Science Comics: Volcanoes Q&A with Jon Chad

Today, I’m thrilled to take part in a blog tour to celebrate the awesomeness of Science Comics. If you’re unaware, First Second Books has been quietly publishing an entire library of graphic novels that cover various nonfiction, scientific topics. From coral reefs to dinosaurs to flying machines to plagues, these books are a goldmine of accessible information for young readers.

They’re really great and should be on your shelf right now.

For a few weeks, the creators of some of these books are making the bloggy rounds (full list and links at the bottom of this post) to talk up the lineup and individual titles. Today, we welcome Jon Chad, who wrote and illustrated Volcanoes and who illustrated the upcoming Solar System.

Continue reading

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Ben Hatke is something of a celebrity at Roarbots HQ. His Zita the Spacegirl trilogy is pure magic, and his other books (Little RobotJulia’s House for Lost Creatures, and Nobody Likes a Goblin) are just downright enchanting.

We look forward to each new book as a major event, and the arrival of Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (the sequel to the phenomenally awesome Mighty Jack for First Second Books) set off all kinds of squee alarms around here.

If you’re familiar with our Questions from a Kid series of interviews and you haven’t seen Ben’s installment, you really should do yourself a favor and go check that out. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Continue reading

Spill Zone

  • Spill Zone
  • written by Scott Westerfeld
  • illustrated by Alex Puvilland
  • published by First Second Books (2017)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Spill Zone does something I don’t think I’ve seen before. It tells a totally dark, creepy, twisted story with a striking color palette saturated with vibrancy. Flipping through the book, you’d be excused for assuming the story is a lot more uplifting than it really is.

The book also pulls you in and compels you to keep turning pages, desperate to find some meaning to the madness that Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland create.

Addison and her little sister, Lexa, live just outside Poughkeepsie, NY, which is now completely off-limits and known as the Spill Zone. Po’Town is no more. A mysterious “event” occurred that basically destroyed the town, turned all of the people into floating zombies, and created a psychedelic version of Stranger Things’ Upside Down.

Continue reading

Mighty Jack

  • Mighty Jack
  • written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
  • published by First Second Books (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Ben Hatke is a favorite in my house. His Zita the Spacegirl trilogy is pure magic, and his other books (Little Robot, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and Nobody Likes a Goblin) are just downright enchanting.

We look forward to each new book as a major event. So it was with much excitement that we dug into his current major undertaking: Mighty Jack for First Second Books. The first book in the series came out a few months ago, and Book 2 – Mighty Jack and the Goblin King – is set to release this fall.

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

GBBP 58: Faith Erin Hicks

FaithErinHicks

The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, Episode 58: Faith Erin Hicks

GBBShow1

This week, we’re thrilled to have Faith Erin Hicks on the show! Faith is an Eisner Award-winning author and illustrator whose newest book, The Nameless City, comes out today! What are you waiting for? Go grab your copy!

I included The Nameless City in my one-title-per-year roundup of books celebrating the 10th anniversary of publisher First Second Books. Yes, even though it’s only April, this is the book to beat. The Nameless City is the first entry in a planned trilogy that centers on two citizens of the eponymous city – Kaidu and Rat – who find themselves on opposing ideological sides in a city that is perpetually at war and sees occupying forces come and go like the weather.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Human Body Theater

HBT_blogtour5 (1)

Today, we’re taking part in another wonderful blog tour to benefit one of the excellent new titles from First Second Books. On tap is Maris Wicks’s Human Body Theater, a spellbinding nonfiction graphic novel that takes readers on a tour of the human body.

Follow your master of ceremonies through Human Body Theater, where you’ll get a theatrical revue of each and every biological system of the human body. Starting out as a skeleton, our tour guide puts on a new layer of her costume (her body) with each “act.” By turns goofy and intensely informative, Human Body Theater is incredibly entertaining.

We last caught up with Maris Wicks (and this book) during a previous blog tour in which she was interviewed by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado for Children’s Book Week. If you’ve got a few minutes, go take a look. It sheds some light on her background and motivation and how the book came to be.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Fable Comics

FableComics BlogTourBanner

Today, it’s my absolute pleasure to take part in the Fable Comics blog tour hosted by First Second Books / Macmillan Kids.

In the tradition of Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics, First Second and editor Chris Duffy bring us Fable Comics–a phenomenal anthology of 28 different fables from almost as many artists. Featuring the enormous talent of cartoonists such as James Kochalka, Jaime Hernandez, Maris Wicks, Liniers, and Roger Langridge, Fable Comics presents stories of gods, animals, and humans who get themselves into and (sometimes) out of trouble…with the requisite moral at the end.

As part of the blog tour, The Roarbots is pleased to present the eighth installment in the book (and the tour): “The Old Man and Death” by Eleanor Davis.

FableComicsRGB

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Kids Comics Q&A with Maris Wicks

KidsComicQuestions TourBanner

Today, I have the privilege and honor of being a stop on the Kids Comics Q&A blog tour. The tour is sponsored by First Second Books and cosponsored by the Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Talk about good company!

This year, Free Comic Book Day officially kicked off Children’s Book Week (May 4-10, 2015), and even though that’s past tense at this point, that shouldn’t stop you from exploring and celebrating all the joy that children’s books provide. So, please, click through to some of those links above and check out all the great stuff that’s available at each.

KidsComicSponsored BlogTourBanner

The Kids Comics Q&A blog tour is meant to celebrate the many fantastic creators who are writing and drawing some downright incredible “comics for kids.” Among the many brilliant participants are several friends of The Roarbots, including Kazu Kibuishi, Jeffrey Brown, Frank Cammuso, Gene Luen Yang, Mike Maihack, Andy Runton, and Ben Hatke!

Continue reading

Interview With Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsuki: Bringing The Dam Keeper to Life

concept_art_7

(This post originally appeared on GeekDad here.)

The Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film is always a collection of some of the most beautiful and artistic stories set to film in any given year. Last year was no different. Even though Disney’s Feast grabbed a lot of the headlines and spotlight (mostly by being attached to the mega-successful Big Hero 6), fellow nominee The Dam Keeper is arguably a better film.

Directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke (Dice) Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper tells the story of young Pig who lives and works in a windmill perched high atop a huge dam on the edge of town. His job is to keep the windmill running and thereby keep the encroaching black fog at bay. If the windmill stops, the black fog could envelop the town.

Continue reading

Fight to the Last Man — Interview With the Creative Team Behind ‘The Stranger’

LastMan-Cover-300rgb

(This post originally appeared on GeekDad here.)

Maybe I’ve just started noticing it for some reason, but it seems like there’s been an uptick in the number (and popularity) of graphic novels by French creators making their way States-side recently.

Toon Books has begun publishing the first English-language translations of the Philémon series, Snowpiercer made quite a splash thanks to its big-screen adaptation with Chris Evans, and now First Second Books is publishing English-language versions of the massively popular Last Man series.

The first book in the series, The Stranger, released in March, and First Second is planning to release Books 2 and 3 later this year. Books 4–6 will hopefully follow in 2016, which will bring us more or less in line with the French releases. There are a total of 12 volumes planned for the entire story.

The Stranger focuses on a gladiatorial contest–the Games–in what seems to be a medieval world in which magic is not only possible but also the very soul of the Games. Teams compete and wield elemental powers against one another in the ring (think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Ultimate Fighting).

Continue reading

Interview With Caldecott Honorees Jillian & Mariko Tamaki

ThisOneSummer-awards(This interview originally appeared on GeekDad here.)

Every year, the American Library Association breaks out the medals and awards children’s and young adult books with some of the most prestigious awards they have to offer. The big two—and those with which most people are familiar—are the Newbery Medal (for outstanding contribution to children’s literature) and the Caldecott Medal (for most distinguished American picture book for children).

Graphic novels have always had a somewhat … uncomfortable relationship with these awards. Some claim that they shouldn’t be considered alongside more “traditional” children’s books, and some argue that there should be an entirely separate award for graphic novels.

This year, for the first time ever, graphic novels were recognized in a huge way. This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Mariko Tamaki, was awarded with both a Caldecott Honor and a Printz Honor (for excellence in literature written for young adults). This was the first graphic novel to ever be recognized with a Caldecott and only the second to snag a Printz.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Last of the Sandwalkers

Sandwalkers BlogTourBanner

Today, we’ve got a bit of a treat. Jay Hosler is a biology professor and cartoonist, and lucky for us, he’s combined those two things with spectacular results!

His newest graphic novel, Last of the Sandwalkers, was just released from First Second, and it is phenomenal. It takes you on a journey inside an intricate society of beetles, and believe me when I tell you: it’s well worth the journey.

I’ll be doing a full review of the book in the coming days, but today I’m more than happy to turn it over to Jay! The Roarbots is the penultimate stop on his blog tour, which has been amazing in that each stop has featured a different beetle.

Therefore, without further ado, take it away Jay….

Continue reading

5 Questions with Ben Hatke

Hatke

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Ben Hatke: artist, author, and creator of the Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels.

From page 1 of Zita the Spacegirl, Zoey was hooked. It’s got all the makings of a classic in this house: strong and spunky female protagonist, funky-looking aliens and creatures, amazing art, and an engaging adventure story. It’s basically everything Zoey loves all packaged together into one book.

Two subsequent books–Legends of Zita the Spacegirl and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl–round out the trilogy, and all three are published by the simply stellar First Second Books.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Gene Luen Yang

GeneYang(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Gene Luen Yang, writer and artist of several graphic novels, including American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints.

Boxers and Saints, his most recent book, is an ambitious work of historical fiction set in late 19th century China and told in a graphic novel format. It tackles one of the most complicated periods of recent Chinese history with grace and elegance.

It was published by First Second Books in two companion volumes, and it has basically won (or been nominated for) every literary award. Likewise for American Born Chinese, which was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the National Book Award in 2006 (Boxers and Saints was shortlisted for the same award in 2013).

Continue reading