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Andy Shuping RSS Feed (White River Junction, VT USA)

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Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!
by Dominique Roques
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.26
67 used & new from $4.49

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


Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
by Nick Bertozzi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.59
58 used & new from $6.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing and icy journey, October 5, 2014
Ernest Shackleton was a hero. He was one of the last great Antarctic explorers in a time when it seemed that all had been discovered and there would be no new adventures. But Shackleton was not deterred. He assembled a team of the best and brightest and undertook one of the most ambitious expeditions ever undertaken...they would cross Antarctica. The first time such a feat had ever been attempted. Shackleton planned and raised the funds to complete the journey and promised his men that he would lead them all back home. But in order to keep that promise Shackleton and his crew would have to face an unimaginable journey across the deadly ice, cold, and the loss of their ship would stand in their way.

This is not your typical graphic novel. In part because its a biography of an explorer that few people maybe familiar with. And in part because instead of being told about the adventure they went on second hand, like we're hearing about it afterwards through letters or remembrances, we're right there with the characters. Struggling with them as they try to survive the cold, the ice, and the dangers they never saw coming. Nick’s black and white illustrations make it almost feel like we're watching an old black and white news reel and that we're accompanying the team along their journey. Although the illustrations are relatively simple, Nick adds details to keep visual interest that will keep the reader looking for visual imagery that enhances the story. The story here, is also somewhat unfamiliar to most readers. Instead of giving extra details that some books do it's more of a...almost clipped style of conversation. The type that we can really imagine explorers during this age sharing, which gives the book that much more realism.

When I initially read an electronic ARC of the book, one of the things that I missed with a good bibliography/further resources to learn more about Shackleton. The book had caught my attention and I had to resort to reading Wikipedia to learn more about the group. And while Wikipedia is a decent place to get some information, I really wanted more! Thankfully the final print version contains an addendum about the group and Shackleton himself and a list of recommended resources to learn even more about the group, so others have a chance to learn not only about the brave souls that explored the icy unknown, but why they risked their lives to do so.

Overall this is an interesting story of a group of explorers that time has forgotten for more famous names, such as Captain Robert Scott. Nick has let their legacy be known to the world once more and that's a wonderful thing. Although my review is late, the book was published in time for the 100th anniversary of this expedition, in order to help celebrate and honor the men on this journey. I give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second


Julia's House for Lost Creatures
Julia's House for Lost Creatures
by Ben Hatke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.34
36 used & new from $10.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Julia's home reigns, October 5, 2014
Julia is a friendly young woman and enjoys having company, and so does her home, conveniently located on the back of a giant turtle! She and the house decide to settle in a nice new town by the ocean and they love it, except for one thing. It’s too quiet! So Julia puts a sign up that says “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures” and soon manner of creatures are arriving from everywhere! She has goblins, mermaids, fairies, and maybe even a dragon. Soon she has plenty of company and it’s no longer quiet, but...how does she get them all to behave and help out? After some pondering thoughts or two Julia may just have a couple of ideas.

Bet Hatke is one of my favorite writers and illustrators period. He’s best known for his recently concluded trilogy of Zita the Spacegirl, about a young woman who comes into her own and saves the universe a time or two. And although he’s moving into new worlds to play in, he’s lost none of the sense of whimsy and charm that we’ve come to know from his characters. Even more important to me is the fact that once again the main character of the book is a strong, confident young woman, who doesn’t come across as stereotypical or abnormal or anything else. She is who she is and she’s comfortable with that. In this case she’s playing host to a variety of creatures great and small and has to keep everyone from creating too much trouble, but still being friendly towards one another. Julia really reminds me a lot of Chihiro from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and I love it.

One thing that is slightly different about this book, is that it is published under FirstSecond's picture book imprint....which is honestly a bit strange to type, because in my mind the two concepts are very much the same (at some point soon I'll write a longer blog post on this.) But this book does follow the traditional concept of a picture book, fewer words and more full page image spreads to capture the attention of a young reader or two. What hasn't changed though, is Ben's illustrations. In this book it is clear that Ben is working with a diverse watercolor pallet and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Lush and beautiful with strong vivid bright colors and details hidden within that will keep you looking for hours on end. From the very first image we see on the front cover to the of Julia and her home (with a creature or two or few hanging out of the home) to the simplicity of the troll gracing the back cover, smiling at the record player. Again, it reminds me of Spirited Away, with the variety of creatures that come to inhabit the home.

If you were a fan of Zita then you’ll love Julia. And if you weren’t a fan of Zita, pick this book up, fall in love with Julia, and then go pick up Zita. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and I look forward to more adventures of Julia, her home, and the monsters that have come to visit.

ARC Provided by Gina at FirstSecond


The Shadow Hero
The Shadow Hero
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow Rises, October 5, 2014
This review is from: The Shadow Hero (Kindle Edition)
In the Golden Age of the comics, the 1940's, a hero was created by Chu Hing named....The Green Turtle! The Green Turtle had no mystic or magical powers, but he was a superb and skilled fighter. During World War II, The Green Turtle helped the Chinese army defend itself against the invading Japaneses forces. But there's even more to this legend than meets the eye...the Green Turtle was the first Asian American super hero. Even though Chu's publishers refused to allow the Turtle to ever be depicted in the comics as Asian, Chu hid the Turtle's face and gave him slanted eyes. The Turtle did not run long and soon lapsed into the night, but his legend remained and those that knew of him wondered...where did he come from? Thanks to the efforts of writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Sonny Liew that question may now be answered. And the legend of the Green Turtle is at long last revealed.

Hank is just your average 1930's teenage kid. He's a second generation Chinese-American living in Chinatown with his parents. He looks up to his dad and works hard their grocery store, thinking about the future when he'll take over, and eventually pass it onto his children. But his mother...his mother isn't happy with average. One day she is saved by a superhero. And she decides...Hank needs to be the first Asian American superhero. And Hank begins a journey that will include encounters with gangsters, the police, beautiful women, and perhaps...even an ancient spirit or two. Now the only question is...can he survive what the "training" his mom throws at him?

The first thing I thought of when I heard of this story is...what the heck is the Green Turtle?? It just sounds...strange. But after reading the description, that Gene and Sonny were bringing back the first Asian American superhero and giving him an origin story, I was intrigued. I mean how can you not be, after learning that in the 1940's Chu did all he could to give the world this hero and he drew and wrote the story in such a way, that the publishers, or anyone else for that matter, cloud claim that the Turtle was a white hero. And Gene and Sonny do an excellent job of bringing this character and his story to life.

Gene is one of those writers that I've admired for a very long time. You know the type, that everything they do seems to come out awesome and you want to be jealous of them, but how can you be? Not only is he a great writer, but he's also one of the nicest guys around. Gene and Sonny capture the feeling of being in 1930's California. The growing and bustling population of Chinatown, the immigrants looking to make a new life for themselves, and the racism that the people must endure. Gene doesn't shy away from using racial slurs, showing inept and horrid caricatures of the Chinese and other creations. The thing that I love most about Gene's stories though, are that he starts blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, to create a world that you recognize and instantly want to be a part of. And that's what he does here. This world that he creates where heroes exist and where ancient spirits roam, and there are people that are willing to stand up and fight for the wrong in the world...how can you not want to be a part of that? That says nothing of the fact that the characters are memorable and the journey they undertake is powerful. It leaves you to wonder...what would you do in the spot? Would you make the same choices? Would you get lost? And that's one of the best things any story can do.

Sonny's artwork is just simply gorgeous. He seems to effortlessly capture the movement of the characters on the pages as they fight and battle, that it almost seems like they're dancing. But even better is just how well Sonny's art works with Gene's words. Sometimes you read a comic book and think "why the heck did they pick this person to draw? It just doesn't look the words!" But here...that's not the case. If you were to read Gene's words by themselves, Sonny's images surpass what you could even imagine.

This is a great story and I'm glad that Sonny and Gene were able to come together to create and weave a great story. You can see the "secret origins" of the Shadow hero on Gene's blog, as he shares the process behind the creation of the comic, including some of the early scripts and sketches that he and Sonny put together. I'm linking to part 5 of the secret origins and you can find the links to the previous parts. I really hope that they come out with a second volume, because I want to know what happens next...and I can't wait to read it. I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina at First Second


An Aspie's Guide to Being Tested for Asperger's/HFA: Been There. Done That. Try This! (Been There. Done That. Try This! Aspie Mentor Guides)
An Aspie's Guide to Being Tested for Asperger's/HFA: Been There. Done That. Try This! (Been There. Done That. Try This! Aspie Mentor Guides)
Price: $13.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must have for any Aspie, July 16, 2014
ARC provided by NetGalley

One of the most difficult aspects of being diagnosed with Asperger’s latter in life isn’t learning about yourself, but learning ways to deal with the world around you as an adult, since much of the literature and support is for children. That situation though is slowly changing thanks in large part to people like Dr. Tony Attwood and Temple Grandin, who have stepped up, spoken out, and shared their stories and advice to help people. This book adds yet another step, adults that have aspergers, have thrived and survived, and have been serving as mentors to many others share their words of wisdom on how to survive daily life and the stresses within it, all from the perspective of an Aspie. While sometimes the stories drag a little bit, the advice that these Aspie mentors offer on anxiety, depression, friendship, love, and more is invaluable to someone like me that was only diagnosed as being on the spectrum last year. This book is must have for anyone on the spectrum. 4 out of 5 stars.


Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent
Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent
by Mike Mignola
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.15
73 used & new from $6.93

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hellboy in full., July 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
ARC provided by NetGalley

Hellboy. The demon that forged his own path to be more than a prophecy, more than what light or dark chose for him to be...to be his own man....er demon rather. When we last saw him however, he had given his life to save the world. And for the first time he is returning to his father’s world. But the world is not all that it’s cracked up to be and Hellboy’s fight has not yet ended. Even though he has declared his intentions not to take the throne of hell itself, he must fight off others that would want it...and will kill Hellboy to do so. And before it is done, he must kill the Lord of the Underworld himself, if he is to have any peace for a time.

It’s hard to believe but Hellboy has been with us since March of 1994. In the twenty years he’s been around, Mike Mignola, has told us Hellboy’s story and expanded the universe to include other characters and groups. Both Hellboy and Mignola have influenced the larger world of comics, with the thick blocky line illustration and characters that stand on the edge of a knife, constantly battling their darker nature in the fight to save the world that hates them. And this maybe the best volume of Hellboy yet. Here we get to see Hellboy from his birth to his father’s intentions for him to why Hellboy has the power that he does. Mike returned to his roots and did the writing and illustrations for this volume, so it is classic Hellboy style from the master. This a great storyline and great chance to see Hellboy for who he is without anyone else surrounding him and of course it has some nice inside jokes and references. Oh and one of my favorite parts is the backmatter, where Mignola showcases some of his sketches and notes and other drawings. In this one he has some humorous little commentary next to the bug creatures including “Hello. I am a bug.” It just made me laugh a bit.

If you’re a fan of Hellboy then this is a must read. And if you’ve never ventured into the Hellboy universe at all, this is a good one to pick up and learn about the Hellboy universe. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.


Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine
Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine
by Tim Hanley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.47
44 used & new from $10.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now can we get a Wonder Woman movie?, July 13, 2014
ARC provided by NetGalley

Wonder Woman. One of the big three heroes of DC comics and one of the more prominent female heroines. But who is she really? In this book Hanley lets readers in on Wonder Woman’s complicated history, as more than just a female Superman, but a heroine who was ahead of her time in advocating for female rights and matriarchy. Throughout the years she has has been many things including being involved with bondage, expressing hidden lesbian desires, and a powerful advocate for women’s rights. In addition, Hanley grounds Wonder Woman in her creator’s life, William Moulton Marston, who believed that women would one day take their rightful place alongside the leaders of the world and that young men needed to know how to deal with that. While future writers lost that idea and diminished Wonder Woman’s powers, she persisted and was brought back to life by Lynda Carter and others to continue on today. Hanley exposes it all in this well researched and readable book that brings Wonder Woman to life.


Every Body's Talking: What We Say Without Words (Nonfiction - Grades 4-8)
Every Body's Talking: What We Say Without Words (Nonfiction - Grades 4-8)
by Donna M. Jackson
Edition: Library Binding
Price: $22.50
42 used & new from $16.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is your body saying?, July 12, 2014
ARC provided by NetGalley

Did you know that without uttering a single word someone standing in front of you will be able to read you like an open book? It’s true! Give it a try, because we all communicate with our bodies in a language that is virtually universal. Or so it appears. Giving the thumbs up in the US and Canada means that you approve, but in Greece it stands for something that is rude. And be careful when you nod your head in Albania and Bulgaria, as it actually means no. Our bodies are talking...whether we know it or not.

Body language is a complex, and sometimes, difficult topic to talk about given that we don’t often look at ourselves when we’re communicating. And for people that are on the Autism spectrum, like me, it’s even more difficult to interpret what the body signals mean if the voice says something different. And that’s where this book comes in. Even though it is a relatively short book, it has lots of good images and is engaging to readers, whether young or older. It walks the reader through what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and when they’re saying it based upon how they’re holding themselves. Even better, it talks about the different cultures and backgrounds, so that it can help readers better understand what to be aware of in different cultures.

Body language tends to be something that we all take for granted and assume that everyone knows what different signals mean. Yet this book shows that different cultures and upbringings impact how we read and understand signals. Although this book is aimed at a younger audience, it is well worth the read for all ages. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.


The Freedom Summer Murders
The Freedom Summer Murders
by Don Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.29
62 used & new from $5.02

5.0 out of 5 stars One that everyone should read, July 12, 2014
ARC provided by NetGalley

In June 1964, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, one of the most horrific events occurred when three young men (one black and two white) were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi for trying to register African Americans to vote. The horror though did not end with their murder, but the failure of the courts to convict the guilty parties of their murder, some of whom were members of local law enforcement. This book, published on the 50th anniversary of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner’s murders, is the first comprehensive book for a young adult audience to understand the racial hatred and prejudices that led to these murders and the guilty being free for so long.

Writing about the murders and miscarriages of justices during the Civil Rights movement is never an easy task, particularly with these three murders, as many people want to forget the blind eye that turned to these types of events. Don Mitchell though shines the biggest light possible unto the event and leaves no stone unturned. Working with court records, printed sources, and original interviews with surviving family members, Mitchell sets the scene for readers. Mitchell doesn’t just recite facts...he tells us about the lives of the three young men, why they did what they did, who their families are, and those that were left behind with their murders. In a few short pages these three men become more than names on a page, but people that we know and care for. And then...they’re gone. Cruelly and violently murdered. Mitchell walks us through the scene, describes the murders, and recounts the efforts to bring the killers to justice...and the travesties that occurred while doing so. But Mitchell doesn’t just describe those that helped these men escape justice, he also describes the people that never stopped telling the truth, the ones that lived their lives in fear, but did what was right.

This is a timely and honest look at the Civil Rights era and how the government ignored lynchings and brutal murders, until two white men were killed. Mitchell lays out the facts that are clear for all to see and to make connections to what continues to be a problem to this day. This book should be required reading for all students, in the hopes that we can learn from the past to change the present. I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.


Powerpuff Girls Volume 1
Powerpuff Girls Volume 1
by Troy Little
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.60
54 used & new from $6.82

4.0 out of 5 stars The Girls are back!, July 12, 2014
ARC provided by NetGalley

Mojo Mojo has been defeated by the Powerpuff girls yet again! He’s finally run out of schemes and ideas, as the Powerpuff girls are able to stop him before he even begins. What’s the smartest monkey in the world to do now? Surrender. Mojo Mojo gives up his mojo and becomes a seemingly normal monkey again. And he isn’t the only one! A sinister force has decided all of the villains of Townville should be reformed! This can only be a good thing...right?

The Powerpuff Girls were one of my favorite cartoons to watch, because how can you resist cute bubbly girls that have superpowers and kick butt? I mean seriously how can you? You can’t. So when I saw this comic I knew I just had to read it and Troy Little didn’t disappoint. Not only are his illustrations spot on for the Girls and citizens of Townsville, but his writing is as well. Picking up this book it feels like we never left Townsville and we’re quickly able to catch up with the girls and everyone else again. He captures the Girls personalities extremely well, especially Buttercup, who is always hesitant to believe that the villains can reform.

This is one of the areas that IDW excels at, by bringing some of our favorite cartoons back to life in new adventures without ever losing the sense of what made them great to begin with. If you were a fan of the Girls or are just now discovering them, you can’t go wrong with this volume. Perfect for all ages. I give out 4 out of 5 stars.


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