Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mermay! The Little Mermaid Retellings & Resource

As Mermay 2018 comes to a close, I want to share a resource I created for one of my classes. For anyone who wants/needs a definitive list of contemporary retellings of The Little Mermaid, I give you this guide. Basically, I created the reading/viewing/listening list I wished I had in high school (ok, who are we kidding, I want it now, too). Here are my thoughts on the retellings I've read so far:


The Little Mermaid/La SirenitaThe Little Mermaid/La Sirenita by Francesc Capdevila
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While geared towards a younger audience, this bilingual picture book adaptation of the original tale stands out in a collection with its simple yet striking illustrations. The story is presented in both English and Spanish on one page, with illustrations on the facing page. The writing style is is easy to read and understand, making this a good introduction to the story for English and Spanish speakers of many ages.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This selection has the look of a picture book, with its square shape, but is written and presented in graphic novel format, with speech bubbles, intuitive panels, and intricate illustrations. The language used is suited to readers in middle school and up, and neither the narration nor the illustrations shy away from the story’s darker themes. This could appeal to both newcomers to Andersen’s traditional tale and more established fans, as well as visual readers.


MermaidMermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This romantic retelling includes the perspective of the (human) princess Margrethe who sees the (mermaid) princess Lenia rescue the prince they both later fall in love with. A few liberties are taken to expand on the original story and the ending isn’t quite as tragic (unfortunately - that's what draws me to the story), but many details remain. Narration alternates between the two princesses as the reader learns their motivations for falling in love.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Split into two timelines (19th century and present day Plymouth, Massachusetts), this retelling is fairy tale, mystery, and ghost story all in one. Syrenka, the mermaid, falls for Ezra in the 1800s while present day Hester wants to learn her family's oldest secrets. Fans of monsters will appreciate this novel's vicious mermaids and creepy ghosts, while mystery readers will enjoy the slow reveal.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Napoli combines mermaid romance with Greek mythology in this adaptation. Love from a human grants a mermaid immortality, and Sirena herself must decide what she values - a life without death, or a life without love. Other characters from Greek mythology show up, making this retelling apt for fans of gods and warriors and/or mermaid lore. It's a short book, and makes for a bittersweet read.



My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This retelling of stays true to the structure and general plot of the original story: a young woman saves a young man, and then falls in love with him despite their inability to be together. In this Caribbean version, Desiree cannot be with Daniel because of their race and class differences - he comes from an upper class family, while she is a mere peasant girl, with dark hair and skin, and his family will not accept their affection. Like the original, this story is heartbreaking and tender, but with more relevancy to our world.

This title has been adapted into a successful musical that was recently revived on Broadway.


And this is just too good not to share:



Saturday, May 19, 2018

Short Story Collections

May is Short Story Month, a book genre that's often overlooked by librarians and readers alike. Like graphics, short stories are quite versatile. They crossover into nearly all genres, formats, and age ranges. They're the perfect size for commutes, checking out a new author (or several at once!), or for enjoying character and plot development at a quicker pace. Here are a few of my recent faves:

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to MeetMeet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you just want a book full of happy endings (or happy beginnings) - this is the book for that time. These 14 stories are just so dang CUTE. I loved all the loves, representing a variety of attractions and preferences in a variety of settings and time periods. This is a read for summer flings and winter romances and for when you need to restore your faith in the potential of meeting others.

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of InspirationHope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration by Rose Brock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Essays - a writing style not executed easily - make up this collection of inspiration. These 24 personal stories are more fact than fiction, but there's a creativity to them that not all essay writers are able to capture. All your favorite contemporary YA authors are included, which makes this an easy sell to those who are already fans or those who are looking for new authors to read. Stories of childhood dedication and perseverance, moments of doubt overcome by conviction, and the belief that words have power combine in this collection to show there is strength in hope.I found this collection heartbreakingly timely, and had to spread my reading out over the course of a few days(weeks).

Through the WoodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think horror works well in short story form - we get just enough to care about a protagonist and then to be terrified without having to invest in a whole novel. It turns out horror also works well as graphic shorts. Graphic as in the visual arts, but also as in explicitly illustrated. Don't worry - there's nothing NSFW here, but I was delightfully creeped out by several of the folktale-esque stories included in this collection.

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grisha Verse, #0.5, #2.5, #2.6)The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book, by all meanings of the word. I was entranced by the stories and the detailed illustrations. Fairy tale retellings will always have a place on my bookshelves, but these retellings in particular are provocative and so dang smart. I'll be searching out more Bardugo after reading this collection!


Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing the Lunar Chronicles, this YA sci-fi collection was such a treat. There are stories about each character in the series, plus a few bonus stories with new characters (that Little Mermaid retelling!!), and just like that I was back into the world Meyer crafted so well. I'd recommend reading the Lunar Chronicles either way, but they're especially helpful for context with this collection.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the WorldBrazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a quirky, detailed, fun collection of illustrated stories! Over 30 historical figures are represented in this collection of “broad-stroke portraits” in both text and illustration. Bagieu pays homage to women from various walks of life, geographic settings, and periods of history with brief biographical comics and detailed drawings that invite readers in to each story. This nonfiction graphic works well as a dip-in-and-out resource, and even though I read it cover to cover, it could easily be read by interest or as curiosity leads. The colors are sharp, and the book as a whole has a very eclectic feel.

The Radical Element (A Tyranny of Petticoats, #2)The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In stories that range in setting from Savannah, Georgia in 1838 to Los Angeles in 1923 to Boston in 1984, this collection of historical fiction by 12 different authors - a veritable Who's Who of YA Lit right now - features characters who refuse to let society define them. They boldly claim their identities and pursue their dreams in defiance of the norms of their communities.


Extras: How to Breathe Underwater, We're in Trouble, Interpreter of Maladies, Unaccustomed Earth, One More Thing, Tenth of December, Stories: All New Tales, All These Wonders, or view all my reviews.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Julián Is a Mermaid

Julián Is a MermaidJulián Is a Mermaid by Jessica    Love
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Juliàn sees three beautiful mermaids on the subway, he is both in love and encouraged to embrace his true mermaid self. Will Abuela appreciate his transformation? Filled with evocative and whimsical illustrations, Julian is a Mermaid is a delightful and thoughtful exploration of non-conforming self-expression.

Plus, MERMAIDS!

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Celebrating Free Comic Book Day With My Favorite Graphics

After visiting our local comic book shops to take part in Free Comic Book Day (yearly on the first Saturday in May), Jesus and I spent the afternoon reading and viewing our hauls. I've upped my graphic novel and nonfiction graphic reading hugely this past year, which has been great for my reading motivations and librarian-in-training education. These are just a few of my recent favorites - and only the start of my graphic-reading experience.

Don't forget, graphics come in all shapes and sizes - I'm partial to YA/Adult novels and sci-fi/fantasy, but there are graphics for all genres, and nonfiction graphics too!


Roller GirlRoller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes friendships take different paths, but it's never easy to go it your own way while your friend goes theirs. Astrid learns this when she spends her summer growing into her passion for roller derby, a passion not shared by her closest friend, Nicole. It's not easy, but Astrid embraces who she is and what she's about over a formative summer. Funny, sweet, and, at times, heartbreaking.


The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this for my children's materials class, and will skim through it again before continuing on with the rest of the series, BUT wow, I was super impressed by this little volume. It reads very visually (as opposed to leaning on dialogue), which I hate in text, but love in illustration. The story is gripping and the characters have a lot of heart. This is the kind of graphic novel I needed as a kid!


Shattered WarriorShattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked the artwork and the futuristic feel of this story. It resolves itself rather quickly (I thought this could easily be worked into a series), but I was still with the characters and plot the whole way through. I'm interested to read a few of Shinn's earlier works to compare the character development. Ostertag's illustrations are the biggest draw for me with this one.


The Sleeper and the SpindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful work! I read this one several times, it was so enjoyable. Gaiman's text is crisp and sharp, and Riddell's illustrations were marvels to look at. The contrast between the familiarity of the tale (Sleeping Beauty) with the newness of the telling worked for this book.


The City on the Other SideThe City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A human world/fairy world adventure set in early 1900s San Francisco...with maps?! This was a beautiful and beautifully told story of friendship, loyalty, and doing what's right, even if it scares you. Written for a younger crowd, but appreciated by this kid-like adult.



Through the WoodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think horror works well in short story form - we get just enough to care about a protagonist and then to be terrified without having to invest in a whole novel. It turns out horror also works well as graphic shorts. Graphic as in the visual arts, but also as in explicitly illustrated. Don't worry - there's nothing NSFW here, but I was delightfully creeped out by several of the folktale-esque stories included in this collection.


Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten HolyLumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How fun was this slim volume? Fun to the max. I'm excited to continue on with this silly adventure of a series. The characters were unique, with distinct personalities, and I love the exploration and mystery of a supernatural summer camp.



Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (Paper Girls, #1)Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another series I'm excited to continue with, this time featuring a group of newspaper delivery girls and time travel. The realistic style, late-80s setting, and smart dialogue give it a Stranger Things feel that I'm A-OK with.




The Prince and the DressmakerThe Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is possibly my favorite graphic novel of 2018. It's Velvet meets Julian the Mermaid meets Cinderella, but also so different from all of these and anything else I've read before. I was sold from page one with its charm, unassuming illustrations, and two of the most genuine protagonists. Let's deconstruct those gender norms, people!


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mermay!

I only recently learned of the existence of Mermay the month-long challenge for artists to illustrate a mermaid a day during the month of May - and I am ALL about it. No, I won't be drawing any mermaids, but I do plan on partaking in lots of mermaid-themed activities (mostly reading).

My husband and I started the fun a bit early this past weekend by attending a local high school's performance of Disney's The Little Mermaid musical. Since it's no longer on Broadway, seeing it in the suburbs was the next best thing (right?). Sarcasm aside, those kids did a wonderful job. I'm always impressed by high school performances - plays, musicals, slam poetry, dances - there's something about young people being vulnerable on stage that warms my heart and makes me hopeful for the future.

Here are a few photos from the night and the (nearly a decade old) Broadway sneak peek for fun:


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Words & Words & Feeling: Poetry Collections

Maybe you just want to dip in and out of a poetry collection, finding one or two to suit your mood. Or possibly you'd like a themed collection that will take you on a poetic journey. Then again, you could want something contemporary and diverse, with other options besides poetry. Whatever you're craving, there's a book for it. Here are three poetry collections, traditional, modern, and unique.


Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next GenerationPlease Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation by Brett Fletcher Lauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid collection with plenty of variety, these 100 poems are comfortably current. The diversity in content and form lends itself to at-random choosing of a poem (or poems) to read, and there is a feeling of presence on each page - these aren't the tired old guy poems of yesterday. Author questionnaires at the end of the collection add to the contemporary feel.


Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My PrettyPoisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This collection of poems is tied together by the contrasts and intersections of traditional fairy tales and modern teenage girls. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty all make appearances, along with other princesses, witches, and fair maidens - each showing there is more to the story than what fits between "Once upon a time," and "Happily ever after."


#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poetry is only a part of this collection of works by First Nations women, which also includes artwork, essays, and interviews. The juxtaposition of text and images is powerful, as is the variety of contributors - though more would always be nice. Because of the format, this reads like a literary magazine - aka, I didn't read cover-to-cover, but paged through, flipping back and forth as different illustrations and stories caught my eye. There are lots of ways this collection could be used for both pleasure reading or in an educational setting, but ideally it's only a starting point for more reading!


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