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Funny Animal

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

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

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

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

What, We Worry?

We met Janie Stapleton at WonderCon this year. On her web site, she describes her art like this: “I find inspiration in nature and people watching, and I like my work to strike an awkward balance of gallows humor and bright colors. My work explores emotional intelligence, neurodivergence, and interpersonal connection through lighthearted drawings and comics.” And so she’s created various funny-animal-themed online comics like Animal Logic and The Adventures of Anxiety & Mouse. More recently, she’s run some successful Kickstarter campaigns to release her comics in paperback book form. See if they can help you relax.

image c. 2022 by Janie Stapleton

Plushies with Purpose

At a recent convention we came across the Creep Cat Toy Company — by their own description, “…founded by two independent LGBTQ+ artists with a passion for funky little creatures and a knack for design! We are a pair of artists who work mainly in craft and concept design and are trying our hand at turning our work into something larger.” Which is mainly a collection of interesting plush animal toys, often featuring species you don’t see very often — like hyenas long-legged maned wolves. The collection also includes their line of Pride Gators, designed to showcase the owner’s personality. “With each purchase from Creep Cat you are directly supporting small artists and helping us live out our dream!”.

image c. 2022 Creep Cat Toy Company

Little Dinosaurs… With Interesting Lives

Phoenix Baldwin is the writer and illustrator of Dinotoons, a series of illustrated books for young readers. The first title is Here Comes The Moon, where we meet young Peter Protoceratops — lost in the woods and trying to find his way home. The most recent book in the series, though, is called Formerly Known As Ella. Peter’s best friend Ella the einiosaurus decides to come out as non-binary, changing their name and pronouns. Peter, young as he is, tries to learn to understand and finally accept this. All these stories and more are available from Bookbaby.

image c. 2022 by Phoenix Baldwin