It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/17/18


On the blog:

I did somehow keep up with my daily haiku challenge during this busiest of weeks, but my reading life did take a hit, as I often had other things scheduled during my normally sacred daily reading time. I still managed to finish a few things.

last pick

My favorite book of the week was Last Pick, a post-apocalyptic middle-grade/YA graphic novel. It’s the first of the series and does end on a cliffhanger that made me extremely eager for Book 2, but it still feels fully developed as a story. Aliens have invaded and removed everyone ages 16-65, leaving only the young and the old to fend for themselves. The relationship between twins Sam and Wyatt is realistic and well developed, and both are fascinating characters (Wyatt is autistic). They are quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) rebelling against harsh alien rule and finding ways to undermine alien authority. Sam’s daring exploits make her a target. There’s a good balance between action scenes and more introspective moments that let us know what it’s like to live in this dystopian world. The art is also good.

joe shuster story

I admired The Joe Shuster Story for its meticulous research (it includes lengthy and interesting endnotes) and thoughtful presentation of the story of the writer and artist behind Superman. Because even though the subtitle here is “The Artist Behind Superman,” it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the more mild-mannered Joe Shuster when writer Jerry Siegel is around. You won’t learn much more than the bare details about their personal lives, but you will learn every possible detail about their business dealings with the companies they worked for and specifically how they lost the copyright for Superman and spent years fighting to get it back. Because so much time is spent on corporate wheelings and dealings, contracts, and financial details, it’s a little difficult to figure out the audience for this book. I suspect this is a book with more appeal for adults and for teens who are very interested in the history of the comics industry.

cottons secret of wind

Cottons: Secret of the Wind is another first volume in a series, and it’s a stupendous looking book (gorgeous, gorgeous art), but it didn’t work as well for me in telling a story that felt fully developed and somehow complete, or at least complete enough given that it’s the start of a series. The author hits the plot and themes hard, perhaps at the expense of character development, and the plot and themes are pretty dark. Factory labor conditions, weaponized art, potential enslavement of one group by another. This isn’t really a graphic novel for children. So little is resolved that I felt quite surprised to get to the last page. Unlike most first volumes, this one ends on a minor note rather than a cliffhanger, and perhaps that is what leads to the unresolved feeling. Comparisons to Watership Down abound in online reviews, and I don’t think that’s too far off, in that Watership Down also had some dark themes of survival and industrialism/”progress” vs. nature. But the characters in Watership Down are much more compelling and delightful than the characters in Cottons.

johnny boo and the ice cream computer

This is a time when I’d really like to have some children to try a book out on. I found myself a bit bored by Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer, but I’m guessing that children might respond quite differently. When I think of the early reader series I like best, there is a great deal of kid appeal (which Johnny Boo has) as well as something for adults. It’s a very difficult format to perfect, I think, as the needs of the primary audience are so specific, and adding those little ironic moments that Mo Willems and Dav Pilkey are so good at does risk confusing or disengaging the primary audience. I would say that Johnny Boo has less to engage the adult reader than some of the other early reader series I love. But it does have a crazy pastel color palette that I enjoyed, and I could appreciate its good silly fun.

me and my fear

I only managed to read one picture book this week, but it is a very worthwhile one. Francesca Sanna wrote and illustrated one of my favorite PBs from last year, The JourneyMe and My Fear also features an immigrant child’s story and focuses on the fear and anxiety that we all feel and how those fears may grow. Wisely, Sanna doesn’t suggest that we should or even could eliminate fear, only that we must work not to let it get too big. Thoughtful, gentle, and comforting.




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7 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/17/18”

  1. Shaye Miller Avatar

    Oooh, Me and My Fear is a new title to me. I’ll have to look this one up. One of Lee’s all time favorite books is Watership Down. So I found your sharing of Cottons: Secret of the Wind interesting. I hadn’t heard of this one before. I really hope things slow down for both of us after today — I’m glad they at least got campus network up and running again! lol

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love that Watership Down is one of Lee’s favorite books. I don’t even know how many times I’ve read it. Maybe someday I’ll read it to my son. I generally save my very, very favorite books and do not share because I don’t want to be disappointed when he says he’s “bored”!! I just got the last class graded, just waiting for one student to submit assignments since I gave one extension. Really looking forward to a SLOW DOWN.

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    I enjoy dystopian stories, so think I would like Last Pick, & the others you shared also sound good. Watership Down is an old favorite so Cottons sounds interesting, but sorry you were a bit disappointed. I did love Sanna’s The Journey so will look for Me and My Fear for sure. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think you would definitely enjoy Last Pick. It reminded me a bit of Spill Zone, which I also really liked. I generally don’t like dystopian, but I’m finding that I like it just fine in a graphic novel. Sometimes format really matters! Cottons is definitely worth a read. I will definitely be following up with the second book when it’s out.

  3. Tammy and Clare Avatar

    We loved reading about your haiku challenge and how your son and husband write haikus with you – what a beautiful way to celebrate language together. We will get Johnny Boo from the library to see how primary grade readers respond – stay tuned!

  4. cweichel Avatar

    I loved all of your haiku!
    I’ve just put reserves on Last Pick and Me and My Fear. I know that if you love something so will I. Flawed just gobsmacked me!

  5. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Dang! I think I let a student borrow Last Pick and never got it back at the end of this semester! I will have to get it from the library. Thanks for your notes about Olivia. You’ve inspired me to hit up the library once my kid can hold his pee for more than 20 minutes. 🙂 I hope you have a fantastic week!

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