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Young Readers

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

Lonely Girl Meets Only Bird

Dodo is a new full-color graphic novel written and illustrated by Felipe Nunes. Ostensibly for young readers, it actually has more on its mind… “Laila is six years old and she’s been taken out of school following her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t understand why she can’t go to school with the rest of her friends or why her dad never comes by anymore. Laila comes across a mysterious bird, a dodo named Ralph, and befriends the creature that has been living in the part near her house. Through her friendship with Ralph, Laila starts to notice things, things she never wanted to understand.” Check it out at Simon & Schuster.

image c. 2018 Boom! Studios

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

Is She The Last Dog?

Now there’s a brand new fantasy series for young readers from Katherine Applegate, well-known author of the Animorphs series and books like The One And Only Ivan. Her new series is called Endling, and the first book is Endling: The Last. Here’s what the publisher says: “Byx is the youngest member of her dairne pack. Believed to possess remarkable abilities, her mythical doglike species has been hunted to near extinction in the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra. After her pack is hunted down and killed, Byx fears she may be the last of her species. The Endling. So Byx sets out to find safe haven, and to see if the legends of other hidden dairnes are true. Along the way, she meets new allies—both animals and humans alike—who each have their own motivations for joining her quest. And although they begin as strangers, they become their own kind of family—one that will ultimately uncover a secret that may threaten every creature in their world.” The Last is available now in hardcover, and the publisher’s web site features a book trailer and an interview with the author.

image c. 2018 Harper Collins

Let Your Art Take Flight

Now here’s someone we actually met at the LA Times Festival of Books: Michael Dante DiMartino, who told us about Rebel Genius, the first book in his new novel series. Here’s what they say over at Barnes & Noble — and why you should care. “A new fantasy-adventure series from the co-creator of the hit animated shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra! In twelve-year-old Giacomo’s Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. A few artists possess Geniuses, birdlike creatures that are the living embodiment of an artist’s creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punishment akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he’s in serious trouble. Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools—objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path—Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him.” Look for the other books in the series too, from Square Fish.

image c. 2018 Square Fish

The Dragon Throne?

And more from AWN. (They’ve had lots of good stuff lately!) “Game of Thrones author and producer George R.R. Martin is bringing his fantasy game to animation, with Warner Animation Group set to adapt his 1980 children’s book The Ice Dragon into a feature. Though dealing with dragons, the book and the feature have no connection to either the A Song of Fire and Ice novels or the Game of Thrones TV series. According to Deadline, which reported the news first, the book tells the tale of a young girl who befriends a rare ice dragon, whose help proves decisive when an army of dragons invades her city.” No word yet on who’s directing or when it might be released.

image c. 2018 Tor Books

Play Is Serious Business

More illustrated books for young folks, this time from a well-known writer in Hollywood. Toy Academy is a new series from Scholastic Books, written by Brian Lynch and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. “Welcome to Toy Academy: Where toys learn to play. This is where action figures train to battle, stuffed animals study the art of the hug, and collectibles practice standing very, very still. Though Grumbolt isn’t really any of those things, he’s determined to fit in. But when the Evil Toy Academy threatens to bring down his school, it’s up to Grumbolt to go where no good toy has gone before and prove he’s truly a great toy after all. This laugh-out-loud chapter book by the writer of Minions and a writer of The Secret Life of Pets is a classic in the making.” You heard it here!

image c. 2018 Scholastic Books

Anyone Can Be Anything

And another self-published book we found through Xlibris, this one geared more toward young readers. What I Want to Be from A To Z is written and illustrated by Janis Arnold. We’ll let her describe it: “‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ At some point in their young lives, this question is heard by most children. My poetry book, What I Want to Be from A–Z, is a fun way to learn about a variety of careers. Each poem contains vocabulary that will help children learn about a career. When children become familiar with a rhyming book, they begin to make predictions, which is an important part of early reading skills. My two main characters are foxes—a female English red fox named Fiona and an American gray fox named Fernando. While reading through the book, the reader will view, on some of the poems, one of the foxes dressed up for that career.” It’s interesting (and rather heartening) to note that the pictures do not always conform to older ideals of what jobs are best for a man or a woman. Both these foxes seem equally capable of doing whatever they want!

image c. 2018 Xlibris