Squirrel Girl + Shannon Hale = high hopes and lots of anticipation! But it just didn't work for me... a few moments that made me laugh but fell far shSquirrel Girl + Shannon Hale = high hopes and lots of anticipation! But it just didn't work for me... a few moments that made me laugh but fell far short of the sweet, fullhearted absurdity I was hoping for. Just not as good as actually reading the Squirrel Girl comics.
The texts with the Avengers were pretty great, though. ...more
I love when trade editions arrive so I can read them all over again and then squee about them on goodreads!
There is nothing not to love about GoldieI love when trade editions arrive so I can read them all over again and then squee about them on goodreads!
There is nothing not to love about Goldie Vance. It's action packed and completely great. A lot of the press leading up to the single-issue releases was like, "Nancy Drew but in FL in the 60s!" but truly, that sells it so short there's basically no comparison. It's like Nancy Drew but in FL in the 60s and COMPLETELY BADASS and funny and cute as heck and filled with POC and queer characters and essentially 5000 times better than Nancy Drew ever was. Not to mention, Brittney Williams's art just SHINES. I loved the work she did on Hellcat, but this is even better - Goldie's facial expressions are just a treasure. I gave it a big big hug before sending it along to the next reader. ...more
The good: Good hook for booktalking, smooth and engaging storytelling, a narrative voice that I really eRec'd by a 6th-grade patron and a quick read.
The good: Good hook for booktalking, smooth and engaging storytelling, a narrative voice that I really enjoyed. Def fits that solidly middle-grade and young teen enjoyment of a "what's the right thing to do? -- oh it's definitely this" moral story. Adults who are far from perfect AND far from omnipotent but very much doing their best and using the tools at their disposal to help their kids. They couldn't solve the problems for the main characters, but they had tools that helped and they used them.
It's interesting to me that there's relatively little focus on the bullies - they're not really flat or rounded, they're almost tangential. Which, honestly, I think was a good narrative choice... similar to the one that Judy Blume made in Blubber, actually. One thing that bothers me about books like Wonder and Out of My Mind is that there is so much focus on the villainous bullies. In those books, one gets the sense that if the horrible bullies weren't horrible and if good kids spoke up about the victimized students, there wouldn't be any issues - and in middle school and high school, that's less than a complete picture, to say the least. This was a slightly more nuanced perspective, not because the bullies are sympathetic characters but because depression and other elements play a role as well. The removal of the specific horrible bullying behavior made a huge change in Francis's life -- realistic -- but it wasn't what fixed the situation. Part of his ongoing anxiety and depression from being gender-nonconforming came from small daily wearing-down, fear of others' censure, etc, and, conversely, what made it better wasn't simply the bully seeing the light and stopping his behavior. It was also friendship, self-acceptance, time, confidence, a different school climate, feeling safer in general, etc.
The URGH: The fat character gets lots of exercise and loses weight. The tomboy/short/stubby girl character becomes conventionally femme. They weren't the only transformative moments, nor were they the *reason* for the HEA, but it was central enough to make me more than a little grouchy. If it weren't for those parts, this would have been a solidly 4.5 star rec for me.
Well, that was a complete and total charmer of a YA book. I can't wait to booktalk it and I'd like to see it all over all the libraries. Not perfect.Well, that was a complete and total charmer of a YA book. I can't wait to booktalk it and I'd like to see it all over all the libraries. Not perfect. Sometimes though there are those books for tweens and teens that are the first of something (like Geography Club) and then a few years later publishing has gone farther and the "firsts" feel dated and very much of their time... but they're a pleasure when they appear, and they lay many of the flagstones for later books.
Things I loved: the diverse cast (TIMES 100!!!!!) especially in the way it was so immersive rather than tokenizing, the interplay between identities and communities and daily life LIKE LIFE IS. It drives me bananas when marginalized characters exist in isolation in a sea of cis/straight/white/able-bodied people as if we didn't know how to find each other and have our own lives.
I really enjoyed the crush/romance, the worldbuilding details that were there, the fact that it was just adorable.
Yes, the "twists" are telegraphed from a mile away so that even I, the worst guesser ever, could see them. No, I didn't mind that, really, even though Jess was really ridiculously, bizarrely oblivious. It definitely didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. I actually think that's part of what makes it work so well as a solid MG/young YA read, along with the hesitant, careful pace of the romance.
Quibble 1: typos! I wish the typos had been caught in in the editing process, and that they'll be fixed before the (hopefully inevitable) reprint. Little things like compliment for complement, it's for its, etc. Could have used a stronger beta or editing hand.
Quibble 2: I'm willing to let this go? But in a book that hit so many right notes, it seemed odd that the hundreds-of-years-in-the-future-post-apocalyptic-yet-survivable-and-filled-with-superheroes would have a 21st-century level/type/tone of homophobia. Jarring. And honestly, I think unnecessary. Like, what are the chances that they'd need a GSA for the exact same reasons as now, and that outing would work the same way? I understand that making future SF/F mimic contemporary real life is a thing, but there are so many little details to make the worldbuilding feel solid, like the meat thing, that this seemed oddly mismatched. And tbh, since the tension came from other plot points and the characters didn't actually encounter any active queerphobia/transphobia that I can remember at the moment, it seems extra unnecessary. Imagine if that background element had been removed entirely. SO GREAT, right? That's what I'm looking forward to next.
Rec'd especially for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, all those really solid girl-focused fantasies with political intrigue, likeable charactRec'd especially for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, all those really solid girl-focused fantasies with political intrigue, likeable characters, strong friendships, and nicely-tied-up endings. Super enjoyable. ...more
This was handed to me by one of my tween patrons who was vibrating with delight as she hugged it. She had come back to the library multiple times to hThis was handed to me by one of my tween patrons who was vibrating with delight as she hugged it. She had come back to the library multiple times to hunt me down and tell me about it, and in the meantime had read it twice. Also... it's apparently inspired her to take a class on masculinity? So any flaws of the book aside, I would say that looks like success and the author can feel proud.
And to be honest? It was a didactic, saccharine, highly predictable story of bullying and acceptance. Except that unlike Wonder (Palacio) or Out of my Mind, it didn't use a marginalized, flat main character as a symbol/catalyst for the other characters' growth. Which makes it a lot less problematic, imo. This particular type of explicitly teachy realistic fiction really speaks to a lot of the 4th-7th graders I know. It allows a safe, gentle space to question and contextualize misogyny and gender norms, but in a much less fraught way than a book where the mc is queer/trans or dealing with oppressions more normalized and common than bronies. It gently nudges.
His plunge into maniacal MLP fandom is definitely over the top, but I'll give it a pass when weighed against the rest of the story.
So... honestly, I'd rec to kids and tweens experiencing that self-exploration / morally righteous phase that lets them love books where the ethos is clear. ...more
I read fat books -- especially ones that purport to be fat-positive -- with a jaundiced eye these days. I'm hopeful? But skeptical.
That said, what reI read fat books -- especially ones that purport to be fat-positive -- with a jaundiced eye these days. I'm hopeful? But skeptical.
That said, what really struck me about Dumplin' was how very ambitious it was in terms of fat positivity. Willowdean's growth as a character -- from internally shaming/scorning her dorky fat classmate to recognizing that same classmate's powerful selfhood without weight loss or an image shift -- is a huge undertaking, especially because it skirts but never slides into inspiration porn. Similarly, the way the author handled Willowdean's relationship with Lucy, and what we learn about Lucy as a character over time? There was a lot of delicate character-building work there.
It would have been really easy to slide into good fat/bad fat with this storyline... a Health at Every Size, Body-Positivity 101 style YA. And that wouldn't have been terrible necessarily, but it wouldn't have been all that exciting either. The fact that Julie Murphy managed to create this as a Fat 201 instead of a 101 is incredibly impressive. It makes me hopeful.
IMO the most well-done YA with fat characters (characterS!!) I've read. Kudos. ...more
Well, that was creepy as fuck. It's a Coraline read-alike, but reminded me more of Well-Witched by Frances Hardinge. Not for the faint of heart or thoWell, that was creepy as fuck. It's a Coraline read-alike, but reminded me more of Well-Witched by Frances Hardinge. Not for the faint of heart or those with overactive imaginations, despite the font and book design hinting that it's for younger readers.
Although the horror element is different, this really felt a lot like A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, in terms of the protagonist's isolation, self-doubt, and struggle. Horror isn't really my jam, but I raced through the last half, gasping and going "AUGHHH"every few minutes. ...more
I might have been the right reader for this between the ages of 12-20, but sadly I'm not right now.
I love fairytale retellings, but primarily those tI might have been the right reader for this between the ages of 12-20, but sadly I'm not right now.
I love fairytale retellings, but primarily those that imbue the characters with depth and complexity that they don't get in the plot-driven originals. This is another flavor entirely: the sort that uses the original elements and plot but imbues them with a self-consciously fantastical/grotesque atmosphere in the transformation. I think Gaiman works best for me when that particular flavor is balanced with the specific and the mundane (ie Neverwhere) . Here it falls flat and feels eye-rollingly self-indulgent.
What worked: it's beautifully made, especially that dust jacket overlay! Most of the illustrations weren't my style, but a few were really beautiful (especially the full page Snow White/Sleeping Beauty kiss). I liked future!Snow White being a warrior who lives with the dwarves, both her drive and her agency. The rest, eh.
PSA: not for most younger readers. If your kiddo's the age and disposition to be enchanted by Weetzie Bat or Neverwhere, then this is about right. Also, FYI, no happily ever after (or, in fact, romance/love/relationship) for Snow White and Sleeping Beauty here: this is not the queer princess fic you've been waiting for. ...more
I can't disagree that the art has some sloppy elements, but the story pulled me in and felt super authentic... especially the "oh my god, she touchedI can't disagree that the art has some sloppy elements, but the story pulled me in and felt super authentic... especially the "oh my god, she touched my knee, I'm exploding" parts. ...more
Much less terrible than the other Pern books, upon rereading! If you're going to rec Pern to youngish readers, this is the one to go with. But keep inMuch less terrible than the other Pern books, upon rereading! If you're going to rec Pern to youngish readers, this is the one to go with. But keep in mind that if they're into it, they'll go beyond the Harper Hall trilogy pretty fast. ...more