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review 2018-05-23 02:45
What's that joke about a gorilla and a typewriter?
The Murderer's Ape - Jakob Wegelius

I love a good Swedish to English translation (except for that one time I attempted Wallander) so I thought that The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius would be no exception. However, I cannot unequivocally state that I loved this book...or that I loathed it. The book is told from the standpoint of a gorilla who has been christened Sally Jones. She's been around humans her entire life and therefore not only understands what they are saying but can read as well. She's a gifted engineer who the reader discovers has the ability to figure out most mechanical devices be they accordions or airplanes. (This is integral to the storyline.) Her best friend is a (human) man she refers to as Chief and who took her on as a partner when he got his own ship. But all of this was before they ran into some trouble. Without giving too much away, the two are separated and Sally is forced to adapt in order to survive. At its heart, this is an adventure story with a lot of drama. What I enjoyed were the illustrations which were done by the author and accompanied the heading of each chapter as well as a gallery of character portraits at the very beginning. Some of the issues I had with this novel were in its dealings with race, religion, and ethnicity. It was hard for me to pinpoint if the problems I had could be explained by viewing it through the lens of the time in which the novel took place but I found them unsettling nonetheless. Overall, I wasn't totally blown away but I wouldn't throw it out of an airplane door either. 4/10

 

Source: American Library Association

 

Examples of the illustrations. [Source: Playing by the book]

 

 

What's Up Next: Golda Meir: A Strong, Determined Leader by David A. Adler

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-19 18:54
What's Izzy up to?
Hilo Book 4: Waking the Monsters - Judd Winick

Judd Winick's series continues with book 4 titled Waking the Monsters and we find ourselves back with HiLo and his friends as they continue to fight off the monsters that are being unleashed on earth by Razorwark. Two heroes are born: Comet and Star Burst. This is the book where we finally discover just exactly why Razorwark wants to destroy humanity and where all of the robots are coming from. If you've been following the series from the beginning, you'll be happy to learn that Gina finally expresses her true feelings about being a cheerleader to her mom. Eagle-eyed readers should pay special attention to the background of the illustrations for an especially funny jab at the U.S. government (unless you're a Trump supporter in which case you probably won't think it's that funny). It continues to be an action packed, humorous book about friendship and doing the right thing. Winick knows how to capture his audience's attention and keep it even when books are spread out (the next is sadly not due out until 2019). You're not even ready for the ending of this one, guys! I think the best part about reading the HiLo series is that I have quite a few kids here at the branch that are reading it right along with me. Since I'm always here I have the benefit of reading it first so when they come and check out the shelves and see it I can gush about how much they're going to like it. (Maybe I crow over reading it before them a bit but that's neither here nor there.) 10/10 for readability and 'inside' jokes + making a connection with my kids.

 

An example of the humor. [Source: Bam Smack Pow]

 

What's Up Next: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-21 19:23
Needs more attention to detail
Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers (Kid Legends) - David Stabler,Doogie Horner

First of all, HUGE props to the illustrator, Doogie Horner, for some of the most amazing illustrations I've seen in quite some time. I'd go so far as to say they would make truly excellent bookmarks. *hint hint* Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler is a collection of short biographies of famous authors covering their childhood and why they wanted to become authors. Up front I need to make a few critical remarks. While this was written for a child audience, I think it would be beneficial if some of the terms were defined either in a side panel or at the back in a glossary. Two good examples: integration and abolitionist. I read a few passages to some of the kids at the library and some terms that seem obvious to an adult haven't yet been learned by kids in upper elementary school. There were also some really glaring grammatical mistakes which gave the impression this was a rushed printing job. At one point, the word should have been 'real' and instead it was 'read' which of course has a totally different meaning. If this is meant to be a nonfiction biographical resource for children it should be held to a higher standard. I did like how there were additional facts and a suggested list of more books to read at the back. My overall impression is that it's a cute book which serves as a decent introduction for kids to famous authors (and biographies in general). I know there are other books in this series so I'm hopeful the quality has improved in these later volumes. :-) 5/10

 

What's Up Next: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-20 02:51
I like to think that I'm pretty tech-savvy but...
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything - Kelly Weinersmith,Zach Weinersmith

I'm a naturally curious person (obvious to the longtime reader) and I really enjoy learning about the the world we inhabit. I especially enjoy discussions which forecast what our world might look like in the near to distant future. This book touched on a lot of that and much more (much of it out of my sphere of knowledge). Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith (with illustrations by Zach Weiner) covers everything from space settlements (and space elevators!) to computer brain interfaces (no thank you!) with Utah Array (basically multiple neuron points). The wide variety of topics explored should appeal to a diverse audience and if that doesn't do it the illustrations scattered throughout certainly will as they further explain extremely technical subjects through a pop science lens (some quite funny while others tried just a bit too hard). I have to give them a giant HOORAY for their excellent use of references such as George Church (remember him from Woolly?) which lent a more academic feel. Besides explaining what inventions we might see in the future, Weinersmith discusses the concerns both ethical and economical which could either delay or outright stall further development. The futurists among you would do well to check this book out to get excited for the years ahead while the cynics might want to get their hands on it to strengthen their arguments. ;-) 7/10

 

And this is why I'm terrified. [Source: Penguin Books]

 

What's Up Next: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-07 17:33
What did the Frenchman ever do to you?
Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: Twenty Chilling Tales from the Wilderness - Hal Johnson,Tom Mead

I think if I had a new copy of this book I would have had the benefit of seeing the illustrations in their original glow-in-the-dark awesomeness. As it is, I got this from the library and it had seen many days under the sun (and probably some under a flashlight to really get all the juice out of it).


Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness by Hal Johnson with illustrations by Tom Mead is a children's graphic novel that certainly delivered what it set out to with that supremely long title. This is definitely a middle grade title and I wouldn't recommend reading this to your elementary aged child before bedtime (unless they're tough as nails). It would however make a fantastic Halloween read aloud. ;-) The book consists of short stories depicting different monstrous creatures of lore and how they were discovered, captured (if they ever were), and killed their victims. Each story is accompanied by illustrations of the creatures overlaid with the glow-in-the-dark ink I mentioned at the beginning. The illustrations are FANTASTIC. I also felt like the stories were the perfect length if you were using them to read aloud to kids. Since there are 20 you could read one a day on the lead up to Halloween. However, in the spirit of full transparency, I need to point out that it seemed as if the author had something against Frenchman (they were abused quite a lot throughout) which did make me quite uncomfortable at several points. If not for that, this would have been a fully enjoyable little collection of monster stories. As it stands, I'll go with a 7/10.

 

An example of the illustrative style and writing. [Source: Barnes & Noble]

 

What's Up Next: The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

What I'm Currently (Re)Reading: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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