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Fantasy

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

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

Beauty in Complexity

Another art crew we met at WonderCon goes by the name of Star Salts — interesting, hmm? Jackie (artist!) and Ian (manager!) specialize in densely complex tapestries featuring pokemon, anime creatures, and other popular cartoon subjects. Then those designs become part of their line of Hawaiian-style shirts, lanyards, pillow cases, and even (how timely!) face-masks. They’ve also branched out into enamel pins and such. Visit their web site to see the latest.

image c. 2022 by Star Salts

Cold Reality

Look, there’s no way we can describe The Misewa Saga better than the publishers do — so here’s what they say: “Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle-grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.” The first book in the series is called The Barren Grounds. Two children of the First Nations in Canada find themselves torn away from their families and forced into foster care by the government — a sad reality for many indigenous children in North America. Unhappy with their new “home”, the children search for a haven… and instead, find a magic portal into another world. There, they meet an anthropomorphic fisher (big weasel!) named Ochek, who sets out to teach them how to survive in the frozen wasteland that surrounds his village. Soon, accompanied by “a sassy squirrel”, the two humans set off on a dangerous mission to bring summertime back to the barren grounds. More books follow in the series as well, so look for them.

image c. 2022 Penguin Random House

In His Young And Wild Days

Thanks to Animation World Network we’re learning more about the upcoming Ted TV series: “Peacock has announced the cast of Ted, Seth MacFarlane’s live-action comedy series based on his hit 2012 film of the same name and its 2015 sequel. In addition to serving as director, writer, co-showrunner, and executive producer, MacFarlane will reprise his role as the voice of the titular character — a foul-mouthed teddy bear who was first brought to life by a wish from his owner and best friend, John Bennett. In the films, John is played by Mark Wahlberg. In the new series, which serves as a prequel to the events of the first film, John appears a 16-year-old boy.” Here’s the official synopsis: “It’s 1993 and Ted the bear’s moment of fame has passed, leaving him living with his best friend, 16-year-old John Bennett, who lives in a working-class Boston home with his parents and cousin. Ted may not be the best influence on John, but when it comes right down to it, Ted’s willing to go out on a limb to help his friend and his family.” No word yet on a target release date for the show.

image c. 2022 Universal Pictures

Are All Animals Equal?

We just stumbled across Animal Castle, a new comic series from Ablaze Comics that takes a familiar fable… in a new direction. This is from Bleeding Cool: “On the Farm, all animals were equal. But in the Castle, some are more equal than others… Nestled in the heart of a farm forgotten by men, the Animal Castle is ruled with an iron hoof by President Silvio. The bull and his dog militia savor their power, while the other animals are exhausted by work until the arrival of the mysterious Azelard, a traveling rat who will teach them the secrets of civil disobedience.” Brought to us by Writer Xavier Dorison and artist Felix Dele.

image c. 2022 Ablaze Comics