I think the Velveteen stories were/are originally posted online, probably on Seanan McGuire's blog, but my first encounter with them was when this collection happened to be my first choice for testing the Scribd subscription. It's also the first book I've read entirely on my phone, and, actually, reading on a galaxy note 4 screen works quite well for me. I do wish the app was a bit more customizable regarding font/background colours and sizes, but that's… a different matter entirely. (But, just in case: Dear Scribd, at least give me night mode and screen brightness adjustment from within the app?)
Velveteen is a superhero. A female one, though probably not exactly like Ms Marvel or Wonderwoman (I plan on reading the new Ms Marvel, but haven't yet, by the way). Marketing decided her superhero uniform needed to feature bunny ears. As if the leotard and heels weren't enough already. It was supposed to make sense, because her superpower gives her a cute and cuddly profile, excellent for a younger audience; She can control and animate things that are made to look like people or animals. Toys, essentially. Teddy bears and action figures and statues and what-have-you. So cute, nearly harmless.
The story about Velveteen is also the story about Velma, the kid who was sold to the corporation and the team of the Junior Super Patriots, by not-very-loving parents. She grows up like this, constantly in some version of the uniform, constantly learning to give the cameras a good angle. Her teammates are Sparkle Bright, Action Dude, and The Claw. We meet them all in flashbacks, through several of the stories in this collection. We follow their development right up until Vel- Velveteen - reaches 18, quits the team, and gives up superheroing in favor of earning her rent through jobs in which serving coffee is the most heroic act of the day.
She inhabits a universe full of fantastic superheroes, many of which have origin stories featuring that unfortunate event with the irradiated maple syrup. Her best friends are Princess, the magical hero whose powers are all of the fantastic abilities children all over the world tend to imagine fairytale princesses having. She can talk to woodland animals, sing enemies to sleep, run in high heels. Jackie Frost is the daughter of Jack Frost and the Snow Queen, the current guardians of Winter. She travels on ice skates, on instantly-created paths of ice.
All of it is, of course, wrapped in Seanan McGuire's usual, easy, lovely storytelling. I expected nothing less, and there's a second collection of Velveteen stories out there, and I'm aiming straight for it. (There might even be a third! It really is Christmas.)