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by Amy Lee
Re-read more:
I don’t know if everyone is compulsively driven to re-read the books they love, but chances are that if you loved something once, you’ll still love it, or at least some part of it. Until you get to the point you can recite the entire thing by memory, re-reading lets you re-live that first moment you began to realize you were reading something really special. Especially if you’ve just read something that left you disinterested, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to read something great.  

But, also, to re-read while I’m reading something for the first time; to go back to passages that seem elusive or mysterious, or are thornily dense with hidden meanings. While I tend to gobble my way as quickly as I can, there’s something to be said for stopping to smell the sentences. 

Take more notes:
It always feels sacrilegious to scribble in the margin of a book (like defiling the skin of some holy text), but like dreams, the brilliant insights you think you had while reading Kafka will soon disappear into the labyrinthine hoarder’s lair that is the brain. I’m not saying you should write in your books. I’m saying post-it notes work just as well (and now, you can re-evaluate your old ideas once you’ve sobered up from the reader’s high). 

Read outside of your comfort zone:
Try to read, from time to time, a book you think you won’t like. Sometimes, you’ll have changed your mind. 
And, more generally, be more creative in your selection process. Take unlikely recommendations. Spend more time in physical bookstores wandering slowly from rack to rack until you’ve gathered a stack. Spend more time in libraries. Find out what your favorite writers are reading (because they’re probably reading a lot). 

Read complete sets:

Though it’s more daunting with D.H. Lawrence than J.D. Salinger, there’s no reason not to read the entire life’s work of an author you worship. Even the failures, absurdities and oddities will charm, in their own way.

No wasted opportunities:
It’s very easy to spend 3 hours surfing the Internet without really thinking about it. And it’s hard to cut yourself off from the world when your phone seems to track your movements. But there isn’t all that much time in the day to read — so use it. And, when you have an entire day or night with nothing to do, consider letting yourself have the chance to read for as long as you want, the way you used to.

Evangelize more aggressively:

If you tell a friend enough times that they should read something, they will eventually read it. 

Read what makes you happy:
Disregard the above. When you’re alone with a book, you can do whatever you want, as long as you enjoy it. 

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by Françoise Mouly
The New Yorker‘s first cover of 2013 is “Threshold,” by Chris Ware, a follow-up to his “Back to School” September 2012 cover (below). The differences between these two covers eloquently show the distance we have traveled since Newtown. 
Ware is the father of a young child, and he’s married to a public school teacher. This is a must read:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/01/chris-wares-newtown-inspired-cover-for-the-new-yorker.html
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by Françoise Mouly
Art (Spiegelman) posted a New Yorker cover he had done in 1993, nearly twenty years ago, with the following comment: “My wish for 2013: let Newtown be remembered as the turning point—I’m hoping that kids with guns can become ironic again.”

As we entered the new year, the “kids with guns” image has been shared thousands of times, and has become a focal point for comments and debate. The back-and-forth is between those who share Art’s simple wish, “No more!”, and those who look at the image and see not a problem but the solution: let’s put more weapons in the schools. Your thoughts? 
Would you feel safer if there were more weapons in schools? Let us know (because if you do, we may stay in Paris and not fly back to the US…)

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by Amy Lee
As we count down to 2013, TOON wishes you all a wonderful holiday. Just a reminder: TOON Holiday Packs will be available until December 31st. And,  be advised that the TOON offices will be closed for the remainder of the year, beginning Monday. We’ll see you all in the new year. Till then, please enjoy this animation, from Chavi Mariscal. 
Picture
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by Amy Lee
Now that we’ve rounded up our own year in 2012, we’d like to take a look at some of our favorite books, movies, and other cultural moments in the past year. 

Books

Chris Ware’s Building Stories

There’s not a lot we can say that hasn’t already been said about Chris Ware’s masterpiece (already named to just about every best of list that’s been published). This 14-part box detailing the stories of the lives of one building’s inhabitants is both a visual and emotional treasure. 

Journalism by Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco’s work has always been one of the best arguments for how comics can be a vehicle to report and explain the news. This book, a compilation of past pieces, also includes previously unseen material on the U.S. presence in Iraq.  

Drawn Together by R. and A. Crumb

Since the 1970s, R. Crumb and wife Aline have been drawing together. This book collects all of those drawings in one place to create an unexpectedly unfiltered look at both their creative process and personal relationship over the years. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from TOON advisor Art Spiegelman. 

The Best American Comics of 2012 
edited by Francoise Mouly
We admit this is a shameless plug for our fearless editor, Francoise Mouly, but don’t just listen to us. The LA Times wrote that they “couldn’t imagine a better editor” for the series, while the Boston Globe described the book as a “delicious Whitman sampler of American graphic offerings.”

Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See by Francoise Mouly

There was also, of course, Blown Covers, which started as a website offering curious readers a peek behind-the-scenes of the New Yorker cover. The New York Times Book Review compared reading it to “standing in the corner of her office as she pins up rejected covers on the wall.”

The Fallback Plan and Dispatch from the Future by Leigh Stein

A former TOON staffer (which doesn’t influence our opinion at all, of course), Leigh Stein published not one, but two books in 2012. The first takes on the post-collegiate malaise while the second combines pop cultural literacy with emotional honesty. Buy them, read them, gift them to your friends and family. 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead 

This is a story about a bird looking for his home, and the toad who helps him. Everyone we know who has read this book has cried multiple times while doing so. 

Movies

The Secret World of Arietty directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Based on the classic children’s book The Borrowers by Mary Norton about a family of very small people trying to survive, this Studio Ghibli treatment is beautifully animated and touchingly tender. 

This is Not a Film directed by Jafar Panahi

 In December 2010, Iranian director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to a 6-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making movies. Confined to house arrest and prohibited by the government from making movies as he waits there for the decision of the appeals court, Panahi nonetheless decided to make this movie. The film was smuggled out of Iran in a thumb drive hidden inside of a cake. This is a film that sneaks up on you quietly, that, without making any melodramatic pronouncements, highlights the injustice of Panahi’s condition.

Monsieur Lazhar directed by Philippe Falardeau

An Algerian immigrant becomes the substitute teacher for a group of elementary school students whose previous teacher has just died. To say too much would be to ruin the impact of this gracefully told, unbearably poignant story. 
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by Amy Lee
In 2012, TOON released seven new books, the most we’ve ever had in one year. In the spring, we released Chick and Chickie, Zig and Wikki in The Cow, and The Shark King, while the fall saw the premiere of Maya Makes a Mess, Benny and Penny in Light’s Out!, A Trip to the Bottom of the World and The Stone Frog (TOON’s first graphic novel!).

We’re very excited for 2013 — which will bring a batch of brand-new paperback editions as well as some wonderful new titles — but before we look forward, we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights of the year. And don’t forget, TOON’s holiday packs for different levels include many of our 2012 favorites, at nearly half off the original prices.

Zig and Wikki in The Cow
by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler

The fourth in the “Benny and Penny” series
Starred review in Kirkus Reviews

Maya Makes a Mess
by Rutu Modan

Named to the New York Public Library’s 2012 List of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
A graphic review in the New York Times
Starred review in Kirkus Reviews
Starred review in Publisher’s Weekly

An interview with David Nytra

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by Amy Lee
Are those jingle bells we hear, or is it just the sound of an amazing holiday deal? TOON is offering a selection of specially discounted holiday gift packs which will be available only until December 31st. 

For just 20 dollars, you’ll receive two hardcover titles and one paperback, while for 37 dollars, you’ll get four hardcovers and one paperback. Both levels of holiday pack are available in 3 versions: Level One, Level Two and Level Three.
 
Visit our online store to purchase these packs. If one of the packs contains a book you already own, don’t worry — email us at mail@toon-books.com and we will substitute the already-owned book for another one. 
 
 Three-Book Holiday Pack
 
LEVEL ONE HOLIDAY PACK: With Little Mouse Gets ReadyA Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse and Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons
 
LEVEL TWO HOLIDAY PACK: With Benny and Penny in Lights Out!, Maya Makes a Messand Luke on the Loose.
 
LEVEL THREE HOLIDAY PACK: With The Shark King, Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework and Otto’s Orange Day
 
 
Five-Book Holiday Mega Pack
 
LEVEL ONE HOLIDAY MEGA PACK: With Chick & Chickie Play All Day!Jack and the BoxLittle Mouse Gets ReadyA Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse and Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons.

LEVEL TWO HOLIDAY MEGA PACK: With StinkyNina in That Makes Me Mad!Benny and Penny in Lights Out!Maya Makes a Mess and Luke on the Loose.

LEVEL THREE HOLIDAY MEGA PACK: With Mo and Jo Fighting Together ForeverThe Shark KingZig and Wikki in Something Ate My HomeworkZig and Wikki                                                                             in the Cow and Otto’s Orange Day.

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For the third printing of The Shark King, TOON author created this amazing blog post about the origins and inspirations for his book. We’ve re-blogged the post here, for those of you who may not have seen it.

To celebrate its second return to press, here’s a collection of sketches, production art, and notes from the making of The Shark King. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the book’s success!

↑ Rough style test for an unused book concept.

When Françoise Mouly approached me to do an early readers’ comic for her Toon line, the first step was to sketch up a few loose concepts for possible books. One of my favorites followed a young pelican, Petey, through the northern Californian coast. Unfortunately for Petey, my sketchbook was promptly hijacked by the rascal who would eventually drive The Shark King.

↑ Early character sketches.

↑ Nanaue and his mother Kalei in an unused vignette for the end papers of The Shark King.

I probably first came across Nanaue and his father, the shark-god Kamohoali’i, in elementary school. Rediscovering the mythology as an adult was a revelation. My interpretation in TheShark King tones down the violence of traditional versions in which Nanaue’s insatiable appetite for meat compels him to dupe and devour passing fishermen. In certain variations, he is ultimately butchered and cooked by villagers in retribution. Historians speculate that this story may have emerged to explain the terror of an ancient cannibal. Although brutal in its turns, the Nanaue myth has a strong emotional core in its protagonist, a young outcast searching for his place in the world.

↑ Unused cover sketch.

The Shark King depicts ancient Hawaiians fishing with throw nets, fishing poles, and largehukilau (seine) nets. In my research, I learned that throw net fishing was introduced to Hawaii by Japanese migrants in the nineteenth century.  Pole fishing began as an eighteenth century sport reserved for the ali’i (chief class).  Of the three techniques illustrated, only the hukilau was likely practiced in ancient Hawaii.

Intricate lures, traps, spears, and a wide variety of nets were masterfully crafted and employed throughout ancient Polynesia. Early drafts of The Shark King included some of these tools, but their appearance was so unfamiliar, I ultimately decided that the space used to explain their function was better focused on Nanaue’s struggle.

↑ Barkcloth was produced throughout Polynesia, but Hawaiian kapa was renowned for its refined quality. Examples like this one inspired the patterns on Kalei’s Pa’u (wraparound).From the collection of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu Hawaii.

↑ The ruins of an ancient Heiau (temple) complex overlooking sprawl in Waiehu, Maui. Invasive koa haole and other non-native plant species comprise the overgrowth. I took this photo on a research trip home. I grew up in the subdivision visible at the foot of the distant mountains in the upper right corner.


↑ Sketchbook.

↑ Rejected style test for The Shark King.  This looks more like a page from an 80s DC superhero comic than the kids book I had in mind.

↑ A more colorful and cartoony chase scene as it appears in The Shark King.


↑ Whiz Comics #22 by C.C. Beck, 1941.

While searching for a simple, direct, and colorful way to depict Nanaue’s world, I returned often to the work of C.C. Beck.  I’m always impressed by how much information he squeezed into his 1940s Captain Tootsie comic book ads without them ever feeling cramped. During his thirteen year stint illustrating Captain Marvel, Beck only wrote one 11-page story: 1941′s ”The Temple of Itzalotahui” (It’s-a-lot-a-hooey).  Although dated by cultural sensibilities, for me, this story is his best.

↑ Anne Cleveland‘s elegant figure work in It’s Better With Your Shoes Off, 1955, was another source of inspiration.

↑ An early rough for pages 10 and 11. The entire book began as a loose cartoon manuscript and slowly tightened over the course of many subsequent sketch-drafts.

↑ Digitally revised sketch.


↑ Raw scans of the finished pen and ink artwork.


↑ Digitally colored artwork.

↑ Hand lettering was done separately.


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Houdini toon books

I am sitting in my favorite box

Meow meow meow. Or in Human, “Hello TOON friends! This is office manager and ruler of the known universe Houdini.”

While my human minions are at work in the TOON office, I take care of the real work: getting my belly scratched, shedding hair onto couches and pants, and finding the warmest place in the room to sit on top of. I’m also great with catching imaginary mice and hopping onto tables.

Since I can only speak in Cat, I’ve decided to commandeer the office computer to write a blog about the most important things in life — cats. More specifically, I will give you a list of my favorite cats from children’s books. While none of them are as glorious or as powerful as I, they are nevertheless, my family.

The Cat in the Hat (from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss): I met the Cat in the Hat once. His rhyming drove me crazy and he was a total nuisance. In other words: a real cat.

Aslan (from the Narnia books by CS Lewis): Aslan is a lion, which some people don’t think are cats, but we know better. The King of Beasts, the guardian of Narnia, and a Lion, not a lion, Aslan’s supreme rule proves that you should listen to what your cats have to say. Or else.

Crookshanks (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling): We’ve heard that Crookshanks is also “not a cat,” but like a cat, he’s loyal to his mistress Hermione, suspicious of rats, and quick with his claws. And I admire his fluffy coat.

The Cheshire Cat (from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll): When he leaves, he leaves behind his smile, which is, I think, another word for “mounds and mounds of cat hair.”

Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson): Silly adults only see a stuffed tiger when they look at Hobbes. But to Calvin, Hobbes is the perfect friend and partner in crime. But like any sneaky cat, Hobbes manages to lay all the blame for his shenanigans on Calvin.

Puss in Boots: Puss is a legend of the feline world, though some say he never existed at all. I do find it hard to believe that any cat would need a sword to fight his enemies, but we’ll let that pass.

A sidenote: Benny and Penny are my two favorite mice. I would never eat them.  Not even if I was hungry.

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Look what came in the mail today! Four new books that will be released Fall 2012. The lineup includes: “The Secret of the Stone Frog” by David Nytra, “Benny and Penny in Lights Out!” by Geoffrey Hayes, “Maya Makes a Mess” by Rutu Modan, and “A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse” by Frank Viva. They’re looking great, and we can’t wait to put them in your hands this Fall!

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Nadja Spiegelman signing books

Nadja Spiegelman signing a stack of Zig and Wikki's latest book.

Trade Loeffler and his son Clark
Trade Loeffler gets to know Zig and Wikki's fans

Trade Loeffler gets to know Zig and Wikki's fans

On March 3rd, Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler went to the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn to read their new tale of Zig and Wikki in The Cow. Already the book is getting great reviews!

The students in our 2nd and 3rd grade who’ve read this just enjoy the humor and want to keep reading. That’s the sort of story I like to put in as many hands as I can!
—Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Spiegelman again strikes an effective balance between hijinks and education… Loeffler’s art captures animals with a simple realism and aliens with gentle humor, and gives the whole enterprise a breezy zing. The reading level, while on the higher end of the TOON Books spectrum, will not interfere with the fun.
— Jess Karp, Booklist

A great read and I think this series is going to appeal to a wide range of ages since it can easily be read aloud to younger children and the science-based presentations are funny and mature enough for upper elementary kids. Can’t wait for the next Zig and Wikki book!
—Nicola, Back to Books

So be sure to check out Zig and Wikki in The Cow, at Toon Books!

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TOON books is showing you our love with a brand new Level 1 book! In Chick & Chickie, two mischievous little chickens play all day long in their very own special way. Claude Ponti, one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors, has packed the pictures with witty side jokes and hilarious details. The fast-paced and zany narrative will instantly delight young readers and will soon turn reading into play.

Enter our contest!

Win two TOON Books!

Who is the Chick to your Chickie? The Chickie to your Chick? Do you have a feathery sidekick in all that you do? Tell us who YOUR Chickie, in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter and be entered to win! Ten lucky readers with the most chirp-worthy stories of best-friendship or love will receive TWO free copies of Chick & Chickie – one sent to you and one sent to your Chickie!


Here are a few of our favorite entries so far:

“My Chickie is my sister! Though we’re more-or-less “grown-ups” now, we still love to do stuff together and often end up laughing so hard we can’t breath. And we do the typical sister things, like saying exactly the same things at the same time…” — Catherine Barnett , via facebook

“My Chickie is my little girl, Evelyn. She loves telling her own jokes and I love to laugh at them. I love to tickle her, and she loves to be tickled. She can do so much on her own, yet she still wants me to be by her side. She is my little Chickie :D ” — Jess Smart Smiley, via facebook

“My favorite Chickie is my 5-yr-old daughter Avery! Her enthusiasm and joie de vivre are a constant inspiration for me and source of delight for our whole family.” — Meg Cogburn Wilson, via facebook

“My chickie is my best friend Katie @Lilteegs1 Even though we live far apart, we still love doing everything together!” — Ryan Donovan, via Twitter

“I have two favorite Chickies: my daughter Alice and my son Alexander. Alice’s sense of humor, kindness and hunger for knowledge and Alexander’s quickness and thinking that he could outsmart his Mom — keep me on my “knuckles.”" — Anna Lvova, via facebook

“My favorite chickie is my daughter. Although she is 30 now we still have lots of fun together. We aren’t beyond being silly and we love to share our fun with children, and maybe someday soon with her own little chick or chickie.” — Jean Kammer, via facebook

“My daughter Tilly is my Chickie. She is very literally my sidekick on a daily basis, but she’s also been a support for me in ways she doesn’t yet know. In fact, she helped our family get through a very tough time. I’m also appreciative of our reading time together and how reading with her has reawakened my love for favorite childhood books and helped me discover new ones. Is there anything more special than sharing a good book with your Chickie?” — Emily Gorovsky Raij, via facebook

“Our school’s 1st grade is the Chick to our Chickie. We love seeing them read @toonbooks so when they’re our age they’ll read our fave GNs.” — Mr. W’s Class, via Twitter

“My favorite Chickie is my daughter Sophie. She’s five, and I’ve been working hard to share the joy of comics with her. She loves Johnny Boo, Beanworld, Bone, and Toon Books. She also enjoys making her baby brother laugh, and is just learning how to read by herself.” — Lionel English, via facebook

“My friend Amy is my Chickie. She is an awesome 2nd grade teacher that loves to find interesting things for her students to read. She is AMAZING and really works hard to find the perfect reading material for her students.” — Kkdanville Danville, via facebook

“My daughter Charley is my Chickie. When I asked if I was her sidekick, she said “No, you’re my henchman”" — Tom B., via Twitter

“My partner, Rick, is my Chickie Sweetie-in-Cahooties! Why? He loves comic Toon stories as much as I do!” — Joy Chu, via facebook

“My chickie is my sister. We are 4 years apart and fought like cats and dogs when we were young. We are now best friends and always will be. We’ve been thru a lot together and are always there for each other. I know o can call any time of day and she will be there.” — Debbie Crocker Baker, via facebook


Enter now by telling us who YOUR Chickie is in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter! The contest will be open until midnight the evening of 12/14.

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On Monday, we brought our newest release, Nina in “That Makes Me Mad!”, to a new generation of Hilary Knight fans at Barnes and Noble Tribeca.

Over ninety local 2nd graders gathered at the bookstore for the reading and were asked, “What makes you mad?”

“When my little sister pretends to be my mom,” said one girl.

“When my little sister jumps on me when I’m trying to sleep,” said another.

The children sat still for the reading of the book by TOON Books staff member Leigh Stein, and Hilary, the artist behind the legendary Eloise books, but were jumping out of their chairs when he drew sketches of two lucky audience members (hey, even we were jealous!).

“I tended not ever to do books after the fame of Eloise,” says Knight, “But this was so really different.”

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Geoffrey Hayes’s latest release, Patrick in “A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories” Has been doing so well that we’re getting ready to go back to press! We’re so excited that you all love this adorable bear as much as we do.

Take a peek at these reviews sent directly to us by teachers and librarians, and see more of the raving on Patrick’s official press page.

“‘Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories’ follows a young, determined bear as he goes on a splendid picnic and takes a trip to the store. The text is manageable for a beginning reader, as each panel contains around one sentence or expression–and there are plenty of sight words. The illustrations are amusing and easy for the reader’s eye to follow.”

Nell Secor
Young Readers Services Librarian
Beaumont Library District

“Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes, on the surface, is a light, humorous look into family life. We meet Patrick, his mother, and (briefly) his father as they enjoy simple delights like an outdoor picnic, an indoor picnic, and meals together.

Patrick’s mom shows motherly concern for her son as she insists on naps (which he can’t see the point of), but she also trusts him with responsibility when she sends him to the store despite his worry about a local bully. The character of the bully brings another dimension to the stories that takes us beyond the “slice of life” glimpse into Patrick’s daily doings. In one instance, Patrick is led by his mother to ignore the bully’s actions and move beyond his emotional response. In a later story, however, Patrick’s mother encourages him to see himself in a different light and builds his confidence so that he stands up to the bully. The ending scene of that story exemplifies how most kids would love to end their own bully stories: Mom asks, “So, did you run into Big Bear?” “No!” says Patrick, “He ran into ME!”

The bright colors and rounded lines of Hayes’s art will appeal to children, and the text is so well chosen that most early readers will be able to read much or all of the book independently. They may not even realize that they’re building an entirely new visual literacy as they absorb elements of graphica such as bolded and capitalized text for emphasis, onomatopoeic words in bright colors, italics, and thought bubbles as opposed to speech bubbles. Recommended for preK-2nd grade.”

Kelly L. Farrow
LRC Director, Fairmount School

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On the blog Reading to Isaac, the mom of Isaac, a young reluctant reader, chronicles his path to literacy. She recently posted a wonderful piece of the power of the TOON Books:

There is something about a graphic novel or comic-type book that makes reading seem more enjoyable. I was always a little hesitant to bring home graphic novels from the library for my son, Isaac, because I didn’t want him to get used to reading that way and prefer it. But I found a set of graphic novels perfect for the preschool reader by Toon Books….My son took to Benny and Penny in Just Pretend so much that he had it memorized and basically was able to read it on his own after several read-throughs with me. It was really the first book he conquered on his own. We ended up buying it for him to celebrate.

It’s always wonderful to hear accounts of children newly eager to read when they get their hands on a TOON title. Thank you, Isaac’s mom, for sharing your son’s story!

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Fan mail from Violet and Declan, a brother and sister living on the West Coast, arrived in our office today and we had to share. Click on the images to enlarge their letters or read our transcriptions below.


Dear Art and FranCoise I liked the Books you sent to me and my Brother! (violet and DecLaAn —–.) (
I LoveD the iLLustrations.
trun over ->
(Hotel for Dogs.) (not for Real)

my fvorit sparts!

Dear Art and Francoise,
Thank you for giving the books to our grandad to give to us. I got zig & wikki. I love the cover. It is so funny. My brother got Jack and The box. Hope I get more!
From,
Declan

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In October, we sent Geoffrey up north to Maine for appearances at the Portland Public Library and Casablanca Comics! The lucky young attendees got to play a game to win Benny and Penny books and puppets. Special thanks to Kirsten Cappy of Curious City for her creative hosting, and these charming photos:

Click here to see more pictures from the Flickr set “Benny & Penny at the Library”

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Hello from TOON Books!

We are very excited to announce a momentous step for TOON Books: our new partnership with Candlewick Press. As of October 1, 2010, TOON Books  operates as an imprint of Candlewick Press, and our award-winning titles are  distributed by Candlewick and the Random House network. Candlewick will bring on board TOON’s acclaimed backlist, including 2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes; two Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Books: Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith and Stinky by Eleanor Davis; and eight additional TOON Books favorites.  The new imprint will publish four to five new titles each year. In spring 2011, TOON will release Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today? by Agnès Rosenstiehl, and Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Candlewick, which is renowned for its passion for publishing only outstanding art and text,” said Françoise Mouly, publisher and editorial director of TOON Books. “TOON Books’ radical approach, putting to use all the sophisticated tools one can find in good comics to hook kids on reading, could only find support at a house that is as daring and comfortable in its own groundbreaking track record as Candlewick is. Joining forces, we will publish the new classics, the visually literate books that will tickle the fancy of, delight, inspire, and inform the children of the twenty-first century.”

Of the new imprint, Candlewick’s senior vice president of sales, John Mendelson, said, “Since its founding in the fall of 2008, we have admired TOON Books and how the list has been received by booksellers, librarians, and teachers. TOON’s mission to get kids reading through the accessible vernacular of comics paired with Candlewick’s deep sales and marketing relationships within the children’s books community will bring a renewed focus to the imprint in the both the retail and school and library channels.”

Françoise Mouly launched TOON Books in spring 2008. She is the art editor of The New Yorker, as well as the publisher and editorial director of RAW Junior, the childrens’ book branch of RAW Books & Graphics. The TOON Books, which are leveled books for emerging readers, are vetted by educators. The books feature original stories and characters created by veteran children’s book authors, renowned cartoonists, and new talents.

Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages; including books by award-winning authors Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed ‘Ologies and Judy Moody series; and favorites such as the Where’s Waldo? and Maisy books. Candlewick’s parent company is Walker Books Ltd., of London with additional offices in Sydney and Auckland.

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TOON Books turns 2-years-old this week! Applauses all around. When we first launched in April 2008, TOON Books started with three books. We’ve come a long way, baby! Now we have a collection of 12 books, with many awards and honors.

For more insight, read the Graphic Novel Reporter’s interview with Francoise Mouly about her journey.

In other good news, check out our two new books:

Geoffrey Hayes’ mice siblings Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker, hide toys from their cousin Bo. Hayes’ previous TOON Book, Benny and Penny in the Big No-No, won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Here are some praise from the Washington Post. The article lists The Toy Breaker among the “few remarkable new kids’ graphic novels.”

In the next few weeks, readers can have an interactive relationship with the mice when the Benny and Penny blog launches. Check the Web site for updates.

Based on librarians and teachers demand, we now offer a science-based book featuring characters Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by author Nadja Spiegelman and artist Trade Loeffler. Young readers learn about nature with fun facts woven into the plot. The book is filled with bugs and animals. Check out this great review from Read About Comics. One of the praises: “Toon Books has another success with Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework. It’s fun and informative, that prized double-header of children’s literature. The format is durable enough, for that matter, that Spiegelman and Loeffler could easily create dozens of Zig and Wikki books on all sorts of subjects.”

Here is an interview with Loeffler about his artistic style. Read Spiegelman’s interview with The School Library Journal.

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Today marks the opening of The Strand’s Tote Bag Design Contest! TOON Books has partnered with the Strand (and so has the School of Visual Arts, Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics) to host this opportunity for emerging artists around the world. The contest ends March 31st and will be judged by:

-Francoise Mouly, Editorial Director of TOON Books and Art Editor of The New Yorker

-Art Spiegelman, TOON Books author and first contributor to the Strand’s Artist Tote Series

-Steven Heller, co-chair MFA Designer as Author Program, School of Visual Arts

-R. Sikoryak, creator of Masterpiece Comics

-Adrian Tomine, author of the bestselling book, Shortcomings.

Besides being a great resource for children’s literature, the Strand has been wonderfully supportive of TOON Books. Next month, they are hosting two TOON events: On April 8th, a Family Hour reading of Zig and Wikki in “Something Ate My Homework” with Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler AND on April 22nd, a presentation by Geoffrey Hayes, author of the Geisel Award-winning Benny and Penny in the Big No-No.

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