I met Jonathan Case and his daughter Dorothy in Artists’ Alley at the American Library Association Annual Conference, Wash D.C. The conference was back in-person. Masks and vaccinations were required, so it it was a different Artists’ Alley. Odd, but felt safe and far better than a virtual conference. Artists can apply for a free Artist’s Alley table if they donate an artwork to the ALA scholarship fund.
Jonathan is no stranger to comics. He won an Eisner for Green River Killer, and worked on Batman ’66. His new book, Little Monarchs, though, is a labor of love.
Little Monarchs is a wonderful young adult “natural science fiction” graphic novel. Set in 2101, 10-year-old Elvie is on a mission to save humanity with the help of a medicine created by monarch butterflies. Like the fictional Elvie, Jonathan’s daughter Dorothy is 10 years old.
He started the book 10 years ago. “I was going to be a Dad,” he said, “and was worried I didn’t have any practical skills, so I came up with a MacGuffin to do a book set exclusively in real locations.” He spent a lot of time outdoors. “I learned things about foraging, knot-tying, star navigation.” These survival skills inform the graphic novel set in a future where almost all mammals are extinct.
Jonathan camped along the monarch butterfly’s migration path to research the book. All the actual locations are re-imagined in the 2101 future. Pictured below is of one of Jonathan’s backcountry campsites.
The science in Little Monarchs is grounded in reality. The project even got technical support from The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The Xerces Society is a world leader in the battle to save monarch butterflies. Reviews have been stellar and the book earned a Junior Library Guild gold seal.
Little Monarchs is a remarkable book on so many levels. The premise and artwork are fantastic and young readers will find it thrilling. Available everywhere books are sold. Or visit JonathanCase.net and he’ll send you a packet of milkweed seeds with your book order to help save the monarchs.
P.S. I was at ALA’s Artists’ Alley assisting at my son Daniel McCloskey’s table. He was sharing his debut graphic novel, CLOUD TOWN. I’ll write about that next time.