Posted in Adventure, Booklists, Characters, Children's, Classics, Coming of Age, Fashion, Graphic novel, Laura's Picks, Quirky characters, Young Adult on January 29, 2014 |
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The 1963 Newberry-award winning novel, A Wrinkle in Time, was a favorite of mine as a child. There was something so gently compelling about the storyline and I could relate so deeply to main character. Teenager Meg Murry doesn’t fit in, in school or seemingly anywhere else. She’s smart but stubborn, and fiercely protective of her family, even with its complete lack of normalcy. She is especially combative when anyone speaks badly about Charles Wallace, her youngest brother, who is definitely an odd child. Their father is missing, and his unexplained disappearance haunts the family, and leads Meg to be even more belligerent as she struggles to deal with the loss and the emptiness of not knowing what happened to him.
Although it has been many years since I last read A Wrinkle in Time, I was immediately swept back into the adventures had by Meg, Charles, their neighbor Calvin, with the Misses Whatsit, Who, and Which guiding them along their journey throughout the universe to save Mr. Murry from the terrible blackness that envelops him. The story, to use the words of Mrs. Murry, requires a willing suspension of disbelief, but the relationship between Meg and her brother Charles Wallace is poignant, and the storyline flows smoothly and quickly.
This work, adapted and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Hope Larson, is the first time the iconic story has been presented in a graphic novel format. The illustrations are deceptively simple, and use a limited color palette of black, white, and sky blue. The blue hue serves to soften the starkness of the images, giving a dreamlike mood to the rapidly shifting number of worlds that they visit. Night and day have no definition here, as fighting the darkness without losing yourself or those you love is the only thing that matters.
This book is appropriate for all ages, but is especially recommended to fantasy readers and anyone who wants to revisit an old favorite from their childhood.
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Posted in Adventure, Books, Characters, Children's, Classics, Fashion, Graphic novel, Junior Fiction, Laura's Picks, Quirky characters, Readers' advisory, Setting on August 5, 2013 |
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Does the Wizard of Oz need a plot summary? Thanks to Hollywood, everybody knows how the story goes. For many people, the 1939 movie has become the seminal adaptation of the work: singing munchkins, ruby slippers, a yellow brick road, an evil, water-phobic witch, and those monkeys. Creepy, creepy, flying monkeys.
When I heard that there was a new graphic novel representation of the original book I picked it up with a thrill of expectation tinged with fond nostalgia. I quickly found out how little I knew about the actual story. Shanower faithfully returned to the original text, which is darker and more involved than the movie portrayal. The munchkins don’t sing and there are a lot more winged monkeys. The famed ruby slippers are also nowhere to be found, with the original silver shoes taking their rightful place in the story. But Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, and even Toto are all here, quickly joining together for their journey.
It was a daunting task for Eric Shanower and Skottie Young to take a story that has become so enmeshed in our cultural history and remake it. The introduction to this volume, written by Shanower, describes his lifelong passion for the works of Baum. This goes a long way towards explaining why he is so successful in his rendition. Only someone who so loves and respects Oz and the creatures that inhabit the world could pull this volume off. Young’s artwork is fantastic and his interpretation of the characters is both whimsical and humorous, which helps ease the scariness of some of the darker passages. The lion in particular is wonderfully puffy and squishy looking, and his face makes some of the best expressions as he vacillates between fearsome and frightened.
There are four volumes in this series so far, with a fifth being published in November. The series won Eisner awards for Best Limited Series and Best Publication for Kids. Recommended for children, teens, and any adult for whom this title is a fond link to their childhood. Especially recommended for people who didn’t like the movie’s (creepy, creepy) flying monkeys. They’re still hair-raising, but when their story gets told they are less sinister. One might even feel a bit sorry for them.
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Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, British television shows, Characters, Classics, Clever dialogue, Essays, Fashion, Language Focus, Literary fiction, Microhistories, Mindy's Picks, Movies, Nonfiction, Readers' advisory, Romance, Setting, Television shows, Young Adult on May 22, 2013 |
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Approximately five years ago, I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as well as her other five novels after receiving an all-in-one collection as a gift. Having only truly read Pride and Prejudice once (I can’t count the Cliff Notes I used in high school), it’s a wonder that I am reviewing this festive micro-history which delightfully illustrates why Jane Austen’s perfect Regency romance has remained so untouchable since its publication in 1813, even as her style and subject matter are profusely imitated, now more than ever!
Reading Susannah Fullerton’s pleasant homage to the timeless novel upon its 200-year anniversary provided me with all sorts of intriguing details, historical background, and gossipy tidbits about its creation and legacy that enhance my appreciation of the novel. Fullerton, president of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, effectively demonstrates the reasons for the novel’s perfection and its ever-increasing appeal for readers of either sex, of all ages, in nearly every community worldwide. She cheerfully describes her analysis of individual characters, Austen’s style, and the famous opening sentence on which an entire chapter is devoted.
It was especially amusing to learn of all the various editions, versions, translations, sequels, retellings, mash-ups, adaptations, film interpretations, and other assorted Austen-inspired endeavors that have fueled a sort of Pride-and-Prejudice mania. Darcy-mania culture took off on the tails of the sexy 1995 BBC film version, starring Colin Firth (of the infamous lake scene), and kindled much new interest in the reading of the novel.
Fullerton pretty much concludes that no sequel author or film producer has ever really matched Jane Austen’s masterful style and that what lovers of the novel should really ever do is just keep reading and re-reading Pride and Prejudice. I agree that the masterpiece stands alone, but Austen did very effectively infect most of her readers with a desire to continue knowing Elizabeth and Darcy and to learn ever more about each well-drawn character’s future. Imagine if she’d lived long enough to write her own sequels, or to taste the fame her novels eventually gave her!
Check the WRL catalog for Celebrating Pride and Prejudice : 200 years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece
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Knitting is enjoying a resurgence, and the library owns dozens of books about it. Many are beautiful books with sparkling colorful photographs of wonderful projects of wonderful complexity. Every now and then I check one out with great intentions to knit. The last time I actually finished a project of any size was when I was pregnant (and my children are now starting to leave the nest). Back then, my late mother helped me with the tricky bits and (I am embarrassed to admit) did the tedious sewing up.
I was inspired to pull out my needles to contribute to a granny square project for a colleague’s upcoming happy event. I found it very therapeutic making granny squares and soon turned out enough squares for a Queen-sized crib (I must need a lot of therapy). I needed a new project and the word “Simple” in this book’s title grabbed me.
The book starts with basic techniques and useful line drawings. Their drawings show hands, yarn, needles and finished work as the knitter will see her own hands looking down.
The one problem I found with the directions is that each pattern gives only one brand and make of yarn to use. Many of these yarns are gorgeous! And some of them also contain mohair, angora and other luxurious fibers, which make them very expensive. Others are a discontinued line. With my beginners knowledge of yarn, I had trouble working out substitutions, although I managed with the help of Google searches. To give them credit, as in all instructions of this sort, the knitter has to use the exact yarn they suggest to get the results that they illustrated, but I am sure I am not the only person interested in substitution!
I decided to start with a small and simple project, a hat with the appealing name of “Feeling Fuzzy.” I planned it as a gift to my daughter, being aware that at my pace she may be wearing it next winter! My hat is going very slowly, but I know that displays a lack in my skill, not a lack in the book! (I will post a comment later when it is finished).
I recommend this book for people who, like me, are returning to knitting after a long break. It will also help absolute beginners. For the experienced knitter the book also offers attractive, quick projects that they may be able to complete in a weekend.
Check the WRL catalog for The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits
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Do you ever wonder how t-shirts went from being a simple undergarment to a stand-alone icon of American fashion? Did you ever say to yourself, “Khaki, what a strange word. I would love to know where that came from?” Though clothes constitute a large part of our day-to-day life, and are even called “defining” by some, it is surprising how little we actually know about them. The latest book in Gunn’s literary treasure chest, Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible, is entirely interesting and offers the most fascinating insights into the history and evolution of our wardrobe staples. From t-shirts to jeans to ties and scarves, Gunn provides information on the history of the fashion pieces we have come to love in an easy-to-read and enjoyable format.
Gunn effortlessly incorporates popular culture into his writing that readers of all ages are able to identify with and understand. For example, Gunn discusses the near death of the t-shirt in the 30’s when he writes, “And then one man threatened to take down the entire t-shirt business: Clark Gable. In the 1934 film, It Happened One Night, Gable’s character takes his shirt off and he’s not wearing an undershirt… By appearing naked under his shirt, he signaled that he was too cool, too manly, too liberated for an undershirt. At that moment, American men took his lead…” This single illustration of the near collapse of our most beloved fashion garment is nothing short of fascinating. What would we be wearing today if the t-shirt, in all its glory, had died over seventy years ago?
While historically captivating, Gunn’s book also offers tips and opinions on today’s fashion choices for both men and women. Finding a good tie that will last can be a bit trying. Gunn suggests the following: “When you’re shopping for a tie, you want to look for a lining that gives it some weight. Without that infrastructure, ties can be limp.” This and other general guidelines will help every man and woman find quality pieces that fit correctly. Tim Gunn’s book is great for both fashion lovers and those simply interested in learning more about what they wear. A pleasant and entertaining read, this book should appeal to all types.
Check the WRL catalog for Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible
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