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January Staff Picks!

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


Alain’s Pick


Bug Boys book coverBug Boys by Laura Knetzger
Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger has everything needed for a perfect read: little adventures, best buds, big feelings, and a colorful art style! Follow along with Rhino-B and Stag-B as they go on missions with the librarian Dome Spider, run around with Dragonfly or Tula the Tarantula, and help people get along in their communities. Each chapter is a story from their lives, making this a great book to read in sections. I’ve fallen in love with these two; this book has the energy of the show Adventure Time with the heartfeltness of something like The Tea Dragon Society books.


Alex’s Pick


Snapdragon book coverSnapdragon by Kat Leyh
I’m a bit late to Snapdragon, but I’m so glad I finally read it! It’s been a while since I was as delighted with a book as I was with this one.

The characters are intensely lovable, the art is superb and expressive, and the story at the heart of it all is impactful while still in certain ways quiet and controlled. Where some authors would shove a comically evil bad guy or supernatural ghoul into the climax, Leyh puts a vengeful ex-boyfriend. And, you know what? I was still on the edge of my seat–maybe even more so.

The magical realist elements are woven into the story so fluidly that I felt immersed in the world, and the same can be said with character development. I rarely felt a sudden, unnatural shift in a character’s decision making; rather, I saw them growing and adapting as they built their relationships.

Finally, the bits in the story that had to do with gender and sexuality were handled so gracefully and organically. Lulu doesn’t have a dramatic coming out scene because she doesn’t need one; the fact that everyone accepts her as she is goes without saying, and the same can be said for Jacks and Jessamine.

All in all, bravo. I wanted to re-read this book as soon as I finished the final page.


Betty’s Pick


The Secret to Superhuman Strength book coverThe Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s 2021 release, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, is the perfect January read. It’s a book about exercise but not THAT kind of book about exercise. In this memoir, Bechdel traces her relationship to fitness and exercise over her lifetime. As I recently reassured a BB’s patron, this is not a diet book and has very little to do with how exercise makes you look. It’s about how Bechdel’s relationship with exercise connects to her emotional and spiritual health (or not so health).

Of course, since it’s Bechdel, the writing is smart (philosophy! Big vocabulary words! Layers!) and funny (I chuckled several times!) She weaves in some interesting historical anecdotes from beatnik, Romanticist, and transcendental writers as well. The art is utilitarian and metaphorical. It conveys the physicality of different types of exercise, such as karate moves or yoga poses, but it also moves forward the deeper themes of existence. For example, Bechdel’s avatar summits a mountain on a bike and then coasts down while the text boxes narrate about the nature of existence and the rhythms of the human lifespan. Fun fact: the colors were done by Bechdel’s partner, Holly Rae Taylor.


Colin’s Pick


Sazan & the Comet Girl book coverSazan & the Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase
A fun all-ages (and full color!) manga that’s part Scott Pilgrim and part Treasure Planet! Sazan is a simple planet construction worker until he falls head-over-heels in love with bikini-clad space-moped riding Mina the comet girl. Unfortunately Mina irradiates a powerful energy that makes her one of the most hunted individuals in the galaxy and leaves Sazan smitten. Teaming up with a rag-tag team of underdog pirates, Sazan sets off to find Mina and finds himself involved with a high-stakes galactic plot! This colorful debut by Yuriko Akase invokes the style of Akira Toriyama and Betty’s Books fav Rumiko Takahashi, and I’m hoping we see more from her in the years to come.


Mary’s Pick


Pizza My Heart book coverPizza My Heart by Mika Song
Join two troublemaking squirrels on their delicious adventures in this next graphic novel adventure that is perfect for fans of Narwhal & Jelly!

Norma and Belly want pizza.

Hot, cheesy, tastey pizza.

Too bad no one will deliver. Now they must get creative to nab a slice! Even if it means taking on a wild beast. With the help of their friends, old and new, these squirrels are up to the task.


Bruce’s Pick


Hot Wheels: I Am A Monster Truck book coverHot Wheels: I Am A Monster Truck
Little racers will love smashing, crashing, and soaring alongside their favorite Hot WheelsTM monster trucks with this car-shaped board book that has moveable wheels.

I am big!
I am loud!
I stand out in any crowd!

Monster trucks thrash and roar as they zoom across rough terrain. Little kids will love imitating the big, loud monster trucks as they play with the spinning wheels on this monster truck-shaped book. With text that demands to be read aloud, this board book is sure to engage little ones for hours!