In this series opener, rabbits and foxes fiercely compete to control cha, a magical crystal extracted from carrots. Just before she is killed by a fox, rabbit Soozie utters mysterious last words to her bunny friend Bridgebelle. Bridgebelle and Soozie’s brother, Glee, must puzzle out the message’s meaning about how to weaponize cha, even as they cope with their grief and trauma. Meanwhile, other rabbits are distracted by the demands of cha production, the tension throughout the Vale of Industry between the artists and miners, and the encroaching foxes looking to unleash the Black Sun to gain control of the cha. Arnhold’s depictions of the characters as anthropomorphic rabbits are emotive and believable, though the characters are not always distinct; some readers may need to consult the appendix to clarify which rabbit is which. The detailed environments and action scenes will hold readers’ attention, though. With a well-paced plot that slowly unpacks numerous story lines and appendices covering history, religion, magic, and characters, this is a good choice for fans of Redwall and Mouse Guard. Ages 10–14. (July)
In Cottons, rabbits and foxes inhabit a world where magic, technology, and art are used as weapons of war. Written by Jim Pascoe, with bold illustrations from Heidi Arnhold.
To her neighbors in the Vale of Industry, Bridgebelle is an ordinary rabbit. All day long, she toils at the carrot factory. After a hard day, she returns home to care for her ailing auntie. And whenever she's out, she's watchful of the murderous foxes who prey on her kind.
But Bridgebelle is not ordinary—she's a rabbit with talents beyond her own understanding. Using cha, the mysterious fuel that powers her world, she can change everyday objects into thokchas—magical, transforming works of art. Bridgebelle makes thokchas because they're beautiful. But there are those in her world who want to harness her powers and turn her art into a weapon.
Cottons is like Wind in the Willows and Animal Farm together in one gorgeous graphic novel!”
Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, RASL, and Tuki Save the Humans
“A mesmerizing tale of wild rabbits with dark secrets, this remarkably beautiful graphic novel is perfect for readers who love Warriors and Redwall. I couldn't put it down!”
Tui T. Sutherland, author of the Wings of Fire series
"This is the first installment in what is sure to be a compelling series. Rich earth tones depict the rabbits’ adventures...the panels are filled with intense action sequences that will have readers eagerly turning pages." School Library Journal
"Elaborately envisioned animal fantasy." Kirkus
Gr 4–6—Bridgebelle and her fellow rabbits toil all day in the carrot factory to produce enough fuel for their world. Bridgebell dreams of joining the artists, who can create beautiful things from the fuel, or "cha." However, a clan of foxes are determined to take the cha. This is the first installment in what is sure to be a compelling series. Rich earth tones depict the rabbits' adventures, switching to metallic colors for the factory and dark grays for the home of the foxes. The panels are filled with intense action sequences that will have readers eagerly turning pages. The setting is detailed, and the rabbits have an intricate history and religion. The foxes are appropriately frightening, and the use of jewel tones to portray the cha in some panels adds to the magical fantasy atmosphere. VERDICT Give to fans of Kieran Larwood's The Gift of Dark Hollow and Brian Jacques's "Redwall" books.—Jenni Frencham, formerly at Columbus Public Library, WI
Brutal foxes bid to take over a power plant run by meek rabbits in this elaborately envisioned animal fantasy.In the isolated land of Lavender, magical "cha" refined from carrots not only provides energy, but infuses art objects called "thokchas" with mystical power; it also, at least for the predatory foxes, acts as a hallucinogenic drug. In an effort to enslave the "cottons" that run the cha factory, sly silver fox Sylvan bargains with dark forces to draw the terrifying Broken Feather King down from the celestial Empyrean realm. Meanwhile Bridgebelle, an orphaned cotton who yearns to be an artist, and her increasingly close friend Glee discover that they have a key and a clue that may temporarily derail the vulpine villain's plots. Pascoe expends little effort fleshing out his characters or their daily lives but positively lavishes attention on catastrophic backstories and on the rites and beliefs of the rabbits' mystical religion. In shadowy panels (some gory, others awash in murky swirls of evil) punctuated by dazzling bursts of magical lightning, Arnhold depicts mostly realistic animals that are unclothed and, despite some distinguishing features, hard to tell apart. Monochrome pages of explication at the end fill in some gaps; future episodes may fill in more—along with kick-starting a plot that barely gets underway amid all the setup.Labored in spots but a promising kickoff carried by atmospheric art and a large, furry cast. (map, guide to world and characters) (Graphic animal fantasy. 10-13)