July/August 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“Oh man this was such a cute graphic novel about a boy torn between two schools — either lumberjack or Vampire — while he doesn’t want to disappoint his parents when his real passion is revealed as a dancer.”
— Stephanie Rivera, Chapter Two...a Bookstore, Lompoc, CA
For fans of The Okay Witch and Fake Blood, this hilarious middle grade graphic novel follows a half-vampire, half-lumberjack boy who feels torn between his parents and just wants to be a dancer.
Jack is in a pickle. His lumberjack mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn how to chop wood and wear flannel. His vampire dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School to learn how to turn into a bat and drink blood-orange juice. And Jack has a secret: what he really wants to do is dance.
When he finds out about Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy from new friend Plenty, Jack feels he’s finally found the place where he can be his true self. But he’s too afraid of disappointing his family to tell them. What’s a half-lumberjack, half-vampire boy to do?
To summon the confidence to pursue his dreams, Jack will have to embrace every part of himself—his lumberjack toughness, his vampire eeriness, and most especially his awesome dance moves.
About the Author
Mat Heagerty is a comic book writer, rad dad, and all-around chipper dude. He’s the writer of Martian Ghost Centaur, Unplugged and Unpopular, and the graphic novel Lumberjackula, among others.
Sam Owen is a freelance comic artist and character designer with a focus on making fantasy and science fiction art geared towards young adults and kids. He’s also the illustrator of Lumberjackula, a middle grade graphic novel.
Meet Jack! He’s an 11-year-old lumberjack vampire who just graduated from “under school” and must decide where he will go to school next: Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire Academy or Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep. His lumberjack mother and vampire father say the decision is his to make, but he’s definitely feeling pressured to not let anyone in his family down. Worse still, neither school seems to be right for him. With his pointy ears and fangs, he doesn’t look like any of the other lumberjack kids, but his fear of heights makes it impossible for him to keep up with the other vampire kids in bat flying lessons. Feeling like a failure in addition to being overwhelmed with deciding his future, Jack turns to the one thing that makes him feel better: dancing! It’s during one of these impromptu dance moments that Jack meets a new friend who tells him about Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy! For Jack, it’s a dream come true, but how can he follow his dreams if it means disappointing the family he loves? Owen’s vibrant and expressive illustrations add an extra layer of whimsy and liveliness to an already humorous story with engaging and creative worldbuilding. While characters are depicted with an array of skin colors, Jack’s lumberjack family are light-skinned. VERDICT A delightful romp through a magical world of fangs and flannel sure to keep young readers on their (twinkle) toes.
— School Library Journal
In an earnest graphic novel about embracing one’s true self, 11-and-a-half-year-old Lumberjackula, who has teal skin and sports a red flannel, agonizes about choosing between a perceived either/or around his half-lumberjack, half-vampire heritage. Lumberjacks and vampires peacefully coexist in Hollow Tree, but they largely lead separate lives. After finishing their combined early schooling, flannel-clad lumberjack children of various skin tones attend Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn wood splitting and logrolling, while cloaked, blue-skinned vampires study hypnosis and flight at Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire Academy. Though Jack’s supportive parents say that the choice of school is up to him, he’s aware of both family legacies and doesn’t feel like he fits in at either place. When an enthusiastic performer from nearby Branchborough sees Jack dance, and encourages him to enroll at Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, the idea opens up new anxieties—and refreshing options. In rounded lines and subdued colors, Owen’s cartoon art renders the friendly world with winning details, including dance-party interstitials that show Jack working through his feelings. Heagerty (Martian Ghost Centaur) refreshingly keeps the conflict focused on Jack’s internal insecurities in this good-natured slice-of-life story that wields familiar tropes to laud embracing myriad intersections of identity. Ages 8–12. (July)
— Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*
Half lumberjack and half vampire, Lumberjackula must figure out where he belongs.
Lumberjackula, Jack for short, is a cute, blue-skinned 11 1/2-year-old boy with the pointy ears and fangs of a vampire and the bushy beard of a lumberjack. It is time for Jack to decide whether to follow in his burly mother’s footsteps and attend lumberjack school or attend vampire school like his spooky father. While he has talents in both areas, Jack’s real passion is dance. There are several spreads that showcase Jack’s adorable dance moves, which he breaks out especially when processing emotions. He really wants to attend Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, but he is afraid to tell his parents. While Jack worries about what his parents think, it’s clear to readers that they will never be anything less than supportive. This keeps the stakes low and makes for a predictable read, even for the intended age group. Despite this lack of tension or anticipation, the premise, endearing cartoon art, whimsical worldbuilding, and characters are charming enough to carry readers to the end. The moral is a step above the obvious “be who you are”: a more nuanced “be everything you are.”
A low-stakes plot balanced by lovable characters and setting.
(Graphic novel. 7-11)
— Kirkus Reviews