Must Read Monday (69): Children’s Titles from Victoria Jamieson, Casey Lyall, Beth Vrabel & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: more children’s fiction! It’s been a few weeks since the last Must Read Monday post, and while I haven’t been able to get in much reading, my to-read pile has SOMEHOW grown…! In any event, here are some titles I have my eye on for August and September release: the third installment of the totally charming From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess from Meg Cabot; the newest graphic novel from Roller Girl author-artist Victoria Jamieson; the latest contemporary title from wonderful middle-grade author Beth Vrabel; Ben Hatke’s newest graphic novel in the Mighty Jack series; and last, but not least, the second novel in Casey Lyall’s utterly terrific Howard Wallace, P.I. mystery series.

 

Royal Crush (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #3) by Meg Cabot
Expected publication: August 1, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Book Description:

Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!

And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she’s found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.

The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

 

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (Mighty Jack #2) by Ben Hatke
Expected publication: September 5, 2017 by First Second
Book Description:

Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone―carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters―as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

 

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Expected publication: September 5, 2017 by Dial Books
Book Description:

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind–she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

 

Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P.I. #2) by Casey Lyall
Expected publication: September, 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books
Book Description:

Middle-school detectives Howard Wallace and Ivy Mason are itching for a juicy case. But when their friend and cohort Marvin hires them to prove his nephew— über-bully Carl Dean—didn’t pugnap the school mascot, they’re less than thrilled. To succeed, not only must Howard and Ivy play nice with Carl, they’ll have to dodge a scrappy, snoopy reporter and come face-to-face with Howard’s worst enemy, his ex-best friend Miles Fletcher. Can Howard deal with all these complications and still be there for Ivy when her life is turned upside down? Or will he once again find himself a friendless P.I.?

 

Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel
Expected publication: September 12, 2017 by Running Press
Book Description:

Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective, prying mom and a big brother who is perfect in every way.

Then Caleb meets Kit-a vibrant, independent, and free girl who lives in a house in the woods-and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky, turns every day into an adventure, and never sees him as his disorder. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and, more and more, danger. Soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him-or Kit.

Recently Read: Great Children’s Titles from Elise Gravel, Dana Simpson, Ben Hatke & more!

Admittedly, there are indeed a number of book genres that I love- but children’s graphic novels hold a special spot in my reader’s and librarian’s heart. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve had a caregiver or self-described reluctant reader come ask me for reader’s advisory help and graphic novels (or comics) have been a huge (HUGE) ray of hope for both kid and adult. It breaks my heart if I hear an adult- or heaven forbid, a teacher- say they don’t ‘count’ graphic novels as reading. NOOOOO!!! I want to scream. In a roundabout way, I guess what I’m trying to say is: graphic novels for children (and all-ages) rock and definitely count as reading. These are ones I’ve recently read, enjoyed tremendously and would recommend:

 

Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
Publication: March 14, 2017 by HarperCollins

I have spoken/written about my love of Elise Gravel‘s work a few times before. The Montreal-based author/illustrator is the force behind the wonderful non-fiction Disgusting Creatures series, as well as the terrifically fun picture books I Want a Monster! and The Cranky Ballerina. Gravel’s foray into longer format graphic novels starts off wonderfully with Olga and the Smelly Thing for Nowhere. Bringing together her signature style of bold, bright illustrations and kooky characters and a love of science/creatures, this graphic novel tells the story of what happens when aspiring zoologist Olga finds a supremely cute and stinky creature (possibly from another planet?) she names Meh. Funny and a little subversive, with the promise of MORE Olga and Meh to come in future entries! Animal enthusiasts, or fans of Ashley Spires’ Binky series or Fluffy Strikes Back, or Victoria Jamieson’s Pets on the Loose might especially LOVE this graphic novel.

 

Unicorn Crossing (Heavenly Nostrils #5) by Dana Simpson
Publication: March 28, 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

I have also written about my love of the Heavenly Nostrils series from Dana Simpson before! This series is a go-to suggestion I give to kids (or parents searching on behalf of their children) looking for a funny graphic novel series that won’t intimidate but rather inspire major fun and enjoyment with their reading. Already five (!) books into this great series, Simpson continues to mix her magic blend of humour, heart, and unicorn sparkle. I have previously mentioned that when I first picked up Heavenly Nostrils, I could see a definite kinship to Calvin & Hobbes. The more I read of Simpson’s series the more it wonderfully seems to grow Marigold and Phoebe’s bond (yes, akin to Calvin & Hobbes) in addition to cultivating its own, distinctively beautiful and funny world of magical realism. A must-read for graphic novel and comic strip enthusiasts who enjoy the work of Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson, Frank Cammuso, Ben Katke, Andy Runton, Sara Varon, James Burks and other similar authors.

 

Mighty Jack (Volume 1) by Ben Hatke*
Publication: September 6, 2016 by First Second

Well, this post is clearly leaning towards authors and series I adore and have mentioned before! Third on the list here we have Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack, the first volume in the Mighty Jack series. Hatke, author-illustrator of the awesome Zita the Spacegirl series, Nobody Likes a Goblin and Little Robot, returns with another fantastical and magical series. A retelling (and wholly unique) take on the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, Hatke- fascinatingly and thoughtfully- incorporates a modern setting, a neuroatypical co-heroine, and mythical elements into his version. I have been sitting on this review for a little while now- why, I am not entirely sure, but thoughts about Mighty Jack have been marinating for a bit. As always, Hatke knocks it out of the park with his gorgeous artwork, female lead characters, and his approach to animating inanimate objects. My initial reaction upon finishing was that I would have liked a bit more text/back story to Jack, Molly and family (the story is so good and I was clamoring for more!), and a few ends were left a bit looser than I would have liked (even with the knowledge that this was just book one!)…and while some points stand upon reread, I enjoyed it more upon reread and consider Mighty Jack to be a highly recommended read- another great addition to Hatke’s roster. The promise of Mighty Jack and the Goblin King has me excited to read even more about Jack, Molly, and Lilly!

 

Bird & Squirrel on Fire (Bird & Squirrel #4) by James Burks
Publication: January 31, 2017 by GRAPHIX

Tom and Jerry. Garfield and Odie. Gerald and Piggie. Pinky and the Brain. Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. A lot of characters in shows and books that we tend to love and think of fondly are in pairs. In the children’s graphic novel genre, there is an entry in the prestige pairs group with James Burks’ Bird & Squirrel. Now four books into this funny and adventure-filled series, Bird is, as ever, our stalwart optimist and cheerleader; Squirrel, while having his courage mightily tested a few times over, remains trepidatious and safety-focuses. In this latest entry, Bird and Squirrel come up against a dyspeptic, slightly bonkers giant beaver who wants to keep ALL the water in the forest for himself- all the while planning a party (Bird’s idea), investigating animal disappearances, and Squirrel meeting a new character named Red (who could be the love of his life). As with his previous work in Gabby & Gator (which I love!) and the other Bird & Squirrel titles, Burks combines goofy, wacky characters with hair-raising moments and/or scary creatures- but all toward good endings. I adore Burks’ style of artwork and the storytelling in Bird & Squirrel; I hope we get at least a handful more adventures about this duo!

 

Big Nate: What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends? (Big Nate) by Lincoln Peirce
Publication: February 28, 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

There is a lot of love in the bookish world of the Big Nate series of books by Lincoln Peirce. It is one of those series of books that, like anything Garfield or Raina Telgemeier, is barely in the library before WHOOSH back out it goes! I do not remember reading the Big Nate series when it first came out, but have, over the last number of years, become a big reader (and suggester!) of the books. Nate is one of those middle school protagonists that we love to root for- he’s imperfect, gets into trouble, gets in fights with his friends, has unrequited crushes, has a core of two best friends who tease him and call him out when he’s being ridiculous– I could go on. There is something totally appealing (dare I say, comforting?) about this series and Nate’s world. While I have definitely preferred certain graphic novel entries more than others in the Big Nate series, What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends? has a good share of the silly (more Spitsy and baseball craziness) and somewhat serious (with Nate having to say goodbye to a classmate who is moving).

*I received a copy of Might Jack courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Must Read Monday (47): Looking at Fall 2016 Releases (Part 2)

Continuing on with a Must Read Monday feature on Fall 2016 releases!…

This week’s Must Read Monday is a little bit different. I’ve been looking through various sources (review journals, publisher’s sites, Goodreads, blogs, etc.) as is my norm, but my to-be read pile has grown tremendously in a short span! This is due, in part, to all of the incredible books that are slated for Fall 2016 release! Some favourite authors and/or illustrators are releasing new titles or sequels, and there are new-to-me and/or debut authors with terrific sounding and terrifically reviewed titles.

You can take a look at my picks for Part 1 here!

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for Part 2:

 

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
Expected publication: September 27, 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins Canada

Foxheart by Claire Legrand, illus. Jaime Zollars
Expected publication: October 4, 2016 by Greenwillow Books

Today by Julie Morstad
Expected publication: September 2, 2016 by Simply Read Books

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems
Expected publication: October 25, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Expected publication: September 6, 2016 by First Second

Mooncop by Tom Gauld
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Drawn and Quarterly

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Happy as a Clam: The Twenty-First Sherman’s Lagoon Collection by Jim Toomey
Expected publication: September 20, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Stephan’s Web: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
Expected publication: November 22, 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

*For the purposes of these posts, ‘Fall’ will include some August, September and October, possibly some November 2016 releases

Picture Book Review: Ben Hatke’s Nobody Likes a Goblin

NOBODYLIKESAGOBLIN25689038Review: Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
Source: Hardcover
Publication:June 7, 2016 by First Second
Verdict: Excellent
Book Description:

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cozy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!

It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.

Not only superbly illustrated and beautifully told, Nobody Likes a Goblin is also an epic-sized story (with just as big a heart) in picture book format.  Author and illustrator Ben Hatke’s work continues to impress: starting with the work in the graphic novel series Zita the Spacegirl to Julia’s House for Lost Creatures to Little Robot, he has only gone from strength to strength, showcasing his gift of storytelling in multiple areas.

When we meet Goblin, our protagonist and hero of Nobody Likes a Goblin, we discover a surprising level love and kindness. Aren’t goblins all supposed to be terrifying and unlikable? Taking great care of his dungeon, the rats, and his only friend Skeleton, Goblin mostly keeps to himself as he understands, unfortunately, that ‘nobody likes a goblin’. However, when his best and only friend Skeleton (along with other treasure-filled loot) is stolen from their dungeon, he makes a brave decision to save his friend. Out in the scary daylight, he does indeed discover that most creatures in the world don’t really like goblins- but that does not stop our hero. In a great turn, Goblin’s love for his friend and his valor gain the loyalty of other characters taken prisoner with Skeleton…and then a battle between Goblin and his new allies, and the foes takes place! With a perfect balance between the fierce, the funny and some elements of danger and excitement, Nobody Likes a Goblin is an adventure story that also allows for gentle consideration about being a good friend and staying true to oneself.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Nobody Likes a Goblin! Readers who enjoy their picture books with a dose of magic, friendship, fantasy and adventure- think along the lines of a little touch of Rowling, Dahl or Tolkien- or those who love the work of authors and illustrators such as Aaron Becker, David Wiesner, William Joyce, Maurice Sendak or Chris Van Allsburg, might especially love Ben Hatke‘s latest.

Must Read Monday (42): Nobody Likes a Goblin & Bring Me a Rock!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: picture books from two incredible author-illustrators. I haven’t done a Must Read on picture books on a little while, and my list of have-to-reads in this genre is growing immensely! First up is Ben Hatke’s Nobody Likes a Goblin. I have adored everything Hatke has published- from Zita the Spacegirl to Little Robot. Needless to say, I am a big fan and cannot wait to pore over his newest book. Hatke’s latest is a picture book, and it looks as tremendously, vibrantly and whimsically illustrated- and well-written- as all of his other work. Second up is Bring Me a Rock! by Daniel Miyares.  Miyares, author-illustrator of the gorgeous and moving wordless picture book Float and the witty Pardon Me! has a new wonderful-looking and sounding picture book out in the world. Sounding very much like a classic parable/folktale- which are perfect for storytimes and read alouds!- I cannot wait to see and read what Miyares has done in with this tale.

 

imageNobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
Publication: June 7, 2016 by First Second

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!

It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.

 

imageBring Me a Rock! by Daniel Miyares
Publication: June 7, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From the author-illustrator of Pardon Me! and Float comes a funny and fun picture book about a little bug who proves that even the small can be mighty.

When a power-hungry grasshopper king wants a throne to loom over his bug subjects, he summons each of them to “bring me a rock!” One by one, the bugs bring him the biggest rocks they can carry, but one little bug can contribute only a very small pebble. The grasshopper king shuns the little bug. But when his throne is in danger of tipping, that little bug might be the only one who can save him.

With beautiful, bold illustrations and a folk-tale sensibility, Bring Me a Rock! is a classic underdog tale with a humorous twist.

Review: Little Robot by Ben Hatke

littlerobot23310721Review: Little Robot by Ben Hatke
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 1, 2015 by First Second
Verdict: Very Good
Book Description:

When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it’s all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Ben Hatke brings his signature sweetness to a simple, moving story about friendship and overcoming fears that will appeal to readers of all ages.

Ben Hatke, author and illustrator of the incredible Zita the Spacegirl graphic novel series, brings readers to another wonderfully crafted world with another fearless and capable young female protagonist.

Hatke’s illustrations are, as ever, just sublime: appealing, fluid yet precise, with such a particular vitality about them, I feel like I will always recognize an illustration being his work when I see it. Like Jon Klassen, Dan Santat, Shaun Tan, Julie Morstad, Suzy Lee, or other author/illustrators whose work I find utterly idiosyncratic, Hatke is also carving out quite a niche for his work.

While I must confess to not feeling as emotionally attached to this story as I did with Zita’s journey, part of this could be due to Zita’s story and character having more time to develop over the course of three novels. That being said, though, Hatke continues to impress tremendously with his graceful storytelling abilities. Though the various elements to the story in Little Robot flow naturally (and swiftly), there still manages to be a great depth of character sentiments conveyed with little to no dialogue, robot noises, and inanimate objects’ expressions. My one small query with Little Robot (and what kept me from giving this the highest rating) is that I found some issue in why our little robot needed rescuing in the first place. I can’t give away too much here, but I will say that I felt that the creation of the line between the good machines versus bad/evil machines is a little hazy.

Fans of Hatke’s previous works will undoubtedly adore his new work here in Little Robot. Readers- both young and old- who are graphic novel fans, or those who enjoy reading titles along the lines of Jellaby, The Silver Six, Bird & Squirrel, Mal & Chad, Cleopatra in Space, Sidekicks, Cardboard, or Binky the Spacecat might especially relish Little Robot.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Must Read Monday (12): Little Robot & Timmy Failure #4

I’ve been remiss with Must Read Monday for the last few weeks, so it’s nice to welcome it back for its twelfth edition!

Must Read Monday is where I spotlight current and/or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week, I am featuring Ben Hatke’s upcoming graphic novel release and the fourth Timmy Failure book from Stephan Pastis.

littlerobot23310721Little Robot by Ben Hatke
Expected publication: September 1, 2015 by First Second
Book Description:

When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it’s all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!

Ben Hatke’s work– which includes the excellent Zita the Spacegirl series– is beautiful. His illustrative work is distinctive and stunning, always fresh and out of the ordinary. He also features adventurous and brave young female heroines as his protagonists which is awesome! By my love and appreciation of Zita alone- for both the artwork and the storytelling- I have pretty much placed everything to come from Hatke on my must-read list.

timmyfailureFOUR25241619Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection (Timmy Failure #4) by Stephan Pastis
Expected publication: October 6, 2015 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

In this fourth volume of Timmy Failure’s memoirs, Timmy is forced to hit the road in a cross-country trip that includes Timmy’s mom, Total the polar bear, Doorman Dave, and smells-like-a-tangerine criminal mastermind Molly Moskins. It’s a world gone mad, where good becomes bad, and Timmy Failure is a condemned man.

I have mentioned Pastis and Timmy Failure more than once on this site! I have loved Pearls Before Swine for a number of year and now I have the great Timmy to love. If you haven’t yet read this children’s series and are wondering ‘should I?’. Well, I would recommend it! Readers who enjoy Gordan Korman, Louis Sachar, Jennifer L. Holm, Jeff Kinney, Tom Angleberger, and altogether oddball, irregular, and unexpectedly riotous things (with some gut-punches of sadness), then this is for you.

If you’d like to join Must Read Monday, please do! Link up or leave a comment about what you’re looking forward to reading- I love to hear what other readers have on their radar!

Best of 2014, Part 2: Children’s Fiction and Young Adult

murdermostunladylike18070753returnofzita18465632timmybooktwotimmybookthreeemperorpickletime20701998

 

 

 

thesweetestthing22135341everythingleads18667779allthetruthsinceyouvebeengone

madwickedfolly

 

 

 

 

My picks for top 5 children’s and top 5 YA fiction I read this year:

Murder Most Unladylike (Wells and Wong #1) by Robin Stevens

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl #3) by Ben Hatke

Now Look What You’ve Done (Timmy Failure #2) by Stephen Pastis

We Meet Again (Timmy Failure #3) by Stephan Pastis

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Origami Yoda #6) by Tom Angleberger

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing by C.K. Kelly Martin

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

 

*Note: These are titles I have read in 2014; titles may have been published in previous years. Rereads are not included on this list.