Showing posts with label Jillian Tamaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jillian Tamaki. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a passable story of Rose, a girl beginning to venture into womanhood, told in graphic novel form by the Tamaki cousins.

Rose has been vacationing in a rented seaside cottage with her parents every summer since childhood, and each year she hangs out with her friend, Windy, who also vacations there. The two of them have fun, chat idly about all kinds of things, begin to notice boys, and realize they're much more observant of adult drama now than ever they were before, and much less able to discern any sort of role model in those grown-ups they see. And there seems to be a lot of drama in this particular vacation spot.

I've become a bit of a fan of the Tamakis lately, but their work can be very patchy. This was a cut above the patchwork and while the artwork was nothing spectacular, it was perfectly serviceable. The story wasn't exactly glittering, but it was enjoyable for a one-time read, and so I commend this as a worthy read.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Boundless by Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WORTHY!

After the disappointing Indoor Voice which made me want to scream, it was nice to read a real story, well-illustrated, and such a quirky tale, too. This tells several stories, beginning with the story of Jenny, who has broken up with her boyfriend and discovers that there is a mirror world - updates on which she can read in 1Facebook - the mirror image of this world's Facebook.

Personally, I have no time for F-book at all. It's a dangerous, highly insecure, and risky environment in which far too many people put far too much trust, a trust which has been abused time and time again. This idea of a mirror F-book amused the heck out of me, consequently. In 1F-Book, there is 1Jenny as our Jenny refers to her, and who is leading a rather different life than is Jenny of our side of the mirror. Jenny becomes obsessed with her counterpart to an unhealthy degree, and is rather miffed by the fact that 1Jenny seems to have her act together and to be leading a satisfying romantic life.

As if this isn't enough, in another story, a weird music file that isn't really music but isn't not music either, surfaces and obsesses people after one guy who discovers it renames it Sex Coven (even though it has nothing to do with sex or covens) and re-releases it onto the web. Listening to it the whole way through is supposed to be transformative.

In another tale communication with animals becomes possible presumably courtesy of the animals, because which humans would think of that?!

As if this isn't enough, Helen starts becoming smaller and less substantive, and eventually shrinks down to almost nothing and blows away in the wind. I don't know if this is intended as a commentary upon the diminishment and marginalization of women or the interchangeability of women in some blinkered perspectives as Katie White of the Ting Tings sang so eloquently, or the second class status of too many women, but it was certainly a fascinating journey and I commend this work highly.


Indoor Voice by Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WARTY!

The blurb claims this book "collects pen, brush, ink, watercolor, and collage experiments that show how Tamaki arrives at her illustration work, as well as more polished and personal comics work examining her relationship to her parents and their influence on her art," but I got none of that from it. As I mentioned in another review, to me this book felt like it was the author's rough sketch book and she sent it for publication by mistake, confusing it with something else she'd actually intended to send. That's how bad it was - scrappy and with no real content or story to it.

I don't buy the claim in the blurb that it was intended to show how the artist creates because there was no attempt at instruction at all - it was merely a set of sketches - scrappy, unfinished, half-formed, amateurish and uninspiring. I've grown fond of the Tamaki cousins, but this was well below the standards Jillian has set in other works and I cannot commend this as a worthy read. This voice should have been kept indoors!


Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WORTHY!

These two cousins, Mariko the writer and Jillian the artist have been interesting me lately because I find their work mostly appealing. I say mostly, because I definitely did not like Jillian's Indoor Voice, which was a scrappy little book that had all the charm and import of an artist's rough sketchbook sold as is! It told no story and was uninteresting to me. It seemed to be a paean to New York City, but it was more like a pain, especially to someone who has neither love for nor interest in people mythologizing NYC.

Skim was a different fettle of Kitsch. The story was interesting if a little confused at times, and the artwork was engrossing if not exactly brilliant. The art evoked a feeling of a story about dolls rather than about people, because of the art style and I wondered if this had been intentional. Regardless, it told the tale of a young, confused high-school girl trying to make her way through life among a barrage of conflicting messages and poorly understood signals. She seemed to be going through one issue after another including an unrequited crush on her female art teacher, and I have to wonder whether any of this was autobiographical. I have no idea if it was, but it seemed heartfelt. Maybe it was pure invention. Maybe it was the story of someone the author knew at school.

The story begins with the suicide of the ex-boyfriend of one of the elite girls at the school, Katie Matthews, and everything is overly dramatized, suggesting - since it's all told from the perspective of Kimberly Keiko Cameron (the Skim of the title) that this is how she sees it, not necessarily how it actually is. Perhaps Skim, as suggested by her name, is very shallow and fails to see deeper meanings in things, while deluding herself that she is seeing deeper things that are actually not there at all. Skim is very jaded and cynical for one so young, and this comes out quite starkly in her exchanges with her best friend - a friend who she drifts apart from over the course of the story as her allegiance haphazardly shifts in an unexpected direction.

The truth or fiction of the tale isn't important, because these are certainly someone's truths, somewhere, and the story was entertaining, although I have to say the ending was a let-down - it just sort of fizzled-out without any conclusion or indication of any future direction for the main character. Not all issues are neatly resolved, of course, but I think we're entitled to feel they ought to be in a fictional work. This one felt like the author had grown tired of writing this and wanted to move onto something else. That aside though, I enjoyed it and I commend it as a worthy read.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

They say Blue by Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WORTHY!

I commend this book! Reading it was like reading a series of haikus. The theme is color and it meanders all over the world and the seasons, starting with the blue sky and ocean in summer, and drifting through the seasons. It was beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated and I fell completely in love with it. I enjoyed Jillian Tamaki's drawings in Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley, which I favorably reviewed back in June of 2016. It's nice to see her out on her own. I recommend this nook, even if you don't have children!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley


Rating: WORTHY!

I don't know her, but in my opinion, Kate Beasley is a mischievous-looking author, so it was hardly surprising to me that that this came from her keyboard! It's a nicely-written middle-grade novel and is of course about Gertie, who is planning on being the best fifth-grader ever this year. She's well-on-track to kick-start it with her zombie frog, until Mary Sue Spivey shows up as a transfer student. Mary Sue is smart and her father is a movie director who happens to direct movies featuring Jessica Walsh, who is a hero of fifth graders everywhere, so Gertie's plans have to hop-it.

Her phase two decision to become a genius student and thereby overshadow Mary Sue also gets a D. It seems like every plan Gertie comes up with is effortlessly derailed by Mary Sue and now, looming on the horizon, is career day, wherein Mary Sue gets to have her movie director father show up maybe, and Gertie can't even bring her own father because he's gone for two weeks working on an oil-rig out in the ocean. Gertie decides she can handle this alone. She's a big girl now. The problem is that career day doesn't go anything like Gertie planned or even imagined it would, and now Mary Sue is more popular than ever and Gertie is looking more and more like the villain in this little drama they have going. Talking of which, the school play is auditioning next....

The story was a bit of a roller-coaster, and Gertie was in many ways her own worst enemy, but this state of affairs wasn't random. For reasons which go unexplained, Gertie's mom abandoned her and her dad, and married another guy, and Gertie has never come to terms with it. She grew up with her dad, who was absent periodically, and her great Aunt Rae, and an annoying little kid named Audrey who was often parked with Rae when her folks wanted a date night or day (both of which seem to be very often). Gertie doesn't suspect that her 'perfect' nemesis also has personal issues with which she wrestles, too.

Names of characters in my stories are important to me and (as they used to in years gone by) tend to carry a meaning behind the fa├žade, which relates something of the character who carries them. In that context, I have to observe here that the popularity of the name Gertrude - which I personally don't like - fell steadily throughout the twentieth century, becoming very effectively non-existent since the mid-sixties, so why this name was chosen for this character, who I think deserved better, is a mystery explicable it seems to me, only as a rather forlorn attempt at alliteration, but I decided not to fret too much over that any more than I wondered why it was Kate Beasley and not Kat Beasley which to me is a kick-ass name! Not that Kate is awful; I have several nieces named in some variation on 'Kate'.

But I digress! I had some technical issues reading this in Adobe Digital Editions reader. The chapters were slow to load, taking about eighteen seconds for the screen to appear when turning the page to a chapter header, whereas pages with images on them (which often do load slowly in ADE) popped up right away! I don't know what that was all about. The only problem with the images was that some of them were truncated so it was impossible to see all of the image. In contrast, on the Kindle app on my phone, I had no problem with slow screen loading or with seeing the images (although the images were understandably small). The best of all, though, was on the Bluefire Reader app on my iPad, where it was picture (and text) perfect.

I had some minor issues with the writing, too. I felt the story ended a little too abruptly. There never did seem to be any resolution. It felt like it was left hanging a bit. Although the very brief epilogue (which I typically don't read since the epilogue ought to be the last chapter, not some appendix), was unexpectedly interesting, and peculiar in that it didn't wrap-up the story at all. In fact, it seemed like it was actually the prologue (which I don't read either) to another story! I felt that Mary Sue was portrayed as much more of a villain than she actually was, which was misleading given later revelations), but perhaps middle-graders won't be so picky.

Those gripes aside, I really liked the story and the general way in which it was unveiled. I liked the tone and the chapter headers and the excellent gray scale illustrations by Jillian Tamaki (now there's another great name to play with!), and taken overall, I recommend it as a worthy read for its intended age range and perhaps, beyond, too! Go read it if you don't believe me!