Tag Archive | US artist

Poetry? I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, says Chris Harris (book review)

book cover of I'm Just No Good at Rhyming, by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith, published by Little Brown | recommended on BooksYALove.comPoems must rhyme?
Poems may rhyme?
To the poet, does it matter?

If you want your funny bone tickled, your visual imagination charmed, and that soft part of your heart bumped a bit, this is the poetry book for you!

Happy book birthday to I’m No Good at Rhyming!

Hope to see more versified silliness (with a bit of seriousness) from debut poet (longtime TV writer) Chris Harris (who is pretty good at rhyming after all) and well-known illustrator Lane Smith (he wrote It’s a Book; he draws humorous pictures; he argues with the author!) in the future.

Which style of poetry is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults / by Chris Harris; illustrated by Lane Smith. Little, Brown: 2017.  [illustrator site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lengthy poems, short poems, serious ones, and silly ones (lots of silly ones) fill this collection aimed at kids and grownups so they can read and smile together.

Enjoy the wise words in “The Valleys Shape the Mountains”, good advice in “Just Be Yourself”, and utter(ed) nonsense in “Yes Means No and No Means Yes…”

Illustrations by Lane Smith add to the fun of “Alphabet Book (by the laziest artist in the world)” and sideways-across-the-pages short verse about “The Hungry Giraffe”

You should never laugh at a hungry giraffe;
It takes him so long to swallow,
He may have eaten yesterday —
But he won’t feel full till tomallow. (pp. 44-45)

Debut author Harris may claim that he’s “no good at rhyming” but readers won’t believe it, just as they won’t believe how many poems he can make from one entitled “The Door” or the way that “L-O-V-E” winds up spelled in its poem or why some page numbers are missing in this fun volume (even “without William Shakespeare”) as the author and illustrator banter throughout.

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond (book review) – challenging times for first love

book cover of Bright Lights Dark Nights by Stephen Emond published by Roaring Brook | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe’s white, she’s black,
Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…

Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.

Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…

Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.

When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
**kmm

Book info:  Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.

Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?

Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.

H is haiku – All the Words Are Yours, by Tyler Knott Gregson (book review)

book cover of All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson published by Tarcher Perigee |BooksYALove.comThree lines,
a handful of syllables each,
boundless emotion.

In this heartlifting hardback, poet and photographer Gregson pairs his profoundly simple haiku with evocative photo backgrounds, collecting the best from his tumblr in a celebration of love and togetherness.

“There’s time we can waste
and there’s time we can treasure.
Please have both with me.”

–  perfect for National Poetry Month.
**kmm

Book info: All the Words Are Yours: Haiku On Love / Tyler Knott Gregson. Tarcher Perigee, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A Montana poet and photographer celebrates the many sides of love in this collected volume of haiku paired with photos, originally posted daily on his tumblr.

“Love me as I am,
see me for who I will be,
forgive who I was.”

Hand-written on sticky notes or set down on paper with an old-fashioned typewriter, each haiku says love, every day.

“It’s okay you know,
to be carried now and then,
Strength too needs a rest.”

Plotted, by Andrew DeGraff (book review) – mapping literary landscapes

book cover of Plotted by Andrew DeGraff published by Zest Books | http://BooksYALove.com reviewBefore and after of Robinson Crusoe‘s island,
Moby Dick and the ship chasing him,
Huckleberry Finn‘s meandering voyage down the Mississippi with Jim…

Happy book birthday this week to Plotted: A Literary Atlas!

I liked it so much that I almost posted this recommendation well before its publication date, but rescheduled so as not to whet your appetite for these uniquely visualized story-maps before you could actually acquire this fascinating book.

Enjoy literary maps of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol  and of Richard Adams’ Watership Down  in this free preview from the publisher, then go get this book to see all the intricately detailed maps, so evocative of each of the 19 books selected while using no quotations at all.

Do you create mental (or actual) maps as you read a book?
**kmm

Book info: Plotted: A Literary Atlas / art by Andrew DeGraff, essays by Daniel Harmon. Zest Books, 2015.  [artist’s site]  [publisher site]  [time-lapse artist’s video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Mental maps created by reading stories blossom into intricately designed maps on the page in this “literary atlas” covering 19 selections from ancient days to the present, as seen through one artist’s eyes.

Whether mapping the movements of selected characters (as in his panels for A Wrinkle in Time) or conveying a wider sense of the book’s narrative (like the Kafka story, “A Report to the Academy”), DeGraff includes numerous details from each work in his hand-painted maps.

Says the artist, “These are maps for people who seek to travel beyond the lives and places that they already know (or think they know). The goal here isn’t to become found, but only to become more lost. Like a poorly informed but over-confident urbanite, I seek to help you get more lost.” (Introduction)

Wander through Elsinore act by act with the many characters of Hamlet, travel the Mediterranean with Odysseus, and trace the complicated path of true love in Pride and Prejudice. Essays by Daniel Harmon accompany each nearly wordless map-set which brings fresh views of stories for readers to consider and appreciate.

Chrononauts, by Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy (book review) – time travel with swagger

book cover of Chrononauts by Mark Millar and Sean Murphy published by Image ComicsTime-travel suits (with longlife batteries),
Science-genius buddies (with a wild streak),
Televised first time jump (with non-scientist commentator),
What could possibly go wrong?

Traveling back in time to film the world’s most important events as they happen, a jump goes wrong so Danny heads to ancient Samarkand to rescue Corbin, only to encounter an armored motor defense!

These best friends are making the most of time with attitude to spare, even if time-hopping to outsmart Roaring 20s gangsters and attend epic concerts wasn’t in their backers’ business plan. Now, if they could just fix what went wrong in their personal and family lives before they began time-tripping…

Ask for this September release at your local library or independent bookstore – because today is National Comic Book Day! No surprise that this mile-a-minute adventure has already been optioned for a movie deal.

So, if you had a time travel suit, where would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Chrononauts / Mark Millar; art by Sean Murphy. Image Comics, 2015.  [author site]   [artist site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their time-travel suits can take them back to film important world events, but two science genius buddies find it impossible to remain mere bystanders in history.

Corbin’s marriage and family both lost out to his obsession with inventing the chronosuits, while Danny’s womanizing leaves few who’ll weep if he doesn’t make it back from time-traveling.

Transmitting live video of landmark historical events proves the chronosuits’ worth so when Corbin’s signal is lost, his best friend jumps back to rescue him in 11th century Samarkand, right into a skirmish between motorized forces!

Without the cameras on them, Drs. Quinn and Reilly have some fun with places and persons, knowing that they can time-walk away when the going gets rough. But they have left behind family issues – and bosses waiting for marketable history footage – in their own present-day.

Will these smart guys use their time-suits to repair the broken relationships in their personal pasts or get greedy helping themselves to the riches and experiences of every civilization before now?

Wait, what about the consequences of changing history – for everyone stuck in the present!?

The first four issues of the epic webcomic are published together now to give the full arc of this time-hopping buddy adventure in a single volume.

I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest & Kali Ciesemier (book review) – missing friend, comix clues

book cover of I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, art by Kali Ciesemier, published by Arthur A Levine BooksTwo wreck victims, only one body in the car,
dreams of her best friend swimming to safety,
nightmares because she didn’t…

May knew in her gut that the fish-nibbled body found with Libby’s ID wasn’t her best friend, the other outsider who’d drawn Princess X to go with May’s stories from grade school onward.

Nightmares for 3 years, then a shiny new Princess X sticker shows up near their favorite coffee shop – you can start reading their story in a free excerpt.

Here’s the comic that sprang from the world that the two friends created in younger years, but it’s only part of this mystery/missing my best friend story.

Have you got the guts to search for the lost keys that could bring your friend back from wherever?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Princess X / Cherie Priest, art by Kali Ciesemier. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: New Princess X art is appearing after its artist was declared dead, so co-creator May is on the hunt, trying to find Libby using webcomic clues and neighbor dude’s tech skills before “The Needle Man” finds them!

Her best friend and comic co-creator supposedly died 3 years ago, but through her parents’ divorce and moving yet again, May still dreams that Libby escaped the sinking car. In Seattle with her dad for the summer, the teen is surprised to see Princess X stickers and graffiti in places where she and Libby hung out.

Sure that Libby is drawing Princess X again online, May asks tech whiz Patrick to help her uncover exactly who is behind the webcomic, but his research alerts a dangerous predator.

Is Libby truly alive and sending Princess X messages to May?
Can May and Patrick interpret and follow the clues in the comic?
Can they outrun “The Needle Man” before he kills again?

This novel about friendship blends with a graphic novel celebrating empowerment for a wholly satisfying story about trust, sacrifice, and persistence. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

So many stories

Looking through oval window into gallery at Rembrandt's house in AmsterdamGaze out?
Peer inward?
Focus on something unseen?

Art, music, and books can help us do all these things.

But please don’t let preference for favorites keep you from trying new genres and types of books!

Grab a graphic novel like Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and Canaan White to go into WWI trenches with underappreciated African American heroes – these aren’t “just comic books” for sure.

Read books aimed at younger readers that can bring important issues and hard truths to light. Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath gives voice to victims of the Armenian Holocaust.

If you think all novels about death are depressing, reconsider with funny yet realistic Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark.

So, about my photo here: I visited Rembrandthuis to see how the great artist lived and worked, others were there for his paintings up close, a few were obviously dragged there by art-loving companions.

Standing in his recreated studio was decidedly worth climbing all the narrow, twisting stairways. But I was most pleased by seeing how the same etching looked when printed on different papers – the same story, with a slightly changed look.

How have you experienced different stories lately?

Staying off the tourist track in Amsterdam and meeting booklovers from all over (hi, Izzie and Mom and Dad!),
**kmm

Tiger Boy, by Mitali Perkins (book review) – personal success or species survival?

book cover of Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins published by CharlesbridgeHonor or money?
A chance for schooling or a chance for wild tigers?

A rich man’s under-the-table reward for a tiger cub could ensure the future for Neel and his family, but the young man must make his own choices on his beloved Sundarban island near the mouth of the Ganges River.

Where is the line between what is best for wildlife and what is easiest for people?
**kmm

Book info: Tiger Boy / Mitali Perkins; illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Clarksbridge Publishing, 2015.  [author site]  [illustrator site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Neel struggles to keep a lost tiger cub on his Bengali island away from a greedy rich man who wants its skin when the reward would pay for scholarship exam tutoring and medicine for Ma.

The headmaster has selected Neel to take the scholarship exam, despite his difficulty with math and no money for the tutor, even though the boy would rather stay in his Sunderban island village.

Rich Mr. Gupta has come to the island, hiring men like Neel’s father to cut down the special sundari mangrove trees. When rangers ask the villagers to find and return the tiger cub that escaped from a nearby island’s game preserve, the greedy man instead offers a reward for its skin.

As time for the exam gets closer and the rare tiger cub has not been found, Neel’s father reluctantly joins Gupta’s men in the search, while Neel and his big sister venture out each night, trying to find the cub before its frantic mother tears through the preserve’s fences and swims over!

Neel’s love for his home island is as strong as the sundari trees that Baba planted long ago to protect their farm from typhoons – now his appreciation for the rangers’ dedication to protecting the endangered wildlife of the Sundarbans is stronger, too.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

League of Regrettable Superheroes, by Jon Morris (book review) – 100 also-rans from real comics!

book cover of The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris published by Quirk BooksKid Eternity for justice!
Moon Girl fighting crime!
3-D Man against bad guys!
Who???

Jon Morris has spent years locating and verifying these not-very-super characters on his Gone and Forgotten blog – now, he’s collected them into a book filled with pages of rare comics, from the Golden Age to now.

Just published yesterday, this encyclopedic array of one hundred has-beens is a must-have for comic fans. Ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.

If you were inventing a new not-so-superhero, what powers would s/he have?
**kmm

Book info: The League of Regrettable Superheroes / Jon Morris. Quirk Books, 2015.  [author blog]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: For every blockbuster action superhero, there are scores of not-so-super characters who tried and failed to make an impact in comics – a veritable League of Regrettable Superheroes, in fact.

This colorful compendium of so-so superheroes is divided into chronological sections: the Golden Age of Comics (1938-1949) with a propensity for Nazi-hunting during World War II, the Silver Age (1950-1969) with gimmicks galore, and the Modern Age (1970-present) with grim and gritty storylines.

The 100 regrettable superheroes are arranged alphabetically in each age, with full-color comic pages, date of first appearance, and more.

Meet Captain Tootsie, Kangaroo Man, Speed Centaur, and early female superbeing Fantomah of the Golden Age. Puzzle over the mindset of the creators of Congorilla and Pow-Girl of the Silver Age, as well as Brother Voodoo, Squirrel Girl, and Thunderbunny in the Modern Age.

There were also groundbreaking superheroes who never got the recognition they deserved, like Nelvana of the Northern Lights (a Canadian pre-Wonder Woman superhero). Many of the early characters in this book are now in the public domain, so revivals of Nelvana, DollMan, and others may appear in new incarnations.

A must for any comic fan and an interesting look at the concerns of mainstream society during each age, The League of Regrettable Superheroes captures fleeting pages from America’s collective youth.