Bera the One-Headed Troll by Eric Orchard is a fun and beautiful graphic novel that will appeal to children who enjoy humor, fantasy, and adventure. Told in a whimsical artistic style utilizing varying shades of brown and black, this story focuses on the impact one person can have through kindness as well as the transformative power of adventure.
When our story starts, Bera has lived a happy, secluded life tending pumpkins for the Troll King on a remote island. That all changes when a human child washes ashore. To keep the baby safe, Bera decides she must leave her island and take it to the human kingdom. On her journey, Bera seeks the help of famous troll heroes and heroines as she battles goblins, trolls with multiple heads, deals with diapers, and fends off the witch Cloote. All in all, Bera the One-Headed Troll is a sweet and often humorous story that will keep readers rooting for our one-headed heroine throughout. Suggested for ages 8 and up.
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater is a charming and silly story set in a world where magical creatures are part of everyday life. Our heroine, the aforementioned Pip Bartlett, is completely capable of talking with and taking care of magical creatures - it’s people she has problems with. Everything changes after an incident involving unicorns at her school and she is sent to spend the summer with her aunt, who is a veterinarian for magical creatures. Pip is having a great time caring for the animals, learning from her aunt, and generally staying out of trouble, until the Fuzzles arrive. Now, while these little balls of fluff may sound cute, their response to any fear or stress is to burst into flame. As more and more flood in the town, it becomes a serious fire hazard and Pip has to help find a solution, not only to save the town, but also to save the Fuzzles from being exterminated by the town government. Read more about Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke is a funny fantasy story that flips the classic hero dynamic on its head. Hatke tells the story of a goblin in a dungeon who enjoys a pleasant life counting treasure and spending time with the Skeleton King, when a band of ‘heroes’ barge into the dungeon, pillage his treasure and take his friend. This event sparks the goblin’s odyssey as he leaves the comfort of his dungeon to search for his friend, braving danger and fleeing pitchfork wielding farmers at every step. Eventually, the goblin ends up in a cave far from home, where he finds out that there are in fact, people who like goblins and want to help him on his quest. Read more about Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
Gidwitz tackles a slice of medieval history in the style of The Canterbury Tales and much of the book is narrated by various individuals being interviewed in a local inn. This story follows a young peasant girl with prophetic visions, a young monk with supernatural strength, and a young Jewish villager who can heal any wound (as well as the aforementioned Holy Dog). Gidwitz mainly focuses on their adventures during the first half of the story, how they got into their current predicament, how they met one another, and the enemies they conquer (such as a dragon, who, due to an unfortunate intestinal issue, breathes fire out of the wrong end). However, this story also covers serious topics within its pages, such as how can three children and a dog stop a book burning, deal with intolerance and discrimination because of who they are, or avoid members of the Inquisition? Read more about The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Everyone knows that monsters are scary, but what scares a monster? Bubbles that’s what! Rubin’s picture book humorously depicts monsters dealing with their own problems when the bubbles invade. One monster, after a bad bubble experience, is convinced all bubbles are scary and out to get all monsters. This monster creates a panic in the monster world, which will be unendingly funny to young readers, as these big monsters run, hide, cower, and otherwise embarrass themselves trying to flee the bubbles. Eventually, the monsters are able to gather their courage and learn that the bubbles are not as scary as they once thought, and in fact, can be fun. Read more about The Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin
Peter Brown’s foray into middle-grade literature, The Wild Robot is a heartwarming story about a robot stranded on an island only populated by animals. Our heroine, the robot Roz, must learn how to survive on the island and how to coexist with the variety of animals who already inhabit the island. Roz is programmed to learn and adapt to her surroundings and eventually she learns how to communicate with the animals. After disguising herself as a bush, a boulder, or flower patch, and eventually earns their trust. Roz also has to learn how to be a parent after an unfortunate accident. The novel traces this growth and how Roz and the animals are able to work together and overcome challenges that none of them could have completed alone. This story touches on collaboration, compassion, creativity, and some of the deepest, and best, parts of human (and animal) nature. Read more about The Wild Robot by Peter Brown