Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Angelic Layer Review

Angelic Layer: Omnibus Edition, Vol. 1

Book talk:  Misaki has just moved to Tokyo, but she's already involved in the craze that's sweeping the city: Angelic Layer.  Advanced robots born from eggs, these are far more than toys to those in the know.  A headset transmits its controller's will to the robot, which determines how it fights in the ring.  Misaki is new, but with the help of a mysterious scientist and her natural battle instincts she takes the world of Angelic Layer by storm.  But who is her strange benefactor, and how long will her natural talent and luck last?  In the layer, anything is possible.

Rocks my socks:  There's so many things to love about this series!  The premise itself is engaging and as someone who always has a soft spot for robot characters (I'm looking at you Data!) I appreciate the way Misaki cares for her robot and is concerned for her well-being.  Both Misaki and her robot, Hikaru, are great fighters and there's a wonderfully strong female presence throughout.  The male characters are great too and the romance between Misaki and her friend is sweet, although I appreciate that it's just a sub-plot to the main action.  Icchan the scientist had me cracking up with the way he constantly strived to make weird entrances and his intense orders to his assistant.  The creators clearly had a lot of fun with him and even throw in jokes about how much time it takes for him to come up with such elaborate and increasingly ridiculous entrances.  While Misaki and Hikaru both kick some serious butt they also are realistically portrayed as having doubts and weaknesses.  The importance of teamwork is emphasized despite the seemingly individual nature of the game.  Plus, who doesn't love robot fight scenes with elaborate costumes?

Rocks in my socks:  nothing

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of science fiction and battle tournaments 5th grade and up.


Head over to IMDB to watch a trailer for the anime version that works just as well for the comics:

Source: school library

Angelic Layer Omnibus volume 1 by CLAMP: buy it or check it out today!

All Hallow's Read free spooky poem books

Last year I was inspired by Sarah Richardson's free foldable book of "The Raven" to make some books of spooky poems for my students.  My students enjoyed folding the sheets to make their own zines, and they were a great Halloween giveaway for the library.  If anyone else wants to make these to give away, I've included the images and pdfs of the mini books below (the pdfs are slightly better quality for printing.)  Please print them out and share them with anyone you would like. I love any excuse to spread poetry around!

The first one is "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes

The second one is a collection of three short poems: "Hist Whist" by E. E. Cummings, "The Fairies" by William Allingham, and the traditional ballad "Old William's Ghost"  

You can find instructions on how to fold the books here

For more information on All Hallow's Read, visit their website or watch the video below:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig Review

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage

Book talk:  Flora is a pig, but she tries not to act like one.  While her siblings are all happy to stay safe in their pen, Flora dreams of adventure.  One day she sneaks out and sees the dogs training to pull a sled in the South Pole.  They look so noble as they race by, working together to pull their load.  From that day on Flora is determined to join them.  She runs as fast as she can and builds up her strength. When the farmer goes to pick a pig to send away with them, Flora is quick to volunteer and leave the pen and her family behind. Everyone thinks that the idea of a sled pig is ridiculous, but Flora knows that soon she will get her chance to prove just how strong and brave she is.

Rocks my socks:  I fell in love with this book on the first page and it only grew in my esteem from there.  It reminds me of Charlotte's Web and A Tale of Despereaux and I easily see it joining their ranks as a children's classic.  Flora is wonderfully plucky and I love the way she is ready and eager to face danger.  Perhaps even more admirable than her at times foolhardy courage is the way that she is so open and friendly to everyone, even if they give her reason not to be.  The dramatic irony was almost too much to bear at times as Flora continued on blissfully unaware of the fact that she was brought on the voyage not to pull but to be eaten.  When she finally finds out, Kurtz allows her to be sad and doubt herself for a while, which makes it all the more moving when her friends rally around her and she regains her faith in herself.  This isn't the story of one brave soul succeeding despite the odds, it's a story about the value of working together and inspiring others to hang in even when times get though.  Flora isn't the only one who has troubles, and she gets to use her own story as inspiration for others.  On top of all of that, the illustrations are delightful.

Rocks in my socks: zip

Every book its reader:  This book would make an excellent read-aloud to a class.  The language is simple, the animals are appealing, and there is a lot of heart and wisdom in the book.  Children will easily be able to relate to the way everyone underestimates Flora because of her size and will root for her and be eager to hear what happens next.  The reading level puts it at around third grade, but it could be read aloud to a first grade class.


Chris Kurtz has a site with more information about him and his books.

Bonus Quotes:

"How unlucky she was--born with adventurous hooves that were stuck inside a pen.  But she wasn't giving up.  If there was a way out, Flora said to herself, she would find it."

"This was a cruel world she had been born into, all pink and squirming.  She'd never wanted to see reality.  Now, like the cold, it was impossible to ignore."

"You'll never make it out there.  You weren't made for South Pole adventures."
Flora gave her an icy look.  "I think I know by now what I was made for."

"I used to be a fool...A stubborn fool.  I didn't know enough to stand by my friends.  Now I'm just stubborn."

"Cats may have nine lives, but pigs . . . don't . . . give . . . up."

"I think we're all aiming to be something better than what everyone thinks we were born to be, and that makes us even more of a team.  We have to stick together."

school library

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz: buy it or check it out today!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seraphina Review

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

Book talk:  What would you do if you had a secret that could endanger your life?  Would you live alone, far away from anyone who could possibly discover it?  Or is there something that could tempt you out of hiding, and into danger?  For Seraphina, that temptation is music.  It leads her to take a job at court, where she'll be under closer scrutiny than ever before.  Everyone is tense as the forty year anniversary of the peace treaty with the dragons draws near.  Seraphina tries to stay beneath the radar, but quickly finds herself embroiled in a plot to sabotage the peace and start another, bloody war.

Rocks my socks:  I cannot say enough about how much I loved this book!  The characters were complex and endearing, the plot mysterious and compelling, and the world building fantastically detailed.  My heart broke for Seraphina as she lived with her secret and the guilt of having to hide it.  The themes of prejudice around the dragons and humans learning to live side by side moved me.  The many references to music and how it affected each character were fascinating (even to someone like me whose knowledge of musical notation is basically that a doe is a female deer and so on.)  The political intrigue was exciting and the way they tried to solve their problems through diplomacy reminded me of Star Trek in the best possible way.  The dragons reinforced this comparison as they reminded me of the vulcans with their insistence on reason and distaste for emotion.  They had great lines like "I bear you an appropriate interest, within accepted emotive parameters."  I absolutely loved being lost in this world and I can't wait until I can go back to it with the sequel!

Rocks in my socks:  none

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of traditional fantasy, and fans of dragons in particular.  Lovers of math, music, and outsider stories will find plenty to love.  I'd say it's fine for 6th grade and up.


Rachel Hartman has a site with information about herself and her books, as well as a page with more details about the Saints from the novels

Random House has a site for the book with reviews, excerpts, and more information

There's a great, live-action trailer for the book:

Bonus Quotes:

"That's the secret to performance:  conviction.  The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you.  If one believes there is truth in art--and I do--then it's troubling how similar the skill of performing is to lying.  Maybe lying is itself a kind of art.  I think about that more than I should."

"Someone should love you.  I will bite him if he will not."

"Ah, I could last a long time on those smiles.  I would sow and reap them like wheat."

"Once I had feared that telling the truth would be like falling, that love would be like hitting the ground, but here I was, my feet firmly planted, standing on my own."

"We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful."

“And I realized a wondrous truth: that knowledge could be our treasure, that there were things humankind knew that we did not, that our conquest need not comprise taking and killing, but could consist of our mutual conquest of ignorance and distrust.”

Source: ebook from public library

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: buy it or check it out today!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Diviners Review

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

Book talk:  'That awful O'Neill girl' is at it again.  Evie's got herself caught up in another scandal and she refuses to apologize.  So her parents have shipped her off to spend the summer with her uncle, who runs a museum of the supernatural in New York.  Evie doesn't mind one bit.  She is too much for her small Ohio town and eager to try life in the big city.  She finds all of the temptations she was looking forward to: speakeasies and hard dancing, short bobs and shorter skirts, sloe gin and fast jazz.  But she also finds dangers that she never expected.  A serial murderer with ties to the occult is terrorizing the city.  With her uncle's expertise and her secret talents they begin to track the killer down, but their efforts draw his attention and soon they become his next targets.

Rocks my socks:  This novel has all the excitement of a jazz-age adventure with the added thrill of murder investigation.  The vast cast of characters represents people from various walks of life to capture some of the complexity of the era: a socialite, a socialist, a Harlem numbers runner, and a Ziegfeld girl to name a few.  Reading the dialogue is like watching a fencing match as the characters swap witticisms and take jabs at each other.  I read it in my head in the fast, clipped accents of His Girl Friday.  The characters are well-drawn and engaging and I was easily swept away by their stories.  All the historical details were fascinating and I pos-i-tute-ly loved all the lingo used throughout.

Rocks in my socks:  The narrative felt overly ambitious.  There were a lot of characters and plot threads to follow.  Sprinkled among the chapters from all the varying characters' perspectives were chapters talking about the country and the decade in sweeping descriptions that felt a bit pretentious.  The supernatural aspects were my least favorite parts and there were so many supernatural threads on top of all the other plots: there's the occult killer and the special powers of certain characters emerging like a 1920's Heroes, not to mention Ouija boards and the whole museum of artifacts.  By the time Jericho's mysterious past was revealed I had had enough.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of mystery, supernatural, and historical fiction looking for a sweeping tale to take them away.  The length and the copious use of period slang may turn some off, but those willing to dive in and immerse themselves in an era and a story will be well rewarded.  The murders have some pretty gruesome details so I'd save it for at least 8th grade and up.


There's a whole site devoted to the book with character bios, Diviners Radio, and more

Libba Bray has her own site with the usual fare as well as a media section 

There's great, chilling trailer for the book with a creepy song that will unfortunately probably be running through my head as I try to sleep tonight:

Source: ebook from public library

The Diviners by Libba Bray: buy it or check it out today!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Eleanor & Park Review

Eleanor & Park

Book talk:  Have you ever heard a song that changed your life?  Did you ever listen to something on repeat until the batteries gave out?  There's a world of music Eleanor always wanted to listen to.  She'd write down the lyrics on her notebook and dream of owning her own music player.  But she never heard them, until she met Park.  Now she can't get enough of him or his music.  But Park looks like a protagonist from a story; everything seems to go right for him.   While Eleanor looks like she'll never fit in and knows just how hard life can be.  She knows it would never work out between them.  But she might just be crazy enough to try.

Rocks my socks:  I absolutely adored this novel and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing it (despite the fact that I had to wake up early for a road trip.)  Eleanor and Park are both such endearing characters.  I couldn't ask for more delightfully quirky protagonists.  The author had a unique style as well and instead of the usual endless and cliche comparisons of eyes to oceans or galaxies she chose to describe Park's eyes as "so green they could turn carbon dioxide into oxygen."  I love it!  Instead of the same, worn-out references to Han and Leia she lets Eleanor boldly claim that she's Han Solo and Park decides "I'll be Boba Fett. I'll cross the sky for you."  *Swoon!*  On top of all that, Eleanor is not classically beautiful and does not have to undergo a make-over to become so before she can win Park.  He appreciates her for the unique person she is thinking "She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."  Then there's all the wonderful references to music and mix tapes.  Tapes were a bit before my time, but I clearly remember the thrill of getting a mixed CD from a boy and playing it on repeat.  Rowell captures this perfectly.  The whole novel captures the feelings of a passionate first love and bottles them up so that those who are too young to have experienced it can, and those for whom it is a distant memory can re-live the experience.  On top of all of that there is a lot of substance to the story ranging from themes of prejudice to abusive families.  Rowell deals with these topics deftly and provides the reader with hope without resorting to unrealistic miracles.

Rocks in my socks:  I wish Rowell had ended the story at the end of the school year.  Instead the last few chapters are a kind of epilogue that give a brief sketch of the following year.  These detracted from the story and I would have much preferred it if I had been left alone to decide what happens to Eleanor and Park for myself and debate it with other readers.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to anyone looking for a good misfit story or an atypical romance set in a high school.  Audiophiles, particularly those who enjoy 80's punk will enjoy the music references throughout.  The novel deals with some dark issues around Eleanor's family, so I'd save it for at least 7th grade and up.


Rainbow Rowell has a great site with a blog, information about her and her books, and upcoming events.  Don't miss out the post with her playlists for Eleanor and Park.  It includes embedded videos with the songs and Rowell's commentary on why each song is there.

Macmillan has a page for the book complete with a discussion guide.

The book has not one, but three official trailers!  They're all short so you can easily watch them all:

Source: school library

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: buy it or check it out today!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Mostly True Story of Jack Review

The Mostly True Story of Jack

Book talk:  People are always forgetting about Jack.  He has no friends, no enemies, even his family usually looks past him.  So he's not surprised to find out that his mother forgot to call ahead when she drops him off at his aunt and uncle's to spend the summer.  They make room for him, but he can tell he's not wanted.  But there's something strange about this town.  Not only do the people here notice him, but the pets and even his aunt and uncle's house seem to be watching him.  He's excited to make his first friends, but not as thrilled to meet his first bully.  He soon discovers that he has bigger problems though.  Someone dangerous is coming back, and the town has a history of children disappearing.

Rocks my socks:  I enjoyed the fairy tale atmosphere of the story and all the magical elements woven into it.  The way the magic worked so that the town forgot entirely about those who went missing was heartbreaking.  I loved Wendy and how feisty she is and fiercely protective of her brother.  Her brother was an interesting character, you don't read about many elective mutes in children's literature.  The pacing of the novel is fast and a delicious sense of mystery permeates everything.

Rocks in my socks:  There's a lot of troubling implications in the narrative.  Jack's parents divorce just before the story starts and Jack fears that they will forget all about him, a common enough fear for a child going through that.  Except in this story that literally happens.  By the end his family has entirely forgotten that he ever existed.  To make matters worse, it turns out that he was adopted into the family and the portrayal of adoption in the story is absolutely awful.  His adoptive parents don't seem to care about him at all, he never fits in, and eventually Jack sacrifices himself to save the town and goes back to his abusive birth mother, who has been terrorizing the town and stealing children's souls for decades.  Despite this his uncle acts like it's a good thing because 'his true mother is restored to him.'  People often use this language around adoption asking adopted children who their 'true' or 'real' mother is as if the mother who has raised them all of their lives is false.  It's possible that I'm reading too much into this, but it just didn't sit right with me.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of fantasy and fairy tales 4th grade and up.

Source: ebook from public library

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill: buy it or check it out today!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brief Reviews: Summer 2013 Part 2

Fearless (Reckless, #2) (If you haven't read the first book in this series, read my review of Reckless) This book picks up where the last left off with Jacob dying from the fairy curse he received when saving his brother in the last book.  Naturally he won't just take this curse laying down, so he sets off to find the treasure that will be able to reverse it.  I enjoyed this book as much as the first if not more.  There's more of the vixen in this novel, and she is my favorite character.  I found the new characters introduced intriguing, especially the goyl rival.  More classic fairy tales are explored with a particularly terrifying version of Blue Beard.  I was surprised when discussing the novel with my friends that several of them hadn't even heard of this fairy tale before.  Admittedly it's not one I'd read a child before bed, but it's a classic Perrault story.  I continue to be impressed by Funke's storytelling and I eagerly await the next novel. Fearless by Cornelia Funke: buy it or check it out today!

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)  This novel grabbed me by the shoulders, threw me into its world, and held me there until I emerged shaken but thrilled at the end.  The world-building is some of the finest I have ever seen and I became lost in its history and politics.  The characters are a group of gentlemen thieves reminiscent of Robin Hood and his merry men, except that they settle for stealing from the rich without going on to give to the poor.  But in a world where the rich have a pact with criminals so that they normally only prey upon the lower classes, this act is in itself revolutionary.  The main attraction is Locke, a talented and intelligent thief who leads a small pack called The Gentlemen Bastards.  For their work in confidence tricks they have to be able to take on personas from all ends of the social spectrum and watching them as they make these transformations and following their intricate plans was fascinating.  Soon they became embroiled in so many different schemes that trying to follow all the plot threads was dizzying but exhilarating as I wondered how they could possibly get themselves out of the intricate web they were in.  Locke has a quick wit that never failed to amuse me.  While he can seem glib at times, he naturally has a heart of gold.   Each turn the tale takes leads Locke into darker and darker situations and soon what started as an amusing tale of confidence tricks turned into a heartbreaking and relentless thriller.  I couldn't put it down for long (I actually stole it from my friends in Scotland because I started it just before I left) and rushed out to buy the second as soon as I finished.  The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: buy it or check it out today!

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)  I listened to this audiobook during my trip to Barcelona this summer.  It was a lot of fun to hear places mentioned that I had just visited and really helped me immerse myself in the city, even when I was taking a break back at the hotel waiting for the restaurants to open for dinner (which wasn't until around 8:30!)  The plot is wonderfully crafted and the writing is absolutely gorgeous.  For obvious reasons I found the idea of a cemetery of forgotten books particularly appealing and I loved to see how much a book touched the characters' lives.  I enjoyed learning about Barcelona's history and culture as well and it allowed me to linger there a bit longer in my mind as I finished listening to the story after my trip was over.  The narrator for the audiobook was fantastic, and his voice for Fermin made his character instantly recognizable.  It was a great book and I read it at just the right time.  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: buy it or check it out today!

Stargazing DogThis is the most depressing comic I have ever read, and I recently reviewed one about the Lebanese Civil War.  At least that comic had some hope and humor in it.  This one is relentlessly depressing from the first page, which begins with police finding the corpse of a man and a dog in an abandoned car.  Don't be fooled by the adorable dog in a field of sunflowers on the cover.  When the back cover says that this man and his dog stay together until the end, what they mean is until they both die early and pointless deaths after being completely rejected by society.  The name of the dog that watches maggots eat his former master until he himself is beaten to death? Happy.  I kid you not.  After they die a social worker is assigned to their case to try and find their family for a proper burial.  He is inspired to go to great lengths because he's depressed from his dog dying (another sad story they don't miss the chance to describe.)  Still, he cannot find them and they are ultimately buried in an unmarked grave without their family knowing their fate.  The end! Seriously.  This was on a list of good comics for kids and received great reviews (the starred Publishers Weekly one on the back says that it is not "too sweet or sappy" in the understatement of the year.) But I would never recommend this to a child, or a teen, or adult for that matter.  It's apparently a best-seller in Japan and is being made into a film, but something has clearly been lost in translation.  The only people I'd recommend it to are those with an interest in modern Japanese culture who may find it interesting to try and discern why this story is described as 'inspiring.' Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami: buy it or check it out today!

The Far West (Frontier Magic, #3) (This is the conclusion of a trilogy.  If you haven't read the others, check out my review of book one and book two)  I'm sad that this series is over because I've enjoyed reading about the combination of frontier spirit and magic that it embodies.  All good things must end though, and this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  Eff was able to come into her own and mature. I'm confident that she has a great future ahead of her, even if I won't get to read about it.  This volume revealed more about the other types of magic and the connections among them, which I found interesting.  It's not particularly fast-paced but I cared so much about the characters that I kept quickly turning the pages anyway.  It was a great comfort to me when I was stuck sick in my room during my trip to Monterey.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Wrede will write next!  The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede: buy it or check it out today!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Game for Swallows review

A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return

Book talk:  Zeina was born into a civil war, and it is still raging on.  Beirut is divided into the Christian East and the Muslim West, and Zeina lives in an apartment overlooking the demarcation line between them.  She is used to the sounds of shelling and the constant blackouts. This day is different though.  Her parents have gone out to visit her grandmother, and they haven't returned.  It's not far, and it should be an easy trip, but even the simplest trip can turn deadly when snipers  who fire at any civilians they see are stationed on the roofs of the buildings.  Her neighbors have gathered around to wait with her for her parents to return, and in the midst of tragedy they chat and laugh and live their lives.

Rocks my socks:  This comic isn't really about the war or the soldiers or the history behind it.  It's about regular people trying to live normal lives in extraordinary circumstances.  So many stories about war involve broad, sweeping narratives and flashy heroic deeds.  This is just about a small group of people spending an evening together.  But the war is inescapable.  It permeates every aspect of their lives in incredible ways.  At one point someone takes out their wedding photos and describes how everyone had to run to the church amid sniper fire.  I can't even begin to imagine what that must be like. Despite all this, they still do what they can to take care of each other and try to make each other laugh.  My favorite character, Ernest, has Cyrano de Bergerac (my favorite play!) memorized and performs bits of it for the children.  The panels for when Cyrano lists off different insults about his nose are beautifully designed and hilariously depict the different metaphors Cyrano employs.  The artwork is gorgeous throughout.  It's simple black and white drawings, but wonderfully creative and expressive.  The background of the panels is mostly pure black and whether it's to convey the blackout or the general atmosphere, it gives the comic a unique style.  It's easy to read about a war and its battles and soldiers and forget about the everyday people and the children who are constantly in fear, committing small acts of bravery all the time just by living.  I'm glad that Abirached shared their story and hers with us.

Rocks in my socks: none

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of Persepolis.  I think that everyone could benefit from reading about what it's like to live in a war zone, and this comic is so wonderfully done that it's an enjoyable and touching read for anyone.  While it doesn't graphically depict much violence, there is a lot mentioned.  I'd save it for 6th grade and up.


Lerner and Scholastic have pages for the book

This video and article about how Beirut is recovering from the civil war is a nice, hopeful counterpart to the book:

Source: school library

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached: buy it or check it out today!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hikaru No Go Review

Hikaru no Go: Descent of the Go Master, Vol. 1 (Hikaru no Go, #1)Hikaru no Go: First Battle, Vol. 2 (Hikaru no Go, #2)Hikaru no Go: Preliminary Scrimmage, Vol. 3 (Hikaru no Go, #3)Hikaru no Go: Divine Illusions, Vol. 4 (Hikaru no Go, #4)Hikaru no Go: Start, Vol. 5 (Hikaru no Go, #5)

Book talk:  Hikaru was just a normal kid, until he discovered a haunted go board.  Now he is possessed by the spirit of an ancient go master named Sai.  Hikaru tries to go on with his life like normal, but Sai won't let him.  So Hikaru seeks out go matches to calm the angry spirit.  At first, he had to be forced to play, but now he's starting to enjoy it.  Hikaru vows that some day he'll be strong enough to play against his rival by himself, but in the mean time he has to keep living his life as if he is a normal kid.  If anyone ever found out about Sai he'd be called a liar or freak or worse.

Rocks my socks:  I'm not a big chess player.  I don't like games that are all strategy or all luck.  I prefer games that balance the two evenly.  So, I didn't think I'd be that drawn into this story.  I'm happy to report that I was completely wrong.  The characters are interesting and the game is explained slowly instead of getting bogged down with exposition.  By the time the little lessons in how the game is played arrived I was eager to better understand what I had been reading about.  The games themselves are illustrated like epic battle scenes and the relationships between the characters are compelling.  I enjoyed reading about Hikaru as he grew as both a go player and a person.  He learns lessons in empathy and struggles with the morals of allowing Sai to play and learns how to take pride in the progress he makes even if it's no where near the level he can be at if he just allows Sai to take over.  What starts off as an annoying hanger-on girl character begins to evolve as she starts her own girl's go club and learns along with Hikaru.  Even the rival character is portrayed sympathetically as the reader discovers the kind of pressure he's under.  I gobbled up the five volumes I had quickly and am eager to read more.

Rocks in my socks: nothing

Every book its reader:  The battle scenes are all over a go board and the romance is minimal, so it's fine for anyone old enough to have an interest in the comic.  I'd say that's probably third grade and up, but if a younger kid wanted to try it I wouldn't stop her.  Fans of Pokemon, chess, and of course go will enjoy this tale of a kid training for tournament battles.


Viz media has a page with information on the comic and the animated series

Sensei's library has a page with lots of extras and information about the series

You can watch the entire animated series online for free on Hulu

Here's a brief introduction to how to play the game for those that are curious:

Source: school library

Hikaru No Go vol. 1- 5 Story by Yumi Hotta Art by Takeshi Obata Supervised by Ukari Umezawa [5 Dan]: buy it or check it out today!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Broxo Review


Book talk:  Princess Zora risked it all to prove herself and help save her kingdom by finding the reclusive Peryton clan.  But it was all for nothing.  There is nothing left of the clan but a boy named Broxo who doesn't have any memory of the past.  In the clan's place is a horde of walking dead.  As Zora and Broxo fight for their lives they try to get to the center of the mystery of what happened to the Peryton clan, but it looks like Zora might have to go back empty-handed, if she survives to go back at all.

Rocks my socks:  I like the atypical relationship between Broxo and Zora as they fight side by side and save each other's lives.  Both are skilled warriors and spar with each other verbally and physically, but slowly grow to understand each other despite their differences.  I enjoyed the witch character as well and the fact that she was such a morally complex character instead of a simple villain.  Even the zombies were acting beyond their control and were eventually revealed to be more than just mindless killers.  Of course I also loved Migo, the giant wolf-like character that watches over Zora and Broxo.  The comic has excellent fight sequences and a lot of action, but in the end it goes beyond that to a moral about acceptance and living in the present.  Peppered throughout all of that is a great sense of humor that leads to a well-rounded and engaging tale illustrated with beautifully detailed artwork.

Rocks in my socks:  Without giving too much away, I was a bit disappointed in how the witch's storyline concluded.  Her costume bothered me as well.  She wears what is essentially a fuzzy strapless bra and nothing else on her torso--even in the middle of a storm.  Besides being uncomfortable it's highly impractical for wearing in an area so full of dangerous creatures.  Even when she knowingly heads into a battle she doesn't bother to put anything resembling armor on or change her outfit in any way.  Who is she dressing up for anyway?  She's alone on the mountain except for Broxo and a bunch of zombies.

Every book its reader:  The book is action-packed and full of zombie fights, so it's naturally a bit gory.  I'd save it for 5th grade and up.  Fans of action-adventure comics and zombie battles will be sure to enjoy this tale.


Zack Giallongo has a deviant art page

Macmillain has a page for the book where you can read an excerpt

You can find interviews with Zack Giallongo here and here

There's also a video interview of him at SDCC:

Source: school library

Broxo by Zack Giallongo: buy it or check it out today!