I... am not sure what to think of this book. Short version: in an updated Eloise, six-year-old Ella lives in the penthouse suite of the Local Hotel, aI... am not sure what to think of this book. Short version: in an updated Eloise, six-year-old Ella lives in the penthouse suite of the Local Hotel, a downtown SoHo Grand kind of place filled with models and rock stars and pretty much supermodel Hansel's entire entourage. She wears paint-speckled Doc Martins and carries a miniature dachshund named Stacie. She and her nanny (Manny) eat lunch by the pool, order dinner in, and rock out together.
It's very adorable, definitely. The shoes alone are sending me straight to the Cydwoq store in Nolita. Mentally, anyway. Physically, I'm staying in Baltimore so I can pick up everyone from school. Ella has two American Girl dolls "which is plenty." One of them wears a t-shirt that reads "I'm doin' me." So I mean, *I* love it. But *I* read Vogue and the New York Times style magazine. I know what the word 'signage' means and I know that gladiator sandals are tragic and I myself sometimes weave fabric out of reclaimed plastic bags and twine.
So I don't know. I'm going to come down on the plus side, because there's enough silliness in Ella's day that even kids who never knew that "muddle" could be a verb will giggle along with her underfoot, out-of-context activities. You know, the usual kid stuff - putting edamame up the nose, doing yoga poses with the dog, and, um, going to fashion shows. Huh. Look, there's Grace Coddington....more
I'll be the one. I'll say it: this is The Gashlycrumb Tinies for the next generation. I mean...longer stories, and not claustrophobically cross-hatcheI'll be the one. I'll say it: this is The Gashlycrumb Tinies for the next generation. I mean...longer stories, and not claustrophobically cross-hatched, and not terribly violent, except for that part where the cup jumps off the shelf, but it is funny, and it is alphabetically themed, and some of the characters are dressed anachronistically... Ok so it's not MUCH like Edward Gorey's collection of depraved imagined death, but it is KINDA.
Some bugs do this, some bugs do that. Hop like a grasshopper, buzz like a bee! And the verbs are grouped - movement, sound, food gatheriOh...YES. YES!
Some bugs do this, some bugs do that. Hop like a grasshopper, buzz like a bee! And the verbs are grouped - movement, sound, food gathering, defense strategy. SO SMART.
The bug illustrations hit just the right spot - enough detail to ensure that each bug is identifiable as what it is, but abstract enough not to let that detail get distracting, and with googly eyes to make 'em cute.
Fun for storytime, fun for older readers too. WITH an identification key in the back. ...more
This is going to go over the wrong way. But I'm going to say it anyway - every time I feel despair at the cluelessness of old(er) white guy illustratoThis is going to go over the wrong way. But I'm going to say it anyway - every time I feel despair at the cluelessness of old(er) white guy illustrators in depicting girls, women, or people of color, invariably the next book I pick up is illustrated by David Small, who seems to be exceptionally tuned in to how people actually look and dress.
- The teacher's sharp grey longer-in-the-front bob. - Two girls in leggings, one in a pink dress. - Two more girls dressed kind of in between. - Minnie Mouse double buns on the Asian twins. - Major cowlick action on the straight-haired boy. - That grey-haired teacher wears red glasses, big earrings, flat shoes, and striped tights. All of her clothes are stretchy and unconstricting. She is dressed for action and has her own style. - Teacher-student fistbump, which falls into the category of action, not appearance, but David Small does movement so so so well that I just have to mention it.
David Small is one of my all-time favorites. Long may he live....more
I am noticing in myself a sinking feeling - an automatic 'here we go again' feeling that until now I haven't really been able to put my finger on.
I noI am noticing in myself a sinking feeling - an automatic 'here we go again' feeling that until now I haven't really been able to put my finger on.
I noticed it when I read a recent John Varley novel, and then I felt it again when I was about halfway through The Rule of Three by Eric Walters and hadn't encountered a single female character who wasn't useless. I looked up the author. "Oh I see," I thought. Guy author, not young, experienced science fiction writer. (Varley I already knew. Varley is exceptionally old. His women are either Barbarella or Mamie Eisenhower, and I probably knew that going in.)
So when I opened "Positive," and saw a fairly extensive "also by" list, indicating a not-young author (who was male), it occurred to me that I might be in for more of the same. Nobody likes to admit making assumptions based on two or three data points, but when you read as much as I do you can't help perceiving patterns. And this is a pattern: male sci-fi authors over the age of 40 writing bullshit female characters.
OF COURSE it isn't universal. OF COURSE some of the greatest women of all time have been written by men over 40.
But when the slave girl turns on her master and flat-out murders his ass, saving the main character's life (or at least his balls), and then turns to him and says, "What do we do now, hero? You're our new leader," well, that author is not doing much for the reputation of middle-aged male sci-fi writers.
Otherwise, this is not bad post-zombie-apocalypse fiction. The plot has an episodic Old-West kind of structure, a little bit Firefly, a little A Boy and His Dog. Main character's name is Finn, hence slavery, journey, etc. (Although if we're doing that, this makes the slave girl Jim, and as divisive as Twain's characterization of Jim has proven over the years, replacing a black slave with a girl slave does not seem like a good choice...either.) The zombies are silent and slow and relentless. There's an underlying sense that the main character doesn't really know the score, giving the book a little vibration of sympathetic dread.
But damned if every female character is not evil, willfully helpless, or neutered by age. Frustrating. ...more
I came home from - I don't know, BEA or some damn thing - with a promotional poster for this book. I NEVER bring home posters, because they get bent aI came home from - I don't know, BEA or some damn thing - with a promotional poster for this book. I NEVER bring home posters, because they get bent and crimped and I just get cranky about that and I try to avoid crankiness. But I toughed it out for this poster, which was pretty much the dust jacket of the final book.
And I KNEW IT. The minute I got that thing out of the tube, my ten-year-old and his father were belly-down on the floor coloring the whooooole thing in. They found every fire hydrant and colored it red. All the pipes below the street were a spaghetti rainbow. Each windowsill was blue. That poster hangs on my wall to this day. And yet? It took me forever to get my hands on the actual book.
Which also didn't disappoint. So much to look at, so many little jokes! Such a love letter to the city....more
I love Britta Teckentrup's art, but I've never found the book that is just the perfect match for her bold curves and crumbly textures - until now. MayI love Britta Teckentrup's art, but I've never found the book that is just the perfect match for her bold curves and crumbly textures - until now. Maybe it's the palette of warm navy and sea greens, maybe it's the big flaps that show off her stellar compositional eye... or maybe it's the scale of this picture book. The sinuous screenprinted shapes glide or bob through quantities of dark water, letting the simple story, loaded with opposites (above and below, small and big, in front of and behind) shine through....more