Win Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Remy Lai’s new book is the most adorable kid’s graphic novel you’ll read this year. You can read my review here on the blog.

Thanks to Remy’s wonderful publishers, Allen and Unwin, I have 2 copies of Pawcasso to give away. To get in the draw just flick an email to bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com, with your name and address, and the subject ‘Pawcasso.’

Competition closes Sunday 16 May and winners will be contacted by email. NZ only sorry.

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Have you ever told a little white lie that has snowballed into a huge lie? What starts off as you not correcting something false becomes a whole string of untruths that you can’t keep up with. This is the situation that Jo finds herself in in Remy Lai’s first graphic novel, Pawcasso.

Jo thinks that she’ll spend the summer bored out of her mind, until she spies a dog, with a basket in its mouth, stroll past her house. She follows the dog to the shopping circle in town and discovers that he is doing a spot of shopping. The dog visits some of the shops and buys the things on the list in its basket. When Jo follows the dog to the bookshop, called Dog Ears, she gets mistaken for the dog’s owner. She tries to correct them at first, but the thought of making new friends and getting free books tempts Jo, and she goes along with the lie. The kids from the art class at the bookshop call the dog Pawcasso, as he becomes their model, and the name sticks. Each Saturday, Pawcasso comes into town, and Jo waits for him to walk past. As the people of South Redhart fall in love with Pawcasso, Jo’s chihuahua-sized lie becomes Great Dane-sized. It becomes harder and harder to tell everyone the truth. Even when Pawcasso rolls in poo Jo can’t bear to lose him. When Pawcasso’s real owners show up in town one day, Jo’s lies unravel and she must explain the truth, even if it means losing her friends.

I love Pawcasso so much! It is the most adorable kid’s graphic novel ever and it will make you grin from ear to ear. Whether you’re a dog-lover or not, you can’t help loving Pawcasso. Sure, he loves to roll in poo, but he makes the lives of everyone he meets just a little bit brighter. Kids and adults alike can relate to Jo and her little lie getting out of control, and everyone will wish they had a Pawcasso in their life. As with her previous books, Remy captures the funny moments but also the anxiety, sadness and frustration of her characters.

I have loved each of Remy’s books, especially the comic sections of her stories, Pie in the Sky and Fly on the Wall. I was super excited when she announced she was creating a graphic novel. Pawcasso is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Remy’s artwork is outstanding! It is so colourful and vibrant, and her characters are full of emotion and personality. I love that Jo wears the same outfit throughout the story, but with different colour combinations. Remy and her colourist, Samantha Bennett, must have had a lot of fun choosing colours for Jo’s clothes. I love Jo’s character and the way that Remy shows her range of emotions throughout the story. I cracked up laughing at the illustration of her, with her face smooshed against her window, when she first sees Pawcasso. My favourite parts of the book were the wordless panels that just featured Pawcasso. These are the bits that perfectly capture Pawcasso’s personality, whether it be his head wrapped in a towel after a bath, rolling in poo at the park, or laying upside down on a beanbag, wagging his tail. Pawcasso is such a loveable goofball that people become smitten with him. I also love how, at the back of the book, Remy has drawn the people she wants to thank as dogs, cats and other creatures.

Remy has written the story and created the illustrations, but it is the whole team that has worked on the book that makes this graphic novel stand out. Samantha Bennett’s colouring makes the illustrations jump off the page, and Colleen AF Venable’s design work helps the story to flow and look good on the page. It’s great to see Allen and Unwin publishing more graphic novels from our part of the world too. Please sign Remy up for many, many more graphic novels.

Pawcasso is one of those graphic novels that will spread like wildfire between readers. I preordered multiple copies for my school library because I was that confident it would be a winner. I can’t wait for kids to meet Pawcasso. It is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson, and Kayla Miller.

Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian by Tim Probert

I love children’s graphic novels that have some real depth to them, both in story and illustration. Graphic novels like the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi and This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews tell you a fantastic story, with gorgeous art, but you know that the story you’re reading is only a small part of the world. The first book in Tim Probert’s new graphic novel series, Lightfall, is one of these graphic novels. The Girl and the Galdurian is one story from Irpa, but Tim’s world is so detailed that you know there is much more of this world to explore. This first book has me hooked and desperate for book 2.

Bea lives deep in the heart of Irpa, with her adopted grandfather, Pig Wizard. Their home is Salty Pig’s Tonics and Tictures, where people come to buy remedies and elixirs. Pig Wizard is old and forgetful, so he must leave reminders for himself everywhere. Luckily he has Bea to help him, and she gathers ingredients that he needs from the land around them. While gathering ingredients in the woods one day Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, a race thought to be long-extinct. Cad is looking for Pig Wizard in the hopes that he can translate an ancient scroll, so he follows Bea back to Salty Pig’s. When they arrive they discover that Pig Wizard has left to perform a duty that he has neglected. Bea and Cad go in search of him. Along the way they meet some interesting characters who both help and hinder them. There is also a sinister presence that is stepping out of the shadows and there is something they are desperate to get their hands on.

I love everything about The Girl and the Galdurian, from the story and the characters, to the artwork and the design. Tim has both written and illustrated the story, so the text and illustrations are seamless. The story flows really well, cutting smoothly between Bea and Cad’s journey and the other, darker thread of the story. It is a beautifully designed and produced graphic novel, with thick, quality paper and vivid inks (its smells of quality too). Bea and Cad are lovable characters, who already feel like your best friends by the end of the book. I would follow them anywhere.

Tim’s fantasty world of Irpa is richly detailed. You feel like Bea’s story is just scratching the surface of what is going on in this complex world. As this is the first book in the series, we learn bits of details about Irpa and its history, but there feels like there is so much more to explore in future books. I love the details that Tim puts into the illustrations. These details tell you things about the world, without explicitly explaining what they are or what they mean. As you’re reading you’ll see creatures in the background or ruins of a building poking through the ground.

Tim’s illustrations are sublime! He takes us through a variety of landscapes throughout the story and my mouth dropped open in awe at the different landscapes he has created. I would love to have prints of some of the bigger panels all over my house. Tim’s battle scenes are also epic, especially when they involve giant crabs. I also love the colour palette that Tim has used, which highlights the difference in the light of Irpa. The wordless scenes, with the sinister creatures, are quite creepy, and set the tone for the story.

I can’t wait to introduce the kids at my school to this graphic novel. I know that it is going to be incredibly popular, especially with those kids who love Amulet. It’s a similar epic fantasy story, set in a world that is rich in detail. This is a must-have for primary and intermediate school libraries. I am desperate for the second book and I know kids will be queuing up for it too.

Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges, Meaghan Carter and Joamette Gil

I love that there are more and more children’s graphic novels being published with LGBTQ+ characters and themes. It’s important for our kids to be able to see themselves in books, no matter what their identity. These graphic novels don’t just appeal to kids who are trans or queer though. One of my favourite graphic novels is The Prince and the Dressmaker and it is one of the most popular graphic novels with the older children at my school. The themes of discovering your identity and being the person you truly feel you are, resounds with all readers. Girl Haven is a fantastic new graphic novel from Oni Press, which deals with gender identity and sexuality in a way that older children can relate to.

Three years ago, Ash’s mom, Kristin, left home and never came back. Now, Ash lives in the house where Kristin grew up. All of her things are there. Her old room, her old clothes, and the shed where she spent her childhood creating a fantasy world called Koretris. Ash knows all about Koretris: how it’s a haven for girls, with no men or boys allowed, and filled with fanciful landscapes and creatures. When Ash’s friends decide to try going to Koretris using one of Kristin’s spell books, Ash doesn’t think anything will happen. But the spell works, and Ash discovers that the world Kristin created is actually a real place with real inhabitants and very real danger. But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy. Ash uses he/him pronouns. Shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in?

Girl Haven is such a cool story! It is an inspiring story about being the person you want to be, wrapped up in a fantasy adventure. The story is full of fun and adventure, but Lilah and Meaghan also make you think about gender identity and how society makes you fit in to one box or another. The characters are diverse, representing cisgender, transgender and nonbinary people, and different sexual orientations. I think this is an important book that will help children who are confused about their identity. It will help them to see that they are not alone, and that it is important to have people around you who understand and support you.

The story mainly focuses on Ash’s journey to acceptance. Ash didn’t realise that the place his mum talked about and wrote about was actually a real place. He knows that Koretris is a haven for girls, so it is confusing when he is able to get in, along with his friends who are all girls. Ash has always felt like he was supposed to be a girl and has wished that something would happen to turn him into a girl. Coming to Koretris gives Ash the chance to become the person he’s always wanted to be. Junebug, Eleanor and Chloe are all great friends to Ash, and I love that they all identify differently. Anybody reading this graphic novel will be able to find someone to relate to. Something that really resonated with me was the idea of every person being a story and that ‘a boy is one kind of story, a girl another kind. And they are but two of many stories.’

Meaghan Carter’s illustrations bring the world of Koretris to life, from the Rabbits of the Reeds to the candy people of Sugar Valley, and the dreaded Scourge. Meaghan has drawn Ash in such a way that he looks androgynous, but as his friends say, he ‘looks really cute in that dress.’ Meaghan’s illustration style is similar to Molly Ostertag and Gale Galligan, so anyone who likes their style would like Girl Haven.

Girl Haven is one of my favourite children’s graphic novels this year and I will be recommending it to kids and adults alike. It is a must-have graphic novel for intermediate and high school libraries, and I know it will be incredibly popular. If you have loved The Prince and the Dressmaker, Witch Boy, Dungeon Critters or Snapdragon, you’ll love Girl Haven.

InvestiGators: Off the Hook by John Patrick Green

Just when you think John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators series can’t get any better, it does. Mango and Brash are back for another adventure in InvestiGators: Off the Hook and it might just be their funniest one yet.

Crackerdile is just a bucket of dough but he is determined to become a bigger and better villain and get his revenge on S.U.I.T.s. This time he has help. Bill Plungerman used to be a plumber, but thanks to an experiment gone wrong he now has a snake for an arm. Now he’s known as Hookline and Slinker and is working for Crackerdile. The bucket of dough has a plan that involves a waffle iron, a chicken scientist and an underground lab. Mango and Brash don’t know where Crackerdile is, or what his plans are, but they know that he is up to no good. Armed with new V.E.S.T.s the InvestiGators must track down and stop Crackerdile before it’s too late. When the time comes though, can Mango choose between catching the villain or saving his partner?

Off the Hook is another laugh-your-head-off graphic novel that is chock-full of puns and waffle-related food that will make your mouth water. I laughed so hard reading this book! John’s humour works on so many levels. Just like the best movies for kids there are jokes that kids will love but also jokes just for the adults. I loved the running gags about dough, because the characters were getting confused about whether they were referring to cracker dough or money. There are some great waffle-related jokes too, and I cracked up at the end of the book when I saw the menu items for MAW or Mother of All Waffles. If these foods aren’t a real thing they totally should be (like buttermilk fried chicken in an edible waffle bucket). John’s illustrations are hilarious as always and Aaron Polk’s colouring makes the characters pop. I especially like what Aaron has done with Slinker’s eyes when he hypnotizes someone.

The new characters in this book are really entertaining. We got introduced to Bill Plungerman in Take the Plunge but the character of Hookline and Slinker is awesome. Even his name makes me laugh! I really enjoyed the development of his character throughout the story. Cilantro the chameleon is another great new character in Off the Hook. Even though the S.U.I.T.s agents don’t notice him, he really stood out for me, and I’m glad my hunch about him was right. I was waiting for Doctor Copter to show up, as I love his character, and I wasn’t disappointed.

One of the things I really liked about Off the Hook, that was a bit different from the previous books, was the breaking the fourth wall. Mango and Brash go to visit the Science Factory and they comment that it is nice to visit when they’re not in the middle of a science accident, and the scientist says ‘Give it time. This is only page 54.’ There are a couple of other times too, where the characters refer back to something that happened on another page. Another aspect of the whole series that I love is the added extras at the end. You can learn to draw the characters and there are other fun activities you can try, like designing your own V.E.S.T.

Fans of the InvestiGators series will be begging for Off the Hook. I can’t get enough of this series and I hope there are still plenty more books to come. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series you NEED to. All school libraries should have the whole series, especially as they’re such a great read-alike for Dav Pilkey’s Dogman series.

Head to www.investigatorsbooks.com for book trailers, games and activities. There is even a cool colouring book you can download for free.

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue

Cats and comics is a winning combination. Cat & Cat, The Kitten Construction Company, the Cat Kid Comic Club, and even that craziest of cats, Looshkin, are some of my favourite graphic novels and they’re adored by the kids at my school. Now there is Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue to bring some kitty joy to your life.

Katie’s friends are excited about summer camp but Katie can’t afford to go so she’ll be stuck at home all summer while her friends have fun. Katie decides to try and save up for camp by doing jobs for people in her building. After a couple of unsuccessful jobs she gets offered the job of looking after Ms. Lang’s cats for a few hours every night. It’s not just one or two cats though, but 217, and these are no ordinary cats. They use the toilet like humans, order stuff online and steal couches from the lady downstairs. Katie becomes suspicious of Ms. Lang and believes that she might be the supervillain, The Mousetress. The more Katie learns about her crimes though, the more she wonders whether The Mousetress might just be a superhero instead. When The Mousetress is captured by the superhero, The Eastern Screech, Ms. Lang’s cats put a plan into action to save her. But they’re going to need Katie’s help.

Katie the Catsitter is a super fun, adorable and hilarious graphic novel that I totally love. When you meet all of Ms. Lang’s cats you’ll wish your cats were this cool. You’ll also wish you had a team of cats, with skills like this, to help you every day and give you snuggles. Life certainly wouldn’t be dull with them around.

Katie is a super relatable character that kids will love. She’s the kid who can’t afford to do everything her friends are doing but works hard to try and achieve her goal. She feels her friend slipping away and becoming a different person, but she makes lots of new feline friends. I love the relationships that Katie has with the adults around her, whether it’s with her mum, Ms. Lang or Mr B. Katie has a positive relationship with each of them. Each of the cats has its own name and personality, as well as a particular set of skills. There’s Miles (laser expert), Jollie (computer hacking), Seamus (Math Genius), DJ Bootie Butler (Mad Beats), and so many more. I love the last few pages of the book where Colleen and Stephanie show us all of the cats, with their name, skill and a little picture of each one. They all look distinctly different which is so cool.

The story flows really naturally and the artwork is fun and full of character. I love the panels of the cats clearing up the apartment after they’ve gone crazy. They are just calmly mending furniture and walls, bringing in groceries to put in the fridge and then freaking out when they turn the vacuum on. I particularly enjoyed the matching panels, near the start of the book, about the last day of school. The kids are jumping for joy and high-fiving in the corridor, while the teachers are doing the same in the teachers’ lounge.

Katie the Catsitter is going to be a huge hit with the kids at my school, especially with fans of Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson and Shannon Hale. A fun fact I learnt at the end of the book is that the illustrator, Stephanie Yue, was the colourist of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile. Thankfully this is just the first book in the series, with book 2 due in 2022.

I purchased Katie the Catsitter for my school library from Wheelers. It was released in the US earlier this year but is due for release here in NZ with Penguin Books on 30 March 2021.

Dungeon Critters by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter

I’m a huge fan of First Second, as they publish some of the best graphic novels for kids. My favourite kids graphic novel, Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker, is published by them, as well as Best Friends and Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. I ordered Dungeon Critters, by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter, for my school library just because it sounded fun and the cover looked cool. After reading it though, I can say it’s so much more than that. In fact, it almost knocks The Prince and the Dressmaker off its top spot, it’s that great.

The Dungeon Critters are a tight-knit gang of animals who go on adventures together. There’s Juniper (or June) the dog, Rose the cat, Prince Chirp the frog and Goro the snake. Between them they have magic, brute strength and cunning to help them fight for what’s right. After defeating a necromancer, an invitation discovered in his belongings leads the Dungeon Critters to The Baron’s ball. The Baron is Prince Chirp’s life-long arch nemesis and Chirp knows that he is up to no good. The gang decide to crash the party and look for clues. With their fancy disguises and fake identities they go to the ball, but Juniper gets mistaken for royalty. She keeps The Baron distracted while the rest of the gang search The Baron’s mansion. With proof in hand that The Baron is up to something, and The Baron’s mansion in flames, the gang head off in search of answers. Just as they start to get some answers, Prince Chirp is summoned back to the palace for ‘The Event’ that his parents are hosting. While at the palace disaster strikes and Juniper is arrested and put on trial. Friendships are tested as members of the Dungeon Critters find themselves on opposite sides of the trial. It is then up to their friends to uncover the truth and help their friends when they need it the most.

I absolutely adore Dungeon Critters! Everything about it is wonderful, from the story and the characters to the humour and the artwork. Everything gels together perfectly to make a graphic novel that is hilarious, action-packed, super-sweet and full of diverse characters. You can tell, even before reading about their process at the back of the book, that Natalie and Sara worked closely together to combine their storytelling talents to create this book. The story flows really nicely throughout the book, as does the artwork. I laughed so hard while reading this book! Natalie and Sara’s comedic timing is spot-on and there are puns galore.

I loved every one of the characters, whether they were the heroes or the villains. They all have a lot of depth to them and history that is revealed throughout the story. Rose and Juniper obviously have some history together (as you can see from the first part of the story) and you discover more about their relationship as the story progresses. There is a fierce rivalry between Prince Chirp and The Baron and its fun to watch this play out. The standout character for me is Goro. He is a gentle giant who is always there when the gang need him, but he’s sensitive too. I loved learning more about him and his boyfriend, Horseboy. I laughed so hard though when the gang’s stuff gets stolen and Goro has to borrow a teeny, tiny shirt.

The artwork is completely stunning, from the character designs and the colouring, to the way that the story flows on the page. Every character, from the main ones to the minor ones (who might appear just once) has its own personality. They’re all really expressive too, so it’s easy to tell their emotions and intentions. The colouring also helps to set the tone and highlight emotions. I like the way that the colours used help to draw your eye in a particular direction, especially when there is a lot happening on a page. Another thing I really like about the colouring is the way that light has been used to throw shadows on faces, whether that is to show villainous intent or determination.

It is the layout of the artwork and the flow from one panel to the next that really makes this graphic novel stand out for me. Natalie and Sara use lots of different layouts throughout the book and your eye is drawn to different parts of the page each time you turn the page. Some spreads have a background image, with lots of smaller panels layered over the top. Another spread might have one thread of the story happening in the background of the page, with another thread of the story playing out in panels down the side. One of my favourite sections of artwork is when Rose and Chirp are setting off the booby traps under The Baron’s mansion. Chirp effortlessly jumps and dives through the lasers, while Rose (being a cat) sees the lasers and tries to pounce on them.

I seriously love Dungeon Critters! I hope Natalie and Sara have more ideas up their sleeves because I need more of the Dungeon Critters in my life. I think I would probably read anything that Natalie and Sara create together.

Dungeon Critters is great for ages 9+ and would be a great addition to a primary, intermediate or high school library. It’s also a must read for any adult who enjoys a graphic novel with magical adventures and a whole lot of laughs.

Max Meow: Cat Crusader by John Gallagher

Do you know a kid that’s read all of the Dog Man books multiple times? Do you want to keep that reading spark alive by giving them something similar? You need to get your hands on John Gallagher’s meow-tastic new graphic novel series, Max Meow: Cat Crusader.

Max was just an ordinary cat, with a pretty average internet show, until the day that he accidentally eats a piece of space meatball and gets superpowers. His scientist friend Mindy discovered the meatball on her travels in space and brought it back to earth to investigate. Now Max can fly and has super strength, so he becomes the Cat Crusader and protects Kittyopolis. Agent M, Reggie and their boss, Big Boss, want to get their hands on Mindy and her space meatball so it’s up to Max to figure out this superhero thing and save the day. Oh, and stop the giant mini-golf monsters while he’s at it!

Meow-za! Max Meow: Cat Crusader is a super fun, action-packed read that will have kids and adults begging for more. There’s something in this book for everyone – superpowers, cats, villains, a robot with daddy issues, monsters, cliff-hanger endings and laughs galore. I had to read this over just two nights to my 5 year old daughter because she couldn’t stand waiting to know what happened in the next chapter. John Gallagher sets that up perfectly by ending each chapter with questions, like ‘WHAT will Mindy show Max? WHY is there a floating whale in Mindy’s lab?’ It’s one of the first graphic novels I’ve read aloud and it works so well. We giggled along together and each picked up different things in the illustrations.

John’s illustrations have heaps of kid appeal. They’re bright, colourful, and full of action and expression. John hasn’t let himself be constricted by the panels, as the action and characters often flow through or burst into other panels, and even right off the page.

The humour works on lots of different levels too. John uses puns in the text and there are plenty of visual gags. There are jokes for the kids and jokes for the adults. I especially enjoyed the character of Cody the dog, who doesn’t say anything but always gives a thumbs up. I also really like Reggie the robot who can’t seem to stop referring to Agent M as Daddy.

Max Meow: Cat Crusader is a must-have graphic novel for all primary and intermediate school libraries. It will be snapped up straight away and it’s popularity will spread like wildfire. Kids will be begging for the next book in the series, which is due out here in NZ in July. My daughter and I can’t wait for Max Meow: Donuts and Danger!

Black Sand Beach: Are You Afraid of the Light? by Richard Fairgray

If you like your graphic novels a little on the creepy or weird side then you need to grab the first book in Richard Fairgray’s Black Sand Beach series, Are You Afraid of the Light?

Dash and his family are off to their holiday house at Black Sand Beach, along with Dash’s friend Lily. Dash tries to explain to Lily that it’s not like any other holiday destination – ‘there’s no ice-cream stand or stores, there’s just giant mosquitoes, scary woods, weird animals and a shaky old house that my dad built himself.’ You think Dash is exaggerating, but then you turn the page to see giant mosquitoes flying past the car. When they get to the house they’re greeted by Dash’s Aunt Lynne riding what looks like a green ram, and things just get weirder from there. Dash’s cousin Andy tries to capture bees to make him fly, Uncle Trevor looks grey and creepy, the sand on the beach is magnetic, and the abandoned lighthouse is suddenly shining its light. As Dash, Lily and Andy investigate the mysterious lighthouse they are attacked by ghosts and there are signs that something really strange is going on at Black Sand Beach. Then Dash’s family get given a heap of purple potatoes from the neighbours, which everyone but Lily eats, and things get really bizarre. Scary, green creatures, with mouths in their stomachs appear but only Lily can see their natural form. It’s up to Lily to save Dash and his family.

Are You Afraid of the Light? is one of the weirdest, creepiest graphic novels for kids that I’ve read but it left me intrigued. When I finished the book I felt like I was waking from a bad dream, but one that I wanted to go back to. I was unsettled but I want to know more about what is going on at Black Sand Beach. There are plenty of weird things going on that Richard Fairgray will hopefully elaborate on in future books. I want to know why Dash doesn’t remember coming to Black Sand Beach last summer. Who or what is the ghostly presence calling out to Dash? Why is Uncle Trevor so creepy? Most of the adults are pretty weird actually, like Dash’s mum, who hardly says anything and spends most of the time looking bored.

Richard Fairgray’s illustrations certainly match the tone of the story, with lots of dark green and purple being used to give it a creepy vibe. I like the way that the eerie light from the lighthouse shines on the characters too. My favourite aspect of the illustrations are the pages that mark the next part of the story, where Richard has used a negative exposure kind of effect.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next part of the story, which is due this year. Hopefully we’ll get some answers to some of the weirdness in Black Sand Beach. This is definitely a graphic novel for those kids who like a bit of creepy or weird in their stories. I’m sure this will be gobbled up by the older kids at my primary school.

Bear by Ben Queen and Joe Todd-Stanton

I’m a huge fan of Joe Todd-Stanton. To quote the brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople his illustrations are ‘majestical.’ I love his Brownstone’s Mythical Collection books, a series of comics that focus on myths and legends from around the world. I was excited to find a chunky new graphic novel on the public library shelves last week, that’s illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton and written by Ben Queen. I picked it up because Joe illustrated it but I completely fell in love with this wonderful story.

This large format graphic novel follows Bear the guide dog and his human Patrick. Bear is disappointed to not follow in the footsteps of his parents and siblings to become a K-9 police dog, but he has an equally important job as a guide dog to Patrick who is completely blind. Bear becomes unwell one day and soon finds himself far from home and lost. While Bear tries to make his way home with help from new friends, Patrick looks everywhere for him.

Bear is a gorgeous graphic novel that kids and adults alike will love. If you’re a dog lover this is an absolute must-read. Ben’s story is sweet and heart-warming and it’s perfect for a graphic novel format. It’s a story about friendship and loyalty, but also about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at you. It certainly fills a gap in the children’s graphic novel market. Joe’s illustrations are absolutely stunning. He perfectly captures the different ways that Bear and Patrick view the world, especially as they have to use different senses to adapt to life. Ben and Joe show us that even when you don’t have sight your brain can still create images of the things around you.

Kids of all ages will enjoy Bear. I’ll be buying this one for my primary school library.