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Funny Animal

Heart To Spare

We met writer and illustrator Cherie Okonski at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, and she introduced us to her creation, Gumper the Rabbit. Here’s the description of her first book: “The Secret of Gumper the Rabbit is a story about a bunny who is born different from the other rabbits. Gumper’s best friend Oink, an easily frazzled guinea pig, helps him to use his differences to save the day at the pet store. Gumper learns many new lessons about being different while discovering a secret that is taught to all bunnies.” Here’s part of the secret: Proceeds from the sale of this and other Gumper the Rabbit books go to help children born with congenital heart disease. The official Gumper web site has more, including links to the YouTube channel. (There’s a fursuit!)

image c. 2024 Xulon Press

Corgis To The Rescue!

At the L.A. Times Festival of Books we learned about Mythwalker at their big, impressive booth. Maybe it was the smiling corgi in armor that attracted our attention… Mythwalker is a geolocation fantasy RPG created by Nant Games for your cell phone. In it you can play one of three species: Human, Annu (a bird-like humanoid species), and Wulven (a canine species — from which the aforementioned corgi hails). Here is the lore: “Mytherra is a fantastical, parallel planet to Earth ─ a world where throughout history its people and mystical creatures have infiltrated the dreams of humans. Over time, these visions have formed the basis of Earth’s many myths and legends. After a prolonged period of peace, Mytherra is now under attack, which poses a direct threat to Earth as well. A powerful being, known only as The Child, has reached out through the Veil into our world seeking help. She recruits you – the Mythwalker – to uncover the truth about the attackers, explore the connection between the two worlds, and lead Mytherra’s heroes in the defense of their home.” And here is the idea: “MythWalker is a geolocation fantasy RPG adventure mobile game that brings The Child and Mytherra to life through an overworld traversal system, using real locations to tell the stories of Earth’s myths and legends. With narrative-driven quests tied to an intriguing storyline, a cast of magical and memorable characters, a deep progression system, and robust multiplayer modes, MythWalker will connect players worldwide through meaningful global gameplay.” Their web site has a whole lot more information.

image c. 2024 Nant Games

Sing From Your Heart

Turns out yesterday’s entry wasn’t the only peacock-centric illustrated book we found at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Peacocks are known for their beautiful feathers, not for their beautiful voices — but what if there was a peacock who actually could sing? What would their fellows think about it? That’s the premise of The Unique Beak, written by singer/songwriter Estani Frizzell and illustrated in watercolor by Sophia Frizzell. “Sai is a kind young peacock who lives with his royal family. He has brilliant blue tail feathers that any regal peacock would be proud of — and Sai loves to sing! But his family laughs at that idea, and at him! They say his beak is too big while making fun of his singing voice. Saddened by their ridicule, Sai finally vows never to sing in front of anyone again! He hides himself away and doubts his dreams. Will he take their criticism to heart? Will he give up? Estani Frizzell’s spirited and unique story shows children how just one special friend’s support can make a difference in carrying us where our talents are meant to take us.” Available now from Greenleaf Book Group.

image c. 2024 Greenleaf Book Group

Look Within for Beauty

At this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books we met Bill Herrin, who was showing off his brand new illustrated book. It seems that while his granddaughters were visiting one day, they noticed his pet peacock interacting with a large wooden bear statue he has in his back yard. They asked him why the bird would do that… and he came up with this story on the spot. “A proud Peacock with beautiful colorful feathers belittles Paws the Bear brown fur, but Paws soon discovers through the help of Father Owl, what real beauty is. The Peacock and the Bear picture book takes you on a journey with Peter the Peacock and Paws the Bear through generosity and understanding that each forest animal is a special beautiful creature.” Illustrated in a striking style (it looks like an animated film!) by Ilham Fatkurahman, the book is available now in hardcover.

image c. 2024 Safe Skies

Do You Speak Not You?

At WonderCon we met Josh Oaktree, the founder of Oak Tree Comics. Their mission is simple, and stated right on the front page of their web site: “A children’s book publisher where imagination meets environmentalism”. To that end they created the Art and Oakie Ask series of illustrated graphic novels for young readers, featuring the wordless adventures of young Art and their friend Oakie the ambulatory oak tree. In Do You Speak Tree?, Oakie tries to speak up for his forest home — but he only speaks “tree”, and no one understands. Perhaps Art and their crayon skills can help out? This was followed by Do You Speak Bear? and, most recently, Do You Speak Bee? Oak Tree also features a nature-themed fantasy comic series called Thorn the Unicorn, and a very unusual picture book called The Weird Animal Hour, which we’ll leave to them to explain.

image c. 2024 Oak Tree Comics

Cute, Round, and Available For Your Home

Another artist we ran into at WonderCon this year calls themselves Thousand Skies. Simply put: Their products are adorable. They’ve got stickers, enamel pins, plushies, fashion accessories, even squeaky toys for your pets… Corgis, ducklings, red pandas, tiger cubs, whatever is cute and rounded it’s their specialty. Take a look at their web site and you’ll immediately find just their most recent offerings — with much more to be found if you dig.

Image c. 2024 by Thousand Skies

Where’s Kuzco When You Need Him?

It’s always fun to come across a skilled artist with a unique and readily identifiable style. Sita Cardenas (or Retronerd as they call themselves) certainly fits that bill. We met them at WonderCon last month. Their specialty is fan art of gaming, anime, and comic book characters drawn in a distinctive style based on classical Aztec art. You’ve never seen the like! Look at their web site to see what we mean. They offer their art on pins, stickers, coffee mugs, and other cool items — not to mention they sell originals too.

image c. 2024 by Sita Cardenas

If You Build It…

Stuart Ng Books always have a fascinating booth at any number of fannish conventions. At WonderCon, they introduced us to Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest, an illustrated book for children that came out in 2018 from writer Steve Richardson and illustrator Chris Dunn. “Can a lone girl rabbit with all the odds stacked against her actually surprise boastful Jimmy Squirrel to win the big tree house construction contest? It is the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, Jimmy Squirrel, whose dad owns the biggest construction company in the city, agrees to a tree house contest. To everyone”s surprise, Paisley Rabbit, who has never touched a hammer or a nail and has no one to help her, is a long shot to win. But the imaginative and determined Paisley, demonstrates her resourcefulness and strategic planning abilities that eventually amazes her friends and silences the smug Jimmy Squirrel.” The book is available now in hardcover. Check out the preview pictures — the artwork is gorgeous. Interesting note: Chris Dunn also illustrated an edition of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. We’ll have to look it up.

image c. 2024 Impossible Dreams

Two for Survival

Fresh back from WonderCon in Anaheim, and there was so much interesting stuff to see there! Like… Chuck Grieb is an art instructor at Azusa Pacific University, but he worked for years in animation production as well. Now he’s expanded his resume to include “author” with his illustrated fantasy novel The Goblin Twins — the first book in his Garden Clan series. It features more than 100 black & white and full-color illustrations. “Running for their lives from an evil shaman, The Goblin Twins Bela and Vuto flee to the far side of the enchanted Thicket. But the shaman has not given up, and the Goblin Twins’ escape to the Faerie Garden Clans sparks a confrontation which could lead to a Goblin-Faerie war.” Check out the official web site to find out more, including the author’s other projects.

image c. 2024 C and W Creative, Inc.