Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hyperbole and a Half

Let me just say that Allie Brosh seems like the coolest person alive. All you have to do is read some of her work and you'll know what I'm talking about. I used to get really mad at people who'd be like, "look how many friends I have on my social media thingamajig!" because the word "friend" meant someone you knew really well and trusted. How can you have 200 "friends" you don't even know? But ever since I started reading Allie's blog and her book, even though I've never spoken to her or exchanged emails or anything with her, I feel like I've known her forever. She's always there when I feel good, or mad or (especially) when I need a laugh and I feel like I'm the one that listens to her problems. Yeah, it sounds weird, I know. It's just that she's so...human. She's imperfect. She loves nachos. She gets depressed. She has a dog. It's so easy to relate to her. She's kinda like Roz Chast in a way (see Theories of Everything). Anyway, the book is a bunch of stories from and not from her blog about her life. If you end up reading her work, be sure to read "Menace" and "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving".

Ages: Hmmm...12/13+? She curses a lot.
Awards: A heck of a lot for both book and blog
You'd like this if you liked: Anything by Roz Chast
         
            Click here for her blog:                                        Click here for her book:
         Hyperbole and a Half (Blog)                                 Hyperbole and a Half (Book)    

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hidden


I have to say, this was not one of my favorite books. It was not a matter of plot or illustrations. It was a matter of expectation. Let me explain. How many people out there have read Maus? A lot, I'm sure. (if you haven't, scroll down a couple posts). Maus was, like Hidden, a graphic novel on the Holocaust. It was so fantastic, that I expected Hidden to be as awesome (awesome in the more sophisticated sense of the word: awe-some. Like to be in awe). Don't get me wrong! This book was really good and well-written. The illustrations were cool. And it gives you that sickening feeling that you get when you read a book about people dying, that's like, "God, people are so messed up." But it just wasn't as great as others. I know, I know. I'm the biggest book snob since the New Yorker book reviewers (just kidding). It's just my opinion. If you end up reading this, tell me what you think, please.

Ages: 9+

                                     Interested in this book? Click the link:
                                                        Hidden

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life of Pi


You want to hear a sad fact? About one out of every thirty or so kids like to read in my school. And even the kids that like to read aren't obsessed with it. Which is why, when I'm not in school, I do my best to find those other Nerd Alertish people out there. One of my best outlets is camp. Me and my sister have been going to this awesome farm camp for a while now. Well, during my third year, it was the first day, and I didn't know anybody. Everybody at my table was kinda doing that inaudible, "hiwhat'syourname". I did know some people from the year before, but they didn't seem to remember me. Then this girl with dark brown, shoulder length hair and blue eyes sat down. It was her first year. I remember she was sitting at the head of the table. Later in the day, when we were doing activities in the courtyard, we had to pick a partner. Everybody was doing that asking-with-your-eyes thing and pointing-from-the-person-they-picked-to-themselves-really-quickly thing. Me and the girl were the only ones without a partner, so naturally we became cohorts. I found out her name was Ella. And once we both realized we both liked to read, we couldn't stop talking. We lent each other books, gave recommendations, criticized authors, all that jazz. Reader, you must be thinking, "That's all fine and dandy and I'm glad you found your buddy, but what about the book you're supposed to be reviewing?" I'm GETTING THERE. :) Anyway, me and Ella stayed in touch even after camp was over, and established a book club. When we came to camp the next session, we decided to pick a book. We decided we should read a book we both hadn't read. Then she goes, "How about Life of Pi?". I heard it's even better than the movie." So that was our book. Let me just tell you that I would count this as one of my top favorite books. Out of graphic novels too. It is fantastic. The metaphors are hard to figure out though. It took me over a month to get one of them. In a nutshell, this is the plot:
               Pi Patel lives in a zoo in India. Yes, you heard me right; literally a zoo. He's also extremely religious, as a Muslim, a Hindu, and a Christian. He's the only one in his family that's religious at all, really. Everyone else was much much more..secular? then he was. One day Pi finds out that they are selling the zoo and moving to Canada. Unfortunately, while passing over the Mediterranean Trench, the boat sinks, along with his mother, father, and brother Ravi. (Spoiler, I know, but it's really only a small part of the story). Pi is the only survivor....except for a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengall tiger. The weirdest part about it is that though it's fiction, the writer almost convinces you it isn't. He writes it as if he's at Pi's house, asking him for his story so he can write his book. You'll see. I didn't do the best job of explaining it.....remember, I said in a NUTSHELL. That was NOT the whole book. Anyway. Trust me when I say that it will be added to your top favorite books too.

Awards: Too many to list here.
Ages: 12ish or 13ish+

                                    Interested in this book? Click on the link below:
                                                           Life of Pi
 (Plus, if you want to check out her new awesome blog, click here)

Friday, December 27, 2013

American Born Chinese


The first time I ever heard of this book, it was on the back of the Boxers and Saints covers. (Boxers and Saints are a two-book series by Gene Luen Yang. You'll hear more of that series in future Nerd Alert posts. He also wrote this very book I'm writing about). The second time I heard of American Born Chinese was the reason I decided to read it. My cousin Sophia (who lives in HONG KONG by the way) recommended it for me by email. To tell the truth, it sounded a little slow to me. The whole "monkey king" thing just didn't seem that interesting. But since she was my cousin, and she liked graphic novels too, I decided to read it. That was one of the best decisions of my life. Those of you who don't know, Gene Luen Yang is a genius. I mean, I already knew that from Boxers and Saints, but American Born Chinese confirmed the fact that he is a genius. See, in American Born Chinese, she writes two stories which become metaphors for the other. One is a regular Chinese folk tale; the other is a story of a Chinese boy named Jin in America who is disrespected by his classmates and teachers. But that's not all. The monkey story tangles with his, and new people come and go, and something happens to him. As the story goes on, you understand it more and more. But when you read it the second time, you really get it. It's hard to explain. I would, along with Boxers and Saints, put it on my Top Twenty Graphic Novels List.

Awards: National Book Award finalist and Best Book Award from the Chinese-American Library Association
Ages: 12+
                                                   Interested in this book? Click here:
                                                              American Born Chinese

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Giver


Okay, The Giver isn't exactly a book you can write about. There are some books that are yours, that telling people about them seems like betrayal. The Giver is one of those. This is one book that you will not be able to stop reading or stop thinking about for days. Months. Years. But not about metaphors and other fancy reading terms. This book is for people who like to ask questions, but don't want to know the answers. I can't really explain what that means. I can't explain the plot of this book without giving too much away, either. But what I will say is that it's about a boy named Jonas who lives in a place called The Community. He has a sister, Lily, a best friend, Asher, and a set of parents. The ceremony of twelve is coming. (I'm trying to sound ominous here). Choices will be made. A heavy book, but a clever one.

Awards: Gold Newberry Medal
Ages: 12+
 
                                              Interested in this book? Click on the link below:
                                                                  The Giver

Aphrodite


I'm a nerd. I wholeheartedly admit it, and have many times, and will admit it many more times. However, though my readers know how nerdy I am, what I am about to type on this post crosses the extreme nerdiness line. Brace yourselves. Here it is: when this book arrived at my house yesterday, I literally jumped up and down and shrieked like a baby for an hour, I was so excited. Ask my parents. At dinner, instead of the routine, "Yeah, my day was fine," there was me saying, "I just can't believe it. This is crazy. This is awesome. No, awesomely crazy," until I actually sat down and read the stinking book as my sister kept suggesting as frequently as my "I just can't believe it." But if you've read this book, or any George O'Connor book at all, you'd understand my disbelief. The illustrations, the way he tells the story...this is the way modern-day greek myths should be portrayed.
              Anyway, back to the actual book. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, is underestimated in all the other books. In a disguised, polite way they're describing Aphrodite as being insignificant. Not so in this graphic novel. In this book, Aphrodite is one of the most powerful goddesses on Olympus, not some silly, gorgeous, airhead girl (don't get me wrong, she's still the most gorgeous woman in the universe. In Aphrodite that's not all there is too her). For pete's sake, she's the goddess of love; is there any more powerful force in the universe?

Ages: 10+
           
                                  Interested in this book? Click the link below:
                                                       Aphrodite

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Kind of Classic


Here's a post I wrote for Dinner: A Love Story.  Thought you guys would like it, too! -- PW

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Moby Dick (Herman Melville) adapted by Lance Stahlberg, illustrated by Lalit Kumar
Who Would Love It: People who can handle stuff that's a little hard to understand. They basically take the words from the real book, which can be old-fashioned, and they put them in speech bubbles and add drawings around them. If you took away the pictures, it would basically be the grown-up book. But the art is so awesome. It's definitely adventure-y.
The blurb I'd put on the back of the book: "The fascinating story of the search for a famous white whale -- the perfect book for any kid who likes it when climaxes come at the very end of the book. Which, who doesn't?"
Ages: 12+

The Odyssey (Homer), by Tim Mucci
Who Would Love It: People who like Greek mythology and people who like to read simplified versions of big, complicated stories. Here, you'll meet Athena, Hermes, Zeus, Poseidon, all that jazz. It's also really cool-looking, too -- I love the artwork. It helps to understand it.
The blurb I'd put on the back of the book: "A mystical adventure in graphic novel form. That sounds cheesy -- but, you know. It's true!"
Ages: 11+
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A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson
Who Would Love It: The first time I tried to read the actual, real book, I could barely get past the first chapter. It was so boring and confusing. I was in third grade, so I had trouble understanding any of it. But then, last year, I got the graphic novel version and it was just way more interesting. It all made sense. It seemed like the plot was more interesting, more exciting. This is for people who are science-y and also into fantasy. Those of you who like physics will like this, too.
The blurb I would put on the back of the book: "An interesting book, in the best way. The art makes this an even more bold version of the original - it's, like, BOOM."
Ages: 10+
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Alice in Wonderland by Tommy Kovac & Sonny Liew
Who Would Love It: This is by the guys who did the Wizard of Oz graphic novel series, which I love. To be honest, I'm going to say that the actual story was not as interesting as some other books, but the art is really incredible. It's worth it just for the pictures. Even though it's maybe not my favorite book, reading-wise, it's weird fantasy and that's kind of cool, no matter what, right?
The blurb I would put on the back of the book: "The artwork -- scratchy, strange, and mystical -- makes this an essential book for kids who love good art."
Ages: 10+
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The Olympians Series by George O'Connor
Who Would Love It: Dad, we've already done this series like twenty times.
The blurb I would put on the back of the book: "Just read this series, okay?"
Ages: 9+
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Fairy Tale Comics Edited by Chris Duffy
Who Would Love It: People who are fans of the extremely awesome Little Lit books. It's really clever. It's interpretations of famous fairy tales by well-known artists and writers like Brett Helquist (who did Lemony Snicket), Raina Telgemeier (who did Drama and Smile), and Cherise Harper. If you like silly stuff, clever stuff, this book is for you.
The blurb I would put on the back of the book: "An amazing group of authors re-telling an even better collection of stories. Even if you've read these stories before, and loved them, you're going to love the way they've remade them here."
Ages: 9+
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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) Roland Mann, illustrated by Naresh Kumar
Who Would Love It: Well, technically, I haven't read this one yet. It's on my wish list. I read the real book, but the graphic version looks awesome. The actual book is an extremely good perspective on a boy who runs away with a slave named Jim like a hundred and fifty years ago -- and their adventures, and misadventures. It's hard to explain it all here.
The blurb I would put on the back of the book: "I don't have to read this to know that it's a really really really really good book."
Ages: 10+