|Thursday, March 10th, 2016|
7:43 pm - I wrote a thing
|Sunday, February 21st, 2016|
1:14 pm - Nervous Dream Cats; Unfamiliar Divine Awakening; Gifted Fear Outage; Nimona Unto Letters
Flutter, vol. 2: Don't Let Me Die Nervous, by Jennie Wood et al|
Wanted this second graphic novel in the series enough to buy it, even though I'm trying not to buy things. Glad I did. It was very interesting in the way that makes me want to keep a book around. Gender stuffs, but also power stuffs.
On Cats, by Doris Lessing
There's a lot of inaccuracy presented as truth in this book (at least as far as cat psychology and biology are concerned), but I really don't care, because 1) it's obvious how much Lessing cares about and is fascinated by her cats, 2) lots of stories about cats, and 3) Lessing seems to be one of those writers I could read and love no matter the topic. I haven't tested 3 out very hard yet, but so far, it does appear to be true.
Bear's Dream, by Janet Slingsby
Decent story about a teddy bear dreaming he is with all different kinds of bears. The illustrations are better than the text, but the text has the rare virtue among children's anthropomorphic books of not contravening biology. Er, I mean, other than the part where bears, both real and toy, can talk and all that. The *ecology* is sensible, is more what I'm appreciating here.
The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband, by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
You know, I can't decide if this mystery, whose protagonist is a man with Asperger's who works admirably hard at having a satisfying life (including going into business as a question-answerer), was more awkward and sometimes implausible-for-that-character than the first one, or if I am just more critical now that the OMG BEST PROTAGONIST EVAR excitement of the first one has worn off. Either way, I really enjoyed the book, still, and am digging on the series, still. At its best, it is all of the good things I want in a mystery novel.
The Divine Hours, vol. 2: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, by Phyllis A. Tickle
I am still fitfully engaging with the liturgy / devotional practices of my childhood, and over Advent I was very much less fitful. The Advent prayers, hymns, psalms, etc in this volume made it even better than the other two... though perhaps it's just that Advent is my favorite season.
Star Wars: Before the Awakening, by Greg Rucka
My inner fangirl was so happy with this, as it made some goofy things from the movie make more sense, and did not introduce anything new that irritated me. Plus! Greg Rucka! Can write in any genre like nobody's business! Clean, sharp, the kind of writing that seems effortless but probably takes a hell of a lot of work to pull off.
All Men Fear Me, by Donis Casey
Eighth volume in the Oklahoma-set Alafair Tucker mysteries. Sometimes they get a little heavy on the exposition, but in a way that I find endearing. Mostly I just love these characters, and their stories, so much. And I appreciate that even though she keeps bringing in new characters (and/or making quaternary characters central to a particular story), they always *fit*, feeling like part of the story right away. I wish I could have 5 or more books this good, in this series, TODAY, but I will be patient and appreciate the long, careful process the author takes with each new title. This series has, if anything, gotten better with age.
The Firefly Letters, by Margarita Engle
So I really don't like most novels written in free verse, insofar as it's just not a style that I enjoy at novel length. Especially YA novels, which are often (not always) verbally simpler than an adult novel-length poem would be. So it's no surprise that I didn't enjoy the style of this book nearly as much as I would've the imaginary book that the same author wrote that was, you know, a NOVEL novel. But that is hardly her fault. And it's a really good story. And the images are vivid.
The Gifted, by Gail Bowen
Oh boy. Another series mystery where I feel like the early books were much tighter, cleaner, and generally more well-revised than they are now. (Also, the crime that gets solved? happens about HALF-WAY through the book. Sign of bloat.) BUT, also another series where I'm really fond of the characters, I want to know what they're up to, and the best-written scenes have just as much sparkle and power as the earlier books did. *makes hand-wavey gesture* What're you gonna do?
Harley Quinn, vol. 2: Power Outage, by Amanda Conner et al
With this book, Conner's Harley grew into all the potential I saw in the first book, and then slammed her way through my expectations and gave me more. Lobo-esque self-parodying wit, tons of plot, and art that keeps you wanting to turn pages all the way through.
Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
As if the universe said, "What would be the perfect graphic novel for Maribou right now?" and then Noelle Stevenson made it. So many loves for all the parts of this book that if I start gushing, I'll be writing until tomorrow. And spoil the book for you. Just read it!
Do Unto Animals, by Tracey Stewart, illustrated by Lisel Ashlock
As a text on how to deepen your relationships with the animal kingdom, I didn't particularly enjoy this book. Way too many points of departure between me and the author, and the stuff I do think is good is either much more basic than I need, or outside my interests. However!!!!!! The artwork is amazingly wonderful, classic fauna/flora style (almost like Beatrix Potter? but a bit more robust and less British; shades of Merian and Audubon, sort of thing). If you like those kinds of pictures, you should absolutely take a look at the book, because it is copiously illustrated (almost every page has something great). If you are intrigued by the art but will not be picking up the book (or even if you will be!), you could always take a look at Lisel Ashlock's website.
Oh My Goodness, y'all! For the first time since I don't even know when (July? May?), I AM CAUGHT UP ON BOOK POSTING. Feels good. *wanders off to read some more books*
current mood: satisfied
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11:23 am - General Snow Day; Little Western Jumpers; Sleeping Persephone Promise; Collected Burning Queen
The Snow Day by Komako Sakai, and Snow, by Sam Usher|
The Snow Day was adorable and odd and imagination-stirring (it also had a protagonist that different reviewers have gendered differently, which I found cool). Which was awesome, but did make me like Snow less, since it is merely cute and amusing, and I read them close together.
The General, by Janet Charters, illustrated by Michael Foreman; and The Moon Jumpers, by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Two classics from my childhood that I had forgotten about, but fell in love with all over again on a second reading. Both texts are just exactly how they should be. The art for The General is whimsical and resplendent, while the art for The Moon Jumpers is innocent and dreamlike, with a touch of deeper mystery - so both illustrators matched their wonderful texts wonderfully well.
Little Long-nose, by Wilhelm Hauff, illustrated by Laura Stoddart
A curious and enchanting fairy tale from outside the usual canon. I wish more fairy tales that involve spending seven years as a squirrel were INSIDE the canon, and this one is definitely a good candidate. Stoddart did a swell job with the illustrations, too.
Beyond the Western Deep, vol. 1, by Alex Kain et al
Charming anthropomorphic fantasy comic; the first volume was too short for me to really get invested in it, but I'm curious about what will be next.
Persephone, by Warwick Hutton
Beautiful, spare, well-illustrated retelling of the myth that I found most compelling (and beautiful and disturbing) as a child.
Sleeping Beauty, by Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Craft
Kinuko Craft is one of my favorite illustrators of all time, so I loved this book, but mostly for intimate, art-related reasons. For example, I spent several minutes staring at one of the dresses' brocades, and tracing the pattern with my finger.
The Promise, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin
Beautifully illustrated but ultimately frustrating picture book. Just too bluntly didactic and oversimplifying for me. But! Still worth it, because a) it started out well, and b) the illustrations.
Stella, Queen of the Snow, by Marie-Louise Gay
Delightful. Still enjoying the formula of this picture book series, and the artwork is vibrant and playful and carries the reader along.
Bryant & May and the Burning Man, by Christopher Fowler
Oh man. Did I enjoy this? Yes. Would I have enjoyed it if I weren't already so fond of most of the characters in the series? Really not sure I would've. I wish there wasn't so much pressure on later series volumes to get published quickly instead of thoroughly edited ... or maybe the editor just wasn't very involved. Either way there were large chunks of this that read woodenly. The splendid parts were as splendid as ever, though.
Ted Harrison Collected, compiled and commented on by Robert Budd
Beautiful, beautiful lithographs, with very little commentary. Despite the title, it is not every Ted Harrison Art ever, but rather only covers the prints he made. Some of my favorites were included, including some old favorites I'd forgotten about.
current mood: sickish
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|Wednesday, February 17th, 2016|
11:56 pm - Little Wolf's Jack; Authentic Marmalade Gruffalo; Frog Moon; Sister Doctor
Jack & Jim, by Kitty Crowther|
Cute story, sweet pictures. Predictable but likable message.
The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My, by Tove Jansson
After years of adoring the Moomin novels and only slightly less adoring the comic strips, I thought it was about time I got around to this picture book. It was charming, vivacious, but not as wonderfully odd and hopefully melancholy as the novels are. Ah well.
The Wolf's Whistle, by Bjorn Rune Lie et al
Meh. I wanted to like this comic-booky twisted-fairy origin story of the Lone Wolf a lot better than I did. The story was inventive, the pictures were funny - and yet I felt nothing. *shrug* So it goes.
Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) Buys a Farm, by Kathleen Hale
A mad, glorious splendor of a book. Stuffed full to bursting of asides that don't make sense, but after about 3 pages one stops trying for sense and starts being excited to see each new surreal business that the author will depict with careful, harmonious brushstrokes. Wish these were easier to find. Kathleen Hale is the bomb. (The one sour note was a page about playing Indians that made me cringe at how awkwardly well-meaning racist it was - but that's a sign of the era in which the book was written...)
The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
This picture book was just as good as The Snail and the Whale (by the same duo), except - I'd already watched the movie adaptation. And FOR ONCE the movie was so faithful to the book that it ended up being better than the book even though the book is excellent. How often does that happen?
The Authentic Bistros of Paris, by François Thomazeau, photography by Sylvain Ageorges
Started this on my lunch hour, meant to just flip through it for a few minutes before returning to another book I was in the middle of, ended up reading this one cover to cover instead. It's too out of date to be completely practical as a guidebook, but the pictures and the descriptions and the warmth the authors feel toward the bistro workers are all wonderful. One can always look up interesting places online for updates.
A Frog Prince, by Alix Berenzy
Modern retelling of the Frog Prince with a twist ending. The twist ending was alright, only alright. The illustrations were lovely, albeit not a patch on whomever illustrated the one I read most as a child. Would be pleased to read this to a kid if they wanted me to, though, which is something.
Whatever Happened to My Sister?, by Simona Ciraolo
I loved this almost-comic-book story about a girl worrying over her older sister's bizarre behavior. It was funny and emotional and quite real (even the predictably happy ending - I don't mind them when they fit the structure of the rest of the story properly).
Moon Man, by Tomi Ungerer
Surreal and dreamlike story about the man in the moon coming down to earth. I could see how incredibly well-done it was, but I didn't fall in love with it.
Doctor De Soto, by William Steig
Ha! My dentist had this book in his waiting room as a kid, and I went there frequently (non-fluoridated water supply), so I read this at least 7 or 8 times back then. Was afraid it wouldn't hold up but it totally did. Funny and wise.
current mood: lazy
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|Tuesday, February 16th, 2016|
10:32 pm - Carry Children's Perfect French; Princeless Christmas: Dirty Old Ex Term; Eloise Elephant; Cat Tales
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell|
I avoided this book for some time because I thought it would be fanfic that the protagonist of another of her books wrote, and that had so much possibility for going horribly wrong. However! It was not, it was just her OWN story set in that YA fantasy world, and it was fabulous. I was deeply engrossed. Managed to critique / parody the genre without being as harsh as the Magician Trilogy, kept its balance very well throughout, and I am very fond of the characters. Plus Rainbow Rowell novels are incredibly dialogue-heavy and I love love love all the voices she uses. So basically I was in heaven almost the entire time.
100 Great Children's Picturebooks, by Martin Salisbury
So I THOUGHT I was done with gulping down picture books, once I got past the "best of 2015" and associateds, and then I read this book! A historical / visual feast for anyone who enjoys picture books and/or book history, fairly academic in tone, but personal enough to keep it interesting. I liked it even more than I expected to because it's quite British / European in its orientation, whereas most of what I see along these lines is quite American. So this book presented lots of books that either I'd never heard of, or that I had loved as a child and then forgotten all about. So much fun to read! And resulted in me library-borrowing about 60 more picture books.
Ultimate French: Advanced, by Living Language, and Perfect Your French, by Jean-Claude Arragon et al
Practicing for when I go to Paris in March! I have no idea what good they'd be as a proper study of the language, but as a way of getting the rust out of a language one used to be fluent in, they were pretty decent. Lots of things to read and listen to, and while I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the grammar, the explanations seemed solid enough. I think the Living Language one was better, but they both had their upsides.
Princeless, vol. 4: Be Yourself, by Jeremy Whitley et al
Purest gleeful fun in a comic book. If The Wicked and the Divine wasn't my favoritest newish series, this would be. (And my inner 11 year old thinks the Wicked and the Divine is confusing, and has no idea why this isn't my favorite! BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. My inner 13 year old, who really loves the sweet, matter-of-fact hints of romance between some of the female characters, agrees.)
A Newbery Christmas, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh
Most of these stories are quite old, and only a few of them were remarkably good, despite all of them having been written by Newbery Medalists. The remarkable ones were delicious, and the rest were unremarkably good and created, as an assemblage, a very cosy, Christmasy feeling that was quite welcome.
Ex Machina, vol. 7: Ex Cathedra, vol. 8: Dirty Tricks, vol. 9: Ring Out the Old, and vol. 10: Term Limits, by Brian K. Vaughan et al
OK, first of all I really really liked this series, even the last few irritating volumes, and I understood the ending even if it was very frustrating. Second of all, I need to start remembering that Brian K. Vaughan writes endings that I find supremely obnoxious, and adjust my expectations accordingly - the middle of his series will always be best for me, it seems. Third of all, I really don't like it when I get the feeling that comic book people are trying to parody the whole woman-as-object thing, but ACTUALLY enacting it (book 8, I'm mostly looking at you, you better look embarrassed!). Volume by volume, 7 was great, 8 was vexingly full of jarringly-not-fitting-with-the-series-so-far drawings of a pin-up girl distraction (she never really rose to the status of an antagonist), 9 was fine though the self-insertion was pretty silly, and 10 was awesome until stuff started moving into the place for the VERY ANNOYING ENDING. Sigh. But you know what? Vaughan's so dang good that I will keep setting myself up for this again and again, guaranteed. Because the stories are worth it.
Tales from Aesop, retold and illustrated by Harold Jones
Cute illos, very plainspoken retelling. I loved it because it was exactly like the one I read and loved as a child - finally found out who the author/illustrator was!
Eloise in Paris, by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight
I still love how daffy Eloise is. Fun to read about her in Paris when I am getting ready to go to Paris. Interesting (not offensive, not appealing, just interesting) how her rich-girl-ness shows up in all the minute details of the story, not just the big picture stuff.
The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide
A gentle, melancholy story that is told in a very very Japanese way. It also has a very very Japanese way of feeling like a happy story even though much of what it contains is sad. Some lovely imagery. Good understanding of cats. Sympathetic characters (especially the titular cat).
Elephant Don, by Caitlin O'Connell
The content of this book was super interesting, about male elephants in Namibia and their ever-shifting social connections. The writing was quite good - particularly good at making one feel like one was actually there observing with the author - but badly needed more copy-editing. I copy-edit as a hobby (or more of a compulsion that finally has an outlet, really), so I *often* think books need more copy-editing, but I almost never mention it because I know how complicated such things are. This book? REALLY needed more copy-editing. Wish U of Chicago had been able to accomplish that; I would've enjoyed the book more for not being pulled out of it by a glaring mistake every few pages (sometimes more than once per page!).
current mood: sore
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|Friday, February 12th, 2016|
11:00 pm - 28 Sail Itch; Penguin Person Thing; Mean Flea; Snow Treasures
28 Days, by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans|
A poem and illustration about each of 28 different African-Americans of historical note, in honor of Black History Month. Mostly I liked the illustrations (great!) better than the poems (reasonably good!), but some of the poems were AMAZING.
The Book Itch, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I was hesitant to read this picture book because I'd already read the author's (excellent) middle grade book about the Mich(e)aux family and I was wary of boredom setting in. But I'm so glad I read it! It is GLORIOUS, all the things I liked about the middle grade book and some new things too. Most of all, the illustrator is a FREAKING GENIUS who brought the story of Lewis Michaux and his African National Memorial Bookstore to gleeful, vibrant, powerful life in a way that the text alone couldn't have managed. Such a gem!
Sail Away, by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Sadly, most of the illustrations in this compilation of Hughes' poems about the sea didn't really work for me. Also, while I loved some of the poems (I reread one of them 8 times), I also found myself thinking "Who is the audience for this?? The pictures are for young kids and the poems talk about sex and death!?!?" That said, there were a couple of pages where everything pulled together and there was magic happening. Just wish that could've been the case throughout.
Love Is My Favorite Thing, by Emma Chichester Clark
Sweet picture book about a misbehaving dog, told from her perspective. Didn't totally work for me, but I was charmed enough that I requested the collection of illustrated blog posts about the same dog through interlibrary loan.
The Penguin Lessons, by Tom Michell
This was actually one of the first books I read this year (just forgot to log it right away), and I absolutely loved it. Michell writes in exactly the way I like about his relationship with a FREAKING RESCUED PENGUIN, and then to top that, it is ALSO a story about a British expat living in South America, and it is ALSO a boarding school book, and it is ALSO full of frankly acknowedged ambiguities. Another one of those books where I feel like the author was playing "things that will delight Maribou bingo," and won on 5 or 6 sheets at once.
How to Be A Person, by Lindy West et al
Ennnnnnh to this supposed guide for teenagers about to head off to college. Lindy West shows signs of being a writer I will frequently enjoy, and so I wanted to delve into her back catalog. Except this isn't just by her, it's by a ton of people who were writing for the Stranger at the time. And it isn't (mostly) earnest a la Incomplete Education, it's mostly tongue in cheek and snarky and mean and people thinking they are funny when I very much think they are not. That said, there were some excellent chapters, just not enough of them.
Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Perfect anotidote for the previous book - teen romance novellas, Christmas, a blizzard, connected plots / overlapping characters, and I was reminded (yet again) that I really dig Maureen Johnson and should provide my inner teenager with more of her books. (I already knew how much said teenager loves John Green, and Lauren Myracle was ... out of her league compared to the other two, but perfectly acceptable.)
Lola Levine Is Not Mean!, by Monica Brown
Early reader chapter book with spark and verve enough that I'll be reading the sequel. Lola is no Clementine or Ramona (at least not yet), but who is?
Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, by David A. Hanks et al
Sooooooooooooooo many pretties. Got interested the Driehaus Collection after some friends visited the mansion/museum where it is housed. Excellent, creative photography of the collection (which is more lamps and vases - including some vases I'd never seen anything like before - and not so many windows), and satisfying accompanying text.
The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Cute picture book for slightly older kids. The author's love of Paris and the illustrator's love of the tale the author is telling both shine through. High marks for fun.
current mood: hungry
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12:24 am - After Trouble Saga; Forest Rutabaga; Treasury Escapes Crushed Monkey; Tower of MARTians
Saga, vol. 5, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples|
I think this is my favorite Saga yet. The Lying Cat is also my favorite animal companion at the moment. <3.
Get in Trouble, by Kelly Link
Sometimes I say, "Ugh, I don't really like short stories.." and then I follow it up immediately with a list of except fors. Kelly Link is almost always at the top of my except for list. I particularly appreciated that many of these stories were quite long, which made me like them even more. Kelly Link, man. *resists the temptation to stop writing this post, go find ALL the Kelly Link stories, read or unread, and then do nothing but read them until they are all gone*
Never After, by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn
Four relatively fluffy non-traditional fairy tales. I particularly liked the one by Marjorie M. Liu (which is good, 'cause that one was why I picked up the book). Not a huge fan of the Galenorn story, too awkwardly I Am A Paranormal Romance for me. The other two were excellent.
The Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, by Theresa Breslin, illustrated by Kate Leiper
What an absolutely wonderful book. The illustrations glow with life, the stories fall trippingly off the tongue. So glad I own another book by this pair; I'm saving it for a day when I can curl up with it and forget the rest of the world exists.
Stella, Fairy of the Forest and Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth!, by Marie-Louise Gay
The Stella book was charming, funny, and full of love in the same way as Any Questions was, hurrah! Roslyn had adorable illustrations and was fun, but would not have jumped out at me as a "more of this author please"... so I'm glad I didn't read it first.
The Amazing Hamweenie Escapes!, by Patty Bowman
Meh. Turns out that some wonderful books do not need a sequel after all. And this was one of them. Funny awkward pictures, droll text - but just didn't have the spirit and frankness of the first book.
Finding Monkey Moon, by Elizabeth Pulford
A delicate, warm story about searching for that one stuffed animal most kids have that they cannot do without, after it goes missing. Made me want to figure out which box my Lambie was in and rescue him. The night time pictures are cosy inside and mysterious outside.
MARTians, by Blythe Woolston
Dystopia that's more about imagining experiences than world-building. Notably fond of Bradbury. Pulled me in and kept me there. Wry and oddly kind.
Tower of Thorns, by Juliet Marillier
Oh ho! The Blackthorn and Grim series has hit its stride now that there isn't so much need for exposition. Really hope she has another one out soon. (Also, nearly every time I read a Juliet Marillier, or even read a review of one of her books, I go make a little note in my books-to-read file that says READ SOME MORE JULIET MARILLIER. I shudder to think how many of those notes are in the file by now...)
Ms. Marvel, vol. 3: Crushed, by G. Willow Wilson et al
A lot of the Marvel Universe stuff in this one, which I don't really read enough of the other titles to fully appreciate (she's bonding with who to the what now?) - but there were some really poignant moments, some really kick-butt moments, and a decent amount of jokes. Makes me feel like an 11-year-old to read this series, in a good way.
current mood: exhausted
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|Wednesday, February 10th, 2016|
10:00 pm - Lost Daily Brock; Mother Wilfred Snow; Open Fire; Take Amazing Lions
Some Things I've Lost, by Cybele Young|
So utterly beautiful that I neither remember if there was a story nor care. Really gorgeous papercrafting work.
Daily Rituals, by Mason Curry
Short bloggish pieces (it used to be a blog) about various writers' daily rituals. You'd think it would get monotonous, but as a pick-up-put-down book? It totally didn't.
We Forgot Brock!, by Carter Goodrich
Goofy but fun kid's picture book about a kid and his imaginary friend. Satisfying ending.
The Big Snow, by Jonathan Bean
Sweet, plausible story about a kid's excitement waiting for a big snowstorm to start. Adorable pictures, too.
Mother Bruce and Wilfred, by Ryan T. Higgins
Mother Bruce is one of my favorite picture books EVER. Maybe even better than some of my favorites as a little kid, she whispered cautiously. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I even snorted a couple of times, and lost it completely once. Wilfred, an earlier book of his, was good too - not nearly as good as Mother Bruce, but that just means Higgins is at the top of his game right now. I can't wait to read his next book! (And I'll probably read another of his old ones.)
Fire Engine No. 9, by Mike Austin
Picture book for very young kids, full of delicious onamatopeia and lots of bright colors.
Open Very Carefully, by Nick Bromley, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne
Kind of silly meta book about a crocodile on a rampage within the very! book! you! are! reading! right! now! I am the world's hugest sucker for kid's meta books (imprinted early on The Monster at the End of This Book), so I quite enjoyed it. Not particularly transcendant of its genre.
Take Away the A, by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
My brain has a big hole where the memory of this book should go. How odd. I know I very much liked it and I remember marveling at the process of translating a book of wordplay from French to English... but that's all I got. Sorry! Even without remembering it, I do feel confident that if you like kids' alphabet books that are weird, and/or if you like wordplay, you will enjoy this too.
Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible, by Stan Lee et al
Graphic memoir by Stan Lee (with help). It was a) highly entertaining and also b) complete self-hagiography. Sometimes unintentionally a, due to b, but often intentionally a - Stan Lee can certainly tell a good story. I imagine you either saw "graphic memoir by Stan Lee" and are going to read it no matter what anyone says, OR would only read it if it was actually amazing, fantastic, and incredible. It is not those things. But it was fun.
Counting Lions, by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton
Lovely lovely black and white animal photography that also serves as a pretty decent counting book for kids. I can't imagine that the kids who are the right age for needing said counting book will have ANY interest in the conservation message, which is aimed more at like 10 year olds? (or maybe at parents, I guess) But whatever was needed to get these beautiful pictures on the shelves, I will accept.
current mood: cosy
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12:04 am - Wicked Divine Wonder Questions; Chronic Southern Nebula; Santa's Rabbit; Attic House
Any Questions?, by Marie-Louise Gay|
A completely delightful picture book FAQ by a widely beloved Quebecois writer. Lots of anecdote and side funny bits and even a complete example story that is a very fine story all on its own merits. I was surprised by how great this book is!
The Wonder Garden, by Jenny Broom, illlustrated by Kristjana S. Williams
Now this one is gilt-laden and ENORMOUS (width/height, not thickness), so it was no surprise at all that it was lovely and well made. The illustrations, which predominate, weirdly manage to be both Victorian AND hypermodern at once, which continues to puzzle and fascinate me, and the accompanying text is very factual without being dry. 9 year old me would've been attached at the hip to this book.
The Wicked + The Divine, vol. 1: The Faust Act and vol. 2: Fandemonium, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie et al
The only thing better than falling madly in love with a new comic book series, is doing so and then finding out that you like the second volume even better than the first. Has entered the pantheon of Maribou-approved comics. (It's a very small pantheon that doesn't include many of the titles I am currently enjoying - it may eventuallly, but then again it may not - so this is a Big Deal.) MORE PLEASE.
Nebula Awards Showcase 2014, edited by Kij Johnson
I wanted to start getting back into these with the volume edited by Kij Johnson, because I was quite sure that her additional selections would be very readable and interesting. And they were! Hurrah. Backstory: when I lived in a small place growing up, our unusually large-for-its-population-base library had just about EVERY volume of Nebula, Hugo, etc., award winners. And I read just about EVERY volume they had. Realized during last year's Hugo business that I missed reading those, as well as the Year's Bests that I started reading mostly in college. (Think I read some *really old* Year's Bests as a kid, but nothing contemporary.) Such anthologies used to be the 2nd most common way I had of finding new non-YA authors to devour. (The first way was randomly pulling things off the SF paperback rack without paying attention to series order, cover art, or blurbs, then reading the first few pages and a middle page to see if I felt interested. It worked better than you might think.)
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide, by Toni Bernhard
No such book is ever going to be perfectly pitched to teach me only the things I need to know (or need reminding of) without talking about other stuff that I either already knew or feel decidedly skeptical about. That said! This had a positive, gentle, helpful and non-saccharine tone that I really appreciate. It was frank about the author's own struggles. The chapters are pleasingly short, which demonstrates the author's practical insight into what chronically ill people need out of a self-help book. And I learned stuff. Actually, sometimes now when I get stressed out about medical things, I hear my own version of stuff the author said, pointing out a different perspective. Which is so far more helpful than annoying, if only just. So I think some other people might also find it helpful? I'm always so hesitant to recommend this sort of book because I dread other people forcing self-help books on me. But I'm glad I read it. If nothing else, hearing that lots of the things I've figured out on my own are ALSO the opinion of someone who sells books on the subject? Allows me to feel smug;).
A Very Southern Christmas, edited by Charline R. McCord and Judy H. Tucker
These were friendly, warmhearted stories and I at least mildly enjoyed all of them. A few were downright excellent. However, I never really stopped being annoyed that when they say "Holiday Stories from the South's Best Writers" in the subtitle, what they MEAN is "the South's Best White Writers." I think it was probably a bad marketing decision, but regardless, the hyperbole inadvertantly underlined the samey-ness of the stories and left a bad taste in my mouth about how sometimes racism can be as simple as ignoring what should stare you in the face. Too bad. As I said, the stories were good to excellent. (And I do realize that if I go back and reread a bunch of old SF best of anthologies, similar sorts of sameyness will rear their heads from time to time. But I'll be *ready* for those...)
Poems in the Attic, by Nikki Grimes
A charming story, well-illustrated, that is probably my least favorite set of Nikki Grimes poems ever. Whenever I'm unimpressed by a book from an author I like, I feel like the fault must be in me, not them.
In the House of the Wicked, by Thomas E. Sniegoski
*sings the tasty tasty theological urban fantasy song* The stakes are really ramping up here, and this was one of the best books in the series. Really looking forward to the rest.
Santa's Favorite Story, by Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantchev
This was some illustrator's favorite Christmas story, and the illustrations are impressively magical. (I'll probably go on a Gantchev binge at some point.) The story is fine, but did not catch my heart.
Rabbit Ears, by Amber Stewart, illustrated by Laura Rankin
This OUGHT to be the sort of didactic story I don't care for, given that the entire point of the book is to get kids to be less avoidy about bathtime, which isn't even the sort of goal that I care about. So that's TWO strikes (one for being didactic and one for not choosing something that matters to me personally to be didactic about). However, the book is so darn cute (both illustrations and words), and the emotional give and take so realistic (I mean, for human kids, not for bunnies :D), and the solution to the dilemma so plausible - that I loved it! I'm always extra pleased when that happens. I'm not sure it would actually convince any little kids to do what the author wants them to do, but I think they might enjoy the story and then be sneakily tricked into lowering their defenses on the topic of washing, generally. Unless they were rotten little cynics like I was at that age, in which case they would probably deconstruct the rhetorical traps used by the story and drive their mothers up a wall! But grown up me is nonetheless all aswoon over TEH CUTE.
current mood: so many books so little time
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|Monday, February 8th, 2016|
11:25 pm - Sunny Bottle Earth; Sad Turnip Crayons; Little Little Whale Tale
Hilo, vol. 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, by Judd Winick|
Frenetic, joyful comic about a kid, his friend, the alien that just shows up one day looking like a kid their age, and the BADGUYS they have to fight. The only way I could've liked this more was to magically become 7 long enough to read it.
Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
YA novel about family stuff (eg divorce). I liked it - charm and humor and an interesting protagonist - but found it too earnest / pointed. Found out it is heavily autobiographical (the authors are siblings) so maybe that was the issue. Will try at least one more by either of them before drawing a firm conclusion.
Bottle Houses: The Creative World of Grandma Prisbrey, by Melissa Eskridge Slaymaker, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
A wonderful wonderful picture book biography of an amazing, creative, gifted eccentric who built an entire bottle village. I read it three times in a row. I wish it was back in print or at lest not SO darn expensive. I'd already heard about Grandma Prisbey because we have bottle houses where I grew up (on the opposite coast from her), but I really enjoyed learning more about her and her work, and the illustrations were absolutely exquisite. Julie Paschkis is a gem.
Sad, the Dog, by Sandy Fussell, illustrated by Tul Suwannakit
A perfect book. Predictable story that is so marvelously done, in terms of art, words, and seeing things from the dog's perspective, that it didn't matter at all that it was predictable. (Predictable can actually be very good for picture books, cf the very-different-in-tone Monster at the End of This Book.) I enjoyed it so much that just thinking about it makes me want to read it again!
The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt
An improvement over the first one (which was just fine). Funny, endearing, and more complexity. Nice to read a picture book sequel that I like better than the original - it's so often the other way around.
The Turnip, by Jan Brett
Solid retelling of an old fairy tale that is elevated to delightfulness by the gorgeous art (and buttressed by a sense of humor in both art and text). I especially appreciate how intricate her paintings are.
The Snail and The Whale, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The third-best thing about this book are the wonderful, lively, warm pictures. The second-best thing about this book is how it manages to be playful and fantastic without straying so far from how biology actually works as to be nonsensical (unlike SO MANY other picture books that don't know they're messing the biology up). The first-best thing about this book is the effect of the rhyme and rhythm of the words, which work together as a read-aloud to make it darn near hypnotic in an entraining rather than a soothing way. SO FUN TO READ.
The Little Mouse Santi, by David Eugene Ray
Slightly plotted picture book which is vastly enhanced by the ability of the author/illustrator to make each moment work perfectly as a moment, with liveliness and depth.
Little Tree, by Loren Long
THIS FABLE MAKES NO SENSE AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. It's not that it should be biologically accurate, but I want such things to be in HARMONY with biology, not chaotic-izing it. Which I found frustrating. The pictures are beeeooootiful, though, and fraught with meaning. Would have rather it was a wordless book so I could make up a story that resonated better.
The Tale of Rescue, by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows
Straightforward story of a cattle dog rescuing a family from a snowstorm. Told in a distanced enough way that the sentimental plot bits made me cry. (If the text is mawkish I can resist it - if it's flat-affect-pragmatic I will tear up every time...) Lovely illustrations. Reminded me of Jim Kjelgaard's books, or at least what I remember of them from the 3-4 years I was obsessed with them as a kid. (note to self: reread a Jim Kjelgaard book. Also my Marguerite Henrys!)
current mood: active
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2:01 am - Cool Imagined Pleasure; Edwardian Hell Horizon; Echo Cats; Christmas Company
So I suppose if I ever want to get (and stay) caught up, I'd best get started on recording the year.|
The Pleasure of Reading, edited by Antonia Fraser
A collection of essays by writers about their early reading, variously interpreted as before 10 or before 30 or somewhere in between, bespoke for Waterstone's 50th anniversary (in the 80s), with specially commissioned illustrations and everything. It was quite lovely, and more than occasionally splendid. I can't remember all of my favorites, but I know Catherine Cookson and Jeannette Winterson were among them.
Black Cool, edited by Rebecca Walker
Another collection of essays, this one about various aspects of cool in African-American culture. Learned a lot, fell in love with some writers. You know.
Love Imagined, by Sherry Quan Lee
Memoir of a multiracial woman who grew up in (and still lives in) the Twin Cities. I absolutely loved about 80 percent of this and didn't care for about 5 percent of it. It has the slight roughness of a small press, local history book, rather than the polish of a memoir put out by a larger publisher. (Which is a feature more than a bug as far as I'm concerned.)
The Last Horizon, by Ted Harrison
A collection of autobiographical essays, poems, illustrations, and paintings about Harrison's experiences in and love of the Canadian North. Mostly the part of the Yukon where he was a school teacher for a large portion of his life, but also bits and pieces elsewhere (he started teaching in Northern Alberta, for example). Harrison has been one of my favorite painters since so long ago I don't remember it (age 4? 7? somewhere in there), and this was a rare treat! The book showed its age uncomfortably in one or two spots, but for the most part it was utterly fabulous.
Flutter, Vol. 1: Hell Can Wait, by Jennie Wood
Comic with excellent protagonist, brilliant art, good story, AND a genderswitching protagonist? It's like you're in my head, Jennie Wood!
An Edwardian Christmas, by John Goodall
This is a very small, wordless book consisting of tableaus of purportedly Edwardian people doing Christmasy things. It's not especially good, but since I used to be obsessed with a different copy of it when I was a kid, it still made me happy.
Echo, by Pam Ryan Munoz
Hum. It was EXTREMELY readable - I finished it in two sittings - but also very predictable, not just in its plots but also in its characterizations. I pretty much knew exactly what to expect of everything well in advance, *especially* if it was going to be a twist. But as I said, very readable indeed, and while the characters were predictable, they were also winsome. And I very much enjoyed how the characters felt about music, that part was solid. I'm willing to try at least one more book by her, and I had fun telling a friend about it over dinner; she was THRILLED to hear about it so she could offer it to her reading-above-grade-level 4th grade students.
Cats on the Job, by Lisa Rogak
Pictures of cats doing their various jobs, some quite legit and others rather fanciful (but, actual cats who actually DO live in those contexts, just some of the jobs they hold are rather silly). So, cute cat pictures, fluffy magazine-style accompanying text. Sometimes funny. I am a cat nerd, so I enjoyed the heck out of it. YMMV.
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger (audiobook)
A mixed bag, I'm afraid. And for that reason, I would recommend it as a book to read rather than a book to listen to. I can't listen at anything other than normal speed, and there are several stories in here I would much rather have skimmed. That said, there were a few stories that had all three of: marvelous narrators AND a great deal to recommend them as stories AND a good connection to the canon. And several more that had 1-2 of those desirable traits. So I'm glad I read it. Just, you know, no more audio short story collections with multiple narrators if I can manage to remember to avoid them!
The Christmas Hat, by A. J. Wood
A sweet picture book with a good, albeit slight, story (and an adorable owl). What most recommends it, however, is the marvelous embossing! This might sound like damning with faint praise, but only if you don't know what a tactile person I am. The embossing lent both visual and tactile depth to the illustrations - very cleverly done and not something I'd ever come across before (at least, not this artful sort! may have seen and ignored it as a mere gimmick).
current mood: sleepy
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|Friday, January 22nd, 2016|
1:11 am - books I loved in 2015
|Wednesday, January 20th, 2016|
11:55 pm - Last Umbrella Letter; Book Swallow Wire
The Umbrella, by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert|
The dog protagonist of this picture book was extremely winsome. The rest of it was pretty but ultimately forgettable.
A Letter for Leo, by Sergio Ruzzier
Ruzzier's first book and it kinda shows. The text and plot don't meet the high standard set by the illustrations.
The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
A novel in chunks (originally serialized) that covers some very very dark stuff. Pretty much any button you might have around sexual betrayal (including child abuse) WILL be pushed. That said, as hard as it was to read, I also had trouble putting it down. Atwood's still got it.
How to Swallow a Pig, by Steve Jenkins
Neat info, excellent illustrations. It was a lot more factual and less playful than I'd been hoping for based on the title, though.
Book, by David W. Miles, illustrated by Natalie Hoopes
I swooned over the illustrations from the beginning and was hopeful about the story. Then he started in with the litany of "praises" of books that are really bitching about e-readers and other devices, and I was tempted to throw the book across the room. So tired of those. But the illustrations stayed just as amazing all the way through. I hope Hoopes finds lots more illustrating work.
Out on the Wire, by Jessica Abel
This was wicked! Graphic non-fiction book about how public radio (mostly) podcasters put together their stories, with info about the technical aspects but focusing on the story aspects. Easy to read, engaging, and full of points. Also sometimes funny or touching. Also also I found like 3 new podcasts to listen to.
And that is my last book of 2015! Phew. Stay tuned for more this week, as I get caught up on the nearly 50 books I've already read in 2016 :D.
current mood: accomplished
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11:21 pm - Missing Golden Reindeer; Jane Ghosts Lion; Fixing Old Christmastime Manners
The Little Reindeer, by Michael Foreman|
I didn't have any particular expectations for this book, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was adorable. And, if such a thing can be said of a picture book about one of Santa's reindeer, realistic :D.
The Question of the Missing Head, by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
Loved this mystery whose detective runs his own business called Questions Answered. Also he has Asperger's. Also the two authors are actually the same guy. The romantic subplot was a bit awkward, but so far it is endearingly rather than gratingly awkward. Super looking forward to the next in the series, which is currently languishing on my bedroom floor. (To write book commentary, or to read books - reading books usually wins... which is how I got this far behind in the first place!)
Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
Man, the pictures were cool (from the LGB archives) but the text was saccharine and dull as ... as.. as... a very saccharine and dull thing! I was bummed.
Living with Ghosts, by Kari Sperring
I had put this on my must-read list based on a recommendation a few years ago, but had completely forgotten what it was about. So I was expecting contemporary urban fantasy, but instead I got dark secondary world fantasy set in a faux-Paris of the faux-Renaissance. Luckily there was nothing at all faux about the story, especially the characterizations. Well worth the read!
Jane on Her Own, by Ursula K. Le Guin
I thought I had read all these! But I had not. This was a Christmas gift, and I loved it. Just enough whimsy, just enough adventure, and a happy ending. What more does one need from a middle grade illustrated chapter book? Oh, right, it could be written by Le Guin so every word is the exact right word! That was nice too.
Lion and Bird, by Marianne Dubuc
More sweet and less busy than her other book that I've read, which sadly made me like it less (the other one had the Richard Scarry thing going on). C'est la vie.
Eloise at Christmastime, by Kay Thompson
Oh man. I had never read an Eloise book (or at least not since I was very very young, because I don't remember them at all) and I had underestimated how chaotic and playful they are. Or at least how chaotic and playful this one was! Really deserves its classic status, and I will be investigating to see if the others are equally delightful.
The Old Man and the Cat, by Nils Uddenberg
A funny and heartfelt little story about coming back to being a cat person late in life. The people and the cat are all charming. The illustrations (also by the author) show all the love and emotion the cat has, that the author doubts she has in the text, so they're a good complement.
Fixing Up the Farmhouse, by Dianne Hicks Morrow
I absolutely loved this memoir-in-essays-and-a-few-poems about an old country house and the people who've lived in it over the last 40 years - but since I had more than a few playdates in said house, I may be biased. (But even if I wasn't biased, I'd probably love it, she said stubbornly.)
Manners and Mutiny, by Gail Carriger
On the one hand, I DEVOURED this book, giggling, gasping, and smirking as appropriate. On the other hand, my coworker said, "So what did you think of it as an ending for the series?" and I said, "WHAT? It's THE ENDING OF THE SERIES?!?!?!?!" So, you know. NOFAIRWANTMORE. (And also, maybe it didn't have the right ending tone? But maybe I was just in denial.) I'm really hoping for a sequel series at some point. Or at least for the characters to recur.
current mood: sniffly
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10:20 pm - Vanishing Tangled Egg; Only Jedi Balloon; Madeline's Gnu
The Point of Vanishing, by Howard Axelrod|
A haunting and lyrical book about coming of age as a hermit in Vermont after a college basketball accident that left the author blind in one eye. Very internal, but worth it.
P. Zonka Lays an Egg, by Julie Paschkis
Such an incredibly vibrant picture book about a very special chicken. Turned out to be an Easter book. Good times.
Tangled Threads, by Jennifer Estep
Glad to be back into this series. For all its flawed popcorn aspects, it also has some very strong themes of family and loyalty. I like those parts a lot.
The Weapon of a Jedi, by Jason Fry
Luke Skywalker adventuring on a planet, in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty predictable and workaday, but still fun. Gave it to my nephew, who was thrilled.
Madeline's Christmas, by Ludwig Bemelmans (reread)
I loved the Madeline books when I was a kid, so I thought I would reread this one. It was more chaotic and less appealing than I remembered... still good though.
Only Child, edited by Deborah Siegel and Daphne Uviller
A wide assortment of well-written essays on the topic of being an only child. Good range of subjects and tones. As the oldest of four siblings, I've always had a fascination with what being an only child is like.
Emily's Balloon, by Komako Sakai
Sweet, wistful (albeit with a happy ending). The titular kid has a different name than in the Japanese version, which I thought was a puzzling translation choice.
Yak and Gnu, by Juliette MacIver
SO fun. Quite nonsensical story about a yak and a gnu boating around and meeting up with various other animals. What made it remarkable was the perfect rhyme and meter - playful, predictable, and exciting. Like Edward Lear. Brilliant!
current mood: sick
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|Monday, January 18th, 2016|
10:42 pm - Wild Missing Wait; Beyond the Mousetropolis Pond; Amazing Art Blizzard
Wild Ideas, by Elin Kelsey|
I didn't care for the text at all (non-fiction about how to be creative using animal examples that were rather tenuous), but the pictures are very lovely.
Wait, by Antoinette Portis
A sweet and familiar story, well-illustrated, with an ending that little kids would love. I was pretty happy with it too.
The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, by Robin Newman
Goofy PI-style mystery novel for 3rd-5th grade or so. Pretty funny, good pictures. I would read more.
Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball, by Vicki Churchill
A delightful book about all the things a young wombat likes to do. Brought the board book over to a friend's eighteen-month-old and almost lost it laughing because it was so funny how excited the little guy got about this one.
Mousetropolis, by R. Gregory Christie
I think this is my favorite of all the many versions of "Town Mouse and Country Mouse" that I've read. The illustrations are particularly vivid and it does a great job of balancing the appeals and downsides of both locales.
Beyond the Pond, by Joseph Kuefler
This picture book didn't have much of a plot, but I really enjoyed the creativity and beauty of the illustrations.
Blizzard, by John Rocco
This was a really fun, convincing story about kids in a Serious Blizzard, with great illustrations. It's semi-autobiographical and it shows (in the good way).
The Amazing Hamweenie, by Patty Bowman
A picture book about a cat escape artist. I thought it was hilarious. My husband (who also loves cats) thought it was dumb. Apparently HE is dumb when it comes to books about cat escape artists.
Body of Art, which is one of those Phaidon-edited-and-published thingers
Oooooooooooh, ahhhhhhhh. A thematic (rather than chronological) assortment of art that focuses on (or in some way relates to) the human body. Really lovely lovely stuff, beautifully printed, and I liked how the thematic arrangement juxtaposed artists I'd never thought of in concert before. Also, it is HUGEMONGOUS.
current mood: scratchy
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|Sunday, January 17th, 2016|
1:52 pm - Farmer Snow Pepper; Fly Oddrey Mice; Henrietta, Robot Cat by the Sea
The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee|
As you all may have gathered, I have become a fan of this illustrator. This wordless story carries many of the best qualities of her work, so I loved it even though I might not even have liked it in the hands of someone less gifted. It convinced me to love it, you know?
Pepper and Poe, by Frann Preston-Gannon
It makes me so happy when a picture book author/illustrator can *greatly* simplify complicated topics (like animals getting used to each other) without ever fudging or fibbing. Plus the illustrations and story are just so full of warm and fuzzy that my heart is still a bit melty around the edges.
Snow Day, by Lynn Plourde
Fun, enthusiastic story about the titular snow day. Pictures and text matched each other well. This is another story where there's an entire genre of these, I've been reading a lot of them, and just because this one isn't one of my most favorites doesn't mean it isn't pretty darn good. It is.
Oddrey, by Dave Whamond
Cute, goofy, earnest story about a kid who is different, learning that she doesn't have to become "normal" to be liked. Tried a bit too hard for my taste, but it was still really well-done.
Two Mice, by Sergio Ruzzier
Such a perfect counting book. Funny, sweet, unusual. Really great.
Super Fly, by Todd H. Doodler
Heavily illustrated middle grade book a la Wimpy Kid, except about a fly instead of a person. It was pretty funny, as these things go. (Ie, if you hate gross-out humor, I wouldn't recommend it.)
Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was how much you could tell the author loves kids by how he drew the "child" illustrations that were part of it. Turns out it's inspired by his own daughter. I was not surprised. I liked the whole book a lot, not just the kid-like parts.
Little Robot, by Ben Hatke
I may need to re-read this near-wordless comic book sometime, because I thought that I liked it really well but wasn't AMAZED by it .... except now it's been almost a month and I keep thinking about it. Hm. Amazement stealth attack?
Black Cat, White Cat, by Silvia Borando
A charming story, but not what the reviewers had hyped it up to be. Sometimes I think I should just quit reading picture book reviews, but then I realize how many truly stellar books I would never see if it weren't for the review that pointed me at them...
In a Village by the Sea, by Muon Van
This was a truly stellar picture book! Great structure, AMAZING illustrative work, and a touch of the fantastic to boot. There are a lot of different rhythms an excellent picture book can take, but it's still a huge relief when I can tell the author has found one of them, and the book won't be full of that jostly unintentionally-arhythmic business.
current mood: sleepy
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|Saturday, January 16th, 2016|
10:56 pm - Best Crenshaw Nature; Mister Stanley Quit; Dear Whisper Girl
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015, edited by Tim Folger and Rebecca Skloot|
NO content-less polemic! Only a BIT of content-full polemic (and it was good)! More nature writing than technology writing (O.O)!! I liked, or more than liked, every single essay!!! BEST AM SCI NAT EVER!!!!!
Third Grave Dead Ahead, by Darynda Jones
This series is getting a lot more tightly written and it's still just as funny. (I also think it's heating up, although that might have more to do with where in the hormonal cycle I am when I read one than anything else... *blushes*) Love it when I am sitting near the beginning of an urban fantasy series wishing there were MORE than 8 books already written ...
Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
The most charming and hopeful middle-grade problem novel I have ever read. Really well done, and I love the ambiguity about Crenshaw's reality juxtaposed with the stubborn, endearing realness of his character.
Loula and Mister the Monster, by Anne Villeneuve
This picture book is as playful and floppy as the titular monster (really a dog). Thumbs up.
It's Only Stanley, by Jon Agee
I wanted to love this scifi picture book, because it is so creative and funny (both text and drawings) and the story is neat. But we just never clicked that well. I did like it though.
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt
I had been avoiding this picture book ever since it came out because it was SOOOOOOOO overhyped, but then the sequel came out and I wanted to read it. So, you know. It was actually pretty awesome! But not quite as awesome as the children's-book-reviewing community would lead one to believe. Fun pictures, funny epistolatory text, sly references from one to the other, kids no doubt dig it.
Dear Yeti, by James Kwan
ADORBS. I just want to pick this book up and squeeze it and kiss it on its dear little head. Pictures are adorable, story is adorable, messages are adorable. *beams*
The Girl Who Spun Gold, by Virginia Hamilton
A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in the style of an African folktale, with vivid and suitably mythic illustrations. I like this BETTER than the usual version of Rumpelstiltskin. Which is surprising (I have been borderline obsessed with Rumpelstiltskin since small) - except that it's Virginia Hamilton, so, you know, not surprising.
The Whisper, by Pam Zagarenski
A strong contender for Favorite Picture Book of the Year. Not, this time, for what it does for my little-kid side (though she approves), but instead because it makes grown-up me so happy. Inspiring text that does not set off my cynic alarms, beautiful art that is delightfully strange and just a tiny bit uncomfortable. I checked it out from the library, read it twice, and then purchased one copy for me and one for my oldest niece.
current mood: slowing down
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9:21 pm - Ask Waiting Earmuffs; Postmouse's Wedding Pony; Mama's Pen Chomp
Waiting, by Kevin Henkes|
Cute but not super-memorable picture book. The situation was a lot more compelling than the plot. The illustrations were very pretty.
Ask Me, by Bernard Waber
This is a sweet, bright, and movingly illustrated story about a girl and her dad that I very much would not recommend to anyone who is estranged from their dad because of some really terrible stuff. Especially if some of the GOOD things they remember about their dad had to do with being out in nature together. Hooboy. *feels sad just remembering how sad and wistful she felt reading the book*
Earmuffs for Everyone!, by Meghan Mccarthy
A delightful nonfiction picture book biography about the guy who gets all the credit for inventing earmuffs. The pictures are funny and the text is thought-provoking. When I was a kid I went through an obsessed-with-the-processes-of-invention-and-being-famous-for-inventing phase and my head would've exploded over this book.
Mr. Postmouse's Rounds, by Marianne Dubuc
Absolutely lovely. Richard Scarry-esque, yet also quite clearly coming from the French rather than the American picture book tradition. I felt lighter after reading this book.
The Princess and the Pony, by Kate Beaton
I liked this! Quite a lot! Perhaps I have broken my weird aversion to Kate Beaton (who I really OUGHT to like as her stuff is right up the maribou alley) and I will now be able to appreciate her cartoons for grownups! We can only hope!
Sona and the Wedding Game, by Kashmira Sheth
I have no idea how I ended up reading this but it was really nice. A sympathetic main character, secondary characters that are fleshed out beyond one-dimensionality by pictures that make you feel like you're in the room with the people being portrayed, and a plot that is both funny and educational.
Mama's Nightingale, by Edwidge Danticat
This is a polemic in the clothing of a picture book and if it were written by anyone other than Edwidge Danticat it would probably fail miserably. Because she is an amazing writer (and found an excellent illustrator), it has loads of attractive personality and can get away with its polemic-ness. At least for those readers (like me) who agree with it. I feel a bit weird when picture books are so cheerfully banging kids over the head with a political message that is pretty darn upsetting, but in this case I think it walks the line well enough to school them without hurting them. Still, feels a bit weird.
My Pen, by Christopher Myers
A marvelous illustrator who is not so good at telling a story. But the illustrations were fabulous!
I Will Chomp You!, by Jory John
This is one of those break-the-fourth-wall picture books. At first I thought it was just another solid example of such with lots of repetition and bright colors, but then I ended up reading it aloud to some of my college-age student workers (long story) and it is AMAZING as a read aloud. They loved it, I loved it, my spouse and our friend who walked into the library in the middle loved it, random people in the library lobby loved it... score!
current mood: curious
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8:43 pm - Night Ball; Lucy Train Boots; Nueve Octopus Girl; Lizard Ghost Ants
On the Ball, by Brian Pinkney|
Picture book about a kid and his soccer ball. I know it was fun and well made but it was very much NOT memorable, ie I already don't remember anything else about it.
Night Animals, by Gianna Marino
Suuuuper cute picture book about night animals who are worried about Night Animals. Not very complex, but that's fine.
Lenny & Lucy, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Sweet, slightly melancholy story with beautiful illustrations. Magical realist? I think?
A Mile in Her Boots, edited by Jennifer Bove
Ooh, this was a cracking read. A plethora of essays about working in the wild, all by women. You're probably either already investigating how to get your hands on this book, or already tuning me out, so I don't need to say more than that.
M Train, by Patti Smith
I absolutely loved this book. It's very internal, but also very interested in the world. She writes so sparingly, but every word is there for a reason. And her life has been rich, and full, and she skims around over top of it in a way that should be confusing but actually just helps you to pay closer attention. And it was so WORTH the attention I paid it. I'll definitely reread this some day, and I hope she writes another one this good soon.
The Octopus Scientists, by Sy Montgomery
Really cool YA nonfiction picture book, tons of very engaging andbut information-stuffed prose, tons of pictures, and I feel like I can take as long as I want to get around to the author's adult work Soul of an Octopus now, because I suspect this one might be better.
Drum Dream Girl, by Margarita Engle
Some pictures books just fly, you know? Everything comes together and the experience of reading them is a bit like listening to a poem while dreaming. Marvelous book.
Nueve Dias Para Navidad, by Marie Hall Ets
I wanted to learn more about traditional Mexican Christmas celebrations and this picture book from the 50s was the only book my library had. It's written at like a 2nd-grade level? I was pleased to still have at least enough Spanish to read it. Glad that stuck. The book itself is quite fun in that old-picture-book way.
Lizard from the Park, by Mark Pett
Very well made, did not blow me away as there is an entire genre of such books (SPOILER: kid discovers dinosaur), for many different age levels, and I read pretty much ALL of them as a kid (and still do for that matter, 'cause my niece likes dinosaurs too). So, you know, it's cool. But there weren't really any distinguishing features.
The Grasshopper and the Ants, by Jerry Pinkney
The art is the amazing beautiful Jerry Pinkney art, but I felt like his retelling really didn't have the power I was hoping for (based on my love for his book about the mouse and the lion). It's a perfectly *serviceable* retelling, but that's all. Good thing that art is so amazing.
Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett
Probably my favorite of all the picture books I read this year. The illustrations and the text are very old-school but also very fresh and the story and the word choice are so darn good. Gnah! Why are the best picture books always the hardest to talk about? Even though it was published this year, I felt like I was discovering a lost classic from Crockett Johnson or something, like it had just been part of the Ursula Nordstrom canon since long before I was born and I had never happened to come across it before. LOVED it.
current mood: cosy
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