Review: Peanuts Guide to Life

Thew new hardcover Peanuts Guide to Life is not a strip collection, although it has a handful of complete strips in it. Rather, it is mostly a collection of Peanuts dialog, selected for its insight (or appearance of same), with a panel’s worth of art facing each quote. As such, it comes off a lot like the Happiness Is A Warm Puppy-style of books. The presentation is classy, and the choice of quotes is generally good, although there are a few that (understandably) read like quotes from the middle of a sequence rather than something Schulz intended as a stand-alone statement.

The book doesn’t serve to reinforce some single point (admittedly, it’s hard to conceive what other more general point would be supported by the quote “As soon as a child is born, he or she should be issued a dog and a banjo…”) It’s design is sharp and clean enough that it wouldn’t look out of place as the one expression of character on a businessman’s desk.

The foreword is “by Bill Cosby with Gordon Berry”. Doctor Berry’s involvement with Cosby goes at least as far back as the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids show, for which he was a consulting helping them find a way to be educational and pro-social. He said of that experience “Obviously there’s always somewhat of a disconnect between a person who’s an academic and creative folks. I don’t mean that there’s any disagreement, but, after all, creative people have a certain vision that academic people do not have.” Alas, that difference seems to show through in this foreword, with a dry bio of Schulz followed by an explanation and endorsement of the book… rather than a rousing view on the humor and wisdom to come from kids, which is what we might hope for from Cosby himself, as the man who brought us Heathcliff Huxtable, hosted Kids Say The Darndest Things, and wrote Fatherhood.

Still, all in all well done, and this book might make a nice gift for a Peanuts-friendly executive.

Coming up in time for Christmas: a paperback edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition, a nice look at the effort behind the classic TV special.

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