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They Leap Right Off the Page!

[Back from Biggest Little Fur Con, and there’s still more to catch up with…] At the L.A. Times Festival of Books this year we discovered Creative Creature Catcher — an “augmented reality children’s book”, to use the publisher’s phrase for it. “Welcome to the Society of Creative Creature Catchers! Your mission is simple: Find and learn about a variety of fantastical animals who have ended up lost in our world and then it’s your job to send them home to their families! Some hide in the curtains. Others hide under the bed. Don’t worry. They won’t hurt you. They’re scared, and their parents are worried about them.” Sounds like an interesting story, but then it goes further… “But this is just half the story. Creative Creature Catcher isn’t just about reading. It’s about doing. Anyone can read about these unfortunate animals, but Malcolm will teach you how to get personally involved. Grab your Apple or Android device (phone or tablet), and even stubborn readers will want to know more about the shifty Grumbaloo or the quick-footed Eeking Sfifter as 3D characters leap to life with Augmented Reality.” Visit their official web site to see more of what they’re talking about.

image c. 2022 Anomaly Productions

Bear With Her

Sorry. The Girl Who Speaks Bear is a recent novel for young readers written by Sophie Anderson. “Discovered in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka dreams of knowing who she really is. Although Yanka is happy at home with her loving foster mother, she feels out of place in the village where the other children mock her for her unusual size and strength. So when Yanka wakes up one morning to find that her legs have become bear legs, she knows she has no choice but to leave her village. She has to find somewhere she truly belongs, so she ventures into the Snow Forest with her pet weasel, Mousetrap, in search of the truth about her past. But deep in the forest there are many dangers, and Yanka discovers that even the most fantastic stories she grew up hearing are true. And just as she draws close to discovering who she really is, something terrifying happens that could trap her in the forest…forever.” Published by Scholastic, it’s available now in hardcover. [And with that, we’ll see you all again after a trip to Biggest Little Fur Con! — ye ed-otter]

Hump-Day Reading

Once Upon A Camel is the fairy-tale sounding title of a new illustrated novel by Kathi Appelt. “Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion. But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. She’s not, however, alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears — kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents — and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.” That story is illustrated by Eric Rohmann and available now in hardcover from Simon & Schuster.

image c. 2022 Simon & Schuster

Bears On The Wing

Seems like every time we turn around we’re reviewing something new by Katherine Applegate — author of Crenshaw, The One and Only Ivan, and the Animorphs series, among many others. This time it’s Willodeen, and it’s very hard to explain… We’ll let the publisher try: “Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature. Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why. When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.” Find the book in hardcover at MacMillan Publishers and it should all make more sense.

image c. 2022 MacMillan Publishers

Here Comes the Neighborhood

The mind that gave us Wicked turns toward anthropomorphic animals as Gregory Maguire brings us Cress Watercress, a new hardcover novel for young readers. “When Papa doesn’t return from a nocturnal honey-gathering expedition, Cress holds out hope, but her mother assumes the worst. It’s a dangerous world for rabbits, after all. Mama moves what’s left of the Watercress family to the basement unit of the Broken Arms, a run-down apartment oak with a suspect owl landlord, a nosy mouse super, a rowdy family of squirrels, and a pair of songbirds who broadcast everyone’s business. Can a dead tree full of annoying neighbors, and no Papa, ever be home?” Illustrated by David Litchfield, Cress is available now from Penguin Random House.

image c. 2022 Penguin Random House

High-Flying Adventure

The Sheep, The Rooster, and The Duck is the oh-so-innocent sounding title of a very unusual novel for young readers written and illustrated by Matt Phelan. “The very first passengers to ride in a hot-air balloon were a sheep, a rooster, and a duck in 1783. And while hot-air balloons are indeed wondrous, ten-year-old Emile is too busy being the fastidious caretaker of ambassador Benjamin Franklin’s château in Paris to think much about them. But soon, young Emile finds himself right in the middle of a sinister plot. And right in the middle of the secret headquarters for France’s undercover guardians — the very same sheep, rooster, and duck that piloted the first hot-air balloon. If Emile can muster his courage and be bold, he may be the key to helping the heroes save both Benjamin Franklin and the world.” Find out more in hardcover from Harper Collins.

image c. 2022 Harper Collins

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