August 13, 2009
Earthgirl by Jennifer Cowan
Everyone should want to protect the environment and save the world, right?
That’s the outlook of budding activist Sabine “Bean” Solomon. While riding her bike, Sabine is hit with a leftover McDonald’s meal tossed from an SUV that is idling in the bike lane. After a slight altercation with the driver that ends up being posted on You Tube, Sabine begins to realize that there is something seriously wrong with the world, and maybe it’s time that she did something about it.
However, not everyone is willing to embrace Sabine’s newfound environmental and consumer consciousness. Her parents won’t buy organic food from the local co-op (where Sabine now works after having quit her job at the corporate hole that is The Gap). Her friends scoff at carrying resuable bags. Her sister even joins the Girls Intelligence Agency, a marketing group that gathers polls teens in order to find the next big consumer trend. Sabine finds herself frustrated as she slowly alienates everyone around her.
Until she meets Vray. Vray is smart, gorgeous and is completely dedicated to “the cause”. The seem perfect for each other, with Vray teaching and guiding Sabine about what it means to be an activist. But where is the line between being dedicated and being a radical? Does the end justify the means, so long as it benefits and draws attention to “the cause”? What kind of activist is Sabine?
This is a timely and eye opening book, focusing heavily on issues that are not often found in teen literature, making for a great read for anyone who wants to get involved in responsible living.
August 13, 2009
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beatty
Twelve year old Lily hasn’t talked in years. Not to her father. Not to her classmates. Not even to Fern, the grandmotherly owner of the small town’s general store. Most people assume that she has brain damage, a resulting from the events of “that night”, an assumtion that Lily doesn’t bother to correct. In truth, she just wants to be invisible, vowing to silently keep guard over the dark and tragic secret of what really happened “that night” .
Lily’s invisibility is challenged when Fern’s grandniece Tinny comes to town. Tinny quickly discovers that Lily is not as slow as everyone thinks and spends her time plotting ways to get Lily in trouble. But when a strange man shows up in town, Lily learns that Tinny may be in serious trouble. Will she be able break her vow of silence in order to keep Tinny safe?
This book should appeal to kids who like thoughtful stories mixed with a little bit of mystery (such as Patricia Reilly Giff’s Pictures of Hollis Woods
July 31, 2009
Joker by Brian Azzarello
While the story in this was pretty good (there’s no denying that Brian Azzarello is a great writer), I was completely blown away by the art. I think that Lee Bermejo has just earned a special place in my list of favorite comic book artists (which would be second, of course….I kind of have a long running thing for Ben Templesmith—as you can see my tastes kind of run on the dark side of things). I can’t wait to read more things in which Bermejo has taken part!
July 26, 2009
Lio: Happiness is a Squishy Cephalopod by Mark Tatulli
Other than a comic strip here and there, I’d never really read a lot of Lio. I can’t believe how much I’ve been missing out!!! A mischievous litte kid with a penchant for mayhem, monsters and robots???? What more could I ask for?!?!
Here is just a wonderful sample:
July 24, 2009
Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical edited by Deborah Noyes
I was beginning to think that I really just don’t like young adult short stories collections at all. Of the last two that I have read, one I hated; the other I felt only lukewarm about, and that one (Gothic! Ten Tales of Terror, which was also edited by Deborah Noyes) had stories by some of my all time favorite authors! However, I have finally found a young adult collection where I actually enjoyed every story in it
In Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical popular authors such as Vivian Vande Velde, David Almond, Margo Lanagan, Cynthia Leitich Smith and others explore the strange and varied spectrum of “freaks and marvels” that originally gained popularity through traveling circuses and carnivals (Noyes does address in the introduction how these exhibits have shifted from being popular to being seen as “cruel and exploitive”). There are stories that you would expect to be in a collection like this, ones of a Bearded Lady, a dwarf, a psychic and a swami, but there were also ones that delved a little deeper into the odd side of things. Cecil Castellucci tells a story about learning to keep alive a feisty family heirloom. Annette Curtis Klause melds together carnivals and Egyptian history in “The Mummy’s Daughter.”
While all of these stories were enjoyable, I think my favorite part was the inclusion in the collection of several comic style stories, most notably Matt Phelan’s story of a Jargo* act gone wrong.
This is a great collection for anyone with an interest in the culture of carnivals or who likes their stories a little odd and creepy.
*A Jargo act was one where two men dressed as either a horse or giraffe.
June 26, 2009
I Am Legend
I saw the Will Smith movie I Am Legend a while ago, and really liked it (which should come to absolutely no surprise to those who know of my fascination with creepy monsters that go bump in the night). Somehow though, I had never read the book. Then I discovered that one of my favorite comic writers, Steve Niles (who wrote many of the 30 Days of Night books), had done a graphic novel version of I Am Legend. Somehow I felt if I was going to read it, I should at least start with the original book, and I’m so glad that I did.
The movie tie-in version of the book is actually a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson (not sure if this the the case with other versions). It leads off with I Am Legend; after a plague decimates society, infecting the living and creating vampires, Robert Neville finds himself as quite possibly the last living human on earth. It was creepy, but ultimately just a really sad, kind of heartbreaking portrayal of a man faced with the utmost loneliness.
There were a couple of other stories that I were just the right amount of weird and creepy. There were a couple that I really liked. The Near Departed, had a tinge of dark humor when a mysterious client plans for a death. In From Shadowed Places a young man suffers the wrath of an angered witch doctor. And my favorite, the uber-creepy Prey, where the trapped spirit of a bloodthirsty hunter escapes from it’s prison. Definitely an enjoyable collection, I can’t wait to look for more books by Richard Matheson.
June 26, 2009
Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow
What a great start to a new series! Sisters Kimi and Hana want nothing more to become Samurai warriors…something quite impossible in 1216 in feudal Japan. Lucky for them, their father, the Jito, or ruler of the province, teaches them basic fighting techniques, believing that women should be able to defend themselves in case of an attack. However, their training is brief, for girls (especially daughters of the Jitoare meant to practice tea ceremonies and calligraphy, not fighting with swords and daggers.
The girls’ world is forever changed though when their uncle commits the horrifying and treacherous act of slaughtering their father and two older brothers, forcing the girls to flee for their lives. Not knowing if their mother and younger brother escaped, they disguise themselves as peasant boys in order to take shelter at a dojo. Run by Master Goku, it is no only the same dojo where their older brothers had trained to become samurais, but where their cousin Ken-ichi is currently studying.
Will the girls be able to keep the secret of who they really are and avenge their father’s death? Or will Ken-ichi’s father track them down?
Perfect for middle school readers, Sisters of the Sword is just the first in the series, be sure to look for Chasing the Secret and Journey Through Fire