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See an exclusive look at the cover for the first Lumberjanes novel

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Sorrell Scrutton; Shawnee Custalow

Fans have been used to the Lumberjanes comic book adventures for a while now, but now everyone’s favorite campers are set to step into a new and unexplored format (for them, anyway): the middle grade novel.

It’s something that both author Mariko Tamaki—who will be penning the four-book series—and illustrator Brooke Allen are very excited about.

“It’s amazing to be able to contribute something to a universe that you’re so fond of,” says Tamaki. “The characters are so full of interesting details, and they’re such unique personalities… It’s a really great universe to write in.”

The books offer readers a chance to learn more about Mal, Molly, April, Jo, and Ripley, as they expand the comics’ universe. They’ll also give fans a chance to learn more about the characters’ backstories as they go on book-based adventures and attempt to earn badges.

“I love the idea of writing into what other people have been imagining about these characters,” says Tamaki, who notes that she’s writing the books as a fan of the series too. “Everything that isn’t already in the comics is something I had to run by the original crew to make sure that that was cool, but it is interesting, actually, that the things that I thought were true, were true.”

The first book of the series—for which you can see the exclusive cover below—will be titled Unicorn Power! and sees the group of friends go up hiking up a mountain (that might not be a mountain) and encounter none other the titular creatures. “April would be pleased to say it is a unique experience of unicorns,” says Tamaki.

And though each book features a different adventure, all the novels will be connected—and set in the same universe as the comics. “There’ll be little clues,” says Tamaki. “As the books go along, they’re going to hint at what’s coming.”

When it comes to illustrations, Allen says narrowing down the scenes was a difficult process. “There are a lot of things that I know are just too crazy, and I need to turn it down,” Allen says. “[Like] in the old Animorphs books, there’s the little morphing thing in the corner. There are so many things I want to fill within the margins and stuff, and I’m like I can’t do that.”

Both Tamaki and Allen agree that they’re excited about the badges that will be featured in the book, though Tamaki says coming up with them was a bit tricky. “Puns are really hard. Although once you start thinking about them, you can’t stop thinking about them… Though if I was a young Lumberjanes reader, that’s something I would be obsessed with.”

Allen adds that sometimes readers will create their own badges. “Fans come up with ones that blow me away. One was for arm wrestling a bear, called ‘Grin and Bear It.’”

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is scheduled for release in Fall 2017. Preorder it here.