Kids need escape, and what better way to get there than with books? These are a few fun lighthearted tales sure to put a smile on any young reader’s face.

Bera the One-Headed Troll

By Eric Orchard; First Second Books; 126 pages; $17.99

Graphic books are all the rage among youngsters. Bera the One-Headed Troll is keen with its appeal to girls and boys and mentalities of all ages.

Eric Orchard’s droll and sly but hopeful tale introduces Bera the One-Headed Troll, an introvert who’s happily tending to her island pumpkin patch in solitary when a human baby arrives. No one knows where it comes from. The worried-looking baby has plenty of enemies, but Bera does a good job of protecting him from Cloote, the former head witch of the troll king.

Various oddball characters weave in and out of this low-key Norse-like adventure, but the highlight is the unique feel and otherworldly appeal it possesses.

Readers will cheer on the fearless Bera, as her quest becomes more and more strange and magical. Orchard’s comics are appropriately drab-colored, but the silliness and humor still shine through, especially with characters like tree spirits, a two-headed clownlike figure, a talking gargoyle door knocker and a young scarecrow. It’s cool and different indeed!

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor

By Rick Riordan; Disney Hyperion; 468 pages; $19.99

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, the second book in Rick Riordan’s new Norse mythology series sends Magnus and friends off to help Thor, the god of thunder, find his missing weapon before all Muspelheim breaks loose.

As witty and cool as the Percy Jackson series, Riodan’s newest series for kids ages 8 to 14 is also full of crazy villains, likable and relatable heroes, tons of action and a groovy new hip Norse-mythology setting.

This thick page-turner will send kids off to a land that’s effervescent and high-energy with humor that’s needed right now and always.

You can’t go wrong with Rick Riordan books for reluctant readers. This one packs a wallop and will be a surefire hit.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel

By Matt Phelan; Candlewick Press; 190 pages; $19.99

Matt Phelan is an award-winning graphic novelist whose books include The Storm in the Barn, Around the World and Bluffton, to name a few.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel is a moody, dramatic, nearly all black-and-white graphic tale that begins in 1928. A little girl named Samantha is sent away by her cold stepmother during the Great Depression era. When she returns, the market has crashed, her father is gone and her stepmother is more desperate for wealth and attention than ever.

With some characters who are pure of heart and others who are pure evil, Phelan has turned a classic fairy tale on its head to showcase vivid personalities and the Depression dynamism. Feels a bit like film noir, too.

Kids ages 7 to 14 should enjoy this tale, which is mostly cartoons and not much text.

The Treehouse Fun Book

By Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths and Terry Denton; Feiwel & Friends; 183 pages; $12.99

Fans of the lively, lighthearted Treehouse Books series will love The Treehouse Fun Book, an activity book designed so they can help Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths and Terry Denton join in the creation of a new tale.

With lots of stuff to write, pictures to draw, puzzles to solve, pages to color and spot-the-difference challenges, the book is perfect for toting on holiday travel or reading on rainy days.

It’s the kind of book I would’ve loved as a fourth-grader, and it certainly adds many more crazy adventures to the coolest treehouse around.

The Golden Girls of Rio

By Nikkolas Smith; Sky Pony Press; 32 pages; $16.99

Female athletes seemed to dominate much of the spotlight at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Golden Girls of Rio, a friendly picture book, showcases incredible female athletes who competed, from gymnast Simone Biles to swimmer Katie Ledecky to shot-putter Michelle Carter to Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming.

Nikkolas Smith focuses on the realism and determination these girls possess, telling their personal childhood stories of hard work and persistence. Other female gymnasts and swimmers are also included.

Smith hopes to show other young girls that they shouldn’t give up on their dreams and that people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses can do whatever they want as long as they believe in themselves and work toward their goals.

This book is an inspiring read for young athletes and also part of the We Need More Diverse Books campaign.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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