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August Staff Picks!

Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!


Alain’s Pick


The Princess and the Grilled Cheese book coverThe Princess and the Grilled Cheese by Deya Muniz
Lady Camembert wants to live life on her own terms, without marriage. Well, without marrying a man, that is. But the law of the land is that women cannot inherit. So when her father passes away, she does the only thing she can: She disguises herself as a man and moves to the capital city of the Kingdom of Fromage to start over as Count Camembert. But it’s hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie, with her fierce activism and great sense of fashion, catches her attention. Camembert can’t resist getting to know the princess, but as the two grow closer, will she be able to keep her secret?

I love Deya Muniz and have read their comics for years! This book has gorgeous colors, a range of styles, and the best character expressions, a classic mark of Muniz’s work. Muniz’s take on royalty makes it more of a diverse, change oriented, and community focused society instead of the reality of older times, giving the book a fantastical whimsy. Plus who doesn’t love a “disguise yourself as a different gender” to queer romance plot? The characters are so real; they have passions, insecurities, relationships, and mannerisms that make it so lovely to explore their lives and connections. With a princess focused on activism against animal cruelty as well as modern pjs and gaming devices, this story feels like the perfect balance of fancy fantasy and cozy relatable cuteness.


Alex’s Pick


The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale book coverThe Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen
This brand new book has been one of the most anticipated children’s releases of the year, and now I can confidently say: for good reason! If you know someone who’s passionate about kid lit, mention Jon Klassen and there’s a solid 80% chance their face will light up, due to his reputation for creating profound and gorgeously illustrated picture books that wow both children and adults alike.

The Skull marks a slight departure from Klassen’s typical territory through its comparatively small size, as well as–notably–its scaled up target age range (6-9 as opposed to 2-5). I felt this increase in maturity throughout the story, which is almost shockingly up front in its grim-ness, in a way that clearly pulls from the folktale the story is based on. You can feel the eerie, unexplainable shifts throughout the narrative that only come from fairytales, which results in a story that’s refreshingly un-hand-hold-ish. Although this book is for children, I enjoyed the read thoroughly and found myself speeding through it to discover what the rest held in store. The dark tunnels of the buildup were so worth the light that awaited me at the end! Its conclusion is sweet and satisfying, and Klassen added notes in the back discussing his experience adapting the folktale, which is a fantastic treat.

I really recommend this book for anyone aged six and up, and yes, that includes grownups! Bonus: the beautiful cover design means it will look awesome on your bookshelf.


Betty’s Pick


The Jewish Deli: An Illustrated Guide to the Chosen Food book coverThe Jewish Deli: An Illustrated Guide to the Chosen Food by Ben Nadler
I love cooking/food comics. I was especially excited about the release of this book because my husband is a Jewish man who grew up in New York. Since my first visit to his hometown many years ago I realized how little I know about REAL delis and Jewish cuisine. I still have a lot to learn, but this book helped me start to fill in some gaps–the history! The drama! The FOOD (with recipes), of course! But to really drive home how awesome this book is I will now turn this book blurb over to my father-in-law, Rich Bayer, who is a real Deli Expert–unlike me:

“Oy! I’ve got a book for you! Rugelach, Kreplach, Flanken–you name it–this book has it. It not only tells you where you can get the best noshes but also includes recipes and the historic backstory behind each of these delicious delicacies. The book is the modern day road map to take a deli culinary journey through North America.”

So, what else is there to say? If you like nonfiction graphic novels, food books such as Relish by Lucy Knisley, or opportunities to learn about other cultures, you will love this one.


Colin’s Pick


All Against All book coverAll Against All by Alex Paknadel
This book is so many things. It’s Tarzan in Space and Biodome but without a Baldwin. In the not-too-distant future, an alien research biosphere releases the most dangerous beast onto militaristic harvesting intergalactic conquerors… and that beast is MAN! Alex Paknadel’s story feels like an early Cameron picture and Caspar Wijngaard’s art has a familiar yet alien feel to it. Check it out!