Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: The Complete Funky Winkerbean 1972-1974

The Complete Funky Winkerbean 1972-1974 by Tom Batiuk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think the author of this book and I are of a similar era, so this retrospective was, for me, a walk through my past as well. The difference in the humor of that era to the current one is minor, but it seems to me that it is a bit gentler. There is a long-running gag about Les getting turned down for dates. The difference is that he largely puts himself down and the girls that he asks don't put him down cruelly, they just say no. One even says yes, but he is so focused on accepting a negative answer that he doesn't even notice.

That said, I think his writing didn't venture too far from the stereotypes of the day. The football hero is stupid; the feminist is abrasive; the cheerleaders are "hot". Funky and Les are better developed than the other characters, but most of the minor characters are rather one-dimensional.

There are a couple of minor characters that are intriguing; Crazy Harry is a favorite of mine. He is an underachiever and satisfied with confronting the norms through passivity. The school counselor, Mr. Fairgood, a couple of the teachers, and the principal, all give the strip a chance to poke at the cluelessness of some of the adults.

I enjoyed the book. I have a relatively large collection of cartoons and comics (though not the standard comic books) and I am happy to add this to my collection.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: May B.

May B.May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was good, but the blank verse didn't work as well for me. It made the story a bit too sparse for me - and too short. I am not a big fan of short stories and this read, to some extent, like a short story.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: Nerd Camp

Nerd Camp
Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I would actually give this 3 1/2 stars, if that were allowed, but I am rounding up, due to this being about nerds. The book is a fairly standard tween type book, with one kid wondering if his nerdiness will keep his new stepbrother from liking him, but at the same time really enjoying his nerdy summer camp. The nerdiness questions get a little old after a while, but I think they have to be there.

As an interesting aside: this is one of the few American books I have read, where relationships to family and other adults are portrayed really positively. I give it a plus for that, even though, at times, the positive feelings border on sugary. In fact, there is a bit of the too-positive throughout the whole book - another reason for the 3 1/2 stars.
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Flying Solo

Flying Solo
Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book worked better than I thought it would, just from reading the blurbs. There is a lot of thinking crammed into a short-ish novel. In fact, it reads a little bit like a series of short stories - short vignettes tied together by some common threads. But it comes together surprisingly well.

I wasn't completely satisfied with the ethics of the resolution, but then I am a substitute teacher and I am perhaps biased by my experiences with 6th grade classes.

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Review: The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the illustrations for this, but I didn't love the story as much as I had hoped.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Geek Abroad

Geek Abroad
Geek Abroad by Piper Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enjoyable and good. I like these books well enough to keep reading them, but for some reason, they aren't quite as profound as I had hoped. I am not sure what it is, but they are more of a summer vacation read than a serious, devote all of your attention to read. That isn't bad, BTW; sometimes, it is exactly what I want.

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Review: Summer of the Geek

Summer of the Geek
Summer of the Geek by Piper Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are some things I like about these books: realistically dealing with people's differences, family relationships, problem solving, and this book was a good choice for a plane trip. There isn't tremendous depth here, but it is enjoyable.

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Review: Geek High

Geek High
Geek High by Piper Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for books about smart kids and I enjoyed this. It is no classic, but it was enjoyable.

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