In his first graphic novel for children, writer Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (Octopus Escapes) offers four original, offbeat fairy tales, whimsically illustrated by artist Simini Blocker (My So-Called Superpowers).
In "Hip Hop Wish," a riff on The Arabian Nights, a carefree frog accidentally hops onto a magic lamp. The fiery orange-and-yellow genie who emerges finds granting wishes difficult since his amphibious summoner has none. A traveling minstrel with far more motivation than talent bedevils a grumpy witch who hates music and claims a hilarious (if unconventional) victory in "The Singing Rock." "The Sorcerer's New Pet" follows a jealous sorcerer who attempts to steal his humble but clever rival's spells with amusingly disastrous results. Finally, in "Ogreish Art," an artist grows rich painting flattering but dishonest portraits of royals only to learn, when hired by Rog, King of the Ogres, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Lachenmeyer demonstrates a thorough understanding of folktale anatomy, layering tropes in unexpected combinations that nonetheless make each story feel like a rediscovered classic with a slyly delivered moral. The digital illustrations marry the magical and the pastoral as Blocker's broad palette of rich jewel tones and delicate pastels takes readers into the cool blue of the ogres' caverns, lush green woods and sunrise-skied hamlets. Her gift for capturing nuanced facial expressions extends not only to the human cast but to the many animal characters. This lighthearted collection should delight pre-readers from preschool on, and independent readers through fifth grade. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library