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review 2019-01-13 17:41
I'm still glad I was an only child
Dear Sister - Alison McGhee,Joe Bluhm

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee (with illustrations by Joe Bluhm) was a happy accident. It happened to be returned while I was working at circulation and when I flipped through it I was intrigued enough to check it out for myself. The book is written in a series of letters and drawings from a boy who has just been saddled  blessed with a baby sister. His parents want him to write to her so they can put it in her baby book but he has his own ideas of what to write. From the start, his letters and drawings are quite hostile and he makes a point of saying that the 'wardens' have forced him into contributing. Their relationship is typical of an older sibling who has no interest in catering to an annoying, screaming infant/toddler/preschooler. Their age difference is about 8 years which explains a lot of the animosity. He always refers to her as 'sister' because the name he had picked out for her (and which wasn't used) was so good that he'd hate to slip up and call her that because then she'd be sad that it wasn't her name. This is one of those perfect little books that shock you when you realize they're not more in demand. It felt totally authentic and the illustrations were absolutely fantastic. They were a mix of childlike drawings which aged up with the character and a few realistic looking pencil drawings from a third person standpoint. The whole story is heartwarming and the ending was so sweet that I actually cried. What a great little book! 10/10

 

A/N: I discovered that Joe Bluhm illustrated one of my favorite William Joyce books The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and now I'm on a mission to find more of his work. No wonder I liked the drawings in this so much! XD

 

Source: Amazon.com

 

                                  Source: Amazon.com

 

What's Up Next: I'm waiting on another volume of the Elfquest Archives so that I can hopefully do my reviews in one post. We shall see...

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (reread)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-01-05 02:00
More people should be reading Shaun Tan
Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan reminds me why I'm always telling everyone that Shaun Tan is my favorite illustrator. His illustrations are beautiful and his prose is wonderfully written. Organized by different animals, the chapters explore various aspects of humanity with short essays (and in some cases poems) accompanied by full page color illustrations. I broke down a few of the stories to my mom who thought they were rather dark and bleak but I explained this is how Tan gets his meaning across. This book looks at life in the inner city through the eyes of animals as a way to explore humanity both its cruel, despairing underbelly and its hopeful, optimistic fur (this analogy got away from me). For example, one story features a secretary who walks into the boardroom of the company she works for only to find that all the members of the board have inexplicably turned into frogs. She goes panics (including going back to her desk to play a few hands of computer solitaire) and worries she will be blamed and possibly fired before deciding the best course is to take these frogs home and care for them as if they were her pets. It turns out that this suits both herself and the frogs equally well because they were tired of being burdened with the troubles of being human. And here we thought all frogs wanted to be turned into handsome princes!

 

Tan shines a light on the darker aspects of humanity like cruelty, thoughtlessness, divisiveness, and greed because he wants to show that this isn't all that we are and we can strive for so much more. His work is considered sci-fi/fantasy because the scenarios themselves are 'unrealistic' like men turning into frogs or pigs that can survive even if you're hacking into them piece by piece over several weeks. But haven't you thought about what it would be like to walk away from all of your responsibilities and have someone else take care of you without any design or nefarious intention? What if you lived in a place where almost everything was industrialized and you were simply a cog in a giant machine slogging away in a factory hating your day to day? And what if the only bright point in your life happened at the end of your shift when you and your fellow employees climbed onto the back of the last surviving (ginormous) yak?  That seemed pretty believable up until that very last line didn't it? That's because there's a touch of reality mixed in with the absurd making this one of the loveliest things I've read in quite a while. If you've never read Tan before pick up Tales from the Inner City and then pick up everything else he's ever written because you'll be hooked. 10/10

 

The corporate frogs. [Source 3x3 Magazine]

Source: 3x3 Magazine

 

Source: BookTrust

 

 

What's Up Next: Dear Sister by Alison McGhee & illustrated by Joe Bluhm

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-29 02:11
End of year burnout
Sanity & Tallulah - Molly Brooks

I'm going to be honest, guys. I'm really starting to get blog fatigue. I've been trying to write this particular review for ages and getting absolutely nowhere. :'-( I've also done the arithmetic and I'm fairly certain I'm still going to be reviewing books I read in 2018 into the start of 2019 which is something I was actively trying to avoid. Ugh, I sure hope this ends up making sense.

 

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks is a middle grade graphic novel about two little girls living on a space station on the fringes of populated space. These two best friends are polar opposites. Sanity is a gifted scientist who is more often than not working diligently at her homework or brainstorming her newest lab project. Tallulah, on the other hand, is a mediocre student (at best) and a champion mischief maker (the best). After Sanity's latest science project (a three-headed creature) gets loose, the two girls are desperate to clear the animal's name as technical failures and disasters of all kinds begin happening at an alarming rate. There's a race against the clock to find the creature and save all life as they know it on the space station. This story is all about the bonds of friendship...and what happens if you don't properly follow safety protocols when docking your ship at a space station. My opinion: I don't know if it's because I read this one right after Space Dumplins but I found it very similar in tone and content and therefore not altogether that interesting. Additionally, the illustrations were good but weren't nearly as stunning as the aforementioned Space Dumplins. I couldn't give it more than a 4/10.

 

Lots of strong female characters. *applause* [Source: Mom Read It]

 

What's Up Next: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-28 02:51
Space Chicken sounds like the name of a new wave band
Space Dumplins - Craig Thompson

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson utilized all of the keywords that normally make me sit up and take notice: space adventure, hi-jinks, talking chickens... I absolutely loved the super colorful illustrations but as far as the story...it didn't completely blow me out of the water. Our main character, Violet, is a little girl living in the Roids which is a space community comprised of members of the working classes (classism is an issue). Her father is employed in a dangerous (and morally suspect) line of work gathering space whale nuggets (poop) which are manufactured to be used as fuel. Things have become increasingly dangerous especially for those living on the fringes as the whales have started to invade populated areas of space and cause massive damage in their wake including Violet's school. So when Violet's mom is offered a swanky job in fashion at the space station (where the extra swanky live) she snaps it up without hesitation and takes Violet with her hoping to earn more money and get her daughter a high class education. But things go from bad to worse in the Roids while they're away and Violet's father is somehow all mixed up in it. With the aid of her friends Zacchaeus (looks like a talking bean) and Elliott (actually is a talking chicken) Violet sets off on a mission to save her father and bring an end to the destruction and terror wrought by the wild space whales. Why are they on a path of devastation and mayhem? And what exactly does her father have to do with all of this? If you're interested in finding out the answers then check out Space Dumplins. My take: 6/10 mostly for the awesome illustrations. 

 

Slightly spoiler-y warning: There are vivid depictions of animal cruelty in this book so if you can't deal with that (and I don't blame you because I had a lot of difficulties) then give this book a pass.

 

An example from the inside of the book. [Source: Craig Thompson Books]

 

What's Up Next: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-27 03:25
Boarding school satire
Molesworth - Geoffrey Willans,Ronald Searle

The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle (co-creator and illustrator) had been on my TRL for ages. I was intrigued by the illustrations that were depicted on the cover and its comparison to my dear Roald Dahl. This is a classic children's series (bound together in its entirety here) about a boy named Nigel Molesworth who narrates his time in a boy's boarding school called St. Custard's. Willans captures the spirit of boyhood in a private boarding school especially well owing to his being a Headmaster himself. (This is even funnier once you get to know Headmaster Grimes who is particularly fond of the cane.) This book is replete with bad spelling (evidenced in the title) and absolutely stunning illustrations by Searle who was a satirical cartoonist (perfect for this series). Molesworth and his buddies get up to many hi-jinks and shenanigans which are generally instigated by our hero. Amidst all of this tomfoolery Willans and Searle have taken jabs at the inequalities of the classes by showcasing the Head Boy Grabber as only being placed in such a prestigious position because his parents shell out lots of money. (The Headmaster is greedy and generally does all he can to cut corners most notably with the selection of food offered to the students.) If you can get used to the bad spelling, grammatical errors, made-up slang, and seemingly arbitrary abbreviations for everything you will see why this has held up as a true children's classic. It's witty, cutting in its bluntness, and in general everything I hoped it would be. 10/10

 

Source: Amazon.co.uk

 

I wanted to give a little taste for the delights that await you.

 

What's Up Next: Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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