Monday, May 27, 2013

[BOOK REVIEW] Big Anthony and the Magic Ring by Tomie dePaola


Title:  Big Anthony and the Magic Ring

Author:  Tomie dePaola


Genre: Humor / Folktale / Romance


Year Published: 1979


Year Read: 1994


Series: Strega Nona #2

Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Some Kissing, but nothing more)
 

I have been reading the “Strega Nona” series ever since I was a child and I have enjoyed the series ever since! Now, I have read the sequel to “Strega Nona,” “Big Anthony and the Magic Ring” by Tomie dePaola and it is just as hilarious as the first book! In this tale, Big Anthony gets into big trouble when he messes with Strega Nona's magic ring in order to have a little night life! “Big Anthony and the Magic Ring” is an instant treat for children young and old!

Oh my goodness! I never would have thought that the sequel to “Strega Nona” would be so hilarious! Tomie dePaola has done an excellent job at both writing and illustrating this book and I thought that Tomie dePaola's writing is beyond hilarious! I always loved the way that Big Anthony always seem so forgetful whenever he is doing work for Strega Nona, but whenever he comes to discovering one of Strega Nona's magical objects that might benefit him and he has to recite a chant to activate the magical object, he can really memorize those verses! I also loved the way that all the women in the village square started chasing after Big Anthony once he became “handsome” since it was so hilarious at seeing Big Anthony being chased by all the women of the village! I loved the way that Tomie dePaola incorporated various Italian words and phrases into this story such as “caro” and “un momento” into this story as it truly gave this story an Italian flare and it really helped me understand about the Italian language. Tomie dePaola's illustrations are extremely hilarious and my favorite illustrations were of Big Anthony turning into a handsome man as he truly looked like a prince that came out of fairy tales as his brown and unattractive shoes becomes beautiful tall boots and his mattered blond hair becomes elegantly combed out.


Overall, “Big Anthony and the Magic Ring” is a brilliant book for fans of the “Strega Nona” series and for children who enjoy reading Italian folktales. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since smaller children might have trouble understanding the Italian language used in this book.





[BOOK REVIEW] Daredevil: The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller



Title:  Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

Author:  Frank Miller

Artist:  John Romita Jr.


Genre: Superheroes / Action / Adventure

Year Published: 1993

Year Read: 2013

Series: Daredevil

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 13+ (Some Language and Some Violence)
 




Introduction:

Now, to be honest, I had never read a “Daredevil” comic book in all my life.  The only way I knew about Daredevil himself was through the movie starring Ben Affleck that I saw years ago.  However, after I saw the movie, I decided to check out some “Daredevil” comics and I stumbled upon Frank Miller’s version of the classic vigilante called “Daredevil: The Man Without Fear!”   First of all, this is basically a retelling of Daredevil’s origin story since Daredevil originated in 1964. Second of all, this is the first “Daredevil” comic I had ever read about, so imagine my glee at picking this comic up!

What is this story about?

This story basically explains about how Matt Murdock became the daring do-gooder, Daredevil! It also shows the relationship between Matt and his famous boxer father Jack Murdock, Matt’s encounter with the mysterious Elektra and how Matt tries to save a young girl from the evil forces of the Kingpin!

What I loved about this story:

Frank Miller’s writing: I have been reading many of Frank Miller’s works, with his work on “Batman” being the ones I had read the most, and I had enjoyed his work so far.  After I heard that Frank Miller worked on the retelling for “Daredevil,” I just had to pick this comic up!  I loved the way that the Frank Miller made this story have a dark and gritty feel to it, which is reminiscent of his “Batman” comics (though I wonder if that is where the inspiration came from). I also loved the sort of poetic way that Frank Miller narrates this story, as it gave the comic a lot more emotion.  One of my favorite passages in this comic involved a brief description of the winter weather, which went like this:

“It’s outside, everywhere outside.  It’s the wind and everything it carries; everything it touches.  It charges off the ocean, fierce, bitter cold.  It rattles antennae and shakes power lines and leaves swirling snow in its wake. It roars down concrete canyons and brittle branches clatter in combat; surrendering winter leaves that rustle and skitter like fairies, begging Matt to join the dance. The city that never sleeps!”

I also loved the character progression for Matt Murdock himself as he starts learning that he must obey the law while trying to stop criminals from hurting innocent people and it was done in a natural way that really suits the story.

John Romita Jr.’s artwork:  John Romita Jr. had done a brilliant job at doing the artwork for this comic as the characters’ expressions look truly realistic and I also loved the coloring done on each panel as it made the artwork look even more dramatic.  I really loved the way that John Romita Jr. did the shadowing on the characters’ faces, especially the villains, as it made them look truly threatening whenever they show up on the panels.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

The only problem with this comic is that there is some strong violence where characters are shot and blood just spurts out in pools.  Also, there is some language in this comic, although it is not anything worse than what I usually see in some Vertigo comics. 

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “Daredevil: The Man Without Fear” is a fantastic read for anyone who is just getting into the “Daredevil” comics!  I would highly recommend this comic to “Daredevil” fans everywhere!



 

Friday, May 24, 2013

[BOOK REVIEW] Locke and Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill



Title:  Locke and Key:  Clockworks

Author: Joe Hill

Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez


Genre: Horror /  Fantasy


Year Published: 2012


Year Read: 2013


Series: Locke and Key #5


Publisher: IDW Comics

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 16+ (Gory Violence and Strong Language)
 




Introduction:

After reading the previous four volumes of Joe Hill’s highly acclaimed graphic novel series “Locke and Key,” I was trying to figure out for the longest time about what the Locke kids’ father, Rendell Locke, knew about the keys that are located in the Lovecraft house.  Well, let me proudly say that “Locke and Key: Clockworks” will reveal everything about the origin of the keys and the main villain himself!

What is this story about?

Even though Tyler and Kinsey Locke managed to defeat Lucas “Dodge” Caravaggio in the last volume, it turns out that Lucas now possesses the body of the youngest Locke child, Bode!  Not only that, but Tyler and Kinsey stumbled upon a mysterious key that would allow the kids to time travel and it was then that they decided to explore their deceased father’s past.  What would Tyler and Kinsey find and will the revelation destroy them or will it help prepare them for the battle ahead?

What I loved about this story:

Joe Hill’s writing: Wow! Joe Hill just continues to amaze me with his dramatic and emotional writing on the “Locke and Key” series!  Over the course of the series, I have been wondering about how the Locke kids’ deceased father was connected to the keys that the kids discovered in the house.  So, imagine my delight when I came across a volume that would reveal everything about Rendell Locke and his connection with the keys! I loved the way that Joe Hill used the time travelling aspect of the story to reveal to the audience about how the past would affect Tyler and Kinsey and the upcoming battle that they will have to face.  I also loved the fact that Joe Hill brought so much emotion in this volume as I really felt traumatized when I saw how the past events that happened to Rendell really affected him and his friends for many years.  I also loved how all the pieces are coming together in this volume as there were vague hints about how Lucas ties into the Locke kids’ father’s past and it was great to see those hints being put to full circle here.  Joe Hill had done a fantastic job at making this volume truly frightening and intense as I was literally on the edge of my seat whenever the Locke kids were going on these frightening adventures to discover the truth about their father.

Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork:  Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork as usual, greatly captured the dramatic feel of this series.  I really loved the way that Gabriel Rodriguez illustrated the characters’ facial expressions as their expressions of being frightened and angry truly shows in the most effective way!  I also loved the way that Gabriel Rodriguez illustrated the gory scenes of the characters being killed as I found myself cringing at the murders because of how detailed and gruesome they are shown.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

Probably the only issue with this book is the strong language and the gory violence.  Even though the strong language in this book does not show up as often as in the previous books, there are still mentions of the “f” and the “s” words littered in some of the panels.  Also, there is some strong violence in this volume which includes characters having their heads cut off and blood splattering all over the panels.  This might be uncomfortable for anyone who does not like seeing gore in any graphic novel.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “Locke and Key: Clockworks” is definitely what I would call a “WHAM” volume as everything is finally revealed about each character and the result is ALARMING!  Now that I know everything about the main villain and the characters’ pasts, I am definitely looking forward to reading the sixth volume of this series!

 

[BOOK REVIEW] The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy: A Korean Folktale by Yangsook Choi



Title:  The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy:  A Korean Folktale

Author:  Yangsook Choi

Genre: Fantasy / Animal / Drama / Suspense


Year Published: 1997


Year Read: 2013

Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (Some Threatening Moments)


I have been reading many Korean folktales over the years, but “The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy” was definitely one unique tale that I had just recently read!  “The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy” contains elements of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids,” except in this version, it is a tiger who threatens the children of this story!

In this story, when a woman leaves her two children at home to go to the market, she unfortunately encounters a tiger who wants to eat her corn cakes.  But when the Tiger eats all of the woman’s cakes, he ends up eating her and putting on her clothes to fool her children.

After reading other versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” like “Lon Po Po” which is a Chinese version of the classic story, I was interested in reading more different versions of “Little Red Riding Hood.”  Imagine my delight when I finally stumbled upon a Korean version of “Little Red Riding Hood” and this story was just as fantastic as the other “Little Red Riding Hood” versions I had read!  Yangsook Choi did a fantastic job at writing this story as the story was both intense and beautiful at the same time.  I loved the way that Yangsook Choi allowed the story to teach children to be careful of letting strangers into their homes and the consequences that may come with it.  I think that it made the story even more effective to read through and parents can easily warn their children about the dangers of letting strangers into their homes.  I also loved the Korean elements in this story as Yangsook Choi had an excellent author’s note at the end of this book that explains how this story was close to her and I always loved the fact that such stories are close to an author’s heart.  Yangsook Choi’s illustrations were just beautiful as the tiger is drawn so realistically that its presence really brings a threatening atmosphere to the story. I also loved the way that the illustrations have a glow on each character and setting as it makes the illustrations so gorgeous and effective to look at!

Parents should know that a character gets eaten in this story and the story has an intense atmosphere that might frighten young children.  Also, the ending of this story might seem a bit unclear for smaller children since not much was clearly stated about what happened to the characters in the end.  Parents might want to read this book before they show it to their children.

Overall, “The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy” is a truly fantastic folktale for anyone who loves reading folktales from Korea.  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the scenes with the Tiger threatening the children might scare smaller children.




[BOOK REVIEW] Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey


Title:  Blueberries for Sal

Author:  Robert McCloskey


Genre: Animal / Food / Humor / Family


Year Published: 1948


Year Read: 2010

Publisher:  Viking Juvenile

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 4+ (Nothing Objectionable)
 


 “Blueberries for Sal” is a Caldecott Honor Book by Robert McCloskey that is about how Little Sal and Little Bear wandered off from their mothers and ended up with the other’s mother during a day of blueberry picking.  “Blueberries for Sal” is a wonderful book that many children will read for many years to come.

Robert McCloskey has done an amazing job at both writing and illustrating this book.  Robert McCloskey makes this story extremely cute as it strongly relates to the typical child mix-up scenario that some parents have whenever they go on a shopping expedition with their children and their children wandered off and the parent somehow ends up with someone else’s child.  Robert McCloskey’s illustrations are extremely beautiful as the characters look realistic, especially of the images of the bears as they have shiny coats and vivid expressions displayed on their faces whenever they act surprise.  Also, the images are mainly in black and white, which gives this book an old fashioned feel to the story, even though this book was actually made during the late 40s.

“Blueberries for Sal” is a brilliant book for children who are huge fans of books that expressed the typical child mix-up escapade and who also love books done by Robert McCloskey.  I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

*1949 Caldecott Honor




Sunday, May 19, 2013

[BOOK REVIEW] Falling Up by Shel Silverstein


Title:  Falling Up

Author:  Shel Silverstein


Genre: Family / Surreal / Poetry


Year Published: 1996


Year Read:  2013

Publisher:  Harpercollins Childrens Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+ (Some Suggestive Themes and Scary Situations)



Ever since I was little, I have been a huge fan of Shel Silverstein’s works as they were creative, controversial and hilarious to read through!  I have practically read almost all of Shel Silverstein’s works including “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “A Light in the Attic,” and “Every Thing On It” and I had enjoyed every single one of them!  Now, I have finally read another one of Shel Silverstein’s books called “Falling Up” and it was just as enjoyable as Shel Silverstein’s other works!

This is another book that has a set of Shel Silverstein’s famous poems and some of the poems featured in this book include:

FALLING UP

I tripped on my shoelace
And I fell up-
Up to the roof tops,
Up over the town,
Up past the tree tops,
Up over the mountains,
Up where the colors
Blend into the sounds.
But it got me so dizzy
When I looked around,
I got sick to my stomach
And I threw down.

Once again, Shel Silverstein had piqued my interest in his talent for writing surreal and hilarious poetry that interest children as well as adults!  I loved the wacky style that Shel Silverstein puts into the poems as the characters are always doing bizarre things such as in the poem “Complainin’ Jack” where a Jack-in-a-box just complains all day and in the poem “Rotten Convention” where there is a vast array of horrible characters such as Hamburger Face and Gruesome Grace attending a convention.  I also loved Shel Silverstein’s artwork as it is mostly in black and white colorings and is truly surreal to look at.  Probably my favorite illustrations in this book was of the image of the pet lion in the poem “Unfair” as it looked incredibly creepy and surreal at the same time and the characters from the poem “Rotten Convention” as they look truly frightening and surreal, especially the image of a man who has a knife going through his head.

Parents should know that like most of Shel Silverstein’s books, there are some poems that might either frighten children or cause them to perform the crazy stunts that the characters did in this book.  Probably some of the most suggestive poems in this book would be “Crazy Dream” which involves a child having a dream about torturing his teachers and that might convince small children to do the same and “Spoiled Brat” where a child is eaten alive which would frighten small children.  Parents should probably read this book before they show it to their children to see if they can handle the content in this book.

Overall, “Falling Up” is a truly brilliant book that contains some of Shel Silverstein’s most memorable poems and many adults and children will definitely enjoy the wacky humor of these poems!  I would highly recommend this book to children ages six and up since there are some suggestive content in this book that adults might want to discuss with their children about.



[BOOK REVIEW] Amos and Boris by William Steig



Title:  Amos and Boris

Author:  William Steig


Genre: Animal / Adventure / Friendship



Year Published: 1971



Year Read: 2010

Publisher:  Perfection Learning

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (Near Death Experience)
 


I have been reading William Steig’s works ever since I was little and now I have just recently read his most heartwarming book yet, “Amos and Boris.” “Amos and Boris” is a children’s book by William Steig which is about a small and adventurous mouse named Amos who finds a friend in a huge whale named Boris when Amos was lost at sea and Boris saves his life. “Amos and Boris” is truly a beautiful children’s book that will be an instant favorite among children for many years!

Oh my goodness! I have to catch my breath here! When I mentioned that this book is simply breathtaking, it really took my breath away! William Steig has certainly done an excellent job at both writing and illustrating this story about the importance of true friendship. What I loved the most about William Steig’s writing is his ability to use extremely advanced words but makes those advanced words flow beautifully with the story and also making the story sound so exotic. I also loved the theme of friendship in this book as Boris and Amos are truly inseparable friends as they would do anything to help each other out in their troubling situations and I loved how Amos and Boris kept on telling each other that they will never will forget each other, no matter how different they are from each other. William Steig’s illustrations are simply beautiful, especially of the images of Amos sailing out into the ocean and you can see the stars in the sky and a beautiful view of the blue ocean and the large grey whales sprouting water from their breathing holes. My favorite images in this book are of the ones where Amos is seen riding on Boris’s back as they truly look like the inseparable pair that the book beautifully promotes.


Parents need to know that this book might be a tad bit too long for smaller children to handle, so probably the best solution to this problem is if the parent reads one half of the book on the first day and then read the second half of the book the next day so that way, smaller children would be able to keep up an interest in the book.


All in all, “Amos and Boris” is a true classic that you should not put down and anyone who wants to learn about the true meaning of friendship can definitely check this book out! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the length of this book might bore smaller children.