Posted in Uncategorized

The Wrong Fairy Tale is a side-splitting new fractured fairy tales series!

Jack and the Three Bears (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-161-1

Ages 4-7

Once upon a time, in the Land of Fairy Tales, three bears go out for a walk while they wait for their porridge to cool down. But there’s a giant beanstalk outside, and Baby Bear scampers up to explore! He discovers a castle, and a little boy named Jack, making off with a hen that lays golden eggs and is on the run from a mean giant… but WAIT! The Bears are in THE WRONG FAIRY TALE! Can Jack and the Bears elude the giant, keep the hen, and save themselves, or are they all destined to be Giant Food? Kids will love this new twisted take on two favorite fairy tales – invite them to point out what’s wrong when you start reading! The artwork is loaded with fun little details: the giant’s kitchen has a full shelf of cookbooks, and he’s got some cookies and muffins in the oven, which makes you wonder, when you consider what he normally uses for flour. It turns out, Mama Bear is pretty good with a chainsaw, too. A hoot to read with your fairy tale fans – if you have fans of Josh Funk’s “It’s Not…” series, they’ll love this new series.

 

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-160-4

Ages 4-7

So we just read about the three bears, but where was Goldilocks? Glad you asked! In this adventure, Goldilocks – a cute little blonde girl with wild ponytails and a bear sweater dress and leggings – spots a brick house with a sign out front that says, “Notice to Wolves: GO AWAY”. Well, not being a wolf, she decides to pop in and say hello, and that’s how she meets the Three Pigs, who are hiding in a cupboard from who they think is a wolf. As she digs into the porridge they have out on the table, the three pigs put their heads together and realize that Goldilocks is IN THE WRONG FAIRY TALE – just as the Big Bad Wolf shows up! Well, he can’t blow the brick house down, but he’s going to try and come down that chimney, so Goldilocks grabs some straw left over from one of the other pig’s homes, and uses it to start a fire in the fireplace. Day saved! Cartoony, colorful artwork and frenetically paced storytelling make this too much fun to read, and more fun to listen to. Fractured fairy tales fans will love this.

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Fairy Tale time! The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog

The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog, by Alastair Chisholm/Illustrated by Jez Tuya, (Dec. 2020, Kane Miller Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-179-6

Ages 4-8

Alastair Chisholm and Jez Tuya are back with another fairy tale! Last year’s The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears was so much fun, the author-illustrator decided to come back for more. This time, Jamie – the boy from The Prince and the Witch… – is on a camping trip with his dad and younger sister, Abby, and it’s time to tell a story by the fire. The Prince, the Witch, the Thief, and the Bears return, along with Barry, a thumb-sized ninja frog that the Witch keeps safely tucked away. But Abby doesn’t think it’s fair to Barry to miss out on all the action, so she takes control of the storytelling and lets Barry the Ninja Frog have a grand adventure! The storytelling is such fun, and like The Prince and the Witch…, the kids steer the plot of the story with hilarious results. The story has an empowering message for kids and adults alike: don’t discount the little one. And the ending? Well, let’s just say I’ll be waiting to hear from these two again in about a year… Digital artwork is colorful and cartoony, and kids familiar with the characters will be delighted to see them in action again. Put together a great fractured fairy tales display with the two Chisholm/Tuya books and the Josh Funk It’s Not… series and let your kiddos go wild, telling you their own stories.

 

Posted in picture books

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales put a modern spin on the classics

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales, by David Roberts & Lynn Roberts-Maloney, (Oct. 2020 Pavilion Children’s Books), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654759

Ages 4-7

Illustrator siblings David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney have come together to put a modern, vintage spin on three classics fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Each is set in a different 20th century (give or take…): Cinderella takes place in the Roaring ’20s, Rapunzel, in the 1970s, and Sleeping Beauty, in the 1950s and beyond. The storytelling incorporates moments from each time frame, and the art – THE ART! – is filled with nods to each decade. Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters have cloches and Louise Brooks-like bobbed hair; the dressing gowns are fabulously glamourous and the headdresses are incredible. Rapunzel has that long, flower child straight hair that was so popular in the 1970s, spins David Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane album on her turntable and has Saturday Night Fever, Abba, and Elton John posters on her wall. Her Prince Charming is in a band called Roger and the Rascals, and he sports platform shoes of his own. Sleeping Beauty has a decidedly modern spin as Annabel, our Beauty, comes of age in the mid-20th century, pricks her finger on a turntable needle and falls into a deep sleep; her aunt turns Annabel into a rose and herself into a light, that she may shine on her through her slumber. When a young girl browses the story of Sleeping Beauty one thousand years later, she’s convinced it’s a true story, awakens Annabel, and introduces her to the sci-fi world Annabel dreamed of as a child. The artwork is gorgeous; it has a Tim Burton-meets-The Questioneers type of style that’s playful and fun to read. (Note: David Roberts is the illustrator of the Questioneers series!) Give your fairy tale fans a dose of nostalgia – or introduce them to the 20th Century – with this volume.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

A CYBILS graphic novel rundown

I know, being on the CYBILS first round, I can’t give TOO much away about graphic novels I’m reading, but I did have these on my TBR before I was nominated to judge, so… I’ll just talk them up a wee bit. To whet your appetite for what’s coming.

Softies: Stuff That Happens After the World Blows Up, by Kyle Smeallie, (Oct. 2020, Iron Circus Comics), $15, ISBN: 9781945820489

Ages 10-14

This is sort of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with a dose of stuffed animals tossed in for good measure. Earth blows up: kablooey, just like that. But there’s a survivor! Kay, a thirteen-year-old girl, is floating around in space when she’s rescued by Arizona, an alien space-junk collector, and his cybernetic pet Euclid. Arizona looks like a cuddly pink space stuffie that you’d find on the shelves in Target, and Euclid would definitely have his own action figure. There are laughs to be had, especially when Kay explains where she’s from, time and again, to blank faces – we’re not that well-known in the universe after all – and the levels of bureacracy that pop up time and again, as the new friends make their way through space. Softies is comprised of short stories, put together into one volume. The artwork is cartoony and very kid-friendly; the material is probably better suited for higher middle grade to middle school. There are some chuckleworthy moments and some sweet moments as Arizona and Kay try to figure things out together in this new relationship they’re forging. The storytelling has some lags, but overall, kids will get a kick out of it. Good to have for those tough-to-pin-down middle school collections.

 

The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen, (Oct. 2020 Random House Graphic), $23.99, ISBN: 9780593125298

Ages 12+

Told in parallel narratives between fairy tales and real life, The Magic Fish is the story of Tiến, a Vietnamese teen who loves his family but lives with a secret that he fears will change things. He’s gay, and doesn’t quite know how to come out to them. He shares stories with his parents, particularly his mother, and we can see the story within the story here: each is about suffering, and eventually, rising above difficult circumstances, which mirrors not only Tiến’s life, but his mother’s escape from Vietnam to America and her longing to be with her mother. The artwork itself is breathtaking; the fairy tale scenes are incredible, dreamlike; Tiến’s reality is realistically drawn with fleshed-out characters and expressive body language. Sensitive, beautifully drawn, and perfect for teen collections. The Magic Fish has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and is an Indie Next pick.

Witches of Brooklyn, by Sophie Escabasse, (Sept. 2020, Random House Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593119273
Ages 8-12
I LOVED this magical story! Effie is a kid whose mom has passed away, and she’s brought to Brooklyn to live with her aunt, Selimene; a woman she’s never met before. Selimene and her partner, Carlota, are two “herbalists” who just seem plain weird to Effie, until she discovers that the two women are… shhhh… witches. Good witches, to be sure, but witches! And shortly after arriving, Effie discovers her hands start glowing and that she’s a witch, too! Could this day get better? You bet – she makes two great friends in school, and when she arrives home, discovers that her favorite pop star, Tily Shoo, is in her house in need of Selimene and Carlota’s help. Everything is fun about Witches of Brooklyn, which also has wonderful storytelling and statements about family. Great artwork, great character development and storytelling, and  – let’s hope – more to come. Give this to your Lumberjanes readers and while you’re at it, hand them a copy of Emma Steinkellner’s graphic novel, The Okay Witch.
Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, by Maggie Stiefvater/Illustrated by Morgan Beem, (Oct. 2020, DC Comics), $16.99, ISBN: 9781401293239
Ages 12+
Twin brothers Alec and Walker Holland are sent off to spend their last summer before college with their rural cousins after catching their father having an affair. Alec, the studious one, buries himself in a lab where he continues working on a project that takes everything in him – a bit literally – to keep going, while Walker hits the social scene. The two brothers find themselves diverging this summer, with tensions and memories forcing their way between the two. And the swamp… well, that’s just waiting for someone, isn’t it? Maggie Stiefvater is an amazing YA writer, and Morgan Beem has a nice list of comics illustration to her credit. She creates an eerie atmosphere with her green and murky artwork, giving Maggie Stiefvater’s creepy storytelling a wonderfully oogie vibe. I’ll be honest, the story dipped for me a few times when Alec gets caught up in his botany discussions, but the overall storytelling is strong and macabre; very American Gothic.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood, by Josh Funk

Josh Funk returns with the latest in his It’s Not A Fairy Tale series with a sassy little girl who’s one step ahead of the narrator. Get ready, friends, because…

It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood, by Josh Funk/Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor,
(10/2020, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542006668
Ages 4-7

Little Red is a little girl who lives with her family in a little cottage in the woods, so when the Narrator shows up and starts telling her to put on a red cape and go visit her sick grandmother in the woods, she’s got questions. Lots and lots of questions: why is the Narrator sending a little girl with a giant basket into the woods all alone? Why does she have to wear red? And why does she have to walk, when she usually takes a carriage? Regardless, she listens to the narrator and heads off to Grandma’s, in spite of being concerned about the Narrator’s willingness to keep putting her in danger, and meeting an amusing, if unexpected, cast of characters. The story of Red Riding Hood is turned on its head as the Narrator becomes flustered and Red keeps pointing out big problems in the story.

With different fonts to denote different speakers (Narrator in conversation mode versus Narrator in story narration mode, plus word balloons for character dialogue), expressive sounds and snappy back and forth banter between characters, the laughs come fast and frequent for readers here. Edwardian Taylor’s artwork is hilarious fun, loaded with little extras, exaggerated expressions, and fairy tale cameos aplenty.

The This is Not a Fairy Tale series is just too much fun, and a welcome addition to fractured fairy tale collections. The kids in my library love them – especially when I give Narrators and characters different, increasingly manic voices. You can’t read these with a serious voice, and that is a good, good thing. Let yourself be as silly as you want to be – your littles will appreciate it.

 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Let’s do it. I’ve got a great giveaway thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing.

Two Lions is offering all three books in the It’s Not a Fairytale series–It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, and It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood  to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses only, please). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of many popular picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. He lives in New England with his family. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com.

 

Twitter @joshfunkbooks

Instagram: @joshfunkbooks

 

Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Race!, written by Sue Fliess; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairytale books, written by Josh Funk. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com.

Twitter: @edwardiantaylor

Instagram: edwardiantaylor

Tumblr: Edwardian Taylor

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bo the Brave knows that monsters aren’t always that easy to spot

Bo the Brave, by Bethan Woollvin, (Apr. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-182-9

Ages 3-7

Any day I get to talk about a new Bethan Woollvin book is a good day. She creates fairy-tale heroines that upend all existing conventions, whether it’s the witch getting the goods on bratty Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood saving the day on her own. Her new book, Bo the Brave. stars another young girl who teaches readers that monsters aren’t always fairy tale creatures – they’re much closer.

Bo is a young girl who wants to be a monster hunter like her brothers. When they tell her she’s too little, so she strikes out on her own. On her travels, she meets a griffin, a kraken, and a dragon, all of whom seem much nicer, and certainly more helpful, than she’s been led to believe. In fact, the dragon is a mother, grieving because her baby’s been kidnapped by monster hunters! Bo, pretty sure she knows exactly who the culprits are, leads her new friends to the rescue: while delivering a stern lecture to her brothers. Bo the Brave has learned that rumors and hearsay are deceiving and can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and heartache. In this story, it’s her brothers that “were certainly acting like monsters”, not the griffin, the kraken, or the dragons!

That’s the best part of Bethan Woollvin’s storytelling. She takes a look at who the real monsters are, like Hansel and Gretel; she has heroines who save themselves – they have no time to deal with that whole helpless girl foolishness – like Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. Bethan Woollvin’s heroines have no time to waste, waiting for someone to rescue them and no patience to follow someone who doesn’t value them for who they are. They’re out there on their own, using their brains and their own common sense to save the day, and teach some valuable lessons.

The endpapers illustrated Bo the Brave’s evolution, too: the front endpapers are a map, pre-journey, where Bo notes where the “horrid forest monsters”, “scary cave beasts”, and “slimy sea monsters” are, along with her “stinky brothers’. The back endpapers are edited to show that her “stinky brothers” are actually her “monster brothers”, and each of the new friends she’s made have their rightful names noted on the map.

Bo the Brave has a starred review from School Library Journal, and is essential reading.

Posted in Fantasy, picture books, Preschool Reads

The Great 2019 Read-Down: Fairy Tales

I love a good fairy tale, and the end of 2019 brought some fun new ones. Here are two of them.

If the Shoe Fits…, by Deborah Guarino/Illustrated by Seth Hippen, (Nov. 2019, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764358432

Ages 5-8

This fun take on Cinderella is the story of Murray, a humble shoemaker who meets a fairy godmother on a very special night. The fairy godmother’s out of magic, and needs some help in the form of a pair of shoes, so her poor godchild could make it to the royal ball. But Murrays clerk, Mona, has designs on being a royal bride herself, and when word gets out that the prince is trying to track down the mysterious woman who left her shoe behind at the ball, she begs Murray to make a shoe in her size, so she can make the big switch and land her prince. Murray, who’s desperately in love with Mona, complies, even though it breaks his heart, but never fear – the fairy godmother isn’t letting anyone take the day away from her godchild!

Told in rhyme, with a sweet Happily Ever After for everyone, is an adorable fractured fairy tale that kids will enjoy and get a good laugh from. The characters are goofy and kind, and the rhyme cadence is instantly familiar once you start reading, letting you fall right into the storytelling. Animator Seth Hippen’s art is cartoony and exaggerated, and loads of fun to look at as you read this progressively crazier fairy tale. Fractured fairy tale lovers will get a big kick out of this.

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears, by Alastair Chisholm/Illustrated by Jez Tuya, (June 2019, Kane Miller Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-849-0

Ages 4-8

This book is a RIOT. It’s a fairy tale with The Princess Bride-type humor and takes on fairy tale tropes with delight. A child named Jamie gets ready for bed, and Dad sits down to tell a bedtime story to Jamie’s liking. What we get is a laugh-out loud story of a prince who sets out to rescue a princess – who doesn’t need rescuing, THANK YOU VERY MUCH – and a witch who can turn things to stone or jello, and hideous broccoli castles. Jamie has opinions throughout Dad’s story, which changes events in the telling, and ends with a drowsy kiss goodnight and the promise of more stories to come. My second grader loves the Interrupting Chicken books, and had a ball reading this one with me.

Jez Tuya’s digital artwork adds so much fun and color to this fun, colorful story! Big, expressive eyes, little nuances like the story’s characters showing up as toys in Jamie’s room, and wink/nudge moments throughout the storytelling make this artwork and story a great marriage.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears is officially one of my bedtime go-tos, and I’m eyeing it for a potential stuffed animal sleepover kickoff in 2020.

Posted in picture books

A tall tale about Mother Goose from Chris Raschka

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane (A Small Tall Tale), by Chris Raschka/Illustrations by Vladimir Radunsky, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763675233

Ages 4-8

We’ve all grown up with Mother Goose: usually the British vision of a goose wearing a tall black hat, glasses down on her beak, and a shawl; sometimes, it’s a kindly old woman. But was there a real Mother Goose? Caldeott Medalist Chris Raschka and illustrator Vladimar Radunsky introduce the “real” Mother Goose: Elizabeth Foster, who, in 1692, married Isaac Goose – a widower with 10 children – in Boston and became Mother Goose. She sang songs and made up rhymes for her children (she and Isaac Goose went on to have four more children), which were published at a print shop on Pudding Lane in Boston. Although no copies of the original Mother Goose compilation exist today, we’ve all grown up with adaptations and additions to the legend. Here, Chris Raschka and Vladimir Radunksy recreate some of Mother Goose’s best-known, most beloved pieces while creating new poems and illustrations that recreate the life of Elizabeth Foster Goose, the Mother Goose of Pudding Lane.

Vladimir Radunsky’s playful, colorful gouache and pencil illustrations infuse the story with a sense of fun and joy: animals and people in colonial dress act out some of Mother Goose’s best-known rhymes, like “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”, “Old King Cole”, and “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. The story of Elizabeth and Isaac Goose is told in rhyme throughout, from their courtship to their old age. Endpapers include sketch art of a young Mother Goose in front, and an alphabet rhyme reprint in back.

A sweetly done fictional biography of a beloved figure in children’s literature.

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads

Folk and Fairy Tales from Across the Pond: Between Worlds

Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland, by Kevin Crossley-Holland/Illustrated by Frances Castle, (Oct. 2019, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536209419

Ages 10+

Forty-eight folk and fairy tales from Britain and Ireland; some you’ve heard before, most will be new to you. The tales are organized by Magic and Wonder; Adventures and Legends; Power, Passion, and Love; Wits, Tricks, and Laughter; and Ghosts. This is a wonderful tome for your fantasy and fairy/folk tale collections; especially, if, like me, you love having a collection of tales from all over the world. Some are short enough to read aloud, others are longer and invite readers to sit down, have a nice cup of hot chocolate, and imagine a storyteller leading you back through time for  stories about fairy rings, boggarts, and changelings. Frances Castle’s stark black-and-white illustrations set a mood for each story and each section. An afterword on “Why Everyone Needs to Be Able to Tell a Story” is told as a final folktale, infusing the entire volume with a bit of magic. Comprehensive source notes identify each story’s source(s) and original titles, if any.

A definite add to your folk and fairy tale shelves, and a gorgeous gift for readers. Keep a copy at your Reference desk, too, if you have it in the budget.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

The Worst Book Ever is hilarious!

The Worst Book Ever, by Elise Gravel, (May 2019. Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 9781770463639

Ages 5-10

Elise Gravel’s work always makes me smile, and her newest book, The Worst Book Ever, made me laugh out loud. Three characters come together to comment on the worst fairy tale ever as it unfolds. They’re annoyed by standard fairy tale tropes, like the “beautiful prinsess and brave prinse”; they criticize typos, illustration, and writing style, all for laughs. The commentary is laugh-out-loud funny, and the visuals are bold, bright, and wonderfully odd. The fourth wall is more than broken; it’s demolished as coffee stains and cookie crumbs dot the pages and our main characters call out lack of diversity, literary clichés, and weak female characters. One character makes a list of all the spelling mistakes found in the book always good for a prize for anyone who can catch them all. As the story descends into madness, the characters become more confused, and your readers will laugh even harder.

The Worst Book Ever can be a good companion when talking about short story writing. Point out issues the characters have with the story as it develops, and see what your readers chime in with. Can they fix the narrative?

Lest I leave out the most important part: there’s bathroom humor. I quote: “Poopie Peepee Fart Booger”. So this is basically kid gold.

Add this to your graphic novel shelves and watch it fly.