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I Love This Part
I Love This Part
by Tillie Walden
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from $12.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because it’s a good book. No, March 8, 2016
This review is from: I Love This Part (Paperback)
*Disclaimer* Tillie Walden is a classmate of mine at the Center for Cartoon Studies.*
I think there comes a time for every reviewer when they have to stop and go “Do I really write this review? Is this something I can do? Is it something that I should do?”

And that’s what this book is for me. I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to writing this review and not all about the book. I’ve been bouncing these questions around for the last month in my head, but it’s finally come down too…I have to write a review for this book. Because it’s a good book. No, scratch that, it’s an exceptional book. And it deserves a review and it deserves to have a place in libraries.

This is one of those rare books where everyone is going to see the same story, but all come away with a different meaning of about what they just saw. And they’d all be right. While on the surface it’s about a relationship between two young girls, growing up and finding each other, it explores much deep meanings as well. And what you take away from it will depend upon the life that you’ve lived. I’m not going to use trite phrases to describe what happens, because it’s something that we’ve all had happen before. That first. First kiss. First love. First heartbreak as the world comes crashing down. And how all color seems to drain away from the world. Tillie has captured a story that so many of us have endured and can relate to, with sparse words and vivid imagery of two young women towering larger than life. Comfortable in this relationship they feel giant and secure in the world around them. Until one doesn’t. And it all comes back to the world being so frighteningly big. And so very alone, with the notes of the past lingering in the background. Coloring everything that we see.

There’s a sparseness to the artwork, a few lines capturing the two young women, in their vitality and youth. The way they lean against each other, against the world, it’s that loseness and vitality of being young and it’s captured so effortlessly. No awkward movements or stances here. The one place this changes is when Tillie is drawing buildings or architectural elements in the background, where lines burst from the page in sharp detail, almost to the point where they can overwhelm the characters. But this doesn’t happen often, just in a couple of places where Tillie is showing her skillset. No, in most places the backgrounds work hand in hand with the characters, giving them a place to lounge, to be, to let them show how their feeling with the turn of the head, the way they hold their hands, or just in the way they stand. There’s a beauty to them.

If you’ve reached this point in the review and you’re wondering…are the two girls in a relationship, then I clearly failed in my job to make that clear. But yes. Yes they are. And that’s why this book deserves a place in the library world. Not because it’s about two girls being in a relationship, but because it’s about relationship, it’s about life. And everyone. EVERYONE. Deserves to be able to read a book that they can relate to. And that’s what this is. No matter what gender you are or sexual orientation, this is a book that you can relate too. More importantly though, it lets young girls know…they aren’t alone. They aren’t the first. And although there will be heartbreak along the way, and life with be colored by the musical notes of the past, you aren’t alone.

Ares: Bringer of War (Olympians)
Ares: Bringer of War (Olympians)
by George O'Connor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.05
79 used & new from $3.14

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The God of War has come, February 1, 2015
Ares. The god of war. And some would say the god of destruction and chaos. But no, he is more than that. When the best laid plans of war go awry, when Athena’s logic has left the playing field, that is when Ares enters into the playing field. He brings forth blood lust, discord and strife. But more than that, when all seems lost and your enemies about to overwhelm you, Ares gives his power and strength to let you make one last stand. That is Ares.

In this, the seventh entry into the Olympians series, George O’Connor breaks his traditional story telling method again to tell the story of Ares through one work alone, The Iliad. But it is full of rich and powerful stories to draw from and O’Connor uses it to again force us to challenge our own preconceived notions of what the god of War is like. To show us that Ares is not an uncaring, blood thirsty god, but one full of greater things. And that likes his fellow gods he does care about his sons and daughters in his own way, but being the god of War he has a hard time showing it.
O’Connor has always been a strong storyteller and Ares is one of his best stories yet. O’Connor sets the stage beautifully in the first few pages of this book, mixing simple phrases with powerful images to show us just how fearful, and powerful, the god of war really is, and how powerful his compatriots are. In just a few short panels we meet, Eris the goddess of strife and discord, and his sons Demios and Phobios…fear and panic. And we get a true sense of just how deadly Ares really is. That he is not just a harbinger of war, but that he rides with a host of others as well. O’Connor though shows off his true storytelling talents, by building on the previous volumes of this series. Although each work is stand alone, there is an interwoven thread that connects them all together, and shows that there is a greater story at work, one that we are only just beginning to discover. More importantly though, he shows that the gods are all part of the same bickering, chaotic family, and that even though they have great phenomenal powers, they are much like our own in many ways.

I’ve always enjoyed O’Connor’s artwork in these books with his great use of shadows and bold colors, makes the characters and the story come to life, and Ares is no exception. In this book O’Connor uses tones of dark red, steel gray, and browns that highlight Ares world. The rich textures of armor and earth and blood that make up war, with the clanging of metal against metal that encompass the world. It creates a varied and powerful work. More importantly though, is that I love that O’Connor depicts the gods as close to human like as possible. They may have phenomenal cosmic powers, but by and large they could look like each and every one of us. I think that, more than anything else, helps viewers connect with the gods that we’re reading about and see them in as something other than powerful cosmic beings. This humanity of the gods really shows well in the action sequences in the book, where Ares and others are in full battle mode. The way they move and interact with others, while imbued with the strength of their powers, shows their humanity in how they move…much like we do. They also betray their humanity with the emotions on their faces, where we can see their confusion their hurt, anger, and passion. It takes a skilled artist to be able to pull that off and O’Connor is able to capture it in the nuances of the characters expressions with a raised eyebrow and a slight tilt to the head. It really helps make the characters come to life.

One of the great features of this series, is at the end O’Connor has a section that talks about the different characters, who they are, and other details to help learn more about the Greek world. This is the perfect companion for people that have been enjoying the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and want to know more about the Greek/Roman gods and how they work. It would be ok for elementary school age (3rd and above) but they would probably need to read it with a parent. But this would be an excellent book for a middle or high schooler (or even adult) that wants to learn more about the world of Greek mythology. I can’t wait to read the next volume. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

You can find my reviews for books 3-6 and the collected set here.

ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond

The Rise of Aurora West (Battling Boy)
The Rise of Aurora West (Battling Boy)
by J. T. Petty
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
97 used & new from $2.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rough start, better ending, January 7, 2015
The Rise of Aurora West, Battling Boy
Written by Paul Pope, JT Petty, Illustrated by David Rubín
First Second
September 2014

Acropolis has a nightly curfew, in the attempt to keep kids safe from the monsters who prowl the streets and the dark alleys. They have one hero. Haggard West, a rich scientist, avenging the death of his wife at the hands of one of these foul creatures. Joining him is his teenage daughter, Aurora West. By day she is trained by Ms. Grately in martial arts and by night she prowls the city with her father, hunting down the creatures of the night and stopping their mischief. But Aurora remembers and learns that her imaginary friend from when she was younger...may have had a hand in her mother’s death and may not be so imaginary. As she seeks to balance school, the night hunts, and finding out the truth to the past Aurora may find that she has taken on more than she can handle. And may need all the help she can just not to fall.

This is one of those books that’s difficult for me review, because it’s a spinoff/prequel of one of my favorite books from last year, Battling Boy. Because the book isn’t a direct continuation of Battling Boy, but instead focuses on one of its more interesting side characters, Aurora West, the art, layout, and writing style is different. And that isn’t a bad thing, it just makes it harder for me to review, as I try to keep in mind that this is a completely different book.

With regards to the art I actually like David Rubin’s style a great deal. The figures are dynamic and expressive, and his style really captures the feel of the battles and villains well. The problem for me though is that it isn’t the Aurora West that we met in Battling Boy. And maybe that’s part of a strategic decision since this telling her story before we meet her. But I feel in love with Pope’s version of Aurora and it’s hard to look at someone else drawing her. I know that’s a common thing among superhero comics and we all have our favorite artists that work on a particular character, but for me it feels too soon to have someone else draw her right now. And that’s not really Rubin’s fault, it just pulls me out of book a little bit.

Where I do have some issues though, is that the art and writing in some places at the beginning of the book didn’t quite jive well, particularly with some of the panel transitions. On some of the pages where the grid is broken or tilted at an angle towards the beginning of the book I fall out of the story, because I veer to the wrong panel or just something jars me out. And while I can stand back and look at the page and follow the logic, when I’m reading the story I get drawn out for a couple of seconds trying to figure out what’s really happening, and that’s not a good thing in an action/adventure/hero story. And maybe its because this is the first time this group has worked together and they were finding their footing. By the end of the story I didn’t see as much of this and did get swept into the last quarter of the book and it’s action.

When it comes down to it though, I had trouble with aspects of the story and the art. It just didn’t capture my attention the way Battling Boy did. And although this one didn’t work for me in places, I still love Battling Boy and Aurora West though, so I’ll definitely give the sequel a read because I want to know what happens next. I want to know who this mysterious figure is and what really happened to Aurora’s mother. I give it three out of five stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

Olympians Boxed Set
Olympians Boxed Set
by George O'Connor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $43.49
57 used & new from $32.41

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Megset achieved!, January 7, 2015
This review is from: Olympians Boxed Set (Paperback)
That’s right, its a book review special! The first ever boxed collection that First Second has put out, featuring the first six books in the Olympian series by George O'Connor! This series has been one of my favorites since I picked up the first volume and the following volumes have only gotten better and better.

Greek and Roman mythology has been one of my favorite parts of history for so long, but so many of the books, particularly for a younger crowd, are boring. Or overwhelming with the sheer amount of information! O’Connor doesn’t have that issue, because instead of focusing on the events, he focuses on the gods and goddesses of the pantheon and lets them tell the stories of history as it relates to them. It makes it fun and exciting to read because we get to see Zeus be unsure of himself at times, but trying to do what’s right without giving everything away. Hades being a hero, not the villain he is so often portrayed as. And Aphrodite? Man...who knew she wasn’t a clueless love god, but a master manipulator? O’Connor makes the world come to life by the story he weaves and by giving personality to the gods that we meet so that we can understand why they did what they did.

This boxed set is a fantastic addition to the pantheon, allowing all of the books to be easily collected in one place and showing off the gorgeous spine work that features half of Medusa! Plus it comes with a poster depicting the family tree of the gods and goddesses, as well as new artwork on the cover of the box showcasing more of O’Connor’s skills. Plus with this set you get one all of the little features at the back of the book that talk about the different characters, who they are, and other details to help you learn more about the Greek world. Even better, from a librarian perspective, they have a bibliography! A list of websites and recommended reading list to go to get more information.

I imagine that we’ll see another boxed set when the series reaches twelve volumes and I cannot wait. Heck, I can’t wait to read the next volume which will be Ares, the God of War! I give this megaset five out of five stars.

Set provided by Gina at First Second

If you’d like to read my reviews of books 3-6 you can find them here:

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics
Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics
by Various Various Authors
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.28
81 used & new from $2.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all, January 7, 2015
World War I. The Great War. Death and destruction on the largest scale ever seen. And yet...a movement began with the soldiers in the trenches, writers, poets, artists, and thinkers all. They’ve become known as The Trench Poets, writing about the war and their experiences, not as a romantic or noble enterprise, but as what they really saw and felt. The bloodshed of war, the senseless violence, the death. All things that people knew, but so often romanticized prior to this, but these poets chose to tell reality. Above the Dreamless Dead brings some of these works back to life to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I, and to honor the dead.

Chris Duffy once again brings his editing prowess to bear, choosing twenty of the most moving poems and twenty talented artists to merge poem and comics into something new. Working in black and white, the artists have created illustrations and comics to capture the essence of the poem and show some of the horrors that the soldiers experienced, many things for the very first time. The artists range from Steve Bissette to Eddie Campbell to kevin Huizenga and more. Each artists brings their own style to the poem they’re working on which creates a wide variety and interpretation of the works.

Given that any anthology a reader’s impression and liking of the works is going to vary by taste, I’m not going to review the art. Instead I’ll say look take a look through the book, find the illustrations or comics that cause your heart to pause a beat, without ever reading the words. Stop at those. Read them and learn what the Trench Poets wanted to share. Take in the art that’s been created to help you feel what the Trench Poets felt. Take in the words and the art, even if just for a few seconds. And be moved.

This is a book that everyone should pick up. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a fan of history, or poetry, or war...this is a book that everyone should at least read one poem and comic from. To better understand a part of our history. And to maybe take something into the future. I give the book five out of five stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

The Zoo Box
The Zoo Box
by Ariel Cohn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.20
63 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and enjoyable read, January 6, 2015
This review is from: The Zoo Box (Hardcover)
Erika and Patrick’s parents are off for an evening fun, and if the kids behave they’ll get to go to the zoo tomorrow! First though, Erika and Patrick decide to have a bit of fun dressing up in animals costumes and exploring the attic. And what to their wandering and playful eyes appear? But a box that says “do not open” which tempts them to draw ever closer. And upon opening the box, that says “do not open” an entire menagerie of animals appears! They follow the animals and to a zoo, where they discover the humans are the exhibits! What will they ever do, when the animals say boo?

This is one of those books that you pick up and you can’t help remembering back to your own childhood and reading books like Jumanji or Where the Wild Things Are for the very first time. Books where children become part of the wild creature rumpus and everything is toppsy turvy. Wife and husband team Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke, have created a fun and enjoyable story, one that all ages can enjoy and think...what would you do if zoo animals were chasing after you? And while there isn’t much “text,” there is a lot happening in the story in the wordless panels and in the gutter space and none of that happens by accident. Ariel does a great job of communicating to the reader with no words Erika and Patrick’s adventure following the animals to and around the zoo, and then running back home, just ahead of them to escape. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but Ariel’s writing pulls it off well.

Aron’s illustrations are simple and whimsical in nature that capture the lively moment of Erika and Patrick, and the animals they encounter. Some of my favorite scenes are of Erika and Patrick running up the stairs in the movement we often see young children running at, full limb and lose, thump, thump, thumping up the stairs. Even better is that the Erika and Patrick, while distinct characters in their own right, are drawn in such a way its easy for any kid to put themselves in their place. The home and other settings are familiar as well, helping to create a book and story that is easy to slip into. When we see the home it isn’t a perfect “picture book” home. It has a crooked picture on the wall, a softly glowing lamp with a titled light shade, and a book lying on the floor, spine up of course, waiting to be read.

If you’ve read some of the other reviews, just stop. This is a fun and enjoyable kids book. It is something that is meant to be read, shared, treasured, and read again and again. Remember what it was like reading Jumanji or Where the Wild Things Are, and let this be that type of book for a new reader. Enjoy the adventure and wonder what you would do if animals said boo to you. Four out of five stars and recommended for all ages.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Shakespeare for all ages, January 2, 2015
The Zoo has closed for the evening, and the visitors head home to visions of animals in their dreams, the animals are gathering, for the Play is the thing. The Midnight revue has gathered to perform a grand production of Macbeth, for all to see. Macbeth the regal lion, brave warrior and hero of the realm is well loved by all. But his wife, Lady Macbeth dost wish for more and encourages him to eat the king, so that he may rule! Down this path madness does lie, but he does as she wishes for he loves her so. As more animals disappear to cover his crime and as Queen Macbeth descends into madness, new heroes arise and the tragic tale comes to an end.

One of the things that I struggled the most with in school was reading plays. Any play, but Shakespearean plays were always the worst. I had trouble figuring out which character was speaking, how scenes fit together, and words always got jumbled in my head. It was only when I discovered graphic novel adaptations of the plays did things really start to click for me, and after reading this adaptation I really wish I had, had this version to read! It captures the classic story well, but adds some additional humor and asides to the audiences that make the play even more fun. Ian has done a great job of adapting Macbeth so its enjoyable for all ages and making the characters into animals. Macduff is a noir detective stork. Lady Macduff is a cheetah, who can’t quite get the spots out. The witches try to help their colleague perfect her evil cackle (she tries everything else first...including a nice Santa laugh.) While Ian does tone down some of the darker aspects of the play, given that the book is for younger readers, he captures its essence and message perfectly.

I’ve been a huge fan of Zach Giallongo’s art since his previous First Second book, Broxo, and his illustrations in this book made me fall even more in love with his art. While Ian crafts the perfect words for his characters, Zach brings them to life, capturing their expressions and movements perfectly. Macbeth, a regal looking lion, moves with ease, but as he eats more and more animals, he begins to waddle and his belly extends and Zach captures it with ease. My favorite character though has to be Macduff the stork. Depicted in a trench coat and a fedora (I really wonder whose idea that was?) captures the essence of Macduff as a detective so well that I’m going to have a hard time imagining Macduff as anything else from now on. Zach should also be commended, along with Ian, for making the more violent acts of the play into something a bit more cartoony with squirting ketchup substituting for blood and well placed animals blocking the view when needed.

If you’re looking for a literary analysis or think that Shakespeare has no humor, please look elsewhere. On the other hand if you’re looking for something fun to introduce Shakespeare to younger readers, 5th grade and up, forge ahead! Older readers will enjoy the humor and new look at Macbeth as well. In fact, I think this book would work perfectly in a high school setting, helping students understand that Shakespeare does have humor to it, and that it can be fun and enjoyable to read. I give the book four out of five stars.

PS: I hear that a second volume is in the works, this time based upon Romeo and Juliet. I can’t wait!

Review copy provided by Gina at First Second

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents (Kid Legends)
Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents (Kid Legends)
by David Stabler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.09
65 used & new from $2.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, entertaining book for all ages, December 30, 2014
ARC provided by LibraryThing

We should all go ahead and get one thing out of the way, history can be boring as sin for young kids to study. Oh I know, its exciting and there is some great stuff in it that kids would enjoy. But the people that write the history books? And the *cough* politicians and people *cough* that try to rewrite history? Yeah...they forget how much fun history really is and get stuck on trying to make people memorize facts and figures, instead of remembering that the past can be not only a great teacher, but fun as well. And that’s where books like “Kid Presidents” come in.

In this book David Stabler brings to life stories from sixteen different presidents, including our current one Barack Obama, from when they were kids. And while others have done this type of thing before, they all tend to focus on the same boring story, like George Washington and the cherry tree or Abraham Lincoln and his quest to end vampires...wait neither of those is real? Well dang. Oh well, Stabler has done his research and brings to life stories that ARE real, strange, and just...normal that readers of all ages will enjoy. I mean I learned a lot about the presidents that I hadn’t known before. For example, did you know that George Washington was almost apprenticed to the British Navy before his mom stepped in and put a stop to it? Or that he helped create some of the early maps of Virginia instead? Its true! Even more importantly though, Stabler makes it a point to show how the presidents were just like everyone else growing up. They struggled with homework, got into fights with their siblings, drove their teachers and parents nuts, and had to do stuff they hated, but they still managed to grow up and hold the most important office in the US. Imagine the joy and aspirations so many young children will get reading about past presidents. And wonder if one day they will join their ranks. The only complaint that I have is that Stabler only writes about sixteen of the presidents. While he presents interesting tidbits and facts about all of them throughout the book, I would have loved to see more stories of our past leaders.

One of the things that helps bring this book to life, are the great illustrations that Doogie Horner provides throughout. With a style and movement that reminds me of Charles Schulz, Horner captures the essence of the people that we meet making them feel like the kids next door. For example, within the story Ulysses Grant, one of the illustrations captures Grant at the age of eight buying a horse from a wily farmer. The illustration captures the precocious, but studious nature of the young grant and portrays the farmer as a somewhat rascally, but one that is basically good at heart. Trust me, that’s a lot to try to convey in one image but Horner does a good job of it. The one complaint that I have is about the book cover itself. The only illustration that looks like it was done by Horner is the one of Teddy Roosevelt. The other ones present a caricature of the adult president face, situated on a child’s body. Which is just really, really creep. I’m not sure what led to this style change, but I would have far preferred to see the illustrations as they were in the book.

Although the book has some minor flaws, by and large I recommend it without hesitation. Not just to young readers, but all ages as even adults will learn something new about our past presidents. I hope that Stable and Horner are able to do another book featuring new stories about other presidents and that this is the first in a series. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
by Liz Prince
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.10
64 used & new from $6.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, December 28, 2014
Growing up Liz Prince wasn’t what you call a girly girl. She didn’t like dressing in pink, or playing princess, or heaven help you if you tried to put her in a dress. She didn’t want any of that. Instead, she liked playing baseball, looking at worms and dead things on the ground, and running around in jeans just having fun. Liz knew where she belonged…but did anyone else? Girls didn’t want to play with her (and to be honest she didn’t want to play with them), but the boys didn’t want her around either because she was a girl! What was she supposed to do? As time passes and as new people come into her life, maybe, just maybe, Liz might find where she belongs. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find where you belong too.

One of the hardest, and worst, things about growing up is being told that we have to fit in. That we must conform to this box that society shoves us into based upon gender, or our race, or our religion…or anything. It insists that pink and dresses and playing house are for girls and blue and overalls and playing rough are for boys. And the lines are to never be crossed. It is the worst and most damaging lie that we tell children. In this memoir Liz prince takes that box, tells it to get lost, and shows us how she find her path and place in this world. “Tomboy” a phrase once used as an insult, becomes a rallying cry of marching to the beat of your own drummer. Of being true to yourself.

Even though Liz is writing this book from the perspective of a young woman, the message, and the story within it, are ones that we can all relate too. I found myself reading and nodding along (and in some places shouting out “Yes, yes! Someone else knows what I was feeling) as Liz tries so hard to be herself, but still fit into the world around her. I was the opposite of Liz, I got along better with girls, enjoyed more quiet things, although I never did like pink. Like Liz, I had trouble finding where I fit in, still do sometimes too be honest. But like Liz, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found the groups and people that accept me as I am. And this book gives me a little bit more hope that I had before.

Liz tells her story in short anecdotes of her life, of growing up with parents that were accepting (which seems to be a rarity these days), of trying to find where she fits into the school world, and of finally finding comfort in just being herself and finding a group that accepts her as she is. Throughout these stories Liz touches on some heavy topics including dealing with bullying, of feeling like you’re alone and that no one understands you, and finally…of accepting who you are and knowing that there are others that will accept you as you are as well. She tells her story with a bit of humor, a lot of emotion, and all heart, to keep the reader engaged.

Liz’s art style could be described as deceptively simple. Much like one of her contemporaries, Raina Telgemeier, Liz uses a simple unbroken line to capture the characters and their surrounding, with a little bit of shading when necessary, but seemingly not a lot else. But while the drawings may seem simple, they capture the fluidity and the life of the character, allowing the reader to see them move and grow upon the page. In addition, each panel is laid out with care to ensure that what we see is necessary and relative to the story at hand. No panel is wasted and the images allow us to see with clarity what Liz was experiencing at the time or how she imagines others view her, such as her baseball teammates seeing her as a girly princess wanting to play catch. The movement within the illustrations will capture young readers attention and help them see that the author experiences the world as they do.

As mentioned earlier, although Liz is writing from the perspective of a young woman, this a story that all genders and ages can relate to. In fact, I would strongly encourage anyone involved in education at any level and any parent to read this book so that they understand that it is ok to be who you are and maybe get some ideas and advice on how to encourage young people struggling with these identity issues. I highly recommend the book and give it five out of five stars.

Additional note:

This is where I deviate a bit from the review to offer an additional note about books like Tomboy.

In the last several years there have been more books published about following your own path. To take the box that society tries to shove us into and shove it back. And there are some that decry that these types of books are promoting harm, encouraging kids to be different, or promoting sin, or whatever other words they can think of to say that books like Tomboy, Drama, and countless others are bad for people, especially young children and teens to read. I’m going to be nice in how I phrase this, so here’s the reality: books like this one and others help people know that they don’t have to fit into a nice little packaged box. That they are not alone in this world and that there are others like them. That they can be themselves and do well at it. Maybe some people in their life won’t like it, but that’s ok. Because they are not alone. They aren’t evil, they aren’t bad, they aren’t whatever words some adults want to use say they are. They can be proud of who they are. And maybe, just maybe, books like Tomboy and Drama can help some people get a perspective that is different than their own and understand some of the people in their world a bit better.

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!
by Dominique Roques
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.42
62 used & new from $3.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep well Anna Banana!, October 5, 2014
Anna Banana's stuffed animal friends are tired after a long day and are just ready to sleep. But Anna isn't ready yet, she just wants to finish up her book. And when they try to leave to go elsewhere to sleep, Anna doesn't let them. But when she's finally ready to go to sleep the stuffed animals have their revenge and give Anna taste of her own medicine. When all is said and done, will anyone learn a lesson?

This is a short, but fun children's book with some good lessons in it for young readers and beautiful illustrations. The writing is superb, as Anna Banana is a vivacious, vibrant young kid that almost anyone can relate to. But more importantly, to me at least, is that Anna isn't staying up to watch TV or play video games. She's staying up to read a book! And while I encourage people to do that (it is quite awesome), Anna isn't being mindful of her friends wishes to go to sleep! Anna and her friends both learn something in this tale.

The illustrations are bright, cheerful, and will make readers you and old laugh out loud. The soft, fuzzy, watercolors are just the thing to look at before going to sleep. The stuffed animals all appear fuzzy and the use of gorgeous soft blues capture the essence of a night time scene, and the soft yellows capture the gentle glow of a lamp being turned on. Young readers (and old) will love looking at the illustrations of Anna and her friends.

Who among us didn't imagine that our stuffed animals could talk to us? This is the perfect book to help young readers understand that their our consequences for the things we do that can affect others around us. I'd recommend this book highly to folks with kids under 5 and as a great book for storytime. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. And as an additional note, a second book in the Anna Banana series is coming out next year from First Second!

*One last note, is that the paper this book is printed on is extremely thin and may not stand up to a lot of wear and tear. This is First Second's first foray into the picture book realm and the next book, Julia's House for Lost Creatures, is printed on better stock. Just something to take into consideration.*

ARC provided by Gina at First Second

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