I know there are gobs of ABC books out there, but there are only a few that stand the test of time in our family. The latest addition to that select group is The ABCs of RPGs by Ivan Van Norman (you probably recognize him from over at Geek and Sundry) and Caleb Cleveland.
The art in the book immediately stands out–its fun and playful which makes it easily accessible–but the writing is also great. The exposition rhymes, which seems to be a requirement for ABC books, but never seems forced. And at a closer look, the book is even more spectacular than I first noticed. Not only are there a ton of subtle and not so subtle nods to our collective shared RPG experience but, more importantly, the book is full of representation. There are boys and girls on every page, and many of them are not white. The subtle message in this book is that RPGs are for everyone, and while we all knew that, representation matters.
The book reinforces that girls can be the GM (or be sporty) and that anything you like to imagine and pretend to be is worthwhile and just fine. We’re all geeks, and we all love playing games–and I love that I have a book that is great not only for my son but for my daughter.
And the most important reason I love this book is because my son does. He’s already had some exposure to fantasy worlds, so ogres and giants and kobolds are all things he recognizes. But look at that face! He totally digs this book.
And, as if the ABC book wasn’t enough, there is also a companion coloring and activity book! Because the ABCs and art in the book are great, I wouldn’t have minded if they had just made colorable versions, but they didn’t. All of the art in the coloring and activity book is 100% different than what is in the reading book. The artwork, while similar, has been geared specifically to be better for coloring.
The activity pages are spread throughout the book and include things you’d expect–connect the dots, word search, etc.–but also some fun, and funny, ones that fit perfectly with the genre and art like completing Grog the Barbarian’s tattoos. The beauty of this coloring and activity book is that, as you can see, it works perfectly for kids and adults, and my son and I will both get plenty of enjoyment out of it.
If you’re looking for a new take on the ABC book, love RPGs and great art, and care about how important representation is, these are definitely the books for you!
NOTE: I received review copies of both books but all thoughts and opinions are my own.