Some chapters are really good, but the 'insights' in the others are very obvious (esp. in the first part). I would definitely recommend this...more3.5 stars
Some chapters are really good, but the 'insights' in the others are very obvious (esp. in the first part). I would definitely recommend this to teachers who don't know anything about YA and don't really know where to start if they want to use some of it in the classroom.
However, preaching to the converted here that if you want a kid to enjoy reading and make them into lifelong readers, you need to find reading material that they will connect with, and YA is definitely the way to go then... so from that perspective, I could have used even more practical tips on how to weave everything into the curriculum of teachers who're already asked to be supermen/women all in the limited amount of time and space they're getting.
But overall very good collections of papers regarding the topic and I loved the little lists of all the available books per topic.(less)
For the cat, who’s not really a graphic novel buff, what Brian Selznick tries to accomplish with The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a unique feat: fusing...moreFor the cat, who’s not really a graphic novel buff, what Brian Selznick tries to accomplish with The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a unique feat: fusing together elements from such different artistic worlds such as picture book, graphic novel, children’s book, historical novel, silent movie and photography… It takes a daredevil or a con artist to pull it off, and Brian Selznick is probably both.
This book reads like a silent movie. Even though Selznick clearly also wants to tell a story – that of 12-year-old Hugo who lives in the walls of a Paris train station and the link this boy has with movie pioneer Georges Méliès – the strength of this book undoubtedly lies in the visual aspects and as such it mimics the sensory audience experience of movies from the silent era. The stunning images, a combination of Selznick’s drawings and stills from silent movies, are the elements that will draw in even the most reluctant of readers, despite the 500+ page count.
The story in The Invention of Hugo Cabret is told straightforwardly. The first ever movie also seemingly just showed a train arriving in a station. Yet the realism of it all managed to scare the audience in such a way that it believed the train was coming at them and was not just a train shown on a screen. Of course even this realistic movie held in itself a belief in illusion and a willingness to be deceived. In The Invention of Hugo Cabret the story also moves forward at a steady pace, yet also manages to trick the reader and give him/her a similar sensational thrill of wonder and amazement. There are no flash backs here and character development is kept to a minimum. The focus is entirely on the action of the story which is pushed forward by the visual elements of the book.
The nay-sayers will argue that the story is too simple even, but the cat feels this would be an injustice to what Selznick tries to accomplish. It is true that his strength is the visual, but considering the fact that this is a book that can and should appeal to as wide an audience as possible, the story structure and the pacing of the story itself is just spot on. Any more lingering on character would be detrimental to the magic of the format. The story structure is most akin to fairy tales, which also display straightforward storytelling yet have the widest possible appeal. And just like in a fairy tale, you get the constant sense of wonder, the magic touch, that is both haunting and mesmerizing. The cat is sure many adults would like to get that feeling back they had when they first were told a story, or a fairy tale, by their parents (way before they knew how misogynistic and cruel fairy tales often were, of course). It’s this sense of wonder that Selznick tries to capture with his images, his storytelling, the very subject of the book…
The cat started reading this book about a boy living in the walls of a Paris train station, on a train ride no less, together with the kid. The kid was fascinated when she saw Hugo running through tunnels, climbing into the walls, winding up the station clocks. Despite the fact that the kid is only 3.5, she was clearly enthralled by the magic and wonder on these pages and wanted the cat to carry on with the story. This book will work perfectly as a story book for other cats who want to read together with their kids. But at the same time as being entertained for a while, this child will be introduced to the world of reading, the world of book illustrations (Selznick’s art is both gorgeous and haunting at the same time, his play with shadows is simply stunning), but most of all to the magic world of silent movies, through the history of one of its pioneers, Georges Méliès. One book to introduce your kid to all these different art forms, … is there anything else an art loving cat could want?
P.S. None other than Martin Scorsese is direction the movie Hugo, which will come out in November 2011. It will be Scorsese’s first 3D film and judging from the trailer, Scorsese is actually going to make a family movie (a family that is not mafia related, that is…).
For European cats the concept of “evangelical Christians” is a little bit otherworldly. For American liberal-minded Brown student Kevin Roose it was a...moreFor European cats the concept of “evangelical Christians” is a little bit otherworldly. For American liberal-minded Brown student Kevin Roose it was at least interesting enough to explore that ‘other world’ within his own country to transfer for a whole semester to Liberty University, aka Bible Boot Camp, and to consider it akin to studying a semester abroad. For European cats a little explanation is well in order. Liberty University was established by evangelical fundamentalist and über-conservative Jerry Falwell (also the charismatic televangelist of Thomas Road megachurch), who once condemned the Teletubbies TV-show because he saw Tinky Winky as a rolemodel for ‘the gay lifestyle’. Besides that Jerry Falwell was the founder of the Moral Majority, probably the largest political lobby-group the Evangelical Christians ever had, and who basically made sure that the USA ever had Ronald Reagan for president…twice. He was also the man who blamed the attacks of September 11, 2001 on feminists, homosexuals, abortionists, and the ACLU… For any humanist thinker it would be easy to go into Falwell-land and make a complete mockery of it. Not so for Kevin Roose. He wanted to go into this experience curious, but as unbiased as he could to note down what he saw, to describe what “these people” experienced, and to immerse himself as far into this deeply conservative Christian culture as possible . That said, this book didn’t arise out of nothing. Roose clearly did have a journalist agenda before he enrolled at Liberty. It was always his intention to write a book about his experience, so a little bit of lying had to be carried out, despite the fact that he did give up drinking, cursing, having sex, and other average student pastimes. Instead he started praying, talking to pastors for spiritual guidance, going to courses such as ‘Evangelism 101’ and ‘Young Earth Creationism’. He also discovers that despite all the differences to what he’s used to at his Ivy League college, his fellow students at Liberty are also surprisingly ‘normal’ and have to deal with the same dilemmas as his secular friends. So did Kevin come out of this ‘unharmed’? Did his political and societal beliefs change dramatically? This is something you will have to find out for yourself. What I will say is that for a 19-year-old this is one balanced and thought-provoking book. Turns out he did have certain assumptions about evangelical Christians (his upbringing, his family, his Ivy League education all had been completely different from anything he saw at Liberty, so he was bound to have them), but he wasn’t afraid to leave them behind as he entered Liberty or to see them completely shattered. Not even a lot of seasoned journalists would look at their ‘subject’ as even-handed and earnestly interested as Kevin Roose does here. For that alone the book deserves an extra star. And if nothing else, this book is one large plea to keep an open mind, to challenge your ideas and accept to have your ideas challenged in return. (less)