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
The most surprising book I've read in a long time. I expected a horror/suspense kind of jobbie, and there's suspense to be sure - but this is far moreThe most surprising book I've read in a long time. I expected a horror/suspense kind of jobbie, and there's suspense to be sure - but this is far more a book about coming to terms, coming of age, making new connections while feeling others loosen. I can compare it to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. A book about a boy AND feelings that a boy will find quite accessible. Remarkable....more
For not only celebrating reading and libraries: "You will find books about cattle rustling, and everything else that's useful,Five stars? TEN STARS.
For not only celebrating reading and libraries: "You will find books about cattle rustling, and everything else that's useful, at the library.", but also acknowledging certain facts: "If you need to get around your room without touching the floor, books are good. You should only use your biggest, worst books for this game." and "Scary is good." and "It is impossible to read in the shower." and "If you really don't like a book you can put it in the compost." I myself have never composted a book, but I am going to REAL SOON....more
I laughed (Dorothy Parker bored in the hospital, Eudora Welty asking for a job). I cried (Louis Armstrong responding to a soldier's fan letter). I leaI laughed (Dorothy Parker bored in the hospital, Eudora Welty asking for a job). I cried (Louis Armstrong responding to a soldier's fan letter). I learned more about things I thought I knew (Vonnegut's letter to his parents about Dresden, William Safire's presidential speech in case Armstrong and Aldrin were left stranded on the moon). I was deeply deeply puzzled (why the hell did Amelia Earhart get married if that was how she felt?).
But holy Moses, I am intensely grateful to this book for exposing me to two letters written by Jourdon Anderson and Jermain Loguen, former slaves who were each importuned by their former owners to come back to the farm. More elegant, eloquent, precise, and logically sound expressions of "go fuck yourself" I have never read. ...more
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggagFracking amazing, excuse my nerd-speak.
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggage of Crusoe and not quite a breathless as Apollo 13. Maybe it's Apollo 13 meets oh, that fucking thing where Tom Hanks makes everything he needs out of a bunch of FedEx shipments and talks to a volleyball. Cast Away. Although that's a lot of Tom Hanks, and the young scientist/astronaut in this movie is more like a Nicholas Hoult or - whoa - Mayim Bialek.
It is all problem-solving and suspense and truly, truly unprecedented situations. Our stranded astronaut, Mark, is smart and handy and has a great sense of humor. He patches, he repurposes, he makes jokes about using his shit as fertilizer. He has a couple of moments of "I'M GONNA DIEEE!!" but then he always goes, "Oh wait, how about if I..." Totally the guy you'd want to be stranded on Mars with. It's left to the mission specialists and NASA administrators on the ground to get all emotional, and we love them for that, too. Totally the guys you'd want minding the comm if you were stranded on Mars with Nicholas Hoult.
I can't believe that despite the bleak premise, this is such an upbeat book, and I kind of can't believe that I love it so much - upbeat is not usually my thing. But it was so engrossing I started it at about 10 last night and read straight through til 8 this morning.
PLUS - and this is a big plus - to all appearances, THE SCIENCE WORKS. Gonna be so good for teenage Mythbusters fans, once and future JPLers, and the kind of people who cried all the way through From the Earth to the Moon. That was me.
LibraryReads review: Maybe it's because the Moon landing is one of my first memories, but space travel - real space travel, or real-ish space travel, always makes me catch my breath. It's so unlikely, so exciting, so inspiring that so many people can work together to pull off this amazing feat.
The Martian gathers a very realistic depiction of the huge gang of nerds, jocks, and administrators that it takes to initiate and run a space mission with a tour de force main character who acts independently and in isolation to pull off the MOST unlikely of feats. I swear, I shed a tear.
Third pass: NOW we are listening to this book on audio - I thought my 11-year-old and 12-year-old boys would enjoy it, and holy god was I right. They cannot be torn away. We had to unearth an old CD player so that we could play the discs in the living room, and they spent all last night and this morning laying on the floor, rapt.
There's a fair amount of profanity, which, ok, they giggle at. But it is situationally appropriate - if YOU found yourself stranded on Mars, wouldn't YOUR first words be "I AM FUCKED"?
They are loving the astronaut's sarcastic optimism in the face of outrageous odds and they are fully invested in the human drama of the NASA scientists attempting to make contact with Mark and bring him home. In fact, they have already told me that they'll be fine with listening to it again on a road trip we are taking next week. "I'm not catching all of this chemistry and technical stuff, so it'll be good to listen to it again."
The reader is quite good. I was a little worried at first he was using a big, sort of butch HERO voice, but as the book has progressed he is sounding more and more natural. I think that might be a choice on his part - as Mark spends more time in isolation, his log entries become more idiosyncratic and open. My only quibble is - oh my god don't do an accent unless you are STUPENDOUS at accents. NASA administrator Venkat Kapoor sounds like a Latino Yoda sometimes. And I don't even think that character was born in South Asia.
The book celebrates intelligence, ingenuity, and perseverance, and shows that nerds can be heroes too. A-plus....more
Wow do I love Ross MacDonald's style. I love his assured curves and his bold but delicate lines. I love his mastery of watercolor. I love that his minWow do I love Ross MacDonald's style. I love his assured curves and his bold but delicate lines. I love his mastery of watercolor. I love that his mind appears to be stuck in some kind of Jimmy Stewart America full of milkmen and ad-men and copyboys and stenographers. He's like the illustrator equivalent of my friend Christine, who wears her hair in a Victory roll EVERY DAMN DAY.
And I love his off-kilter stories, this one - about a Frankensteinish fellow whose beleaguered right hand has had enough of being a dogsbody and takes the next turnip truck to the City - being possibly the off-kilterest yet....more
It's the classic doppelganger fallacy! The scientist (or magician, or wishful-thinking kid) creates a double of himself to fob all his scutwork off onIt's the classic doppelganger fallacy! The scientist (or magician, or wishful-thinking kid) creates a double of himself to fob all his scutwork off onto, but the double turns around and says, "Why the heck should YOU have all the fun? Make your own darn bed!"
This version is unlimitedly fun, with gratuitous but appreciated Western references - who doesn't enjoy a fizzy sarsparilla with a pal? and a satisfying conclusion....more
TWO laugh-out-loud moments in this funky, appealing little book. TWO. That is more than most. Plus the smiles and giggles we got out of the expressionTWO laugh-out-loud moments in this funky, appealing little book. TWO. That is more than most. Plus the smiles and giggles we got out of the expressions on the little chameleon's face. YES French poop jokes YES....more
...What I'm getting at - obviously - is that Adam Rex does. I don't know what is similar in our backgrounds or genetics or whatever, but his imaginati...What I'm getting at - obviously - is that Adam Rex does. I don't know what is similar in our backgrounds or genetics or whatever, but his imagination travels paths that seem enticing and familiar to me - as if they are paths that I glimpsed once from a passing car and wished I had the time to detour into. His humor makes me laugh out loud on trains and in bars.
I swear these just keep getting better. The current crisis at Ralph McQuarrie Middle School is... how will everyone get by without the guidance of OriI swear these just keep getting better. The current crisis at Ralph McQuarrie Middle School is... how will everyone get by without the guidance of Origami Yoda, now that Dwight has transferred to fancy Tippett Academy? And by the way, what is going ON with Dwight? Reports are filtering in that he is no longer digging holes and sitting in them, speaks in complete sentences, and, strangest of all, has stopped bringing Origami Yoda to school!
While Origami Yoda was about accepting and appreciating Dwight and his weirdness, and Darth Paper was about accepting - while not exactly appreciating - Harvey's oblivious jerkiness, each book also has seen the kids gradually gaining consciousness of how their actions affect other people. The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee continues this progress, in a way that I can't reveal without spoiling the Fortune Wookiee's actual Secret.
All this growth in emotional intelligence is delivered in a way that is subtle as hell, though, and conveyed with so much humor that no child will put down this book feeling like he has been Shown How To Be A Better Person.
BONUS: Han Foldo SEQUEL I CAN'T WAIT FOR: At the end of Fortune Wookiee, we get some big news about big changes afoot at McQuarrie Middle, and I am going to LOVE seeing Tommy, Kellen, Sara, Rhondella, Harvey, Quavondo, Cassie, Remi, Amy, Tater Tot, Lance, Dwight, and even stuck-up Brianna band together to take down the Evil Teaching To the Test Curriculum. I also can't wait to see the Star Wars puns Tom Angleberger will come up with for standardized testing. ...more
Let's face it, all the characters in this book are spectacular. Greg's dad, a Carnegie Mellon Classics professor who doesn't work much and wears muu-mLet's face it, all the characters in this book are spectacular. Greg's dad, a Carnegie Mellon Classics professor who doesn't work much and wears muu-muus and collects weird animal products to eat. Greg's cat, Cat Stevens. Greg's teacher Mr. McCarthy, who drinks pho from a thermos and pounds his chest whenever one of his students says anything smart. That guy actually may have been unconsciously modelled on my neighbor Matt, a former high school principal who is quite scary when enthused.