Graphic and comic-style books are all the rage with kids of all ages. These are a few new innovative tales.
"The Great Art Caper" by Victoria Jamieson; Henry Holt & Co., 63 pages; $15.99.
For early elementary school readers comes "The Great Art Caper," following "The Great Pet Escape." Second-grade class hamster GW slams poetry and does jigsaw puzzles with bunny and mouse pals. He even makes some human friends. But another classroom pet decides to ruin the upcoming art show that he and his pals have worked so hard on.
Lots of witty repartee, action and tongue-in-cheek humor fill the pages of Victoria Jamieson's adventure. There's a lot going on, including determination, sweet revenge, comedy and fantastic artwork. The new series is a hoot and a holler for picture book readers gravitating toward graphic books.
"Hocus Focus" by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost; First Second Books; 28 pages; $14.99.
From the authors of the "Adventures in Cartooning" series comes this junior book for fans ages preschool to second grade. Most comic-style books are humorous; this one excels in the wacky, slightly gross humor most young kids like. Our star, Little Knight, peels turnips for three days to learn some magic tricks but soon gets tired of the monotony. She takes the wizard's magic wand and spell book, and her resulting new potion transforms her horse into a giant worm that's extremely hungry.
With lots of exploding goo and simple but detailed sketches, "Hocus Focus" is a fun picture book perfect for kids just getting into graphic-style reading.
"Poe: Stories and Poems" by Gareth Hinds; Candlewick Press; 105 pages; $22.
Gareth Hinds is well-regarded for his graphic-style books, from "Beowulf" to "The Odyssey" to "MacBeth." His masterful blend of art and storytelling is lovely and timeless, and "Poe: Stories and Poems" is breathtaking. Hinds translates Edgar Allan Poe's gothic horror swimmingly in this awe-inspiring book with blood, bones and flickering firelight. He retells "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Raven" and more in concise graphic narratives that certainly honor Poe's legacy. It's fabulously cool for readers and fans ages 10 and up.
"Quirk's Quest: Into the Outlands" by Robert Christie and Deborah Lang; First Second Books; 127 pages; $16.99.
For younger readers and those who like more artwork than text, "Quirk's Quest" is sophisticated. But it's certainly a treat for all ages. This one is an adventure about Captain Quenterindy Quirk, a very unprepared but bold and furious leader charged with leading a mission to explore the perilous unknown regions of the land of Crutonia. His crew includes a kitchen assistant named Smok; a hilarious, sarcastic frog brigade; a secret but volatile sorceress; and the Yoons, cheerful creatures who seem to know the Outlands' deepest secrets.
"Quirk's Quest" has it all: humor, wit, adventure and fantasy. It's otherworldly fun.
"Pigs Might Fly" by Nick Abadzis; illustrated by Jerel Dye; First Second; 203 pages; $15.99.
Lily Leanchops wants to learn to fly, but everyone in Pigdom Plains knows that if that were true, pigs would have wings. She has grown up with a dad who has tried his entire life to make flying machines that succeed. Lily's quest takes precedence when a mysterious enemy emerges from nearby mountains, and she's ready to rumble.
A zesty girl- and pig-friendly tale, "Pigs Might Fly" zooms with wit, humor, humanity, kindness and perseverance.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.