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Young Readers

Kitty with some Famous Parents…

There’s an extensive article over at Animation Scoop about the new Amazon Prime animated series Pete the Cat, based on the popular children’s books by James Dean. Check out the voice actor list too! “Pete the Cat is a fun, musically driven series about exploring your world and trying new things, while being smart, accepting, and optimistic. Whether you’re making new friends or facing all of life’s ups and downs, Pete always finds a way to put a groovy spin on things. The series stars Jacob Tremblay (Room) as Pete the Cat, and musicians Diana Krall and Elvis Costello as his Mom and Dad. Pete the Cat features original music from Grammy Award-winners Costello and Krall, which will also be available to stream via Amazon Music. Jessica Biel (The Illusionist), Atticus Shaffer (The Middle) and internationally acclaimed musician KT Tunstall also star in the series… Pete the Cat… is developed by Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (Phineas and Ferb) and Appian Way Production Company.” There’s a preview video too.

image c. 2018 Appian Way

Little Frog with Big Dreams

At San Diego Comic Con we came across the works of Shelley Daniels Lekven and her new book Lily Pond. Here’s what her web site says about it: “Elaborate illustrations and fabulous frogs fill this charming picture book about a little frog’s daydreams and hopes for her future. The scenes were created from colored modeling clay by Shelley Daniels Lekven, a character sculptor on The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story and sculpting supervisor on James & the Giant Peach.” And speaking of (two of!) those movies, here’s what director Henry Selick had to say: “On the eve of her eighth birthday, a young frog dreams of her future in Shelley Daniels Lekven’s new book, Lily Pond. Ms. Lekven’s remarkable illustrations – all sculpted by her hand in colored clay – are eye-opening works of wonder and imagination that should make this sweet tale a children’s book classic.” After a successful Kickstarter, Lily Pond is available from Claytown Press. The web site has a video about how the book was made, too.

image c. 2018 Claytown Press

Not One But Two Dragon Films

We missed the announcements of these animated films last year, but now we’ve found them thanks to Animation Magazine. Both are adaptations of popular children’s literature, and both of them are international co-productions. Dragonkeeper (based on a series of books by Carole Wilkinson) comes to us from China Film Group and Spain’s Dragoia Media.  According to Variety, “Set during the Han Dynasty in a magic, epic and classic China… the first Dragonkeeper installment turns on the adventures of Ping, a slave girl so humble that she thinks she doesn’t deserve a name. Yet she finds the courage to become a true Dragonkeeper, helping the ancient last imperial dragon, Long Danzi, in its quest to transport a dragon egg across China to the coast, the only place it can hatch.” Then there’s Dragon Rider, based on the book by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart) and produced in cooperation between Germany and the UK. (It’s being adapted by Johnny Smith, writer for the original Gnomeo & Juliet.) Again, from Variety: “High-end by European standards, the 3D children’s fantasy adventure turns on Firedrake, a young silver dragon, Sorrel, a mountain brownie, and Ben, a human orphan who search among the highest Himalayas for the Rim of Heaven, which can offer sanctuary for Firedrake’s kin, whose valley is made uninhabitable by a dam.” No word yet on a planned release date for either film.

image c. 2018 Dragoia Media

These Rabbits are Dynamite!

Here’s another project we found out about through Animation World Network: “Fox Family is prepping children’s book The Royal Rabbits of London as a hybrid CG-animation/live-action feature film, Variety reports. Screenwriter Will Davies, whose credits include Flushed Away, Puss and Boots, How to Train Your Dragon, and the forthcoming Abominable, has been hired to write the script. The Royal Rabbits of London is based on the 2016 children’s book written by husband-and-wife team Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore… There’s no word yet on where the animation will be produced. The story introduces the Royal Rabbits of London, who have secretly protected England’s Royal Family for centuries. When a small country rabbit uncovers an devious plot against the royals, he travels to London to warn the protective order.” Not to leave it out: The book was illustrated by Kate Hindley and it’s available at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2018 Aladdin Publishers

All the Sweet Little Monsters

Back from San Diego Comic Con, and of course there’s a lot to talk about. We came across Hazy Dell Press, the home of Kyle and Derek Sullivan and their illustrated children’s books all about famous monsters — featuring titles like Get Dressed, Sasquatch!, Good Night Krampus, and their latest, Don’t Eat Me, Chupacabra! Their colorful and whimsical monster designs are also available on greeting cards, t-shirts, and various other goodies.  Find it all at their web site.

image c. 2018 Hazy Dell Press

Too Much For Your Local Comic Shop?

Possibly the strangest “all ages” comic book you’ll find this year. Maybe we should let the publisher, American Mythology, explain The Filbert Factor: “It’s the kids’ comic that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy, the comic that was too outrageous for Free Comic Book Day! We don’t like to brag, but this is one of the most ridiculous things you’ll see all year, with a cast that’s absolutely nuts. Filbert and his reluctant pals Hazel and Cashew find themselves the toast of the town after miraculously winning their middle school science fair competition, but the town itself is about to become toast when the swirling, yowling Meowstorm roars into the city of Turtleview. And wouldn’t you know it, only Filbert and his friends stand between salvation and certain cat scratches and allergic attacks.” It’s also written by Mike Wolfer, with art by Adrian Ropp and  Horacio Domingues. And it’s available now. [We’ll see you after Comic Con!]

image c. 2018 American Mythology

Fabulous Werewolf

We haven’t heard of Flying Bark Productions before, but according to Animation World Network it sounds like we should start paying attention to them! The studio is hard at work on a CGI feature film called 100% Wolf, which they plan to follow with a TV series of the same name immediately after.  The plot? “Lovers of surreal, laugh-out-loud animation should enjoy this comedy series about Freddy Lupin, an 11-year-old boy set to turn into a werewolf, just like everyone else in his family. But things don’t go as planned when Freddy turns into an adorable poodle instead.” Got that? Interesting thing is the feature and series are based on a popular Australian children’s novel by Jayne Lyons. No word yet on distribution, but the film and series are scheduled to be complete in 2019.

image c. 2018 Flying Bark Productions

How Slow Can You Go?

Here’s something we missed: The Giggle and Learn series, written and illustrated by Kevin McCloskey. The latest book is called Snails Are Just My Speed. Here’s what Toon Books has to say about it: “Did you know snails build roads like engineers and go undercover in camouflage like spies? Did you know they can be smaller than a seed or bigger than a grown-up’s hand? Kevin McCloskey mixes snail science, art, and hilarity for the newest book in his Giggle and Learn series, praised by The New York Times as ‘a winning combination of facts and gross-out fun.'” Looks like a little Science goes a long way… eventually…

image c. 2018 Toon Books

For Your Fashionable Feet

Sara Varon is a comic creator whom we’ve talked about before several times as both a writer and an artist. (Seriously: Look her up!) Now she’s back as both again with her latest hardcover book, New Shoes, published by First Second. They describe it as “… a heartwarming graphic novel about a donkey on a quest to make the perfect pair of shoes.” Really now? “Francis the donkey is the best shoemaker in the village. He uses only the finest materials: coconut wood for the soles, goat’s wool for the insoles, and wild tiger grass for the uppers. One day he receives a special order from his favorite singer: Miss Manatee, the queen of calypso. But he’s all out of tiger grass! To make the perfect pair of shoes, Francis must journey deep into the jungle . . . and that means leaving his village for the first time.” Find it now over at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2018 First Second