Absolutely gorgeous coffee table book with astoundingly colorful and detailed photographs of all kinds of animals, reptiles, birds and other fauna. ThAbsolutely gorgeous coffee table book with astoundingly colorful and detailed photographs of all kinds of animals, reptiles, birds and other fauna. The photographer is trying to photograph one of every single different species on the planet--he's done 6,000 so far!--which he estimates may take him 25 years to do. He travels to zoos and parks around the world and sets up his equipment where the animals are, putting small tamer animals inside a softsided "booth" and for others converting their stall or pen into a photo backdrop, solid black or solid white. I loved reading the little behind-the-scenes details for some of the animals, how they behaved as he photographed them, and how he managed to capture such expressive portraits. Just jawdroppingly gorgeous. The animals are also grouped together as "Partners" or "Opposites," etc, and many of them on the two-page spreads mirror each other's poses. Interstitial interviews with animal "Heroes" spotlight animal specialists who work to save and propagate many endangered species around the world. ...more
What a wonderful book! Reminded me a lot of one of my favorites from childhood, I Want My Sunday, Stranger!, which has a similar premise: boy sets outWhat a wonderful book! Reminded me a lot of one of my favorites from childhood, I Want My Sunday, Stranger!, which has a similar premise: boy sets out to find his missing horse. But while that book was set during the Civil War and takes place in a wide array of locales across the country over the span of the war, this one is set in a specific location, the 1890 frontier of Washington state. It's been ages since I read the Sunday book, so my memories are probably hazy, and I'd love to read it again now to compare the two. But anyway, Some Kind of Courage has a terrific main character, Joseph, who's 12 and has had to do a lot of growing up in just a year. He lost his mother and younger sister to typhoid, and then his father died in a wagon accident, leaving him homeless and orphaned, to be cared for by a complete stranger who is the poster child for how NOT to raise a kid: he's a drunken reprobate who sells Joseph's beloved horse Sarah without telling Joseph. But as soon as Joseph finds out, he is determined to track her down and get her back, because she's not just his dear horse, she's his only family. His journey is hard, on foot at first, through mountainous wilderness, but he perseveres, and also helps others along the way, including a lost Chinese boy who doesn't speak English but who becomes his best friend. I loved the beautiful harsh frontier setting with its callous backstabbing horse traders, hardy homesteaders, etc., and there is a lot of action that will keep kid readers entertained (including some funny scenes). But primarily this is a story of a young boy who's had to become a man way too soon, and how he grieves and honors the memory of his dead parents in everything he does; he is very honorable and unprejudiced in his actions, and never takes the easy way out even when his life is at stake. I also loved how the adults in the story continually underestimate him. And man, it's a good horse story--I don't know if other folks will actually tear up as I did at a certain point in the story, but I repeat, it's a *good* horse story. ...more
This is a fun graphic novel that puts a satirical spin on medieval fantasy yarns. At first I thought it might be a ripoff of one of my favorite book sThis is a fun graphic novel that puts a satirical spin on medieval fantasy yarns. At first I thought it might be a ripoff of one of my favorite book series from a few years ago, "Skullduggery Pleasant," because that too has a walking, talking, witty and clothed skeleton for a main character, and how often do you see *that* in books for teens?! But this is entirely different, aside from those initial similarities. Our friend Rickety is a troubadour (or minstrel), lives in a vaguely medieval time period, and has weird dreams/nightmares of surviving a horrible battle, all underlaid with the strains of an epic ballad that he can not *quite* remember when he wakes up. (I loved that the book is in color but those dreams/memories are in black and white.) Rickety has a weird little friend, The Gelatinous Goo, a cube of, well, goo, whose incomprehensible noises only Rickety can understand. The Goo is quite funny and pretty expressive for a blue glob of Jell-O, it's really hilarious as a sidekick! The two get fired from their job haunting a dungeon, and, all alone in the world, Rickety decides to try to figure out where he's from, what he was like as a living human, and what IS that song all about, "The Road to Epoli"? Along their journey through "Grimly Wood" they encounter an imp, they get mixed up with a nasty giant ogre, and there's a cute gnome named "L. Nerman Fuddle" (really, the names in this book are hilarious! At one point the imp disguises himself as "Chet Whistlefeet"), and then there comes the heart of the story, the evil of course, and more fantasy tropes twisted around a bit. OH! Did I mention the unicorn?! Because it's not your normal shy unicorn! I won't go on, but I do hope this series goes on for quite a bit, because I had a terrific time reading it. Rickety is snide and witty and yet also mournful--he has a soul. There are some innuendo jokes for older readers and plenty of gross-out humor for younger readers. The expressive bold art is great, too. Amazing how many expressions you can put on a cartoon skeleton's skull face!
I read an advance reader copy of this book, due for publication in June 2017....more
This beautiful full-color graphic novel is a sweet coming-of-age story about a girl who happens to be, well, a mermaid! She's lived her entire 12 yearThis beautiful full-color graphic novel is a sweet coming-of-age story about a girl who happens to be, well, a mermaid! She's lived her entire 12 years in a kitchy old house that's been retrofitted with fish tanks and serves as a homegrown aquarium: visitors to the coastal town pay to walk through and see the fish and creatures on display in several floors of the house, entertained by stories from the host/owner, dressed as Neptune, who even has his "throne" rigged for "lightning strikes" at dramatic moments. The "Fish Girl" doesn't speak, and is trained to stay just out of sight and give visitors only a glimpse of her among the sealife, to keep them intrigued and coming back, not sure if she's real or fake. She considers Neptune to be her godlike father, the only family she knows, but her content and peaceful existence with her friend the octopus slowly changes as she makes a new human friend--a girl her age whom she lets see her in her entirety--and learns the truth about her environment. Neptune is worried that she'll be taken away by scientists if she is discovered, but she's been longing for more of a life than swimming in circles. Will she figure out a way to leave her tank? What does it really mean to be human? What kind of a life does she deserve?
I loved the art, but with Wiesner doing the illustrations it's a no-brainer that it's going to be a gorgeous book. Great book for young girls who love mermaids, or for readers who like a good fantasy-set-in-reality story....more
What an intense book. It begins with the main character, "Charlie" (Charlotte), in a psychiatric hospital after having cut herself so badly she was hoWhat an intense book. It begins with the main character, "Charlie" (Charlotte), in a psychiatric hospital after having cut herself so badly she was hospitalized. She is a cutter, with a horrible personal history (death of her father when she was young, distant uncaring mother, thrown out on the streets, and horrible things happening to her while homeless), but she's now getting therapy to try to heal and overcome. But when money runs out to keep her in the ward, she has to go home to mom--who promptly kicks her out and sends her across the country to Arizona to try her luck living in Charlie's only friend's garage while he's away on tour with his band. Charlie is in recovery, basically, for the whole book, and has to resist the temptation to cut when things are tough--she has street-survival skills, but not necessarily everyday-life-on-her-own skills, and when she's attracted to a young man with his own addictions and issues, things may get very tough for her. The book was well-written, very intense! You find yourself rooting for Charlie while at the same time yelling at her for some of the things she does, because you just know it's not going to go well. She meets some quirky characters at a coffeehouse where she gets a job, and I liked how they interacted with her and livened the book. Otherwise, pretty sad and depressing for a lot of it. But a realistic depiction of cutting and the struggle to overcome, written by an author with personal experience. Strong language and mature content; not a middle school book unless said middle schooler is really mature and not fazed by the content. A definite must-read for fans of Ellen Hopkins and Scars....more
A fascinating historical novel set in a time and place that I really didn't know much about: the Inquisition of 1241, France. It was a little hard toA fascinating historical novel set in a time and place that I really didn't know much about: the Inquisition of 1241, France. It was a little hard to get into, with a confusing beginning that is written by a priest and then goes backward in time as he tells the story of Dolssa, a very religious girl who is on trial for heresy--for daring to talk to others about how Jesus talks to her (and is kind of her boyfriend). The whole heresy subject is complicated but is explained very well; the historical detail and research into this book is amazing! And there's a nice romance among some other characters. I really liked Dolssa's sisters, and getting to know all of the people in their small town. Not sure if I would have voted for it for a Printz Honor, but it's certainly worth the accolade....more
Nadia is worried that she is going crazy. Literally. She's living in Florence, Italy with her parents and younger brother, while her professor dad isNadia is worried that she is going crazy. Literally. She's living in Florence, Italy with her parents and younger brother, while her professor dad is on sabbatical to write a book about the 1966 flood of Florence. Nadia misses her best friend back in Philadelphia, and wishes she had her to talk to about her secret: Nadia feels compelled to steal things, and weave them into intricately constructed artistic birds' nests. And, she keeps glimpsing a boy in the streets, and runs after him, but no one else in her family sees him. At the same time she seems to be losing her ability to speak coherently, so she can't tell her family what is going on. As Nadia spirals downward, the reader is drawn into her swirling anguish. Eventually she gets help, and learns that she has a rare (but real) condition called "frontotemporal disorder." That was the most fascinating thing about this book, learning about this condition where people gain a sudden artistic ability but gradually lose the speech and science centers of the brain. I also loved the setting of this book; you could tell the author has been there many times and has a real love for the twisting streets and venerable architecture and colorful vendors and so forth. The flood is also a real historical event, and the author's note at the end explains more about both the disease and the flood. The book is a little hard to get into at first, because it's a real stream of consciousness style of writing, being inside Nadia's head where it's hard to tell reality from fantasy, just as she is experiencing herself. There is little punctuation, and it really shows her losing her grip on reality. But as you get into it it is quite fascinating....more
Terrific conclusion to the trilogy of autobiographical graphic novels by Lewis and Powell, which can also be read on its own. This volume tells his ciTerrific conclusion to the trilogy of autobiographical graphic novels by Lewis and Powell, which can also be read on its own. This volume tells his civil rights journey from 1963 to 1965 and includes such landmark events as the Sixteenth St. Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham Alabama; JFK's assassination; and how the various protests led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, along with of course the Selma to Montgomery marches. Mr. Lewis shows readers how his work as leader of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) led to his trip to Africa and his encounters with other civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X, and their differences of philosophy. There's a ton of information here that is presented in a readable fashion with excellent illustrations, and many emotional moments throughout. Should be required reading in schools....more
I thought this book was beautifully written, and was set in a very interesting historical and cultural setting--Victorian England and early natural scI thought this book was beautifully written, and was set in a very interesting historical and cultural setting--Victorian England and early natural science. The mystery was intriguing: did Faith's pastor/natural scientist father kill himself, die in an accident, or was he murdered? I wanted to also shelve this under "fantasy" because there is a magical element to it, but mostly it's a historical novel. The main character learns how to be brave and hopefully will rise above the many restrictions put on her gender at the time. Faith loves science and wants to learn more about it, but she's supposed to be timid and keep quiet and not have a thought in her brain that wasn't put there by a male. But as she gets caught up in hiding the secret scientific experiment of her father, and then the strange circumstances surrounding his death, she has to be strong and resourceful and act very much the opposite of the oppressive expectations of the men around her. Whew, didn't mean to turn this into a feminist manifesto, haha! I did like the fact that the book gives details about Victorian mourning customs and early science, the controversies about Darwin's On the Origin of Species, in addition to the gender roles stuff. It's a great spooky historical magical realism story with a weird possibly magical plant at its center....more
I enjoyed this romantic fantasy for many reasons. It's got the unique setup, perhaps a little reminiscent of The Night Circus, of a mysterious magicalI enjoyed this romantic fantasy for many reasons. It's got the unique setup, perhaps a little reminiscent of The Night Circus, of a mysterious magical game called Caraval that is played by invitation only and that moves around to various secret locations every year. There is a magical prize, coveted by all but won only by one. The main characters are Scarlett, 17, who used to believe in magic and always dreamed of playing in Caraval, and her younger sister Donatella; Donatella is an adventurous flirt while Scarlett is much more inhibited and rule-abiding. But both have been victims of their father's cruel abuse whenever they break a rule or try to be independent, and now Scarlett sees a way to get both of them out from under his thumb: after years of writing unanswered letters to the Master of Caraval requesting tickets, she has instead accepted the marriage proposal of a rich count she's never met, who lives far away and who has promised to let Donatella come live with them as well. But when Caraval tickets suddenly arrive, Donatella, with the help of a hunky young sailor, tricks her sister into attending the game--where Scarlett discovers that Donatella's been kidnapped and finding her IS the game! Can she trust this sailor she's just met? Who is really Master Legend? Can she trust anyone in Caraval? The magic is real and players are warned repeatedly not to get too swept away by the game; it's not really deadly--or is it?
With lots of twists and turns and foggy atmospherics, gothic mansions, magical shops selling weird magical things like glasses that see the future and dresses that change color, and mysterious clues, this is a fun book! ...more
I just loved this book! It helped that I listened to it on audio: the narrator is the author herself, and unlike other author-read efforts I've triedI just loved this book! It helped that I listened to it on audio: the narrator is the author herself, and unlike other author-read efforts I've tried to listen to, she is fantastic! I loved the British accent, of course, but she does a great job of changing her voice for the three main characters so that you can tell the teenager apart from the middle-aged mom and again from the elderly grandmother. I really enjoyed this intergenerational story, how family secrets were gradually revealed through either flashbacks or by a character reluctantly telling the truth, and that it realistically depicted the condition of dementia/Alzheimer's disease for both the sufferer and those around them. I thought all of the characters were distinct and memorable and had me rooting for them: Mary, the grandmother with dementia, is funny and feisty and sad, not knowing why she has a "blue blank," her name for her memory gap, or why she feels compelled to leave the house every morning towards a destination she can't remember; Katie, the granddaughter, has realistic struggles with bullying and is trying to figure out her sexuality without any parental guidance while also having to be kind of a parent to her grandmother; her mom, Caroline, is the hardest to figure out--why does she hold such a grudge against her own mother that she's never allowed her to be part of Katie's life? Great book for readers who like Sarah Dessen, Sara Zarr and similar realistic stories....more
So it only took me, er, 5 years to read this book! Not because it's hard to read or boring, but because I kept putting off reading this sequel becauseSo it only took me, er, 5 years to read this book! Not because it's hard to read or boring, but because I kept putting off reading this sequel because I've had to re-read the first book Dark Life many times when using it for various teen book discussions or Battle of the Books events or Reading and Writing Festivals, and with book discussions especially, I'd rather not have read the sequel before all the teens have read it. That way I am not tempted to spoil it for them, and it helps me keep the plot of the first book clear in my head when writing questions or whatever I need to do. But, this is one of those fun sci-fi adventure books that I really wanted to read! So, finally got to it, and it was pretty good. It's a nice second adventure for the main characters, with some more character development and a new bad guy. I had been hoping for more background on the apocalypse that is hinted at in the first book, making it kind of dystopian, but that's not the primary focus of the story (the underwater adventure is) so I had to settle for what we get. The big floating "townships" and the abandoned oil rig-turned-black market/fight arena called "Rip Tide" propel the plot at a fast pace, as Ty and Gemma get caught up in politics and danger. I hope that the author someday comes back to this world, as she has said she would in interviews, and writes some more books in this fun version of an underwater Western....more
Excellent groundbreaking graphic novel biography, first in a trilogy, of Congressman John Lewis' life as a civil rights activist. This volume has himExcellent groundbreaking graphic novel biography, first in a trilogy, of Congressman John Lewis' life as a civil rights activist. This volume has him recounting his childhood on a farm, early college days and first arrest (during the 1960 Nashville lunch counter sit-ins) to two young boys who have come to visit his office on the day of President Barack Obama's first inauguration. It also flashes forward in time to the Selma/Pettis Bridge march, giving a glimpse of what is yet to come. This whole trilogy should be required reading for everyone; it's a great way to introduce young people to an important American man and movement....more
I picked up this audiobook because I thought the sci-fi setting would be fun: in the year 2118 in New York City, a gigantic skyscraper takes up somethI picked up this audiobook because I thought the sci-fi setting would be fun: in the year 2118 in New York City, a gigantic skyscraper takes up something like a few square miles of real estate; it has 1,000 floors, the biggest on the bottom and tapering off til you get to the tippy top thousandth floor, which has only one big fancy penthouse apartment where one of the main characters lives. And, yes, that setting made for some fun little details like the "hovers" (all cars and public transportation are self-driving) or the "flickers" that teens send each other using their techno-jazzed up "contacts" on their eyes (basically you can THINK a text message to someone else and send it with a shake of your head!). But the story is really just a teen angsty soap opera of the rich vs the poor, with a murder-mystery hook. The book opens with a teen girl, nameless, going out on to the roof of this 1,000 floor building, and falling to her death. But who was she? And what happened? We go straight into the story, where there are four teen girls as main characters, any one of whom might end up being the dead girl: is it going to be Avery, Rylin, Eris or Leda? Some of the girls are extremely wealthy, others are lower down (literally) on the social ladder--the Lower Floors folks rarely interact with the social elites on the upper floors. But their lives interact in increasingly complex ways as the story goes on, with betrayals and relationships intertwining. There's also a couple of boys as main characters: Atlas, Avery's adoptive brother, and Watt, a brilliant hacker who is hired to spy by one of the girls. I found myself totally sucked in to their plights, even as I cringed a bit at some of the vapid rich-girl behavior. There's forbidden love, surprising changes of circumstances (a wealthy girl suddenly NOT wealthy any more), mistaken conclusions, drug use, lots of big fancy parties and sleeping around; pretty much a "Gossip Girl" with a futuristic backdrop. I think I will be reading the sequel, just to see where it goes from here....more
An interesting read. I don't know much about Joan of Arc, just bits and pieces of the legend, so this was all new to me. The art is beautiful, colorfuAn interesting read. I don't know much about Joan of Arc, just bits and pieces of the legend, so this was all new to me. The art is beautiful, colorful and dramatic, and appears to be accurate for the time period as far as clothing and armor and such. (I'm no expert, but it looked realistic to me.) I'd really like to read the author & illustrators' other books, on Robin Hood and Excalibur!...more