Selected sights and some notes
Arrival: 1:15 p.m.
I decided to not visit the show floor and attended as many panels as I could fit in for the next few hours: DC Comics – Master Class/Art History; Vertigo: The New #1s; Geeks in the Stacks: Engaging Your Library Community with Pop Culture; Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Sneak Preview; Sean Bean Brings Legends to NYCC
Two of the five events were of greater interest to Graphic Novel lovers and librarians: the Vertigo panel that revealed 12 series titles and the practical advice for librarians and libraries that wish to host their own local Cons.
I am intrigued by these first issues from Vertigo coming out in the next 3 months:
And at the Geeks in the Stacks, teen librarian Ivy Weir gave some on-point practical advice on how to host a library Comic Con:
- Keep it free to attend and friendly to all ages
- Act like it’s the biggest Con
- Create a brand
- Vet your guests
- Ask your online and real life communities for help
- Remember this is fun!
This week’s selection is not a lengthy one but the image quote pins a moment in history that I hope to be a turning point in the United States’ public psyche: and I truly believe that children’s and young adult literature can play a big part in our communal effort to raise conscientious and compassionate next generations.
Quote of the Week
— by Jonathan Schmock
from “Dear Congress” on http://jonathanschmock.com/dear-congress/
Considering Cultural and Emotional Competency
It’s Banned Books Week again. Can we stop yelling at each other about it?: Jacqueline Woodson interviewed by Ron Charles — from The Washington Post
Big News about Hoffman’s AMAZING GRACE by Debbie Reese — from American Indians in Children’s Literature
Patterns of Immigration Excerpt by Roni Dean-Burren — from Dean-Burren’s Facebook Post
Authors & Books
It’s a Coder! It’s a Teacher! It’s a Kick-Ass Graphic Novelist!: Is Gene Luen Yang from Krypton? by Michael Mechanicook — from Mother Jones
Alice in Wonderland: A Very Important Date by Monica Edinger — from School Library Journal
Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland — Online Exhibit at The Morgan Library
2015 Finalists: Young Readers — from Kirkus
I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, American Indians in Children’s literature, etc.
So You Want to Be A Jedi: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back by Adam Gidwitz, with original concept arts
Really enjoyed much of the book — many of the Jedi lessons are great fun and with the trade-mark Gidwitz caring for a young person’s mind and character. The second person narrative device worked for me and the added extended training segments made me happy. The third person narrative parts about Han & Leia are faithful to the movie but to someone like me who saw the original movie and re-watched it a few times in the past few decades, they can seem a bit bland. I could tell that the imagined audience is actually those who’re young and not exactly familiar with Episode V. Waiting to hear from my 4th & 5th graders of their view.
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Definitely a breezy read with some fun bits and pieces. I really like Kelly Jones’ portrayal of Sophie, level-headed, with plenty of normal kid concerns and normal kid courage. Jones included some not-too-heavy-handed tidbits about how others perceive Sophie, being half Mexican American, being viewed as poor, being “presumed” in not-so-flattering ways.
Since my taste runs more toward more saturated kind of fantasy, I wanted the chickens’ powers (and they are amazing powers) to manifest more, stronger, and add more tension to the story. However, I can also see how this can be quite attractive to those who just want their magic to be more like everyday happenings — not too many world-altering encounters.
My narrative device-detector antenna was definitely alert for this one and wish that the letter-writing device had worked all the way through. The really really long, as-it-happens, climatic sections did not work all that well for me: not sure when/where Sophie would have been writing to Agnes in the middle of rescuing the chickens and participating in the Poultry Show (and it is apparent that those letters weren’t written after all the excitement as a report, since Agnes would have known all that had happened and wouldn’t have needed such narration of events.)
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
For the most part, the story works, and I did care about the main character and what he was hoping for. The ending is the kind that kid readers always want: the young protagonist actually GOT to enter the fantasy realm, rather than learning some precious lessons on how to hold the magic in one’s heart but knowing that “fantasy world” does not quite exist. So, kudos to Beasley on that front. I was hoping that once we learned the back story of the aunt, I would have had more sympathy toward her behavior but she remained a two-dimensional device and not fleshed out character all the way through. Definitely felt that the writing is a bit plain and some details could be trimmed to tighten the pacing, but totally see it appeal to certain young readers.
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon
So many of my esteemed colleagues have reviewed this book extremely favorably and some of them told me exactly why they love this book. They cite the energy in the narrative, the honesty in the young man’s anger, and the eventual growth and redemption of this lost soul.
So I feel like walking on thin ice to say that I didn’t find the novel or the protagonist quite compelling all the way through. I found the beginning of the narrative strong and powerful. I was moved by Red’s emotional ties to his mother and siblings; I was convinced that he would find justification of he must steal. His slow realization of his “place” in the world saddened me. The refrain of “Just a n****r” is both chilling and makes my blood boil! And one cannot easily forget his witnessing a lynched body and the connection to the song “Strange Fruit.”
But then… we have 200 pages more of Malcolm engaged in various illegal activities, and continuously excusing himself because of his sorrowful past, family situation, societal reality, etc. I understand that all of these are based on real events, family stories, and Malcolm’s own words. I can only speak for myself as a reader how after a while it felt more tedious than compelling. The pacing went from tight to sloppy. I got quite impatient and did not feel empathy or sympathy toward him. Perhaps that’s not the intent of the author but it was difficult for me to want to follow his next missteps since I stopped caring.
The final payoff of X’s enlightenment comes very late and lasts very briefly within the confine of this novel. The book ends before his important life’s work begins. For many who already know quite a bit about Malcolm X, his personal narrative, his rage, and his complex relationship with the Nation of Islam, the ending is but a beginning — we know what he would become. And the book includes extensive after matter to detail Malcolm X’s achievements. I just wonder what impression this “novel” of Malcolm X leaves a younger reader.
I also wonder how the pacing feels and my emotional engagement might have been different if the narrative voice had been a more universal third person, so that I could understand his internal struggle and also observe his external charms and charisma (and not just being told by the protagonist that “people seem to be drawn to me” or “girls like me.”)