Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Wendy Project

The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne; publisher PaperCutz/Super Genius on July 18, 2017.

Here's what I told the publisher...  "Highly dependent on knowledge of the original Peter Pan story, but made quite relevant to today's teenage experience. Multi-layered nuances will make for deeper exploration than this story could be told in just words. Sometimes over-exaggerates the "clueless adult" stereotype."

Familiar enough with the Peter Pan story, I got through this graphic novel unscathed. However, I'd like a couple of more read-throughs to get to the bottom of a few parallels...

  1. Peter Pan and Mr. Peters
  2. Tinkerbell and Jenny Wren
  3. Captain Hook and the police
  4. The innuendo of the Lost Boys
  5. Any connection with the rock-throwing kids
Yadda yadda...

I would also like to explore the use of color, where it was or wasn't used, as well as which colors were used when and why.

The reader roots for Wendy, partially because the adults have been stereotyped as clueless, inflexible, and distracted. But there were also many times where I thought to myself, "That's EXACTLY what a teenager would think!" This made Wendy's story fantastically realistic (fantastical realism).

Little things made this a fun visual read, such as the onomatopoeia of the siren sound and the gestures of our first encounter with the police.

In spite of all of these avenues to explore in this brief but compelling story, I'm still not sure to whom I would recommend this book. It's multi-leveled layers make it as easy or difficult as a reader chooses to make it, but I'm not sure who that reader might be... fairytale readers? graphic novel readers? fantasy readers? I'll try 'em all and see what sticks.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack Mcgowan, published by Ten Speed Press, publication date October 3, 2017.
This is my first non-fiction review, so be gentle on me :o)  
I'll begin by saying how surprisingly interesting I found the subject to be; I intended to read this to see if my high school Manga-loving students would like this. I've decided that, even if they wouldn't, the robotics-, engineering-, and coding-type gamers would! There were so many interesting factoids in the telling of this history. (I'm tempted to leak a few to you here, but I wouldn't want a spoiler alert tagged to this review.) Suffice it to say, that in 181 pages of story, I annotated 24 or so places with 'interesting factoid.'

The vocabulary might be a bit elevated for some high schoolers, but those with an interest in this topic will probably glean or look up the meanings of the unknown terms; it doesn't happen often enough to turn off a reader. There were a few places where I felt a chronological disconnect to the unfolding of the history, almost as if the author thought the relevance of a fact was more important in deciding its placement than pure chronology; if only that were always the case... at least twice I needed to reread sections because I thought I had 'missed' something, but rereading didn't clarify the information placements. Still, it was historical, so I tried just to absorb the significance of the information without the need to strictly enforce the chronology.

The storytelling depends heavily on Moore's Law without ever explaining it. (see if you, too, don't know Moore's law.) There were also a few places where I would have liked to have been told the source of the information being touted as fact since I practice a healthy skepticism of weighted adjectives that appear alongside data.

The distractions described were fairly minor to my overall enjoyment of the history of video games (hint: my first personal awareness of video gaming coincides with page 87 or so). I thoroughly enjoyed the many pop culture, political, and historical gaming evolutionary connections the author made throughout the story. Psychology, marketing, politics, war, engineering, computers, electricity, culture... the author included something with which a multitude of readers could engage. (Simply put: something for everyone.)

My enjoyment was OBVIOUSLY enhanced by the clever, detailed, and engaging drawings in this graphic novel. At least twice I full-stopped reading just to appreciate the humor and allusions the drawing provided to heighten the experience. The pictures were not merely embellishments; they sometimes were the story! Some of the best pictures were enough to jog my memory, explain something new, or complete a written explanation. Note: The cover doesn't do the inside any justice:

I'm looking forward to recommending this title to my non-fiction readers as well as my computer, gaming, coding, and Manga-ing students (and teachers!)