Shannon Hale has become one of the best-selling comic book writers in the world in recent months. Writing Squirrel Girl for Marvel and Wonder Woman for DC Comics, it is her Real Friends series that has taken her comic book sales into the stratosphere with seven-figure print runs.
She's also still writing comics, sometimes with her husband Dean Hale, such as an Amethyst graphic novel from DC due in November, and picture books such as the recently-released Itty Bitty Kitty Corn with LeUyen Pham and the Princess In Black books. Her most recent middle-grade novel, Kind Of A Big Deal was… kind of a big deal.
But in 2022, it looks like it is time for her to take messaging from subtext to text with a new picture book, This Book Is Not For You! illustrated by Tracy Subisak that may have a message for all and sundry. As long as the title doesn't actually work on potential readers. It's a gamble Hale is willing to take.
From New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale comes a zany picture book that pokes fun at overly gendered notions of "boy books" and "girl books" and celebrates the pleasure of a good book.
Stanley's thrilled for bookmobile day–until the old man at the window refuses to lend him the story he wants, all because it features a girl. "Girl books" are only for girls, the book man insists, just like cat books are only for cats and robot books are only for robots. But after a ferocious dinosaur successfully demands a book about ponies, Stanley musters up the courage to ask for the tale he really wants–about a girl adventurer fighting pirates on the open seas–and inspires the people, cats, robots, and goats around him to read stories outside their experiences and enjoy the pleasure of a good book of their choosing.
It's something my youngest daughter struggled with, a combination of peer pressure and marketing – what was she allowed to like. Thankfully Phoenix Comics Weekly helped her realise what she really liked was robots smashing each other up, courtesy of Neill Cameron's Mega Robo-Bros. Oh and medieval female saints killing dragons, thanks to St Georgia…