A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Genre: Adolescent Fiction
This is the story of three children who are orphaned after their parents die in a fire. When they are sent to their closest (literally, closest in terms of distance) relative, they find that Count Olaf is a terrible man who just wants to steal the children’s fortune by whatever means necessary.
While this book features three children who suffer some, to say the least, terribly unfortunate events, it is well-written for its target audience. It is a vocabulary rich book that defines new words and phrases for young readers to increase their own vocabulary, although reading that as an older reader gets a bit tiring.
Entertaining an Elephant by William McBride
Genre: Education Fiction
At first, this was a novel assigned to one of the classes everyone must take to obtain a single subject teaching credential in California. On the first day of classes, it was no longer on the syllabus (but it was listed as required through the bookstore). I got a copy on Amazon, but my professor said since it is out of print and hard to find, we won’t be reading it for the course.
That said, I read it anyway. This book is about an English teacher who has been teaching the same lesson plans on grammar every day for the past fifteen years. When a janitor comes in and writes quotes on Mr. Reaf’s board everyday after he leaves, Mr. Reaf finds that the students are excited to discuss these quotes. Mr. Reaf thinks the debate club is leaving the quotes, but the janitor has secretly been leaving them in hopes that the anger in Mr. Reaf’s room would dissipate. While Mr. Reaf has a hard time accepting the janitor’s words on how to change his teaching strategies, he takes his own life and meaning for teaching in to consideration.
All in all, the book was a decent read, but not life changing to me as an educator. It was a bit tiresome that Mr. Reaf is one of those teachers who sticks to the same thing year after year after year, because many teachers these days do not do that. Teaching as a profession is changing, and this book is now 20 years old, dating it to a time when school was a very different place.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Graphic Novel
I had thought about reading this adaptation for quite some time and finally decided to pick it up and give it a go. The art is what prevented me from reading it previously, but I found that the art is actually rather interesting, different that a lot of the graphic novel art out there these days. That said, this adaptation was all right. It spent nearly half the book with Percy making his way to Camp Half-Blood and getting his quest. The quest itself left out a number of iconic aspects that are in the novel itself, and the fight at the end was lackluster and somewhat disappointing. Where the adaptation takes so much time with the beginning aspects of the novel and the universe, it could have elaborated on the quests and involved more action. Overall it was a decent read and worth the read for any Percy Jackson fan, but perhaps not worth a re-read.
X-men Misfits Volume 1 by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman
Genre: Action/Modern Science Fiction/Graphic Novel
While deviating from the original X-men stories to make it more Japanese style and appealing to a female audience, this manga was still interesting, to say the least. When Magneto takes Kitty Pryde from her home to join Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, she finds that she is the only girl in attendance, besides some of the teachers. Being the only girl has made her quite the popular spectacle, especially with the Hellfire Club. She and Pyro become an item, but only when it is too late does she realize the wrongs that the Hellfire Club has done.
The art is fairly appealing and gives a more shojo (female-based) perspective. It has a few cliches, such as being the only girl in the school and being favored by all the guys. There also is not much appeal in terms of plot. While it is an interesting perspective, not a whole lot happens in the volume. It has potential, but just not quite enough. Worth a one-time read, but definitely not worth owning or re-reading.
Uglies: Shay’s Story and Uglies: Cutters by Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Graphic Novel
Fans of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld will absolutely love these graphic novels. Not only is it a graphic novel adaptation, but it tells the story from Tally’s friend, Shay’s perspective. We see how Shay sees Tally as a friend and a betrayer in all things. Inviting Tally to join her at the Smoke may not have been Shay’s best idea ever, for the Specials follow and make Shay a Pretty. When Tally arrives as a pretty, she takes Shay’s boy, again, and seems to be the ruin and seed of Shay’s anger.
These are great graphic novels for fans of the series who are already familiar with the dystopian world of the series (a world in which regular people get their surgery at age 16 to become Pretties, a surgery that is meant to keep people simple and happy to prevent crime and chaos in society). The art is great and it was fun to see a visual representation of the dystopian world.