Monday, September 9, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/9/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

It was a week of graphic novel reading for me (well, one of them isn't technically a graphic novel, but it's close, as I explain below).  I am not naturally a graphic novel reader - for many years I read graphic novels as a professional obligation rather than for pleasure.  I tend to get overwhelmed visually and have a hard time taking in both the illustrations and the text, but many of my students love them, so as a librarian I am a fan.   In the past year, there have been several graphic novels which I truly loved (Cardboard, Giants Beware and Earthing!, all on this year's Maine Student Book Award list) so I am always on the hunt for more.

Recommended for gr. 1-5
Look Up!  Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate is not technically a graphic novel, but it shares some characteristics with that genre and I think it will appeal to many graphic novel readers.  Both informative and entertaining, Cate uses speech bubbles, a cartoon-like format, illustrations and factual information text boxes to encourage readers to closely observe the birds around them.  On top of the appealing format, this book is funny!  The author/illustrator pokes gentle fun at the many different kinds of birds that she clearly adores.  This book would be great for budding ornithologists and bird watchers alike!

Recommended for gr. 3-6

Matt Phelan's new offering, Bluffton: My Summers with Buster is a beautiful graphic novel that reads and feels more like an extended picture book.  The watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the emotions and mood of summertime on the lake in Michigan, circa 1908.  Bluffton tells the story of Henry Harrison, whose summers change radically when a troupe of vaudeville performers (including the Keatons) land in his sleepy lakeside town.  Henry and Buster become friends despite their different backgrounds and futures.  As an adult reader, it is interesting to speculate about Buster Keaton’s childhood, but I’m not sure that young readers even need to know about him to appreciate this story.  The illustrations tell the majority of this story and the text is minimal, making this a highly accessible book for readers of many ages!

Recommended for YA

I suffered through Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in high school and didn't really come to appreciate it until years later, when I brought a group of my own Romanian high school students to see the film version with Leondardo DiCaprio.  Thus, I am thrilled with Gareth Hinds' new graphic novel version entitled The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Hinds portrays Juliet’s family as being Indian and Romeo’s as being African in this hip new retelling.  The illustrations make it modern (and thus accessible to readers) and yet Hinds remains true to the language and literature of Shakespeare. Somehow, it works!

I also read a couple of heavy hitting non-kid lit books this week.  Tumbledown by Robert Boswell was intense and compelling, but not entirely enjoyable for me, whereas Jennie Shortridge's When She Flew completely captivated me.   Shortridge's book is based on the true story of a veteran and his daughter living entirely off the grid in the woods in Oregon.  In this fictionalized account, the father and daughter are found by birdwatchers and then tracked down by the police.  The questions of what makes a home, what makes a family and what is best for kids are all raised in this eminently readable story. 

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