Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fake Blood

A book review in GIF format because I have a lot going on right now!

At first I worried that Whitney Gardner's Fake Blood would be a bit hefty for my students, as it clocks in at 300 pages. But then I saw the format and how expansive the illustrations were and I thought: 

A sweet tale about a 6th grader who wishes he was a little more extraordinary? Sounds like something my students and I would enjoy.

But, hmmm, there are a lot of Twilight references here.

Have any of my students read or seen Twilight?

No, they haven't. But will they like the story anyway?

How I felt when AJ bonds with his crush via audiobook:

When the real vampire was revealed after super heavy-handed hints:

But will I be recommending this book to my students?

So much fun to review books this way! Can I just do this from now on?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

I cannot love this book enough! Penelope Bagieu writes and illustrates brief and fascinating graphic biographies of thirty incredible women. They come from all walks of life, all time periods, and all areas of expertise, but are uniformly inspiring.

There are some women with whom I was familiar (I seem to read a lot about Temple Grandin), but the majority were new to me and such a pleasure to read about. I loved Georgina Reid, the lighthouse keeper, and Katia Krafft, the vulcanologist, the best. Although, really, it's hard to pick favorites because all of the women described are so fantastic.

This is the book I will give all the girls in my life for their 13th birthday. It will teach them about the fierce women who came before them and inspire them to follow their own path. What more could you ask from a book? Not much, except maybe a sequel (perhaps about the list from the end of the book of 30 more rebel ladies who rocked the world).

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

Hooray for a resurgence of popularity for Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved character, Anne Shirley. Netflix has a series, "Anne with an E" chronicling the life of our favorite Prince Edward Isle redhead, and now there is a graphic novel about her misadventures.

Mariah Marsden's adaptation of the novel has all the beloved quotes from the novel, but operates at a surface level. This is one of the risks of adapting a massive tome into a graphic novel: the details must be left out. The raspberry cordial incident lasts only a few pages and walking the roof's ridgepole is even shorter. I hope that the graphic novel serves as a gateway to the original works for readers, as there is so much more to Anne's mishaps.

The color palette selected by illustrator Brenna Thummler is beautiful and the nature scenes capture the Green Gables of my imagination. I wish that the people were a bit better looking; Diana Barry was always supposed to be attractive and that doesn't translate in this version.

For my money, the Netflix series is a preferable adaptation. It makes sense, as they have so much more time to tell stories, but they also do a better job of demonstrating how bonkers Anne Shirley truly was.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Be Prepared

I looked back at my review of Vera Brosgol's first graphic novel, Anya's Ghost, and it is gushing! This is why I keep this blog: so I can refer back to books and remember how I felt about them. In 2011, I wrote that I couldn't wait for Brosgol's next book. It's been seven years and worth the wait to get Be Prepared, a fully realized memoir that is entertaining and relatable.

Nine-year-old Vera is too Russian and too poor to fit in with the other girls in her class, which is why she jumps at the opportunity to attend a Russian summer camp. Maybe she has finally found her people! That might have happened, if she wasn't put in a tent with teenagers, who immediately cast her aside. I almost can't blame them--a five year age difference is incredible and that is negligent on the camp's part! Everything that Vera had been looking forward to goes wrong, and there is no way she could be prepared for what summer camp entails.

Similar to Anya's Ghost, this book has a limited color palette. The choice to use olive green as the only color makes the reader feel as if the whole book is set inside a tent. I like Brosgol's illustration style and Vera's huge eyes make her seem so vulnerable and young. I'm happy that the ending of the book sets up what must be a sequel. I hope we don't have to wait seven years to read it.