouse). This picture-book biography isn’t flashy, but neither was Schulz’s wildly popular Peanuts, with its “spare lines and simple language.” Back matter includes additional biographical information, a bibliography, a Peanuts character list, and related places to visit.

From the November/December 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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