September 23, 2016

The kind of art I'd frame and put on my walls

Thanks to Jen Campbell over on BookTube I was turned onto the magic that is Shaun Tan. Thus far, I've only read one of his books but I already know I'm going to have to READ ALL THE THINGS. (Note: I've just picked up two more and put another one on hold.) Until that day, however, here's a review of Tales from Outer Suburbia. :-)

You guys know how much I love all things creepy and dark. You also know that 2016 has turned out to be the year of the graphic novel for me. So it's no wonder that Shaun Tan is right up my alley. Tales from Outer Suburbia is a collection of short stories and illustrations of a typical suburban neighborhood turned on its head. Think The Burbs meets Home and you're in the right neighborhood. (Didn't even plan that little pun out. You're welcome.) It was his art style that caught my attention but his writing is really haunting and beautiful. It's also super snarky with political undertones. His "style" is a mixture of fine line drawing in pencil, bold paints, watercolor, and just plain unique which is why I feel like he can't really be pigeonholed into one genre. From the inside cover to the very last page this book is full to bursting with creepy, weird, and beautiful art with short stories to match. Some of the pages have no words at all which I've learned is one of his fortes so get excited for that in the near future. XD If you're a fan of Grimm's Fairy Tales or Neil Gaiman then this would very likely appeal to you. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about I'm including a few pictures below. This was a definite 10/10 for me.

This is from the inside cover. No two drawings are alike.

You see what I mean about vaguely political?

This little dude is adorable.

This book is in the children's section by the way.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

September 20, 2016

And now the conclusion

All good things must come to an end and so...I finished Purgatory's Key which is the final installment of the Legacies trilogy which you may recall me mentioning a few times (this post and this one just in case). Firstly, if you haven't read either Captain to Captain or Best Defense and you want to avoid spoilers then I'll say this: I very much enjoyed this trilogy and I think you should read it. If you want a bit of most likely spoiler-y info then stick around because I'm about to spill some beans. Okay, I hope all of those still reading are ready to be spoiled... To catch you up a bit, there was a device called the Transfer Key which was found by the original crew of the Enterprise when captained by Robert April. This device was concealed on board the starship and the secret of its existence and power was passed down from captain to captain (and to their First Officers). One of these keepers of the secret wanted to use the Key to travel to another universe and find her lost comrades. (Three cheers for Una!) The Romulans wanted the Key because they saw it as the ultimate tool to tip the balance of power in this universe to their favor. Meanwhile, the Klingons were meeting with the Federation (with the help of Ambassador Sarek) to discuss terms to ensure peace between the two entities at the behest of the Organians (pesky people). Those on the other side of the veil in the other universe must contend with conditions that are much different to the ones that govern our universe in their bid to return home. As you might have guessed from the title, the Key is a powerful tool that for those on the wrong side of it means a kind of hellish instrument. The conclusion to the trilogy was everything you'd want from a sci-fi adventure set in the Star Trek universe. If you're looking for a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this amazing show then you can't go wrong with picking up the Legacies series. 9/10


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

September 16, 2016

Silly picture books tell children that reading is FUN

I had a completely different post planned but then I read 3 really great picture books on my way home from work and this happened. *shrugs*

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak delivers exactly what it promises. This book has no pictures but it's an excellent book to read aloud to kids. (You may recognize the name B.J. Novak and that's because he played Ryan on The Office.) This book is fantastic because it's full of silly words and sounds. It's set up so that it makes the grownup reading it look like a complete moron which is exactly what kids love to see. The hammier the reader is the more the kids listening will love it. I highly recommend you read it as long as you're willing to really commit to being over the top.

And of course you turn the page and have to sing a silly song. hahaha

Book #2 is It's a Tiger! written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard. (When reading out loud to a kid make sure that you always read the title at the start and the finish as well as give credit to the author and the illustrator. #protip) This story has super bright colors and tells the tale of a little boy who is just minding his own business when A TIGER!! appears. Before the turn of each page, the reader (and listener) are left in anticipation of a tiger attack. It's ridiculous and fun and a great excuse to get your little readers involved by asking them questions and having them scream out IT'S A TIGER with you.

An example of when you and your little listener can yell with each other.

And then the final book I'll be mentioning in this post is Dragons Love Tacos which is written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. I want to start off by saying that I would buy prints of this book's illustrations to hang up on my walls. They are a perfect example of the kind of illustrations that I love. It's fine line drawing with pops of color. So much attention to detail! If you want to know what a dragon's favorite food is then wait no more because the title says it all. Dragons apparently LOVE tacos. There are a few caveats to this though and you'll have to read the book to discover exactly what those are. This is perfect for the dragon lovers (or taco lovers) in your life. Note: This book will probably make you want to eat tacos.

The title page and the reason why I picked up this book.

Yes, those are taco balloons.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

September 13, 2016

Laura Caputo-Wickham on growing up bilingual

Hi, readers! Today's post is going to a little different because I'm not the one who wrote it! Instead of telling you why you should check out Laura's book A Fish in Foreign Waters why not find out about the inspiration for the book from the author herself? If you're looking for diversity in children's literature then I do believe you're in the right place. :-)


WHEN BEING BILINGUAL DOESN’T FEEL AS GOOD AS IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE
When I met my husband and moved from Italy the the U.K., I knew that if one day I was going to have children, I would have raised them bilingual. I wanted to give my children what I also had growing up: the ability to think and talk in more than one language, to belong to more than one culture, to have future doors open in terms of job opportunities.  

I always assumed that the process was going to be easy and natural, that my children would have absorbed the language through me and that they would grow up feeling proud and confident. But alas, that wasn’t the case! My four year old refused since day one to speak the minority language despite being able to understand every word.

While looking for help in books, I came across a very interesting quote from Professor Colin Baker, who writes in his book, A Parent’s and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (Multilingual Matters, Third Edition): “Children often don’t want to appear different. They want to conform to the status-giving behavior of the peer group. This may entail a temporary non-use of one of their languages.”ites in his book, A Parent’s and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (Multilingual Matters, Third Edition): “Children often don’t want to appear different. They want to conform to the status-giving behavior of the peer group. This may entail a temporary non-use of one of their languages.”

It finally made sense: children don’t like to be different! I started looking back at my life, growing up bilingual in Rome. I remembered how my friends would tease me for the way I pronounced different words and the curious looks over my “weird" South African snacks (while everyone else was digging into pizza or warm ciabatta bread sandwiches). I realised that as a child, I saw bilingualism as a burden rather than an amazing privilege. And this was probably how my daughter saw it too.

This consideration made me feel really sad. How many frustrations and wasted opportunities could be avoided if children actually understood that speaking more than one language is good for them! 

This was the inspiration for my picture book: A Fish in Foreign Waters which tells the story of Rosie Ray, a fish whose world gets thrown upside down when she has to move to a different bay. She has to learn a new language, make new friends and face some of the challenges that bilingual children often face. But on the day of her birthday she will make an exciting discovery that will help her see how much she has actually gained from being able to speak two languages.

My book can be used as a tool that parents and teachers can use in order to have a good conversation with their children and explain to them the benefits of being bilingual. It gives children a sweet character they can relate to, and a story that will help them understand that yes, they are different, but in a cool sort of way!


About the author: 
Laura Caputo-Wickham was born in Rome where she graduated in Languages and Foreign Cultures. She then moved to the U.K. where she taught Italian for many years. Laura was raised bilingual, so was her mum and so are her two daughters. Her own experience inspired her to write A Fish in Foreign Waters.

September 9, 2016

I've gotten used to Klingons with forehead ridges

As I mentioned when reviewing Captain to Captain, a trilogy has been written by a collection of authors to honor the 50th anniversary of Star Trek which originally aired on September 8, 1966 (I'm writing this entry on September 8, 2016 which is quite apropos.). The Legacies trilogy continues with Best Defense written by David Mack. **There will be spoilers ahead if you haven't read the first book in the trilogy. I highly suggest you do so because it's an awesome story arc. If you don't want to be spoiled then I'll just say three words to describe this sequel: Tension, determination, and frustration. That should be enough to whet your appetite.** Captain Una has successfully used the Transfer Key to find her way to the alternate universe where her shipmates have been stranded for the past 18 years. However, it's not a simple locate and reconvene at the portal type of situation. There's something not quite right about this world... Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock are trying to retrieve the Key itself from the Romulans who stole it with the use of a spy on board the Enterprise. Without the Key they will be unable to rendezvous with Una and in the wrong hands the Key would be a formidable weapon. Amidst all of this chaos, Ambassador Sarek reaches out to the Enterprise to come to his aid in the peace talks which are taking place between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. As you can imagine, things are not exactly smooth sailing for our favorite space explorers. If you couldn't tell, I'M LOVING IT. The conclusion to the trilogy should be up soon as I started it this morning. :-)

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

September 6, 2016

Love, love, love

Not too long ago I watched a beautiful little animated short film entitled The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. There is no dialogue and yet it (excuse the phrase) spoke to me on a very personal level. Imagine my delight when I discovered that it was created by the same man that created that other magical movie Meet the Robinsons! Yes, William Joyce has stolen my heart once again with a tale that is both heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. Of course, I knew that it was more than likely based off one of his books and I was right. Much like Meet the Robinsons which I reviewed not too long ago, Joyce wrote a beautifully illustrated picture book called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore which is about exactly what the title implies. This is the story of a man who loves books and indeed is trying to write one of his own when a crazy storm comes along and upends not only his whole life but the buildings of his entire town. In a brilliant move of cinematography, after the storm everything is in black and white to depict the bleakness of his situation. But then he sees something which completely changes his outlook...I don't want to spoil this bit. This is about the power of the written word and the transformative power that books hold over the imagination. It is a love letter to literature. It's charming and extraordinarily moving. I admit to crying over the film AND the book. I urge you to take a few minutes and enjoy them both because they really are worth your time.10/10


I love love love his art style. Source: sccl.org


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

September 3, 2016

A happy accident

I came upon Edward Carey's Iremonger series by mistake. I don't mean that I stumbled across his books and didn't know what I was getting into…it was more that I had Mr. Carey mixed up with Edward GOREY. If you've seen their artwork at a glance then you might see how I came to make such a grievous error. I had seen some of Gorey's art a few years ago and made a note to grab some of his work…and then I was recommended this trilogy and thought I had finally got around to completing my goal. However, I think this was a happy accident because I really enjoyed this disturbing set of books. Firstly, I appreciate authors who do their own illustrations because they see their characters and worlds most clearly and they tend to feel like living things instead of one dimensional drawings. Heap House, Foulsham, and Lungdon make up the Iremonger trilogy and they chronicle the story of that clan of foul, loathsome dealers of filth, the Iremongers. In particular, these books detail the misadventures of Clod Iremonger and the irascible Lucy Pennant. Even though this sits on the shelves of the young adult section and are chock full of illustrations I must caution that no punches are pulled. All that is base and evil is dragged to the front and shown in shocking detail which is probably why I like it so much. There are no characters without flaws. However, this is not to say that this is told in a realistic fashion because if it was then I'd immediately fear for our very lives. The Heaps are made up of all the trash of that great offal generating city that goes by the name of London. The Iremongers are Regents of the refuse and under them are the residents of Forlinchingam (or Foulsham as it comes to be called). They are kept separate from London (Lungdon to some) by giant walls. You'd think this cruel enough but there's a terrible illness striking at the people. It's ridiculous. It's unsettling. It's…well I don't want to give the game away. 😁 Fair to say, this Victorian tale has evildoers, unlikely heroes, romance, and lots of rubbish besides. My one complaint is that I felt the ending didn't meet the expectations created by the buildup of the story arc. It wasn't bad but it lacked the punch that I wanted. I do think this is worth a read if for nothing else than for the ghastly illustrations which I absolutely adored. 9/10

Source: edwardcareyauthor.com

I can't deal with how awesome this is. Source: edwardcareyauthor.com

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **