Must Read Monday (75): Children’s Graphic Novels from Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault, Dana Simpson, Benjamin Renner & 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’s focus is all on children’s graphic novels! A few on this list are continuations of favourite series, including: the latest entry in the wonderful Heavenly Nostrils series by Dana Simpson (already read but had to include it here!); the third title in the terrifically fun CatStronauts by Drew Brockington; and the fifth graphic novel adaption of The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Gale Galligan and Braden Lamb. There is also the very-well reviewed The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner, which looks delightful; the Anne of Green Gables graphic novel adaption which looks gorgeous and I am extremely curious about; and last but not least, Louis Undercover, the latest from the award-winning, critically acclaimed Canadian author and illustrator team of Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault.

 

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
Publication: June 20, 2017 by First Second (first published 2015)
Book Description:

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Fox? No one, it seems.

The fox dreams of being the terror of the barnyard. But no one is intimidated by him, least of all the hens. When he picks a fight with one, he always ends up on the losing end. Even the wolf, the most fearsome beast of the forest, can’t teach him how to be a proper predator. It looks like the fox will have to spend the rest of his life eating turnips.

But then the wolf comes up with the perfect scheme. If the fox steals some eggs, he could hatch the chicks himself and raise them to be a plump, juicy chicken dinner. Unfortunately, this plan falls apart when three adorable chicks hatch and call the fox Mommy.

 

Dawn and the Impossible Three (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #5) by Gale Galligan, colors by Braden Lamb, original story by Ann M. Martin
Publication:September 26th 2017 by Graphix
Book Description:

Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her first big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any baby-sitter. The house is always a mess, the kids are out of control, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. On top of all that, Dawn wants to fit in with the other members of the BSC, but she can’t figure out how to get along with Kristy. Was joining The Baby-sitters Club a mistake?

 

Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt, illus. Isabelle Arsenault
Publication: October 1st 2017 by Groundwood Books (first published 2016)
Book Description:

Louis’s dad cries — Louis knows this because he spies on him. His dad misses the happy times when their family was together, just as Louis does. But as it is, he and his little brother, Truffle, have to travel back and forth between their dad’s country house and their mom’s city apartment, where she tries to hide her own tears. Thankfully, Louis has Truffle for company. Truffle loves James Brown lyrics, and when he isn’t singing, he’s asking endless questions. Louis also has his friend Boris, with whom he spots ghost cop cars and spies on the “silent queen,” the love of his life, Billie.

When Louis and Truffle go to their dad’s for two weeks during the summer, their father seems to have stopped drinking. And when Truffle has a close call from a bee sting, their mother turns up and the reunited foursome spend several wonderful days in New York — until they reach the end of the road, again.

 

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in The Magic Storm (Heavenly Nostrils #6) by Dana Simpson
Publication: October 17, 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Book Description:

The first Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel!

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions. Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.

 

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel adapted by Mariah Marsden from L.M. Montgomery’s original story, illus. Brenna Thummler
Publication: October 24, 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book Description:

Schoolyard rivalries. Baking disasters. Puffed sleeves. Explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea in this spirited adaptation.

The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically-illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. With flame-red hair and an unstoppable imagination, 11-year-old Anne Shirley takes Green Gables by storm. Anne’s misadventures bring a little romance to the lives of everyone she meets: her bosom friend, Diana Barry; the town gossip, Mrs. Lynde; and that infuriating tease, Gilbert Blythe. From triumphs and thrills to the depths of despair, Anne turns each everyday moment into something extraordinary.

 

CatStronauts: Space Station Situation (CatStronauts #3) by Drew Brockington
Publication: October 31, 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Book Description:

When chief science officer Pom Pom rejoins the CatStronauts on the International Space Station, she has to get to work right away–the Hubba Bubba Telescope isn’t working, and CATSUP is losing funding by the day!

But as the CatStronauts and Mission Control race to find answers, the unthinkable happens and pilot Waffles is forced to orbit the Earth in nothing but his space suit. Even though he’s no scaredy cat, Waffles has a hard time staying out in space. When disaster on a global scale rears its head, will a fractured CatStronauts team be enough to save the day?

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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 (59): New Heavenly Nostrils, HiLo and Bird & Squirrel!

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 is all about children’s graphic novel series!  New series entries are either out or soon to be out for: Dana Simpson‘s Heavenly Nostrils, Judd Winick‘s HiLo, and James BurksBird & Squirrel, three wonderful, fun and vibrant graphic novel series that I adore and often recommend (the kids love them!).

 

31445569Unicorn Crossing (Heavenly Nostrils #5) by Dana Simpson
Expected publication: March 28, 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Book Description:

Phoebe and Marigold are back for a fifth installment of the award-winning series. Join in on their latest adventures – and experiments – in being themselves!

Time flies in this fifth volume of Phoebe and Her Unicorn! Follow the lovable duo as they experience somewhat-spooky Halloween parties, ecstatic snow days, and looming summer reading assignments. Although the journey of growing up can sometimes be difficult, along the way Phoebe and Marigold discover something more enduring than goblin fads, unicorn spa vacations, and even a Spell of Forgetting—their one of a kind friendship.

 

30407983The Great Big Boom (HiLo #3) by Judd Winick
Publication: February 21, 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Book Description:

Hilo may look like an ordinary kid, but he s DEFINITELY not! When we last saw Hilo, DJ, and Gina, Gina had been sucked into a mysterious portal to who knows where! But friends don t let friends disappear into NOWHERE! It s up to D.J. and Hilo to follow her. Will there be danger? YES! Will there be amazing surprises? OF COURSE! Will Gina end up being the one to save them? DEFINITELY! With the help of Polly, the magical warrior cat, the friends will have to battle bad guys and face disgusting food, an angry mom, powerful magic, and more! Will they survive . . . and make it back to Earth before the portal closes again?! Find out in the third Hilo adventure!

 

30652339Bird & Squirrel on Fire (Bird & Squirrel #4) by James Burks
Publication: January 31, 2017 by GRAPHIX
Book Description:

It’s been a long, crazy trip around the world. Now the duo is back in their beloved forest, and Bird wants to throw a party! But Squirrel isn’t in the mood to celebrate. His house needs a good cleaning, the river has been dammed up by a pesky beaver, and the forest animals are jittery about a growing menace. Will the dam dry out the forest? Will the mysterious new danger ruin the party? Will Bird finally convince Squirrel to let go and just have a good time? Find out in their hilarious new adventure!

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

Reviews: Unicorn on a Roll & The Worrier’s Guide to Life

unicornonaroll23492248 Review: Unicorn on a Roll (Heavenly Nostrils #2) by Dana Simpson
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you!
Published: May 26, 2015 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Verdict: Very Good

This second Heavenly Nostrils collection from Dana Simpson is just as delightful as the first collection! I never had the pleasure of reading any of Simpson’s online comics prior to chancing upon Phoebe and Her Unicorn at a bookstore last year. But as soon as I picked it up and started reading, I was sold. This series has been oft likened to Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and yes, there is definitely a spiritual link between the two. A young, bossy and inquisitive protagonist? Check. A wise and slightly impertinent animal sidekick? Check. Clever writing? Check. But Simpson’s ideas and work is all her own. There’s a lighter ebullience to her work, especially given that she can play off of Marigold Heavenly Nostrils being a unicorn. Simpson shows that there are a lot of ways to work the vanity, charm and wise-cracking nature of an illustrious unicorn- especially set against a slightly ornery and ordinary middle schooler. Phoebe, said middle-grade protagonist, is also pretty delightful; snarky yet kind, never quite the popular kid but the kid we can all relate to. Overall, I have grown to adore this series and am happy that something like this exists out there for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Readers of comic and graphic novel authors such as Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, James Burks, Ashley Spires, Victoria Jamieson and Frank Cammuso will likely enjoy Simpson’s terrific work.

worriersguidetolife22716055Review: The Worrier’s Guide to Life written & illus. by Gemma Correll
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you!
Published: May 26, 2015 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Verdict: Very Good

Ah yes, The Worrier’s Guide to Life…a book that I can relate to all too well! This is the first I have read and seen of Correll’s work and illustrations, and I now know I have to check out more of her work. In The Worrier’s Guide to Life, Correll takes us on a journey of anxiety and fretting from the womb (how’s my umbilical cord?) to beyond. The author pokes and prods at almost everything in our lives: our overuse of search engines to ‘find out’ about diseases; tendencies toward hypochondria; ideas for more, uh, realistic Valentine’s lingerie; ideas for sexier Halloween costumes; snowballing thoughts during yoga (loved this one!); and an entire section devoted to modern malaises (also so on point!). I find Correll’s illustrative style- and how she coordinates colours- very appealing. Her work is streamlined, polished and sharp. I think readers who enjoy most anything in humour, comics, or work along the lines of Kate Beaton, Allie Brosh, Cameron Tuttle, Lucy Knisley, Tom Gauld, or anything from The Oatmeal, will likely enjoy this very much.

I received these books as digital galleys from Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.