Saturday, March 30, 2013

Y: The Last Man—One Small Step

Written by: Brian K. Vaugn

First line: Yeah, you're a regular man of steel all right.

Why you should read this book: Yorick and his band of merry misfits find their journey interrupted by a Russian woman looking for help in saving the space station astronauts, who are running out of air and making a last-ditch attempt to get home on a compromised craft. Their mission is complicated by the tenacious Israeli soldiers, whose allegiances are unclear, and the whole things turns into, as the Israelis might say, a balagan. Then, the monkey Ampersand has an unusual excursion with a troop of actors.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You seriously think the world would be better without Y chromosomes.

Moss Gown

Written by: William H. Hooks

First line: Long ago in the old south there was a man who owned a great plantation.

Why you should read this book: An old story brought forward to nineteenth century America, this is a Cinderella-type fairy tale along the lines of All-Fur. When pressed, Moss Gown chooses not to lie to her father about her devotion, but instead offers a metaphor he can't understand, so she is thrown off the estate, befriended by a gris-gris witch woman, and given a gift that will eventually help her win her true love and redeem herself in her father's eyes. It's longish for a picture book, divided into chapters, with enticing illustrations, perfect for young readers clamoring for fairy tale princesses and happy endings.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Your doctor has put you on a restricted sodium diet.

Double Dutch

Written by: Sharon M. Draper

First line: Delia and Randy are trying to focus on winning the double dutch tournament they've prepared so long for, and avoiding the creepy Tolliver twins, whose apparent threats on a popular talk show seem directed at the kids in their school. However, they both have big secrets that could ruin their chances at taking the championship: Delia has spent many years hiding the fact that she can't read, and Randy has gotten through the month hiding the fact that his father has disappeared and he's broke and living alone. Along with their friend Yolanda, a compulsive liar, they must face the hard truths and false fronts of their lives and discover that what a person presents on the outside is not always who they are on the inside.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think it's a good idea to go on national television and make thinly veiled statements about people getting hurt.

Batman The Killing Joke

Written by: Alan Moore

First line: There were these two guys in a lunatic asylum.

Why you should read this book: In this dark and unusual modern classic, Batman tries to reason with the Joker, in order to prevent their feud from ending in death, but the Joker is, of course, completely insane, and already deeply embroiled in a convoluted plot to drive Commissioner Gordon mad as well. There are some super-creepy circus freaks, a disturbing origin story, and a number of surprising and frightening moments of humanity for the Joker. True to the spirit of the Batman series as well as the author's reputation, it's a surgical psychological examination of an unresolvable struggle between the brooding protagonist and his long-time, painfully mirthful antagonist.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're just on the edge of insanity yourself.

The Supernaturalist: The Graphic Novel

Adapted by: Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

First line: Are we nearly there yet?

Why you should read this book: Life sucks for Cosmo Hill, an orphan whose room and board is covered by his participation in horrible, non-consensual product-testing experiments, until he escapes the orphanage in a car accident. Cosmo alone is no match for the technology of Satellite City, but lucky Deus ex Machina, the Supernaturalists, a group of kids who fight invisible parasites, stumble upon him and decide he's a spotter, capable of seeing these weird blue blobs of putative evil. Except everyone's wrong about everything.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It really didn't seem to make a lot of sense to me, and it lacked character development and believability; possibly, the full version of the story is more interesting and less disjointed.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1969

Written by: Alan Moore

First line: Oh...Oh...Oh.

Why you should read this book: Mina, Orlanda, and Quartermain are, apparently, immortal, Mina really likes 1969 fashion, cultists are still trying to create a moon-child to bring about the end of the world. Mina gets dosed and has a eye-opening trip. It's weird.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Missing the beginning of the story.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910

Written by: Alan Moore

First line: Fraters and sorers...beloved fraters and sorers...we are gathered in the process-house.

Why you should read this book: I think I missed a book in here somewhere, because I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. Cultists are trying to create a moon-child and bring about the end of the world,  Mina's in a menage a trois with Orlando and Quartermain's son; Nemo's daughter hates him and runs away from home. There's a guy who's unhinged in time and talks in riddles, stuff blows up; potentially, this is all going somewhere.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're too busy bringing about the end of the world.

So Far from the Sea

Written by: Eve Bunting

First line: My mom and dad, my little brother Thomas and I have been driving since early morning.

Why you should read this book: An American girl of Japanese descent travels with her family to the former internment camp where their grandfather was buried during World War II, since they are moving to the east coast and will not be able to visit anymore. The pages alternate between colorful, but stark, images of the present in which the girl walks with her family through the ruins of Manzanar War Relocation Center; and crowded, black and white images of the past. The girl and her father explain to the younger brother why Japanese Americans were relocated during World War II and how to deal with the moral implications, concluding that the past is immutable and the future means moving on.

Why you should read this book: You're the type to hold a grudge.


Written by: Gaelyn Gordon

First line: Why you should read this booOn Monday morning, Mabel opened the door.

Why you should read this book: The friendly animal that comes into Mabel's life is clearly, by looks, a duck, but equally, by behavior, a cat. It meows, pounces, plays with yarn, and catches mice. Mabel goes out of her way to prove to the duck that it is, in fact, a duck, but it takes a moment of necessity to get the duck to acknowledge the truth. Of course, Mabel's odd adventures don't end with the duck's change of heart.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe anyone can be anything they want.

Color Dance

Written by: Ann Jonas

First line: This is our dance.

Why you should read this book: Three little ballerinas with colored fabrics demonstrate the properties of the color wheel. Primary, secondary, and even tertiary colors are covered here. Then, a surprise appearance by a boy dancer with neutral cloth adds depth to the performance.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're color blind.

George Washington's Breakfast

Written by: Jean Fritz (Paul Galdone Drew the Pictures)

First line: George W. Allen was proud of two things.

Why you should read this book: Young George is an expert on his hero, George Washington, but there is one question he cannot answer: What did George Washington eat for breakfast? His grandmother promises to cook the dish for him if he can discover what it is, but George's research, while exhaustive, yields no useful data. A fit of pique and serendipitous discovery of an old source finally leads to George's elucidation as well as his grandmother keeping her promise.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You feel like kids should accept what they're told and not try to learn more than you.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Ballad of Valentine

Written by: Alison Jackson

First line: In a cabin, in a canyon/Near a mountain laced with pine,/Lived a girl who was my sweetheart,/And her name was Valentine.

Why you should read this book: I asked a librarian for a Valentine-themed children's book that was not insipid, and this is what I got. The narrator is desperate to send a love letter to his darling, but over and over again, it goes astray, despite his reliance on the postal service, homing pigeons, smoke signals, morse code, a sky writer, and other methods. Set to the tune of "Oh, My Darling Clementine," it's a funny piece whimsy for kids who want to laugh.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Unlucky in love.

Space Race

Written by: Sylvia Waugh

First line: The village of Belthorp lay sleeping like the little town of Bethlehem under the dark December sky.

Why you should read this book: Thomas Derwent has just learned that he and his father were not born on Earth, and in fact are aliens from the planet Ormingat, to which they will be returning soon, so soon that Thomas will miss the opportunity to play a shepherd in his Christmas pageant. Thomas is still trying to deal with the news of his transition when a horrific car accident causes his father to disappear into thin air, leaving Thomas alone in a hospital room. If he can't find his father soon, he realizes, he may never see his father again.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want to go home again.