But, as it is poetry month, I have been reading about teaching poetry. One book keeps getting suggested, again and again: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. (more…)
I don’t often read Graphic Novels, but I do enjoy the ones I pick up! Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert (Disney Hyperion, 2012) is a finalist for the Cybils 2012 awards in the graphic novels category. I love Helen Keller’s story, so I was interested to pick this one up.
I loved how Lambert captured Helen’s state in a different graphical representation. Before Helen has learned words and speech, Lambert illustrates a box of all black, with some gray or otherwise unclear lines to indicate where she feels something. So many of those boxes look the same. A disheveled creature is exclaiming (no words of course, since young Helen did not have any speech) as something is snatched out of her arms. I cannot imagine having no speech, no sight, and no hearing. How frustrating life must have been for the poor young girl! Things happened to her. She was not a part of anything.
As Annie Sullivan teaches Helen, the boxes that represent her state gradually gain shape and color. True, Helen did not see color, but as Lambert represents her learning words and concepts, Helen’s world likewise gains color. I loved the powerful representation of Helen as she developed.
Lambert continues Helen’s story, but this is really a book about Annie Sullivan. The first portion captures some of Annie’s trepidation about teaching Helen, and after the initial learning moments in Alabama, the book shifts to a few years later down the line, when Annie and Helen return to the Perkins School for the Blind. Here, Annie deals with the leaders of the school who resent her for her fame in working with Helen. Further, Helen is accused of plagiarism of a story that she has written to Annie. As Helen is accused before all the magistrates, she is left nervous and unhappy, as she has believed she wrote an original story. Annie leaves feeling frustrated as well .
Since this was the end of the book, I too left feeling frustrated. I loved seeing Helen’s transformation in the graphic representation, and Annie’s story provided a personal touch that I was not familiar with. Annie, too, had vision troubles, so her story parallels Helen Keller’s in some ways. But the book ended on such a discouraging note, and there seemed little resolution. It was based on facts, and yet, I felt that the ending could have drawn on some more of the friendship between the two women.
In all, I really liked this historical fiction graphic novel, but I felt the telling of the story would have been more powerful if it had not ended so abruptly.
It seems I am not capable of writing more than brief thoughts these days, so that is what I’ll do for the next few books I have thoughts on. These two books are by John Boyne. Though they are written for children and definitely intended to be children’s books, they have so much in them that I really enjoyed them. Boyne writes for a younger audience with a talent, even about complex issues. While I didn’t finish either book in love with them, they both provided much room for thought and are enjoyable reads. (more…)
I really enjoyed reading the first Hereville graphic novel, so when I saw the next one on netgalley, I was eager to revisit Mirka’s somewhat bizarre world. Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (published November 2012) is another look at the spunky young Jewish girl who has fantastic adventures in her small community.
In the first volume, Mirka fights a troll in order to win a sword, but her battle ends up being different from what she expected! In this second volume, Mirka learns that a meteorite is coming to the earth. The witch helps her by transforming the meteorite, but it was not quite what she was expecting! Once again, Mirka must come to terms with herself in the humorous challenge she faces in this volume.
Hereville is such a blend of creativity that I really enjoy reading it, and I imagine the intended audience (young middle grade readers) loves it far more than I do! It has a strong strand of Jewish culture, but it also is a fantasy, an adventure, and a tale of a girl dealing with bullies, family, and basic pre-teen difficulties. I am not Jewish and I loved the glimpse at an Orthodox Jewish family and community. In general, I really like the world Barry Deutsch has created, and I’m glad he’s continued Mirka’s saga in this second volume of her adventures.
Note: I read a digital review copy from the publisher via Netgalley for review consideration.
Raisin is a part of a small co-op group that occassionally reads a book and does activities related to it. Our most recent read was The Perfect Hamburger and Other Stories by Alexander McCall-Smith. Alexander McCall-Smith has always been a favorite author of mine. This particular collection of middle-grade stories are all related to food, and kids are somehow the heros. (more…)