29 September 2011

The Memory Bank by Carolyn Coman, illustrated by Rob Shepperson

So this is what dreams are made of . . . or rather, this is where dreams are stored, alongside all the memories that are created through experience, knowledge, and love.

Hope loves her sister Honey very much.  But when Hope's parents literally leave Honey behind, they tell Hope to forget her sister.  Hope is devastated, and finds it hard to obey her parents.  She revels in seeing Honey through her dreams, so she starts to sleep as much as possible.  When she is approached (and sort of kidnapped) by the World Wide Memory Bank because of her deficiency in submitting memories, she discovers a whole new world where she doesn't have to forget, and maybe where she can find her sister again!

All at once tragic and wondrous, Hope's story is one of, well, hope.  Recommended to older elementary and younger middle school readers.  I loved this story as much for the visual storytelling as for the emotional punches.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

27 September 2011

Yummy : The last days of a southside shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke

Yummy is thirteen and already drawn into the gang lifestyle of Chicago.  He was raised by a no-nonsense grandmother, but he was always getting kicked out or running off, and he found solace and a sense of something bigger and better with the Black Disciples.  In an attempt to make a name for himself, he busted in on a group of rivals with a gun in his hand, but his inexperience led to an innocent classmate's death.  And it put Yummy on the run.  The Black Disciples protected him until it became too much -- to much attention, pressure, and simple annoyance.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.
"Sometimes stories get to you; this one left my stomach in knots.  After three days of reporting, I still couldn't decide which was more appalling: the child's life or the child's death." --John D. Hull, TIME magazine, September 1994.
This story is based on the real Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, born in 1983, raised and killed in the Roseland area of Chicago.

Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty from Greg Neri on Vimeo.

16 September 2011

CHEW: Volume 1: Taster's Choice by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory

This graphic novel is certainly out of the ordinary.  Tony Chu is one of the few cibopaths of the world -- he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats -- and his work as a detective often gets him into sticky, not-so-tasty situations.  When he's employed by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, his world only gets more and more complicated, and dangerous.  If you can't trust your brother, but want to save his life, or your partner, who ends up saving yours, what's a guy to do?  If you're Tony, you take a bite out of a vacuum-packed dead dog and try to solve the case!

There's much more to follow this first volume of CHEW, and likely each situation is going to be more disgusting than the next.  Recommended to comic book readers with a taste (-ahem-) for the unusual.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

13 September 2011

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

I was entranced by this novel, but think that there is no better introduction to reading it than through the words of the author herself:

Wildthorn was inspired by a true story I came across in a book called Against Therapy by Jeffrey Masson. I learned that Hersilie Rouy, a nineteenth century French woman, was incarcerated in asylums for fifteen years despite the fact that she was sane. She was deprived of her true identity and the more she protested about this and about her treatment, the more this was taken as evidence of her insanity.

How terrible, I thought. And then, What must it have been like for her?

The injustice of what happened to Hersilie appealed to something deep in me and directly inspired my depiction of Louisa.

The asylum is a dark place and what Louisa experiences there is frightening. But despite the secret that threatens to undermine her confidence, she has courage. I hope you enjoy accompanying her on her journey as she struggles to face up to the truth about herself and at the same time tries to unravel the mystery that lies behind her imprisonment.

Find this and more on the author's website: www.janeeagland.co.uk

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, illustrated by Janet Lee

Wowza.  If the first couple of scenes of Return of the Dapper Men alone don't blow your mind, then you need to return immediately to your childhood and dig around to see if you can find where you lost your imagination, your thrill-seeking sense of adventure, and your appreciation for all things fun and glorious and entertaining . . . for this artistic masterpiece surely incorporates all of those things.  Anorev is a land full of children and machines, until one day 314 dapper men come floating down from the sky and they bring with them something mysterious and a little bit terrifying: Time.  And with time comes growth and discover, and it also brings choice and desire, none of which the children of Anorev have remembered in the timeless years gone by.  The story is thought-provoking and the artwork is simply breathtaking.

Recommended to all ages (physically and otherwise).  "To anyone who ever fell down a rabbit hole, walked to the sidewalk's end, danced a wild rumpus, or followed the second star to the right, may you find adventure, wonder, and a little something from which dreams are made in these pages."

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

07 September 2011

The Cowgirl Way : Hats Off to America's Women of the West by Holly George-Warren

I'm starting to go through the huge lists that we need to whittle down in order to come up with nominations for the Garden State Teen Book Award.  Starting in January, librarians throughout NJ will begin deliberations for the 2013 ballot!  Wow.  I can't wait to see what's going to be on it -- and what the winners will be -- but 2013 seems so far away!  In the meantime, voting is up for the 2012 Award, so check out some of those great titles; VOTE HERE!

The Cowgirl Way is a pretty exciting history of famous, inspiring, and incredibly brave women who traveled and settled the Old West, who were Wild West show girls, rodeo stars, movie stars, and even dangerous outlaws and rebels.  Starting with the notoriety of Calamity Jane, through the Annie Oakley movies of the 1950's, and bringing readers right up to present-day Cowgirl Halls of Fame and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, this is an account of true stories, sensationalized tales, and honest struggles of women who have solidified the image of strength, fashion, and fearlessness of the historical and modern cowgirl.

Far from dry, the content and images found on these pages are nothing short of fascinating.  A great read for all ages and interests; this book might even inspire readers to seek out more reading, classic movies, and updated biographies to learn more!

Reviewed by kate the librarian.