"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Raleigh's Page


Raleigh’s Page

Author: Alan Armstrong

Illustrator: Tim Jessell

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0375833196
ISBN-13: 978-0375833199

Raleigh’s Page is the riveting story of Andrew, a young boy sent to be a page to his father’s old friend Walter Raleigh. Yeah that Walter Raleigh - throw his pearl studded cloak on a puddle for Queen Elizabeth of England to walk on Walter Raleigh. Pretty cool, no? I was always fascinated by that story but didn't really know much about him other than the usual middle school page in a history book.


Andrew goes to live in Raleigh's estate along with two other boys who are already serving as pages to him. He is fascinated by all the newness but misses his family. One of the boys is cruel but the other is a good friend to him. Andrew, the farmer's son makes a great friend in the French gardener and becomes his apprentice. Together they learn of strange plants from other lands and prepare for the New World.


Raleigh himself is an interesting character in this book. I was fascinated by his excitement and verve. Walter Raleigh is a high energy, intelligent and purposeful man in this book. His way of teaching the children in his care is also fascinating. He plans secret trials that not only test the boy's writing, business acumen and other abilities but he tests the strength of their character. Interesting.


Andrew, being a solid farm boy with good values and a strong character shines in this story. He's a normal boy with hopes and dreams and fears, yet he consistently rises to any occasion, whether it be spying, carrying secret documents or venturing out to the New World. He meets the mysterious Dr. Dee, the Queen's own astrologer among other characters that populate this book.


Ah yes, Raleigh is planning a big trip to the colony of Virginia - the first expedition to Roanoke and Andrew is determined to go along. The story gets even more interesting once Raleigh's ship actually gets to Virginia. Alan Armstrong writes a great tale full of intrigue, adventure, compassion and understanding.


Raleigh's Page is one heck of a great read. The marvelous illustrations by Tim Jessell give depth to the story and a flavor for the time period in which it is set. One of my favorite illustrations is one of Walter Raleigh almost bursting with excitement.


Book Description from the publisher:
Andrew has grown up near the Plymouth docks hearing the sailors talk about America. Knowing that Andrew's heart is set on going to the new world, his father sends him up to London to serve as page in the house of Walter Raleigh. In Queen Elizabeth's court, Raleigh's the strongest voice in favor of fighting with Spain for a position in the New World, and everyone knows that it's just a matter of time before Her Majesty agrees to an expedition. Can Andrew prove himself fit to go on an expedition to the New World?

Meticulously researched and brilliantly crafted, combining fictional characters with historical, Andrew's tale offers up a vivid look at the cloak and dagger politics of the time and a genuine feel for what it must have been like for the first Europeans to set foot on the beautiful, bountiful, savage shores of America.

About the Author
Alan Armstrong's first book, Whittington, was awarded the Newbery Honor in 2006. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Martha, a painter.

Fred Patten Reviews The Alchemist's Apprentice


The Alchemist’s Apprentice

Author: Dave Duncan
Publisher: Ace Books
ISBN: 10: none
ISBN: 13: 978-0-441-01479-8


Dave Duncan has been a major author of imaginative fantasy adventure novels for the past two decades. In The Alchemist’s Apprentice, the first in a new series, he ventures brilliantly onto new ground.


Alfeo Zeno, the flip, sardonic, wittily egocentric first-person narrator, is the young apprentice of Maestro Filippo Nostradamus, the ancient, irascible nephew of the more famous Michel Nostradamus. Like his uncle, this Nostradamus is a well-known astrologer, alchemist, clairvoyant, doctor, and savant (popularly believed to be a sorcerer, although admitting to that would bring a sentence of execution by the Church). He has been employed by the nobility of the Republic of Venice for years as a personal physician and to cast their horoscopes.


When procurator Bertucci Orseolo collapses and then dies at a dinner party of thirteen at which Nostradamus is present, the Maestro is suspected of poisoning him. He is advised by the Doge to flee Venice, but instead he orders Alfeo to prove his innocence by finding the real murderer – despite the probability that the elderly Orseolo just died of natural causes. Alfeo soon discovers that several of Venice’s leading politicians each have reasons for wanting Orseolo’s death to have been natural, or caused by Nostradamus, or by a murderer who will never be found; and each of these politicians are powerful enough to have Alfeo tortured or “disappeared” if he threatens their schemes. Alfeo’s investigations involve him with sultry courtesans, sadistic police officials, art forgers, assassins, damsels in distress, Ottoman spies, and much more before Nostradamus arranges for a recreation of the fatal dinner party to expose the killer.




The Alchemist’s Apprentice has a brief and unnecessary scene of demonology, apparently only to justify its publication as a fantasy adventure. Similarly, its use of an imaginary “Nostradamus’ nephew” and fictitious Venetian historical figures have led some reviewers to call this “alternate-world s-f”. It is really a delightful and well-researched historical novel (but historical novels don’t sell as well as s-f), set in the exotic independent Venice city-state of the 1590s or early 1600s, featuring Renaissance Italian versions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin investigating an “impossible” murder. I look forward to the next novel in the series, The Alchemist’s Code, to be published in March 2008.



Fred Patten Reviews The Gladiator


The Gladiator
Author: Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books
ISBN: 10: 0-7653-1486-X
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7653-1486-4


The Gladiator
is the fifth in Turtledove’s Crosstime Traffic series of Young Adult alternate history s-f novels. The premise is that about a hundred years from now, a machine is invented that makes travel possible into alternate worlds where history developed differently. This is used for secret commerce, buying food and natural resources for an overpopulated and resource-depleted “homeworld” from less advanced worlds, but not letting them know about the more advanced world. Each novel features two teens who are either part of the Crosstime teams or are natives who learn the secret.

Gunpowder Empire
(2003) features a world where the Roman Empire never fell, but technology never developed above that of 600 A.D. A brother and sister from the homeworld are trapped in a primitive, disease-ridden culture when a barbarian Lithuanian empire besieges the Roman border town where they are staying. Curious Notions (2004) is set in a world where Germany won World War I. When a secret shop in San Francisco selling advanced electronic goods is raided by German occupation police, young Crosstimer Paul goes to a Chinese-American girl for help, but this brings them both to the attention of Chinese crime gangs. In High Places (2005) takes place where the medieval Black Death almost completely depopulated Europe. Its 21st century world is mostly Muslim and still heavily practices slavery. In The Disunited States of America (2006), there was no Constitution and the United States soon fell apart under the weak Articles of Confederation. Becky Royer, from an independent California visiting with her grandmother in Virginia, is trapped there when Virginia and Ohio go to war. Each novel can be read independently.

The Gladiator
(2007) is a role-playing gaming shop in a Milan where the Soviet Union won the Cold War of the late 20th century. In the late 21st century the whole world is like the former Eastern Bloc nations; regimented by Socialist bureaucracies and repressed by an all-powerful state police. Teens Annarita Crosetti and Gianfranco Mazzilli have grown up together since their families share the same kitchen and bathroom in a crowded apartment building in an Italian People’s Republic short of housing and consumer goods. Gianfranco is a failing high school student, until he discovers The Gladiator and becomes obsessed with its unique complex games which force him to learn pre-Socialist history and develop his mathematical skills. When the Security Police close the shop for subversion because its games also glorify capitalism, Gianfranco persuades Annarita and her parents to help hide his friend Eduardo of The Gladiator’s staff from the Police. The two teens gradually learn Eduardo’s secret as he tries to find another secret Crosstime shop in Italy that can help him get home. Turtledove seems to have changed his rules here; the Crosstimers are operating several gaming shops just to undermine the oppressive Socialist society, not for any commercial gains. In any case, The Gladiator is a brisk, thought-provoking s-f novel for adolescents.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Drawings: Ellen Forney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316013684
ISBN-13: 978-0316013680

Sherman Alexie’s first novel for young adults is the heart wrenching/heart warming story of Arnold, a 14-year old budding writer/cartoonist living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Life isn’t so great for Arnold or Junior Spirit. His dad drinks way too much as do many of the people on the rez. His mother is a recovering alcoholic.

Arnold Spirit Junior is a bit of a mess, he was born with water on his brain that caused a series of health problems. He’s skinny, wears glasses, has ten extra teeth and gets picked on all the time by the other kids. With all this he still manages to be wry, funny, discerning (especially with adult’s problems) and completely endearing. He has one friend, the angry, abused boy Rowdy who is his defender, confidant and eventually his enemy.

Most of the people he knows are terribly poor. The reservation is so poor, in fact that on his first day of school in his new geometry class Arnold discovers he’s been given the same geometry book his mother had when she attended that school some 30 years before.

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it."


In his rage, Arnold tosses the book across the room and manages to hit the teacher, breaking his nose. That serves as a catalyst for what Arnold decides to do with his life.
"You can't give up. You won't give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up.”
"I didn't know what he was talking about. Or maybe I just didn't want to know.
"Jeez, it was a lot of pressure to put on a kid. I was carrying the burden of my race, you know? I was going to get a bad back from it.
" 'If you stay on this rez,' Mr. P said, 'they're going to kill you. I'm going to kill you. We're all going to kill you. You can't fight us forever.'
" 'I don't want to fight anybody.' I said.
" 'You've been fighting since you were born,' he said. 'You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off those seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope.'
"I was starting to understand. He was a math teacher. I had to add my hope to somebody else's hope. I had to multiply hope by hope.
" 'Where is hope?' I asked. 'Who has hope?'
" 'Son,' Mr. P said. 'You're going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad reservation.' "

Arnold decides to take Mr. P's advice leave the reservation school and go to the middle class all white school twenty-two miles away from his reservation. There, he meets the beauteous Penelope and discovers a whole new world. The decision causes a lot of jealousy and resentment on the rez for Arnold and he lives with a constant barrage of hatred from the children including his once friend Rowdy. They think he’s sold out, turned white and that’s something the kids on the rez can’t forgive. The rift with Rowdy is the worst of it and Arnold suffers incredible lonliness and hurt, yet sticks by his decision. He's a brave boy.

Arnold battles through it all and finds he can triumph. That even through the worst adversity like the death of a loved one, he still has his education, his new friends he’s made and that when push comes to shove his family some old friends on the rez are there for him. His optimism and hope shines through the pages and makes you smile.

Arnold’s engaging and entertaining diary tackles rough subjects like death, alcoholism, poverty, jealousy and racism with a deft hand. You can't but help falling in love with Arnold. The wonderful cartoons and drawings by Ellen Forney appear to be pasted onto the pages of his diary giving it depth and life. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a must have book and I can't speak highly enough of it.



Book Description from the publisher:
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo


My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo
Author and illustrator: Maya Christina Gonzalez
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
ISBN-10: 0892392215
ISBN-13: 978-0892392216

My Colors, My World is a celebration of color, the colors found in nature. Maya Christina Gonzalez modeled the girl in this story after herself and after a doll she had as a child. The result is a beautiful book with a big-eyed Latina girl filled with wonder for all the colors in her world. The story teaches children, that no matter where they find themselves in the world, they can find beauty.

Little girls will love this book - the shiny pink dust jacket just screams girl. Each page celebrates something – a hot pink desert sunset, a garden where purple and orange flowers grows, her red swing set, the black of her father’s hair and the beautiful green of the prickly and ubiquitous desert cactus.

Maya Christina Gonzalez’ almost mural-like paintings of the desert and little Maya are rich, deep, uniquely Latino and colorful, bringing to mind Mexican masters like Rivera, Kahlo, Orozco and Siquieros but only just a bit. Gonzalez adds a whimsy they never had and brings life and fun to each page . There’s something so appealing and happy about her art. It makes you smile and keep smiling. The colors she uses bring sunshine and light and nature all to glorious life. Little Maya is a happy child and a dreamy one, which makes the book even more engaging. Her suns and moons remind me of those colorful ceramic happy face suns that my grandmother would hang about the house.

The book is bilingual and sure to be a hit with ages 4-8, especially girls who love pink like my granddaughter does.

Book Description from the publisher:

Little Maya longs to find brilliant, beautiful, inspiring color in her world.…but Maya’s world, the Mojave Desert, seems to be filled with nothing but sand. With the help of a feathered friend, she searches everywhere to discover color in her world. In the brilliant purple of her mother's flowers, the cool green of a cactus, the hot pink sunset, and the shiny black of Papi's hair, Maya finally finds what she was looking for. The book’s appealing narrative and bold illustrations encourage early readers to observe and explore, and to discover the colors in their own

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fred Patten Reviews The Heart of Valor


The Heart of Valor


Author: Tanya Huff
Publisher: DAW Books
ISBN 10: 0-7564-0435-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-7564-0435-2

This third novel in Huff’s Confederation military s-f series can be read on its own, but it is a direct sequel to the second novel. DAW Books has just published A Confederation of Valor, a combined edition of the first two novels, Valor’s Choice and The Better Part of Valor, which is recommended.

Torin Kerr is a sergeant in the Confederation Marines, in a multi-species interstellar civilization. Earth and its humans have been recruited into this civilization by its founders, dubbed the Elder Races, to help fight in a galactic war against the savage Others. Most of the actual fighting is done by the Marines, which consist of the three most warlike species discovered by the Elder Races; the humans, the di’Taykan, and the Krai. In the previous novels, Kerr was part of a detachment of Marines involved with bringing the newly discovered reptilian Silsviss into the Confederation, and exploring a totally alien spaceship, Big Yellow. Both were full of deathtraps and heavy on futuristic military action.

As The Heart of Valor opens, Torin has been promoted from Staff Sergeant to Gunnery Sergeant and assigned to give briefings on the Silsviss at the Confederation’s Ventris space station. (Big Yellow is still classified Top Secret.) After several weeks of repetitious briefings, Torin is bored stiff, so she jumps at the chance to take charge of a platoon of 32 recruits to the Marines’ training planet Crucible for a rugged winter combat simulation testing. They have hardly begun before they are cut off from off-planet communication and the automated tanks, aerial drones, and other military equipment that is supposed to give them a grueling but non-lethal testing starts trying to kill them for real. The novel is mostly hard-boiled military action as Torin tries to keep her recruits, with the biological needs of three different species, alive long enough to turn them into a smoothly-operating platoon of real Marines; and find out who has reprogrammed the simulation to kill them all.

The Confederation novels have been compared favorably to the Starship Troopers movie and video game, and Sgt. Torin Kerr to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the Aliens movies. There are additional colorful aliens such as the obnoxious interstellar news reporter Presit a Tur durValintrisy, a small furry Katrien who looks vaguely like an otter with frighteningly sharp teeth, chromed claws and tinted sunglasses, who is trying to investigate from offworld who or what is sabotaging Crucible. The Heart of Valor is top-notch suspenseful military science fiction.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Manga Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet


Manga Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
Author: William Shakespeare, Richard Appignanesi, Sonia Leong
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0-8109-9325-2
EAN: 9780810993259

Manga Shakespeare. You hear the words and you think, Manga Shakespeare? Really? You’re not quite sure what to think. Then if you’re like me, you start thinking, well if it gets kids to read, why not?

What a great surprise! The first Manga Shakespeare I opened up was Romeo and Juliet and the first pages were beautiful.

“Present day Tokyo. Two teenagers, Romeo and Juliet, fall in love. But their rival Yakuza families are at war.”

The author’s introduce the characters of Shakespeare’s wonderful play in full color. Each character has one of their famous quotes introducing them like this one: Tybalt – nephew of Lady Capulet “As I hate hell, all Montague and thee.” Tybault is pictured looking over his tattooed back and hefting a large sword. The manga style artwork is beautiful and it conveys the story so well.

I loved that the language of Shakespeare is intact. Sure the characters are speaking in bubbles but the language is still poetic and gorgeous. The authors have done a great job in blending pop culture and classic literature. It works! Manga Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet is sure to be a big hit.

The idea of incorporating Shakespeare’s plays into the extremely popular manga genre was a smart one and to my mind, perfect for teenaged kids that may not be big readers. What a great way to get them reading the classics! I always struggle with getting non-readers to read but always seem to get a foot in the door if it’s something visual like a graphic novel. Once I hook them, they become readers for life.

These Manga Shakespeare books will hook a whole new audience to Shakespeare. Wouldn’t they make great text books? Hint, hint…LAUSD – buy the books, bring them into the classroom. I’d lay odds that the reading level of that class would go up. The non-readers will stop and take notice because the art is so beautiful and modern. They’ll love the setting and the fact that the Capulets and Montagues are Yakuza. These books will grab their attention and sooner or later, they’re going to want to read the actual play.



Book description from the publisher:
Now presenting Manga Shakespeare—the Bard's greatest plays in an accessible, lively format for a new generation of readers

Romeo and Juliet is ideally suited for the manga format—it has teenage heroes, scheming and villainous adults, heartbreaking tragedy, and the ultimate romantic plot about star-cross'd lovers. Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, fall deeply in love—and they refuse to let their parents' age-old feud get in their way. When Romeo is banished from their town, a series of mistakes and misunderstandings, along with their families' mutual hatred, finally manages to end their love. An exciting introduction to the Bard for reluctant readers and manga fans alike.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything


Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything
Author: Lenore Look
Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf
Publisher: Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books
ISBN-10: 0689864604
ISBN-13: 978-0689864605


In this utterly charming sequel to Ruby Lu, Brave and True, Ruby’s life gets really exciting. Ruby’s cousin Flying Duck has just arrived from China with her parents and not only is Ruby’s family speaking Chinese in the home for the benefit of the new immigrants, but Flying Duck is deaf and Ruby is learning Chinese Sign Language. Ruby achieves her dream of becoming a Smile Buddy in her second grade class room and she gets to take Flying Duck around and help her with her homework.

There are challenges too. Ruby’s not learning Chinese Sign Language as fast as she’d like. The language in the house has switched from English to Chinese and everyone uses chopsticks all the time now. Ruby’s sometimes best friend Emma is angry with her and then there’s the challenge of the summer swimming pool and swimming lessons.

The book is peppy, fast-paced, upbeat and fun. No special allowances are made for Flying Duck because she’s deaf. It’s just dealt with in a matter of fact and casual way. One of Ruby’s duties in school is to inform people that being deaf isn’t a handicap, Flying Duck is completely normal – she just can’t hear. Ruby Lu also gets to join Flying Duck in summer school where she can now learn ASL or American Sign Language right along with her cousin. The story deals with big time issues of immigration, families living together, unemployment, language barriers and acclimation to a new culture and country with a happy and normal tone. I loved it.

The fun little illustrations scattered throughout the book’s pages are equally fun and wonderful. They give a great sense of Ruby and her friend’s life. Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything is highly recommended for children just beginning chapter books.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac


Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-10: 0374349460
ISBN-13: 978-0374349462

When 17-year old Naomi takes a tumble down the steps one evening, she wakes without the past four years of her memory and holding on to a cute boy she knows nothing about. They get to know each other in the ambulance ride to the hospital.

Naomi slowly starts to put her life together but there are so many things wrong with it. Like why can’t she remember Will, her best friend and co-chief editor of the school yearbook? She can’t remember that her parents are divorced or that she has a sister. Why can’t she remember ever kissing her boyfriend Ace? Matter of fact, she doesn’t even remember him. She reads her journal and doesn’t recognize her writing or her thoughts. Is she really this obsessed with how many calories she takes in each day? There has to be more to her than this.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a fantastic story. It’s Naomi’s journey of self-discovery, of finding out just who she really is and what defines her as a person. It’s a second chance. As we get to know Naomi and her life, we’re completely involved, cheering her on, booing the bad decisions, stopping to take in her confusion and the realization that even with her memory back she’d be a changed person. She has a chance to choose the life she wants over the life she had before her accident. How great is that?

The author of that marvelously quirky and different novel Elsewhere really shines with this one. The book is well written, the characters so real we feel we know them and the story is completely original and fresh. Highly recommended!


Book Description from the publisher:
If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancée. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.

But Naomi picked heads.

After her remarkable debut, Gabrielle Zevin has crafted an imaginative second novel all about love and second chances.


About the Author
GABRIELLE ZEVIN’s first young adult novel, Elsewhere, was an ALA Notable Book and a Quill Book Award nominee. Of her writing, The New York Times Book Review said, “Zevin’s touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities.” She lives in New York City.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Seed is Sleepy


A Seed is Sleepy
Author: Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811855201
ISBN-13: 978-0811855204

The author and illustrator of the gorgeous An Egg is Quiet join together once again to create an astounding illustrated introduction to the life of a seed. Long’s amazingly detailed watercolors showcase many different types of seeds. The pages are slightly reminiscent of Victorian botanical drawings but these are so much richer in color, depth and scope. Each painting is something special, a treasure to be enjoyed for many years. The succinct and poetic text is just enough information for a very small child and enough of a nip to send an older one (or adult) running to the library to find out more. I love books like that, ones that get you fired up about something you’d otherwise not have an interest in. Now I’m excited about seeds!

The text is poetic too.

“A Seed is Inventive

To find a spot to grow,
A seed might leap from its pod,
[violet]
or cling to a
child's shoestring,
[cocklebur]
or tumble through
a bear's belly.
[Red huckleberry]
A seed hopes to land where
there is plenty of
sunlight, soil, and water.”

How about this wonderful phrase?

“Some have lain dormant, or slept undisturbed, for more than a thousand years”

Makes me just say oooooh.

I can’t say enough about this wonderful book except to say that I dearly hope this fantastic duo does another book. A Seed is Sleepy is a perfect gift for anyone of any age. Even non-book lovers will love this book for its glorious color and appreciation of nature.

If you visit Chronicle Books website, there are posters to print out!

Fred Patten Reviews: Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm




Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm

Author: Daniel J. Leab
Publisher: The Pennsylvania State University Press
ISBN 10: 0-271-02978-1

ISBN 13: 978-0-271-02978-8

George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the famous allegory about British farm animals whose attempt to create a republic based on animal equality is subverted by the pigs – “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” – became an instant literary classic in 1945. In 1954 it became the first British animated feature film.

There was gossip at the time that the movie could never have been made if America’s Central Intelligence Agency had not financed it. But the CIA stonewalled all requests for information, and those involved with the film refused to talk about it. The big question of scholars was whether the CIA simply provided money or exerted any editorial control over it. Were the Animal Farm film’s differences from Orwell’s book due to normal movie-studio rewriting, or did the CIA dictate the changes?

After fifty years, the CIA still refuses to release information, but many of the principals have died and their papers are now available. Professor of history Daniel Leab, who has written several books on World War II and Cold War espionage and propaganda, has spent years interviewing those involved with the filming and studying their papers, including fifty boxes of producer Louis de Rochemont’s uncataloged records at the American Heritage Center made available for research in 2004. This book is not only an in-depth study of the production of Britain’s first animated feature, but is a fascinating “warts and all” description of how the American and British governments tried to manipulate public opinion, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, during the 1950s.

Leab shows that making Animal Farm into a movie became a CIA project in 1950, with de Rochemont as producer because he had made several anti-Nazi and anti-Communist espionage dramas with FBI cooperation during the 1940s. De Rochemont, with the CIA’s approval, picked the British husband-wife animation studio of Halas & Batchelor to produce the film; it was never an independent movie production taken over by the CIA. “The financiers” requested script changes from the start, to turn Orwell’s allegory of a successful Socialist revolution perverted by a tyrannical ruling clique, into a strident sermon that Communism was inherently evil. Halas & Batchelor rejected some overly-blatant requests, such as giving the pig Napoleon a Stalinist pipe and moustache, but accepted those that were more subtle yet turned the story into strident anti-Communist propaganda. The biggest change, the ending where the other animals rise up to overthrow their pig oppressors, was indeed demanded by the CIA (it hoped to incite audiences in Eastern Europe to revolt against their Communist governments), but Halas & Batchelor had decided on their own that a more upbeat climax than Orwell’s bleak ending was needed to make the film commercially successful. Most critics agreed upon the film’s release.

So the CIA did finance Animal Farm, and did try with some success to make it more blatant propaganda than it might have been otherwise; but on the whole the finished film was pretty much as it would have been without the “investors”’ politically-motivated revisions. Leab buttresses his findings with almost fifty pages of academic notes and bibliographies.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An Egg is Quiet


An Egg is Quiet
Author: Diana Hutts Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811844285
ISBN-13: 978-0811844284


An Egg is Quiet is a glorious feast for the eyes. The book is an illustrated introduction to eggs of amazing diversity. The simple and poetic text just adds a quiet drama to the whole book.

“An egg is quiet It sits there, under its mother's feathers... On top of its father's feet ...Warm. Cozy."

The book displays eggs in all their glory with different textures, colors and themes. There are lacewing eggs, salmon roe, ostrich eggs, etc. Each egg portrayed is gorgeously painted in rich, layered watercolors of such depth and color that they seem to be real. You can almost feel the depth of texture. The endpapers of the book are pale blue and speckled giving the feel of an eggshell. The attention to detail is simply amazing. What a labor of love this must have been!

The book talks about the shapes of eggs – the tubular eggs of the Dogfish Shark or round like a sea turtle’s. It talks about size – the mammoth eggs of the ostrich. It goes on to discuss egg embryos, egg habitats, etc.

The colors! Oh, the colors used are wonderful! Pale blues, mottled greens, light browns, oranges that ache with their beauty, butter yellows, stunningly simple brown ink text that adds to the lushness of the colors used in the gallery of jewels called eggs. What a lovely way to teach children (and adults) about nature and its diversity. An Egg is Quiet is instructional, arty and simply beautiful. An absolute must for any library and a book that is sure to be pored over lovingly for years to come. A masterpiece!

Book Description from the Publisher:


Award-winning artist Sylvia Long has teamed with up-and-coming author Dianna Aston to create this gorgeous and informative introduction to eggs. From tiny hummingbird eggs to giant ostrich eggs, oval ladybug eggs to tubular dogfish eggs, gooey frog eggs to fossilized dinosaur eggs, it magnificently captures the incredible variety of eggs and celebrates their beauty and wonder.

The evocative text is sure to inspire lively questions and observations. Yet while poetic in voice and elegant in design, the book introduces children to more than 60 types of eggs and an interesting array of egg facts. Even the endpapers brim with information. A tender and fascinating guide that is equally at home being read to a child on a parent's lap as in a classroom reading circle.


About the author and illustrator:


Dianna Aston spends a lot of time in her backyard hoping to find new eggs. She often enlists the help of her husband, children, and their assorted pets. She lives in Texas.
Sylvia Long is the illustrator of many books for children including the best-selling Sylvia Long's Mother Goose, Hush Little Baby, and Snug As a Bug, all published by Chronicle Books. Ms. Long's detailed paintings are inspired by her love of animals and the outdoors. She lives in Arizona.

Korgi


Korgi
Author: Christian Slade
Publisher Top Shelf Productions
ISBN-10: 1891830902
ISBN-13: 978-1891830907


Be prepared for something wonderfully different when you open Korgi. The lushly illustrated graphic novel is entirely silent but for the few words at the beginning. Each page is so rich and expressive that words aren’t needed. Slade, a former Disney animator knows how to tell an evocative story that doesn’t need words. This could be animated and work very well.

The story is about Ivy, a young Molly and her Korgi, a fox/dog like creature named Sprout. Ivy and Sprout venture out of their happy world and encounter dangers and adventures of all sorts. There’s a huge troll, scary spiders who capture Ivy and Sprout in their webs and various ghoulish creatures. What shines through each page is Ivy and Sprout’s complete devotion to each other. Through their adventure, they find abilities they didn’t know they had as well as a deeper appreciation for home.

The illustrations are so gorgeous that I can’t say enough about them. Each page works as a silent portion of a storyboard and each is filled with so much emotion and expression that they seem to come to life. Korgi is intricate, simple and completely wonderful. This is the first in an upcoming series and sure to be a raging success. I wonder how long it will take this one to get animated. It seems a natural for the medium. I’d certainly go see it. Korgi is highly recommended for any age. Lovers of animation and art should definitely snap this one up.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.topshelfcomix.com/korgi-trailer/

Book Description from the publisher:

Christian Slade, a former Disney animator and currently full-time freelance illustrator, has brought to Top Shelf a gorgeously illustrated woodland fantasy about a young girl named Ivy, her dog Sprout and their amazing adventures in Korgi Hollow. This amazing combination of adventure and fantasy will appeal to anyone who loves Andy Runton's Owly and Jeff Smith's Bone. Get ready for the launch of something very daring and very new!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fred Patten Reviews Mouse Guard - Fall 1152


Mouse Guard, Fall 1152

Author: David Petersen

Publisher: Archaia Studios Press

ISBN 10: 1-932386-57-2

ISBN 13: 978-1-932386-57-8

This little gem of an art-book was serialized last year in the form of six small bimonthly “comic books” of 24 8” x 8” pages each. Each page is painted in a detailed realistic art style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham or Brian Froud. The collected complete work, plus bonus artwork, is a squarish hardcover of 192 pages; more of a fine-art graphic novel than an illustrated picture book.

The story is an adventure fantasy set in a medieval world of anthropomorphized mice, although they are drawn realistically, without clothes. (It is hard to tell the main characters apart except for the colors of their fur: red, gray, and brown.) Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon, three young Guardsmice whose duties include the protecting of mice from the predators of northern European forests, are assigned to find out what happened to a peddler-mouse traveling between the towns of Rootwallow and Barkstone. They learn that he was eaten by a giant (to mice) snake, which they track down and kill in the first of the six chapters. But hidden in the peddler’s wares is a map showing the secret defenses of the Mouse Guard’s headquarters, indicating that the peddler was a traitor. The three Guardsmice set out to learn to whom the peddler was going to deliver the map. They discover a full-sized plot to take over the forest mouse nation, which leads to a civil war and the dramatic siege of the Mouse Guard’s castle in Lockhaven.

Mouse Guard has been receiving rave reviews throughout last year and this from critics ranging from comics-shop owners to librarians and Publishers Weekly. There have many comparisons of the story with the animated fantasy movie The Secret of NIMH, and Mouse Guard would make an excellent movie of the same type. The adventure, although rather shallow and stereotypical, is suitable for young fans of Tolkienish heroic fantasy, with lots of swordplay against huge predatory beasts and mouse traitors. The quality of Petersen’s artwork and the adult art-book presentation elevate Mouse Guard from a children’s book to one suitable for all ages. The appurtances of a media hit are already being planned; a first sequel, Mouse Guard, Winter 1152, will begin serialization this July, and PVC action figures of Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon will follow a month later. Read the first story now in what is sure to become a successful series.

48 Hour Book Challenge Wrap Up

My totals:

Books read: 5
Books reviewed: 5
pages read: 1781

Hours read: somewhere around 20 - was interspered with grandkid watching, unpacking BEA boxes and sleeping off the NY trip oh yeah and the wine tasting at The Colorado Wine Company.

This was great fun and I only wish I had had the whole weekend to read instead of it being so jam packed with stuff. It was my first weekend back from New York and I spent most of it sorting books, baby sitting my two grandkids who missed me last weekend, doing laundry, working and spending time with friends. Still, I got some much needed reading and reviewing done. This was a good nudge to get it done! Thank you Mother Reader and everyone who participated. Great fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Guardians: A Novel


The Guardians: A Novel
Author: Ana Castillo
Publisher: Random House
ISBN-10: 1400065003
ISBN-13: 978-1400065004

Ana Castillo is one of those writers that I always expect not just the best of, but the best of the best of. She certainly doesn’t disappoint in her lyrical new book The Guardians.

The book tells the story in four intersecting voices of the main protagonists. 50-something redheaded virgin widow Regina who is eking out a poor living on her desert land while working as an underpaid teacher’s aide and caring for her nephew is one of the voices. She’s a strong character and embodies self sufficiency, love and the desire to get ahead.

Regina’s raising Gabo, a deeply troubled and religious young man. His mother was murdered seven years before in a border crossing and her body mutilated for its organs. Now his father Rafa is missing and Regina begins a search. The search leads her to Miguel or Mike, a divorced teacher at the school where Regina works. Miguel becomes a friend to them both and helps Regina in the search for her brother.

These three and an unlikely fourth, Miguel’s grandfather Abuelo Milton form a strange band of searchers as they hunt for clues to Rafa’s disappearance. Each chapter is written in one of these fours voices and gives depth and an interesting spin to the story. We see the intersection and the different views of the people who are living it.

"I don't think they could come up with a horror movie worse than the situation we got going on en la frontera," as Abuelo Milton says.

Throughout the book is the story of desperation, the illegal crossings, the coyotes who take advantage of the people they bring across. Castillo weaves into this intricately elegant story the Juarez murders of women, the Minutemen, the politics and the desert border town. It’s an amazing feat. She compels with each word, breathes magic into her words and we’re there, in a border meth lab where border crossers are held hostage until their families can come up with the money to ransom them. We feel the desperation of crossing the desert, the thirst that kills, the desire to make it through, to come to a better life. The book stands as a political statement about immigration, the rights of women and I think most of all it is a cry of outrage.

The Mysterious Benedict Society


The Mysterious Benedict Society
Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrator: Carson Ellis
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316057770
ISBN-13: 978-0316057776

When orphaned and lonely Reynie Muldoon answers a recruitment ad for "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself smack dab in the midst of a highly secretive and dangerous adventure. He is given a series of challenging tests and puzzles to complete until he finally passes them all and meet Mr. Benedict. Reynie and three other children are chosen by the mysterious Mr. Benedict, a kind old man who wears a bright green suit and given to fits of narcolepsy to penetrate The Institute, an isolated school for orphans run by the evil Mr. Curtain.

The other children, tiny Constance Contraire, George “Sticky” Washington and Kate Weatherhill quickly form a friendship and bravely choose to help Mr. Benedict who believes that Mr. Curtain is planning something very dangerous and evil which is tied to something called The Emergency. He lets the children know that subliminal messages are being sent through the televisions and that only they can help stop it.

The four children journey to the school and learn that each of them has their own strength. Constance has her stubbornness, Kat, her athleticism and seemingly magical bucket full of stuff; Sticky, his incredible photographic memory and knowledge and Reynie his leadership ability and heart. Working together they discover not only the nefarious plot to take over the world but also themselves and what really is important.

The book tackles issues of loneliness, abandonment, family, loyalty and truth. It has underlying messages about the dubious power of media and the value of education, honesty, courage and strength of character. It’s the story of orphans facing up to strong issues, a criminal mastermind and their own self doubt. The book brings to mind those wonderful Blue Bailliet books or Roald Dahl. It’s full of intricate plot twisting and intelligent dialogue. While it is a long story (485 pages), it doesn’t feel long as the writing and storytelling keep the reader engaged till the very end. Both boys and girls will love this story. I hope there’s a sequel. This one is a keeper.

A Swift Pure Cry


A Swift Pure Cry
Author: Siobhan Dowd
Publisher: David Fickling Books
ISBN-10: 0385751087
ISBN-13: 978-0385751087

A Swift Pure Cry is the poignant and heart wrenching tale of Shell, a 15 year old girl growing up in Ireland. Her mother has died and Shell bears the responsibility of raising her siblings and trying to handle her drunken and obsessively religious father. They live on money he skims off of donations for the Church. Shell attempts to go to the church for support and is seen with a new, young priest. Shell is so out of touch with no mother, that it takes a girlfriend to tell her she needs a bra and then they set off to steal one. That scene broke my heart.

Her best friend is angry with her for no apparent reason and her only joy seems to come from her moments with her boyfriend, Declan in a barley field. Shell becomes pregnant and armed only with a stolen library book, she struggles to understand what to expect from her pregnancy while hiding it from her father and the village. Meanwhile, Declan (not the nicest guy in the world) has taken off for America and Shell’s friend has left town.

Shell’s courage and strength shine throughout the book as she struggles to live with her mother’s death, take care of her siblings and get through her pregnancy. She loves her baby and it seems to be a bright spot in the usual drudgery and hopelessness of her days. Eventually, her siblings catch on and become equally involved in her pregnancy all the while hiding it from the alcoholic father.

In an emotional and graphic scene, Shell gives birth to a stillborn baby girl. Another dead baby is found in a cave and the authorities take Shell in thinking it was her baby. Gossip starts in the small village and the new priest is thought to be the father.

Dowd’s lyrical prose and sensitivity to her subject makes this gut wrenching book a fine read. She gives the reader a sense of Ireland, the life in Shell’s village and most of all, the inner turmoil and hopes and dreams of this young girl. A Swift Pure Cry is one of my best books so far in 2007 and is highly recommended.

The King of Attolia




The King of Attolia
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow
ISBN-10: 006083577X
ISBN-13: 978-0060835774


The King of Attolia is the third in the series of books about Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis and long-awaited sequel to The Queen of Attolia. Eugenides or Gen, now the King of Attolia after literally stealing away Queen Irene and marrying her, is now dealing with her court and with being a king. The court thinks he’s an idiot and a pawn of the Queen. She can’t possibly love this guy! I mean after all, she did order his hand to be cut off in a previous book.

The attendants and guards mock him and play tricks on him. Think high school and a medieval "Kick Me" sign stuck on the poor guy’s back. They think he’s a wimp and can’t do anything about it. They think that Queen Irene is all for it because she does nothing. Fact is, she has to let him make his own way, find a way to rein these guys in on his own. There’s even a running palace joke that the Queen and King don’t sleep together. Eugenides is less than a man and certainly not a king to them.

Then one day Costis, a guard in the palace punches Gen right in the face. Beheading is the usual penalty for punching your king’s lights out, but Eugenides devises a better punishment. It is through Costis’ eyes that readers see how he and the court consistently underestimate the clever and calculating mastermind that is the King of Attolia.

There is subterfuge everywhere, plots abound, assassination attempts are prolific and though they litter the story, the real story and focus here is the complicated romance between two people in love who are dealing with the realities of marriage and monarchy.

Whalen Turner’s skilled third person prose is tantalizing, secretive and wonderful. She keeps you guessing, wondering what Eugenides is up to, and dying for the conclusion. Her portrayal of a court full of intrigue and Machiavellian plots is just amazing.

Costis’ gradual grudging respect for Gen really gives readers insight into both Gen and Costis as well as of the seemingly frosty Irene.

The King of Attolia is a worthy addition to the sequel and I feel, the best of the three.

Song of the Sparrow


Song of the Sparrow
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN-10: 0439918480
ISBN-13: 978-0439918480


The first book I finished in the 48 Hour Reading Challenge (by the way forgot to mention I started Friday night at 10:00 p.m.) was Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell. Song of the Sparrow is the story of Elaine of Ascolat, otherwise known as the Lady of Shalott. Being a big fan of the Tennyson poem (it haunts me), I just had to read the book to get a little more story on this mysterious woman who floated down the river to Camelot in her boat named the Lady of Shalott.



“Under tower and balcony,

By garden-wall and gallery,

A gleaming shape she floated by,

Dead-pale between the houses high,

Silent into Camelot.

Out upon the wharfs they came,

Knight and Burgher,

Lord and Dame,

And around the prow they read her name,

The Lady of Shalott.”


In Sandell’s excellent YA novel set in Britain 490 AD, Elaine is a young girl growing up in a world of military men. Her mother has been killed and so she lives with her brothers and father in the moving camps of war, the only girl in a world of men serving under Arthur. Elaine is a tomboy, a good seamstress, gifted healer and has a big and caring heart. Her only other woman friend is Morgan, the sister of Arthur who sometimes visits the camp.

She is almost a mother figure to all the men in the camp even though some of them are starting to change the way they look at her. Sixteen and beautiful though she doesn’t know it, the men are starting to take notice. Elaine however, has eyes only for Lancelot her childhood friend. Lancelot seems to be leaning towards Elaine as well until the fiancée of Arthur comes to live in the camp, the beauteous but cruel Gwynivere who, though engaged to Arthur is deeply in love with Lancelot and he with her. The two girls are as different as can be and

The book is written entirely in free verse poetry and gives both a sense of the haunting poem and painting of the Lady of Shalott and is more hopeful, happier somehow. Elaine is a marvelous character – vibrant, fiery, brave and determined. Gwynivere, her rival is multi-layered and deeply conflicted. The men in the story almost serve as background to these complex and interesting women. The battle scenes, history and the wonders of nature all make this a highly entertaining and great read. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

48 Hour Reading Challenge

A few days ago, I found out about the 48 Hour Book Challenge on Mother Reader's blog. I promptly signed up and even had somewhat of a plan in mind. Yesterday my boxes from BEA arrived and all thoughts of planning ended.

Currently I'm unpacking six boxes of books and reading both The Mysterious Benedict Society which I already love and The Guardians, Ana Castillo's new novel about immigration that I also already love.

I just pulled out Puff the Magic Dragon, Peter Yarrow's lavishly illustrated picture book that I stood in line to get a signature for and I know it's going to work its way into this challenge. Other books that are clamoring to be part of the reading feast this weekend are:
Piglet and Papa
Manga Shakespeare - Hamlet
Manga Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet
Lost City Radio
Micographica, Renee French's new book
Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Wilbur Smith's new book, The Quest
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
Sparrow, a Novel
Gracie
The Ashleys
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (signed!)
Confessions of a Teenage Amnesiac
A Distant Soil
The Winter Rose
The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty
Only Revolutions
The Echo Maker
Wrestling with Angels
Tree of Smoke
Two Moon Princess
Erec Rex
The Christmas Jar;
The Kitchen Sink (poetry)
The Mice of Bistro des Sept Freres
Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy
The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (no I couldn't get Flight and missed his signing because the line was too long) heavy sigh.
Shiver
Kennedy's Brain
Fablehaven

Well that's it so far. No way am I going to be able to read all of those and the list may change depending on what else I find in my box digging (Mother Reader, does sorting books count in this reading challenge?). It'll be interesting to see which books I end up reading and how many of my list I'll get to. Signing off to go finish sorting books on the floor while reading The Guardian.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BEA Post Mortem


The scene at Javits before the show starts.



BEA – Book Expo America 2007

I went in with a plan. Really. I had maps, schedules, lists, My BEA Daily Planner and other tools. It all went for nothing the minute I walked into the Javits Center.

Phil Ortiz working on the BEA mural.


5/31/07 - Thursday. Conference: Panels all day long. I started out with good intentions and a planned schedule of panel attending, culminating in the Latino Book Awards. That was before I realized I had packed for a New York spring and it was hot, humid and my clothes just wouldn’t do. Nope. I walked from 43nd and 10th to Times Square and kept walking till I hit Ann Taylor and Macy’s.

Phil Yeh likes Tin Tin!

I spent an enjoyable morning spending money on me for once. I usually spend it on things like grandkids, kids, bills, rent and food. I got back to my friend’s apartment just in time to quickly shower and change. Grabbed a cab and I was off to Javits, arriving just in time for the Latino Book Awards (see my La Bloga post for my full list of winners). The awards ceremony was a little long, the list of Latino books and categories was long which is great that we have so much out there. I met nice people, chatted with people from all over the country and was thrilled to see some of my favorite books get awarded.

6/1/07 - Friday. The exhibit floor opens!!! I did attend one panel and had several meetings as planned. Then I went wild. Books! Books! Books! I visited publishers booths that I really wanted to see. I kept running into things I hadn’t planned on seeing and just got completely caught up. I’d run into someone that I had only corresponded with on email and we’d get to chatting and there went my schedule right out the window. I don’t think I even made it to the press room except for once in the morning. I met Phil Yeh and Phil Ortiz who were doing a mural for BEA. Yeh is the author of Winged Tiger while Ortiz draws the Simpsons for the comic book series. Nice guys.

I got to the launch of LIP (Latinos in Publishing) reception just as it was ending. Darn! I did have a chance to meet an icon of Chicana literature, Ana Castillo who signed her new book The Guardians or me. The fact that I didn’t stutter in the face of that diosa famosa amazes me. Ms. Castillo was gracious, beautiful and the first page of her new book already has me hooked. I saw Julia Alvarez leaving but didn’t get a chance to talk to her. Darn!

From there I hopped over to the Transcontinental party with two of my new friends. We shared blue martinis and good conversation while watching some of the crowd hook up to a flavored oxygen bar. Wow. I felt like I was in a Star Wars movie or something. The blue martinis were yummy and stylishly blue. Tired and happy, I left to the apartment on 43rd but headed right back out again to enjoy NYC at night. Goat cheese pizza and a cannoli with an espresso made the night perfect. Why did I ever move back home again? I adore Manhattan. Oh yeah, it was those bitter cold winters. Wimpy me can’t hang.

6/2/07 – Saturday. Morning coffee in the press room while going over the show daily and my notes. A few appointments. Hit the floor. I spent a lot of time bringing books down to attendee shipping to put in boxes. What a work out! Authors seen – Peter Yarrow who’s beautiful picture book Puff the Magic Dragon had lines of hopefuls stretched out for what seemed like forever. I scored one and chatted with the courtly gentleman for a sec. The book is gorgeous and I got one of the cool tote bags too! Can’t wait for my box to get here so I can read it and listen to the CD. I saw Wilbur Smith and also got his latest book, The Quest signed. Another lovely and nice man. I headed over to what I call comic book row where Diamond Distributors have their booths and Marvel is just around the corner. I met Joe Keatinge from Image Comics and Jimmy Gownley the cartoonist and author of the delightful Amelia Rules! winner of a 2006 Cybil award (I was on the nominating committee).

Joe has several books of special interest to me in my other incarnation as GM of Animation World Network (AWN.com) 
and he lists them below:
TALES OF COLOSSUS: Written and drawn by Mark Andrews, one of the major Pixar stars 
behind the upcoming Ratatouille. 
This is an epicmedieval tale where science and the occult combine to resurrect a  fallen soldier 
in the form of an iron colossus.
SCRAP METTLE: Another Pixar superstar, Scott Morse, has collected his sketchbooks and odd doodling 
into a 400 page hardcover edition,due out in July. It's a very interesting look into the process  
behind one of animation's finest creators.
The two of them also worked on two anthologies through Image, 
AFTERWORKS VOL. 1 & 2. Both volumes consist of animation's finest  doing what they love to do
 most after work - comics! The stories range from heartwarming all ages tales to WWII epic battles to  
silent heartbreak.
THE DRINK & DRAW SOCIAL CLUB. One of the front runners behind their art  book is 
DAVE JOHNSON, one of the main designers on the hit TV show BEN 10.

I stopped to chat with Chris Staros of Top Shelf comics who handed me a copy of Renee French’s new book Micrographica. Another book I can’t wait to get to. Where are my boxes UPS? I know, I know, not till the 8th. The wait is killing me.

I finally got to meet Jeremy Atkins from Dark Horse Comics. We exchange a lot of emails and go to a lot of the same conferences but have never met. Finally! Dark Horse does some amazing things including the much talked about Alice in Sunderland and those luscious Samurai: Heaven and Earth comics that I can’t get enough of.

Thalia signs at Chronicle Books

PGW party at the Blender at Gramercy Theatre that night with a friend. Good band, good music, good time.

I could go on and on with everyone I met and spoke to on Saturday and books I saw but I’ll save some of that for the next post.


6/3/07 – Sunday – I was EXHAUSTED!!! I got to Javits, headed to press room and had coffee. Feeling mildly human, I headed to the floor. Scored more books, met up with more people, went to shipping and just sat on the concrete floor sorting books and organzizing my boxes for about an hour. I got it all together and had it shipped, then planned on going upstairs to do more of the show till it ended. Somehow my feet ended up walking me right out of Javits and all the way to the apartment. I got there just in time. It started pouring down rain. My friend was back in town so we hung out, had Thai food and talked for hours. BEA was over, but not really. It’ll all be new when the boxes of books get here and I go through everything, my notes, the show dailys, the business cards, the emails. What a blast.

Next year, it’s in my turf – Los Angeles. YEEHAH! Maybe in 2008 I can stick to a schedule.