Thursday, April 29, 2010

Neat things happen, like MT Anderson making a website

Anyone who knows me sort of a little knows that I love MT Anderson's books. And now I love his website! Check it out. Awesome graphics, representing an awesome author. Oh yeah, and there's a dirigible. And who doesn't like dirigibles?

Monday, April 26, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Clare Sabry age 11, on Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a great book, and not just for certain people. Anyone can fall in love with the amazing way that Collins can portray the scene so well it makes you feel like you are right there, seeing the characters yourself. Fast-paced and dynamic, this book can fall under many categories. You really get to know the characters. And I find the plot is so fresh you want to read it again and again, soaking up all that you can of this tantalizing story.
I've read it 16 times, and I've noticed that it's really well put together, no changing or repeating facts, or forgetful sentences. It's almost perfectly thought out.There's so much you can take away from this book. I found that every time that I or someone else reads it, there is something new that I never saw before. Something amazing! For example, I recently noticed that the world in which it takes places is much like ancient Rome: the districts, the names of the people, and even the games themselves, giving a great realistic touch to an otherwise purely fictional book. Also, the pure realism of the characters: brave Katniss sacrificing herself for her sister. Sweet Prim, who at age 12 has had to deal with the loss of her and Katniss's father, and the fact that their kind of survival is sadly and stunningly rare. Charming Peeta, whose every word so convincingly pure he has the whole country hanging on his every move. And every other person, real, living, breathing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

It's nice to find a book that directly addresses the not-inherantly funny topic of race in a hilarious fashion, which is exactly what this lively graphic novel does. Set in a mostly-white American high school, Jin Wang (later to be called Danny) struggles to accept his own heritage, embarrassed as he is by it. A surreal and HI-larious section featuring Danny's cousin Chin Kee, a loud-mouthed, know-it-all Chinese stereotype who constantly expresses his desire to bind women's feet, cleverly illustrates what self-hating racism feels like in a way that is fresh, and as previously mentioned, laugh out loud funny. Already the winner of the Printz Award, a national book award finalist, a Booklist top ten Graphic Novel for Youth, NPR holiday pick, Publisher's Weekly best comic of the year, San Francisco Chronicle best book of the year, 2007 Eisner Award for best Graphic Album, Time Magazine Top Ten Comic of the year and an Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the year, I'm clearly not the first person to like this book, and certainly won't be the last.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Steifvater

Shiver is better than Twilight.

I can't say I understand the whole finding werewolves sexy thing, (dogs/dog-like behavior = sexy... not for me) but I can say that this nation wide bestseller does offer some fun, page-turning paranormal romance that the tweens drooling over Taylor Lautner will enjoy. Or already have enjoyed, since it's been on the NYT bestseller for ages now. Human Grace and werewolf Sam fall in love, share tense moments, etc, etc.

What I much preferred about this novel was that, unlike Bella and Edward, Grace and Sam do not get tunnel vision for one another. Their friends and families still matter, and have a profound effect on the plot. So rather than spending 400+ pages trapped inside a hormonal, one track mind, Grace and Sam both keep hold of the lives they had before they had one another. Oh yeah, there's also way less sexual guilt, and no creepy Rosemary's Baby birthing scene. Of course, that could still be coming, since
Shiver's follow-up, Linger, comes out this summer.

It's not my favorite book I've read this year, but I did tear through it like I was getting paid to read it. Which I wasn't. So if you're looking for a gift for that 13 year old with a Team Jacob tee shirt on, or just looking to fill the supernatural romance void for yourself, give Shiver a go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Uzumaki (Spiral Into Horror) by Junji Ito

On a recent pilgrimage to the awesome SKYLIGHT BOOKS in Los Feliz, mega manga monger Dan (if you're there, ask for his or Darren's help in the graphic novel section, their combined knowledge of the market is more than humbling) recommended Uzumaki by Junji Ito to cure me of my manga-phobia. And it worked. Badass art and the awesome conceit of a town haunted by spirals (the noun and the verb) make this manga a total page turner that'll have you shuddering every time you see a spiral in real life. Which is often, being that the spiral is a crazily commonly occurring shape in nature, being that it's the best basic visual for a fractal. Which leads me neatly to my only complaint, which was that the spiral conceit, at least in the first volume (there are 3) is not exercised to its fullest potential, and by the end I did feel like the stories were getting a bit repetitive. However, if I'd read this at ages 13-16, the intended age of the audience (it was originally published in installments in a Japanese girl's magazine), it would have scared the pee out of me. The visuals are haunting and terrifying, and there were moments that made me shudder, need to put the book down, then immediately pick the book back up again. A perfect read for the morbid set of reluctant readers, and for silly adults like me who did not believe in the power of manga.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Something that is even more awesome than that time I found $16 is a pair of pants, which is saying something because that was awesome.

New Storytime Champ: Bear in Underwear by Doodler

Thanks, Todd Doodler, for writing an awesome, short and silly book that makes the storytime I do on Saturdays way, way easier. It's not always easy getting a bunch of kids to sit still for one page, let alone a whole story when there are things like other kids, other books, grownups talking loudly, dogs, bubble gum, things with stickers in them, things that have lots of little parts, lollipops and things that are shiny around. But Bear in Underwear gets it done. What's in the backpack? Underwear! Where do they go? On bear's bare bottom! Is there enough underwear for everyone? Yes! Laughter ensues. Bottoms stay in seats, until, of course, everyone gets up to touch the squishy cotton underwear on the cover of the book. Gross.