4 stars · graphic novel · young adult

cute, unique graphic novel: the prince and the dressmaker

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The Prince and the Dressmaker

author : jen wang

pages : [paperback] 277

favorite character : frances

summary :

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

review :

I’ve never read a graphic novel like The Prince and the Dressmaker–stunning, beautiful, and just plain CUTE. Yes, there were moments that really stressed me out, but overall this book is creative, smart, and a joy to read.

Prince Sebastian has a secret: sometimes, he prefers to wear gorgeous dresses and go out as Lady Crystallia, making a reputation for himself among the elite in the fashion world. His dress designer is also his best friend–Frances, who has always dreamed of becoming a well-known fashion designer. But how can she achieve those dreams if the person she’s creating for has to live in secret? Will she have to remain a secret, too?

I liked how there were so many different layers to this book. You fear Sebastian will be caught; you fear he’ll need to hide an important part of himself throughout his entire life. You recognize Frances’ aspirations for her own career; you empathize with her willingness to sacrifice so much for an important friend. Both main characters are struggling with who they are and who they want to become; it’s intriguing to watch them grow and find themselves throughout the course of the novel.

While the plot shines, the illustrations sparkle. I loved the art style for this book, and the dresses created by Frances for Sebastian are truly breathtaking. I want to see real-life versions of them. Someone PLEASE cosplay as Frances and Sebastian at a convention. All of my dreams would then come true.

This is an excellent read for those wanting to read more graphic novels, who want to read more diversely, as well as those who truly may not understand situations and people so far outside of the gender binary. I really do think this graphic novel will spread awareness, and love, getting people who may have always thought one way about gender roles (and how even CLOTHING is gendered!) to ask questions that might bring them around to acceptance. It’s important to teach those who are willing to be taught.

The Prince and the Dressmaker reads like a lighthearted fairytale perfect for any collection. I’d eagerly read more by this author.

4/5 stars

 

 

5 stars · children's books · fiction

imaginary fred by eoin colfer & oliver jeffers is the book all kids and grown-ups need

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imaginary fred

authors : eoin colfer & oliver jeffers

pages : [hardcover] 48

summary :

A quirky, funny, and utterly irresistible story from Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers, two of the finest children’s book creators on the planet.

Did you know that sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one? An imaginary friend like Fred.

Fred floated like a feather in the wind until Sam, a lonely little boy, wished for him and, together, they found a friendship like no other.

The perfect chemistry between Eoin Colfer’s text and Oliver Jeffers’s artwork makes for a dazzlingly original picture book.

review :

I never had an imaginary friend when I was younger. Maybe because I had books instead.

That sounds incredibly corny, but it was true. Whenever I was lonely, I could always find someone to be friends with me, and maybe fictional characters are their own kind of imaginary friends. I’ve been obsessed with them long enough to not really know the difference.

Imaginary Fred is an amazingly cute, quirky story about what it is to be a friend, what it is to be recognized, and what great things the imagination can do for you. Sam has always wanted a friend, and Fred has had many people befriend him during his imaginary friend gig . . . but they all, inevitably find real friends for themselves. And forget all about him.

Sam and Fred have an amazing relationship and friendship and I love all of the messages told in this story. I don’t want to spoil any of them (and, really, this book is short enough, so you need to go and read it yourself if you’re so curious, and just because it’s that good). Messages about friendship, about identity, creativity, love, caring, altruism . . .

And, yes, I know children’s books always have some kind of hidden agenda, right? They’re always trying to teach something. Or at least a lot of tiny little things. Imaginary Fred does it right because while the messages aren’t hidden, they aren’t spelled out for the kids, either. It lets younger readers do all of the critical thinking on their own.

But, really, the illustrations and story are cute enough for readers of any age.

5/5 stars

 

3 stars · fiction

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

 

Wonderstruck

author : brian selznick [also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret]

pages : [hardcover] 640

memorable quote : Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for.”

favorite character : rose

summary :

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben’s story in words, Rose’s in pictures, come together in deafness.

review :

I was absolutely fascinated by the idea that this story was told half in words, half pictures. I read and loved Hugo Cabret before, written by the same author, and loved how what was told in the text was visually represented. Wonderstruck is different because Ben’s story is told completely in words while Rose’s is only in pictures, so her tale is a little more difficult to piece together. The two narratives also take place in different times so it was awesome to see little historical bits about the 1970s and 1920s. It was also very fun to guess at why the two of them were chosen to tell the story and to try to figure out how they may be connected. While I kind of guessed the answer by the end, it still had a little surprise!

This book is very large but it’s such a quick read! If you have a few hours one afternoon you could easily get through this massive novel. I think younger readers might be daunted, at least until they see that most of the pages are taken up by pictures or large text. I breezed through this and though I needed to stop a few times to read my actual homework, this was much more fun to page through.

What I really liked about this novel, and think that there should be more of, was the fact that prominent characters are deaf. I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a novel with a deaf person in it. While I don’t know much about Deaf culture, I would love to learn sign language, so it was also very cool to see sign language in a few of the pictures throughout the novel.

Even though I was captivated by the concept of the story, loved that there was such a fascination with museums in the novel, and really enjoyed some pieces of the plot, this isn’t one of my favorite books. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again, now that the fun of it has worn off. I definitely think it’s the kind of story that some people might like better than I could. Ben and Rose seemed hard for me to relate to and so I wasn’t as drawn into their story as I should have been. While I wanted a happy ending, there was no real excitement in the story that had me craving more. It was simply a nice story.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read. It isn’t a favorite but I’m still very glad that I read it.

3.5/5 stars

5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · series · young adult

Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser

Wish

faerieground #1

authors : beth bracken & kay fraser

pages : [hardcover] 306

favorite characters : kheelan & soli

summary :

With one wish made in Willow Forest, Soli and Lucy are pulled into Faerieground – and into the middle of an ancient battle. In the faerie kingdom, an evil queen searches for her daughter while the palace crumbles. To save her best friend, Soli must find her hidden strength. This is a story about friendship, growing up, and the power of wishes. This is a story about faeries and spells, queens and lost princesses, fireflies and four-leaf clovers. But mostly, this is a story about love.

review :

This book is such a quick and cute read! Although it is obviously geared toward younger readers, fantasy lovers of all ages will love the illustrations and messages presented in Wish! I flew through it in just a few short hours because half of the book is full-page illustrations of the characters and events of the story. I loved the visual presentation of the fairy world, the dynamic between Lucy and Soli, and the fact that both fantastical and real-life issues were addressed throughout the novel!

The entire plot of the novel only happens because of a simple fight between best friends over a boy, something that most female readers would be able to relate to. Because the opening of the book is grounded in realism, that only enhances Wish and makes it especially useful to younger readers. Lucy and Soli remain loyal to each other, even if they are angry, and I think that seeing these strong characters facing obstacles they never could have imagined before.

I do with that there was a little more writing because there are spaces on the pages where more dialogue and description could have been added, though I’m assuming that that was avoided in favor of the fantastical drawings. While those were definitely my favorite part of the novel and what makes it so incredibly unique and fun, I really wished that the ending could have been less abrupt and more well-rounded, though of course now I’ll need to go on to read the next book! I can’t wait to see what else happens in he Faerieground and what adventures Soli and Lucy might have!

I’d recommend Wish to anyone, young and old. Fairy lovers, especially, or people who love fairy tale worlds will love this book!

5/5 stars

3 stars · fiction · steampunk

Steampunk: Poe

Steampunk: Poe

Written By: Edgar Allen Poe

Illustrated By: Zdenko Basic & Manuel Sumberac

pages: 264

memorable stories: the spectacles, the raven

summary:

If you combined clockwork gears, parasols, and air balloons with Edgar Allan Poe, what would you get? Steampunk: Poe! This is the first collection ever of Poe stories illustrated with the influence of steampunk. Running Press Teens has selected some of the most popular, thrilling, and memorable stories and poems by the classic 19th century American writer whose literary talent continues to open the mind to countless interpretations.Every Poe story and poems is fully illustrated with steampunk-inspired art—from 1920s aviation gear to elaborate musical instruments—creating a fresh perspective on his work containing bizarre characters of madmen and mystery. Just in time for Halloween, Steampunk: Poe is the perfect classic horror choice with a haunting steampunk twist!

review:

I was soooo extremely ecstatic when I walked into my library and spotted this book! I first noticed it on Goodreads and thought that it would turn out to be one of those books I’d admire from afar but would never get the chance to get my hands on. Little did I know that someone out there saw fit to supply my local library with a copy, making me happy and hopefully introducing others to Poe’s work through the wonderful illustrations, as steampunk is so popular right now. Though I never would have thought the two would go together.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Edgar Allen Poe because I either really enjoy his stories and poems or detest them entirely. And I have no idea why this is. The same was true for this collection; I’d already read a handful before, but wanted to re-experience them complete with the pictures, anyway. Sometimes the images fit in wonderfully, making it all the more gruesome or mysterious. At other times I think that it would have been better had other scenes been selected for illustration because the panels didn’t fit in quite as well.

I found a few new favorite works by Poe, as well as had the opportunity to revisit some old ones. There were a few that I was very, very tempted to abandon and skim through . . . But I managed to resist that impulse. This book took me longer to read than I thought that it would because of that.

I’d recommend this book for fans of classic horror stories, Edgar Allen Poe (obviously), steampunk, pictures, literature, classics . . .

WOEFULLY INTRIGUING.3/5 stars

(Or should I say . . . Poe-fully? Heh.)

4 stars · books to movies · fiction · history · young adult

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author: Brian Selznick

Pages [hardcover]: 533

memorable quote: Even if all the clocks in the station break down, thought Hugo, time won’t stop. Not even if you really want it to.

Like now.

favorite characters: Hugo & Etienne

summary:

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist’s spell.

review:

 I was really looking forward to reading this book-mostly, I’m not going to lie, because of the pictures. Yeah, that’s right. There are so many of them, because Brian Selznick is going for a new feel in this book. Sort of a cinematic reading experience. Sounds crazy? Maybe it is, but it sort of works. Seeing pictures of a fight scene helps me picture everything better than simply reading about it, but some chases in books can be particularly descriptive, too. I can just say it was a good experience, the images were wonderful, and I hope to read more books like this in the future. Pictures shouldn’t be just for kids!

This book was a bit predictable, which disappointed me. I was looking for some conspiracy, some twist, that would shake me up and make me look at the book in a different light. I know not every novel can work out that way, but I don’t want to be able to see the end from before the middle of the book. While I kept reading on, that definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the entire thing.

This is really a quick read! I read it in a few days, but could have easily done so in a couple of hours. What with the big font, small pieces of writing, and page after page of illustrations, I was literally flipping through the pages to see what would happen next.

While I recommend this book, mainly for the unique premise, I wouldn’t see to hold your breath while waiting to read it. It’s a sweet little story, but not one that knocked my socks off.

PREDICTABLY PLOTTED. 3.5/5 stars