Guest Review: It's Christmas, David!

Today I'd like to introduce to you the first of our guest reviews in a new series! It comes from high school student Jazzlyn Carter. Fun fact: Jazzlyn and I share a birthday.

It's Christmas, David! by David Shannon
R (see note*)
Everyone loves the David books. The little boy does various bad things and gets yelled at over and over again.

I feel the opposite. David books are all the same. He does everything in the book to defy the rules, and every page says, "No, David." He's constantly yelled at but never in real trouble, and there's never really a full story. By the end everything's fine and everybody's happy- until the next David book comes.

In It's Christmas, David, David steals cookies, peeks at gifts,breaks ornaments, and everything else there is. But once again, he is forgiven when it's all over. While he books are very repetitive, I will say they touch on things children do everyday, and the responses they normally get. They are bright and colorful, and very realistic. David is the typical little boy, and it's good for kids to know that at the end of the day they'll always be loved.

Because of the positive side of the never-ending "David" collection, I recommend this book to young kids around 1st grade. They can read it, understand it, and they won't get bored too easily.

-Jazzlyn Carter

*Note: R stands for "Recommended." This review is part of a series of guest reviews by students in the Tap In Leadership Academy.  Read more about this series of guest posts, here!

Upcoming Guest Reviews

Over the next week or so, we'll have several guest reviews! These come from high school students that Alysa has been working with at the Center for Children's Books at UIUC. The students are part of TAP In Leadership Academy. 

Here is what one student, Jazzlyn Carter, has to say by way of introduction.

TAP In Leadership Academy is a summer enrichment program for grades 5-12. The program focuses on different cultures to broaden the mindsets of children to things they may not be familiar with. Each week TAP In highlights a different country and does projects relating to the culture. There is also a strong literary piece. Over the past 6 weeks, the high school scholars of TAP In have delved deeper into the world of literature. They have read books upon books, done mock review, and even created awards for books chosen by them. They have learned to look beyond the colors of the cover and analyze true literary merit. It has been a real learning experience, and they've gotten information that will forever change the way they read.

So! We will get to peek at some of those reviews and get a taste for the "books upon books" that they've read.  As a note, TAP In reviewers rated the books they reviewed according to the guidelines that The Bulletin (the review journal published by the CCB) follows:
R* (Recommended book with special distinction)
R (Recommended)
Ad (additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area)
M (Marginal Book that is so slight in content or has so many waknesses in style or format that it should be given careful consideration before purchase)
NR (Not recommended)

Update: You can now find all of these guest reviews under the Tap In label, here!

If I Stay / Where She Went

I finished reading both books in what I assume will just be a 2-book series (duet? combo? pair? am I missing a two-book-series word here?) a couple days ago. I read both of them really, really fast, not because I was in any hurry---just because I could not put them down.

First, the first. Mia, a talented cellist, stands on the brink of change. She's a senior in an Oregon high school and has (almost certainly) been accepted at Julliard. But her boyfriend, Adam, whose band is on the rise, won't be coming. These are the thoughts weighing on her mind when she goes for a drive one snow-day morning with her parents and her little brother. But her world comes to an abrupt end when her father swerves into oncoming traffic and everyone in her car is killed---everyone except for Mia. With her body lying in the hospital, Mia must contemplate the all-consuming question before her: If I stay ...

And the second ... Well, I can't really say much about it without revealing important plot points from the first, but I will say that it's told from Adam's point of view and concerns the aftermath of the tragedy of the first.

Both are told through a series of flashbacks, which sometimes I find annoying, because I just want to know what's happening now, darn it! But this was definitely not annoying. Moving, tragic, and yet hopeful, these books are both great reads.

For me, the beauty I found in these books was in Mia's loving family and in her love for classical music. I will add a warning, though: there is lots of language and some mild sexual references and a touch of gruesome imagery. The bad language is so casually used---just like I remember it in high school. So I guess it's accurate. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. :) Anyway, older teen to adult audience recommended.

Micro-reviews: Graphic Novel Edition!

My best waiter voice says: Today we have here a delicious sampler of graphic novels to choose from. They are in order from my least favorite to my most favorite.

The Lightning Thief Graphic Novel, by Rick Riordan. If I had picked this up to see what the series was all about I wouldn't have read further. Annabeth, age twelve? Looked like she was a woman from the nineties. The jokes were lost because so much of the humor is in Percy's voice as the narrator of the series. He still "narrates" the graphic novel, but his voice isn't preserved and neither are the laughs. My take: Read the original, instead.

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel. This was a graphic novel by a dancer, for dancers. There was so much distracting name-dropping that I couldn't get into the story. What there was of one. The dialogue was to little and too flat to hold up the story. I almost think there should have been none at all? I don't know. Can't say shoulda. The art was good and interesting, with great use of color. Done in watercolors. The other GN memoir I've read is Persepolis, and it is much broader in scope, more detailed, longer in timeline, etc. So this one didn't compare favorably. Thankfully it didn't get bogged down talking ballet terms, at least. My take: ballerina's could like it.

Crogan's March by Chris Schweizer. Follow up to Crogan's Vengeance, not a sequel but a story of a different ancestor. As with the first, this one begins with a modern setting and compares it with a tale from the past. I don't feel like the question that it set out to explore was really explored, though. Mmm. Maybe I was distracted? Still an enjoyable read. My take: I'll keep following the series. 

 Joey Fly 2: Big Hairy Drama by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman. Joey Fly, a fly, and his scorpion sidekick must solve the mystery of the missing diva, a painted lady butterfly. Full of details that make it fun. Silly similes and metaphors, artistic detail. Appropriate for all ages and great for a read aloud. My take: Gotta get these, for when my sons get older.

Babymouse: Mad Scientist by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. Babymouse works on a science experiment, for the science fair. We love Babymouse around here. Our favorite was the Star Trek bit of this one.  I thought it was particularly funny because Jacob tried to grow mold on bread with the scouts once and it didn't work out the way he planned.  My take: Not my all-time favorite of the Babymouses, but fun. 

Library Wars: Love & War by Kiiro Yumi. What can I say? This is a new favorite series of mine. It's got loads of awkward hilarity (love) and enough action (war) to move the story along. It's manga (read it backwards, from left to right!) and the premise is that Japanese librarians have an army of their own to protect books from the censor-happy government forces. As a tall woman, I find the pairing of Kasahara (tall) and Dojo (short) particularly entertaining. I'd recommend this one for high school on up especially if you're looking for something that's light but not fluffy.  My take: The best new guilty pleasure, low on guilt. 

Read it before you see the movie!

ETA: another link from Shannon Hale!

I am very excited about this!  Austenland is being made into a movie. Fer reals. You know, Austenland? By Shannon Hale? My favorite living author?

Shannon Hale's announcement, and some more details

Article at The Hollywood Reporter

Google Pics for your perusal:
Keri Russell
JJ Field
Bret McKenzie

My first review of Austenland

My re-read of Austenland

So I have to tell you: I went to this thing, in September 2009, where I had dinner with Shannon Hale and a bunch of my friends and some of her friends, too, and my mom, and she mentioned this. She and Jerusha Hess were working on the script together at the time. She said that if it happened, (and it was a big if at the time because you know how these movie things go, they have to be funded they have to be done right, everyone has to be doing things and things) she really wanted Jennifer Coolidge for Miss Charming.  I'm so excited that she got her wish! Hurrah! And I also remember Shannon saying that she was dying laughing about some of the new stuff that she and Jerusha had put in. So. You know. New stuff! Fun!

Also maybe you didn't notice that Stephenie Meyer is producing? Well that is no surprise to me (it's news, just not surprising) because she's producing on Breaking Dawn and because she blurbed Austenland. And I heard that she loves it. Reads it all the time. (Yep, that's Stephenie Meyer hearsay!)
Oh, here the Twilight Lexicon comments.

Also maybe you didn't know that Midnight in Austenland is coming out? Like a companion book? Not with the same characters, but also set in Austenland. Just look at this pretty cover. 

Anyway, I have a couple copies of Austenland. One that is currently at my house. So. If you need to borrow...

Micro-reviews: Teen girl edition!

I have been on a great reading streak! You wouldn't know it from the blog, though. Here are some short reviews of books I've been reading lately, and there are more to come later... all book covers are affiliate links, which means if you buy them, I get a small commission at no cost to you.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
This, my friends, is a YA romance. I thought I should tell you, because for some reason the romance took up more of the book than I thought it was going to. It kind of reminded me of The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks (which is a compliment), due to the boarding school thing. Also Twilight, because of the pasty guy. Just kidding. It's funny, though. I could have done with a little less swearing, but I thought Anna and Etienne were very believable characters. I particularly loved Anna's germ phobia. Recommended for fans of chaste romance, ages 14+. 

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol.
Inruiging. I liked the style and coloring.  Anya has a bad attitude, a self-centered outlook, and a smoking habit -- she's easy to hate. When she falls down a hole and meets the ghost of the girl who fell down it before her, her life begins to change. I thought the plot and art both well executed. It was just creepy enough for me, and has a great ending. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman (his blurb on the front reads, "a masterpiece!"), ages 12+.

Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls by Bennett Madison.
Lulu Dark is not a girl detective. And she cannot see through walls. But someone thinks she can. And someone wasn't counting on her love for that gaudy knock-off purse when they lifted it from her. And what the heck happened to the girl with the shark tattoo? The fun is in the snark, with this one. The portions I read aloud to Jacob made him laugh. And about halfway through the mystery really grabbed me. Three or four instances of swearing, so tread lightly if you're reading aloud. Recommended for fans of mystery novels and chick flicks, ages 14+.

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