Posts by challengingthebookworm

Korgi: Problem with Potions

I originally intended to post these in October, but the end of the year got away from me. Since I can’t draw, in honor of Inktober 2017 I searched out a graphic novel to fit each daily theme presented. Now that October is over, I finally have a chance to catch up on my blogging. Here’s my submission for the theme from October 12th: shattered.

Korgi 4 Problem with Potions.jpgTitle: Korgi Book 4: The Problem with Potions
Author/Illustrator: Christian Slade
ISBN: 9781603094030
Pages: 116 pages
Publisher/Date: Top Shelf Productions, c2016.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look at Korgi, to the point where I reread books 1-3 before progressing to the fourth book in this series. Readers realize that Ivy and Sprout don’t always have the perfect relationship that we’ve previously seen, as Sprout gets into a jar of food, tracks footprints over the floor, and breaks a dish before finally getting thrown out of the house by Ivy. It’s then that reoccurring characters the creephogs receive some of the spotlight, as they mistakenly supersize, spotify, and stupefy poor Sprout. Ivy gets him some help, but meanwhile the two brothers we finally met in book three are out for revenge, and wake a skeletal unicorn in their efforts.

Taken individually, the books are all appealingly cute and perfectly suited for multiple age bedtime reads (so long as everyone can see the pages). But the pacing as a series is starting to suffer.  A new character introduced in the final pages is an intriguing addition, but it’s taken us 10 years to get to this point and we’re still no closer to guaranteeing Sprout and Ivy’s safety. In fact, they are probably in more danger then they were in the beginning now that the “big baddy” has started making appearances in the plot. I’m not sure now why the antagonists from the first two books were introduced to begin with, as their actions seem removed from the overarching story. Also, characters Scarlett and Lump, who we saw in previous books, are still included in the (this time more detailed) character list, even though they don’t even make an appearance in book four. Maybe when the fifth one finally rolls around we’ll get some more answers. The illustrations are still engaging and I’m in love with the disguised resurrected unicorn (does anyone make them as plush animals?) but I do wish we were a little farther along. I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of these characters, but I won’t guess when the next book will appear and it’s doubtful original readers will still be interested in discovering the overall conclusion.


Lunch, Camera, Snacktion!

I originally intended to post these in October, but the end of the year got away from me. Since I can’t draw, in honor of Inktober 2017 I searched out a graphic novel to fit each daily theme presented. Now that October is over, I finally have a chance to catch up on my blogging. Here’s my submission for the theme from October 2nd: divided.

Lights Camera Snacktion.jpgTitle: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!
Series: Space Battle Lunchtime Volume One
Author/Illustrator: Natalie Riess
ISBN: 9781620103135
Pages: 119 pages
Publisher/Date: Oni Press, Inc. c2016. (Originally published as Issues 1-4 of the Oni Press Comic Series Space Battle Lunchtime)

Peony gets snagged at the very last minute by a talking frog to serve as a replacement contestant in an intergalactic cooking competition. She’s the underdog, but serves up some superior dishes that keep her advancing through the rounds. But it might not be her dishes that are keeping her, as funny business is afoot, as tampering with cooking equipment and ingredients leads to two eliminations. Peony uncovers more about the suspicious circumstances that led to her serving as a replacement. Are the stakes too high? Is someone intent in making sure Peony’s goose is cooked!?

Peony, dressed in white and pink chef’s outfit decorated with hearts, is obviously the naive, sweetheart that readers are meant to cheer. The bad guy is also quite obvious from the beginning, and there is no surprise when the two collide. A budding friendship with a producer and another contestant might mean Peony will have some help in getting herself out of the hot water she’s found herself. No actual recipes are shared, as the ingredients consist of the mundane and made-up. Diagonally shaped panels contribute to fast-paced feel, with three “episodes” of the competition happening within this first compilation volume. The parts of the story that take place behind the scenes of the show slow the pace substantially.  Aliens are a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, although most could be described as humanoid or similar to an Earth animal (shrimp, fish, frogs, and insects to name a few). A sugary sweet submission to the graphic novel genre that covers a topic not often seen. Fans will look forward to seconds, as the first leaves off on a cliffhanger.

The Wolf the Duck and the Mouse

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Wolf the Duck and the Mouse.jpgTitle: The Wolf The Duck and the Mouse
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
ISBN: 9780763677541
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2017.

Jon Klassen’s signature style of mixed-media illustrations carry the story of a mouse and a duck who have been swallowed whole by a wolf. Life on the inside isn’t as bad as it may seem because as the duck reveals to the mouse: “When I was outside, I was afraid every day wolves would swallow me up. In here, that’s no worry.” Their unconventional life (after-life?) in the wolf’s stomach is threatened by a hunter, who is intent on killing the wolf. The ending (I haven’t seen it spoiled yet, so I won’t be the first to ruin the surprise) provides a fable like rationale behind the wolf’s howling habits. The humor comes from the details and the deadpan, inexpressive portrayals of all the characters, with faces that almost never change. More mind-bending humor that we’ve come to expect from this prolific pair.

How to Be an Elephant

How to Be an Elephant.jpgTitle: How to Be an Elephant: Growing up in the African Wild
Author/Illustrator: Katherine Roy
ISBN: 9781626721784
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: David Macaulay Studio, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a divising of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, c2017.

“With flapping ears and whiffling trunks, the herd quickly spreads the new. After 22 months of growing,  a new baby is on her way. From walking and rumbling to drinking and dining, nothing will come easy for this giant-to-be. But like her mother before her, she’ll have to learn…”

Katherine Roy’s watercolors portraying the life of an elephant start at the very beginning, showcasing an elephant calf still in utero on the title page in purple and gray hues. The baby springs onto the scene and is greeted by a half dozen trunks, emphasizing the community and emphasis on family that a herd maintains. The thick brush strokes transition to lighter golds portraying the sand-swept savanna. The diagrams included are informative and supplement the text, providing information on the elephant’s development, habits, and survival methods. Bite sized facts allow for easy digestion by readers who aren’t distracted by the fully engaging pictures.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

The Antlered Ship

Antlered Ship.jpgTitle: The Antlered Ship
Author: Dashka Slater
Illustrators: The Fan Brothers (Terry Fan and Eric Fan)
ISBN: 9781481451604
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2017.

“The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.”

That vague, open-ended, almost benign statement begins the tale of a fox named Marco, who is keen on having an adventure and finding the answers to all of life’s questions. A flock of pigeons and Marco join the crew of three deer, sailing towards a “wonderful island, with tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees. When we get there, we’ll eat a delectable dinner.” Along the way they encounter crashing waves, hunger, pirates and more questions without answers for Marco. How the animals built the vessel much less operate it is one of my questions that goes unanswered. The ship, while beautifully drawn in graphite and pen and “colored digitally”, looks more akin to human design than animal, including the elaborately designed animal figureheads on the bow. It’s beautiful, but it’s probably geared for a much more contemplative audience than what I typically select for myself or for other patrons. You’ll need to consider readership when recommending this title, as the plot is restrained and if the book is meant to have a moral, like Marco’s answers it is too understated for me to find.

In the Middle of Fall

In the Middle of Fall.jpgTitle: In the Middle of Fall
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Laura Dronzek
ISBN: 9780062573117
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, c2017.

This book is perfect for a seasonal story time, and I wish I had discovered it sooner in the year when it would have been appropriate to share and read aloud. The whole story is told in two sentences drawn out over multiple pages that evocatively detail the signs of the season: “air is chilly / and the squirrels are frisky / […] and the pumpkins are ready / and the apples are like ornaments.” Dronzek’s paints pop from the page, reflecting the vibrant oranges, reds and yellows that Henkes describes. The squirrels look fat and friendly like Tafuri’s, the opening scene of the tree reminds me of Fall is Not Easy and the middle scene of the shaggy-haired white child with a brown dog leaning against a wall evokes a classic scene of contemplation, that might have readers drawing comparisons to Charlie Brown. Even in the monochromatic scene accompanying the “gardens are brown” description, Dronzek draws in readers with over-sized sunflowers being harvested by a mouse and a brilliant yellow bird. The message of fleeting memories and short-lived seasons is a gentle reminder that changes will happen and good things can be found even as we remember the things that have passed. Keep this one in mind for next fall, or squeeze it in now before the snow arrives in earnest. I don’t think readers would mind stretching the seasons.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Barking Up the Wrong Tree.jpgTitle: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Series: Bluff Point Romance #2
Author: Jenn McKinlay
ISBN: 9780399584749
Pages: 315 pages
Publisher/Date: Berkley Sensation, published by Berkley, , an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017.

“Are you flirting with me?” he asked. His voice was a low rumble that resonated somewhere in Carly’s tailbone, making her entire body hum like a tuning fork.
“You started it,” she said.
“I thought you were set on doing the ‘friends’ thing, buddy,” he said.
“I am,” she shrugged. “It’s just kind of a new thing for me. I usually don’t see a man after I’ve slept with him, but I do enjoy flirting with my guy friends and it’s hard to shut off. You’re kind of a new category for me.”
“I like that,” he said.
He was too close. […] She had to get a handle on this thing between them before it spiraled out of control–again. (142)

Carly has moved back into her parents’ house after she lost her job to downsizing. Although they’ll be out of town for the immediate future, her pain of a younger sister will still be living there. Add into the mix the dog and the foul-mouthed talking parrot she inherited from a neighbor, and Carly is less then thrilled. Looking for a distraction at the local bar, she meets James Sinclair, and sparks fly. While James is anxious to continue this relationship, Carly’s policy is one and done, and she is not keen on changing that for anyone, no matter how good the kisses (and other physical acts) make her feel.

I think my favorite part of the book is when Carly and James are placed in a position where they have to explain to James’ family how they met. They alternate coming up with one outlandish scenario after another, from jail to a charity bachelor auction to a strip club. This sort of humor runs throughout the novel, especially when Carly’s new pets interact with the people and James’ disabled dog Hot Wheels. Past relationships with family members complicate things for both James and Carly, but they work it out. James is a sweetheart, a fact that Carly recognizes repeatedly. Carly has more hesitancy in seeing where this heads than James, although her attempts to keep him at arms length are half-hearted at best as they share simmering gazes, flirty banter, seductive physical contact (arms around waists and necks) and sultry kisses through most of the book. There’s never any question that these two will end up together, and it’s only amusement at the lengths Carly will go to prevent it and the persistence James showcases in making it happen that encourage readers to continue to the end. Reoccurring characters from About a Dog, the first book in the series, will show up. The friendly banter is a little frank for my taste at times, but the friends truly care for one another and look out for each other, even if it’s not what the person thinks they want. It’s unnecessary to read them in order, and this one continues the trend of being a light, funny, fast read for fans of flings that turn into love at first sight.

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