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Start Your Kids on a Fantasy Adventure

And speaking of the young folks… We came across this at a book store. (Remember those?) The Last Firehawk is a new illustrated fantasy series for beginning readers, written by Katrina Charman and illustrated by Jeremy Norton. Here’s what they say about the first book, The Ember Stone, over at Scholastic: “A terrible darkness is spreading across Perodia. Thorn, a powerful vulture, is using dark magic (and his dark army of spies!) to destroy the magical land. A young owl named Tag may be the only one who can save it! Tag dreams of one day becoming a brave warrior, but he is small . . . In this first book, Tag and his best friend — a squirrel named Skyla — meet the last firehawk. Together, the three friends learn about a magical stone. Could this stone be powerful enough to defeat Thorn? This action-packed series makes a great introduction to fantasy and quest stories for newly independent readers. Realistic black-and-white artwork appears on every page!” Already there are four books available in the series.

image c. 2018 Scholastic

Death Is For The Birds

Sorry. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, Rachele Aragno (and her associates, Dave Ryan and Robert J. Sodaro) announced that Owl Girls will soon be available from Red Anvil Comics — you can check it out at their web site. “Not everything is as it seems, especially in the SoHo district of 1940’s New York City. No, in fact, things are not always quite what they seem. There are shadows and alleyways of the world that are not normally traversed by mortal men, and in those shadowy realms, there exist things that must be dealt with by those that can divine their presence and root out that evil. This is the world of the Owl Girls, a trio of sisters who for reasons that pass understanding have the heads of Owls and the bodies of human women. Virtually every culture in the world offers up myths and legends about the nature of Owls, and we here in America are no different. These three women (Magda, Martha, and Maggie) are attempting to live normal lives, only they have mystical abilities, oh yes, and they talk to Death; an old woman who visits them at odd moments during the day, and whose bidding they sometimes do.” Got all that?

image c. 2014 Red Anvil

image c. 2014 Red Anvil Comics

The Gruffalo

Another in the “how’d we miss this?” category… The Gruffalo is an award-winning children’s book from the U.K., written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It was first published in 1999 by Macmillan Children’s Books. It tells the tale (via a mother squirrel giving her children a bedtime story) of a mouse walking through the woods.  When he is threatened in turn by a predatory fox, snake, and owl, he scares each of them off by telling them he is on his way to meet his friend the “Gruffalo” — a monstrous creature who is much more dangerous than any of them. He’s making it all up, of course, and he thinks he’s so clever… until he runs into the real Gruffalo. After the book became enormously popular in the U.K. and elsewhere, Magic Light Pictures and Studio Soi made The Gruffalo into a 30-minute CGI film, which was broadcast on U.K. television for Christmas 2009. It featured (among others) the voices of Helena Bonham Carter (as the mother squirrel), John Hurt, and Robbie Coltrane (as the Gruffalo). The BBC has a trailer for the show on-line, and there’s also a making-of video from Magic Light.

image c. 2011 Axel Scheffler