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Young Readers

Helping The Ones You Don’t Even See

Another cool item we picked up from Animation World Network: “Newbery Honor-winning author Adam Gidwitz and Mixtape Club founders Jesse Casey and Chris Lenox Smith premiered online the animated debut of The Unicorn Rescue Society, whose adventures continue in a series of books for middle-grade readers from Penguin Random House.” The kids of the Unicorn Rescue Society (along with their companion Jersey, a friendly Jersey Devil) help with the needs of mythical creatures that adults don’t even believe in. “The Unicorn Rescue Society is a secret organization. Its mission is to keep the creatures of myth and legend safe. Dragons, Bigfoot, chupacabras — and maybe even unicorns. Every day, the threats to these rare and wonderful animals grow. They are hunted. Their habitats are destroyed. And the Unicorn Rescue Society is their only hope.” Rather than being adaptations of the books themselves, the animated shorts spread the word about the book series and take a behind-the-scenes look. The AWN article has a link to the first cartoon.

image c. 2018 Mixtape Club

Hopping Around the Issue

Things do get strange in the world of politics, and likely many people would agree that things have gotten even more strange than usual of late. And now, we can add furries to the mix! Follow us here: Vice President Mike Pence and his family wrote a book, Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President, which details that very thing — from the point of view of the Pence family’s new pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo. (The text is actually by daughter Charlotte Pence, with illustrations by Second Lady Karen Pence, who is a watercolor artist.) Not to be outdone, upon hearing news of this political comedian John Oliver and his crew at Last Week Tonight created A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by E.G. Keller. Marlon Bundo is bored with his life as a vice-presidential pet, until one day he falls in love with another male rabbit named Wesley. Marlon offers Wesley his paw in marriage, but their same-sex union is loudly opposed by a stink bug — with a suspiciously familiar crop of white hair. Upon its release, the Marlon Bundo book instantly became a #1 best-seller on Amazon. It’s available now from Chronicle Books.

image c. 2018 Chronicle Books

Boy, Bat, and Bear

Newberry Award-winning author Linda Sue Park has a new fantasy series out as well called Wing & Claw. From Amazon, here’s the description of the first book, The Forest of Wonders: “Raffa Santana has always loved the mysterious Forest of Wonders. For a gifted young apothecary like him, every leaf could unleash a kind of magic. When an injured bat crashes into his life, Raffa invents a cure from a rare crimson vine that he finds deep in the Forest. His remedy saves the animal but also transforms it into something much more than an ordinary bat, with far-reaching consequences. Raffa’s experiments lead him away from home to the forbidding city of Gilden, where troubling discoveries make him question whether exciting botanical inventions—including his own—might actually threaten the very creatures of the Forest he wants to protect.” Raffa names that bat Echo, and the two of them — along with other animals of the magical wood — are the main focus of this series for young readers.

image c. 2018 Harper Collins

They Say Stories Can Be Dangerous

Check out this bio: “Matt Laney is an ordained minister with a lifelong interest in world religion, wisdom traditions, martial arts, big cats and middle grade literature”. That might explain the spiritual slant behind Reverend Laney’s first fantasy series for young readers, Pride Wars. The first book, The Spinner Prince, is out now in hardcover from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “In the scientific realm of Singara, where feline humanoids rule, fiction is forbidden. Those caught telling stories lose their tongues before being exiled. Heir to the throne, thirteen-year-old Prince Leo, is cursed with the “fiction affliction,” the unpredictable, uncontrollable habit of telling stories. Worse, the stories carry a dangerous power, leaving creatures behind who cause trouble and threaten to expose Leo’s affliction. Meanwhile, Leo’s elder cousin is making his move to seize the throne and the enemy beyond the Great Wall, another feline race called Maguar, are rising up. Will Leo claim the throne from his rival (and keep his tongue) before his curse is revealed? Or will he embrace his ability as a gift and discover a far greater destiny among the Maguar?” Check it out over at Kirkus Reviews.

image c. 2018 Houghton Mifflin

The Story of a One-Eared Fox

Author Mira Bartok has raised quite a stir with her first fantasy novel, called The Wonderling. “Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: A real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.” According to the publisher, this new hardcover book has already been optioned for a movie adaptation.

image c. 2018 Penguin RandomHouse

Robo-Cop? No, Robo-Dog!

Two talented and award-winning creators who have worked on The Simpsons comics now turn their eyes to a funny animal science fiction adventure with Sparks!, a new full-color graphic novel. Written by Ian Boothby and illustrated by Nina Matsumoto, Sparks! goes like this: “August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn’t afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don’t let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She’s clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.” Check out the preview video over on YouTube. The book is available now in hardcover and softcover from Graphix.

image c. 2018 Graphix

Wolves of Ice and Dragons of Fire

There’s a new fantasy series for young readers (and fans of shape-shifters) from author Amie Kaufman called Elementals. The first story, Ice Wolves, is headed to book shelves this March. It goes like this: “Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives. So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away. In order to rescue her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shape-shifting force of all.” Find out more over at Goodreads.

image c. 2018 Harper Collins

Run, Rodents, Run!

We had not heard about the Hammy and Gerbee series, but now the first volume is out, and apparently more are coming soon. Written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee, the first story of this graphic novel series for young readers is called Hammy and Gerbee: Mummies at the Museum. “Things are looking up for best friends Hammy and Gerbee—a hamster and a gerbil—when they find out they’re both in Miss Capybara’s class. But it’s not long before school becomes a battle between the good (Hammy and Gerbee), the bad (spelling bees and pop quizzes), and the evil (mice twins Anna and Hanna). Can things get any worse? Or mischievous? Yep! They’re going on a field trip to the science museum. What are two rodent friends to do but find their own fun (and trouble)?” It’s available now over at Barnes & Noble, from Henry Holt.

image c. 2018 Henry Holt

The World of Dragons — Now a Comic

Tui T. Sutherland is one of the authors who created the Warriors and Seekers series of cat-fantasy novels under the collective pseudonym of Erin Hunter. You may recall we reviewed her novel series Wings of Fire previously. Well recently Scholastic requested the author to help in adapting that series into a graphic novel, which has been released by Graphix. “Not every dragonet wants a destiny . . . Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends. So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate — on their own terms.” With full-color art by Mike Holmes, Wings of Fire: The Graphic Novel is available now.

image c. 2018 Graphix