Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Monday, June 30, 2014

Book 332: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man, by Frank Berrios, illustrated by Francesco Legranamdi and Andrea Cagol, Little Golden Books, 2012.

Buying a Little Golden Book about Spider-Man for my hero-loving, book-reading five-year-old son was pretty much a no-brainer.

The text is simple and informative.  I was no up on my Spider-Man lore and villains, so I learned something.  And the illustrations are dynamic.  And they are all wrapped up in the sweet golden spine.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book 331: Chu's First Day of School

Chu's First Day of School, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex, Harper 2014.

My five-year-old son will be starting school this Fall.  He will need to make new friends because the kids he knows from the library and the church don't attend his school.  He is a little worried about that.

This book is perfect.  Although the first page did confuse me a little, it also added to the mystery of the book -- just what could Chu do?  And even though all the other kids are special with their talents, Chu (and my son) is special with his talent.

The picture-perfect illustrations by Adam Rex make the text by Neil Gaiman sing.  Whoever teamed these two up is a genius.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book 330: The Red Headed League

The Red Headed League, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This book is not my favorite of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. It does tend to descend into the ridiculous at the conclusion. But, still... It is a great fun read.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book 329: The Apartment Book

The Apartment Book, by Leo Hartas, DK Publishing, 1995.

I bought this book about eighteen years ago.  I put it in my five-year-old's bookcase a year or so ago.  My son found it last night. He loved the cut-away building and the story.

I had a lot of fun rediscovering this book, too.  Only, unlike eighteen years ago, I had to wear magnifying glasses to see everything.  :/

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book 328: Scrapbook of My Revolution

Scrapbook of My Revolution, by Amy Lynn Spitzley, Curiosity Quills, 2013.

It took me a while to get into this book.  Everything that at first seemed a like a flaw or a shortcoming actually helped in making this book work.

The font is a faux handwriting print, so that you feel like you are reading someone's journal (or, of course, scrapbook).  Intermixed with the writing are copies of receipts, newspaper clippings, drawings, etc.  I am so much older than the target audience that, even though I could read the journal entries just fine, I had to put on my magnifying glasses to read the "extras".  For about the first third of the book, this just felt gimmicky to me, but later on, everything slid into place and the format made perfect sense.

I didn't especially like the main character at first.  She was pretty self-involved and suffered from a case of "Look at me!  Don't look at me!  Why isn't anyone paying attention to me?"  But, again, her character makes perfect sense.  She is seventeen, and on the cusp of adulthood.  She is attracted to two guys.  Sometimes she acts young; other times she acts like an adult.  She is facing her own internal revolution.  Further, she is gold-skinned and very tall.  She stands out, literally.  She wears the label of "Malian" instead of "Regular".  While in the midst of her internal revolution, she leads an external revolution.  By the end of the book, I not only liked the main character, but admired her as well.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book 327: Walt Disney's Peter Pan and Wendy

Walt Disney's Peter Pan and Wendy, told by Annie North Bedford, illustrated by Eyvind Earle, Little Golden Book, 1952.

One of my favorite Disney movies is Peter Pan.  The artwork is stunning, and while the story has very little to do with book, it still is a rather good story.

This version of Peter Pan is competently told -- rather like the Disney movie.  The illustrations are based on the artwork used for the movie.  While the illustrations are not as fantastic as the concept work done by Mary Blair (I pulled out a book of her work to compare), they are still quite good and are faithful to the feel of her work.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book 326: The Benchley Roundup

The Benchley Roundup, essays by Robert Benchley, collected by Nathaniel Benchley, University of Chicago Press, 1954.

Several months ago, I discovered that Nathaniel Benchley (author of a Ghost Called Fred and Sam the Minuteman) was indeed the son of Robert Benchley.  I also discovered that he put together a collection of his father's essays.  And I also bought that collection and began reading it.

The Foreword of this book serves as a forewarning -- Do not read this book all at once.  Parcel it out and read it in between other books, and it works rather like a sorbet.

Some of the essays are dated, which is not really a surprise considering he lived in an era when men did wear bowler hats and not ironically.  Other essays are timeless.  All are very funny.  Benchley, compared to Dorothy Parker, has a gentle wit.  His wit is every bit as sharp as Parker's, but the subject of the wit will laugh as well as the audience.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book 325: The Voice of the Wood

The Voice of the Wood, written by Claude Clement, illustrated by Frederic Clement, Dial Books, 1989.

I first encountered this book when I was working as a children's librarian.  When our department was kind of slow, I liked to shelf books so that I could "read" the shelves.  While I was shelving the books, I came across this one.

I have to admit, I don't remember a child every checking this book out for him- or herself; this book circulated because a parent fell in love with the artwork.  I checked this book out, read it, and promptly bought my own copy.  That was about nine years ago.

Now I have a five-year-old son.  My son will look at the illustrations of this book, but he is not quite ready to sit still long enough to savor the text.  That's OK -- I'm still enjoying the artwork and text.

The story is wonderful.  It is set in Venice (a city on my bucket list), and it references the Venetian carnival and the Commedia dell'arte characters.  It is a story of pride, a fall, and then redemption.  But the artwork is exquisite.

The illustrative style is Surreal, and the lavender-tinged grey of the work gives it a dreamlike quality -- as in a good dream, not a nightmare.  It, too, references the Commedia dell'arte characters.  So many of the images in this book I would love to own at least as a print.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book 324: The Art and Flair of Mary Blair

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, John Canemaker, Disney, updated edition 2014.

I knew that Mary Blair's illustrative work in books shaped my views on art in my childhood, but I was an adult for quite a while before I realized that it was her work that I admired so much in a few of Disney's movies. 

This absolutely gorgeous book is an introduction to who Mary Blair was as a person -- not a biography. The writer glossed over aspects of her personal life to bring out a love-letter to Blair's artwork. Page after page is filled with full-color reproductions of her staggeringly beautiful work. 

If you want a biography of Mary Blair, this is not the book for you. If you want to get lost in her lush artwork, this is definitely the book for you. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book 323: A Scandal in Bohemia

A Scandal in Bohemia (Sherlock Holmes), by Sir Author Conan Doyle.

Last Tuesday, I had another hour to kill (probably the wrong word) while I was in the hospital waiting for my mom to have her scary heart test.  I had read all the magazines I brought, so I pulled out a Kindle and read this version of A Scandal in Bohemia.

I had recently watched Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia starring the delightfully weird Benedict Cumberbatch, so I wanted to see how one compared to the other.  The only line that seemed to date the original was the one about a married woman reaching for her child in the case of a fire.  Wisely, it was changed in the updated version. Still, it was a fun and diverting read.  I rather think that I would like to be called "The Woman".