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Books and Trade Paperbacks

Little Bird Lost

Pete Oswald is a very busy production designer and illustrator. Recently he and his team were responsible for lighting and set design on The Angry Birds Movie. And from his web site: “As a character designer and concept artist, Pete has helped to uplift many of the most successful animated franchises. Among other projects, Pete has worked on Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2; Hotel Transylvania; and the Oscar® nominated ParaNorman, for which he earned an Annie Award nomination.” Even with all that going on, Mr. Oswald finds the time to illustrate books for children as well.  Recently he completed one called Mingo the Flamingo (written by Justin K. Thompson and published by Harper Collins). “A hilarious picture book about a flamingo named Mingo who is ready to fly but gets lost from the rest of the flock during a terrible storm. To make matters worse, when he crashes, he completely forgets who he is and where he belongs. With the help and training from some new friends, he must find the strength to make it back home and reunite with his family.” Pete also worked with writers Laura Lyn DeSiena and Hannah Eliot to create a series of “Did You Know?” books — Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts being one of them. Also available at his web site.

image c. 2017 Harper Collins

Kitten Wanna Play

Victoria Ying is an author and illustrator. Her web site has this to say: “She started her career in the arts by falling in love with comic books, this eventually turned into a career working in Animation… Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Paperman, Big Hero 6, and Moana.” Recent she completed Meow!, her first children’s book. “Meow! is a charming, mostly wordless picture book about a feisty young kitten who gets frustrated when her family is too busy to play. Featuring expressive art and sparse text, this fun read-aloud will allow parents and kids to creatively tell the story by expressing just one word in lots of different ways. This sweet and clever picture book is sure to charm readers through to the final purr.” Ms. Ying also illustrated Not Quite Black and White, written by her brother Jonathan Ying. “Silly animals star in this lively picture book that introduces colors in a unique and catchy way. Have you ever seen a zebra wearing pink polka dots? Or a penguin with bright-yellow boots?” Both of these are available on her web site.

image c. 2017 by Victoria Ying

When Animation Got Cool Again

Quick bit of history: Things were looking kind of bleak for American animation in the late 1970’s. It took a while to shake off the blues and get things going in the 1980’s, but when they finally did, animation came back with a bang. And now there’s a new book about it — with an appropriate title. “Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the Eighties is the ultimate guide to ’80s cartoon nostalgia, featuring the art, toys, and inside story behind icons like He-Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and the Thundercats. For an entire generation of kids weaned on the intoxicating excitement of eighties cartoons, the decade can be summed up with two words: Totally Awesome! With a thriving Saturday morning network schedule, a full complement of weekday syndicated programming, and the removal of guidelines that prevented cartoons from being based on toys, the 1980s enjoyed an unprecedented TV animation boom that made household names of a host of colorful characters. From He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to The Transformers, G.I. Joe, and The Muppet Babies, eighties cartoons would have such a huge impact on an entire generation that decades later they have become pop culture touchstones, revered by fans whose young minds were blown by their vivid visuals and snappy storytelling. In this deluxe book, Andrew Farago, a respected cartoon historian and child of the eighties, provides an inside look at the history of the most popular cartoons of the decade, as told by the writers, animators, voice actors, and other creative talents who brought life to some of the era’s most enduring animated shows.” Hey, a decade that brought us Gummi Bears and The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse? We’re there! Totally Awesome is coming in hardcover from Insight Editions at the end of November.

image c. 2017 Insight Editions

Sweet and Innocent Books for Kids

… or so it would seem. More strangeness we found at the L.A. Comic Con. This time in the form of Reacharound Books. These folks specialize in cute illustrated picture books for kids… that are not. How so?  Well two of the books from their first set (called “Season One”) should be of special note to furry fans: Brenda’s Beaver Needs a Barber and Spank the Monkey Lends a Hand. See where this is going? The funny thing is all of their books are perfectly innocent on the surface — not a single dirty word or picture in any of them. Welcome to the world of double entendre! The books are written by “Bimisi Tayanita” and illustrated by “Sumguyen Bangladesh” — names may have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. So check out their web page, buy the books, and let your children wonder what the heck you’re laughing your head off about.

Image c. 2017 Reacharound Books

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Quest of the Vegetables

Cucumber Quest is a popular on-line fantasy adventure comic for young readers, written and illustrated by Gigi D.G. Now it’s been assembled by First Second into a new full-color graphic novel, Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom. It goes like this: “What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction? World domination, obviously. The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they’ll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight. Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour? Sure, why not?” The first volume is available now, in hardcover or trade paperback.

image c. 2017 First Second

The Inner Life of Plushies

There’s an interesting new hardcover book coming soon called Toys Talking. Here’s what they say at Drawn & Quarterly: “Always there to comfort and listen, stuffed animals provide a reassuring presence in many a childhood. With Toys Talking, acclaimed illustrator and author Leanne Shapton explores their inner lives, to reveal that their thoughts and feelings are just as complicated as our own. The concerns of these bunnies, bears, and ducks range from the mundane to the existential, and with each new pairing of character and text, we see a deeper portrait of their pensive, quiet world. Shapton holds a mirror to our own lives, to our insecurities and concerns, by revealing that the objects who comfort us have worries of their own. This board book brings Shapton’s gorgeously minimal brushstrokes to a younger audience, and will leave children and parents alike brimming with the beauty and melancholy of self-reflection.” Marketed for children, it’s more a sort of visual poetry. Look for it in November.

image c. 2017 Enfant

North, But Not Alaska

And the Christmas comic flood continues, this time with a new title from Action Lab — Northstars Volume 1: Welcome to Snowville. “Holly, the daughter of Santa Claus, and Frostina, the Yeti Princess, must put their differences aside to save the town of Snowville before Christmas is lost forever. They travel through an exotic underground world to save Christmas from the devious Krampus and his oafish Straw Lads.” Krampus who looks like an evil reindeer, it seems. They also said this: “Northstars is what you get if you combine Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with Adventure Time. Like the classic Rankin/Bass specials, it’s a wonderful world where holiday characters such as Santa and his daughter, Holly, rub shoulders with winter warlocks, snow dragons and fall fairies. Like Adventure Time, there is a wry sense of humor and a colorful, quirky cast of characters that both kids and adults will enjoy.” The first ultra-sized hardcover issue is written by Jim Shelley and Haigen Shelley, with illustration by Anna Liisa Jones. Look for it later this month.

image c. 2017 Action Lab

Classic Christmas from Classic Artists

It’s not too early to be thinking about Christmas, is it? (Our local department store certainly doesn’t think so…) In that spirit (Ha Ha), IDW have once again compiled The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories, edited by Craig Yoe. What’s especially interesting about this collection is some of the artists represented: Among them are Walt Kelly (creator of Pogo), Richard Scarry (famous creator of funny animal books for kids), John Stanley (Little Lulu), and many others. It’s coming out in trade paperback this November, and there’s a review over at the Graphic Novel Reporter site.

image c. 2017 IDW

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How to Battle With Your Dragon

[Back in town again, your ed-otter is happy to get caught up with new furry stuff!] Looking ahead to the delayed-but-still-coming film How to Train Your Dragon 3, Dreamworks Animation have a new full-color graphic novel coming early next year from Dark Horse. “This second standalone graphic novel based on the film series is a new adventure that takes place shortly after the events in How to Train Your Dragon 2, during the period in which Hiccup is desperately trying to fill his father’s role as the chief of Berk. Created with the help of the film’s writer, director, and producer, Dean DeBlois; it bridges the gap between the second and third films. Hiccup, Toothless, and the rest of the dragon riders encounter two deadly yet mysteriously linked threats: One is an island consumed by Dragonvine, an uncontrollable force of nature that’s poisonous to humans and deadly to dragons. The other is an all-new, all-terrifying dragon species – the web-spitting Silkspanners!” As they noted in the press release, How to Train Your Dragon: Dragonvine is written by Dean Deblois and Richard Hamilton, with illustrations by Francisco de la Fuente and Doug Wheatley.

image c. 2017 Dark Horse