Set against the rolling hills of pseudo-medieval France, Giants Beware! is the story of Claudette, a pint-size rapscallion who wears her hair short and her temper shorter. The daughter of the village blacksmith, Claudette has a singular ambition: to snuff out the neighborhood baby-feet-eating giant and destroy it. There are a few kinks in the would-be giant slayer’s plans, however. Her father, who was maimed fighting a dragon, makes light of her quest, considering it a child’s idle fancy. She also has to rally a pair of reluctant squires—an aspiring princess named Marie and her timorous younger brother, Gaston—to her cause, which she succeeds through some light chicanery.
Zita is a pretty typical 10-year-old who spends her time doing average 10-year-old things. Unlike her more reticent best friend, Joseph, Zita revels in leaping before looking. So when the duo stumbles upon a smoking crater with a strange-looking device, Zita’s impulses get the better of her and she pushes the big, red button in the center. Before she can say “oops,” a portal materializes out of thin air, pulling Joseph into its embrace before winking out of existence once more.
Her immediate response is one even grownups are familiar with: to run, panicked, in the other direction. But then a different sort of emotion kicks in. Recovering the device, Zita reactivates the portal, plunging headfirst into the breach. When she finally comes to on the other side, it’s on a brave new planet, one that shares more in common with Tatooine than Oz or Narnia.
Like the shadows that flicker in the corner of your eye, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things doesn’t fill you with outright terror—at least, not at first. Far more frightening is its creeping sense of dread, the nagging feeling that something is unutterably, irretrievably wrong.
Courtney’s tale, like most cracking ghost stories, begins with a spooky old mansion. “Do you know that one house, the most talked-about house in the whole neighborhood?” asks the omniscient narrator. “It is well known that terrible things happen there. And that Old Man Crumrin is madder than a Victorian hatmaker.”
It’s also the house that Courtney and her tedious, social-climbing parents would soon call home.
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade is less about a 12-year-old adjusting to life as a superhero than it is about a superhero figuring out how to be 12 years old. Gawky, insecure, and a complete fish out of water, Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones’s Kara Zor-el is the antithesis of her broodier, more volatile “New 52” counterpart.
Granted, it helps that this iteration of the Last Daughter of Krypton didn’t witness the destruction of her home planet in a cataclysmic explosion. In this alternate canon, Argo City survives after the force of the blast shunts it into a pocket reality known as Quasi-Space, where. Kara, like most preteens, engages her parents in a constant battle of wills. That is, until an impulsive decision sends her careening to Earth on an interdimensional rocket, with no hope of return in sight.
Eight-year-old Grace Gibson is the new girl in the town of Catastrophe, a disaster-prone locale where volcanoes erupt, giant robots run amok, meteors plummet from the skies, and escaped inmates from the Asylum for Crafty Criminals plot world domination on a near-daily basis. Grace has trouble fitting in at school, where her father’s the headmaster, until a chemistry experiment gone awry leads her to brew an arsenal of bubblegum with superpower-imbuing properties.
Determined to bring order to the chaos around her, Grace adopts the crime-fighting guise of Gum Girl. Along with Billy Fisher, her classmate-turned-best friend with a knack for getting into scrapes, Grace metes out justice with humor, optimism, and unflagging joie de vivre. Gum Girl may be pink and bubbly, but she also has brains, gumption, and gum to spare—plenty useful when the adults around you are as clueless as they are incompetent.
Princess at Midnight is the story of Holly Crescent, a preadolescent girl who lives a cloistered existence in a narrow townhouse somewhere in England. By day, she’s homeschooled by an overprotective father alongside her twin brother, Henry. At night, she’s magically transported to another plane of existence, where she reigns as princess of Castle Waxing. Instead of squaring off in the classroom with Henry, Holly engages in a land dispute with her kingdom’s sworn enemy, the Horrible Horde.
Princess Holly isn’t a milquetoast regent—she’s brash, irascible, and frequently unsympathetic; more Boudica than Belle. When ogres from the Horde attack her favorite picnic spot, Holly declares war. Her chancellor, a dragon, suggests drawing up a treaty to declare the area common property, but the princess will not be persuaded. “Share?” she barks. “I’m a princess, I don’t do sharing.” Someone fetch the smelling salts!
Animal Princess would rather muck about in the sewers fighting slime monsters than wear another frilly princess dress. In fact, she frequently does, ditching the usual royal trappings for animal-themed pajamas that grant her the abilities of the creatures she emulates.
With her trusty feline steed, Buttercup, at her side, Animal Princess dispatches nefarious thee-head wizards, frosting-spewing sentient cupcakes, and spectral dust bunnies alike with moxie and an almost fiendish aplomb. You won’t find any shoehorned moral lessons here; The Radically Awesome Adventures of the Animal Princess is pure bombastic mischief.
It’s apparent from the outset that Hilda isn’t your typical blue-haired little girl. For one thing, she lives with her mother in the mountains, on the edge of a forest populated by magical creatures. In Hilda’s world, boys are made out of wood, antlered foxes gambol alongside itinerant water spirits, and furry beasts flock across the skies.
Hildafolk is an amuse-bouche of a tale. One of London publisher Nobrow’s 17×23 series, a format for emerging artists to “tell their stories in a manageable and economic format,” the book offers a glimpse into a world that’s tantalizingly, almost vexingly, brief.