WIN FOUR SIGNED MG & YA BOOKS
Enter our fantastic summer giveaway
Courtesy of Candlewick Press
What better way to welcome the summer solstice than with a giveaway? But this is no ordinary giveaway! In April I enjoyed a wonderful pre-LA Times Festival of Books dinner with four fab Candlewick authors and was given autographed copies of their books. Good Reads With Ronna is giving away those signed novels to one lucky winner and it could be you. Read about the books in the giveaway. A handy Candlewick tote bag is also included:
Burn Baby Burn
Written by Meg Medina
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 14 and up)
Pura Belpré Author Award winner Meg Medina has another hit on her hands with this riveting read which took me back decades to that scary summer following my first year at university in New York. That’s when the letters of the S.O.S. distress signal stood for something much more sinister – the killer, Son of Sam. Here’s a description of the novel from Candlewick:
Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina’s riveting coming-of-age novel.
Read a sample chapter here.
Written and illustrated by Maggie Thrash
(Candlewick Press; $19.99, Ages 14 and up)
I read this graphic novel memoir in three sittings because I just had to find out what happened to Maggie at Camp Bellflower for Girls, the summer she fell in love. I cared about her immensely and so will YA fans into candor, introspection, and the intensity of first love. Here’s a description of this impressive debut novel from Candlewick:
Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.
All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.
The Hired Girl
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 10-14)
While everyone was out at the pool during my Florida vacation this winter, I remained indoors because I could not put down this multiple award-winning novel from Newbery Medalist Schlitz. I relished being brought back in time to 1911 Baltimore following the ups and downs of protagonist Joan Skraggs as she becomes the hired girl in a wealthy Jewish household and tries to find her place in the world. Fans of historical fiction should add this to their must-read list.
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.
Dan vs. Nature
Written by Don Calame
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 14 and up)
Novelist and screenwriter Don Calame, has penned a fast-paced, fun YA novel for the most reluctant of teen readers. If you’re not sure what’s in store, better check out Calame’s clever book trailer here because it really gives you a good taste of the author’s unique sense of humor. High schoolers will appreciate the predicament that the main character, Dan Weekes is thrown into, survive being with his future step-dad or survive the wild.
Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true — flawed — colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide—not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?
From screenwriter Don Calame comes another outrageously funny and raunchy tale of teen boys whose plans go awry — this time, on a survivalist camping trip.
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Guest reviewer Rachel Glade shares her take on this unique graphic novel.
On the planet Sirene, everyone wears masks and communicates through an array of musical instruments. Edwer Thissell, an ambassador to Sirene, has to adjust to the strange customs of this new planet while trying to solve a mystery of murder and mistaken identity. But how can he be sure who he’s dealing with when everyone hides behind a mask?
Based on the classic sci-fi short story by renowned author Jack Vance, The Moon Moth ($17.99, First Second Books, ages 14 and up), adapted by Humayoun Ibrahim, captures the intricate beauty of the original in the form of a graphic novel. Breathtakingly unique artwork combined with a fascinating plot make this book stand out among others. While the book contains dialogue and narrative, only the pictures tell the whole story. Though this can make the plot a bit difficult to follow at times, it really pushes the reader to pay attention to the pictures to figure out what’s going on; I found this particularly fun and engaging. Blending themes of foreign culture, social hierarchy, problem solving and courage, The Moon Moth packs a lot of big topics into a short story. This is a book that should be read many times to get the full meaning. Highly recommended for young adult readers.
Rachel Glade is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Geology. Though passionate about science, she is also an avid reader and writer. Rachel enjoys traveling and learning about foreign cultures, and has done science field work in Mongolia and Puerto Rico. Rachel loves books in almost any genre, including classic literature, science, and science fiction.
Today Debbie Glade reviews an extraordinary book that teaches impressive techniques to professional and budding comic artists.
I’ll start by confessing that one of the many reasons I’ve been excited about reviewing Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued, ($34.99, First Second Books, ages 14 and up) is that I am a (very amateur) comic strip artist myself. And with graphic novels and new comics exploding, I’m certainly not the only one who wants learn more about visual storytelling.
Mastering Comics is a follow up book to Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels and Beyond by comic artists Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. The first book is essentially an introduction course on comic creation, while this new book is a continuation of that course, offering advanced tips to help serious comic artists really hone their skills and to give teachers a great textbook for their students.
This beautiful book is a meaty 318 pages of detailed technique and creative homework assignments. The book starts with lessons about building stories by drawing pictures and working through the challenges of facing blank pages to come up with original ideas. In the section called Writing Words, there are detailed instructions on how to develop a story and write a script while thinking visually.
Readers will also learn how to create visual relationships with their comic panels, create comics for books vs. screens and choose the right style to tell their story. In addition, there’s essential information on lettering and web comics and even an incredible section about using ink and making your own paint tools. The last sections of the book deal with gray scales, color, book covers and getting your comic ready for the printer. There are also a couple of vital chapters dedicated to selling your comics, whether on your own or through a publisher.
Reading this book is a reminder that being a true professional comic artist requires great skill and technique, which take time and hard work to develop. Mastering Comics is like having a private mentor guiding you through the learning process and challenging you to think in wonderful ways you never thought you could.
Reinterpreting the Anthology For a New Generation
Reviewed today by Jason Carpenter
Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone’s enduring legacy has been the impact it’s had on short form storytelling and the generation-spanning celebration of the paranormal-infused science fiction/fantasy genre. But, alas, for the demographic born after 1990, television has failed to deliver the next culture-defining anthology program. Perhaps with Explorer: The Mystery Boxes ($10.95 paperback, $19.95 hardcover, Amulet Books, ages 9 and up), as edited by Amulet creator Kazu Kibuishi, with stories by a host of other artists and writers, the graphic novel format will carry the torch of those well-told– often replete with jaw-dropping, gut-punching finales– morality plays that possess more than a touch of the bizarre.
Explorer holds seven short tales, including one by Kibuishi himself, connected thematically by one element: each work has its own manifestation of a magical, mystical, or otherwise pedestrian-seeming box. The boxes, whether harboring treasure or inciting mischief, are really the crystal pools in which the true nature of the protagonists are reflected. The seven stories vary in tone and atmosphere, from the comic to the otherworldly, and, as is wont with anthology compendiums, they achieve varying levels of success.
Chief among the standouts are Emily Carroll’s “Under the Floorboards”; in it, a young girl discovers a duty-bound wax doll that may be evolving (or devolving) into a spiteful doppelgänger. Carroll’s grim fairy tale plays out like a minimalist hybrid of the gothic whimsy of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time series and the psychological interior of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. It’s also the closest in spirit to Serling’s odes to the macabre. Rad Sechrist’s “The Butter Thief” adopts an outline-free aesthetic reminiscent of Genndy Tartakovsky’s elegant Samurai Jack animated series, and is the most action-packed and oddly moving of the bunch.
The scope and spiritual ambition of the Explorer: The Mystery Boxes compilation is admirable– the mystery is why it isn’t attempted more often.
To learn more about Jason, please visit About Our Reviewers page by clicking here.
Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy by Jimmy Gownley is reviewed today by Ellen, a fifth grader from Pasadena, CA. Ellen likes to dance, write and draw.
What a great book! This graphic novel/comic book-style story is about a girl named Amelia who has crazy adventures and fun times. She and her friends, Rhonda,
Reggie, and Pajamaman, go camping with Amelia’s dad, have an awesome Christmas, try to find out if Santa’s real or not, go trick or treating, and survive hard gym class. As you may have guessed, I cannot say it enough, “This book was hysterical!” (Editor’s Note: Originally self-published and now picked up by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, this book is recommended for ages 7-12)
What makes this book so totally readable is the fact that Pajamaman always wears pajamas and sometimes when his emotion changes an emote icon changes on his pajamas. Also, in one story, Rhonda is in gym class and throws a ball, almost killing a girl named Violet. This was such a clever, humorous book that I want to read the second one!