Thanks to the nice folks at HarperCollins Children's Books for giving me the chance to introduce you to two fun illustrated middle grade books that are appropriate for both boys and girls and will delight adults as well. In addition, they are providing the prize pack for the giveaway I'm hosting today.
Stick Cat by Tom Watson is designed to look like a lined journal, and the text is presented in an easy-to-read, large, sans serif font. The illustrations are simple -- after all, it is a story about a cat named Stick Cat -- but you and your young readers will fall for this kind tom cat and Edith, his best cat friend.
Stick Cat is the first book of a new series about two cats who visit each other once their humans have left their apartments in the morning. In this story, the cats notice that a man who plays the piano in an apartment across the alley has gotten into a bit of jam. Stick Cat and Edith decide they have to help him, but how do they get over to the other building, and once there, how will they help Mr. Music?
I love the personalities of Stick Cat and Edith and how they care about each other and about their neighbor. Stick Cat is very kind to Edith, who sometimes has impractical ideas. Despite their differences, they are true friends and understand each other's quirks. The scan to the right (provided by me) shows Edith, after she's discovered cats shouldn't lick those holes in the wall where the lamp gets plugged in.
For more about Stick Cat and Tom Watson's earlier series about Stick Dog, check out his website, where you can learn about all his books, including a new Stick Cat book coming out later this month. The author is also on GoodReads and has a Facebook page. The short video shows how Watson draws Stick Cat:
Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel is a super graphic novel with eye-catching red and black illustrations. The book is set up as Olga's journal, in which she records her thoughts, observations, and drawings of the world around her, especially animals.
Olga loves animals of all kinds and is fascinated by everything they do, even the gross things. Her best friend is a cute spider, but unfortunately, spiders aren't very cuddly. Olga thinks the two girls who live nearby are annoying, and she'd much rather observe bugs and birds and dogs than play with them.
One day Olga finds a strange, smelly creature that turns out to be friendly and, well, actually kind of adorable. Because Meh (as she named it) is quite unusual, Olga sets out to observe its behavior and learn everything she can about her new pet. Along the way, she amkes a couple of new friends, and discovers that the girls next door aren't so bad after all.
I really enjoyed getting to know Olga and admired her curiosity and how hard she worked to be a good caretaker of Meh. The message about giving humans a second chance at friendship was subtle and nicely done. Both boys and girls will fall for Olga and Meh and all the humans and animals they befriend. The scan was provided by HarperCollins and gives you an idea of the interior of the book.
To learn more about Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere and author-illustrator Elise Gravel, visit the book page at the HarperCollins website, where you'll find a excerpt from the book and a reader/teaching guide. For more about Gravel, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her Facebook page. To watch Gravel draw Olga's friends, watch this short video:
Thanks to HarperCollins for allowing me to offer one of my readers a copy of Stick Cat and a copy of Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere plus art prints from each of the author-illustrators. This is a fab prize and all you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to have a USA mailing address and to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on April 25. Once the winner has been confirmed and the address has been passed to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck.