Such a fun little book. Clever in it's comparisons and in it's graphics, and reminds (or shows you) what's so loveable about both cities. More of a "p...moreSuch a fun little book. Clever in it's comparisons and in it's graphics, and reminds (or shows you) what's so loveable about both cities. More of a "par for par" than a "versus", if you ask me. Just flipped through this at the bookstore, but would love to own it, and it would certainly make a great gift for others.(less)
Full of interesting details on how the book and film came to be, with plenty of input from Neil Gaiman himself, but a pretty sorry excuse for a "visua...moreFull of interesting details on how the book and film came to be, with plenty of input from Neil Gaiman himself, but a pretty sorry excuse for a "visual guide". By "art of Coraline" the title is alluding to how the film was put together (puppets and sets and visual effects), not storyboard work or much on visual inspiration, if that's what you're looking for. That could be fine except that the film stills are pixelated and, well... pathetic. Text is good, visuals are terrible. Worth checking out from the library if want to find out how Gaiman came to write the book, but as far as visual effects, I found the bonus DVD features more interesting.(less)
While pop surrealism and the overplayed replicated-til-it's-mundane style of so many Mark Ryden wannabes has become so prevalent as to seem a bit easy...moreWhile pop surrealism and the overplayed replicated-til-it's-mundane style of so many Mark Ryden wannabes has become so prevalent as to seem a bit easy or cheeseball, Tara McPherson still manages to stand out. In this third volume of her work, her figures remain dark and weird, her palette is the same playful combination of black, bubblegum and seafom that's become her signature and her style, so impeccably neat and honed that it's hard to believe these are paintings, is exactly what your eyeballs have come to identify as McPherson.
What's new in this volume is a darker sexuality. Yeah, she always paints babes, but here demonesses replace the teen witches and rocker chicks in pastel KISS makeup of yore. Personally, I'm a bigger fan of the former. I'll take quirky over sexy any day, and sometimes I don't understand why these woman are naked. I turn the page and think "another naked lady?" I get that McPherson likes hot babes. Who doesn't? But the images that, and some of them do, act as little more than sexy art porn, aren't her most interesting work, and I know Tara McPherson has much weirder ideas to share with us than a lady with too much (seemingly irritated) vulva showing.
For me, while this isn't my favorite collection of her work, there are still many images I enjoyed; The Heroes series is interesting and funny, From the Abyss is sexy and intoxicating, The Umibozu Wish is adorable and weird, Isolated Metronomes is badass, Fractal Valley is super-duper creepy, the Wiggles are delightful cutie-pies as ever, and her soft flowers sculptures with glass-eyeball centers are a nice addition to her ouvre.
Dark Horse has put together a nice book here, with sketches and larger detail images for the work shown, which is exactly what people who care enough about an artist to pick up a monograph want to see. The collage of photograph of McPherson, some of her toys, tattoos, and fans was a nice touch not only because it made Tara seem that much more like someone you want to hang with, but because it shows how her work is embraced by her fans and the epic span of her work, from paintings on linen on gallery walls to commercial print work to collectible toys, gig posters, and many, many tattoos. She occupies a lot of media, sure, but all of it suits her work and her viewers.
Quick glimpses at McPherson's heartless girls flying on oversized pink bunnies can easily give you, if not an all together wrong impression of her work, one that belies all that she has to offer. Yes, what you see is what you get. Her style and subjects are consistent. If her comic book style isn't for you, that can't be changed. But if you think all she has to offer are pretty girls in silly scenarios, you're missing out on the depiction of superior female strength in her collective work. Her women are weird, confident and beautiful, sometimes scary, always forces to be reckoned with. And that isn't easy or played out at all.
Review based on a digital ARC provided by Net Galley. The detail images in the actual print edition will be sleek and gorgeous, I have no doubt, so unless you're already familiar with her work, the grainy images of the arc are no way to judge her clean, smooth style!(less)
The graphic novel shelf in the children's section of your library or local bookstore isn't big. It's growing all the time, sure, but when a kid can fl...moreThe graphic novel shelf in the children's section of your library or local bookstore isn't big. It's growing all the time, sure, but when a kid can flip through and finish a single book in an hour, the pickings become all the slimmer. So while the best I can say for Zita the Spacegirl is that it's... adequate... it's also the type of book a lot of kids are absolutely aching for. And so that counts for something.
I don't doubt that many kids will enjoy Zita just fine. It has adventure, a cast of kooky characters, and a clear mission. Elizabeth Bird likened it to a space-y Wizard of Oz in her review, and that seems fitting. It's not a bad read, especially compared to a lot of the plain-ol-crap that's out there targeting this same demographic, but it's not an original one either. Everything about it is something we've seen before -- the plot, the characters, the futuristic junkyard city setting -- but in it's vaguest form, and it's odd, too-fast pacing isn't helping matters. There were several moments where I thought pages had been stuck together, that I'd flipped too far ahead because of the quick jumps in the plot. It's a bit of a tricky one for me to rate. It's underdeveloped but it's also something the girls (and boys) in your life will eat right up.(less)
“Upon turning the last delicate page” of her first Austen novel, and impassioned by her love of Lucy Maud Montgomery, 12 year old Polly Madassa announ...more“Upon turning the last delicate page” of her first Austen novel, and impassioned by her love of Lucy Maud Montgomery, 12 year old Polly Madassa announces that she will “no longer remain a material girl living in a material world, but [will] grasp on to the skirts of those elegant women before [her] and become at once a young lady of impeccable breeding, diction, and manner”. Alongside her fantasy of living a 19th century lifestyle, Polly idealizes the love lives of heroines Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Shirley to such a degree that the relationships she finds in real life don’t measure up. Wanting life to be as romantic as possible she appoints herself town match-maker and sets about finding appropriately storybook-like better halves for her older sister, best (I mean “bosom”) friend’s father, and two elderly neighbors. Using her summer job delivering goods for her family’s idyllic Jersey Shore bakery turns out to be the perfect means for plotting romantic entanglements (and delivering delicious baked goods from anonymous — ie made up — suitors). While their aren’t too many hitches in her scheme to unite one couple, Polly fails miserably in her efforts to break up and find love for the others. The results are disastrously funny and it makes for a pretty charming story for those that finish.
Polly’s over-the-top voice is one of the best and worst things about Scones and Sensibility. Her best linguistic efforts to sound Victorian and lovely on each of the novel’s 305 pages will either delight or deter readers from the get-go. Chuck full of adjectives, many of which are unnecessary and overused (she is only 12, after all), Polly’s sentences sometimes feel redundant, but more often the effect is pretty funny. Between her feeble attempts at poetic language, her inability to keep her nose out of other people’s business, and her rather prejudiced view of what makes a passable suitor, Polly’s flaws are obvious. Fortunately her older sister is usually around to tell her when to “can it”. One thing that can more universally be appreciated is the spectacularly breezy descriptions of the story’s Shore setting. And who wouldn’t want to eat at the Madassa Bakery?
Scones and Sensibility treads a pretty cute path but it’s not for everyone. A nice Valentine’s read for tweens with a penchant for the classics, or fans of The Mother-Daughter Book Club will find it undeniably silly and fun. Not a bad one to read with mom either. And a plate of pastries.(less)
Entertaining, but a real oddball of a book. The writing is casual and feels a bit slapped together. Not Horvath's best work (or Blackall's for that ma...moreEntertaining, but a real oddball of a book. The writing is casual and feels a bit slapped together. Not Horvath's best work (or Blackall's for that matter) by any stretch, and the humor seems over the intended audience's head. Certainly kids will laugh at the dim witted marmot and Flo's tendency to end sentences with "man", but quips about the monarchy? Marijuana jokes?? Really?? Strange in good AND bad ways. I liked the relationship between Madeline and Mr. & Mrs. Bunny. I liked everything about the Bunny's, really; they were such a sweet, bickering old couple. But the "mystery" was really weak. It seemed like an excuse for Horvath to write a book, in a way.
Like Mr. Bunny, I thought Madeline should have stayed and lived with the Bunnys in the end, instead of returning to babysit her hippie moron parents.
Maybe kids will laugh even harder than I'm guessing. I'd love to hear reactions. As a fan of Horvath though, this is not her most thoughtfully crafted read. Though it sure beats The Magic Tree House.(less)
What a stunning little book this is. Pearson has rendered Hilda's world with incredible fullness, with a perfected palette of inviting and cozy brick,...moreWhat a stunning little book this is. Pearson has rendered Hilda's world with incredible fullness, with a perfected palette of inviting and cozy brick, teal, and sea foam, expressive facial expressions and diverse compositions that make text almost unnecessary in his storytelling, and a fantastical setting that joins the mountains of Scandinavian countryside and monsters of its folklore naturally with modern language (“What is this guy's problem?”, “I still think he's very rude, and a weirdo too....”) and even subtle influences of video game and Japanese culture (the flying furballs known as Wuffs we will meet again in Hilda & the Midnight Giant). It feels about as classic as a graphic novel can. And the story is clever, whimsical, and funny.
Hilda considers herself an adventurer. Living in a tiny wood cabin full of books alongside her architect (?) mother, Hilda spends her days researching monsters, drawing, and generally frolicking in the fields and fjords of the countryside. During an afternoon of landscape drawing, Hilda comes upon a "troll rock". That is, a dome-shaped rock formation with a Pinocchio-nose protrusion. She's convinced it will "take the form of a fierce and powerful troll" by nightfall as her book, the simply titled "Trolls" warns. (Watching Hilda draw this rock from all different vantage points, btw, made me chuckle and is a great example of Pearson's quieter humor.). When Hilda attaches a bell to the presumed troll's nose to track his movement, she doesn't actually expect to hear it ring out in the middle of the night...DUN DUN DUN. The monstrous conclusion is funny, and sweet. And even a teensy bit sad. Mostly it's magical and cozy though. And perfect. Have a gushed enough yet? No? Well allow me to do that then:
Hildafolk is the whole package. The scenes are so wonderfully drawn, nearly every panel is a piece of art I'd happily hang solo on my wall (but they still work together to great comedic effect and form a lovely story arch) and the whole concept is just... Pearson nailed it. Hildafolk is the perfect name and the perfect introduction to this character and this world because it feels so much like its own unique mythology.
One of the things that's most intriguing are the delightful little fantasy elements sprinkled throughout that Pearson doesn't draw too much attention to, like the sea spirit and lost giant, and with even greater subtlety, the tiny little stick figures with their cone-shaped hats you might spot dotting the landscape every so often, and those adorable and strange balls of fur, flying through the sky like teddy bear heads, propelled forward by their long, furry tails. They appear in a single panel and no mention is made to them, but they're such an evocative detail in what is an otherwise very natural setting of earth and sky. Reading book two, and learning more about both of these species is great evidence of all the careful planning that Pearson has put into these books. I admire his restraint just as much as I admire his attention to detail.
I've said this before, but it's rare to come across graphic novelists whose visual and written talents are equally strong. Pearson's are. While Hildafolk is a short lil' thing and it's climax is a joke you might find and understand in a much shorter comic strip, it also makes for a charming adventure story. And it's just fun to inhabit this strange and scenic world.
I won't say that Hildafolk is too short, because it all fits together so snug and satisfyingly, but I could read 100 more of these. Easy.
Perfect for children and adults alike, be they comic book, quest, or fairytale nerds. Think Tove Jansson's Moomins meet Neil Gaiman's Coraline meets Chris Ware on a rolling hillside.
PST: Click here for a little Hilda web comic(less)
While this was a FAR superior translation to the edition I attempted to read last year (it was so badly written and made so little sense I had to quit...moreWhile this was a FAR superior translation to the edition I attempted to read last year (it was so badly written and made so little sense I had to quit), it seems like a whole lot of to do for very little story. The rat king is so easily defeated and the story of the Hard Nut makes so little sense and in the end... an eight year old gets married? Yay? I can see the basis for all the iconic elements we've all come to recognize and adore, of course, and I can even see its influence oh other such seeming dream swept away tales (Coraline comes to mind), but ETA Hoffman's tale in and of itself is a pretty weak read in 2011.
As far as the Sendak edition is concerned, I think that the large picture book format is ideal for the story. Even the thickness of the pages feels luxurious, like water color paper almost --- a nice touch and something that ought to make picking this book up once a year feel all the more special for if. Sendak's full page illustrations, while nice and large, are pretty gloomy alongside the sugar and honey descriptions of Nutcracker's fantasy domain. He explains his reason for this in his introduction, I guess, by talking about how watered down and sugar-soaked the French retelling and ballet has turned the story, and while that may be true, I'm not sure Sendak's muddy colored, rain cloud interpretation is any truer to the text. We all have our own version. Which is why I can't fairly rate something that spurned so many wonderful reimaginings at two stars. I still love the Nutcracker even if I didn't love THE Nutcracker, if you know what I mean.(less)
One of the recently announced Newbery Honor books, Inside Out & Back Again deserves all the praise it’s received. A verse novel that reads almost...moreOne of the recently announced Newbery Honor books, Inside Out & Back Again deserves all the praise it’s received. A verse novel that reads almost like a diary, it tells the story of a 10 year old girl who feels silenced and lost when she and her family end up in Alabama after fleeing Saigon as refugees during the Vietnam War. Suddenly they’re not only foreigners, but poor and Ha, once the smartest in her class, is bullied and made to feel stupid in school simply because she hasn’t mastered the English language yet. The word count may be small, but the wallop Ha’s stream of consciousness packs is not.
That said, I didn’t fall instep with Inside Out & Back Again immediately. The writing is abrupt and fragmented. It’s choppy. But the more you read, the better you know Ha, how funny and smart and temperamental she is. The deeper you delve into her family’s immigration story, and experience her struggle to speak English and make friends, the easier it is to understand Lai’s very intentional style of poetry. The speech may not be perfect, or it may just not be what the American ear is used to hearing, but it reminds the reader to ask themselves: what about the content? It’s all too easy to quickly misjudge someone because of a language barrier (especially when, as Ha bemoans, English seems designed to make foreign speakers feel stupid with all of it’s unnecessary articles), to label them dumb or inferior simply because their means of expression are basic. It reminds the reader to focus on content, on intention and meaning rather than superficial imperfections.
This book is a lot of things. It’s an immigration and refugee story. It’s an introduction to the Vietnam War. It’s a glimpse into history and offers both beautiful and heartbreaking experiences most readers will never experience for themselves, from the sway of a mango tree in Saigon to the sensation of starving and the stench of human filth aboard a cramped refugee ship. It puts the reader in the position of being a victim of taunting. It shows how it feels to be so outside you don’t look right, speak right, or even believe right. In short, it’s a crash course in being an outsider.
IO&BA does so much so well, but what it does best and most importantly, is encourage empathy. I know, it’s hard to imagine a book conveying so much story and emotion, and in POETRY no less, without being a drippy over-the-top history lesson cum sob fest. But I kid you not. It’s powerful and moving and feisty as hell. An important book that I hope many children will be introduced to and discuss in their schools.(less)
See my full review (with images) on my blog. Otherwise:
There are a lot of blogs turning book these days. By far, one of happiest leaps from digital ba...moreSee my full review (with images) on my blog. Otherwise:
There are a lot of blogs turning book these days. By far, one of happiest leaps from digital back to paper is Sophie Blackall's Missed Connections. Maybe you aren't familiar with her illustrations for the Ivy & Bean chapter book series I'm always raving about like a crazy too-old-to-care-so-much preson, or have no reason to be aware of her penchant for drawing wild boars in plaid shorts, but if you haven't seen her work pinned, tumbled, or tweeted somewhere down the line... you must not be very good at the internet. Mine is just one of many, many blogged odes to her series of watercolor illustrations depicting various love (mis)connections from the Craigslist's personals page of the same name.
On the pages of the New York City Craigslist, city dwellers post short descriptive messages to The Ones that Got Away following brief, spark-filled encounters in bookstores, at parties, on rooftops and inside subway cars, in half-hopes of getting a response. These micro tales of love lost and found, as the Missed Connections book subtitle reads, are the subject of Blackall's art. As words on a page, the posts offer commiseration, hope, reliability and, above all else, voyeuristic amusement. In Sophie Blackall's clever and playful illustrations, though, could-have-been should-have-been couples somehow become more real even as she paints their situations more whimsically and definitely more romantically than reality tends to play out.
You can see most of these images online already though, right? So why by the book? Well, because it's book, number one. And we all know that books are better. But if that answer wasn't so obvious to you, here's a less rhetorical one: The layout is simple an elegant. The left page is blank, except for the text of the original Craigslist post. The right page features a 7.5" x 5.75" full color reproduction to pour over. It's a clean layout that really highlights the story and the work. And you also want Blackall's sweet and funny introduction because she's a well spoken woman. And best of all, you get to share it with your friends. I put my copy down for just second and my husband Ben immediately snatched it away and wouldn't give it back without flipping through several more images. It's captivating. And if like me, you love the work but can't decide which of the 38 prints available in her Etsy shop is most right for your apartment walls, you can own all 56 images for only $13.95. Seriously. $13.95. I'm confident that Missed Connections would be the one art book on your coffee table that everyone actually wants to look at. That's why.
Personally, my eyeballs aren't up for lingering over anything for too long on the computer. With the book and the easy chronology it affords sitting in one's lap, I made a fun connection I hadn't noticed on the blog. On page 31 you see "Nose Bleed on the F". Then, on page 71 you come across "Bonsai Girl" wearing the same polka dot dress. And those elbow patches. Then, the final illustration features the same couple, in a big fireworks-exploding smooch-fest. The accompanying text simply reads "I can't believe I found you". Makes me wonder if one of the stories was from a couple Blackall actually heard from that had found each other (in her introduction she says that this has happened on a few occasions). A bit of mystery that makes me want to pour over the illustrations some more in search of further connections.
Sometimes I can't believe what these girls get away with.
Loved Bean's Dad's reaction to their very unflattering neighborhood newspaper... until he re...moreSometimes I can't believe what these girls get away with.
Loved Bean's Dad's reaction to their very unflattering neighborhood newspaper... until he realized the neighbors had read it too. Meanwhile Ivy & Bean are a couple satisfied hellions, chomping on their cheese. I also love that the entire premise of a book can revolve around a childhood obsession with cheese wax. Ah, elementary school trends, how you mystify and delight.(less)
Ending was a bit abrupt and too tidy, but an overall extremely entertaining book, funny (if not ENTIRELY likable) main character, with great illustrat...moreEnding was a bit abrupt and too tidy, but an overall extremely entertaining book, funny (if not ENTIRELY likable) main character, with great illustration, and hilariously real, angsty and annoying relationships. I love Anya's mom.(less)
I love Marcel. I LOVE him, Internet. But I do not totally love this book. Here's why: as nicely painted as its pages are, I don't understand why it's...moreI love Marcel. I LOVE him, Internet. But I do not totally love this book. Here's why: as nicely painted as its pages are, I don't understand why it's painted at all. Especially since the paintings are clearly based on photographs that could have been used to greater effect. Marcel is absurd looking. That's what's so great about seeing him inhabit real spaces. Painted images decrease that sense of reality that is so key to Marcel's humor. Still funny, of course, but real spaces, and of course Jenny Slate's voice and timing are what make Marcel Marcel.
I would love to see this done photographically as more of a coffee table book full of LOTS of quotes. That would make it more of an item for people who are already fans, whereas the picture book format aims to meet a different, newer audience, I think. But that's what I'd like, please.(less)
**spoiler alert** Entertaining, quippy dialogue but the plot felt rushed compared to the other two books and the magic just doesn't hold up to scrutin...more**spoiler alert** Entertaining, quippy dialogue but the plot felt rushed compared to the other two books and the magic just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Great for a light read (like watching The Secret Circle: The Movie would be -- dumb fun. God, I wish they'd make that...). But when magic and its effects are skirted around in sentences like "and the Itineris made Jenna sick 'cause, well, you know how vampires are!" it makes me think the author needed to spend more time working out the details.
Thought Elodie being able to enter Sophie's body and take over and perform magic was the most interesting aspect of the plot. The whole trip into Hell was weak and a bunch of build up for nothing. They revealed some family history that was barely touched on and, as this is supposedly the last in the series, will not be delved into any deeper. I just think Hawkins wrote much stronger plots when she was just sticking to Hex Hall and Thorne Abbey. Tried to go so many places so quickly in this one and none of them seemed to get proper attention.
Also, how do they not know what happened to all the demonoid kids they "freed" at the end? They were able to hook up with Nick and Daisy, freed demonoids, yet have no clue how anyone else is faring? Did Sophie break the spell and then just instantly peace out without sticking around to see that the thing she had risked her life for had actually worked out properly? Don't get it.
And then there was the ultimate cheese, when the council asked Sophie -- a high school senior -- to be their leader. Sounds like the kind of fluffy perfect ending she'd make fun of.
Weakest in the series, but the dialogue will happily carry you through the whole thing.(less)