Poem, no title yet.

Smile,
and show my teeth.
After twenty minutes,
cheeks are too stretched to continue holding it.

But, I like smiles–
That hidden one on the upper left side of the face
causing eyes to twinkle.
Full lips holding back a joke.

Too sore. Or I have something between my teeth.
Smile is gone.
There is something better–a laugh.

Eyes wide in enjoyment,
mouth open (not enough to allow the full laugh out),
shoulders quivering in hilarity.
The tiny giggle behind both hands.
The loud gaffaw that has me rolling on the floor.
The snicker, a small puff.

But, which is better?
Which do I enjoy more?
Both work well together, true
However, I am a simple girl–one thing at a time.
Draw lots,
Who gets the smallest one?

Book Review | Coraline Graphic Novel

3 of 5 stars
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I first heard of this story as a clay-action movie. I own it, and I love it. But then, when I was looking for a graphic novel to read for my YA Lit class, I saw this! YAAY! Then, only did I realize that the graphic novel is “based off the novel and now a major motion picture.” So, there is a real novel somewhere out there I have to read too.

Coraline Jones has just moved into a new house with her family–the attic is owned by eccentric Mr. Bobo and the Forcible sisters live in the basement. Coraline finds a door that leads to nowhere, but opens for her and leads her straight to her other mother. Should she trust her other mother who wants to sew buttons in her eyes and love her for eternity, or stay in the boring, monotuous life she has?

I read a lot of anime, so that is what I am basing this review off. Anime allows the picture to do the explaining, the telling, a lot of times, however, in this book, every single picture has description, even those where the action shows us anyway. Now I know why my roommmate, an Animation major, says she doesn’t care for Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels–he does too much telling instead of showing. “Pictures are worth a 1000 words.”

Still, it was interesting to see the differences between the movie and this graphic novel.

Book Review | After the First Death

1 of 5 stars
After the First Death by Robert Cormier
So, when I heard the different titles of Robert Cormier, and hearing that he wrote bleak books, I was excited to read one of his novels for my YA literature class. Boy was I wrong in my anticipation!

A bus of preschool students has been hijacked and held for ransom. Miro is new at the job and wants to do Artkin proud, but has to deal with Kate, the substitute bus driver. While on the other hand, Ben is pulled into his father’s dangerous duty as part of the Inner Delta to try and stop this hijacking.

The first thing that caught me off guard was the very sporadic narrating in the beginning. Ben speaks in the first person, but sometimes reflects on the Bus and Bridge accident, sometimes considering suicide, and other times noticing what is going on in the present. Then it reverses time and goes to the very beginning of the hijacking incident, but in thrid person. Not only that, but it switches from 3rd person limited between Miro and Kate. Then, Cormier throws you for an even bigger loop by having Ben’s father start talking in first person.

I didn’t enjoy this book. I didn’t think the suspense was held very well. I have read books that have kept my heart pumping so hard that I HAD to finish it in that setting. This didn’t do that for me. I can’t put my finger on it, but just the way he wrote didn’t capture me at all. Even during the climax I was mildly interested.


Book Review | Reckless

4 of 5 stars
Reckless by Cornelia Funke
Another one of Cornelia Funke’s mix of modernity and fantasy. Only this time, she focuses on fairy tales rather than mythical creatures.

Will wasn’t supposed to find out about the Mirrorworld his older brother Jacob often escaped to, but he did. And now, stone is growing over his skin, turning him into the fabled Jade Goyl. Jacob sets off on a quest to find the cure before his borther is lost forever in the midst of the war between the imperials and the Goyls. Can he beat the Dark Fairy and time itself?

With this novel, Funke has grown up a bit–it is a bit more mature and darker than her other books, especially Dragon Rider and The Theif Lord, but is only a step up from Inkdeath. Funke does a good job creating well-rounded characters, ones with their own foibles that we come to love.

As always, Funke does a wonderful job mixing fantasy and reality. Her Mirrorworld is a world based on Grimm’s fairy tales, but this world is reaching an Industrial Age, aching to catch up to our world. I love seeing her interpretation of how that affects fairy tale creatures.

As always, I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Reading ability-wise and content-wise, I would recommend it to 8th graders or higher.

Book Review | Out of the Dust

5 of 5 stars 
This historical fiction book, told in narrative poetry, is about a fourteen-year old girl named Billie Joe, living in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

Billie Joe and her family suffer through dust storms and poor crops, but as a family, until the terrible accident that causes her mother to die. Now, Billie Joe suffers with her identity and relationship with her father and has to make the ultimate decision: to stay or to leave?

The first thing that caught my eye is that this book is written with narrative poetry. We are inside the brain of Billie Joe and what she is thinking. I believe that Hesse decided to write this way because she mentions that Billie Joe keeps her mom’s book of poetry on the shelf for show. Billie Joe wants to be like her mom and keep her memory strong. It is a different perspective–kind of like the very stilted narration given by Death in The Book Thief.

I like the theme of this book: comparing herself to different aspects of the farm. Billie Joe is like the wheat, her father like the sod, but they are both (and everyone else) the dust that envelops their lives during the 1930s. Hesse did a wonderful job of describing the hopelessness and the dust that mid-westerners had to deal with during the Dust Bowl. This would be a good, quick read if a history teacher wanted to use it for their Great Depression unit. Otherwise, I would suggest reading it with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry because there are many similar themes and motifs (and they are both during the same time period, albeit dealing with different issues). I don’t see why sixth graders AND seniors can’t enjoy this book!