Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This stuff is Ancient

I've been working on this post for like 3 weeks, but I've been so busy that I haven't been able to actually finish a thought, I feel like. My mom always said, "better late than never," so here ya go. 

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole. The topic of this book is certainly very political, but I don't think all the hullabaloo takes away from what is at heart, a beautiful little story. The illustrations are in that beautiful place between being obviously sketches, but not venturing over into cartoon-land. Despite the fact that the book is about black and white penguins who live in a gray and white world, the book is actually full of color. I also liked the language: the sentences are short and sweet. I find I like picture books with concise, active sentences the best. No, this book doesn't put a negative spin on homosexuality, and if that isn't your personal view, well, don't read this book. But if you don't have a problem with it, or are looking for a touching story about adoption, then give the book a go.

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan, by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Richard Egielski. I checked this out for my husband, the musician, and it made him do his girly giggle. I like the illustrations, but I can't really describe them. I need an art class to broaden my vocabulary, or something. I found the story line a little overly simplified, and I'm not really sure who this book is for: the language and bold colors certainly make it appropriate for young children, but I'm not sure they will care about it, as there isn't much action or large animals or giant trucks or princesses. It could be used as a good story to illustrate that, even if you don't get along all the time, you can still work together and be friends.  

Alyzon Whitestarr, by Isobelle Carmody. I really liked the beginning part of this book. I found the concept very interesting. A little over a third of the way through, however, it seemed like the author became unsure of what she was trying to do. Like maybe she found it too difficult to explain, or couldn't come up with an explanation that didn't sound preposterous, or was just bored with the whole idea, so she left out specifics. It felt like a real lack of effort. My major complaint is that, except for in the very beginning when Alyzon is first getting used to her new ability, the author largely ignores it. Alyzon has just had her way of the looking at the world turned up-side down. Her new ability should influence everything she does, be the first thing she notices in any situation; instead, the author really let it fall by the story's wayside. A great idea, but a real let-down in practice.  

The Wet Nurse's Tale, by Erica Eisdorfer. I liked this story. I like historical fiction realistic working class stories. To be honest, it's been a while since I finished this, and, other than the plot, obviously, I don't remember a lot of the specifics. The writing was very speech-y; the main character narrated from first person, so there was a large number of purposeful errors to try to give the feel of how she may have talked. I didn't love that part, but it wasn't bad.  

Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett. I'm glad this author is still able to write. I love him so much. I'm thinking about going back and reading all the Discworld books in order. There needs to be more Sam. Sam is never a bad thing. Werewolf, by Jeff Zornow. This was a graphic novel on DVD-format, which the lovely ABDO people sent to me for free. I have no information on the artists or readers. The story is great-- simple but intense. Kids will eat it up. The concept is great, perfect for high-low readers or young readers looking to start reading comics. You can play it on any computer-- it doesn't require special software. If you aren't familiar, there are 2 ways to read this GNonDVD: you can read it yourself, and there is a 2-page spread. You can turn the page using an arrow button on the screen, and it's just like a print version. The cool thing is the read-to-me option. You still get 2 pages at a time, but everything lights up in order. The panels light up (they are just black space) as the reader gets to them. The text boxes within each cell appear in order, and pop forward as they are being read. The execution left a lot to be desired. The readers obviously prepared, but they were both younger people but narrating for old characters, so that was the first thing against them. They read slowly, probably to give readers a chance to keep up, but that made it pretty boring. The female reader especially did a very poor job of injecting any sort of appropriate emotion into her lines. They could both have done a much better job at sounding scary. The sound effects that accompany the read-to-me were pretty good, and the basic animations didn't totally suck. This will certainly be something to look for in the future-- the concept is fantastic and it would be totally useful. I am going to wait and see if the product improves over the next little while, though.  

Mary Jane: The Loyalty Thing, by Sean McKeever; pencils by Takeshi Miyazawa, inks by Norman Lee, colors by Christina Strain, letters by Randy Gentile. Another freebie from the ABDO people. I had heard about this series and I have to agree with the negative bits. The story almost completely disregards the established Spider Man facts. The drawings are good (and consistent) and the story doesn't suck. I think it's supposed to be reaching out to girl readers. If you've got girls who don't care about ignoring the "real" story, give this to them. The binding is fantastic, though. I'll be looking at this company for my YA comic books for next year. I don't think you could tear this thing a part if you tried. This is book 2 in what I believe to (currently) be a series of four. I've put it into our collection, and I will check on its circulation in a few months.

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