Sunday, February 12, 2023

Five Graphic Novels

I read five graphic novels this Shabbat. 

Marshmallow and Jordan is a beautiful book about a girl from Indonesia who loves basketball but can't play on her school's team anymore after an accident leaves her paralyzed from the waist down. She befriends a young white elephant, who is more than what he seems. I was a little annoyed that the big reveal was left to the end of the book and told instead of shown, but it's still a delightful graphic novel. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Allergic was my favorite of the graphic novels I read this Shabbat. It's about a girl who loves animals more then anything, until she gets a puppy for her tenth birthday and discovers she's very allergic to anything with fur or feathers. Still, she never gives up on her dream. She just has to tweak it a little. This is a great slice-of-life middle-grade graphic novel, similar in style to Sisters and Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and it teaches kids about how allergies should be taken seriously. Highly recommended 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The other three books were the last three in the 5 Worlds series. This is a beautifully drawn sci-fi series about a young sand-dancer who needs to light the five beacons on the five worlds in her planetary system to save from it multi-planet global warming. Oona makes friends along the way, and together they set out to accomplish the impossible.

While the plot was fun and exciting, and the art beautiful, I do feel that some things were missing. Some of the science is wrong. (I hope kids who read the series don't come away thinking it's possible to live inside a star.) And Oona doesn't feel authentically female. In the past, I might have been okay with that, but not today when there are so many women writing terrific graphic novels starring authentic girls. The main characters are also impetuous sometimes, which I feel is kind of an insult to kids, and sometimes the characters are just too lucky, finding exactly what they need in the unlikeliest of places. It's still a delightful series, though. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

And that's it for this week!

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

What's the best way to get books in English in Israel?

I'm in center city Jerusalem, where there are probably a dozen new and used bookstores that sell books in English within walking distance of where I live. There are also a few libraries a little farther away with very limited selections. I have at least twice as many books as any of them. The American Consul library stopped offering books at all a long time ago, but the British library in Baka I understand has a good selection. My understanding is that it charges a membership fee, though. The selections in all the bookstores, both new and old, are very, very limited. They never have what I want. 

The "free" shipping from BookDepository and BetterWorldBooks really just means they up the price of books to include shipping. If you use a VPN and list the USA as your address, you'll get a different, much lower price. Still, sometimes they have decent prices for books, especially BD with books from the UK.  BWB might have that with some old used books. 

Amazon has real free shipping on most new books if you order $49 or more for many but not all items. (If you order books from some local bookstores, they'll just buy them on Amazon for you.) 

If you're into comics and/or graphic novels MyComicShop sells new ones at 35 percent off with preorders, and you can set up shipping so your orders only go out when they top $50. Their international shipping is $25, so it pretty much evens out. They do an excellent job packing everything, and their customer service is wonderful. But they do only deal with comic books, graphic novels, and comic book novel adaptations. You can also add older comics, graphic novels, and comic strip collections, to your preorder orders if they have them in stock. Prices vary depending on collectibility and condition. (You can also sell in demand issues in good condition back to them, but I don't know how that works.)

Someone recommended AwesomeBooks to me, so I'm ordering 10 used books from AwesomeBooks, and shipping is £11.90. Still, most of the books are 60% off with an additional 20% off coupon code (awesome20 for new customers), so it's still a good deal. These aren't books on my want list, just books they have on sale. The total cost for the order is about $40, so that turns out to about $4 per used book. We'll see if it turns out to be worth it or not.

I hope this helps.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Frankie's World, The Golden Hour, and Goddess Girls

I read three graphic novels this Shabbat.

Frankie's World by Aoife Dooley is a book that should be in every middle-school classroom and every children’s library. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 

Frankie is an 11-year-old Irish girl who thinks she might be an alien. Her brain doesn’t work like anyone else’s she knows, and she keeps saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She wants to meet her father, because she believes he might be able to explain why she is the way she is. The book is a wonderful introduction to autism in girls, written and drawn by a woman with autism. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Golden Hour by Niki Smith is a modern masterpiece that deserves the great reviews it has received. It deals with the tough topics of school shootings (one teacher is shot, but she recovers) and PTSD in young people, but against a gorgeous rural backdrop and through the lens of an adolescent who loves photography. The story is funny and touching, and the art is gorgeous. This might be a good graphic novel for a young person either dealing with anxiety or PTSD or who knows someone dealing with anxiety or PTSD. The book also teaches a little about photography and composition, as well as farm life. It’s a great book.

Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams reimagines Zeus as the principal of a high school and the other characters of Greek mythology as the students. Athena has no idea she’s a goddess until she gets a letter from Zeus, who tells her she is his daughter and Hermes will be picking her up to take her to Olympus Academy. There she makes friends with Aphrodite and Pandora.

This book is okay. The writing and art are both fine. It’s a nice introduction to Greek mythology, but there’s no real conflict and no depth. The main girls are cheerleaders, and most of the girls in the book are a bit too boy obsessed. Personalities really don't go very far beyond “this is the smart one, this is the pretty one, and this is the curious one.” Still, I do think this could appeal to some very young girls, maybe in grades three and four, as an alternative to all the fairy and princess books.

And that’s it. I also started a fourth graphic novel I’m really enjoying, and I look forward to reviewing it next week. 

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 02, 2023

a visit to shuk Machane Yehudah in pictures

Random photos of the day: we went to the Machane Yehudah shuk to buy fruit and flowers and eat at Fish en Chips. 

It was cold and a bit windy, but I was warm in my black parka, black fingerless gloves, and a gray knit "Disney" hat with two pompoms like Mickey Mouse ears.  

I bought a lot of strawberries for 18 shekels (a little over $5) after getting a taste. They're really good. There were a so many stalls selling cheap, delicious strawberries (guess it's the height of the season), and we saw a group of teen girls sitting in a circle on the pavement in middle of the open-air shuk and enjoying them. 

I also bought cheap broccoli, Romanesco broccoli (so pretty!), snow peas, and zucchini. At Fish en Chips, I had a grilled salmon salad, my son had fries, and my ex, Gidon, had fish and chips. We bought a grilled tuna salad to bring home for my daughter and we also bought a whole fish to grill at home. I bought sunflowers for Shabbat, and then we returned home under darkening clouds. It drizzled a little, but we avoided the worst of the rain.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

What have you been reading?

Every Shabbat, I read. 

I'd like to tell you about two books I read this last Shabbat: Squirrel Girl Universe and Death & Sparkles

Squirrel Girl Universe is basically a cross between the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (my favorite superhero) and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (my favorite book). 

Squirrel Girl and friends try to stop a super villain in the process of sending New York City to the farthest corner of the universe, and only partly succeed. This lands them and the villain far, far from home. Koi Boy gets help from a space whale, and that's where the adventure really starts. Squirrels, funny footnotes, space whales: what's not to love? 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Death & Sparkles is a middle-grade graphic novel designed to appeal to kids who love jokes about farts and butts, and despite myself...I did find it funny. 

As the last unicorn, everyone wants to be Sparkles' friend, eat the candy he makes, and buy the products he promotes. Death comes to collect Sparkles' soul during a death-defying stunt and ends up with Sparkles' horn stuck up his butt. They soon become fast friends, and in the end Sparkles learns the meaning of true friendship. While I'm not the audience for this book, I have to admit I found it fun. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

And those were my Shabbat reads this week.