You showed up too early or too late at the dentists and now you have to pay for it. You’re sitting in the waiting room, excitedly preparing for your teeth to be cleaned or drilled. You want to kill the bored you’re feeling but the television is on a local news channel, on some segment about the killer bee epidemic or some other sort of scare tactic broadcasting, and you've already found all of the hidden toothbrushes in the posters lining the walls.
How about a magazine? Some how all of the copies of Time or Newsweek have disappeared, but there are still bunches of Bass Weekly and Golfers Digest around. Oh, and what’s this? Highlights For Children?
You pick it up, after making sure no one was looking, and you open the magazine randomly, expecting to play some games or perhaps completing a word search. But nope, you’ve opened up to a twelve frame comic, The Timbertoes. Go ahead and read it.
The Timbertoes took a trip.
They found an island.
No one seemed to live there.
The Timbertoes sailed away.
Someone watched them go.
"I am lonely," said the girl.
She began to cry.
The animals came near.
"You are good friends," she said.
"But I wish I had a family."
She thought about the boy.
What was his name?
This story strikes you as completely odd for being in a children’s magazine, yet you enjoyed it greatly. You tear out the page, fold it, and put it in your pocket.
The dentist is ready to see you now.
The Timbertoes came into being in 1946, when John Gee created them for the first publication of Highlights magazine. Needless to say, the wooden family consisting of Pa, Ma, Tommy, Mabel, and the dog are still around today, as they have at least one full comic in every issue of current Highlights.
Children will enjoy The Timbertoes stories for their simplicity and their ability to portray a complete story in a short amount of time. Adults, on the other hand, will sometimes notice the poetic, and almost art-like, feel that the comics take on. It’s almost as if writer Marileta Robinson aims for amusing both audiences.
Although The Timbertoes are a staple in the Highlights magazine the family has moved into the book industry as well. In 1995 a series of Preschool ABC and counting books came out featuring the family, and sometimes the family is also featured in the Highlights Sticker Stories publications as well.
Highlights For Children, February 2002