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review 2019-02-06 21:25
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis

Another from NPR's Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf. 


When I saw the In Memory note at the beginning of the book, I knew whatever I had expected of this book was wrong. Parts were very difficult to read, mainly the end, but some of the family parts at the beginning. This was balanced out by the school scenes and most of the family dynamics in the book. There are a few mentions of an Uncle Bud which made me wonder if this book is related to Bud, Not Buddy, but if it is, nothing comes of the connection. 

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review 2019-01-22 16:46
Awkward - Svetlana Chmakova

The eleven-year-old recommended this to me ages ago and I just got around to reading it. She's a big fan of Raina Telgemeier, so I can see why she liked Awkward. It's a solid story about school and friendship. I'm not sure I'll check out the author's other books. I'm waiting to see if the eleven-year-old has read any of them. 

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review 2019-01-01 08:34
Monstress: Awakening Vol 1
Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu

I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:


Maika Halfwolf is on a quest to discover information about her shadowy past. Along the way she must battle an ancient entity who shares her mind and body and makes her the target of every faction in her war-torn world.


Monstress: Awakening is the most beautifully illustrated comic book I have ever seen. Every panel is like a painting and so full of detail I could spend minutes taking in each one, yet the art never overwhelms the page or the story. Even the body horror and gore manage to look beautiful. In addition to beautiful art, Monstress contains creative character design and diverse characters. It is refreshing to see a fantasy world populated with resilient, chromatic, female characters whose existence is normalized. These women are the rule not the exception. 


Monstress also includes incredible world building. Immediately in the book there is the sense that this is a fully realized world, and there is little awkward exposition to explain it. It is left to readers to put the story together for themselves. Some of the more complex aspects of the world are explained at the ends of chapters in short lectures. The conceit works at conveying information that clarifies the story, but if this information is really that important, it deserves space in the actual comic rather than being relegated to a clever info dump.


Monstress is a fresh take on fantasy worlds. It deserves a spot in the graphic novel canon for its artwork alone.

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review 2019-01-01 08:28
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 1
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1 - Brian Michael Bendis,Sara Pichelli

I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:


Miles Morales is just a normal, New York kid worried about getting into a charter school and trying to navigate his family drama. That is until he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider and suddenly gains superpowers. Though he is reluctant at first, Miles eventually embraces his superpowers and becomes the new Spider-Man.


Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man strikes a great balance. It contains many nods, references, and parallels to Spider-Man lore that are likely to satisfy long time readers, and its self-contained arc of Miles gaining and embracing his powers also makes it an ideal starting place for readers new to Marvel comics. This is a book that can be both fantastic—here’s a kid who gains superpowers from a spider bite—and realistic—that same kid has no idea what to do with his powers and knocks himself out on his third outing. 


Throughout the story, groundwork is being laid for future issues. The most obvious threads are Miles’s family’s criminal history, balancing school and superhero duties, and Miles’s invitation to work with SHIELD and the Ultimates. Hopefully future issues also delve into Miles’s race and ethnicity. Nothing much is made of them in this first volume, but there is plenty to be explored there.


Spider-Man is a classic hero. There should be room in any good graphic novel collection for all iterations of the character, but if there were room for only one, Miles Morales would be a great choice.   

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review 2019-01-01 06:22
Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen
Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen - Debbi Michiko Florence

A cute, easy read. Good for anyone looking for a diverse, contemporary story. Similar reads include The Year of the Book, Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu, Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, and Yang family series.

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