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May, 2022:

Musty and Mustier

We stumbled across another illustrated book for young readers, from a couple of years ago. It’s simply titled Skunk and Badger. Easy to remember! “Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen. No one wants a skunk. They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it. When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?” Find out when you look for it in hardcover from Algonquin.

image c. 2022 Algonquin Books

Down On Jollity Farm

Hadn’t heard about this, ’till Animation World Network let us know: “Apple TV+ has released a trailer for the new live-action / CG animated hybrid kids and family series Lovely Little Farm from Darrall Macqueen, the London-based BAFTA Award-winning producer of hit series Topsy & Tim and Teletubbies. The show premieres globally on June 10. The series follows sisters Jill and Jacky as they love and nurture all the animals on their farm nestled in lavender fields. Being a young farmer isn’t easy, but every day brings these sisters adventure and a chance to grow. ILM provides the show’s CG animation that brings the series to life.” There is actually quite a bit of CGI and puppetry involved in this show, as it seems that the young ladies have the ability to speak to the non-human animals on the farm. Take a look at the trailer to see what we mean.

image c. 2022 Apple TV+

Little Mouse, Big Heart

Disney is always doing so much; it probably makes sense that some of it would slip by us. Include in that category Delphine and the Silver Needle, a fantasy novel for young readers written by Alyssa Moon. It came out last year in hardcover. “When Delphine, a young orphaned dressmaker mouse living in the walls of Cinderella’s château, stumbles upon an enormous secret, it upends everything she thought she knew: The magical tailor mice of legend really existed. Racing to stay ahead of King Midnight, the fearsome leader of the rats who is bent on harnessing age-old magic, Delphine embarks on an epic quest to uncover the truth about the past. Joined by Alexander, the most pompous noblemouse in the royal court, she travels a perilous route, encountering strange enemies and unlikely allies along the way.” Silver Needle is available now, and the sequel book Delphine and the Dark Thread comes our way this August.

image c. 2022 Disney Press

The Wonderful Critters of Oz

More interesting discoveries for young readers. Kirkus Reviews described The Hedgehog of Oz by Cory Leonardo as “The Wizard of Oz meets The Wind in the Willows“. The publisher describes it like this: “Marcel the hedgehog used to live with his beloved owner Dorothy, but since getting hopelessly lost, he’s tried to forget the happy home he left behind. Now, Marcel lives a quiet life in the abandoned balcony of The Emerald City Theater where he subsists on dropped popcorn and the Saturday showings of The Wizard of Oz. But when he’s discovered, Marcel is taken far away from everything he knows and ends up lost once more. His quest to return to The Emerald City Theater leads him to Mousekinland, where he meets Scamp, a tiny mouse armed with enormous spirit (and a trusty sling-shooter). Before long, they’re joined by an old gray squirrel, Ingot, who suffers from bad memories and a broken heart, and Tuffy, a baby raccoon lost and afraid in the forest. And the travelers attract the attention of an owl named Wickedwing, who stalks them as they search for the old theater. From field to forest, glittering theater to the gutter, the animals’ road home is a dark and winding journey. But sometimes you need to get a little lost before you can be found.” The book is available now in hardcover from Simon & Schuster.

image c. 2022 Simon & Schuster

Many Girls Like Ponies, But…

More interesting reads we came across at this year’s L.A. Time Festival of Books. The Glitter Dragons — Dragon Girls is a new fantasy series for young readers, written by Maddy Mara. The first book is Azima the Gold Glitter Dragon.  “Azmina, Willa, and Naomi are thrilled to learn they’re Glitter Dragon Girls. Summoned to the Magic Forest by its magnificent ruler, the Tree Queen, the girls quickly find out their dragon-selves have unbelievable abilities. They can soar above the treetops, breathe glitter-y bursts of fire, and roar loud enough to shake the ground.With this newfound magic comes a big responsibility, however. As Dragon Girls, they are sworn protectors of the forest and must help keep it safe from the troublesome Shadow Sprites, who are determined to take the forest’s magic for their own.” All this and more are available now in trade paperback from Scholastic. Roar!

image c. 2022 Scholastic

Working Your Meow-scles.

It seems like cats are getting into all sorts of business these days — in mangas at least. Check out Cat Massage Therapy by Haru Hisakawa. “Nekoyama, worn out after another long day at the office, stops at a therapeutic massage parlor — only to discover that it’s run by a cat! Not only that, but the cat actually does the massaging?! As the professional ‘meowsseur’ digs soft toe beans into Nekoyama’s aching muscles, his heart warms and his worries melt away. This is only the beginning, as he and other world-weary workers are about to meet the other feline professionals who have mastered pawfully cute techniques to reduce human stress.” Available now in full color from Seven Seas.

image c. 2022 Seven Seas Entertainment

This Bummer is Actually Pretty Cool

Jylene Morgan is an author we met at this year’s L.A. Times Festival of Books. She creates illustrated stories for children — based on the real-life adventures of her family. Her first book is called Bummer: Our Pet Bighorn Sheep, and it’s exactly that — the story of her family raising a wild bighorn sheep from infancy when it wanders onto their rural farm. The second book, Bummer and the Nanny Goat (illustrated by Matthew Mew) carries on with the story as Bummer tries to learn getting along with a grouchy female goat. Ms. Morgan also took things in a more fanciful direction with her book There Was A Moose On Clifford Street. Visit her  official web site to find out more and hear more stories.

image c. 2022 Jylene Morgan

More Equal Than The Others?

Over the years there have been many adaptations of satirist George Orwell’s famous work Animal Farm, both on stage and on screen. Most often, each of them have deviated in some way from the author’s original story, an allegory for the Russian Revolution and the subsequent rise of centralized power under Joseph Stalin. Now we’ve been informed by Animation World Network that Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) and his company The Imaginarium have joined up with Aniventure (Riverdance) to create a new CGI version of the story that Mr. Serkis will direct. It’s currently in production at Cinesite. No word on a release date — yet!

image c. 2022 The Imaginarium

Friends with Fur

At WonderCon we met Ralph Lee Miranda, one of the minds behind Oh, Bubba — a series of animated shorts. Here’s what the makers say: “Oh, Bubba is an animated series on YouTube. It stars our titular character Bubba Lu [the gorilla], Grumpy, and their hooman friends as they navigate this modern world together, often with hilarious results and commentary…  Think of it as The Muppets meets Friends.” You can also find out more about the series at IMDB.

image c. 2022 Drawn of Time