I know that it's never a good idea to start at volume 2, but the concept of this one just totally grabbed me. (Boy gets sent in sister's place to be p...moreI know that it's never a good idea to start at volume 2, but the concept of this one just totally grabbed me. (Boy gets sent in sister's place to be part of a politically strategic marriage, etc). So I borrowed it. I do think I'll have to read it through at least once more before I return it to the library, given that I'm still not entirely able to keep the characters clear in my head - I'm finding it very difficult to tell them apart. But I have now put reserves on volumes 1 and 3 from a different library system (one which, thankfully, has access to all the volumes) so hopefully once I've read the beginning of the story it will come a little more clear.
That said, shonen-ai is a totally new thing for me. I still love the idea of the story, it just remains to be seen whether I'll be able to get my head into the right place to be able to understand it and be able to distinguish characters. (I do kind of love the mini-me versions that express internal emotion, though...)(less)
Oh, this was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and utterly brilliant, really. It weaves together the story of Korolev, Laika, and Laika's handler Yelena D...moreOh, this was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and utterly brilliant, really. It weaves together the story of Korolev, Laika, and Laika's handler Yelena Dubrovsky in a semi-fiction/semi-non-fictional story about the first dog to orbit the Earth.
Possibly the most heartbreaking moment is at the very end of the book: a quote from Oleg Grezenko, one of Dubrovsky's superiors, and a key character in the book.
I really am warming to the genre of graphic novels, and this one managed to bring Korolev to life, which was impressive, given that he'd already been brought to life for me through Space Race, by the BBC. This was an entirely different Korolev, and yet a sympathetic one all the same. Meanwhile, while I suspect the story of Laika herself is the most fabricated of all of them, it's rather awesome, and left me whimpering "puppy!" at random intervals.
It's a beautiful story, and one that I feel quite privileged to have read. (less)
**spoiler alert** I got to the end of the book and declared it awesome, but not unlike the movie of "The House of Sand and Fog" for some of it I wasn'...more**spoiler alert** I got to the end of the book and declared it awesome, but not unlike the movie of "The House of Sand and Fog" for some of it I wasn't entirely certain *why* it had the Printz Award sticker on the front cover. Clearly it was considered an amazing book - you don't win the Printz for something mediocre - but at the three-quarter point I was still wondering how the "Cousin Chin-Kee" storyline fit into the rest of it, and why on earth someone would write that storyline to begin with. And yet it all worked. In a really very awesome way.
I still have a rather odd relationship with graphic novels. I always find myself slightly surprised that they work, and that I enjoy them. It seems sort of like not enough effort for a book that thick, like I'm being "cheated" in a way, of the effort a "book" ought to take. And yet I'm a staunch defender of picture books being not just for children, etc. I think that for me the graphic novel is still suffering from the stigma of being "the thing that will get reluctant readers, especially boys, to read", when I don't see them as that at all. And books like "American Born Chinese" aren't like that at all. They're almost ridiculously full of depth and complexity. (Eg this one. And The Arrival. And Requiem for a Beast. Etc. )
Anyway. A few notes on my response:
The Monkey King storyline. When I was a kid I *avidly* watched the dub of Monkey (the Japanese TV show that used the Chinese legend as its base) that was shown on public television out here. Most of the storyline contained in American Born Chinese happens in the credit sequence of Monkey, so I was really fairly familiar with the (dubbed) story, albeit through multiple filters. I seriously, seriously loved and adored the connection of the Journey to the West with the Kings/Wise Men/visitors from the East.
The Chin-Kee storyline really puzzled me. As I said above, I really couldn't understand why it was there. Until, of course, the reveal. Not the reveal of Chin-Kee's true identity: the reveal of Danny's identity. It all began to fall into place, then - in a horrifying way that I nevertheless recognised from what I've read from other people. (I've never wished to be different like that. I've been stubborn all my life, so stubborn that I still have my accent despite years of teasing, when others with the same heritage have lost theirs. My anger turned inward later, but still not towards my heritage.) I hate the idea that people hope that hard to be someone else; to fit in. But that's what Jin Wang does, and I know that it's not actually all that rare a hope.
For me it really was that moment in front of the mirror that made the book for me. The second reveal, of Chin-Kee's true identity, added a little, but the moment that the book changed from 'huh?' to 'omgomgomg' was the Jin Wang - to - Danny moment.
It really is an awesome book. It doesn't deserve to be hidden and ignored down in the YAN shelf. For the week that I have left in my current job, it's going to be front and center. (less)
It was read and recommended by many many people on 50books_poc, and it is nominated for a Silver Inky. We (the library I...moreOh, wow, is this book awesome.
It was read and recommended by many many people on 50books_poc, and it is nominated for a Silver Inky. We (the library I work at) bought the whole longlist, and so I picked this one up to read.
It was not an easy read for me. I'd be careful about who I gave this to as a school librarian. I'd wanted someone else to vet it for me because of certain triggers I have around self-harm and suicidal ideation, but that wasn't possible, so I read it rather cautiously as a result.
I really, really loved it. As someone else has said, part of the utter delight in this book is its ordinariness. The fact that life just goes on. Skim (both book and character) is just so wonderfully, delightfully real. The sort of girl that exists everywhere but on television.
Although it isn't an Issue-with-a-capital-I book, there's an awful lot in here that I'd kind of hope a kid who read it would discuss with someone else. Like I said, it wasn't an easy read. A lot of the storylines were very close to my heart. It doesn't end with all the ends tied off neatly (something I always admire); there's a wonderful ambiguity to it all.
The art-work is breathtaking, and this book is very definitely on my "want to own" list.(less)
If nothing else (and I actually have got a lot out of this challenge) 50books_poc has got me reading graphic novels and comics. Kampung Boy is complet...moreIf nothing else (and I actually have got a lot out of this challenge) 50books_poc has got me reading graphic novels and comics. Kampung Boy is completely charming. I wish it wasn’t pretty much the only piece of Lat’s work so far published in Australia (although apparently they’re planning to release some more in the future). It’s a beautifully rendered graphic novel of (essentially) Lat’s childhood in a village – a kampung – in Malaysia. His and his family’s religious observance is matter-of-fact, and his childhood mischief is endearing. (Like that of most children.)
The book takes Lat to what seems to be an “end of childhood” moment: his departure from the Kampung to go to a boarding school in Town. (Town Boy is the next volume, and I’m really looking forward to finding it.)
Lat is one of the best-known cartoonists/serial artists in Malaysia, which is why I think it’s unfortunate that he’s only just getting published in Australia. Kampung Boy is, above all, exuberant and endearing; and well worth the read. (less)
**spoiler alert** (This review is for Volumes 1-3)
I wanted to like "The Dreaming", and I was planning to at least give it three stars. But the combina...more**spoiler alert** (This review is for Volumes 1-3)
I wanted to like "The Dreaming", and I was planning to at least give it three stars. But the combination of culturally appropriative dodginess, and the fact that I had to skim rather than read the last two sections due to trigger issues didn't do much for my opinion of it.
I'd been looking forward to reading this. After all, it was an Australian boarding-school story, essentially. Only it turned out to be a boarding-school story in the same way that Harry Potter is totally original. Ie, not. The first volume had barely begun when students began to leave the school, and there wasn't a single classroom scene. In addition, the setting was unrealistic (a Victorian mansion buried deep in the Bush - conveniently close to Sydney's North Shore, and able to be reached by taxi from the airport), and for too long it looked like the only PoC (Miss Anu) was being set up as a lesser villain.
Then, having spent two volumes describing the mansion, clothing and etc as "Victorian", the "Victorian" era was dated to 1910, which is late Edwardian. In terms of accuracy, I was being asked to suspend disbelief more than I could.
But I could have coped. I would have snarked, but still been able to enjoy the story for what it was. But in the first volume I'd been put on my guard but the line: "this school may be old, but the forest around it is *ancient*". Somehow this rang false to me: either there would be some attempt to incorporate Dreaming stories, or else what was "ancient" would end up being during white settlement, and there's some dodginess right there .
As it happened it was the first. Chan created a story around so-called "Quinkan" spirits who have possessed the school girls, pretty much just because they could, and because they were "evil spirits". However there was no reference to indigenous people, and in what may be an unfortunate coincidence, there are a North Queensland people who are called the Quinkan. Lines in "The Dreaming" (at which point even the title started to bug me, because although the way the possessions take place is through the girls dreams, the link to that part of indigenous culture known as the Dreaming was so *badly* handled it made me wince) about how "Quinkan are evil", "there are no good Quinkan" etc are - to say the least, problematic.
This spoiled my reaction to the book entirely. I will no longer suggest that students read it. (I had been doing so, on the basis of other students who had told me it was good.) I am, however, glad that this was my second encounter with a graphic, not my first. Had it been my first it would have been enough to put me off graphic novels entirely, I suspect.(less)
At this point I'm rather planning to review all three together at the end (particularly where 50books_poc is concern). I will say that between the tit...moreAt this point I'm rather planning to review all three together at the end (particularly where 50books_poc is concern). I will say that between the title and a line early on about the forest/bushland being "ancient" I'm somewhat worried about exactly what the 'mystical' background to this story will be. But at the end of book one I'm still interested enough to keep going with it - and manga is *not* totally my thing. It takes effort.
While the artwork at the end (during the search) seemed in some ways to capture the Australian bush, the story simply doesn't seem Australian. I don't know. I have reservations.(less)
I read a comic book/manga*! And more to the point, enjoyed it!
I'm fairly sure I picked up this book thinking it was just a regular Western. It's not....moreI read a comic book/manga*! And more to the point, enjoyed it!
I'm fairly sure I picked up this book thinking it was just a regular Western. It's not. The world Kibuishi has created is basically a cross between Firefly and Star Wars. And honestly, there's no bad there :-)
Daisy is a fabulous heroine. If there are more Daisy Kutter comics, I might actually have to chase them up. (None show up on GoodReads, though). Tom is adorable, and since Kibuishi is doing the whole "girl hides her emotions, keeps boy at arms length" thing, there is one sequence that I really do love.
I enjoyed reading the pictures more than I thought I would. I've read books by Raymond Briggs, of course, and I suppose they're in comic book format, but mostly, one still reads the words rather than the pictures. There are a lot of ways in which this is a disorienting medium for me (eg, I still haven't read the Firefly comics that I was given a number of years ago, because I couldn't get into them) and so I was really glad to be hooked by this and enjoy it. As a result, I think I may now be ready to attack The Dreaming or American-Born Chinese now.
*What's the actual definition of 'manga'? How is it distinguished from a 'comic book'?(less)
I knew this book was going to be amazing. From the first time I looked at the first few pages I knew it. This book is - quite literally -...more~speechless~
I knew this book was going to be amazing. From the first time I looked at the first few pages I knew it. This book is - quite literally - beyond words.
I loved the other people's stories: I loved the references to Tom Roberts' Going South, and to Ellis Island. And the endpapers! It was just all done so beautifully. The emotion in this book is staggering, all the way through.
And the world to which the man goes is... awesome. In the true sense of the word. Some of those full-page spreads left me gaping in wonder. I rather want to know more about that world: even though Jack Kirby and the X-Man is/are right and there is no way I can imagine that this story could be done justice in words... I still would love more stories about this world, with its creatures and its vegetables and its paper-like birds and beautiful flowers.
I am, once again, in utter awe of Shaun Tan.
Like The Castle, The Dish, My Place and Rabbit-Proof Fence, I think that knowledge of this text should be compulsory for Australians, in particular. After all, most of us are in some way descended from immigrants who came here within the last two and a half centuries. It's not just recent migrants who can find this experience in their hearts. I think we almost all can find something to relate to in this.(less)