Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: My Beijing

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun. Translated by Edward Gauvin. Lerner / Graphic Universe, 2018. 9781541526426. 128pp including sketches in the back. These amusing stories of Yu’er and her loving grandfather are filled with quiet magic. When she wants to train to swim in the Special Olympics, she’s not allowed in the pool, but her grandfather rigs up a harness and a rope and teaches her to swim in the trees. When neighborhood bullies injur a butterfly, Yu’Er makes a new friend who takes it to Bug Paradise, an empty lot full of flowers and plants where Yu’Er listens to an impromptu natural concert. I don’t want to be more specific as the way the stories reveal themselves is beautiful. I think I can add that one reminded me of my favorite part of Peter Pan, and two involve a very gentle, dreamlike form of time travel. Nie Jun’s love for Beijing’s hutongs (the narrow lanes […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Herakles Book 1

Herakles Book 1 by Édouard Cour.  Lion Forge / The Magnetic Collection, 2018. 9781942367499. 157pp with a Greece-centric map of the world and character guide, plus orange endpapers (a bold choice!) The cover’s matte finish and gold foil give this graphic novel a lot of shelf appeal. Inside, the sketchy art looks like a combination of pencils and inks, and Cour is great at creating a sense of speed and power, particularly during the fight scenes. The book is alternately dark and moody, and full of deadpan laughs. Herakles is haunted by ghosts of those who’ve died at his hands or because of him — it’s not an exaggeration to say he’s a mass murderer. This sad, heroic version of the myths is epically readable with just enough full frontal male nudity to keep it out of all but the most daring high school libraries.

Tags

Nonfiction Book Review: What Shape Is Space?

What Shape Is Space? by Giles Sparrow. Thames & Hudson, 2018. 9780500293669. 142pp including an index and list for further reading. http://amzn.to/2V10MP8 – I read this in a hotel bar full of screaming and moaning football fans while waiting for my daughter, who was attending a Brockhampton concert, and it still managed to hold my interest! There is no greater praise I can offer a nonfiction book. – This serves as a great primer/review of the history of human views of space and the way we calculate the size of the universe. It also offers a math-free overview of string theory and the definition of a universe, discusses why scientists think dark matter and dark energy are out there, plus explains black holes and the possible ends of all things. – I love that the text is different sizes. (see the image that’s part of this review) I easily skimmed the big text for topics I was interested in, skipped […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: His Dream of the Skyland

His Dream of the Skyland by Anne Opotowsky and Aya Morton. Top Shelf, 2018. 9781603094290. 312 oversized pages including an illustrated glossary. http://amzn.to/2EgZUA2 Before Song Lu leaves for his new job sorting and delivering dead letters for Hong Kong’s post office, one of the prostitutes next door gives him a freebie while his mother is in the next room telling fortunes. On his way to work he helps some neighborhood men with a puzzle, then arrives at a building full of disorganized piles of undelivered envelopes. Lots of soft blues and white give artist Morton the chance to use other colors to make seemingly random details pop, and lend nearly every page a sense of dreamlike wonder as Song heads to the Walled City of Kowloon (and elsewhere) to try deliver letters. There are gangsters and acrobats, plus Song’s friends and family in the mix along with a few mysteries besides the undelivered letters, and a tragedy or two. This […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Short & Skinny

Short & Skinny by Mark Tatulli. Little, Brown, 2018. 9780316440516. 250pp. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli’s autobiographical graphic novel will appeal to lots of creative kids, and it’s also custom made for fanboys like me who were a certain age in 1977. Mark is small for his age, and dreams of being a superhero, talking to the girl he likes, and being free of junior high bullies. His solution: send away for several of the muscle building kits advertised in the back of comic books, and then return to school after vacation a changed man. But over the summer something changes him more: seeing Star Wars! Mark wants to create his own parody of the movie (and does), which set him on a path to a decades-long career in TV before he starts making comics and illustrating books.  

Tags

Guest Book Review: The Typewriter

Thanks to Robert for the guest review!

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Wild Cat

The Wild Cat (Mr. Badger and Mrs Fox #6) by Brigitte Luciani (story) & Eve Tharlet (art). Translation by Nathan Sacks. Lerner / Graphic Universe, 2018. 9781541500877. 32pp.  http://amzn.to/2Pn41MH The books in this kindhearted graphic novel series about badgers and foxes living together are as sweet as they are beautiful. After a show featuring the masked wild cat named Sylvester, Ginger, a young fox, wants to be just like him. When the young badgers tell her foxes don’t climb trees, she shows them otherwise, but then Sylvester and his companions (three genets) make fun of Ginger. She sets off to figure out whether or not she’s a real fox, and gets the assurance she needs from new friends and her Papa. (Plus her dad knows a secret about Sylvester, and calls the not so wild cat on his crap.)  

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Fake Blood

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner.  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 9781481495561. 336pp. http://amzn.to/2EdN5XH This new entry into the late grade school/tween graphic novel market stars AJ and his friends, who are just starting the 6th grade. AJ is the kind of kid librarians love: he boasts about the number of books he read over the summer and the summer reading prize he won (sunglasses). He likes Nia, the smartest girl at Spoons Middle School. She is obsessed with vampires. His sister BB offers AJ some classic advice (be yourself), but instead of taking it he “borrows” her copy of Moonlight (a thinly veiled stand-in for Twilight) and gives himself a vampire makeover complete with glitter and hair care products. After AJ convinces Nia he’s a vampire, the story picks up a bit of speed, and it’s clear that there’s a real (and not very threatening) vampire at school, too. The illustrations are charming, and what I like […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Coda Volume 1

Coda Volume 1 by Simon Spurrier & Matías Bergara. BOOM!, 2018. 9781684153213. Contains #1 – #4 of the comic book series. http://amzn.to/2DOx4HA Sometimes coloring is so good it’s impossible to ignore. (See: Laura Martin’s work in the Planetary series and Issabelle Arsenault’s in Jane, the fox & me). Other times it just adds to the fun. (See any issue of Adventure Time or Invincible, and every book of Trondheim and Sfar’s Dungeon series). But once in a while colors are so berserk and eye catching I can’t understand how they work together — examples include Tula Lotay’s colors in Supreme: Blue Rose, the covers for Slam!, and now Matías Bergara’s insane mix of gradients in Coda. There may be thousands of colors on the first page, an illustration of a rotting husk of a giant dragon.  Somehow they work together to perfectly create this broken, post-apocalyptic, former high fantasy world. The writing is great, too —- Spurrier’s first bit of […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Grass Kings Volume 1

Grass Kings Volume One by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins.  BOOM! Studios, 2018. 978168415115.  Reprints #1-#6 of the series.  176pp including a cover gallery and additional artwork.  https://amzn.to/2JYpDxJ The Grass Kingdom isn’t too far from the city of Cargill, on some land by the sea. It’s a place full of people seeking the freedom to live as they like. They’re ruled by Robert, but he’s been doing way too much drinking since he lost his daughter and his wife. The Kingdom is surviving because it has an airport and everything its residents need, including its own police officer. After Robert gives shelter to a woman on the run, all hell breaks loose. The Sheriff of Cargill wants her back, and sends in a thug, Big Dan, to provoke a response. It all ends up with a threat against all the residents of the Grass Kingdom, and they show everyone why that’s a very bad idea. Jenkins’ watercolors are fantastic, and […]

Tags