REVIEW: Megabat does a Zoom launch party

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada, Tundra Books, and NetGalley for providing both an eARC and a finished copy of this book.


To say things have been rough over the last few weeks is to put it mildly, but one thing that truly cheered me up was receiving a package from the wonderful staff at Penguin and Tundra that contained the third book in my favourite middle-grade series, Megabat! At almost 26-years-old, I am definitely not the target audience, but as the one person in my family that people come to for book recs for readers of all ages, I do enjoy digging into junior readers every now and again, and Megabat is incredible. (You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series here)

In Megabat Is A Fraidybat, Megabat and Daniel learn to conquer their fears as they head off to sleepaway camp. Daniel, who has only ever heard of how horrible sleepaway camp is, is far from excited about going. Megabat, on the other hand, is thrilled at the idea of an adventure and new friends. Once they reach camp, Daniel slowly begins to loosen up as he meets new friends in his cabin and learns that his fears weren’t based on how camp actually is. But after a councillor tells a ghost story, Megabat isn’t feeling so confident anymore…

As usual, I loved this little book from top to bottom. The illustrations are as adorable as ever, and the story tackles fear in a very relatable way for children reading the book to understand. I can see it being a good book to explain sleepaway camp to children who may be afraid of going for the first time, or even just using it to talk about fear in general. Sometimes the things that scare us aren’t always as bad as we think they are. All I know is that if I could find an Ewok bobble-head that looked like Kass Reich’s illustration, I would have a hoarding problem with them, haha!

Now, this installment of the Megabat series was released April 7th, and for obvious reasons, that meant a different kind of launch party. Held over Zoom, Anna Humphrey and Kass Reich talked with the Junior Library Guild about all things Megabat and it was delightful. I will say, it wasn’t the smoothest discussion, but what can you really say when the majority of the meeting is attended by children under the age of 10 who are bored with their parents’ laptops, phones, or tablets? If nothing else, it was funny towards the beginning of the discussion to see little faces popping up to wave hello to Anna and Kass.

Anna opened the meeting with a reading of the new book, followed by a detailed drawing tutorial by Kass, both of which were fun. Following that, a Q&A began that was moderated by a member of the Junior Library Guild (whose name I, unfortunately, didn’t catch). Questions focused mostly on fun little things, like a game of “Would You Rather” and what missaid word of Megabat’s is your favourite, but a few of them went most into publishing.

When asked more about how to go about the illustrations, Kass said that she gets the manuscript and has ideas for what moments should be illustrated, but that it is mostly up to the editor, Samantha Swenson, on picking out the scenes. She went on to say that it’s important to be aware of the spacing of illustrations in a book like this, since the book shouldn’t be overcrowded by pictures nor should there be inconsistent gaps between them. The best question Anna got was about the inspiration for Megabat. She mentioned that after a big move, she and her family were feeling particularly homesick and one night, she discovered an out of place leak on the main floor of her three-story home. Anna continued, saying that she let her fiction-writer brain run and came up with the theory that the leak was a sad fruitbat, crying over his own homesickness.

All in all, a fun way to spend a lunch hour, and a wonderful book for readers of all ages. All three Megabat books are available everywhere, and book four is set for a Spring 2021 release!

 

A Penguin Extravaganza

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Penguin staff Sylvia, Sam, Vikki, and Evan (photo from @penguinteenca on Instagram)

This past Thursday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Penguin Teen Social party hosted at the offices of Penguin Random House Canada. I have been blogging about books for almost three years but have only recently been trying to make a serious mark through my blog as well as my Instagram. Still being considerably new to the scene, I had never been to one of these events before and wow was I in for a serious treat.

I spent a lot of the night making some incredible new friends as well as chatting with the lovely publicity agents I’ve been chatting with via email for the last few months. With wine and pizza, I was a very happy camper to just talk about books for once. On a personal note, I don’t have many off-line friends who read like I do and therefore I don’t get much of a chance to really get into things. It was so much fun to talk to other bloggers and book sellers about new releases and old releases and upcoming hype train books. Even laughing and chatting with the Penguin staff was a total blast and the chance to put a face to an email signature.

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Photo thanks to Mallory! (And Jeff, of course!)

But the most magical moment of the night – which my Instagram followers already know about – was the chance to meet Jeff Zentner. Being a party, everyone was mingling and I genuinely feel bad about not interacting with the other authors, but as I’ve said in both my reviews for The Serpent King and Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee, Jeff has changed my life in so many ways that I can’t even begin to express. It was a spark that reminded me of why books are so special and why writing books is so special. After having been through so much in my personal life lately, it was such a reward to have the time to really talk to him (and get a million pictures with him thanks to Mallory of @readwithmallory on Instagram).

I’m still over the moon – two days later – and so incredibly thankful to everyone at Penguin. Especially staff members, Sam and Evan for tolerating all of my emails, haha! I can’t wait for next year and really hope for the chance to attend more events like this.


The book haul!

As seen in the header image, I got a ton of books from the event so here’s just a quick little list of them all:

  • We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra
  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  • Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
  • Life Sucks by Michael I. Bennett and Sarah Bennett
  • Viral: the fight against AIDS in america by Ann Bausum
  • Samplers for The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh and Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
  • A finished copy of Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee

REVIEW: A Megabat Double Feature

Thank you to Penguin Canada and Tundra Books for providing me with copies of these books


MEGABAT

Megabat is a book about friendship in unlikely places and the importance of helping those you care about wrapped up in a funny premise full of amazing illustrations.

_MG_6519Daniel Misumi has just moved away from his friends in Toronto into a strange old house where his bedroom is not only leaking but is in the attic. Miserable and lonely, Daniel discovers that what he believes to be a ghost is actually a talking! Learning the bat has be mistakenly taken from his home, Daniel does his best to help Megabat get reunited with his family with the help of another new friend across the street.

This first book is wonderful. It’s funny, fun, and full of goofy Star Wars references to make any level of geek happy. Given the young age demographic and reading level this is meant for, I enjoyed the light-heartedness of the story and the lower-end stakes. There are also plenty of vocabulary words that would make great practice for young readers as well as several “topics” that could be used for just-for-fun research and learning (such as the different kinds of bats or general geography).

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful in this book and not only help break up the chapters but add an extra layer of humour to the story. Especially when the Star Wars references come in or Megabat is doing something silly with his tongue. While black and white, they still feel vibrant and Kass Reich’s style definitely adds to the quaint feeling of Anna Humphrey’s narrative.

Non-violent and full of life, I really had a good time with this despite being a 24-year-old book blogger. It certainly would have been a good book to have when I used to babysit.

MEGABAT MEETS FANCY CAT

The second Megabat book focuses this time on mistakes and misunderstandings as well as second-child syndrome. It’s also told from Megabat’s perspective rather than Daniel’s providing a different level of goofy humour.

_MG_6518It’s Christmas, and Daniel has been surprised with a new cat! Priscilla has been adopted from an old lady who has developed allergies, and she is very fancy. Megabat and Priscilla don’t exactly get off on the right foot, causing more than bit of mayhem in the Misumi household.

Much like the first one, this book was a bucket of fun. Having Megabat’s thoughts be the main narrative was so cute and entertaining especially with the “language barrier” Megabat deals with. However, this one seems to have more of a message in it, and despite all of the confusion and meanness, Megabat learns to apologize for his mistakes. Not to mention that Daniel explains to Megabat how a family getting larger doesn’t mean the amount of love shares get smaller, even if that new addition is getting a lot of attention. As someone who is an older sibling, it’s definitely a relevant topic to discuss with kids even if they’re only children since it can happen even in friend groups, not just in families.

Another solid hit from author Anna Humphrey and illustrator Kass Reich. I certainly look forward to more Megabat in the future.


Both Megabat and Megabat Meets Fancy Cat are available now wherever books are sold!