Let Me Finish!

Let-Me-Finish

  • Let Me Finish!
  • written by Minh Lê
  • illustrated by Isabel Roxas
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Is this the first children’s book about spoilers? It might be. And if it is, why has it taken until 2016 to have a book about the perils of unwanted spoilers? Children need to know when to keep their little traps shut and not ruin stories for other people. I’m only slightly kidding.

When The Force Awakens premiered last year, I had to sit my kids down and talk to them about spoilers. Just because YOU’VE seen the movie and know what happens doesn’t mean that EVERYONE has. Don’t ruin any surprises for them by talking about it school. No one ruined it for you.

Alas, I wish every parent had this discussion. But with the help of Minh Lê’s new book, Let Me Finish!, they can!

Continue reading

What Is It?

WhatIsIt-1000x500

  • What Is It?
  • written by Nicole Hoang
  • illustrated by Dustin Nguyen
  • published by Boom! Studios/KaBOOM! (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

(This post originally appeared on GeekDad.)

There is – admittedly – sometimes a fine line between what constitutes a picture book and a graphic novel. They often have a lot in common, and it’s not surprising to find that many illustrators straddle that line and work in both media.

Traditional publishers long ago embraced the graphic novel format, and companies such as Scholastic (through their Graphix imprint) led the way. Comic publishers have been a bit slower to move in the opposite direction and put out picture books or novels. It’s not unheard of, though. First Second Books recently published their first children’s picture book (Ben Hatke’s Julia’s House for Lost Creatures) to near universal acclaim.

Now BOOM! Studios is following suit. Their all-ages imprint KaBOOM!, which has been home to some absolutely amazing monthly titles, is leading the charge with Nicole Hoang and Dustin Nguyen’s What Is It?

Continue reading

Thank You, Paul Dini – You’re an Inspiration and We’re Lucky to Have You

PaulDini-1000x500

(This post originally appeared on GeekDad.)

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, I was fortunate enough to have several amazing opportunities and experiences. A few (such as having drinks with Neil deGrasse Tyson and sitting front row center for the Star Trek press conference with William Shatner, Scott Bakula, Bryan Fuller, and so many more) stand out above the rest. But if pressed to name a highlight, my answer might be surprising: shaking Paul Dini’s hand and telling him, personally, what an inspiration he’s been.

Though I don’t write creatively for film and television, I do make a living (out in the real world and – to a much lesser extent – here online) wrangling words together, so most of my creative idols are writers. And Paul Dini is pretty darn near the top of that list.

Continue reading

Dream Jumper #1: Nightmare Escape

DreamJumper

  • Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape
  • written by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom
  • illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom
  • colored by Guy Major
  • published by Scholastic/Graphix (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Scholastic’s Graphix imprint has long been home to some of the best “all-ages” graphic novels put out by a traditional book publisher. Graphix actually hit the ground running and got its start with the color editions of Jeff Smith’s groundbreaking Bone series, and they haven’t looked back.

They’ve since become a wellspring of fantastic, kid-friendly graphic novels, publishing books such as Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series, Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series, all of Raina Telgemeier’s books, and so many more. Seriously, I challenge you to find a Graphix book that isn’t stunning.

Dream Jumper is one of their newest titles, and it’s definitely off to a promising start with the first book in the planned series, Nightmare Escape.

Continue reading

Finding Dory: Three Little Words

Dory

  • Three Little Words
  • written by Amy Novesky
  • illustrated by Grace Lee
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Timed to coincide with this month’s theatrical release of Finding Dory, Three Little Words is a gorgeous picture book that really drives home the simple message that lies at the heart of Dory’s character: Just Keep Swimming.

This isn’t an adaptation of the film, per se, but it visually follows all of the major plot developments (including, apparently, the ending), so if you’re looking to remain spoiler-free until you’ve seen Finding Dory, then you may want to hold off on this for a few more weeks.

Continue reading

Playing from the Heart

playing from the heart peter h reynolds

  • Playing from the Heart
  • written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds
  • published by Candlewick Press (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

I might as well get this out of the way right now: we’re big Peter Reynolds fans around these parts. You’d be hard pressed to find better books celebrating art, imagination, and creativity than his books The Dot and Ish.

And they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Reynolds has an entire library of beautiful books in which kids are allowed the freedom to express themselves and not suppress the art they have inside of them.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Children’s Book Week with Raina Telgemeier

tumblr_o67bi7TWds1un2wspo1_500

We’re thrilled to help First Second Books once again celebrate Children’s Book Week (which ran from May 2-8 this year), with a blog tour celebrating both their amazing books and the effort to get more books into more kids’ hands.

This year, we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week by taking part in a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, including friends of the Roarbots Gene Luen Yang, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Maihack, and Maris Wicks (see below for schedule and links).

In these interviews, they’re talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love. We’re thrilled to host John Patrick Green (author of Hippopotamister) chatting with the incomparable Raina Telgemeier.

Continue reading

The Pirate Jamboree

PirateJamboree

  • The Pirate Jamboree
  • written and illustrated by Mark Teague
  • published by Orchard Books/Scholastic (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

If you have kids, then Mark Teague’s art is likely very familiar to you. In addition to his own wonderful books, he’s also the artist behind the How Do Dinosaurs…? books with author Jane Yolen.

We’re in love with his style and big fans of his work. His newest book, The Pirate Jamboree, is told in verse and concerns the fearsome neighborhood pirates: the Johnson brothers (Blackbeard, Bluebeard, and Beigebeard), Sharktooth Jane, Eye Patch Sue, Cap’n Gunderboom, and Peg Leg Jones.

Continue reading

GBBP 59: Roger Langridge

langridge2

The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, Episode 59: Roger Langridge

GBBShow1

This week, we’re thrilled to have Roger Langridge – the all-ages comics genius – on the show. Yes, he’s awesome. And yes, I just made up that “all-ages comics genius” moniker…but it’s totally appropriate.

Roger rose to prominence in the comics industry for his work on Judge Dredd, the Fin Fang Four (of all things), and his own creation Fred the Clown. He then worked (as both writer and illustrator) on Boom! Studios’ relaunched The Muppet Show series, and that’s where his style truly had a chance to shine.

From there, all bets were off. He worked on a series of Muppets book for Boom!, John Carter of Mars (Marvel), Snarked! (Boom!), Popeye (IDW), and The Rocketeer (IDW). And then, in my opinion, came the great stuff: his adaptation of Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and the marvelous Abigail and the Snowman, both for Boom! Studios.

Continue reading

Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!

balletcat

Ballet Cat is a relatively new character series that took us by surprise. We picked up last year’s The Totally Secret Secret, which was the first book, and loved it. In the first book, the overenthusiastic Ballet Cat works through a difficulty with Sparkles the Pony, who doesn’t exactly share Ballet Cat’s love of ballet.

In this newest book, she works through a somewhat similar difficulty with Butter Bear, who is slightly embarrassed and doesn’t want to do super-high leaps. She’s also incredibly resourceful when it comes to stalling tactics. Butter Bear does everything in her power to delay the inevitable.

But Ballet Cat is very insistent, which seems to be her dominant character trait. She loves ballet, and she is very insistent that everyone else loves ballet just as much as she does.

This doesn’t always go as planned.

Continue reading

Bug Zoo

Bug-Zoo-Cover-e1455068011647

  • Bug Zoo
  • written and illustrated by Andy Harkness
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

The Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase books are a new discovery for me, and I wonder how I missed them until now. They’re conceived as a series of original picture books that put the spotlight on individual artists working for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and there’s apparently also at least one title in the Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase series. (Which went immediately onto my wishlist.)

Bug Zoo features artist Andy Harkness, who worked as an in-betweener and layout artist on Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear. Andy currently works as an art director for Walt Disney Animation, and this is his first children’s book.

I think it’s safe to say he’s set a high bar for himself, straight out of the gate. This book is eye-poppingly gorgeous.
Continue reading

Batman’s Dark Secret

A1gbRqnPtNL

  • Batman’s Dark Secret
  • written by Kelley Puckett
  • illustrated by Jon J. Muth
  • published by Scholastic (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

In 2016, another retelling of Batman’s origin story wasn’t high on the list of things I thought I needed to see…even in a children’s book. But Batman’s Dark Secret came out of nowhere and showed me how wrong I was.

This gorgeous hardcover picture book is a new edition of a book that was originally published in 1999 as a leveled reader. That book is not in my library (so I’m not familiar with it), but I think it’s safe to say that this is the preferred version. The oversized pages let the story breathe and do right by the art — watercolor illustrations that deserve a bit more of a “deluxe” treatment.

Continue reading

The Suspended Castle: A Philémon Adventure

castle

The Suspended Castle is the third book in the Philémon series, and it’s also (obviously) the third release in Toon Books’ English-language versions. If you’ve been reading along with the first two books, then you should already have some idea of what to expect here, in terms of tone and content.

I mean, one look at the cover is enough to tell you that you won’t be disappointed…if, that is, you came for absurd visuals and unforeseen plot twists. In short, it’s still totally insane. And an insanely good time.

Continue reading

The Wild Piano: A Philémon Adventure

wildpiano

I can’t believe I let this one sit for so long. I included The Wild Piano in this roundup of new titles from Toon Books, but it’s well past time for it to appear here, especially now that the third Philémon book is out.

Philémon is a French character who’s been around since 1965. His stories, however, have never been published in English before now. Therefore, in the pantheon of French-language comics, he’s mostly been relegated to Tintin’s and Asterix’s shadows. Toon Books recently published his first adventure, Cast Away on the Letter A, and it was such a success that they expedited the release of this second book. (See here for my review of that first book.)

Continue reading

Fortune Falls

fortune

  • Fortune Falls
  • written by Jenny Goebel
  • published by Scholastic (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

“Even if you aren’t lucky, you’re smart, and that’s far more important.”

Fortune Falls is a town you probably wouldn’t want to visit…unless you came prepared. With a four-leaf clover…and a rabbit’s foot…and a horseshoe. This is a place where superstitions are very much real things that have active control over people’s lives.

If you step on a crack, you really will break your mother’s back. If you don’t hold your breath while passing a cemetery, you really will end up dead. If you find a penny and pick it up, all day long you really will  have good luck. And if you blow out all of the candles on your birthday, your wish really will come true.

And that’s where Sadie Bleeker comes in. In a town where 12-year-olds are classified as either Lucky or Unlucky (and then sent to appropriate, segregated schools…for everyone’s safety, you see), Sadie’s about to turn 12.

Admittedly, she’s had a streak of bad luck (that’s lasted about 12 years), but she’s still technically classified as an Undetermined. However, her birthday is in a few days – on Friday the 13th, naturally – and she’s about to take the Luck Test…which will determine the course of her entire future.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan

EvieBrooksMaroonedinManhattenjpg_feature

Today, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Sheila Agnew to The Roarbots as we take part in a blog tour for her new book from Pajama Press, Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan.

Previously published in the UK, the book was recently released here in the States and is the first in the Evie Brooks series. The second book, Evie Brooks in Central Park Showdown, is scheduled to release in April 2016.

We’re delighted to take part in this blog tour and to have Sheila provide a guest post for you all. Please be sure to check out the previous stops on the tour:

Continue reading

Windmill Dragons (A Leah and Alan Adventure)

windmill

Toon Books continues to kill it. Their entire library is breathtaking, and the latest offering from David Nytra is no exception. Following on the success of his 2012 debut, The Secret of the Stone Frog, Windmill Dragons again focuses on siblings Leah and Alan for another adventure.

Although the reader is left to interpret their adventure in the first book as a dream (or was it?), Windmill Dragons sets up its fantastic events in the first few pages as a story Leah reads aloud. The siblings then dive into the pages and appear as the protagonists of that story.

Welcome to a land where the elemental forces are under the control of three magnificent beasts: the Ziz (sky), the Behemoth (land), and the Leviathan (sea). When they exist in harmony with one another, peace prevails. However, when Leah and Alan arrive, all is most definitely not peaceful, and the duo are charged with saving the land from the windmills – which have come alive and are attacking the citizens.

Continue reading

Teen Boat! The Race for Boatlantis

TeenBoat2-Cover-e1429856869901

Just when I thought every original idea had already been taken, used, recycled, and rebooted to death, along comes Teen Boat! – perhaps the most original concept I’ve read all year.

I somehow missed the first book in the series, which came out 2012, but it’s not necessarily required reading before tackling the sequel: The Race for Boatlantis.

In a nutshell, our protagonist is Teen Boat, an ordinary high school teenager that happens to be able to transform himself into a boat. Yep. And there’s no secret identify nonsense. His entire school knows he can turn into a boat, and it’s apparently no big deal.

Continue reading

Wearable Books

beards

We’re mostly beyond board books in our house. In fact, we recently brought almost our entire collection (with the exception of some sentimental titles) to the local Friends of the Library donation dropoff.

However, when board books are as much fun as these, it’s kind of hard not to find room on the bookshelf for them.

Behold, a series of fun “wearable books” that kids will inevitably go nuts for: Book-O-Beards, Book-O-Hats, Book-O-Masks, and Book-O-TeethInspired by those ubiquitous lifesize cutouts where kids pose as animals or astronauts, these books bring that giggle-inducing fun home.

Indeed, according to author Donald Lemke: “What parent doesn’t love seeing their baby’s face on the body of a giraffe?” Not this parent, that’s for sure.

Continue reading

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House

coco

The sun will rise tomorrow. It’s one of the few absolutes and completely reliable events in life. But that’s not to say it’s uninteresting or uninspiring. Quite the opposite, actually.

The sun is on a continuous journey that quite literally brings life to billions along the way. It’s an adventure worthy of the greatest epics . . . or the smallest details.

In How the Sun Got to Coco’s House, Bob Graham relates one day in this continuing adventure and focuses on some relatively minor — yet nonetheless poignant — effects that sunlight has on our delicate planet.

Continue reading