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New reader and young reader friendly is the key to a Free Comic Book Day hit. After all, there are more than a few kids who begrudgingly tag along with dad (or mom) as the parents hit the shops on FCBD. Some parents struggle to find new material for their kids to enjoy, and a licensing marriage such as DreamWorks’ stellar Shrek and Penguins of Madagascar properties presented in a flip-book can be just what the comic book doctor ordered. Debuting their Kizoic line, Ape Entertainment makes a strong first impression.

While my youngest didn’t go to the shop with me yesterday (she chose to ride her bike around with Mom instead) I grabbed a copy of this book for her. “Tiny Titans” and “Archie” seem to be her preferred reads, but she’s a movie hound at the young age of seven, so I figured she’d dig this. Boy, did I do good. My seven-year-old couldn’t have been happier if I put in a DVD and declared it “Madagascar Marathon Day.” I gave her the book Shrek-side up and she ambled away, set to read about her favorite ogre and his friend Donkey. Not even five minutes later, she ran back downstairs, “Dad! Look! I started reading ‘Shrek,’ then I found this!” She flipped the book over to show me the treasure she had found on the back, “Penguins of Madagascar.” She made a delightful little squeal — at least I thought she did, it may have been her sneakers as she tore out of the kitchen back up to her room.

I asked her what she liked about the comic and she told me, “I liked the penguins because the penguins are planning a surprise for Private and they get other animals involved.”

Her nine-year-old sister chipped in, “The other animals are distracting Private, but in the backgrounds, you can see the penguins doing stuff for Private. They were blowing up balloons, and lighting candles with a blowtorch.”

Additionally, both kids were excited that they got to see Shrek’s parents for the first time on the Shrek side of the book. The penguins, however, really seemed to steal the show here. Shrek wound up as bonus material, which is nothing my kids would complain about.

The two of them have each read this book, swapping between this and the “DC Kids Sampler,” but truly preferring this issue. Ape went all out, not just in securing the license, but in providing a hefty free comic that has four stories — two of each brand — and is printed on high quality stock. The girls may have been reading the ink off of the pages so far, but the book has held up nicely. Additional praise is in order for gearing the advertising in this issue towards the all ages set, steering clear of anything that might even be remotely deemed inappropriate.

This issue, is quite simply, a Free Comic Book day win. It hooked my kids, which is enough to hook me into buying the “Penguins” comic that Ape is planning for this summer.