Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing

Julia Gillian is accomplished at many things including the art of papier mache mask making, spreading her gum across her top teeth, and knowing exactly what her dog Bigfoot is thinking. She is still trying to master the claw machine at her Minneapolis neighbourhood hardware store. She has been trying for 3 years to get the meerkat perched inside. Julia Gillian is also good at the Art of Knowing. For example, in the morning, she's knows exactly when her mother will butter her toast, and what plate she will put her toast on.

But this summer, her Art of Knowing is letting her in on the fact that things change. Her parents haven't been taking her for picnics, or really spending any time with her at all. They are busy taking double load grad school courses. And they keep sending her out for walks in the 9 block area she is allowed in her neighbourhood. That's not exactly fun. She still has her green book to finish and she is just certain that it is going to have a sad ending. She tries talking to her babysitter and neighbour Enzo about everything, but Enzo is a woman of few words. Thank goodness Julia Gillian can put on her raccoon mask when she needs a bit more courage to head out the door.

Alison McGhee has written a sweet "moment in time" story about Julia Gillian's summer. She is growing up, and fighting parts of it. Black and white illustrations by Drazen Kozjan perfectly compliment the story. Julia Gillian is a great read for fans of Ivy and Bean, Clementine, and those who have outgrown Amber Brown.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Daisy Cutter The Last Train -- Guest Blogger Jesse Karp

Jesse Karp is back! This time blogging Daisy Kutter The Last Train


Kazu Kibuishi put together the Flight anthology to great creative success. In 2005, he applied his sharp creative eye and hand to Daisy Kutter: the Last Train, a steam punk tale of the "future" Old West filled with robots, cattle wrastlin' varmints and the best, take-no-prisoners comic book heroine this side of Babymouse. Daisy wants to leave her locomotive-robbing days behind her, but when a mysterious stranger shows up with an offer she can't refuse, she and her old partner (and now local sheriff) are off to beat the unbeatable mechanical security guard in charge of a fast-moving money train.
This is really Ameri-Manga at its finest, with atmospheric black and white art and furious, exciting action sequences that fly at you a mile second. Most appealing of all is Daisy herself, a no-nonsense, somewhat foul-mouthed, gun-toting gal with a twinkle in her eye and a soft spot in her heart for just the right guy. She's the right lady to pull in female readers suspicious of the graphic format or surprise a male reader by making him forget he's cheering for a member of the opposite sex.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Would You

Ahhhh...summer when you're a teenager. I don't care if you lived in city or in country, chances are you were wandering the streets with a group of your friends getting into various amounts of trouble. You were free of adult constraints answering your parent's question of "Where are you going?" with the simple word "Out!"

This is the summer scene for sisters Claire and Natalie. Claire is soon heading off to university. She's ready to dump her boyfriend for an unknown future full of promise, and she cannot really wait to go off on her own. Natalie, on the other hand, is a bit anxious. She's never been without Claire, and cannot imagine going from sharing a room to seeing Claire occasionally. But Natalie is spending her summer like she always does. She's hanging out at the Ding-Dong where Audrey works with the rest of her friends. She's playing hideous games of "Would you rather..." with them, waiting for everyone to show. You know...how gross can it get? The rest of the night is spent pool hopping when the owners aren't around.

And then everything changes.

After the accident, Natalie doesn't know what to do. Is it wrong to go to work while your sister lays comotose in the hospital? Is it wrong to kiss a boy when your parents are so distraught that they can't even talk to you? Would you rather see your sister die, or be hooked to machines for the rest of her "life"?

Written in sparse prose, Marthe Jocelyn brings the reader into a family tragedy, and introduces some amazing teenage characters. Natalie's feelings are so raw, and her life with her friends is incredibly realistic. They are smart, and sharp, and genuinely care for one another. While this is a sad story, readers will find themselves hoping that Natalie can find her way and hoping that her family can keep it together. Would You is a perfect choice for the teens who have recently enjoyed Before I Die, by Jenny Downham

Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I do know Marthe Jocelyn, but rest assured, this book would not appear on my blog if I didn't think it was great!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cicada Summer...

...by Andrea Beaty is over at Tweendom!