BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

NOT JUST CARTOONS: NICKTOONS! by Jerry Beck

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Until Nickelodeon decided to revamp and update the children’s world in 1991, parents had no problem keeping up with their kids’ cartoon experiences. After all, Bug Bunny and Daffy Duck, the Flintstones, and Scooby-Doo (in so many incarnations) were all staples of a kid’s fantasy world.

As hectic as the world is for a parent, it’s hard to keep up with what shows they’ve watched or are watching when they’re growing up. Sad to say, television cartoons have served as babysitters and best friends for kids for decades.

However, Nickelodeon changed the package when they released Doug, Rugrats, and The Ren and Stimpy Show. Questionable content began to invade American living rooms and kids’ bedrooms in subtle ways. Doug and Rugrats tended to be wholesome fare – though with strange ideas at times.

But there was just no excusing Ren and Stimpy’s behavior. They were gross and inelegant at best, and downright disgusting and offensive at worst. However, your kids thought they were hilarious. If you sat down and watched part of an episode with them, you’d swear they were way too young to be caught up in something as crass as that.

You’d probably be halfway right. But Nickelodeon took the stance that kids were a lot more intelligent – and socially inelegant – than most parents wanted to believe. So they created entertainment that took all those facets into account.

And man, what a whirlwind it’s been these past 16 years. My oldest son turns 25 soon, and my youngest is 10. I had five kids, and Nickelodeon has been a constant feature in my house from the beginning.

The problem with having kids, though, is that you have to work to provide for them. And to provide cable TV. So even though I tried to get in front of the TV to check out what they were watching, I couldn’t do it often enough. I watched some of the Nicktoons (as they came to be called) but not all of them because I didn’t have time.

Thankfully there’s a book out now that will catch you up almost overnight with the thirty cartoon that have and are airing on Nickelodeon. Jerry Beck’s (author of The Hanna-Barbera Treasury and The Art of Bee Movie and other works concentrating on the cartoon pays much you’)monstrous compendium is kid-intelligent and adult-friendly, and it’s heavy and sturdy enough to use as a shield or as a weapon. Not only that, but it was produced with the full support and cooperation of Nicktoons.

When I first pulled the book out of the box, I thought some had gone badly wrong. The book felt…squishy. I let go in a hurry and decided to finish opening the box to have a better look. Then I realized that the book was covered in green slime, another trademark of the network.

Just like a kid, I couldn’t help mashing on the slime book cover to see what I could change and see how long it would retain the impressions I made. It was great fun. If you really want to get a strange reaction from another adult, just hand them the book without warning. The first time they close their fingers in slime, they’re going to freak – and be instantly interested.

Once I opened the book, I was even more impressed. The table of contents is set up with icons of the television shows. One of the games you can play as an adult is try to identify the series from the icon, then open the book to that page to find out if you were right. I got more of them right than I thought I would.

The sections on the cartoons are adult-friendly too. There’s not a whole lot of reading to be done to get up to speed on what the cartoon series was. Background and creative spark, as well as the names of the writers and or directors, are wrapped up in easy-to-read chunks. The artwork is absolutely beautiful, gleaned from storyboards and character concepts all the way up to finished presentations.

While I was reading through the book, picking out my favorite cartoons first (like Doug, Rugrats, The Angry Beavers, Danny Fantom, and Hey Arnold), my ten-year-old dropped in, saw what I was reading, and snuggled into the couch next to me. Then he started telling me what he knew about the characters, favorite episodes, favorite comic bits, and when it was going to be on again, if that was the case. There are unexpected benefits that come from owning this book. And, unlike the television episodes, the book can be turned on at any time.

There’s not a whole lot of reading here to be done, which should be encouraging to you as an adult, because I’m sure your lives haven’t slowed down any more than mine have, but there are a ton of pictures and graphic media. If you don’t think there’s a ton there, try holding this book straight out from your body in one hand!

Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoon! is an amazing compilation of info regarding these shows. The beauty of it is the book makes a great Christmas present (maybe not so much a stocking stuffer) for a kid or an uninformed adult on your list that doesn’t know about Nicktoons but has children. Pick up the book and wander back through the history of your child’s imagination and excitement.

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One Response to “NOT JUST CARTOONS: NICKTOONS! by Jerry Beck”

  1. HAHA hehe ya yall are the beesknees hehe


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