Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Genre: Adolescent Fiction
Perhaps you have heard of the long poem called The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred Lord Tennyson? The Lady of Shalott is a women in old Arthurian myth during the time of Camelot. This book features King Arthur’s younger sister, Elaine, who happens to love Lancelot. When Gwynivere arrives into the camp, Elaine notices that she has a new love rival. When the two girls get mixed up with the Saxons, Elaine puts aside her differences and aims to help Gwynivere share the Saxon’s plans with Arthur, but that means escaping their imprisonment first.
Written in a poetic format gives the novel an interesting structure. Having only read Ellen Hopkins’s contemporary novels in poetic form, those were the only structure I had to compare this contemporary novel to as well. The poetic verse does not actually add much to the story and is rather distracting since there is no real meter or flow to the poetic form. the story itself is a nice historical fiction piece for middle grade and young adult readers in that it features a female heroine who fights for her beliefs and feelings during the time of King Arthur. I would say that this is a great book for the aforementioned age groups and worth a one-time read.
Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Stacy King
This adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was fantastic. The art was beautiful and the reader can really read into the deeper feelings of the characters through their facial expressions in a way that cannot be expressed through text alone. Pearl was portrayed as the little evil child she is claimed to be in the original novel, and the art portrays her behaviors in a way that makes the material comprehensive on a whole new level. While the original novel still moved me, this adaptation got me a bit teary-eyes with the visual emphasis (as did the Manga Classics adaptation of Les Miserables, which did have me crying). This is a great adaptation for young readers and anyone who enjoys looking at something from a different artistic medium.
I have read not only this Manga Classics adaptation, but I have read Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Les Miserables in the Manga Classics editions as well, and all of them are written in a fantastic way that can help struggling readers or English learners comprehend these more complex texts and students can still fulfill the needs of the Common Core State Standards with these adaptations. Check out the Manga Classics Website for the different titles, a PowerPoint on how they work with the standards, and lesson plans that go with this edition of The Scarlet Letter.
Tokyo ESP (Volume 1) by Hajime Segawa
I dived into this series not knowing what to expect, but by the end of the first volume, I must say that the series looks like it has some great potential. This series introduces the reader to Rinka, a regular girl, or was regular until she is touched by a strange glowing fish in the middle of the city. When she wakes up falling through her apartment floor, she knows something is a bit different about her, and she’s not the only one. A bunch of people in Tokyo who have touched the glowing fish have suddenly gained different forms of ESP powers, and not everyone has good intentions. Now Rinka and fellow ESP user, Azuma, must use their ESP powers for good. And what’s up with the penguin? It can take ESP away, problem solved!
This seems like a very action-packed series with great art. The American release versions come as 2-in-1 compilations, which is nice, making up a total of 8 volumes in America, 16 in Japan. I would recommend this for the die-hard anime fans as well as those who are into the super hero genre.
Spider Gwen (Volume 0) by Jason Latour
Genre: Young Adult/Comic
In an alternate universe, Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman. She aims to fight crime, but when Peter Parker becomes the Lizard in hopes of being a powerful hero like Spider-Woman, he goes on a rampage, and Gwen must stop him. With the guilt of Peter’s death looming over her, Gwen aims to do good against the evil Kingpin and his lackey, Matt Murdoch. The problem is, everything she does ends up looking like a crime from the police perspective, making her a wanted criminal.
While this was interesting and the art and color schemes were visually aesthetic, the story feels a bit lacking. It was fun to see Murdoch as a villain and Gwen struggling through her secret of being Spider-Woman, but the over arching story feels plain and used. The other Spiderverse comics are vastly more interesting, but this was a nice switch-up for the girls.
Monster Musume: I Monster Girls by Okayado, SHAKE-O, et. al
Genre: Comedy/Monster Girls/Short Anthology
While this book is by no means up to par with the main Monster Musume series, it still had its interesting points and quirks. This volume has 14 short stories drawn in the four-panel comic strip format, including a story (and cover art) by SHAKE-O, the author of Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary, as well as a short, one page blip from Okayado himself. The stories are written and drawn by people from the publisher or who work with Okayado on the main series, not general fan-fiction. Most of the stories are bland, with the occasional very funny or worth-while read.
Do not buy this at full price at the store, because it is not worth that. But it on Amazon for half the cover price. The catch with this series is that each volume comes with….THREE MONSTER MUSUME COLLECTOR’S POST CARDS! These are very beautiful drawings by Okayado and worth the purchase for die-hard collectors, but still not worth 12.99 + tax just for three illustrated cards. I am still debating whether or not to continue to buy these just to have in my collection, but the post cards sure make it tempting!