What Are You Reading This August?

It’s summertime and we know what that means–summer reading! 

Here are just a few recommendations for your TBR list this month: 

Mood: Family Drama!

Our Rec: STEPPING STONES from Lucy Knisley

New home, new family, new sisters, new drama! This fantastic middle-grade debut from the amazing Lucy Knisley is perfect for any reader who is going through a tough place, and needs a cathartic release! Following her parents divorce, young Jen is moved to the country with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend–and he comes with two daughters of his own! Learning to navigate a new home is hard enough, but having to find your voice and place in a new family is so much harder. But Jen will find her strength as she discovers her uniqueness is what makes her special.

Jump onto this new series now!


Mood: Hilarious Space Hijinks!

Our Rec: ONCE UPON A SPACE-TIME! by Jeffrey Brown

Let’s be real… we could all use a break from planet earth right now. And that’s just what this hilarious new book delivers! When Jide and Petra are selected to join their new alien classmates on a intergalactical research mission to Mars, they have no idea that things will soon turn to chaos when they accidentally take off an adventure with no adult supervision. Hilarious adventures will have every reader laughing hysterically as you read this next great story!

Take off on mission SPACE TIME now!


Mood: Adventures with your furry BFF!

Our Rec: ASTER AND THE ACCIDENTAL MAGIC from Thom Pico and Karensac

Aster is all of us. A girl who loves her video games and living in the big city. So when her parents move her to the middle of NOWHERE you can imagine our reaction–UGH! The worst! But soon she’ll meet a weird lady with a heard of dogs, and one of those dogs will become her BFF, and soon she’ll meet a trickster who will let her talk to her dog–but only in dog language. And this is just the beginning.

Get ready for hilarious adventures of a girl, her dog, and magic gone wrong!

Stay tuned for more recommendations in the coming months!

What are you reading this summer?

It’s summertime and we know what that means–summer reading! 

Here are just a few recommendations for your TBR list this month: 


Mood: Summer Vibes!

Our Rec: SUNCATCHER from Jose Pimienta

You may be missing the feeling of going to a live concert, but this fantastic new story will immerse you in the rhythm of the 90’s Mexicali scene! Enjoy a story about passion and music, where a young girl discovers the soul of her late-grandfather is trapped in a guitar! In order to free him, she must play the perfect song. But in her quest to free him, she may doom herself.

Where is the line between passion and obsession? You’ll find out when you add this to your TBR pile!


Mood: Adventures with your bff! 

Our Rec: BUG BOYS from Laura Knetzger

Stag-B and Rhino-B are best bug friends. They go to the beach, they read books, they explore the world of Bug Village. They have their ups and downs, but friendship is always at the core. This wonderful book will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. And BONUS–there are more bug adventures to come in Spring ’21!

Spend some time with your new bffs! You can get BUG BOYS now!


Mood: Romance!

Our Rec: WITCHLIGHT from Jessi Zabarsky

Two women–one a witch–start on an epic quest as enemies and then fall in love. What is not to LOVE about this premise?! This beautifully illustrated romantic fantasy is sure to warm your heart and keep you turning the page. As the two women set out on a mission to uncover the truth of Lelek’s powers (and why she is missing some of them) their understanding and compassion for one another will leave you feeling happy and content.

A bewitching tale for any romantic. You can read this now.

Stay tuned for more recommendations in the coming months!

Venture into KERRY AND THE KNIGHT OF THE FOREST with Andi Watson!

Andi Watson is a British cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who has been nominated for two Eisners, a Harvey, and a British Comics Award. He is known for his fantastic works including GlisterPrincess Decomposia and Count SpatulaGum Girl.

We are so excited for this new book! Can you share the inspiration for Kerry and the Knight of the Forest?

Inspiration for any book is like a recipe–you put a bunch of the best ingredients together and hopefully something wonderful comes out of the oven at the end. Sometimes its a little crispy around the edges but that’s part of the charm.

One of the big influences on Kerry was the short animated film Hedgehog in the Fog directed by Yuriy Norshteyn. It’s a poetic and atmospheric folk tale from 1975. Hedgehog sets off on a journey to go meet their pal Bear Cub and encounters various creatures and hazards along the way. I love the textures of the design and the eerie atmosphere. Also Hedgehog isn’t very brave, I liked the idea of having a vulnerable hero. I didn’t want Kerry to solve problems with violence, rather he has to use wit and empathy to win the day.

I’ve always had an interest in fairy tales and wanted some classic moments from those stories woven into the Kerry book. There are talking animals, a spooky forest and a quest to save ailing parents. I wanted to give it the feel of an actual fairy tale without it being based on one.


Throughout the story Kerry is often seen as very trusting, sometimes to his detriment. Why do you think this is an important characteristic trait for Kerry to have?

A lot of the story is about who to trust and who to believe. Who’s telling the truth and who’s lying. It’s a contemporary concern. All day we’re bombarded with news and information, particularly online. A lot of it is unsourced, toxic, and harmful. It’s an important life skill to learn which sources to trust and which to dismiss. Kerry has to go through the same process. He makes mistakes but learns from them along the way.

Going back to the idea of bravery, I think Kerry is very brave in trusting in others. To open yourself up to possibly being betrayed, tricked or lied to isn’t easy. Being vulnerable requires a lot of courage. I also think it’s not seen as a particularly masculine trait. Often the hero of this sort of story is a lone wolf who defeats their enemies through physical feats. I try and put a little of myself into my books, ask how would I react in any given situation. Or how I should react. I’m someone who sits in my studio all day writing and drawing imaginary friends. I should act more like Kerry and try and make more real world friends!


What new themes or ideas did you want to bring to the hero’s journey? Were there any particular pieces of the story that you found particularly rewarding or challenging?  

As I’ve mentioned, the easy solution to any problem, particularly in comics, is to hit it until it stops moving. Kerry faces different kinds of opposition, whether in the shape of creatures or in the environment. I wanted to have as much variety as possible within the confines of the forest setting. So I take Kerry underground and through a swamp. The fun parts are always bringing the characters to life, giving them a back story and a reason for the reader to root for them. It was fun finding ways for the Waystone to be as expressive as a big boulder with an eye can be. It’s a case of making a good use of the comics form, having a rock look sad, angry and so on. There’s also a seedling character who is a very simple design and I enjoyed giving it as wide a variety of expressions as I could.


With regard to your art, what or who are your influences/inspiration? Do you have any tips for readers who are eager to become artists as well?

My influences and inspirations are varied. I’ve been around awhile, so I’ve picked up and left behind quite a few. I read prose as much as I can. I love films, reading plays, podcasts, museums and fine art, music, comics, design…I keep my eyes and ears open for new things. Inspiration can come from anywhere and it can take a long while for it to surface. I first saw the Hedgehog in the Fog on TV by accident a couple of decades ago. I thought it was cool but I never thought, “I have to do something exactly like that.” Rather it lay buried in my memory and inspired a bunch of different ideas for a story of my own. Also, art that I dislike can be just as inspiring as art I love. If it makes me think or makes me angry then it can spark new ideas or revisit old ones from a different angle.

I absolutely believe that art can be taught, it’s certainly been the case for me, but what can’t be taught is the pleasure you get from drawing or writing or the playing of a musical instrument. If you enjoy being creative then that tends to be it’s own reward. Do stuff you enjoy, whether as a hobby or as a profession. Drawing or painting or crafting will be rewarding throughout your life if you remember it’s supposed to be fun.

As I kid I was totally happy lying on my stomach in the living room with any old paper that came to hand and a box of crummy felt tip pens. Not to try and impress anyone, not because I was better at it than the people who designed the X-Wing fighters (because I definitely wasn’t) and not because it was my job, but because I was having a blast.

Anyone can be a cartoonist, all you need is some paper and something to draw with. Put your ideas down on paper, no matter how silly you might think they are. Done that? Cool, now you’re a cartoonist too!


Can you share some of your favorite graphic novels/comics that readers should be checking out?

Glancing over my shoulder at the bookshelves I can see: Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico and Karensac, Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka, The Little Vampire by Joann Sfar, the Hilda books by Luke Thompson and for older readers Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. I need to read more comics myself so if anyone one would like to recommend their favourite titles, please do.

Meet the Doodles!

Meet a few of the adorable characters from the all-new Doodleville from creator Chad Sell–available now!


Meet Drew!

Drew is just a regular artist. But there’s nothing ordinary about her art. Her doodles are mischievous… and rarely do they stay in Doodleville, the world she’s created in her sketchbook. Instead, Drew’s doodles prefer to explore the world outside. But after an inspiring class trip to the Art Institute of Chicago—where the doodles cause a bit too much trouble—Drew decides it’s time to take her artistic talents to the next level.


Meet Captain Cockatoo!


This super-doodle was created by Ameer–a superhero inspired by a very special kind of animal! He’s busy training and using his skills for good, ready to leap in when a worthy-villain appears!


Meet Dinah Dare!


Dinah Dare is an inventor extraordinaire drawn by Beck! Some cool toys are the jetpacks and her photon cannon, as well as her own home base in space! 


Meet Bru!

Bru is a mischevious witch drawn by TJ! Really all Bru wants is some peace and quiet. 


Meet the Butterfly Boyfriends!

Created by Zenobia, the Butterfly boyfriends are two princes from warring kingdoms! We ship!



Meet all these wonderful characters (and more!) in the new Doodleville! Grab your copy today.





Exploring SPACE-TIME! with Jeffrey Brown

Bestselling creator Jeffrey Brown (Jedi Academy, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal) shares what readers can expect in his latest adventure–Once Upon A Space-Time!


Can you tell us what inspired this new story?

For a long time I had the idea of a funny adventure story about a spaceship full of humans, aliens, and robots exploring the galaxy – more along the lines of Star Trek than Star Wars. I came up with a version that actually became part of the Threadless Comics-On-Tees collection. The breakthrough was when I needed a rest from Lucy & Andy Neanderthal in the Stone Age, and realized I could make all the characters be kids. I realized an intergalactic space mission with minimal adult supervision would be more interesting for me to write, and a lot of fun.


Creators across mediums often say that comedy is harder to write than drama or action–Can you share with us the challenges or perhaps joy you find in writing/drawing humor? 

I’ve always found humor easier! Every time I try to make something serious, people try to put their finger on what’s missing, until they realize it’s the jokes. I use humor to deal with drama in real life anyway, so it’s natural to put it everywhere in my stories. The challenge is coming up with new jokes. I should count how many jokes are in my books – I try to have two or three jokes on every page, so for a 250 page book…that’s an awful lot of jokes!


Space stories are so fascinating–and there are a lot of kids who especially find it fascinating, maybe even want to be an astronaut one day. What is it about space stories that you find exciting to tell? and why do you think kids love it so much? 

For me, the ideas in science fiction are so interesting – whether it’s astronomical phenomenon or strange new technology, or what alien biology might possibly be like. So it’s the perfect mix of imagination and science, where something that might otherwise seem impossible suddenly becomes just a step or two away from reality. Also, weird creatures and robots are so much fun to draw and look at, of course.


For aspiring creators, can you share a little bit about your process–where you begin, how you lay out the story, what kind of tools you use? 

Each book takes a year or more to make. It starts with a collection of rough ideas – characters and the basic story. From there, I work up an outline that gets more and more detailed, until I have a script that covers what will happen generally on each page. From that outline, I work up a first rough draft, which is mostly stick figures and more like a thumbnail script. After getting notes from my editor, I make a second rough draft that’s drawn the size I’ll make the final art, with more detail and text that is fairly close to what the final words will be. After another round of notes from my editor, I draw the final art using that second draft and a lightbox as my guide. The final art is drawn on Bristol, and I use Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens to draw – the superfine nib for line art, and the gray brush pens for shading. Then the copyeditors go to work and I get one last round of notes from my editor. A lot of the corrections at this stage are just text, which I can fix in photoshop, though once in a while I have to re-draw a panel or even a whole page. After that, it’s on to the next book!


Finally–can you share 3 graphic novels you recommend for kids and teens? 

Where to start?! I’ll assume everyone is already reading everything from Raina Telgemeier  and Dav Pilkey, so I’ll skip them (but if you haven’t read them, you shouldn’t skip!). One I read with my son recently was Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys, which is a lot of fun. I also got a sneak peak at the next Rickety Stitch book, another fun series. And because I’m way behind on my to-read list, I’d also recommend Jessi Zabarsky’s  YA fantasy book Witchlight – I got to hear her talk about it earlier this year, and I’m still looking forward to digging into it.


Once Upon A Space-Time! is available now! Grab your copy today


5 Questions with Stephen Shaskan!

PIZZA AND TACO creator Stephen Shaskan answers some important questions about his new graphic novel series!

Why do you love comics? 

I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics–my favorites were the X-Men and Teen Titans. I immediately connected to them because I loved to draw and didn’t like to read. I loved the use of visual story telling and poured over the art on each page. I was considered a reluctant reader (or whatever name they had for it back in the late 1970’s) but somehow managed to read thousands of comics. The art drew me in and I was hooked.

What inspired Pizza and Taco?

My wife Trisha Speed Shaskan and I worked together on the graphic novel series Q & Ray. I fell in love with the comic form. It brought back so many fantastic memories of reading and drawing comics as a kid. For the Q & Ray series, Trisha and I presented at many schools together and had students help create a group of comic characters; pizza and tacos were always the characters’ favorite foods. I always like to put a little nonsense in my stories, so having a slice of pizza and a taco be best friends that have a rivalry worked perfect.

Your favorite part of the first story? 

I think my favorite part of this story is Pizza and Taco are not perfect. They make mistakes. They aren’t always good friends. They are self-absorbed and sometimes a little jerkish to themselves and others, but in the end they also really love and need each other as friends. And it’s that friendship that shines through. For being a slice of pizza and hard shell taco they are extremely human.

Tell us how you get started on writing a new story

The Pizza and Taco series is a new way of creating stories for me. For each story, I’ve started sketching and writing the story in my sketchbook from beginning to end. I just run with the idea and keep going until it’s finished. My sketches are super loose; a triangle for Pizza and a semicircle for Taco. I’ve never had typed manuscript; the story is handwritten in speech bubbles in my sketchbook and then transferred to type in speech bubbles in the finished art. These stories really have been writing themselves; there is something about them that is so natural for me to create.

The really hard question: Team Pizza or Team Taco? 

This is a really hard question. My favorite is New York style pizza. I grew up in Upstate New York with amazing pizza, but then I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and at the time there was only one good pizza place for NY pizza: Galooney’s (two slices and pop $5) run by a guy who moved from Brooklyn and he imported his water from NYC (or so the legend goes). Sadly, Galooney’s closed, but there have been a few places that have popped up: fancy ingredient pizza places like Pizza Lola, a great local Neapolitan pizza chain called Punch, and a fantastic local coal fired pizza chain Black Sheep Pizza (my personal favorite; their fennel sausage reminds me of home). Since I’ve moved to Minneapolis there have also been so many amazing Mexican restaurants and food trucks like Maya, Los Ocampos, El Burrito, Taqueria Victor Hugo, El Ranchito, and Taco Taxi and they all serve the best tacos. But hands down if it’s pizza vs. taco gringo (hard shell, ground beef, Ortega seasoning, and yellow cheese), pizza wins.


Are you Team Pizza or Team Taco?


Cover Creation! Jose Pimienta’s SUNCATCHER

A new YA story of music, passion, and folklore. Check out artist Jose Pimienta’s various sketches of the cover to capture the essence of this awesome new story!





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