Friday, August 20, 2010

ATTACK of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

When twins Kevin and Joules Rockman are sent to summer camp, they find their summer filled with something even more awful than sing alongs: large, fuzzy white bunny aliens who eat people and then hijack their bodies for their own malevolent purposes. Playfully illustrated by Dan Santat, Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies delivers everything that the title promises. Short chapters and a diabolically goofy conceit make this story the perfect read for that snarky kid who doesn't care less about the Hardy Boys. So if you know a 7-10 year old who loved Whales on Stilts, Zombiekins or the oldie-but-hopefully-still-goodie, My Teacher is an Alien, then this is the book for them.
I was really surprised when I found this silly, rollicking tale of fuzzy alien invasion, since author Andrea Beaty's previous book, Cicada Summer, is a serious story about trauma, healing and forgiveness. But, like M.T. Anderson, Beaty has proven herself adept in at least two different voices. And though Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies is unlikely to make any curriculum, it's a great book for reluctant readers with an eye for the extremely silly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim, the books, the movie, the epic of epic epicness

Scott Pilgrim Versus the World hits the theaters today, but I'm happy to say that I've already seen it twice. Yes, I'm that super-dork who talked her way into two screenings (thanks Roommate!) one of which was at Pixar (yessss, nerdgasm) and who, despite having seen this movie twice in the last two weeks, still wants to go see it in theaters to support it in the box office. And I hope you do, too.
Based on the series of 6 graphic novels by Brian Lee O'Malley (yay for creative hapas!), Scott Pilgrim the movie (named for the second book of the series) is fabulously adapted by super slick director Edgar Wright, who also directed a few of my other favorite movies, Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (starring the awesome and hilarious Simon Pegg). While I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the graphic novel series because of the aesthetic (giant manga eyes, particularly, and characters who look very much the same other than their hair-dos) I did like it even though I stopped at the 4th book. But the movie was better for its brevity-- crazy kinetic and stuffed full of great one-liners, sight gags and hilarious/awesome fight sequences and the coolest arcade game visual style ever made the movie go so fast that I worried I might have missed things since I was laughing so hard. I was particularly keen on Thomas Jane's cameo as the vegan police. Leading boy/man Micheal Cera does an awesome job bringing humor and vulnerability to Scott's character, and Kieran Culkin kills it as Scott's gay roommate, Wallace. I'd list everyone who was awesome, but there's no weak link in the chain-- the acting is great, the humor is campy and the arc is deceptively sentimental.
Read the books to get into the world. Watch the movie to revel in it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Story Time Picks

For the Toddlers: A Sick Day for Amos McGee (by Philip and Erin Stead) is a very sweet and very simply story about a zookeeper's life on a normal day, and then his life when he has to stay home sick. The repetitive structure and adorable animals help keep the younger set seated and listening, and the woodblock/pencil illustrations and limited palatte create a low impact, soft setting that suits younger readers nicely. I've read this story a couple times at story time, and while it does not quite engage the 4+ set, those who are younger give all the telltale signs of enjoyment, which really just means that they listen the whole way through.

For the 3-6yr olds: A Pirate's Guide to First Grade (by James Preller and Greg Ruth) went over swimmingly at this weekends' totally boy dominated storytime. We had three incoming first graders in the crowd who were especially pleased. Those who were not quite ready for first grade were equally amused, or at least were amused by my awful pirate voice (yarrr). What cracked me up as I read this story was that the kids were laughing the whole time, even when they had no idea what the pirate jargin meant. While I like to think that they may remember that "choppers" means teeth now, I have the sneaky suspicion that the idea of talking like a pirate at school was enough to keep the giggles coming for all 39 pages. I'm just glad I don't have to keep reading How I Became a Pirate (Melinda Long and David Shannon) over and over again in order to sate the still staggering need for pirate-voice stories. Yar.For Mixed Ages: Dog Loves Books (by Louise Yates) is a book guaranteed to have bookseller support since Dog, as the title promises, loves books so much that he opens his own bookstore. And while it's a store with little to no foot traffic, Dog passes the time reading books, and going places he'd never imagined with things like dinosaurs and martians and monsters. The kids at storytime were perhaps a little less amused by the bookseller jokes as I was, but they did love the pink pterodactyl, the kangaroos, the planes, the swords and all the adventures Dog finds in his books. As my coworker Bob put it on his shelf-talker: "Dog Loves Books: A gritty and unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the challenging and hurly-burly world of bookselling." Just what Yates was going for, I'm sure.