Jonesy hit bookstores back in February of 2016. After reading about the book online, I made sure to go out of my way to get a copy of the first issues. Featuring a geeky female protagonist and a cast of diversely fun characters, Jonesy was a book I expected to love.
I didn’t expect that it would be my seven year old who would fall in love with it.
Jonesy managed to appeal to my kid probably because she’s a bit irreverent and a bit spunkier than a well behaved kid should be. Sometimes, she’s almost downright sassy-bordering-on-rude to her friends, or so I thought in those first issues. While I stopped reading it, my kid continued to gobble the Jonesy books up like proverbial Pez. Every few weeks when we’d go to the comics shop and the new Jonesy would be out, my kid would grab it right off the shelf along with the most recent Scooby-Do and Simpsons.
For some reason, this quirky little book managed to become a favorite despite being nothing at all like the more kid-specifically targeted books. Good for them, I’d think to myself. At least my kid is reading a nice diverse book that isn’t filled with just the traditional representation, I’d think to myself.
This week, however, I caught my kid reading the most recent two Jonesy books before school. Since it had captured the kid’s attention so deeply, I glanced over the top of my coffee cup, across the couch, to steal a glimpse of what they were reading and noticed this:
I didn’t expect at 7:15am on a Monday morning to be taken aback by the perfection of a comic book’s ability to teach protest in a non-patrisan manner. A few months ago, GeekMom Jackie shared 13 Book to Teach Children About Protesting and Activism. At 8, my kid was a bit old for most of these. In our house, we’ve talked about the importance of understanding when we have benefits because of being white or male. (My favorite story being that my kid recently stated that they “kind of like my male privilege because it means I can take my shirt off, but I feel bad for women because they can’t.”) Unfortunately, finding just the right way to really explain things has been difficult. In restaurants, the news is on, meaning we’ve had to discuss various social movements. We’ve been involved in some in our area as well. Explaining protests and rallies still seemed a bit difficult.
Jonesy, however, provides the perfect plot to discuss these issues for this age. The book presents the story of Jonesy and her friends fighting for the rights of rescue ferrets. The story follows the three young women as they #fightforferrets. Their first attempts at getting people to sign petitions fails. They gather more friends using a hashtag and all start calling their city council representatives. The politicians originally attempt to dismiss the kids. They organize a protest. Social media makes cruel comments about the “crybabies” organizing the protest. Jonesy can’t fall asleep the night before the protest because she’s worried that no one will show up. In the end, her fears are unfounded because the rally is a success. Change is effected. Happy ending.
The plot itself is a wonderful morality tale no doubt, but the real gems are some of the panels within the book.
More than anything else, the story is relatable to middle and upper elementary school kids. There are panels that open the door to a discussion of cyber bullying. Everything in the story is appropriately aged to both kids and to adults. Adults will understand some of the allusions to modern politics or politicians. However, the imagery and discussion is removed enough that even if you disagree with the specific political references, you would still be able to use the story to create a sense of balanced discussion about the importance of engaging in the democratic process and voicing dissent through peaceful, nonviolent protest.
However, don’t just take my word for what kids can learn. Listen to one of those kids for yourself.