[Back from Biggest Little Fur Con, and there’s still more to catch up with…] At the L.A. Times Festival of Books this year we discovered Creative Creature Catcher — an “augmented reality children’s book”, to use the publisher’s phrase for it. “Welcome to the Society of Creative Creature Catchers! Your mission is simple: Find and learn about a variety of fantastical animals who have ended up lost in our world and then it’s your job to send them home to their families! Some hide in the curtains. Others hide under the bed. Don’t worry. They won’t hurt you. They’re scared, and their parents are worried about them.” Sounds like an interesting story, but then it goes further… “But this is just half the story. Creative Creature Catcher isn’t just about reading. It’s about doing. Anyone can read about these unfortunate animals, but Malcolm will teach you how to get personally involved. Grab your Apple or Android device (phone or tablet), and even stubborn readers will want to know more about the shifty Grumbaloo or the quick-footed Eeking Sfifter as 3D characters leap to life with Augmented Reality.” Visit their official web site to see more of what they’re talking about.
Hadn’t heard about this, ’till Animation World Network let us know: “Apple TV+ has released a trailer for the new live-action / CG animated hybrid kids and family series Lovely Little Farm from Darrall Macqueen, the London-based BAFTA Award-winning producer of hit series Topsy & Tim and Teletubbies. The show premieres globally on June 10. The series follows sisters Jill and Jacky as they love and nurture all the animals on their farm nestled in lavender fields. Being a young farmer isn’t easy, but every day brings these sisters adventure and a chance to grow. ILM provides the show’s CG animation that brings the series to life.” There is actually quite a bit of CGI and puppetry involved in this show, as it seems that the young ladies have the ability to speak to the non-human animals on the farm. Take a look at the trailer to see what we mean.
More interesting reads we came across at this year’s L.A. Time Festival of Books. The Glitter Dragons — Dragon Girls is a new fantasy series for young readers, written by Maddy Mara. The first book is Azima the Gold Glitter Dragon. “Azmina, Willa, and Naomi are thrilled to learn they’re Glitter Dragon Girls. Summoned to the Magic Forest by its magnificent ruler, the Tree Queen, the girls quickly find out their dragon-selves have unbelievable abilities. They can soar above the treetops, breathe glitter-y bursts of fire, and roar loud enough to shake the ground.With this newfound magic comes a big responsibility, however. As Dragon Girls, they are sworn protectors of the forest and must help keep it safe from the troublesome Shadow Sprites, who are determined to take the forest’s magic for their own.” All this and more are available now in trade paperback from Scholastic. Roar!
Dorset police are warning of the impact on young children of videos related to Huggy Wuggy, an anthropomorphic antagonist in the independently-developed horror game Poppy Playtime, released last year. The game itself is reminiscent of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach and has been rated 12+ by Common Sense Media. An official plush toy with Velcro paws was released mid-March.
Media featuring the character is proliferating, including a depiction of Huggy's reassembly on TikTok and 'Free Hugs', a multi-verse song from the monster's point of view. Reports indicate that the friendly nature of the character's name seems to be allowing their content to bypass filtering that would usually defend young viewers from such disturbing content, similar to issues before YouTube's COPPA implementation.
The campaign to legalize ferrets as pets in California (yes that’s a thing) recently let us know about My Name Is Musky, a picture book for young people written by Matty Giuliano and illustrated by Morgan Spicer. It’s rare to find a cute book about pets that actually focuses on ferrets! “Poor Musky! A small white ferret is abandoned and left by the side of the road. Things start to look up, though, when a nice lady named Stephanie shows up and saves the day. It’s off to the cozy, warm animal shelter for this little ferret—but will anyone want to adopt a different kind of furry animal friend?” Check out the official web site too.
Kenneth C. Fenske, better known in furry circles as LupineFox, has been found not guilty by a jury in a Bucks County court of sexual abuse charges which were widely reported in local media, and linked to the arrest of seven other suspects during 2016 and 2017.
The four day trial concluded after two hours of jury deliberations. LupineFox proclaimed his innocence throughout; unlike David R. Parker (RebelWolf), who plead guilty last August to federal child sex trafficking of the boy concerned, and assisted the prosecution. The defence focused on undermining the 16-year-old boy's testimony, calling it "a train wreck" and claiming that the ultimate goal was a payout in civil court.
Highlighted was the boy's recollection of Fenske taking off a fox costume (with "full long sleeves and pants, a zipper in the back, paw gloves, and a fox head with pointy ears") before the alleged rape – said to have occurred when he was 8, while attending furmeets at Fenske's house dressed as "Tony the Tiger". The builder of LupineFox's fox fursuit Renoir said it was made in 2015.
News out of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania from September announced that one Carl R. Rickwood was charged with 20 counts of dissemination of child pornography. It has recently been revealed that this perpetrator was actually a furry by the fandom name of R.C. Fox. A full breakdown of the documentation can be found on a video by Ragehound.
R.C has been a prolific member of the fandom, having his own fursuit since 2014, and also attending and volunteering for multiple conventions. They were also slated to run a disc jockey session at the upcoming Furpocalypse until this news was brought to staff's attention and they indicated they would not be in attendance. They were also featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece 'Meet the Furries'.
Since the news emerged, R.C.'s social media accounts on Twitter, Fur Affinity, and even YouTube have been removed, renamed, or disabled. As of now no arrest can be confirmed.
You might think, on first glance, that you might not enjoy this 1987 book due to its similarity to Richard Adam's 1972 classic, Watership Down. That's why it sat on my shelf for almost a decade collecting dust, until recently when I felt the need to dip into some more children's literature.
The barebones plot has a group of small, harmless animals, displaced from their homes by man. A group of survivors venture out into the unknown (and very British) countryside with a Moses-like leader. There are trials and tribulations, including a conflict with their own kind, and eventually they find the promised land where they can live in peace... at least for a few generations.
In the days before mobile phones and the Internet, people would have to have conversations with their pets to keep themselves from going insane. That's how it is with the Monroes, a nuclear family with two young children, two careers, and two pets: a cat (Chester) and a dog (Harold).
And every day, when the family members head out of the house, they leave their pets unsupervised to indulge in their vices. Chester reads horror stories; Harold daydreams about food. Life is perfect.
Until the day the Monroes go to a Dracula film, and come home with a little fluffy bundle of a rabbit in a shoebox full of dirt.
In 2012 John Claude Bemis (author of the Americana-Fantasy series The Clockwork Dark) brought us a new post-apocalypse novel for young readers called The Prince Who Fell From The Sky. “In Casseomae’s world, the wolves rule the Forest, and the Forest is everywhere. The animals tell stories of the Skinless Ones, whose cities and roads once covered the earth, but the Skinless disappeared long ago. Casseomae is content to live alone, apart from the other bears in her tribe, until one of the ancients’ sky vehicles crashes to the ground, and from it emerges a Skinless One, a child. Rather than turn him over to the wolves, Casseomae chooses to protect this human cub, to find someplace safe for him to live. But where among the animals will a human child be safe? And is Casseomae threatening the safety of the Forest and all its tribes by protecting him?” Published by Random House, check this out over at the author’s web site.
Mousenet and Mousemobile are recommended for readers 8 to 12, grades 3 to 7. They are clearly juvenile fiction, but are well-written and imaginative enough that “all ages” might be a better recommendation. Megan Miller, the protagonist, who was 10 years old in Mousenet, is 11 years old here. The series is not just spinning its wheels; this is a true sequel.
In Mousenet, Megan and three others – her slightly older step-cousin Joey Fisher and two adults, Megan’s inventor uncle Fred Barnes who made the mouse-sized Thumbtop miniature computer, and Joey’s father Jake who invented the solar blobs that are its power supply – become the only humans who learn that all mice are intelligent, and want the Thumbtop for all mice around the world so they can communicate instantly via a Mouse Internet. They obviously need more than a single miniature computer curiosity if this is to happen, so Mousenet is about the two children and the mice – particularly Trey, the Talking Mouse, and the officious but smart head of the Mouse Nation, the Chief Executive Mouse (a.k.a. Topmouse, known as the Big Cheese behind his back) – persuading Fred and Jake to mass-produce the Thumbtop. The mice come up with the fiction that enables the two adults to get away with this, by creating a “cute” small company, Planet Mouse, to purportedly make miniature computers as novelty keychain fobs, in Megan’s and Uncle Fred’s home city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Illustrated by Stephanie Yue, NYC, Disney•Hyperion Books, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (282 pages), paperback $7.99, Kindle $9.99.
On 3 October, the statues were auctioned to raise money for an expansion of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. One lot, Gromit Lightyear, designed by animation studio Pixar and depicting Gromit as Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise, sold for £65,000.
The eighty-one statues, depicting Gromit in a variety of styles, were designed by several artists, including Nick Park (creator of Wallace and Gromit), and Simon Tofield (animator of Simon's Cat). In total, £2.3 million was raised for the hospital. Nick Park said he was "stunned" by how successful the auction was.
It seems that not all our imaginary friends have found a safe home like Foster’s. And so it falls upon agents Dave and Terry and the crew of I.M.A.G.I.N.E. to keep things cheery for the world and safe for children. That’s the idea behind Imagine Agents, a new full-color comic book mini-series from Boom! Studios. You see, adults cannot perceive a child’s imaginary friend (referred to as a ‘figment’ in this world), unless they have the special equipment that our trusty agents from I.M.A.G.I.N.E. employ. Check out the preview at Comic Book Resources and it’ll all make a lot more sense. Imagine Agents is written by Brian Joines (Noble Causes) and illustrated by the artist known as Bachan (Justice League). Look for it starting later this month.
The British power-metal band known as Ascension have started up a side project: A cartoon band dedicated to making some rockin’ tunes for little listeners. Yes, in the tradition of Hevisaurus (look it up!) it’s time for Sharky Sharky, the undersea band! Their stated purpose: “”Kids don’t have much to listen to today, no real live bands to look up to. They have One Direction, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus…all artists who glorify love, fashion and popularity – all things kids shouldn’t have to worry about right now, especially when enjoying music!” You can check out Sharky Sharky’s first four songs on Sound Cloud, or on their Facebook page.
Since then, film director Joel Allen Schroeder envisaged a documentary about Calvin and Hobbes, and in 2007 began filming interviews with fans. In 2009, Schroeder created a Kickstarter campaign to fund his project, which raised twice its initial goal of $12,000. A subsequent campaign raised $96,000. Now complete, the movie (Dear Mr. Watterson) has been picked up by a distributor and is scheduled to arrive in theatres November 15.