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Bedtime Report: Return of the Quest Edition

So, of course, I realized that I left some of our favorite quest books out of the last bedtime report, and though I might have shared some of them before, I feel compelled to call them out here.

Top of the list are the Brownstone's Mythical Collection picture books (in graphic novel format) by Joe Todd-Stanton. My six-year-old LOVES these, and so do I. Aside from the absolutely stunning illustrations, which you can see below, the stories are heroic, epic, and fun as they lead one bold Brownstone youngling after another on adventures into diverse legends.

Arthur and the Golden Rope introduces the family and their rich history and launches the series with Arthur, a preoccupied boy who must confront the Norse-inspired wolf Fenrir to save the village that treats him as an oddity. (Press the arrows on the Slider to see a few pages!)

Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx, the second book, follows Arthur's daughter on a quest to find her disappeared parent in the remains of ancient Egypt. Along the way, she appeals to the Egyptian gods for assistance, but puzzles out the mystery using her own wits and determination.

The next book, Kai and the Monkey King, features (you got it!) Marcy's daughter, Kai, as she ventures into the realm of Chinese mythology to find the Monkey King in an effort to aid her mother while also proving wrong her mother's admonitions ... and they both learn a few things along the way.

And this year promises a new adventure: Leo and the Gorgon's Curse will take our next young hero (and us) into the imaginative and perilous world of ancient Greek myth. Also, I love maps, and each book (like The Antlered Ship featured in my previous report) features a gorgeous map you can sink your armchair explorer's eye-teeth right into.

Another book illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton but written by Ben Queen begs to be on the list: Bear, the story of a service dog who loses his sight but sets out to reclaim his vision and protect his best friend. It's just beautiful and inspiring all-around.

I really want to put two more books written and illustrated by Todd-Stanton here but then I might have to change the title of the post. Consider it a mystery that YOU must set out to resolve! You have been quested ...

The next book is another graphic-novel-variety-picture book: The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld in which a wooden robot brother must set out to find his enchanted log sister and bring her home. The characters are charming, the landscapes sweeping, and the overall narrative just delightful!

I might have shared this next one before. Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin is one of our favorite woodland creatures/storied habitat picture books. Largely wordless, the lushly illustrated narrative follows a girl and her friend on a mission to rescue a beloved lovey. Yet another book whose pages I'd love to crawl into!

In the slightly darker children's picture book realm, Ava the Monster Slayer (and its sequel, Ava the Monster Slayer: Cousin Power) by Lisa Maggiore and Ross Felton number among my six-ear-old son's favorites ... and my now-11-year-old daughter still loves them, too, though she might not admit it as readily anymore. Bedtime and other household monsters aren't going to keep Ava from Piggy, her own beloved stuffy, not at home, in the first book, and not at camp with her cousin (who loses an equally beloved Teddy), in the second. Ava's fierce determination and spunk make for a grand before-bed adventure, particularly in the first book, which I favor.

Speaking of nighttime quests, we adore these next two comparably themed and titled adventures-in-the-dark: Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Fred Koehler and Flashlight

by Lizi Boyd. We love the distinctive but equally engaging illustration styles and what's better than an independent outing at night? None of us want our own children to sneak out, or most of us probably don't, but you have to admit, it's kid fun-dome supreme. Not saying that I ever did or anything ... The first book yields wonderful tricks of the imagination while the second is a quieter feat of childhood daring and discovery.

Peter Reynolds and Susan Verde always produce meaningful picture books that stun and provoke deeper thought, so next, I wanted to highlight their combined effort, The Water Princess, which follows the determined Princess Gie Gie as she embarks to bring home fresh water for her small realm. Though not strictly biographical, the story is based on the experiences of model Georgie Badiel, who grew up in the West African country of Burkina Faso.

Who doesn't love a good cat story? Okay, well, maybe some folks don't, but I dare you to resist Max the Brave by Ed Vere, in which Max sets out to catch a mouse and catches something else instead. If you like that one, you'll probably love the follow-up, Max at Night, in which Max goes on a mission to find the Moon, so he can say goodnight. Both books are well-read, well-worn and well-loved in our household.

I fear I'm exceeding my scroll capacity again, so I'm going to almost-end with a precocious mermaid who does not give up her voice to chase after love-at-first-sight on land. Rather, Oona and her best bud, a sea otter named Otto, go in search of other treasures, which sometimes leads them to trouble! Their story, by Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa, takes you under the seas and is sure to fascinate and engage.

Finally, I'll wrap the report with one biographical picture book, though as I mentioned in the previous report, there are so many that fit this category. Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls tells the amazing tale of a boy with only one leg who bicycled nearly 400 miles across Ghana, another country in West Africa. Wowsa!

Happy reading, and questing!

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