Friday, August 27, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
The central character is everyman teenager Mugi Tadano who is recovering from a severe heartbreak when his girlfriend moves away. To get over the loss he gets a summer job at a tropical snack bar and gets set up with cutie Yuu Tsukisaki. The hilarity begins when he accidentally walks in on Yuu in the bath and becomes shamefaced over his error. When he moves back home for school a surprise awaits him and history repeats itself. The conflict of teenage boy meets teenage girl combined with an almost parental or brotherly compassion makes this a worthy read. Koyabashi does an excellent job of capturing teenage emotions in this whirlwind using Mugi as the poster child. Through slapstick comedy Pastel portrays the transformation of innocent youthfulness of characters who struggle with growing up and maturing into adulthood.
The artwork beautifully portrays places that most of us will never visit. The beachside summer locale for Mugi’s job makes the reader hear the seagulls and feel the sun beat down on their faces. The urban setting of Mugi’s home and school brings the hustle and bustle to life. We can picture this happening here in the U.S. with some slight adjustments. Even the internal artwork of buildings and Mugi’s home is incredible for the insight into Japanese family life.
This series is geared towards a Grade 10+ (at minimum) male audience. It features typical, but highly suggestive, manga artwork. Kobayashi does a superb job balancing the suggestive artwork and its comedic effect. At the end of the day, Pastel is a heartwarming story of a confused adolescent combating his hormones and his compassion. The universality of that ensures a solid foundation of common ground between reader and the characters.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life, edited by Anita Silvey.
Settle into your favorite armchair and relish turning the pages of this ingeniously designed treasury of favorite children's books and the readers who loved them. Anita Silvey of Simmons College and Westwood, Massachusetts has gathered the beloved books of 110 society leaders from the sciences, politics, sports, and the arts. Each entry includes an illustrated page from the book, commentary on the book, and the reader's description of how it impacted their lives. The books are grouped in the categories of inspiration, understanding, principles and precepts, vocation, motivation, and storytelling. Find out what Peter Lynch learned from the Hardy Boys and how Beatrix Potter taught Ken Follett to write. Be charmed by David McCullough's debt to Robert Lawson's Ben and Me and be inspired by the wisdom Anne Tyler found in The Little House by Virgina Lee Burton. Reading this book will cause you to recall with pleasure the books that deeply and lovingly spoke to your imagination and to your heart. PM
by Charles Stross
Bob Howard is a computer hacker desk jockey, who is looking to move up to field work while avoiding bureaucratic hassles. He works for "The Laundry" an X-files like government organization charged with stopping any occult summonings. It turns out that some higher mathematics can lead to the ability to summon vile maleficent things from beyond.
Bob's mission is to stop people from using this arcane mathematical knowledge, whether accidentally or deliberately. It's A fun cross between the office and a spy novel and Lovecraftian horror. The overall tone is witty and comedic not horrific.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Nature is an unknown factor in our lives; while we have tried to tame it, to understand it wholly, nature always comes back with a destructive violence or a majestic beauty, an unexplained phenomenon that halts humanity's hubris. The same can be said of human nature, that we'll never know the effects our lives--sometimes violent, sometimes nurturing--will have on others. With his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Tinkers" Paul Harding examines the lives of three successive generations of men, and seeks to describe the impact of the unknowable human nature on their families. Interweaving the narratives of their lives--inner and outer--Harding effortlessly moves between the ages and the minds with an exactness that left me stunned. Encountering the moments in our lives when we feel a profound sense of connectedness to the greater mysteries is difficult enough, but tackling these ethereal experiences and putting them to words is a remarkable feat. My favorite moment came at the end of the novel (no spoilers here, I promise) when he wrote "We sensed, finally, the foolishness of attributing the unknown to secret cabals, to conspiracies. Everything was almost always obscure. Understanding shown when it did, for no discernable reason, and we were content." Amen to that.
Cyclist Bikelist has great illustrations with useful accompanying text. This book is geared to children in middle school and older but may be accessible for those in upper elementary. Robinson's book is a nice survey of cycling and repairs but sadly lacks any real depth. Despite that it could be the right amount of fuel to ignite a child's interest to learn more on the topic.
You can find similar cyling books for children in the Minuteman Library Network catalog. Here's a few others to sink your teeth into:
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Richard Rossi works in HR at a high tech firm in Boston. He has a long-time partner and also someone on the side and seems reasonably content with this. Richard's world changes when he discovers that his partner Conrad also has been having an affair with someone else. Obviously, personal difficulties arise. A great cast of "friends, frenemies, colleagues, and personal trainers" describes one reviewer. Another funny and insightful social satire by Stephen McCauley.