Monday, January 26, 2015

Graphic Novels Galore

I seem to have been on a graphic novel kick for the last month or so and found some new standalone books and series. Then there's always keeping up with the sequels to series already underway.

Here are some of my top picks:


Start of a grand adventure for a girl looking to become a monster tamer with a trio of evil monsters hot on her trail looking to retrieve a lost ball of golden, magical twine. Stay tuned - things are just getting good!

For the primary grades. A little girl wakes her baby sister with a great sense of excitement “because it’s Saturday”.  Everything is better on Saturday no matter the weather.  Whatever the circumstance, it’s gonna be a GREAT day!  Talk about a sunny disposition.

‘Wacky’ about covers it.  Really!  The beaver brothers become pitted against a trio of conniving baboons who are trying to fill their swimming pool with stolen melted snow from the mountain the brothers are skiing.

Middle School/Junior High

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Another childhood memoir about a little girl growing up deaf, experiencing regular school, learning (or not learning) sign language and the challenges of making friends.  Offers great perspective.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Autobiographical, describes Raina’s relationship with her sister growing up. A family road trip across the US highlights the family dynamics in a very relatable way. If you've ever had a sibling drive you crazy, this one's for you.
Like this one?  See also Drama and Smile by R.T.

 Nonfiction history about the severe drought in the United States in the 1930s, its causes, agricultural implications and impact of the people who lived through it.  The illustrations are perfect for this with a dust bowl palette of browns, grays, and dirty yellow. Match this one up with Out of the dust by Karen Hess, The Storm in the barn by Matt Phelan, and Migrant mother by Don Nardo.

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
I really enjoyed this one for both the story and the history attached to it. Reading the afterward is well worth it. Imagine your mom deciding she wants you to become a superhero and forces to you to learn martial arts and then go out there and kick some evil butt. Obviously, this one has lots of humour with a good story about identity.  I hope there's more coming.

High School

Ms Marvel : Vol. 1, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
A Muslim girl has a wish granted to become a superhero.  She must be true to herself, live up to her parents’ expectations and save the day, all at the same time. Good for grades 8/9 and up.

Saga, vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughn
An intergalactic Romeo and Juliet – the start of a grand adventure that seems to be introducing some very interesting story lines.  I’m looking forward to volume 2. Just to let you know, there's some sexual content.

Sumo by Thien Pham
A young man’s journey to find himself that takes him to Japan to train and compete as a sumo wrestler. Thoughtful yet easy read. Maybe a good choice for a struggling reader. 

Unwritten (Series) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
A gripping series that involves a quest, mystery, an evil cabal and the power of stories (literally – how the power of story can change the world).  You need to pay attention to keep on top of the many characters and fast pace action.

Monday, January 19, 2015

God Went to Beauty School Ver.2.0

I’m taking this opportunity to plug a book that I love and have loved for a long time and recommend all the time because a revamped edition came out recently.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a book that gets picked up all that much by student-teachers.

God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant was originally published in 2003 and has just a major overhaul.  It’s been reissued as God Got a Dog now published with beautiful illustrations by Marla Frazee.  This edition doesn't include all the poems found in the first book, reordering those remaining and with a few pronouns tweaked here and there. Overall, I liked the changes but deep down had hoped that this was going to be a new collection with continuing adventures for God.

This book tells what it would be like if God came to Earth and lived as real men, women or children of various races.  Each of these perspectives is reflected throughout the book to emphasize that God is to be found everywhere and in all of us whether as a lonely woman eating a spaghetti dinner, discovering cable TV for the first time, a teenage boy suffering with a cold or a black man named Jim, who loves to paint nails.

It’s an irreverent often humorous look at the ‘culture shock’ of being human, but also celebrates the many wonders of the world or reflects on the simple moments that compose ordinary lives.

Not being overly religious, I appreciate the breezy, cheeky tone of the book, but I know there will be those out there who will reject it for just that reason.    This God lives among people by living as one of us.  The illustrations are not overly elaborate and compliment the text beautifully with just a touch of lyricism.

Because it’s about God I wonder how teachers would or could use this book as it potentially could be contentious with parents, community, or school boards.  Great for a poetry unit but I worry that it doesn't make it into classrooms all that often.

I recommend this for grades 3 and up.

Some of my favorite lines:

From: God went to the doctor
And the doctor said, "You don't need me, You're God."And God said, "Well, you're pretty good at playing me, I figured you'd know what the problem was.
From: God caught a cold- 
And He was such a baby.  He NEVER caught colds. He loved to brag about it. And now here He was snot nosed. It's hard to be authoritative with a cold.  It's hard to thunder 'THOU SHALT NOT!' when it comes out 'THOU SHALT DOT!'  Nobody takes him seriously. 
From: God made spaghetti
And She didn't have a ceiling so She tried to make it stick to Jupiter but that just vaporized the noodle, so God decided to HAVE FAITH it was cooked al dente.

Monday, January 12, 2015


With the new year here in the Doucette Library comes the quote jar. It's back out on the reference desk and filled with a heap of thoughts from all sorts of people...some famous or infamous, some alive some less so (Where does Homer Simpson fall on this continuum?). Lots of deep thoughts -- supposedly.

If you're local stop by and take one.

And that's how I'll start this year's postings - with an interesting quote from a book I read over the Christmas break.  From Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, page 157:

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder.  He points to the apple in my hand and says, " A wise man once remarked that we can count how many seeds are in the apple, but not how many apples are in the seed. Do you know what he meant by that?"I shake my head."Before an apple seed is planted, no one will know how many apples will one day sprout from it. It's all about potential, and potential is hidden from all of us until we embrace it, find our purpose, plant ourselves so we can grow.  I am certain you will find what you are looking for, Jeremy.  Many blessings upon your head."

I love the idea of potential, of something that is almost there, of something that could be really brilliant, creative, funny, stimulating, all encompassing, sad, hopefully not disastrous. You get the drift.  And it's using an apple as a metaphor - just like this blog.  Great way to start the year, I'd say.

Looking forward to 2015.  How about you?

I'd recommend the book for middle grades, by-the-way.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Wishing everyone all the best for 2015.

I'll be back January 12th.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The foodie edition

Okay, with Christmas just around the corner a good part of my time is wrapped up with food – reading recipes, planning meals,  grocery shopping, going out with friends for meals, baking, eating, eating and more eating – you get the picture.

So, I got to thinking, what would a Christmas day meal look like based on children’s books titles?

Here’s what I've come up with:


       Dancing Pancakes (Spinelli) 

          OR Unlucky Charms (Rex)


       Nuts to You (Perkins)  


  Toads on Toast (Bailey)

Christmas dinner:

       Octopus Soup (Mayer)

    Tumbleweed Stew (Crummel)

   Creepy Carrots (Reynolds)

       Little Green Peas (Baker)

        Mice and Beans (Ryan)


        Ugly Pie (Wheeler) 


   Sweet Dream Pie (Wood)


   Fortune Cookies of Weevil (Reynolds) .

 (I just couldn't make up my mind.)


 I’d serve  Everything on a Waffle (Horvath) – of course.

Not necessarily traditional Christmas fare but it would give guests lots to talk about.

How about you?  Any ideas for your perfect holiday meal?

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Welcome to my world

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Really, I don't think this needs much explanation.  Enjoy.

Don't you love the eyebrow action?

Monday, December 8, 2014

A quick pick

Sam & Dave dig a hole  by Mac Barnett , illustrated by Jon Klassen has been getting lots of good press and being a fan of Jon Klassen (see I want my hat back and This is not my hat) I was eager to read it.

And, now it has finally arrived in the Doucette Library.

 I can remember wanting to dig to China when I was very young and thought it was on the other side of the world, having no clue as what that entailed geographically speaking.  I could be there in no time – a mere morning of digging and I’d be there.   An early desire to see more of the world foreshadowed here, perhaps.

And this ties into the premise of this picture book.  Two boys and a dog, decide to dig a hole.  Which they do.  But when do they stop?  They are on a mission and won’t stop until they find something ‘spectacular’.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it?  I wonder how far they’ll have to dig?  I wonder what they’ll discover?

The reader’s anticipation is tapped into as we’re allowed to ‘see’ what the boys are almost about to uncover – but then don’t!  ARGH!  Don’t you just hate when that happens?  The wryness of the text with the deadpan expressions of the characters all play into the understated humour of the story.

However, the dog who must have extra super-dooper, spidey senses, does seem to know where the treasures are -- showing us the potential for success.  The boys who blithely go about their digging business are oblivious to the dog’s extrasensory perception.

So, down and down and down they go, missing several increasingly large-sized diamonds along the way, strategizing as they go (change directions, splitting up) and hoping that soon they’ll strike the mother lode.

Where will it all ends?

This isn't so clear cut as it may seem. The ambiguous ending leaves us guessing as to whether the boys have dug themselves back home or if they've fallen into an almost exact replica of home, some kind of alternative universe, maybe.

It’s easy to enjoy this gem, which is all the better for not having to dig even one spade’s worth of dirt.

Recommended for grades K to 3.

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