Monday, February 26, 2024

Today's read... Haru: Spring by Joe Latham


Book 1
by Joe Latham
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy /  Graphic Novel
272 pages
ages 9 to 12

MARCH 12th!!!

Haru, a small bird who dreams of flying, and their best friend Yama, a talkative boar, are used to being in the shadows. But when Yama finds a strange artifact that causes sinister effects, the two are swept into an epic journey to destroy the artifact and save the world.

In The Valley, best friends Haru and Yama both dream of leaving as they’re bullied at school, frustrated at home, and struggling to figure out who they are. One day, a powerful artifact connects itself to Yama, and they discover that they’ll have to journey to The Beacon in search of answers.

Created by artist Joe Latham, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel series is a coming-of-age tale that spans the changing of seasons. Beginning in spring and ending in spring—the cycle complete. A story of heart, growing up, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, Haru is perfect for middle-grade readers.



Adventure, friendship, and an exciting adventure swirl around unexpected heroes, who are determined to stop evil and save the world.

Haru is a small bird, who would love to fly,  visit the world beyond the forest, and escape the small-minded bullies at school. Luckily, Haru has a best friend, Yama, who might be a boar but shares some of the same problems. Together, the two head out for adventure.

This is the first book in the series, and the plot runs exactly along the same lines—a beginning with much story to come...which means that diving into the following books will be a must to see where the adventure is heading. 

This starts with a short tale about a battle between dark and light, where darkness' heart is left behind. It sets the background as well as a bit of urgency to the adventure. Then, we meet Haru and get to follow along through a bit of family and into troubles with others at school, where bullies reinforce Haru's desire to see more. When Yama comes in, sympathy builds and makes the friendship that much more golden. It's after this that the adventure first sparks. While the characters seem adorable, there's quite the dark side to the much so that it eases this more toward the upper end of the age group and tweens. I wouldn't suggest it to more sensitive readers. For those readers who enjoy more, this darker side does create a nice tension and gives it a unique edge.

The illustrations carry an interesting mix and are well-done. It's enjoyable to flip through these and see the colors mix with the mood. The characters and their lean toward 'cute' meet this darker edge in all the right ways. The illustrations carry the tale well and make the moments sit.

While the cover seemed to radiate cuteness, this is a read with tension and dark twists. There are messages surrounding bullying, dreams, friendship, and going beyond the comfort zone to do what's right as well as the first sense of a coming-of-age adventure. The pacing felt a rough, grabbing at times and having me skimming at others, but it's a unique read in many ways. Fans of adventure with darker moments and heart-filled characters will enjoy it.

And here he is...

Joe is a Human Person, based in Bristol (UK). He makes comics, illustrations and designs for other humans. In his own words, he is "a tall nerd" and he plays the drums. He also likes to hang out with his cat. He uses Instagram and Twitter to post project updates and artwork.

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