Showing posts with label Jane Yolen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jane Yolen. Show all posts

Sunday, October 14, 2018

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen, Mark Teague

Rating: WORTHY!

I'm not a huge fan of this author, but this short, amusing, and colorful pasteboard book for young children was a worthy read I thought, and the art by Mark Teague was great.

I think Dinosaurs are overdone these days, but this was a different take: working on the assumption of something which never happened in real life - that humans and dinosaurs existed together. This book amusingly takes that farce one step further by turning dinos into fellow citizens, who have lives and like to go out to eat - which seems to be true based on fossil evidence. Their al fresco dining habits are well documented.

Unfortunately their manners leave a lot to be desired and this is not so well-attested by fossil evidence, which is why this book is important! I found it entertaining, especially for the intended audience, and I commend it as a worthy read.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bad Girls by Jane Yolen, Heidi EY Semple, Rebecca Guay

Rating: WARTY!

This is a short book padded by large font, spaced text and some okay illustrations by Rebecca Guay. It purports to tell us about bad girls in history - bad for one reason or another, such as spying, betrayal thievery, murder, and so on. I am not sure who it's aimed at; it seems a bit mature for middle grade and a bit simplistic for young adult or older. It's also highly biased towards bad girls in the USA: fifteen out of the twenty-six women reported on. The US is only five percent of the world's population, yet 60% of these stories are US women! Does the US really sport more bad girls than the other seven billion population put together?! I doubt it.

There's also a huge lack of ethnic/racial diversity. Here's the list of suspects:

  • Delilah
  • Jezebel
  • Cleopatra
  • Salome
  • Anne Boleyn
  • Bloody Mary
  • Elizabeth Báthory
  • Moll Cutpurse
  • Tituba
  • Anne Bonney and Mary Read
  • Peggy Shippen Arnold
  • Catherine the Great
  • Rose O'Neal Greenhow
  • Belle Starr
  • Calamity Jane
  • Lizzie Borden
  • Madame Alexe Popova
  • Pearl Hart
  • Typhoid Mary
  • Mata Hari
  • Ma Barker
  • Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner
  • Bonnie Parker
  • Virginia Hill

Each two- or three-page potted bio is followed by a single comic book page depicting Yolen and her daughter discussing the merits of whether she was a bad girl or just misunderstood or whatever. Those pages contributed nothing save to show what an easy life these two authors truly have if the comic pages are representative of any of their days: trying on shoes, going to a day spa, sitting around drinking a beverage and relaxing. The mini bios tell very little, and since a lot of the "research' comes directly from Wikipedia, you may as well read the Wikipedia page and get more out of it. I was surprised, given all the time these two evidently have on their hands, that they couldn't have put more effort into this.

The only reason I read it was that I thought it might be fun and maybe give me an idea or two for a novel, but I already wrote the Cleopatra one (my middle-grade targeted Cleoprankster) and there really wasn't much meat in the text here to give me something to bite. I can't recommend this/.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Foiled by Jane Yolen, Mike Cavallaro

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the first volume in a joyous and nicely illustrated (by Mike Cavallaro) series. It's a small format graphic novel about a middle-grade girl named Aliera Carstairs who is the chosen one - chosen, that is, by the faerie world to protect them against the troll world, led by the Dark Lord. She meets a new guy in school named Avery castle, and despite the fact that he's hot-looking, he seems really uninterested in anyone but Aliera, although he doesn't say no to a kiss and a hug form whichever female wants to lay one on him.

Aliera is attracted to him but really not that interested. She'd rather go to her fencing lessons or enjoy an RPG with her cousin, who is sickly, but perky. This doesn't prevent her from accepting when Avery asks her out on a date - so it would seem. The venue is Grand Central Terminal, form which you rightly assume that Aliera lives in NYC. She;s late in arriving and wondering whether Avery is also late or has stood her up (her opinion of boys is lower than most). She has her fencing kit with her having just come from practice, and she puts on her fencing mask to protect her from a particularly bothersome bird (evidently the same bird which has been stalking her throughout the novel - something she would have noticed had she been more observant.

With the mask in place, color-blind Aliera, who sees more shades of grey than EL James, is suddenly aware of a second world superimposed over the first - a world of brilliant, rich color, which is focused entirely on fantastical creatures the like of which she'd only ever heard of in the more bizarre fairy tales. It turns out that Alierea is a defender of the Seelie - a faerie world which has chosen her as its champion. She can fight the bad guys with her épée, the one her mom scrounged up from a yard sale. That faceted blob of chromium infused aluminium oxide which Aliera had supposed was fake turns out to be, it would seem, a real ruby.

I really liked this story which I came to by way of volume two - so you can read them out of order without losing too much. I loved the story, I loved how feisty, relentless, and resourceful Aliera was, and I enjoyed the whole presentation. i recommend this and its sequel.

Curses Foiled Again by Jane Yolen, Mike Cavallaro

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a joyous and nicely illustrated (by Mike Cavallaro), small format graphic novel about a middle-grade girl who is the chosen one - chosen, that is, by the faerie world to protect them against the troll world, led by the Dark Lord. Yes, it's trope, but this is different enough and irreverent enough that I loved it. It's Seelie versus Unseelie here, and this is number 2 in the 'Foiled" series. While I am not a fan of series, this one might be one of the few exceptions I make, because I would like to read more of these adventures. I loved the way the chapters were titled after various fencing postures and strikes/defenses.

Foiled is a play on the fact that feisty and self-motivated main character Aliera Carstairs can fence something fierce, especially now she has a light saber. Actually it's a light foil. And the light is on the hilt, not the blade. So an anti-light foil is what she carries. Or something like that. Sorry, anti-light weapon! Never call it a foil! And especially don't refer to it as silver foil! (I added that bit!). Anyway, moving right along, in this adventure, she's trolled by a troll named Avery (he watches her like a clock?) who in daylight looks like a middle grader (or maybe a young, young adult), but in the dark, turns into a rather large troll-type dude with lower tusks rather like the Orcs in the upcoming Warcraft movie, and just like them, he turns out to be a good guy, who acknowledges that he's bound to Aliera, who he calls his liege lord.

Aliera doesn't trust him as far as she can throw him in his troll form, which is to say not at all. She rejects his every overture despite the fact that he seems desperate to impart important information to her. In the end they form a grudging (on her part) alliance to solve an problem, and she learns to trust him. A bit. I loved that she was so independent and not the least but fluffy instadore as we see far too often in stories like this. She was a strong character with a unique voice, who was self-sufficient and a go-getter and I was in love with her, disgusting as that is. Yes, I admit it. So seelie me!

This wasn't apparent to me form this volume, but evidently the main character is colorblind in our world and only sees color in the faerie world. Maybe I'm just slow, because now I think back on it, it seems obvious, but I'd thought this had nothing to do with the character's PoV! I thought it was simply an art trick to make our world look a drab gray, while the faeries looked almost psychedelic - which was a nice effect. Apparently not! Anyway, the immediate problem (in this volume) was nicely resolved with a sweet and satisfying ending, but the story remains open enough that more adventures could come, so it was a really good read with lots of promise and warmth and amusing bits and pieces. I recommend this as a worthy read.