rob-harrell

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In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster – much to the delight of the townsfolks! Each town’s unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism.

Each town, that is… except for one. Unfortunately for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn’t quite as impressive. In fact, he’s a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become truly horrifying? It’s up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling.

Monsters of all ages are sure to enjoy this tale about life’s challenges, the power of friendship, and creative redemption, packed with epic battles and plenty of wild beasts!

Pay more than the average to unlock Monster on the Hill and scads more awesome comics in the Humble Kids Comics Bundle! Proceeds benefit CBLDF and Every Child a Reader.

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Books to Watch For This Month

  • Dark Blood by Christine Feehan (9/2): At long last you are truly back with us… Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to rogue Lycans who preyed on mankind. He was a loner, never given to personal attachments, and damned fierce at his job. But Zev begins to question his past and his purpose when he awakens in the darkness of the sacred cave of warriors—and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of one woman, the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries. She was Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan… Mother Earth called the ancients to witness your rebirth… For this half-mage, half-Carpathian temptress, the ritual of awakening Zev to the council of warriors was the only way to save him. Locked away for his own protection, the time has now come for his rebirth, for his blood to stir with that of the ancient warriors before him. He has been assured by Branislava that their fates are entwined, that their spirits are woven together for eternity and that his new purpose in life is beyond imagining. Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear… 
  • Hidden by Benedict Jacka (9/2): With his talent for divining the future, Alex Verus should have foreseen his friends’ reactions to the revelations about his previous life. Anne Walker no longer trusts him—and has also cut all ties with the mage community after getting kicked out of the apprentice program. As a favor to Luna, Alex’s own apprentice and Anne’s best friend, he checks in on her only to be told to leave her alone. Then Anne gets kidnapped. The Council Keepers of the Order of the Star believe Dark mages from her past may be involved. Working with the Keepers, Alex and Luna discover that Anne has been taken into the shadow realm of Sagash, her former Dark mage mentor, and they must find a way to rescue her. But another shadow from the past has resurfaced—Alex’s former master may be back in London, and Alex has no idea what his agenda is…
  • Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels by Rob Harrell (9/2): It’s not easy being Zarf. As a troll, he’s stuck at the bottom of the middle school hierarchy, way below the prince and knights (populars), ogres and giants (jocks), and even the lowly minstrels (band geeks). Plus, trolls aren’t exactly known for their brain power or cool demeanor. But it gets worse. When the king disappears and Zarf’s archenemy, the prince, ascends the throne, he makes Zarf’s life even more miserable. And so it is that Zarf and his two sidekicks (a neurotic, mutton-obsessed pig and the not-funny son of the court jester) set out to find the missing king as well as their way to middle school heroism. (Okay, the heroism part might be wishful thinking.) The first book in this brilliant new illustrated series from comics creator Rob Harrell has the perfect mix of real world and fairy tale. 
  • Neverhome by Laird Hunt (9/9): She calls herself Ash, but that’s not her real name. She is a farmer’s faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. NEVERHOME tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause. Laird Hunt’s dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home? In gorgeous prose, Hunt’s rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts. 
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (9/16): Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways … until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (9/23): From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a smart, thought-provoking novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down. Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love. Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.
  • Daring by Elliott James (9/23): THE WEREWOLVES HAVE A NEW LEADER…AND HE CANNOT BE STOPPED. Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin. Werewolf packs are being united and absorbed into an army of super soldiers by a mysterious figure who speaks like an angel and fights like a demon. And every Knight Templar – keepers of the magical peace between mankind and magickind – who tries to get close to this big bad wolf winds up dead. No knight can infiltrate a group whose members can smell a human from a mile away…no knight except one. John Charming. Ex knight. Current werewolf. Hunted by the men who trained him, he now might be their only salvation. But animal instincts are rising up to claim John more powerfully than ever before, and he must decide if this new leader of wolves is a madman…or a messiah.
  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (9/30): If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks. She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English. But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead. Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss. From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance. 
  • The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak (9/30): This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian. You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except … here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say … BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.) 
  • A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (9/30): The bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a long-awaited new novel in which a boy trying to save his parents’ marriage uncovers a vast legacy of family secrets. In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after. But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future. Spellbinding and atmospheric, A Sudden Light is rich with unconventional characters, scenes of transcendent natural beauty, and unforgettable moments of emotional truth that reflect Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation—a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power.

“You sleep with a little stuffed version of yourself?”
Or:  Cute and funny meets realism, and realism does not prevail.

Our younger son desperately wants a pet.  Our older son, however,  is pretty clear that if he were confronted with the choice between playing a video game or dealing with a real animal, the video game would win every time.

Nevertheless, they are in agreement in their appreciation of animal cuteness.  They spent the weekend repeatedly calling up the insipid Youtube video of “Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom” (by Parry Gripp of “Nerf Herder.” Glutton for punishment, are you? Here is a link to the video)  The video features clips of mostly small and furry animals eating, accompanied by an incessant, and incessantly annoying, soundtrack of “Nom Nom Nom Nom"s.

I considered drawing a baby animal eating for today’s napkin, but decided that minus the soundtrack, the image would not achieve the appropriate level of precious hilarity.

But, let’s be honest, the real problem is the way I draw.

In place of one of the Nom Noms, I drew Wink the bear, a character from the kids’ preferred comic of the moment, Rob Harrell’s "Big Top. I thought the fact that Wink sleeps with a stuffed version of himself (available at the circus concession, of course) would provide a cute animal opportunity.

The kids were unimpressed this morning. Archer helpfully pointed out that my version was too realistic. Ansel took a napkin from the backup pile.

Pig and Troll in Middle School:

As I mentioned earlier this week, our boys enjoyed Life of Zarf by Rob Harrell.

Last night, we finished reading the story of Zarf’s trials as an unpopular troll in middle school.

In addition to dealing with obnoxious popular kids (some whom are goats), he and his friends defeat a dragon and rescue a king.

I did my best with Zarf and his friend Kevin Littlepig, but I probably should have drawn the dragon instead.

Rob Harrell and Mike Costa will be at Phoenix Comicon 2014! Mike Costa is the author of numerous comics, including the Transformers comics, as well as G.I. Joe for IDW. You may be familiar with Rob Harrell’s work- he’s the creator of Adam@Home which is featured around the country weekly. What you may not know is that he has recently created his first graphic novel, “Monster on the Hill!” We are happy to have them both at Comicon this year!