Wednesday, September 25, 2013

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay Illustrated by Daniel Lafrance YP FIC MCCAY

 They came in the night. They killed anyone that got in their way and they took the boys.  They march them through the jungle. They are told they fight for God now and only soldiers eat. They are the Lord's Resistance Army and they are ruthless killers that use children as soldiers. They are told that God does not protect the weak, so anyone that falls from hunger is left to die. This is the story of one group of friends that tries to escape before they become killers or killed.  

This is a harrowing book.  The immediacy in which the LRA comes and turns the kids lives completely upside down is horrifying.  The depiction of the LRA as indiscriminate murders, rapists, and enslavers of children is sadly very accurate. The horror that the book explores could actually have been far worse than it is.  Wisely, McCay shows us just enough to shock and appall us without becoming exploitative of the very real tragedies this book is based on. The dialogue is sometimes a little straightforward and stiff, but the book manages to shine in so many of the pivotal moments of carnage or heartsickness. The art works very well for the story. The panels stay very tight on the faces of our protagonists and villains intensifying the trapped sensation.  Lafrance uses shadow and color to intensify the tension and violence, without having to have gratuitous gore.  I think this is a wonderful use of the medium to explore the horrors of war, especially a war fought by children.   

You can find War Brothers in our catalog here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin YP FIC BEAUDOIN

Ritchie Sudden has 90 days.  90 days to think and write about why he's got 90 days.  Well, maybe not think.  Ritchie doesn't want to think the way he thinks you want him to think, but he's worried that that's a cliche so he doesn't care about that...I think.  He does care about his one true friend El Hella, his new very old guitar, a girl that may be just screwed up enough to like him, and his terrible band Wise Young Fool.  Maybe just one or two of those days he'll figure out why everything happened and if it means anything.  Maybe he won't. He may even end up a wise young fool. If not, two out of three ain't bad.

Ritchie has a hilarious and very genuine voice.  Beaudoin totally nails the trying-way-too-hard-to-not-try-too-hard that comes all too often with being a teenager.  Ritchie's crushingly stupid mistakes and unnecessary (but totally awesome) punk rock defiance end up making sense and seeming almost rational as he slowly lets us know more about who he is and what his last few weeks of freedom were like. Especially excellent is the very authentic understanding of music and being in a band.  Beaudoin nails this to the wall and slam dunks it and sundry other expressions for exactitude. It is a welcome change from the often idealized and false look at teen music that comes from writers that have clearly watched too many of those super-awesome movies form the 80s about teen bands Makin It! (this is NOT really the title of a movie starring Lea Thompson and a young Demi Moore, but it could be. It could be.) The music , the grime, the feeling of crushing conformity all make this a book with unique texture, attitude, and spark.  My one gripe is that it definitely suffers from Main Character Making references that are From Author's Teen Decade and Not His Own Too Often, but hey I'm old too so I actually get them! It may be one of many wayward young man write from a correctional facility in a snarky voice and eventually (maybe) learning something from the writing (symbolic of how writing and reading of novels can form a catharsis, perhaps?), but it is definitely one not to miss. 

You can find Wise Young Fool in out catalog here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013: Don't let your fREADom be erased!

Next week is Banned Books Week, the week we highlight and celebrate books that have been banned, censored, and challenged in the past and sadly in the present.  To celebrate the Teen Advisory Board and the library
 Banned Books Week was created in 1982 by the American Library Association to highlight the growing problem of book challenges.  A book challenge is where a person or group asks for a book to be removed from a school, public, or university library.  when a book challenge is successful that book is either removed completely or access is restricted to the book.  This may seem like a small problem, but it really is a fundamental problem.  When we lose access to legal information our 1st Amendment rights to free speech and expression are being limited.  When an entire school or library community is restricted it has a chilling effect and teaches children that free thought is dangerous.  Who knows how many wonderful artists, filmmakers, writers, poets, scientists, doctors, etc. would have not been inspired or emboldened if they had been denied access to their free speech rights.  So many people have found their first spark of creativity and love of learning in a library or from a book they read in class.  

Librarians are certainly not against parents being a  guide or helping to select what their children read.  It is only a problem when someone tries to decide what all children can and can't read or what an entire community is allowed to read. You can do your part by reading banned books!  Chances are, you already have!  Below are a list of the most challenged books and authors for last year.  Grab one of these or any book from our display and celebrate fREADom!

Most Challenged Books of 2012
Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey                J FIC PILKEY
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 

by Sherman Alexie                                                  YP FIC ALEXIE
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher                          YP FIC ASHER
Fifty Shades of Grey Series, by E. L. James                FIC JAMES
And Tango Makes Three 

by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson                       E RICHARDS
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini                           FIC HOSSEINI
Looking for Alaska by John Green                              YP FIC GREEN
Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz                     J 398.25 SCHWARTZ
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls                           362.82092 WALLS
Beloved, by Toni Morrison                                         FIC MORRISON

Most Challenged Authors of 2012

Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Jay Asher 13 Reasons Why
Jimmy Santiago Baca A Place to Stand
Dagberto Glib The Magic of Blood and Woodcuts of Women
John Green Looking for Alaska
Ellen Hopkins Tricks, Crank
E.L. James Fifty Shade of Grey (series)
Dav Pilkey The Adventures of Captain Underpants (series)
Patricia Polacco In Our Mothers' House
Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories (series)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thor, God of thunder : The God Butcher by Jason Aaron art by Esad Ribic YP FIC AARON

Thor is a brash young god (just a few 100 years old!) in the age of vikings who lives for adventure and conquest, but is not yet ready to wield Mjolnir*, on of the mightiest weapons of all gods.  Thor is the God of Thunder, possessor of Mjolnir, Avenger, protector of Earth.  Thor is king of all of Asgard and the last living God in the universe thousands of years into the future.  In all these times Thor must face an enemy like he has never conceived of: the God Butcher.  A being that is so powerful he searches the cosmos to methodically, slowly, ruthlessly torture and kill entire pantheons of gods.  If he fails in this task then all of creation is threatened.

This comic is absolutely epic.  It tells three unique stories in Thor's youth, maturity, and old age and all three work to build the tension and make the story larger than life.  The three separate arcs all meet up in very interesting ways, so it isn't just pointless flashbacks to convey character. It also harkens back to good ole' Jack Kirby Thor comics that often had back up stories of young Thor.  In this case it makes the story one beyond the limits of time itself, which makes it seem a tale fit for mythology and the gods!  Plotting, dialogue, and character are all top notch, but it's the absolutely gorgeous
painted art that makes it's something really special.  Esad Ribic is a true talent and his full and beautiful images make this seem like an instant classic.  He can convey beauty and grisly horror equally well, and really brings back the awe in reading about gods and monsters. This is easily the best new book in the Marvel Comics line and a great place for new fans to start. So if you are a long time super hero fan or just want to know who the blond dude in The Avengers was, check out Thor, God of Thunder: The God Butcher!

You can find Thor, God of Thunder: The God Butcher in our catalog here.

*Which translates to "That which smashes".  AWESOME!