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Countdown to the Eisners: 2020 Nominees for Best Publication for Early Readers (Up to Age 8) & Best Publication for Kids (Ages 9–12)

Fanbase Press’ coverage of the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards continues with the “Countdown to the Eisners” series. From June 22 through July 14, 2020, Fanbase Press will highlight each of the Eisner Awards’ 31 nomination categories, providing comic book industry members and readers alike the opportunity to learn more about the nominees and their work. Stay tuned for Fanbase Press’ continued coverage of the Eisner Awards, including live coverage of the ceremony at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2020.

Best Publication for Early Readers (Up to Age 8)

To speak in a language that a child will understand and to take on the hefty weight of informing how they will see the world for the rest of their lives is quite an accomplishment that these current nominees excel at. Inspiring, whimsical, hilarious, imaginative, and instructional, they join past nominees and winners like Baby Mouse for President, The Zoo Box, and Goodnight, Planet.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8):

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Comics: Easy as ABC, by Ivan Brunetti (TOON)

The Comics Journal declares, … “from Master cartoonist and educator Ivan Brunetti, this book is for comics fans and budding cartoonists. Comics: Easy As ABC will encourage you to put pencil to paper, and draw, draw, draw!” Brunetti is an art teacher, and his drawings have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times. He’s fashioned something here that inspires kids to have fun. He says in an interview with Mackin Community, “There are more people reading comics than ever, and I feel that this will help the medium survive and thrive. I also think comics can and will be whatever cartoonists decide they are, and the form is still evolving.” He is the author of several children’s books and adults’ books about cartooning.

To purchase, click here.

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Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur, by John Patrick Green (First Second/Macmillan)

His second book in the series finds his kitten construction workers faced with a dilemma: having to build a bridge over water! Their only answer to this solution… working with dogs. Booklist says of this sequel, “Continuing his playful premise, Green delivers another gentle, hilarious tale rife with the kind of interspecies competition that both cat- and dog-lovers will revel in, though the real winners here are the punsters, who will gorge on a veritable feast of wordplay.” Green has worked for DC Comics, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and Scholastic Graphix.

To purchase, click here.

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The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books)

Mo Willems is a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator. He has three Caldecott honors to his name, two Theodore Seuss Geisel Medals, and five Geisel honors, and he is the first Education Artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. He began as an animator on Sesame Street, taking with him six Emmy Awards. His new Pigeon book follows Pigeon as he goes to school and worries about math, learning the alphabet, and what the other birds will think of him.

To purchase, click here.

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A Trip to the Top of the Volcano with Mouse, by Frank Viva (TOON)

As a cartoonist, Frank Viva has had incredible success. His debut book, Along a Long Road, was New York Times Best Illustrated Book and won the Cybil’s Award for Young Readers. A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal, and his second book with TOON, Sea Change, was chosen as New York Times Editor’s Choice, making several best of lists and winning the Violet Downey Book Award. He brings back that same sense of adventure along with “getting a taste of geology, geography, and history along the way” as Mouse returns to explore an active volcano!

To purchase, click here.

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¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market, by Raúl the Third (Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Described as “Bilingual in a new way, this paper over board book teaches readers simple words in Spanish as they experience the bustling life in a border towm.” Pura Belpre Medal-winning illustrator Raúl the Third takes Little Lobo on a trip to deliver supplies to a variety of vendors through a maze of pathways, shows, and booths. Vamos was included in the ALA Awards Winners of 2020, and Publisher’s Weekly declares that its “..witty, stylish panel artwork crackles with funky comic energy…”

To purchase, click here.

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Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea and Zachariah Ohora (Little, Brown)

Someone has wet Rueben the Bear’s pants, and all the trails lead to one culprit. This not a book about bed-wetting, but about accepting mistakes and the embarrassment and anger one can feel for making a mistake and the empathy towards those that have made mistakes we should have. It’s a funny and wise tale from Bob Shea, who has written and illustrated over twenty picture books and whose characters and animations have appeared on Nic Jr, Playhouse Disney and PBS Kids, and illustrator Zachariah Ohora whose Wolfie the Bunny was on the New York Times Best Seller List and who has a myriad of awards attached to his name and works.

To purchase, click here.

Best Publication for Kids (Ages 9–12)

It takes a genuine gift to entertain kids of any age, but to make the themes universal and the stories emotionally involving also takes a mastery of the craft of storytelling. Since 2012, we’ve seen some big hitters like Adventure Time and Over the Garden Wall take the award. This year, the stories are especially diverse, relevant, and enjoyable as ever.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12):

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Akissi: More Tales of Mischief, by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin (Flying Eye/Nobrow)

Loosely based on author Marguerite Abouet’s life on the Ivory Coast, Abouet set out to show “a different view of Africa than the one we are usually shown. An Africa that is full of life, rather than sorrow.” And through the mischievous actions of the title character, it comes to life in so many ways, making everyone from kids to adults laugh at her incredible hijinks. The series has received the highest praises from The New York Times, School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly saying, “Sapin’s richly colored artwork complements Abouet’s tales, which bring to life universal aspects of childhood, illustrating the silliness, resourcefulness, and mishaps that are experienced all over the world.”

To purchase, click here.

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Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls, by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic Graphix)

From the creator of Captain Underpants, this New York Times bestselling series has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 21 languages. This hilarious sendup of the superhero genre is the seventh book in the series, and it hasn’t lost its steam while continuing to explore positive themes like empathy, kindness, and persistence.

To purchase, click here.

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Guts, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)

Bestselling author of Smile and The Baby-Sitters Club, Telgemeier delves into her own personal dealings with anxiety in her new graphic memoir, Guts. The ups and downs of high school can leave a lot of kids reeling, but for Raina, it started with a stomachache that didn’t go away, and only got worse from there. In the New York Times, Telgemeier talks about finding an ease in the process of putting it on the page as opposed to talking about it: “You can talk with pictures and symbols, you can use color, you can use lines, you can use the medium to push ideas without having to fully explain them.” It’s a beautiful, deeply personal book that takes readers into the difficulties of anxieties and how one can find it in themselves to fight their fears. Telgemeier previously won for this category in 2017 for Ghosts.

To purchase, click here.

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New Kid, by Jerry Craft (Quill Tree/HarperCollins)

New York Times bestseller and winner of the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Reader’s Literature and many more awards, nominations, and best of lists (I count 31 accolades in total!), Jerry Craft’s New Kid finds Jordan Banks, a young man of color, enrolled in a private school with very little diversity. Now, he must learn to navigate his new school culture while trying to stay true to himself and his friends. Tapping into the universal themes of being the new kid and trying to fit in along with very topical themes of race, Craft has created a book that the NYT calls “at once tender and tough, funny and heartbreaking. Hand this to the middle-grade reader in your life right away.”

To purchase, click here.

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This Was Our Pact, by Ryan Andrews (First Second/Macmillan)

With two previous Eisner nominations for Best Digital Comic, This is Our Pact is Andrews’ first published book available in print book and his third Eisner nomination. It’s a magical-realist adventure in which a group of friends make a pact to discover where the paper lanterns sent down the river during the Autumn Equinox festival go. In the end, only two remain: Ben and – much to Ben’s disappointment – Nathaniel who just never seems to fit in. This story about finding friendship where one least expects to find it was a 2019 Booklist Editor’s Choice, a 2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, and 2019 Parents Magazine Best Children’s Books of the Year. The NYT raves, “The novel’s cover shows Ben looking over his shoulder, making eye contact, inviting readers along for the ride. The subsequent artwork and narrative are worthy catalysts to fulfill that promise. The color scheme, with a limited palette of mainly blues, pulls readers into the abounding nighttime magic.”

To purchase, click here.

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The Wolf in Underpants, by Wilfrid Lupano, Mayana Itoïz, and Paul Cauuet (Graphic Universe/Lerner Publishing Group)

An oddball satire about fearmongering for tweens… yep. The critters of the forest have taken it upon themselves to stir each other up with scary rumors about a nearby wolf. They set up traps and build fences, but when the wolf appears, they are surprised to find something unexpected. Lupano has become a bestselling writer with his work on several series including the award-winning Les Vieux fourneaux (The Old Geezers) when he first worked with artist Paul Cauuet. Publisher’s Weekly calls it, “A satirical – and unavoidably relevant – tale worthy of joining the canon of classic Big Bad Wolf spoofs.”

To purchase, click here.

Stay tuned to the Fanbase Press website each day as we continue our “Countdown to the Eisners” coverage! Plus, follow Fanbase Press’ Facebook, Twitter (@Fanbase_Press), and Instagram (@fanbasepress) with the hashtag #FPSDCC to stay up to date on our SDCC and Eisner Awards updates, including a live-tweet of the 2020 Eisner Award Ceremony!

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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