Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!
March Staff Picks!
Looking for adventure, finding yourself, siblinghood, and growing up? The Deep and Dark Blue is a beautiful story about two siblings, Hawke and Grayson, who are forced from their kingdom after a coup and must live in disguise as Hanna and Grayce until they figure out how to return. They trade foils and swords for spinning thread and weaving when they arrive at the Communion of Blue, a society of magical and strong women. While Hawke struggles to fit in and unlearns some gendered concepts, Grayce is thriving and enjoys her new life. How do the two change and grow together? Will Grayce be able to keep her secret and live with her new friends and skills?
This book is a great conversation about the pressure of gender when you don’t fit into heteronormative expectations and it represents trans joy and connection when people support and encourage you to be your true self. This book has the nuance, stress, and relief of coming out in such a way that radiates love and care. It was really lovely and inspiring to read as a trans/genderqueer person. I also really enjoyed the use of color to further the story’s narrative and concept of breaking binary. This book instantly was added to my favorites shelf, and it’s something I’d recommend to people wanting to show kids that these conversations are normal and can be really helpful to communicate their feelings and who they are, regardless of if that means talking about gender roles or our friendships and relationships to others. It was a great read and I can’t recommend it enough!
Do you ever see a book cover and immediately know you’re going to love the story inside? That’s what happened the second I saw Forest Hills Bootleg Society. It’s been a while since I’ve found a graphic novel so jam-packed with fun, creative uses of the visual medium of comics in addition to a phenomenal story!
The book follows a crew of teen girls in the year 2005, three of which attend the same Christian boarding school in a small California town, their fourth companion attending the local public school (if you’re thinking that fact could cause a bit of drama, you’re right!). Together, they start a bootleg sexy anime DVD business, their horny male classmates being the primary audience.
This venture is really just a backdrop to and mechanism for their individual coming-of-age struggles, which are handled with nuance and feel so, so relatable. Each girl struggles with her own private angst, interspersed with incredibly fun page-long backstory tidbits like, “A History of Melissa Cho’s Left Sock” and “A History of Maggie’s Unfulfilled Desires”. Additionally, the panel work in this book is just incredible – what separates an okay comic from a great one can easily come down to utilizing the medium creatively, and Forest Hills does this amazingly. One of my favorite examples is a two-page spread that shows us the sudden and newfound success of the girl’s business through a wordless, disjointed mosaic of frames depicting their male classmates’ erm… private and enthusiastic reactions to the anime videos.
If you’re looking for an impactful coming-of-age story with some sapphic romance (and the realistic pitfalls that come with any high school relationship), this is the pick for you.
By complete coincidence, I watched Miyasaki’s Spirited Away and read The Wondrous Wonders by Camille Jourdy within days of each other. Both are Alice in Wonderland-esque stories of a disgruntled young girl falling into a magical land populated by fantastical creatures, and being forced to reckon with difficult truths about change and coming of age. Both Miyasaki’s Chihiro and Jourdy’s Jo emerge from their adventure confident in their ability to face these changes. Jo from this story is dealing with her parent’s divorce, and befriends a fox creature named Maurice and a little cat-human boy named Nouk who are trying to break Nouk’s mom and some of their fellow villagers out of the evil Cat King’s dungeon.
If it wasn’t clear from the Miyasaki comparison, the character design and the artwork in this book are stunning. Jourdy uses watercolors and a shifting color palette to great effect in differentiating the magical landscapes in the story, as well as bringing to life creatures such as the rainbow, candy-loving ponies called Wondrous Wonders. Although this book is marketed to “middle grade,” which means ages eight to twelve–and it would be a great read for that age group!– I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys Miyasaki, Alice in Wonderland type tales, or just wants to feast their eyes on some gorgeous art and fun creatures for a spell.
I don’t watch wrestling nor have a big interest too but my favorite thing is listening to friends and others gush about wrestling lore (seriously they are the best, find a friend and have them do an info dump about plotlines involving Vince McMahon). DAPB! Lona Steelrose is in Summer Slam to rule them all on a galactic scale with the prize being the resurrection of her mother, but in order to succeed she needs to team up with Cobrasun, the man who killed her mother in a ring. With plenty of twists and turns and heartache, by the final page you’ll be screaming “BY GAWD!”
Find out where the tooth fairy takes all those lost teeth in this laugh-out-loud new picture book, perfect for fans of School’s First Day of School!
Toothy lives in Liam’s mouth next to his best friend Fang. He’s a good tooth–sparkly and strong, and he loves doing the floss.
One day, Toothy notices that he is loose and panics! Where will he go after he leaves his comfy spot next to Fang? After a crunchy apple seals the deal, Toothy is tucked under Liam’s pillow. When the Tooth Fairy appears, she takes Toothy to the Museum of Lost Teeth. It’s a more incredible place than Toothy could have ever imagined. It’s filled with new friends and fun activities like Tooth or Dare! Toothy finds a new home on the Firsts Floor, where first baby teeth are proudly displayed.
In the tradition of School’s First Day of School, The Museum of Lost Teeth answers the question “Where do all the lost teeth go?” in this unexpected and hilarious picture book.
Take a road trip with Lightning McQueen and Mater in this fun, magnetic book based on the Disney+ series Cars on the Road.
Pack your bags and go on the road trip of a lifetime with Lightning McQueen and Mater! Follow along as they find trouble and adventure in a dinosaur theme park, search for Big Foot in the woods, visit the circus, and race on the Salt Flats in this fun, interactive board book. With 10 magnetic pages and 8 included magnets to help bring the story to life, this book is full of engine-revving fun!