children's books Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Finalists announced for 2014 Cybils

cybils2014The finalists have been announced for the 2014 Children and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, better known as the Cybils.

Established to recognize children’s and young-adult authors and illustrators, the Cybils are selected through a process that involves public nominations, publisher submissions and then, finally, a judging committee. The winners will be announced Feb. 14.

Here are the finalists in the graphic novel divisions:

Early and Middle Grades

  • Bad Machinery: The Case of the Good Boy, by John Allison (Oni Press)
  • Bird & Squirrel on Ice, by James Burks (Graphix)
  • El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Harry N. Abrams)
  • Gaijin: American Prisoner of War, by Matt Faulkner (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, by Loic Dauvillier (First Second)
  • The Dumbest Idea Ever!, by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix)
  • Ballad, by Blexbolex (Enchanted Lion Books)

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Batman and Joker are still friends, even in winter


Harry Bauer, who over the summer mashed up Arnold Lobel’s beloved children’s book characters with the Dark Knight and his arch-nemesis best buddy for Batman and Joker Are Friends, has returned with another video called Batman and Joker Are Friends — Down the Hill.

Based on one of the stories from the 1976 book Frog and Toad All Year, it features Bauer’s drawings and voice work over Lobell’s figures and story as The Joker convinces a melancholy Batman to venture out into the snow to go sledding. The Penguin even makes a cameo as Batman discovers that, yes, winter is fun.

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It’s Bruce’s sad time of day in ‘Batman and Joker Are Friends’


If you’re an American who learned to read in the 1970s or early ’80s, you’re likely well-acquainted with Frog and Toad, the series of acclaimed easy-reader children’s books by the late Arnold Lobel (the first, Frog and Toad Are Friends, earned a Caldecott Honor; the second, Frog and Toad Together, a Newbery Medal). However, you’re probably not familiar with Batman and Joker Are Friends, a video that introduces the two arch-enemies into the Frog and Toad story “The Letter”; the result is, appropriately, both melancholy and heartwarming.

“Doing superhero voices for my son and a love of Frog and Toad led to this riff on an Arnold Lobel classic,” Harry Bauer explains of the video, in which he draws a Joker and Batman over Lobel’s figures (his voice work is pretty good, too).

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Comics A.M. | New DreamWorks imprint won’t affect licenses

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

Publishing | DreamWorks Animation’s announcement on Monday that it is launching its own book-publishing unit doesn’t mean the end of the road for its comics licensees, at least not yet: ICv2 talked to representatives from IDW Publishing, which publishes the Rocky & Bullwinkle comics, and Ape Entertainment, which has had a number of DreamWorks licenses, and both say that this won’t affect their comics. [ICv2]

Auctions | A collection of comics that included the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the British satirical comic Viz, as well as long runs of several Marvel series, brought in almost £25,000 (about $41,300 U.S.) at an auction in Newcastle, England. The majority of the comics were from a single collector whose wife decided to put them up for sale after he died. For those who are curious about the details, Duncan Leatherdale of The Northern Echo liveblogged the auction. [BBC News]

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PW’s best children’s books include ‘Bad Machinery,’ ‘Relish’

delilahdirLagging behind the rest of its list, Publishers Weekly has released its rundown of the best children’s books — split into fiction and nonfiction — which, unsurprisingly, includes a smattering of graphic novels. They are:

Children’s Fiction
Bad Machinery: The Case of the Team Spirit, by John Allison (Oni Press)

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff (First Second)

Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

Children’s Nonfiction
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)

You’ll undoubtedly notice that three of the four books are from First Second, which, while it’s still early in the best-of season (sure, it’s a season), is off to a strong start: Relish and Boxers & Saints, along with Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, also made it onto the Amazon list, while Yang’s book(s) appears twice on PW’s best of 2013.

Shortlisted just last month for the National Book Award, Boxers & Saints is shaping up to be a strong contender for the big graphic novel of the year, too.

Help Meltzer, Eliopoulos pick the cover for ‘I Am Amelia Earhart’


Author and comic writer Brad Meltzer is working on a children’s book series, Ordinary People Change the World, which is being published under Penguin’s Dial Books for Young Readers imprint. The first book, I Am Amelia Earhart, which will be illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, is due out next year.

But before the book can go to press, it’s going to need a cover, and Meltzer has taken to his blog to ask the internet to help pick the cover. He’s posted two options illustrated by Eliopoulos, so head over there to cast your vote.

Neil Gaiman debuts Skottie Young’s cover for Fortunately, the Milk

Neil Gaiman has debuted Skottie Young’s cover for the U.S. edition of their upcoming children’s book Fortunately, the Milk. Officially announced in July as part of the author’s five-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books, it’s described as “an ode to the pleasure and wonders of storytelling itself.”

Dave McKean was at one point set to illustrate Fortunately, the Milk, which Gaiman referred to in 2011 as “a very silly children’s book” that “was meant to be about the length of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, but it’s actually about four or five times as long.”

Gaiman has published 13 novels and picture books through HarperCollins Children’s Books, including the Newbery-winning The Graveyard Book. Fortunately, the Milk is scheduled for release Sept. 17.

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Robot Review | Waga’s Big Scare

There are two things I love about Sam Hiti’s work. One is his unique artistic style; his stuff looks like nothing else on the planet. But as much as I love that, what I especially look forward to in his books is layered storytelling. Even when I can’t read the language he’s writing in, like the Spanish comic El Largo Tren Oscuro, Hiti’s visuals communicate that there are multiple things going on for anyone paying attention. That’s especially true in longer graphic novels like Tiempos Finales and Death-Day.

I wasn’t sure then what to expect from Hiti’s first children’s book, Waga’s Big Scare. I knew I’d love the art, but what would the story be like? Fortunately, Hiti’s one of those authors who knows that children can handle more than people usually give them credit for, both in terms of story and frights. Waga is a demonic little monster that’s lost his “scare.” Hiti doesn’t explicitly describe what that means, nor why Waga will disappear if he doesn’t get his scare back by morning, but there’s food for thought there if you want to figure out what the scare represents and how it relates to nighttime. The story works on different levels.

Children and adults both will relate to looking for something that’s gone missing, just as everyone will delight in the spooky, creature-filled landscapes and scenes Hiti creates for Waga to go searching through: monster parades, creepy woods, graveyards, and dark, dank caves. There’s also a growing sense of urgency and tension reminiscent of The Monster at the End of this Book. The closer Waga gets to the end of the story, the more worried I got that he wouldn’t find his scare.

But then, why was I rooting for him in the first place? Hiti describes him early on as “the meanest, trickiest, most terrible monster that ever lived.” Do I really want him to get his big scare back? Don’t I want him to fail and disappear? It’s to the book’s great credit that the answer to that last question is “no” and I imagine it’ll be the same for kids.

Go, Waga, go! Find that scare and terrify the poop out of me.

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Two creators branch out with children’s book Little Particle That Could

Have you ever tried explaining particles to a 5-year old? Me neither. I have a hard enough time explaining them to myself. But comic creators Jason Rodriguez (Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened) and Noel Tuazon (Elk’s Run) are doing just that in their new illustrated children’s book The Little Particle That Could.

This 22-page book follows a girl graviton who is out to meet the little photon boy of her dreams. In addition to the illustrated story, Rodriguez wrote a four-page primer on particles, gravitons and protons that is ideal for kids or adults to explain the science behind the story.

Currently, The Little Particle That Could is only available as a digital download for the Kindle, but it’s available there FREE for a limited time. Here are  two pages from the book:

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Sam Hiti wants to frighten your children with Waga’s Big Scare

But only in the nicest way. The cartoonist behind intelligently creepy comics like Tiempos Finales, The Long Dark Train and Death-Day has created his first children’s book, Waga’s Big Scare. It won’t be available until closer to Halloween, but Amazon is taking pre-orders and Hiti says that the book will be available directly from him (with a personalized sketch) as soon as he has his copies. Stay tuned to his blog for details.

Amazon’s description of the book goes, “Meet Waga. Waga isn’t the biggest monster. Waga isn’t the hairiest or slimiest monster either. But Waga is the trickiest . . . and shouldn’t be trusted. Find out just how tricky Waga can be — unless you’re too scared to keep reading.” On his Facebook page, Hiti explains that he wrote it as an attempt to “deal with fear” and that it’s appropriate for ages for 4 to 6, depending on the child and the parents. “It might be a little scary,” he writes, “but it is goofy fun nonetheless.”

Nice Day For a War wins children’s book award

Nice Day For a War, a graphic novel described as “one part war comic and two parts history,” has been selected as the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year. It also won in the non-fiction category.

Written by Matt Elliot and illustrated Chris Slane, the book is based on the World War I diaries of Elliot’s grandfather, Cpl. Cyril Elliot, who enlisted in the military as a teenager, lured by the promise of travel and adventure.

“Couldn’t really have gone any better, it’s completely overwhelming, as I’ve been saying it’s just two great surprises,” the author told NZCity.

Nice Day For a War blends comics with postcards, letters, photos, official histories, and art created in the trenches by the soldiers themselves. Gillian Candler, the convenor of judges, said the book provides young readers with an honest glimpse into the lives of soldiers during World War I. “The beautiful fluid line drawings and muted watercolor washes bring the diary to life,” she said. “The interplay between the illustrations and text creates a powerful, emotionally engaging story for young readers.”

Check out pages from Nice Day For a War, published by HarperCollins, below.

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Maurice Sendak, cartoonist: An appreciation

From Maurice Sendak's collaboration with Art Spiegelman

I had been thinking of Maurice Sendak a lot lately even before his death was announced. That’s partly because he’d been in the news a lot in the past year with the release of his book Bumble-Ardy. But it’s also because I tend to think a lot about children’s books in general and the way they often tend to crossover with comics.

Let me put it this way: Sendak was, of course, many things: an artist, writer, designer and all-around genius. But above all, Sendak was a cartoonist and the comics informed a good deal, if not most, of his work.

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Maurice Sendak, a giant of children’s literature, passes away

Maurice Sendak, the trailblazing author and illustrator whose books enchanted, inspired and terrified generations of children, died this morning in a Danbury, Connecticut, hospital following a stroke, The New York Times reports. He was 83.

Best known for his 1963 dark fantasy Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak defied convention, rejecting the innocent subject matter that marked saccharine picture books of the era and instead embracing sharp-toothed monsters, unruly protagonists and childhood fears.

“I don’t write for children,” the outspoken author said in his memorable January appearance on The Colbert Report (watch the two-part interview below). “I write, and somebody says, ‘That’s for children.’ I didn’t set out to make children happy, or make life better for them, or easier for them.”

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Robot reviews | Three neat kids books: Leo Geo, Pandemonium and The Shark King

Leo Geo

Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth
By Jon Chad
Roaring Brook Press $15.99.

This is a clever, literally slim book, designed as skinny as possible in order to highlight its central conceit. You see, the running gag here is that you have to turn the book sideways to follow Leo on his downward trek to the Earth’s core, and then turn it another 180 degrees as he heads back up.

The book combines science with fantasy, with Leo discovering lost worlds filled with crazy monsters while spouting out science facts like “Some countries like New Zealand and Iceland harness the awesome power of lava for their own uses in heating and generating electricity. Though the juxtaposition of fantasy and hard facts seems a bit jarring, it actually adds to the book’s charm. There’s something about a guy standing on a giant underground ogre while discussing thermal generators that’s too silly to dislike.

Though Leo himself is one step up from a stick figure, Chad fills the pages with as much detail as possible and his ornate underworld scenes take on a “Where’s Waldo”-like mania at times, especially as he eschews panel borders to instead depict various versions of Leo crawling across a wide (but narrow) vista. Basically, it’s a fun introduction to geology that the elementary-school set will really dig (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).

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Seth to illustrate new Lemony Snicket book series

Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Daniel Handler and Gregory Gallant are teaming up for a new children’s book series that kicks off this fall. That sentence may not mean a lot to you, unless you know that Handler is the real name of Lemony Snicket, the author of the mega-popular, best-selling A Series of Unfortunate Events children’s book series, and Gallant is better known as Seth, the Canadian cartoonist who created Wimbledon Green, George Sprott and Palookaville.

Who Could That Be at This Hour?, the first book in the “All the Wrong Questions” series, arrives in stores Oct. 23. Here’s a description of the book from its Barnes & Noble listing: “In a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket began his apprenticeship in an organization nobody knows about. He began asking questions that shouldn’t have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not have been published, in four volumes that shouldn’t be read. This is the first volume.”

Publisher Little Brown plans a first printing of a million copies and has set up a teaser site to promote the book.

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