31 August 2011

8 reasons to let your kids read comics

A friend forwarded me this link today, and after checking it out, I just had to pass this along. Melissa Taylor does a fantastic job of laying out why comic books and graphic novels are such a phenomenal tool to engage young minds, and also lays out precautions for parents (which can never be stressed enough, parents can get a little strange when they find out the book they bought for their kids has cute animals on the cover but foul language, violence and/or nudity on the inside).

Anyways, This is an absolute must read for teachers, librarians, and especially parents.



29 August 2011

29 August 2011–Tricky Coyote Tales


Written by Chris Schweizer; Illustrated by Chad Thomas
ISBN: 978-0-76137-859-4
Graphic Universe, 2011
Combining Native American folklore and the super popular style of Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80’s and 90’s, the Tricky Journeys series puts the reader in the role of Coyote, the trickster. Six different journeys reside in the book, will you fool Bear into giving you his lunch? Can you con the prairie dogs into inviting you to dinner? Just be careful, you could end up on the menu for someone else just as easily!
Kids love animal stories, and they also love being in charge of the story. The combination of the two sounds like a sure-fire recipe for a solid book, and in this instance, it hits on all cylinders.  While this is Schweizer’s first book for younger audiences, I think that he pegs his audience just right – it’s not too easy for most readers, but it’s not talking down to them either. Thomas’s artwork is phenomenal – engaging, entertaining and enjoyable, and it fits like a glove with Schweizer’s writing style.
The fact that the reader is put into the leading role always makes for engaging reading, and the story makes sure to not beat you over the head if you make a wrong decision (unlike a different series I mentioned earlier, which was a neat idea, but in retrospect, probably contributed to my neuroses), it gently suggests that you try something different the next time.
Now, this is not the first book that Graphic Universe has done in this style. A couple of years ago, they released Nightmare on Zombie Island, which was also a great book, but the artwork was a little too good for the book (I had nightmares from it!), but my eldest weathered it alright.
 Tricky Coyote Tales is the first in a six book series, each one dealing with a different trickster from folklore, so be sure to keep an eye out for those as well.
Final Thoughts
The Tricky Journeys series shows a lot of promise, especially for younger readers. Kids always enjoy being the center of attention, and they really get a kick out of being able to direct the story by making choices that change the outcome of the story, so this is definitely a series that I would highly recommend to anyone.

26 August 2011

Excuses, excuses

To all my loyal readers out there, I want to apologize for the lack of updates this week. I’ve gone back to school to finish up my degree, and the first week is always the hardest. Now that I’m through it, I’ll be updating as regularly as possible. Keep an eye out!

21 August 2011

Free Entertainment, For Life

Just saw this on the CNN.com website:


“The cult and culture of newness in our society has made us too willing to believe that "new" automatically equates to "good." A book that was stirring and lovely when it was written -- whether 15 years ago or 60 years ago or 150 years ago -- does not lose its power just because it sits on a library shelf for decades at a time with no one pulling it out. The great majority of books in any city or small-town public library are not currently being discussed on television or radio talk shows; the authors are not on tour. But, years ago, someone decided for a reason that those books were meant to be bound between hard covers. The reason was that the writing inside was intended to last.” – Bob Greene


I just wanted to send out a huge THANK YOU! to Mr. Greene for his words. Libraries are a huge boon to communities, especially those communities with younger readers.


Please, be sure to visit your local library and tell them thank you for all that they do to make sure you get the books and periodicals you want to read.


Here’s a link to the full article:


18 August 2011

Kudos to Disney and First Book

Publishers Weekly just reported that Disney is donating $500K and eight Million books to the national nonprofit group First Book, who strive to get  new books into the hands of kids from low-income families. It’s been reported that on average First Book gives out an average of over 25,000 books a day. Last year alone, they distributed 7.5 million books to kids in need.

Hopefully, some of those eight million books will be graphic novels for younger readers, but regardless, this is great news for a worthy cause.

Full link below:


17 August 2011

Allan Say’s Drawing From Memory

From the American Library Association’s Facebook page comes this review of an utterly fascinating story about one of the preeminent cartoonist authors that came out of Japan.

Mr. Say’s book is a delightful tale of how he became an artist and I found the impromptu history lesson to be quite fascinating.

Here’s the link to the full review:


16 August 2011

16 August 2011– Star Wars: The Clone Wars–The Starcrusher Trap

Written by Mike Barr; Illustrated by The Fillbach Brothers
ISBN: 978-1-59582-714-2
Dark Horse Comics, 2011
Grade: 3 and up
During the clone wars, the Separatist Army develops a new warship that easily destroys any Republic ship that attacks it. When a cadre of Jedi attempt to destroy this new threat, they discover that it’s actually an elaborate trap to catch them!
The Star Wars franchise is now over thirty years old, and has managed to spawn a multi-billion dollar franchise with everything from toys to cereal. The downside to having such a successful franchise is that no matter how unique and fertile it is, after a while, new stories begin to peter out and concepts get recycled.
Barr (an industry veteran) does an exemplary job of making the story (that feels eerily familiar) work in such a way that will still keep readers enthralled, however older fans (especially those that grew up with the original trilogy) may take exception to the fact that the Jedi severely underestimate the machinations of the Separatist Commander. The artwork by The Fillbach Brothers fits in well with the current incarnation of characters from the Cartoon Network cartoon series of the same name (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), but there are a few times where it feels like they slip from character to caricature. Fortunately, this rarely happens at all, but it can be a little off putting.
With these concerns in mind, is this something the target audience will be concerned with? I seriously doubt it. The majority of readers who pick this book up are going to be more concerned with the story and pacing. My one major concern comes from two scenes where Darth Sidious smiles. It put me in mind of a demonic Abe Vigoda ( I actually lost a little sleep over that), so a little caution is urged for young readers.
Final Thoughts
The Starcrusher Trap is a good book for kids who love the Star Wars franchise or action stories. The plot really feels like nothing new, but for those kids who didn’t grow up with the franchise probably won’t notice (or care). People who are going to raise the biggest stink are the die-hard old-school fans, but their kids will enjoy the book.

08 August 2011

Notice of Delay

Due to illness, the weekly review is going to be postponed by a day or two. This head cold has really just knocked it out of me. Keep an eye open over the next day or two for a couple of reviews.

01 August 2011

1 August 2011–OBAMA: The Election of America’s 44th President

Written by Agnieska Biskup; Illustrated by Seitu Hayden
ISBN: 978-1-4296-7339-6
Capstone Publishing, 2011


Obama: The Election of America’s 44th President discusses the meteoric rise of our 44th president, Barak Obama, who also happens to be the first black president.
Any time a politically themed book comes out, one has to question the intent of the author, as well as checking their own biases at the door. Biskup’s latest book sets out to tell the tale of President Obama, from his “Politics of Hope” speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, all the way to his election to the office of president. In between these two events is lots of room (and fodder) to beatify or demonize Obama, but Biskup refuses to take sides in this book, merely laying out things as they happened.
Various “issues” (as they were touted in the media) are touched on, from the “…most famous fist bump in history” to Obama’s 30 minute promotion of his presidential bid are all treated the same – enough respect to alert the reader that there may be more to the incident, but not defaming or derogatory to participants either.
Final Thoughts
Given recent events in the real world, I had to really make sure my personal feelings about the subject matter did not taint my reading.
Doing that, I was pleasantly surprised to read a book that was real researched, well written and well illustrated. The artwork in particular deserves a special mention, as it stays as true as possible to how the participants look in real life, without over-exaggerating or insinuating a preference for people (I’ve seen several books that villainize the other contenders just through the artwork alone).
All in all, I found this book to be very illuminating, if a little dry, but well suited for the classroom or library.