BTT ~ Do You Hafta Be So Graphic?!

Booking Through Thursday

Suggested by Vega:

Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day!

In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

– Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
– How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
– Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

For the longest time, I never gave graphic novels a serious consideration. To me, they were just kids’ books, just a glorified comic book. Not only did I refuse to read them on the grounds they were “books for dummies,” (after all, wasn’t it the mark of growing up? Graduating out of picture books and into chapter books?) but I avoided their whole section like it had a highly-contagious, IQ-lowering virus emanating from it.

However, a few months ago I started getting curious about them. It was about the same time I gave anime an open-minded look. I started walking by their area in the bookstore, then started looking at their spines, and even cracked a couple open before passing them up. Then, when Gwen’s school had a book fair, I came across Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives by Ellen Schreiber and finally bought my first graphic novel.

I had always found the few graphic novels I’d read a little confusing.  Who said what first is sometimes hard to tell, as the bubbles aren’t numbered, and often bump together.  So I sat down with Maggie (it was for her I bought the book) and began to read VK, determined to get through it.   And, after a few pages of working it all out, I started enjoying it.  They’re not the awful stupid-fying, “Dick and Jane grows up” kind of book I’d always accused them of being.

Still, I haven’t read many.  I’ve only read one other graphic novel, Robot Dreams by Sara Varnon.  Part of that, though, is there are just so many to choose from.  I do have one, a manga, coming from PaperBackSwap called Psychic Academy.  Also, since I like Neil Gaiman, I’ve put his Sandmanbooks on my wishlists.  I’ve also got the first Fruit Baskets on my wishlist.

As to which book I’d recommend, well… I’m kind of in that same boat with the hypothetical friend.  Maggie doesn’t like the traditional manga books because they open backwards… lol… it seems I’ve passed my book-prejudice on.  And besides, she says, they’re not worth anything in the Accelerated Reader world, which is her yardstick of book-value.  “Why read it if I’m not getting points for it?”  *sigh*

If you’d like to participate in Booking Through Thursday, click the button above 🙂

Edited to add:  I forgot about the Far Side book I recently read and reviewed, Night of the Crash-Test Dummies by Gary Larson.

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TSS -Mad Dash for the Finish Line!

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! and Merry (almost) Christmas 🙂

I have been a readin’ fool this week; I’m trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’ve really made progress this past week, but I’ve also been busy on Second Life, as well. I could probablyget more read if I stayed off SL, but I need balance between the two loves. At any rate, the following books were read and reviewed on Mt. TBR this week:

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil GaimanI am blown away by Gaiman’s ability to weave magic throughout his writing. A master at creating art, the pages of a book are his canvas and words his medium. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the new year!

Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon A very cute and touching graphic novel that tells a story of Dog and Robot without words. Great for a family of all ages to share, Robot Dreams shows the fragile and organic nature of friendships and relationships.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon  In this murder mystery, Chabon uses an alternate timeline to mix Jewish culture with the Arctic setting of Sitka, Alaska. Landsman is a maverick detective with personality failings and quirks, i.e. an alcoholic afraid of the dark. Yiddish Policemen’s is a story of the love children have for their fathers, and how age never dims their desire for their fathers’ acceptance and love.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  Last of the Narnias to be written, Lewis intended The Magician’s Nephew to be read first. It gives the background of the events to take place in the most widely known Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, I think I enjoyed reading it better having read the latter first.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  The most widely known and read of all the Narnia tales, this book is one of my all-time favorites. This is the fourth time I’ve read it, not to mention having watched both the BBC TV production and the Disney movie version several times. Written as a Christian allegory of the work of Salvation, this story is still enjoyable without that as a reader’s focus.

Besides reading these books, I’ve also launched a second BookBucks Giveaway. After receiving a disconcerting email from Joshua Henkin about the potential narrowing of new book selection due to the decline in publishing profits, I wondered what I could do to bring this concern to more people. And what brings more people in than free money? Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a $25, $15, $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles!

In the coming week my plans for reading are: The remaining five Narnia books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, Brisingr(the third book in The Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini, The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak, and Visions of Sugar Plums(Stephanie Plum Christmas novel) by Janet Evanovich. I also plan on finishing the books I’ve started but not completed this year: A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeline l’Engle, Bed, Bath and Beyond by J. D. Warren, and How to Be a Villianby Neil Zawacki. Okay, even without the kids here, this may be an ambitious list… lol.

As to Second Life, my vampire clan has split again and this time I’ve gone with the new family. Chosen Immortal is everything Treasured Vamps was suppose to be but has lost their way and become more about numbers, titles and politics. I’ve also moved from my old apartment to a floor in a friend’s castle. I’ve gained more space at about a tenth of the cost. I’m also going to be selling pictures and other things at a friend’s store, C&C’s Designs.

AND… due to an accidental purchase of a pregnancy pack, my avatar is now expecting. A $1500L mistake, I figured I’d just go ahead and use it… hate to spend the money and then throw it away. Currently, the little one’s name is “Mommy’s li’l Oops!”. It’s a boy (I have three girls in real life, by golly I’m having a boy this time 😉 ), and I’m not sure what to name him. Since BF is a werewolf, I had a half a thought to name him “Wolf”… lol… last name “Blitzstein”… That’s funny, because, unthinking, I made a comment the name “Wolf” worked well for the newsman Wolf Blitzer. Hahaha!

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Title:  Robot Dreams

Author:  Sara Varon

Illustrator:  Sara Varnon

Softcover:  206 pages

Publisher:  :01 First Second

Publish Date:  September 2007

ISBN:  9781596431089

Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot.  After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him.  As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters.  Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places …  Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach.

Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.

-taken from the front flap of Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a fun and touching graphic novel written completely without words (except for the “buzz”es, “bump”s and “scratch”es written into the panels).

The story begins with Dog receiving a package in the mail containing the “build your own robot” kit he’d ordered. Once put together, Robot and Dog go everywhere together, watch videos together, and then the duo take a trip to the beach where Robot goes for a swim.

 excerpt from Robot Dreams by Sara Varnon, page 15 excerpt from Robot Dreams by Sara Varnon, page 16

 Unfortunately, as you may guess, sea water and moving metal parts do not mix, and Robot is rusted stiff. Dog doesn’t know what to do to help his friend, and ends up leaving Robot alone on the beach.

The two take diverging courses for the next few months: Dog, lonely and friendless, tries to fill the void left in his life by Robot’s absence, and Robot is left, immobile, on the beach to dream of other places and reuniting with Dog. However, the friends Dog finds are never quite the right fit, either melting or flying south for the winter, or sharing a meal of live ants that later makes Dog sick. Meanwhile, Robot finds the people who come across him on the beach aren’t as considerate and nice as Dog. When the weather is warm again, Dog goes to beach as soon as it opens to find Robot, but is only able to locate his leg. Robot has been removed by a junk man and sold as scrap metal to a junkyard.

While the pictures are sweet and adorable, the story it tells carries the emotions of friendships, both shared and lost, and how we grieved… and eventually recover and move on… when these connections come to an end. Sometimes they end because of a move, sometimes by death, and other times because of a disagreement. But we always live through it, and find a way to manage after the loss.

Because this book is completely without text, it’s a great story for younger readers who may struggle with reading. Also, I found it to be received with joy by Gwen, whose learning disability makes reading dificult for her. She took delight in “writing” her own story to go with the pictures.

AND, because of the nature of truth, the story is endearing and emotionally palpable for adults, as well. The book is shelved in the young adult section of my library, and I think that’s a good fit.

For its ability to convey a story without the use of words, while never losing any of the truth and emotions, I give Robot Dreams by Sara Narnon four out of five stars. The artwork is cleverly cute and would be a great book for a family of all ages to share.

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Don’t forget to enter to win your choice of a Borders, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble gift card for $5, $10, $15, or $25! Click and read my Buy Books for the Holidays post for details!