Return to 5 Worlds- an excerpt from the new book!

In the penultimate story of this extraordinary series,  Oona Lee arrives on Salassandra determined to light the yellow beacon and continue her quest to save the Five Worlds from the evil Mimic’s influence. But the beacon is encased in amber! An ancient clue says that Oona and her friends must seek out the Amber Anthem to succeed.

Check out a sneak peek here:






Who loves comics?! We sure do! Which is why Random House Graphic is thrilled to host a family-friendly event at the upcoming PRH Virtual Con—RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS! On April 24, RH Graphic will be hosting an all-day comic contest to encourage families, comics lovers, and everyone in between to show us their own graphic novel cover sketch! Grab a pencil, paper, and anything else you might need and join us in celebrating this fantastic medium.

  • Here’s how to join: It’s simple! Think of what your comic story would be, give it a title, draw the cover, and snap a picture to post on social. You must share your post on Friday, April 24 to be entered.
  • Where to post: You can post on Twitter OR Instagram!
  • Who to tag: Make sure to use #RHGArtNerdContest and tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids.
  • The prize: A deluxe package of graphic novels from Random House Graphic and Random House Children’s Books, plus some bonus goodies! (Please note: due to current events, the prize delivery may be delayed.)

Join the RH Graphic social channels throughout the day to see RH Graphic creators sharing their own graphic novel creation process! We will also be sharing bonus content from current and upcoming titles!

We are thrilled to have you join us, art nerds!

“RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds” Logo created by Lucy Knisley (Stepping Stones, Relish, Kid Gloves)


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter April 24, 2020 only. Open to US residents, 13 and older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. See Official Rules at for full details.


Penguin Random House is taking the opportunity to connect with fans by hosting Virtual Con! Mark your calendars for April 24, and get ready for author AMAs, exclusive content, giveaways, an interactive #GeekGeekRevolution game show, and more! Event runs from 9 A.M.–7 P.M. EDT! Follow #PRHVirtualCon all day long!






IMPORTANT: Please read these Official Rules before entering the RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds Contest (the “Contest”), presented by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (“Sponsor”). By entering the Contest, you agree to the terms of these Official Rules. These Official Rules shall govern in the event of any inconsistency with other Contest-related materials.

Penguin Random House is the sole sponsor of this Contest, which is no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Twitter or Instagram.


ELIGIBILITY:  The Contest is open to residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 13 years of age or older at time of entry. If this is a Contest offer on Instagram, entrants must have a public Instagram profile.  All federal, state, and local regulations apply. LIMIT ONE ENTRY PER PERSON PER METHOD OF ENTRY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. Employees of Sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, suppliers, and agencies, and their immediate family members and persons living in their household are not eligible to enter the Contest.

ENTRY PERIOD: The Contest begins at 12:01 AM (Eastern Time) on April 24, 2020, and ends at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on April 24, 2020.

HOW TO ENTER:  Enter by:

  • Posting an original cover sketch of your own graphic novel to Twitter, tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids, and use the hashtag #RHGArtNerdContest; and/or
  • Posting an original cover sketch of your own graphic novel to Instagram, tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids, and use the hashtag #RHGArtNerdContest.

The cover sketch must be your original artwork and incorporate an original book title.

In the case of a dispute, entries will be deemed made by the authorized holder of the applicable social network account and/or e-mail address used for entry.  Automated entries are prohibited, and use of any automated devices will result in disqualification.  Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry of information by entrants; lost or late entries or transmissions; interrupted or unavailable network, server, or other connections; scrambled transmissions or other errors or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human, or electronic, technical malfunctions of any computer hardware, software, or any combinations thereof; or problems associated with any virus or any other damage caused to entrants’ systems.  Incomplete or ineligible entries will be voided.   All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be returned. If for any reason the Contest is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest.

Comments and/or posts including photographs may not include obscene, offensive or inappropriate (in Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion) material or defame any person, or otherwise infringe on any person’s proprietary rights.  If you are posting a photograph, you must have permission from the photographer (or be the photographer yourself) and have permission from any persons who appear in the photo before submitting it.

PRIVACY POLICY: All information submitted in connection with entry to this Contest shall be governed by Sponsor’s privacy policy (at By entering this Contest, you acknowledge that you have read and agree to this privacy policy.


Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will receive (i) a bundle of graphic novels, (ii) a tote bag, (iii) an enamel pin, (iv) bookmarks, and (v) stickers). (Grand Prize Approximate Retail Value: $115.00)

Please note that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, shipments may be delayed. The Sponsor will reach out to you if your order is affected.

No transfer or cash or other substitution of all or part of a prize is permitted, except by Sponsor, which reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to substitute the prize or prize component with another of comparable or greater value. Any and all taxes on the prize will be the responsibility of the winners. Sponsor shall not be responsible for any delays, damage in the delivery of the prize, and/or loss of any prize in connection with delivery of the prize via mail.  In the event that there is an insufficient number of eligible entries, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.

JUDGING/WINNER SELECTION:  Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will be selected by Random House Children’s Books Marketing Staff on or about April 30, 2020 from all eligible entries received by the entry deadline. Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, and use of color, with equal weight being given to each criterion. The decisions of the Sponsor with respect to the selection of the winners, and in regard to all matters relating to this Contest, shall be final and binding. For Facebook and Twitter contests, winners will be notified via direct message on whichever social media platform their winning entry was posted. For a Twitter contest, winners must allow for direct messages so that Sponsor can contact winners via direct message.  For Instagram contests, winners will be notified via a comment by Sponsor that he/she is a potential winner and Sponsor will provide an email address (or other contact information) where he/she can make a prize claim.  Winners must respond to such notifications within ten (10) days of receipt. Winners must provide Sponsor with full contact details in order to be awarded the prize.  Winners may also be required to complete, execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release. Noncompliance with these conditions may result in forfeiture of the Prize, and Sponsor reserves the right to select alternate winners in such circumstance. If winner notification of the Prize is returned as undeliverable, Sponsor may, at its discretion, select an alternate winner.

DISCLAIMERS:  By competing in this Contest and/or accepting the prize, entrants agree that Sponsor, Twitter, Instagram, and their respective parent companies, assigns, subsidiaries and affiliates, and advertising, promotion and fulfillment agencies and all of their respective employees, officers and directors will have no liability whatsoever, and will be held harmless by entrants for any liability for any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind to person and property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the acceptance, possession, misuse, or use of the prizes, or participation in this Contest. Additionally, by competing in this Contest and/or accepting the prize, entrants grant Sponsor a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license to use their name, city, comments, photographs and/or other likenesses and their entries for publicity, advertising or informational purposes, including without limitation, posting on Sponsor’s Contest website, Facebook pages, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram accounts, with no additional compensation or further permission (except where prohibited by law).

Any dispute arising from this Contest will be determined according to the laws of the State of New York, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and by entering the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New York County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.

WINNERS LIST:  For a list of the Winners, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope by October 30, 2020 to Caitlin Whalen, Random House Children’s Books, Attn: RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds Contest, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

SPONSOR: Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.





Introducing Witchlight Creator: Jessi Zabarsky

We are so excited for the release of Witchlight! For readers who don’t know, can you tell us what it’s about?

Witchlight is a fantasy adventure story about two young women whose lives become jumbled together. Sanja is a farmer’s daughter who is kidnapped by Lelek, a bold and mysterious witch. They come to an agreement to travel together in search of Lelek’s missing soul fragment, learning from each other and earning money from witch fights. Through their travels, Sanja’s curiosity blossoms and Lelek’s inner softness- and secret past- are revealed.


What inspired this wonderful tale? 

Lelek was originally part of an art test illustration for a job, and then I just kept thinking about her and wondering who she was! I made the first issue for the first TCAF (Toronto Comics Art Festival) I tabled at, intending 18 pages to contain the whole story. I quickly realized that the emotional journey wouldn’t feel satisfying without more build up, and the story kept growing from there. To flesh it out, I drew on what I was feeling and experiencing, and little things that are meaningful to me.

At the time, I was living in Akron, Ohio, near to where I grew up, and I was spending a lot of time walking in the forest and thinking. I was becoming more introspective, learning to build better relationships, and also having a lot of conflict with people close to me, navigating that with varying degrees of competence. I strung those feelings together with things I was excited to draw- different biomes, lots of kinds of people, a bunch of breads and stews. Most of my stories develop organically like this, with a kernel of an idea or picture, which I stick other things I like onto until it’s big enough.


One aspect we love is that the relationship between Sanja and Lelek doesn’t seem to fall into usual tropes seen in some YA romance stories. Was this a conscious effort to portray a healthy romance and why do you think this is an important message?

At the time I was starting Witchlight, I was a little frustrated with the queer comics I was seeing- there weren’t enough of them being made for there to be the kind of romance I related to, or the tone or aesthetic I like. I also wanted to dip my toe into a queer identity I didn’t yet feel comfortable acknowledging in myself. So, I wanted to make a very quiet romance, without big declarations of love or earth-shattering consequences. I wanted it to have heartbreak (because I love to cry), and also hope. I just wrote the story I wanted and needed.

Back then, the “healthy romance” discourse wasn’t as nuanced or as loud as it is today, so it wasn’t something that I gave much conscious thought to. Generally, I tend to err on the side of trusting younger readers- I think they can handle complex characters, challenging stories, and keeping fiction and reality separate. More so, my goal was to honestly portray two girls who were doing their best, while not knowing very much about the world or other people. I think it’s important to show young readers that they can be selfish, ignorant, messy, mean, imperfect- and still be worthy of love and care. That as long as they’re learning and trying to become kinder people, they can build relationships and open up to others.

Less seriously, what I actually worried about at the time was that Witchlight wasn’t romantic enough! Discussions at the time focused more on queer-baiting, and I was concerned that my quiet slow story would be seen as not taking a strong stance. I really wanted to write the kind of tiny moments that I love and relate to in shojo manga, so I was very relieved that people readily accepted my kind of story!


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

One of my main influences, unsurprisingly, are Miyazaki movies. I love textile crafts and folk art, and I think they relate very strongly to cartooning, and provide wonderful detail and texture to imaginary spaces. I’ve always loved plants and forests and stories about people living closely with the natural world. I grew up with a bunch of picture books and folk tales, which are great studies in economical storytelling and how words and pictures work together (hit me up for my very long list of recommended picture books for adults to read). I think I probably owe my sense of visual humor to Rumiko Takahashi, and my pacing of dramatic moments to Kaori Ozaki. I also pull a lot of inspiration from YA prose novels- Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, most of Diana Wynn Jones’ work, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are probably at the top.

My best advice to young artists is that drawing and writing don’t have to be scary! From a young age, I made up collaborative stories with my mom, so I’ve always approached storytelling as fun and low pressure. I find that same freedom and joy now in listening to roleplaying podcasts and playing in a group of my own. Appreciating folk art and exploring the non-European parts of art museums can show you how many other ways there are to represent the world, besides the narrow focus of realism. The most important thing is just to learn how to communicate what you want to say clearly, and to develop a style that doesn’t make you dread sitting down to work! Everything in your life can be fuel for ideas, so try to branch out from your instinctive interests. That way, when you ask yourself, “What happens next?”, you’ll have a full toolbox to turn to.


This story has evolved from its initial conception (especially in regards to length). As it evolved, did you feel like your original concept and motive for the story changed? Is this the ending you had always intended?

Witchlight’s ending is essentially how I intended it from the beginning. I think the biggest difference is that as I grew to know the characters better, the emotional tone of the ending changed. Originally, after Lelek woke up, it felt much bleaker and colder. They were both still having trouble trusting each other and being honest about their feelings. By the time I actually got to writing the last chapter, I knew that they’d grown much more than that as people, that they cared so much for each other that they’d naturally be open and vulnerable. I also wasn’t sure if Lelek would still have her magic, but I decided she should, because the theme of the magic in Witchlight is that there isn’t only one right way to do it, and that you don’t have to be perfect to be whole.


What are some of your favorite graphic novels that readers should be checking out?

I love Peter Wartman’s Stonebreaker series; his fantasy world building and inking are great! Most of the other comics I read right now are manga- Delicious in Dungeon, Hakumei and Mikochi, Ran and the Gray World. This is an old favorite, but not enough people have read the manga version of Naussica of the Valley of the Wind, and it puts the movie to shame. I’m biased, but I’m also really excited for upcoming releases from RHG, The Magic Fish and Seance Tea Party especially!

The ASTER & THE ACCIDENTAL MAGIC Creators: Thom Pico & Karensac

Congratulations on Aster and the Accidental Magic! For readers who haven’t heard, what’s it about?

Karensac (K): Thank you! We’re pleased to have our little Aster at Random House Graphic with so many other good stories!

Thom Pico (TP): We’re telling the story of Aster and her dog, Buzz, who live on an extremely magical mountain. Aster is used to living in a city and has to learn how to appreciate the surrounding nature. And regardless of what she wants, she’ll have to save the mountain from magical creatures.

K: It’s a beautiful story full of magic and humor–great for every reader.


Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

K: Aster’s environment is inspired by my childhood spent in the mountains, by my dog, and by people around me. And also by all the comics and cartoons I watch!

TP: That’s how we decided to work together! We’re both fans of the same cartoons, like Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil . . .

K: Adventure Time, Hilda, Studio Ghibli’s movies . . .

TP: Steven Universe and Over the Garden Wall. . . . Anyway, we had some common references that put us on the same page. From there, the story practically wrote itself. In general, we decided that we’d write comic strips since we can’t create a cartoon (we aren’t animators!)


Aster is clearly a force—she’s so expressive and fearless, and she has some strong opinions about her new home. Why were these characteristics important to you, and what are the benefits and consequences of Aster being this way?

TP: It seemed important to portray Aster as fallible—someone who can be wrong or make really big mistakes. Actually, it’s her own impulsivity that creates half the problems she is confronted with.

K: This means she has room to progress. Aster isn’t perfect, so she can always improve—and she can learn from her mistakes. It makes her more human, more endearing, and through her experiences, she can grow.

TP: And all that without considering how fun and funny it is for us to give life to such a strong-willed character!


We love that these first two stories take place in different seasons. Is that an important part of Aster’s journey? And if so, why?

TP: As Karensac said, Aster is growing over the course of her adventures. Changing seasons allows us to give a sense of time passing.

K: And we can show Aster growing more and more throughout her adventures. Between the first and the second stories, she has already become more thoughtful and more sensitive of other people’s feelings. Also, visually, it’s nice to change seasons.

TP: Changing seasons is essential to Aster’s adventures—each one has a personality, which becomes an important aspect of the story.

K: We can’t say more, or we’ll spoil the story!


The story has a host of great secondary characters, including Buzz and the Chestnut Knights. Who are your favorites, and can you tell us a little bit about their importance to the story and their design?

K: I really like the Chestnut Knights, especially Leaf, their leader. These audacious little chestnuts aren’t scared of anything!

TP: Like Aster, all the characters possess strong personalities, which makes writing them really enjoyable.

K: Same with drawing! And it shows in their design. They’re all unique and important in their own way.

TP: I think that’s why Buzz is my favorite character. He makes mistakes like Aster, but he’s growing, too.

Introducing Bug Boys creator: Laura Knetzger

The creator of Bug Boys explores the world of little bugs and big feelings in her new graphic novel.

Congratulations on Bug Boys! Can you tell readers what the story is about?

Bug Boys is about two best friends who are little beetles. They go on adventures, learn about the world around them, and sometimes, they just stay home to talk about their feelings.

What inspired this awesome tale?

I was doodling while watching a documentary about insects called Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, and I challenged myself to draw a cute version of two of the bugs I saw on screen—a stag beetle and a rhinoceros beetle. I was so pleased with the designs that I drew them over and over, and decided to make comics about them. Drawing Bug Boys comics was so fun, I kept making and self-publishing them until there were enough short stories for a book.

Stag-B and Rhino-B spend the book exploring and going on adventures. Why did you tell this story from a bug’s point of view?

I wanted the readers to think about what life would be like if they were much smaller physically than they are. I meant this both in an aesthetically cute way—I love little things like dollhouses and miniatures—and in a philosophical way; I wanted readers to consider experiencing the world at a different scale. I really like the work of Ursula K. Le Guin, who writes speculative stories about cultures that have one magical difference from our world that affects every aspect of their culture. I like thinking about how imagining yourself as small as a bug could change your worldview.

One of our favorite things about this book is the vulnerability and honesty you see in the characters. Why do you think this is an important component in kids’ literature?

I wanted to make a comic where the characters’ talking about what happened was just as important as the action—or even where there could be no action at all. I think it’s pertinent for children’s books to discuss feelings in detail so that kids can learn a vocabulary for talking about and acknowledging complicated feelings—I wanted to show that happy days can be tinged with sadness and that you can admire someone and still recognize their bad traits.

Your book is on the inaugural list of Random House Graphic! How has your experience been working with the RHG team?

Working with RHG was great. I’m very impressed with how the final book looks!

Introducing The Runaway Princess creator: Johan Troïanowski

What inspired The Runaway Princess?

The Runaway Princess sprung out of the stories that made an impact on my imagination as a child—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the French comics Philémon by Fred, Don Rosa’s Donald Duck comics, and fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood.” It’s a mix of fantasy, adventure, poetry, and humor.


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