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review 2017-08-16 00:00
Project Nemesis (A Kaiju Thriller)
Project Nemesis (A Kaiju Thriller) - Jeremy Robinson,Matt Frank I avoided picking up Project Nemesis for quite a while because my previous experience with the author (Antarktos Rising) was horrible. However, it was late at night and I was facing a monster-sized anxiety attack over the next day, so I decided to read about an actual monster destroying things. It made perfect sense at that time, and indeed, it actually did manage to calm me down. So… yay for stompy, chompy things in books.

Generally when I start a review like this, talking about how I avoided a book, the next paragraph is me talking about how I absolutely loved the book. I’m aware of that trend in my reviews. I’m breaking it here though. Project Nemesis, whilst considerably better than Antarktos Rising, isn’t precisely noteworthy, though there are a couple of things I liked. Namely, that the female character kicked serious butt, and seeing her come in swinging made me grin with delight. Naturally she was curvy, and beautiful, and yadda-yadda-yadda, but still. Girl could throw a serious punch. She was an excellent sidekick that saved the main character’s hide almost constantly. Yes, she’s a cliché character, but she’s a fun cliché character!

The main character himself is action-hero ridiculous. There is only a bit of a receding hairline to keep him from being completely typical. He’s pretty much completely unbelievable. Only the fact that he has to keep getting saved by the sidekick and treats his friends well keeps him from being eye-roll worthy. Still, it’s forgivable because Project Nemesis is essentially a Godzilla film in book form. You expect certain levels of stupidity that you can only forgive in this type of book.

The second thing worth talking about is the monster herself in Project Nemesis. Kaiju has its own subgenre, so Robinson’s monster is nothing new. (Neither are the circumstances surrounding the monster’s creation.) However, I liked his fusion of human and monster, and how the creature’s mental state played out in the chomping and stomping that happened. The development of the creature’s form (and the form itself) was fantastic.

However, Robinson’s writing has a tendency to feel repetitious. This is most often witnessed when he talks about the ‘human looking eyes’ of the monster. It shows itself in several situations in different ways in Project Nemesis. It’s not so bad as to be word for word (for the most part), but sections do lose their impact for it. Also, the viewpoints. Let me just rant on the viewpoints for a second. Switching between first person present tense and third person is just awkward. I don’t like first person present tense anyways, but sandwiching it with third person just makes the continual re-introduction feel like a slap in the face. Do one, not both. Ugh.

Overall, Project Nemesis was an entertaining read that got my attention almost immediately, and kept it for the entire book. It just lacked a sufficient amount of cheesy one-liners and sparkle to put into the “So bad it’s good” category of epicness. A fun read, but an easy one to forget about. I doubt I’ll continue with the series.
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text 2017-02-15 21:36
Last Stop on Market Street
Last Stop on Market Street - Matt de la Peña,Christian Robinson

A good story if a little didactic. Add me to the number of people confused as to why this book won the Newbery. To be fair though I think the Newbery committee is often wrong (see: 2014, Flora and Ulysses). 

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text 2016-12-16 04:24
Last Stop on Market Street
Last Stop on Market Street - Matt de la Peña,Christian Robinson

I remember reading this book but can't remember the story or my impression of it. Must reread at some point.

 

Anyone else find it strange that this book won a Newbery?

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review 2016-11-12 00:08
Last Stop on Market Street - Matt de la Peña,Christian Robinson

This is the story of a young boy traveling to Market Street with his grandmother. He continues to question her about different things they see. This is a great story to teach children about being grateful and seeing beauty where they may be none. After reading this story have students analyze an abstract piece of art or a realistic picture and write about all that they see. Encourage them to think outside the ordinary. This would be a way to integrate art into literature.

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review 2016-10-21 22:16
Review: Peaceful Neighbor
Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers - Michael G. Long

Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers * Michael G. Long

I received an ARC copy of this ebook from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved and appreciated Fred Rogers as a gentle soul, who wanted us to love each other and treat each other with kindness and compassion. Everything I learned only made me appreciate him more--and this book, opening my eyes to his Christianity-based politics, was the icing on the cake.

 

Even as a child, I knew Rogers' inclusion of Francois Clemmons, the African-American police officer as a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood went against the social grain. From this book, I learned Clemmons was the first African-American with a regular role on a children's television series, joining before Northern Calloway (David), Matt Robinson (Gordon), and Loretta Long (Susan) on Sesame Street. I also learned Clemmons' hiring was a deliberate--loving, but deliberate--act, especially the wading pool scenes with him. Those shared soaking scenes were in direct protest to segregated swimming pools, and violent responses to integrated pools.

 

Mister Rogers resisted pressure from certain cast members to be more visibly and aggressively political, because they felt his responsibility was to his children and family audience; his neighborhood needed to be a quiet, safe place of learning, the one place in their lives where protests were not taking place, where no one was shouting, and where no one was making frightening ultimatums. Michael Long's book touched me, as a child of the '70's, in so many ways. This book would make a nice addendum to high school and college courses covering 1960's and 1970's cultural and social history. Highly recommended.

 

interview with Clemmons on NPR StoryCorps

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