Monday, October 3, 2016

Books of September

September Total:73
Year to date: 279

Fiction
Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, #2)        Card, Orson Scott
Prentice Alvin (Tales of Alvin Maker, #3)           Card, Orson Scott
Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence, #3) Gladstone, Max

Nonfiction
The Lego Architect       Alphin, Tom
LEGO Star Wars: Build Your Own Adventure     DK Publishing

Comics
Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon   Aaron, Jason
Vader Down   Aaron, Jason
Darth Vader, Vol 1: Vader         Gillen, Kieron
Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars     Lemire, Jeff
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Delisle, Guy
Eternals             Gaiman, Neil
The Snodgrass Conspiracy         Klein, Grady
The Lost Colony, Book Two: The Red Menace Klein, Grady
The Lost Colony, Book Three: Last Rights   Klein, Grady
Hellboy in Mexico         Mignola, Mike
Hawkeye, Volume 2: Little Hits    Fraction, Matt
Princess Leia   Waid, Mark
Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Crawling from the Wreckage     Morrison, Grant
Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max     Stevenson, Noelle
Written and Drawn by Henrietta           Liniers
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less     Glidden, Sarah
Stinky Davis, Eleanor
Big City Otto (Elephants Never Forget, #1)        Slavin, Bill
Secret Coders (Secret Coders, #1)         Yang, Gene Luen
Paths & Portals (Secret Coders, #2)      Yang, Gene Luen
New Super-Man #1     Yang, Gene Luen
New Super-Man #2     Yang, Gene Luen
New Super-Man #3     Yang, Gene Luen
Prime Baby     Yang, Gene Luen
Batman (2016-) #1       King, Tom
Super: Issue One         Crowther, Joshua
Lumberjanes #9          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #10          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #11          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #12          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #13           Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #14          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #17          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #15          Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #16          Stevenson, Noelle
Giant Days #1  Allison, John
Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Blood       Azzarello, Brian
Princeless, Vol. 2: Get Over Yourself   Whitley, Jeremy
Pop Gun War Volume 1            Dalrymple, Farel
Study Hall of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1)   Fridolfs, Derek

Picture Books
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat   Taback, Simms
My Two Grannies         Benjamin, Floella
Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!       Johnson, D.B.
Henry's Night   Johnson, D.B.
Roly Poly Pangolin       Dewdney, Anna
North Woods Girl         Bissonette, Aimee
The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”   Bogart, Jo Ellen
A Library Book for Bear  Becker, Bonny
Sock Monkey Rides Again         Bell, Cece
I Love My Daddy           Braun, Sebastien
My Two Grandads       Benjamin, Floella
Heroes of the Surf       Carbone, Elisa
Cat Tale           Hall, Michael
My Heart Is Like a Zoo Hall, Michael
Perfect Square    Hall, Michael
Harold's Circus   Johnson, Crockett
Harold at the North Pole           Johnson, Crockett
Harold's Trip to the Sky  Johnson, Crockett
Harold's Fairy Tale         Johnson, Crockett
Curious George Flies a Kite       Rey, Margret
Hippo! No, Rhino         Newman, Jeff
Sleepover at Gramma's House   Joosse, Barbara
Julius   Johnson, Angela
Jazz On A Saturday Night (Coretta Scott King Honor Book)       Dillon, Leo
If Kids Ran the World   Dillon, Leo
Swamp Angel Isaacs, Anne
Dust Devil         Isaacs, Anne
Traction Man Is Here! Grey, Mini

Quick Takes
So! Many! Good! Books!  As you may be able to tell, this was the month I really began to dig in to my library's digital comics collection.  Also, there was a mini comic con where I got to meet Gene Luen Yang!  Nerd dream fulfilled.

Speaking of Gene Luen Yang, his "New Superman" series is taking the caped crusader in interesting directions-- this is the New Superman of China, a brash teenager who is given the powers of Superman by a government experiment after he stands up to super villain on national TV.  But the new superman is a bit of a bully, a self-centered layabout who is forced by experience to start caring and learn to be a hero.  Definitely worth watching.

I don't think I've plugged "Lumberjanes" here yet, but this is one of the most enjoyable comics series I've ever read.  The Lumberjanes are scouts at "Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types" and earn badges such as the mathematically-focused "Everything under the Sum Badge".  But besides the regular hijinks of summer camp, serious paranormal mysteries are afoot, and the Lumberjanes are dedicated to solving them.  It's a great story with amazing characters (each member of the cabin is a unique, fully-developed person rather than an action-hero or mystery-solving-teen cookie-cutter trope) and stunning writing and art.  Lots of people are pointing out what a wonderful feminist development a woman-written book about women that treats women as people is, and this it totally true, but I am recommending it to you mostly because this is the most fun comic you can read right now.  Plus, it's exactly how I remember summer camp being, except for the three-eyed foxes.

Discoveries of the month: "The White Cat and the Monk" by Jo Ellen Bogart, the playful art and words of Michael Hall (which strikes me as Eric Carle meets Chris Raschka), the clean lines and clear thinking of Sarah Glidden (who deeply trawls her own potential for self-doubt in order to better understand our world).


Friday, September 2, 2016

Books of August

August Total: 43
Year to date: 206

Fiction
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 Rowling, J. K.; Tiffany, John; Thorne, Jack
Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, #1)  Card, Orson Scott


Comics
The Only Child   Guojing
Lumberjanes #4         Stevenson, Noelle
Lumberjanes #5        Stevenson, Noelle
Lando  Soule, Charles
Chewbacca      Duggan, Gerry
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1     Stevenson, Noelle
Down. Set. Fight!     Sims, Chris
The Batgirl of Burnside  Stewart, Cameron


Picture Books
How to Heal a Broken Wing      Graham, Bob
Vanilla Ice Cream          Graham, Bob
A Bus Called Heaven    Graham, Bob
The Perfect Sword       Goto, Scott
Paula Bunyan Root, Phyllis
The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy      Alemagna, Beatrice
Ace Dragon Ltd   Hoban, Russell
Thump, Quack, Moo: A Whacky Adventure      Cronin, Doreen
Basho and the Fox        Myers, Tim J.
The Story of the Three Kingdoms          Myers, Walter Dean
My Pen             Myers, Christopher
Looking Like Me            Myers, Walter Dean
Wings Myers, Christopher
Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money  Jenkins, Emily
My Favorite Thing: (According to Alberta)          Jenkins, Emily
What’s the Opposite? (The Hueys)       Jeffers, Oliver
The Hueys in... It Wasn't Me    Jeffers, Oliver
The Hueys in the New Sweater Jeffers, Oliver
That New Animal          Jenkins, Emily
How to Catch a Star (The Boy, #1)          Jeffers, Oliver
The Heart and the Bottle           Jeffers, Oliver
Mimi's Dada Catifesto Jackson, Shelley
The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch Isaacs, Anne
Christmastime   Jay, Alison
The Wicked Big Toddlah Hawkes, Kevin
Zen Ghosts      Muth, Jon J.
The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!    Truss, Lynne
Sail Away       Hughes, Langston
This Is Not a Picture Book!        Ruzzier, Sergio
What's Going On In There?       Grahn, Geoffrey
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs      Willems, Mo
Space Vehicles   Rockwell, Anne F.

Return (Journey Trilogy, #3)     Becker, Aaron

Quick Takes
There was a lot I enjoyed this month. As you might guess from my book list, I spent several shifts of my part-time job at the library working the children's desk. Doing so, I discovered two new picture book authors to add to my many favorites-- Bob Graham is an Australian artist who writes moving modern fables about community and peace, and Emily Jenkins writes slightly zany looks at the world of a child. I also thoroughly enojoyed "The Wicked Big Toddlah" in which an understated text about the narrator's younger brother is accompanied by illustrations of a family struggling to care for an infant the size of a barn. And you can never go wrong with an Oliver Jeffers book.

On the comics front, "The Only Child" is a standout. It's a wordless, lyrical take on childhood loneliness and imagination. Rooted in the author's experience as one of many 'only children' due to China's one-child policy, it is at turns wistful and whimsical as a lonely child meets cloud-creatures who offer company and friendship, but separate him briefly from his family.

"Lando" by Soule is a heist tale that's a perfect homage to the suave maneuvering of its titular character. A prequel to Lando's appearance in "The Empire Strikes Back" it manages to lay a foundation for the conflict between Lando's calculated defense of his own self-interest and his loyal dedication to the few people he cares for that will eventually lead Lando both to betray Han and then to turn on the Empire and devote his considerable talents to the Rebellion.

"Down, Set, Fight" takes a zany concept-- former NFL star is attacked by costumed mascots-- and turns it into a really fascinating look the relationship between sports and American masculinity, and a powerful character study of a hardworking man (the NFL star turned high school football coach) and his manipulative estranged father (who put him through an insane training regimen to propel him to greatness, then attempted to play on that success in order to make a fortune gambling on the games). It's definitely weird, but well worth a read.

"Seventh Son" is far from perfect, but it's a fascinating fantasy take on Mormonism's founding events. Orson Scott Card seems to be responding to critics who are disturbed by the magical worldview of the frontier which pervades Mormonism's origins by asking them to imagine how awesome a magical frontier would have been. It also strikes to the heart of Mormon concepts of community and creation. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Reading "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" brought back all the wonderful Harry-Potter feels of the days when summer meant a new book release and I'd stay up all night reading for several days, then re-reading and talking about every detail with my equally Potter-obsessed friends and family. It was magical. The more I think about it, the less I think it stands as an equal to the earlier books, but I was definitely grateful for a chance to revisit the wizarding world in print. And there were certainly plenty of fascinating details to discuss with my perpetually Potter-obsessed friends and family.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Books of July

July Total: 11
Year to date: 163

Fiction
The Sandwich Thief     Marois, André
The Man in the High Castle       Dick, Philip K.
Thief! (The Queen's Thief, #0.5)       Turner, Megan Whalen
Fake Mustache   Angleberger, Tom

Comics
Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls Snyder, Scott
Lumberjanes #3                           Stevenson, Noelle
We Stand On Guard     Vaughan, Brian K.
Democracy     Kawa, Αbraham
Jerusalem: A Family Portrait     Yakin, Boaz
The Dark Island             Chantler, Scott

Picture Book
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons   Levine, Sara C.

Highlights
"Fake Mustache" by Tom Angleberger is one of those junior fiction books that's nearly impossible to categorize. It's not science fiction, it's not fantasy, but for all that it's about seventh graders in small-town America, it's definitely not realistic fiction. "Fake Mustache" comes to us from a zany alternate reality where although there is a United States with Democrats, Republicans, Hollywood and Burger King, there is also a state capital called Hairsprinkle, where the legislature meets in a buffet and a novelty company produces both hypnotically convincing fake mustaches and the majority of America's electronic voting machines. The combination of these two Hairsprinkle exports is a recipe for disaster, and it's up to a self-described nerdy 7th grader and a thinly-veiled, but well-developed Hannah Montana parody (Jodie O'Rodeo) to save the US of A from a pint-sized criminal mastermind. Given current events, the idea that a large number of well-meaning Americans could be hypnotized into voting for a compulsive liar by the power of a well-placed hairpiece is a little bit more hair-raising than hilarious, but this book is still a great read.

Looking towards another alternate North America, I was disappointed by Brian K. Vaughan's "We Stand on Guard", a speculative tale of a future war between a drought-stricken USA and it's friendly Northern neighbor, Canada, which seems to think that thinly-veiled War on Terror metaphors (the US invades Canada following a terrorist strike on Washington, D.C. but most Canadians believe the real reason is their water reserves) and gritty violence can take the place of genuine character development or plot.  Vaughan is a great writer with some excellent work, but this one fell flat for me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Books of June

June Total: 18
Year to date: 152

Fiction
The Weapon of a Jedi - A Luke Skywalker Adventure   Fry, Jason


Nonfiction
A Dangerous Engine: Benjamin Franklin, from Scientist to Diplomat       Dash, Joan
The Inker's Shadow     Say, Allen


Comics
Hicksville           Horrocks, Dylan
Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More        DeConnick, Kelly Sue
Spera: Ascension of the Starless, Vol.1   Tierney, Josh


Picture Books
The Other Dog  L'Engle, Madeleine
Happy Birthday, Bunny!             Scanlon, Liz Garton
Shooting at the Stars   Hendrix, John
Dizzy   Winter, Jonah
Little Blue Truck            Schertle, Alice
Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent     Child, Lauren
Buddy and Earl  Fergus, Maureen
Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud      Jurmain, Suzanne
The Pickle Patch Bathtub           Kennedy, Fran
Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great           Shea, Bob
Manny's Cows: The Niagara Falls Tale Becker, Suzy
Henry's Hand    MacDonald, Ross

Quick Takes
If you are interested in comics as a storytelling medium, read "Hicksville" by Dylan Horrocks. It deserves to be discussed alongside Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" and any of the giants of the graphic novel format, from "A Contract with God" through "Maus" and "Watchmen". The story follows the biographer of an up-and-coming American comics titan who ventures to his subject's hometown: Hicksville, New Zealand. But Hicksville is not what it seems and the biographer's carefully planned narrative begins to veer off track. The story, which is deeply about comics as both an art and an industry, is told through comics nested within comics in the main narrative. A moving ode to sequential art and the global history of comics as both form and genre. Wistful without being melancholy; thought provoking and beautifully executed. Seriously, I can't praise it enough, just go and read it if you haven't already.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Books of May

May Total: 33
Year to date: 134

Nonfiction
LEGO Play Book           Lipkowitz, Daniel
The Bird King and Other Sketches          Tan, Shaun

Comics
Sardine in Outer Space 2        Guibert, Emmanuel
Sardine in Outer Space  Guibert, Emmanuel
The Fall of the House of West Pope, Paul
Bandette, Volume 1: Presto!   Tobin, Paul
Daredevil, Volume 1    Waid, Mark
Princeless, Vol. 3: The Pirate Princess Whitley, Jeremy
Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling (Delilah Dirk, #2)      Cliff, Tony
Space Dumplins      Thompson, Craig
Barbarian Lord   Smith, Matt
Marvel 1602    Gaiman, Neil

Picture Books
I Did It with My Hatchet: A Story of George Washington Quackenbush, Robert M.
Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates   Usher, M.D.
Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus   Sís, Peter
11 Experiments That Failed       Offill, Jenny
Baby Loves to Rock!     Kirwan, Wednesday
While You Were Napping          Offill, Jenny
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America         Weatherford, Carole Boston
A World Full of Monsters           McQueen, John Troy
The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home      Huget, Jennifer Larue
Pigs Make Me Sneeze! (Elephant & Piggie, #10) Willems, Mo
Star Wars: The Death Star         Whitman, John
Pinkerton, Behave!      Kellogg, Stevens-
The House of Wisdom   Heide, Florence Parry
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson          Muñoz Ryan, Pam
Soon, Baboon, Soon    Horowitz, Dave
The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening                           Raschka, Chris
All the World   Scanlon, Liz Garton
John Jensen Feels Different (Johannes Jensen, #1)      Hovland, Henrik
Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story          Hopkinson, Deborah
I Speak Dinosaur           Henry, Jed
The Woods      Hoppe, Paul

Quick Takes
Shaun Tan is a genius, and "The Bird King and Other Sketches" gives us a beautiful glimpse into his internal creative landscape. It contains some process art which will be familiar to his readers, and other sketches which hint at exciting possibilities of new stories to come.

"Marvel 1602" is definitely one of the most creative Marvel universe adaptations, though it moves a little too quickly to give its characters time to fully grow.

"Knit Your Bit" is a worthwhile look at the WWI homefront. Pair it with a book on the Christmas truce, and you have an effective mini-lesson on the so-called Great War. "I Did it With My Hatchet" and "The House of Wisdom" deserve demerits for spreading historical misinformation. While Quackenbush at first works to debunk some common Washington myths, he takes a bizarre turn at the end, claiming that Washington witnessed the rise of Democrats and Republicans (the major parties wouldn't go by these names until the 1850's, and it was only in the 1980's that they developed their present alignments). Heide makes a noble effort to share the story of an Islamic Renaissance, but falls into major factual errors about the period of translation. Since I studied the translation period in some detail in college, the inaccuracies made it less enjoyable for me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Books of April

April total:27
Year to date: 101

Fiction
Dandelion Wine        Bradbury, Ray
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)        Rothfuss, Patrick
Brokedown Palace       Brust, Steve

Nonfiction
Popular Tales from the Norse Dasent, George Webbe
In My Father's Court    Singer, Isaac Bashevis

Comics
Age of Reptiles: Omnibus, Vol. 1                            Delgado, Ricardo
Daredevil, Volume 3: The Daredevil You Know   Waid, Mark
Rumble #5       Arcudi, John
Mormon Shorts                             Hales, Scott

Picture Books
Hampire!          Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta
The Hog Prince  Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta
Leo: A Ghost Story       Barnett, Mac
The Longest Wait          Bradby, Marie
West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet    Hodge, Deborah
Mustache Baby Meets His Match          Heos, Bridget
Shamoo: A Whale of a Cow      Hill, Ros
1000 Times No   Warburton, Tom
Small Elephant's Bathtime         Feeney, Tatyana
Potato Pancakes All Around: A Hanukkah Tale Hirsh, Marilyn
Waga's Big Scare            Hiti, Samuel
The Blue Whale             Desmond, Jenni
The Story of Giraffe     Pigni, Guido
Beware of Tigers           Horowitz, Dave
Bambino and Mr. Twain                             Maltbie, P.I.
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?         Gray, Rita
Swords: An Artist's Devotion   Boos, Ben
Do Not Build a Frankenstein!  Numberman, Neil

Quick Takes
I did enjoy "The Wise Man's Fear" more than "The Name of the Wind". I think Rothfuss pulled off the pacing better here, and there's less drawing of folksy morals here. We still have to grapple with the fact that the protagonist is effectively a teenage male who has become an academic (as well as a minstrel, duelist, and paramour) because he's obsessed with what's effectively a political conspiracy theory about an ancient order. So sort of like going to Harvard because you're really in to the Knights Templar.

"West Coast Wild" is a really cool alphabet/nature book. My nephews really enjoyed it as a read aloud.

And I have to give a shout out here to "Mormon Shorts" by Scott Hales". The book combines Hales' comics with some of his Mormon microfiction, and both are fabulous.