Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Nifenegger

Book Information
Nifenegger, Audrey. The Night Bookmobile. New York, NY: Abrams ComicArts, 2010.

My Summary
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Nifenegger (bestselling author of The Time Traveler's Wife) is a haunting and thought-provoking book. While on a "cool-down" walk after an argument with her boyfriend, Alexandra stumbles on a bookmobile whose operating hours are "dusk to dawn." She learns that the bookmobile carries every single item that she has ever read. Her visit brings an overpowering desire to read and to work within the strange bookmobile, despite all of the sacrifices that she must make.

My Review
The Night Bookmobile raises questions about the act of reading. Is reading a selfish pastime that absorbs a person, preventing him or her from interacting with the community? What are the social dangers of becoming isolated, and of living life vicariously through books? The abrupt ending leaves many questions unanswered, especially with regards to Alexandra's happiness. Reading The Night Bookmobile in a graphic novel format is an "enhanced" reading experience. The graphics complement the story, and provide subtle hints to the reader about Mr. Openshaw, the nature of The Library, and about Alexandra's future. The pop culture music references provide additional food for thought.

In its few short pages, The Night Bookmobile offers readers many opportunities for reflection. Highly recommended.

My Notes
The Night Bookmobile is the first in a series of books collectively entitled The Library. I look forward to the next book!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan

Book Information

Yolen, Jane and Adams, Steve. Lost Boy: the Story of the Man who Created Peter Pan. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2010.

My Review

Jane Yolen, the award-winning author of Owl Moon  and the How Do Dinosaurs series, has written yet another bewitching picture book. Readers who enjoy Peter Pan and Finding Neverland should open Lost Boy, a biography of James M. Barrie.  Lost Boy illustrates how James M. Barrie was inspired to become an author, his early writings, and his source of ideas for Peter Pan. It also addresses difficult subject themes, including the death of his brother and the end of his marriage, quite sensitively.

The illustrations are elegant. They often appear to be old-fashioned and as "wooden" as the stage props that appear to have been used for the original staging of Peter Pan. Combined with the many Peter Pan-related quotations, the illustrations give an added dimension to the book.

This book is a wonderful way to introduce children to biographies!

Picture Books that Adults Will Enjoy

Book Information
Smith, Lane. It's a Book. New York: Roaring Brook, 2010.

Book Review
The latest bestseller from the award-winning artist, Lane Smith. Smith's explanation of a "book" involves a lot of smart humour that is targeted to a more mature reader. Clearly, the donkey is only too familiar with the concept of "e-books"! What would the donkey do with a Kobo? An enjoyable read for older children and adults.

Older readers might also enjoy picture book biographies, including Lost Boy by Jane Yolen, as well as the funny ways in which a boy "shows" his dad to do ordinary activities in Oh Daddy by Bob Shea.