Saturday, October 15, 2011

Owly Volume One by Andy Runton

Owly, Volume 1: The Way Home and the Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton

Rating: G; 3 1/2 stars

Summary: The Owly comics are books about an adorable owl and his best friend/roommate Wormy. Volume one includes a story about how Owly and Wormy meet, as well as an enjoyable summer spent with two hummingbirds.

Opinions: I don't know what it is, but I've been reading a lot more children's books lately. I mean, I normally read YA, but now I'm reading picture books and things of that nature. I suppose part of it can be attributed to my Children's Lit class...but I feel like that isn't all of it. In any case...

The Owly comics are unique among other comic books/graphic novels that I've read, based solely on the fact that there are no words in them (other than the occasional onomatopoeia or exclamation). The stories are told simply (as is necessary, in a story with no words), but that doesn't mean they aren't clever. I personally found them absolutely adorable. There's something so charming about Owly's simple naivete. In my experience with other Owly volumes, he's even adorable when he's sad, and no matter the situation, Owly is one of those books that will make you happier.

That being said, the format and style has its limitations. I can see someone not liking the Owly books simply because Owly is so relentlessly optimistic. Although it's enjoyable, it isn't very realistic. In the book's defense, though, I would laugh at anyone who said that Owly was supposed to be realistic. It would be like if someone argued that Calvin and Hobbes is supposed to be realistic. Some things aren't.

This book is also an incredibly quick read, and although that's sometimes nice, it can leave the reader with some slight dissatisfaction at the end. But I suppose that's an innate limitation of the comic form. Sometimes they are going be a bit too brief.

In general, I really enjoyed Owly, but the limits of the form are causing me to lower the rating just a wee bit. I spent an lovely half hour or so reading this, but I don't think it'll rank in my top ten for the year. There was absolutely nothing inappropriate or objectionable in this book. It may be a great book to read with a child who likes telling you how the story “really” goes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Dignity of Dragons by Jacqueline K. Ogburn

A Dignity of Dragons by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Rating: G; 5 stars

Summary: You know that a group of lions is a pride, and a group of fish is a school. But did you know that a group of dragons is a dignity? This short book is filled with group names for both common and obscure fantasy creatures. There were many creatures that I hadn't even heard of (and I say that as an avid reader and writer of fantasy). The back of the book includes descriptions of each creature mentioned.

Opinions: Conceptually, this book is really cool. It's quirky and clever, and I feel like there's been a place for this book within fantasy for years. But what really drew me in were the stunning illustrations. They are absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to find some more books illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. There are many books that can be boiled down to either writing/concept or illustrations, but I don't think that's the case with this book. Both work together seamlessly to create a picture book that is sure to be well-loved. At the risk of sounding like I'm gushing, let me make this clear: I don't read many picture books, at least, not when there aren't small children around me. I was nearly late to class in my rush to check this book out from the library. It was worth it. I enjoyed this so much. It took me maybe five minutes to read. Maybe. But the beauty of this book and the lasting impression is wonderful. The excellent concept was handled deftly, and that combined with the illustrations made this a wonderful book. It was such an excellent experience that I almost forgot it was indeed a book that I read. Silly me. So seriously, this is a good book.

And, since this is such a short review (sorry, I'm not used to reviewing such short books!), time for some housekeeping things. No, this blog is not dead. I'm back at school now, so I'm trying to catch up on actually reading books and writing reviews. I'm definitely doing at least one a month now. I'll try to do every other week and hopefully build up to every week again. I miss being able to update every week. I'm trying, guys. Please bear (bare?) with me.

Also, it's Banned Books Week! Yay! This is my favorite week of the year (although the fact that it's necessary is upsetting). I would have loved to do a detailed post on book banning, but again, I am back in school, and that means that ALL THE TIME is gone. So here's a substitute: read banned books. They are good for your character and are filled with fiber.

Again, I'll try to stay on top of things from now on. I love you all, my dear readers!