Friday, November 21, 2014


Author/Illustrator: Miss Lasko-Gross
Publication Date:  January 20, 2015
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Electronic copy furnished by: Net Galley with permission of the publisher.

In short: this graphic novel is about a young girl named Henni who lives in a fantastical dystopia where old traditions and religion threaten to destroy Henni's natural curiosity and wondering about the nature of society, gender, equality and fairness. As she matures, she must leave her community to search for the truth and adventure that she knows is just beyond the boundaries of her life.

My thoughts: I really don't like the cover (above) because she looks scared and alarmed which I think does not accurately portray Henni's nature. She is more calm, brave, and in control than this first cover suggests. The copy that I have shows this cover:

I am not sure if I like this cover either, but at least it shows the ferocity that is Henni. I want to talk about my favorite line and then I have more questions than answers which is never a bad thing after finishing a book, but they are wonderings nonetheless.
No one can know the contents of another's mind - Henni
I like this line because it explains her tenacity and her ability to keep searching and not be complacent or compliant.

Here are my questions:

  • What was the significance of the Phoenix fly scene?
  • Specifically, who is the man who burns his ring into her hand with the phoenix fly blood?
  • What is the connection between the man, the ring, the book with the same insignia at the end and Henni's father?
  • Is the man her father?
  • Does she ever find her father or is he really dead?
  • What is Henni? Human? Animal? Some people look human but she has these ears and when she goes to the second village, she is deemed naked and given clothes to put on over her "fur?" 
  • What happened to her sister?
  • Does her sister miss her and regret turning Henni in?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

14 Cows for America

Author: Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
Publisher: Peachtree Atlanta

In short: Kimeli Naiyomah returns home to his Maasai village from New York City, his heart still heavy about the suffering he witnesses. Under the acai tree he tells his people about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and his villagers are just as sad as he is. What they do next is a beautiful gesture of peace and healing that brings comfort to all who read this story.

My thoughts: Yes, this book is geared for 2nd - 5th graders, but the colors of the art and the simple story engages the older reader and leaves enough breathing space for the reader to really feel the emotions of this story.  The last line of the last page, with the towers reflected in the child's eye - AMAZING!!! I don't mean to be shouting, but this book is a wonderful way to illustrate for young writers the power of simple prose matched with appropriate graphics. Even that blue sky in the background with the touch of darkness like the sky is falling. Beautiful. Read it. Use it. Pass it on.


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