Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The eleventh volume of Charles M. Schulz’s newspaper strip features Sally, little sister of Charlie Brown, on the cover. Accordingly, the introduction is a brief interview with actor Kristin Chenoweth who won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards in 1999 for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, when she played Sally in the Broadway revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. This doesn’t mean there are any particularly long Sally-focused storylines in this collection, however. By this point in the series it’s evident that covers are chosen purely to give all of the main characters at least one appearance each, with no greater significance to them than that.
Things start off in January with the usual snow scenes: “Here’s a gentle reminder…” Lucy tells Linus, “If you throw that snowball at me, I’ll break every bone in your stupid body!” Woodstock goes to worm school, Snoopy sends a copy of his manuscript to Helen Sweetstory, his favourite author (writer of ‘The Six Bunny-Wunnies and their layover in Anderson, Indiana’) and receives a reply. Sally takes a field trip to an art gallery, starts talking to her school building, and the main storyline of the year gets going with Peppermint Patty who believes Charlie Brown is obviously in love with her: “You touched my hand, Chuck!” She displays some funny ambivalence about it at a carnival, on the phone, over numerous conversations lying under their favourite tree and at summer camp as their relationship develops into something interestingly complex.
Snoopy alternates between being The World War I Flying Ace, and Joe Cool, “hanging around the student union eyeing chicks”. He starts reading War and Peace at the leisurely pace of one word a day (“Why not? I’m in no hurry…”), writes an advice column for dog owners and takes Woodstock on a trip to find the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. The introduction of Linus and Lucy’s baby brother Rerun Van Pelt and the classic Sally “coat-hanger sculpture” strip among lots of other storylines add up to another funny and superbly executed volume of Schulz brilliance.