Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ask the Passengers Review

Ask the Passengers

Book talk:  Have you ever felt trapped by love?  Because you worried that it wasn't reciprocated or appreciated or because you couldn't control it.  Astrid used to, until she started giving it all away.  It all started with airplanes.  She would send her love to every passing airplane: an outpouring without expecting anything back.  Then she started doing it all the time, with every person she met.  She thought that if she gave all her love away, no one person could control it and she would be free.  But when she falls in love with a cute girl from work, her relationships with everyone in her life will be tested.

Rocks my socks:  This novel tackles a lot of complex issues.  It naturally deals with identity and acceptance as Astrid struggles with what falling in love with Dee means and as she deals with the repercussions of sharing her feelings with her friends, family, and the larger community.  It also talks a lot about consent as Dee pressures Astrid to take the relationship faster than she wants.  I haven't read many YA novels that talk this explicitly about consent and the fact that not saying "no" isn't the same as saying "yes."  I think it's an important topic to talk about, so I'm glad King dives in. I also love that Astrid looks to an imaginary Socrates for advice.  The class project they have where they have to create their own paradox to argue and dress up like a Greek philosopher for the day sounds amazing!  Her parents certainly aren't role models but their faults are portrayed in a complex and realistic fashion. There's a lot of ambiguity with all of the characters as they make good and bad decisions.

Rocks in my socks:  I love the concept of Astrid sending her love up to the passengers on passing planes, but I wish King hadn't included the vignettes with the passenger stories. They are so short and they bring up a lot of meaty issues that really deserve more context.  Additionally, I don't like the supernatural element added by the passengers physically feeling this mysterious burst of love from Astrid.

Every book its reader:  
I'd give this to students 8th grade and up looking for a character-driven school story.


A.S. King has a website

Source: school library

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King: buy it or check it out today!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Go! A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

Book talk:  They say not to judge a book by its cover, but admit it: you've picked up a book just because its cover looked cool.  We all have.  People put a lot of work into making a book's cover tempt readers to pick it up.  Those people are called graphic designers.  Have you ever wondered how those people decide what to put on a cover?  Would you like to learn some of their tricks to capture people's attention?  Then this is the book for you!

Rocks my socks:  This book takes the basic concepts of graphic design and breaks them down into easy to understand and clearly illustrated chunks.  Kidd plays with design in a really fun way from the typography to the copyright info to the unique binding (although from a library processing perspective the binding was a tad annoying.)  The book is so playful throughout that it's fun to read or flip through.  Kidd's expertise and the clear way he has of explaining concepts make it incredibly informative as well.

Rocks in my socks:  I wish more of the example book covers were for titles that were aimed at the same age range the book is.  I'm always looking for ways to sneak book recommendations into everything though.

Every book its reader:  The publisher lists the book as being for ages 10 and up but I used a lot of the information in the book during a unit with my 3rd graders and they were able to understand it.  It would be a great introduction to the topic for adults too.  I certainly enjoyed it and learned a lot!


Chip Kidd has his own site with a blog and gallery of his own work.

There is also a tumblr just for the book with lots of great examples of projects submitted by design students

Kidd is teaching a class on book cover design at skillshare (there is a small fee to access it)

The book even has its very own book trailer:

Source: school library

Go! A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd: buy it or check it out today!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Twelve-Fingered Boy Review

The Twelve-Fingered Boy (Incarcerado, #1)

Book talk:  If you understand the basics of supply and demand, you can make a good life for yourself anywhere.  Even in juvenile detention.  In prison, supplies of everything are limited and demand is high.  But there's one thing in particular the inmates crave: candy.  Some like it sweet, some like it hard, and some like it sour but everyone likes something.  Shreve has the candy market cornered and is set to serve the rest of his sentence in comfort--until he gets a new cellmate.  Right away, Shreve can tell there's something off about Jack.  Then he finds out that he has twelve fingers and twelve toes.  That's only the tip of the iceberg.  Soon Shreve and Jack are on the run and caught in a plot straight from an X-Men comic.  The people chasing them want much more than to just throw them back in prison.  But how can they hide from someone who can invade people's minds?

Rocks my socks:  Shreve is an engaging narrator and the plot is absolutely relentless.  Shreve's voice adds humor to the story even in its darker corners. It is easy to sympathize with the main characters and their histories are heart-breaking. The villains are delightfully sinister and the heroes brave and resourceful.  The story isn't entirely black and white though.  Shreve is placed in tough situations that make him resort to some of the same tricks as their enemies.  Jack occasionally loses control and does some horrible things.  The plot keeps twisting leaving the motives of even the villains in question.  In addition to these acts of mutant violence the story sheds light on some harsh realities of non-supernatural violence and neglect that children face.  Overall Jacobs does a great job balancing a fast-paced plot with thought-provoking elements.

Rocks in my socks:  none

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to anyone looking for a fast-paced science fiction story and especially fans of the X-Men.  It has some very dark elements though so I'd save it for at least eighth grade and up.


The author has a site with a blog and more information on his books.

There's an atmospheric trailer for the book on YouTube:

Source: school library

The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs: buy it or check it out today!