Monday, November 27, 2017

Scarecrow Princess

From the publisher:
Morrigan Moore has always been moody, but her new home is the worst. Her novelist mother has dragged her to the countryside, drawn by the lost myth of the King of Crows, a dark figure of theft and deceit, and the Scarecrow Prince, the only one who can stand against him. When Morrigan finds herself swept up in the legend, she'll have no choice but to take on the Scarecrow Prince's mantel, and to stand and fight. For her town, her family, and her own future. This lushly drawn graphic novel will pull you into its sinister secrets and not let go till the final page. For fans of Coraline and Over the Garden Wall.

My thoughts:

The publishers say that this book is similar to Gaiman's Coraline, and I agree that like Coraline, this graphic novel uses the drawings to set the mood of the book. This story is downright spooky and perfect for the Halloween season. I can feel the cold coming off the pages. In addition, if you have never seen Hitchcock's classic movie The Birds in black and white, watch it so you know what I mean when I say that the crows felt claustrophobic and nightmarish. 

I am not sure if the final version will be in color. My advanced copy was in black and white and I think that made this even more creepy. I used to love watching horror movies because they take you to the brink of wanting to look away when you hear the music. Well, even without the "music" in this novel I found myself speeding up and wanting to look away because I knew what was coming but I wanted to speed forward anyway and then I could not shut my eyes fast enough.  This was fun spooky and young readers will enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Halfway Home: Drawing My Way Through Japan

Christine, a half Japanese, half American 15 year old is sent to Japan to visit her grandparents. Although born in Japan, she was mostly raised in America so her lens in looking at tourists, Japanese style bathrooms and traveling through the country is very American. The angsty humor in her drawings is hilarious because I too was a teenager traveling through Japan. It captures this lens perfectly and brings me back to that time.

As a teacher I am always looking for an authentic voice from my students and this book with its manga style drawings and narration reveals a strong, authentic voice.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Black History In Its Own Words

From the Publishers:
A look at Black History framed by those who made it. BLACK HISTORY IN ITS OWN WORDS presents quotes of dozens of black luminaries with portraits & illustrations by RONALD WIMBERLY. Featuring the memorable words and depictions of Angela Davis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kanye West, Zadie Smith, Ice Cube, Dave Chappelle, James Baldwin, Spike Lee, and more.

My Thoughts:
This is a "picture book" but this is not a children's book. The concept is so graphically simple and stunning. Open the book, picture book style and the reader has a very micro synopsis of the person highlighted and then a portrait by Ronald Wimberly with one quote that is cited in the preceding page and referenced at the end. Like Mr. Wimberly says, this is just enough to make you curious to do your own research. It is just the portal in. What I like is that for the most part he stays away from the often biographied black movers and shakers in history. This allows students to learn more from the perspective of others that may not be as well known.

For example, he chose Sojourner Truth over Frederick Douglass, Audre Lord over Maya Angelou, Mary Ellen Pleasant over Harriet Tubman, Assata Shakur over Malcolm X. In other words, there is no Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker, Rosa Parks. This is about finding out about people that history may not spend as much time or paper space on. This book encourages students to head to the library, Google away and immortalize these people, still living and long dead that make up the wide swath of black history.

Who will do this for the other marginalized others? Who will bring enough of their story to the foreground so that others take up the mantle to write about them, research them, say their words in another generation? This feels like a fabulous project.