Endearing band of misfits seeks to save their spooky, supernatural town in delightful new graphic novel

TORONTO – Sometimes the most powerful magic comes from our connections to our family and friends — and we just might need to harness it to kick some major bunny butt. “ParaNorthern,” (July 13, 2021, HMH Kids/Etch) is a deliciously humorous, cozy and bewitching graphic novel from Stephanie Cooke that will delight readers of all ages.

A witch named Abby and her three friends — a wolf-girl, a ghost and a pumpkinhead — band together to try and save their town from an invasion of rabid (but adorable!) chaos bunnies in this enchanting middle grade graphic novel for fans of “Making Friends,” “The Okay Witch,” and “Lumberjanes.”

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making and playing board games with her best friends — a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl and a ghost.

But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

“ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse”
Written by Stephanie Cooke | Art by Mia Costa | July 13, 2021 | HMH Kids/Etch 9780358169000 | Graphic Novel | Hardcover: $24.99 | Paperback: $12.99 | Ebook: $8.99

Follow Stephanie Cooke on social media:
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STEPHANIE COOKE is an award-winning writer and editor based out of Toronto. She’s a comic book fan, avid gamer, movie watcher and lover of puns. She is a purveyor of too many projects and thrives in chaos. Her writing work is featured in Mark Millar’s “Millarworld Annual,” “Wayward Sisters,” “The Secret Loves of Geek Girls,” “Toronto Comics Anthology” and more. Her debut graphic novel, “Oh My Gods!” released in January 2021 from HMH Kids, and a sequel will follow in fall 2021.

She’s also a crazy cat lady who happens to be terribly allergic to cats. As such, she settles for having just the one cat and takes a lot of allergy medication.

In an interview, Stephanie Cooke can discuss:

  • Her experience in the comic book and graphic novel industry and how that has contributed to her writing
  • Her background editing comic books and graphic novels
  • What inspired her “ParaNorthern” characters and their spooky story
  • Her experience writing multiple characters and storylines, often at the same time!
  • What it was like to debut during a pandemic
  • What is next for her writing career and other books she plans to write

Other work by Stephanie Cooke

“Oh My Gods!”
Available Now | Paperback | 9780358299523 | $11.69

Karen is just an average thirteen-year-old from New Jersey who loves to play video games with her friends and watch movies with her mom. But when she moves to Greece to live with her eccentric, mysterious father, Zed, suddenly everything she thought about herself—about life — is up in the air. Starting a new school can be difficult, but starting school at Mt. Olympus Junior High, where students are gods and goddesses, just might take the cake. Especially when fellow classmates start getting turned to stone. Greek mythology . . . a little less myth, a little more eek! And if Karen’s classmates are immortal beings, who does that make her?

“The dialogue and characterizations are spot on and snappy” — New York Times Book Review

“[An] adorable father-daughter-bonding story with a twist. … A fun romp with minimal drama and plenty of heart makes this a refreshing read, and a teaser ending indicates more to come.” — Booklist

“A breezy tone and well-placed gags keep things moving in Cooke and Fitzpatrick’s series opener.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Sure to be a hit among readers seeking an exciting mystery with mythological flair.”
— School Library Journal

“Oh My Gods! 2: The Forgotten Maze”
Available April 5, 2022 | Paperback | $11.75

In this epic sequel to the middle-grade graphic novel “Oh My Gods!,”
Karen and her new friends descend into a forgotten maze beneath
Mt. Olympus Junior High in search of an online troll by the name of M1N0T4UR. For fans of Raina Telgemeier and Kayla Miller.


An interview with Stephanie Cooke

How did you get started writing graphic novels?

I have always loved to write, and the comics medium has fascinated me. I had these big books in my head that I wanted to write but as someone with ADHD, prose can be very intimidating for me. Comics offered a way for me to take the stories in my head and actually get them down on paper without fussing over too much (or too little) description because it’s a collaboration with an artist! I started with short stories to really hone my style and voice and to get a feel for the scripting process. I then graduated to full-length graphic novels! But I still love telling short stories; it’s an artform I think every creator should play around with.

How does “ParaNorthern” differ from your previous work?

All of my works have a little bit of me in them, but “ParaNorthern” was actually the first longform graphic novel that I sold and completed! Because of the way that schedules worked out, “Oh My Gods!” just happened to come out first. But “ParaNorthern” is a little spookier and plays around with supernatural lore and myths. It’s also all original characters that I created whereas in “OMGs,” we were largely reinventing gods and goddesses for modern times. Still our original creations — but based on something that came before!

Are there things you’ve done differently in the process of creating a new graphic novel? Things you’ve kept the same throughout writing?

As a creator, your voice and storytelling skills are always changing and evolving! But in terms of the process itself, it’s largely stayed the same so far. Once I have the characters and the rough idea of the story in mind, I outline very heavily. I basically do beat by beat point-form notes where I go through everything that I want to happen; I do a lot of editing and reworking of the story in this phase because it’s easier to process (looking at 3-4 pages of condensed story vs. 200-300 fully scripted pages). When I’m happy with the outline, I then start the scripting process and use the outline as my guide to keep me on track, with enough leeway to let things change as I get to know the characters more.

Why is this story important to you?

Aside from the fact that this is the first graphic novel I sold (and is very sentimental to me), I love these characters so much and the journey that each one of them is on. They’ve been in my head for years at this point and getting to see them come to life is nothing short of actual magic to me. I put little bits of myself into the characters and I also take inspiration from my loved ones too, so they’re not just these fictional characters to me — they’re bits and pieces of real people that I love, too.

What do you hope readers gain from the book?

I think I’m supposed to say that I hope they find characters that mean something to them and a story that they can relate to (despite the magical differences!) but honestly, I just want kids to read this, enjoy it and laugh at the silly jokes. We all need some joy in this world and something to let us escape from our everyday lives for a bit. I had so much fun writing “ParaNorthern” and watching it come to life; all I want in return is for at least one kid to read all my jokes and puns and laugh themselves senseless!