Richard Leroy, a wine-maker, takes Etienne through the whole one-year process of creating a good wine from his vineyard in the Loire Valley region of France. Etienne learns first-hand about the fine art of pruning the vines, selecting the right kind of barrels, using the right kind and amount of natural fertilizers, and knowing which grapes to pick – and not pick — at harvest time.
Etienne gets to experience first hand the hard work that goes into making a wine as sweat is in ample supply on these pages. They are visited by an assistant of Robert Parker, the famous American wine critic and taster, who makes the long trip to France to sample several of Richard’s wines.
Etienne introduces Richard to the world of the graphic novel, a subject with which Richard is completely unfamiliar. They start by visiting Etienne’s publisher, Futuropolis, and Richard gets to see the whole process of how a graphic novel is produced. Richard watches Etienne finish making the first proofs of the novel and is taken aback by how much paper is used to get these proofs. Richard also meets and interacts with the many people involved in getting the book finished and shipped.
They have the most fun (as does the reader) when they make special trips to enhance their learning of and appreciation for their very different vocations. Richard takes Etienne on a trip to visit a vineyard in Corsica and on trips to several wine exhibitions, including one in Angers that features mostly “biodynamic” or organic wines from all over France. Etienne takes Richard to several comic book festivals and they visit several well-known graphic novelists, including Marc-Antoine Mathieu and Jean-Pierre Gibrat. It was refreshing to see how upfront and honest Richard is about his opinions, how he shares with them that he does not like many of their novels. The graphic novelists are fine with that; they agree that their graphic novels, like a type of wine, are not meant for everybody.
In the end, both of these men find that they share many common values about their work and the products that they make. They are both passionate about what they do, and both men have a hands-on approach so as to control the quality of their products. They both want their products to be enjoyed by people, “something to gather around, a link between people.”
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, my first graphic novel . The black and white illustrations of Etienne Davodeau are excellent and really helped me understand and appreciate the steps that go into making both wine and graphic novels. This graphic novel has won several awards, including Gourmand Magazine Best US wine book translation and Slate Cartoonist Studio Award nominee. It is unfortunate that this is his only graphic novel that has been translated into English.
Check the WRL catalog for The Initiates
Lily shares this review:
This is the 3rd book of the Books of Bayern series.
Razo has been underestimated his whole life because of his height and seemingly careless personality. Even he believed that all he was really good for was giving people a good laugh. That is, until burnt corpses start showing up, implying that the military company he is in has a fire witch in their midst. The Captain of the Guard notices that Razo has an uncanny ability of observance and employs him as a spy.
My personal favorite of Hale’s Books of Bayern, River Secrets is an epic tale full of mystery, adventure, humor, and romance.
Check the WRL catalog for River Secrets
Horace and Glenda Pork-Fowler are off on an exciting free weekend at Eatum Hall! As they approach the hall through the forest, they are still clueless as to why they have been invited. Dr. Hunter is nowhere to be seen and the mystery of the weekend grows. But look very closely at the illustrations because they tell the real story of the weekend. Horace and Glenda have a grand time and leave well rested and still clueless but what has happened to Dr. Hunter? His friends are about to find out! The Mystery of Eatum Hall by John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell is so much fun and it stays on my story time shelf. I use it with school age children and it’s always great.
Check the WRL catalog for The Mystery of Eatum Hall.
In this young adult novel, the powerful head of a wealthy family has spent two generations playing each of his three daughters off the others – who loves me the most? Which of you is my favorite… today? Who will inherit my “kingdom”? The Boston house? Grandmother’s pearl necklace?
Cady Sinclair Eastman is the granddaughter. She spends every summer on her family’s private island, where her mother and aunts each have a house, where she and her cousins swim and boat and have clam bakes and bonfires to their heart’s content. It sounds like heaven, but there are fault lines running through all the family relationships, and Cady’s closest cousins, who call themselves “the Liars,” get tired of being pawns in the Sinclair family mind games. And for the past few summers, their close-knit group has been joined by Gat Patil, handsome and ambitious, who enters the closed, privileged world of the Sinclair family island like a catalyst for disaster. Or first love.
Cady has no memory of what happened to her two summers ago. An accident has left her with crippling migraines, and everyone in her family is acting even weirder and more dysfunctional than usual. Every time she asks—what did happen before she was found, shivering and amnesiac, on the beach?—she forgets the answer. This summer, her seventeenth, she’s going to find out the truth.
Foreboding hangs over every page of this story as bits and pieces of Cady’s fifteenth summer resurface—family squabbles, way too much alcohol, a confusing relationship with Gat—is their connection just a summer fling or something more? Punctuating contemporary suspense with passages of bloody fairy-tale retellings, author E. Lockhart presents a chilling novel very different from her previous titles. With short chapters and prose that’s almost free verse, this is a quick, summer page turner that touches very lightly on the larger issues of class and race prejudice that it raises. What did Cady do last summer? Teens will be flying through the pages to get to the awful answer.
For a similar mix of modern-day drama and prose laden with metaphor, try Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls; or try Adele Griffin’s Tighter for another suspenseful story of privileged, troubled teenagers in which nothing is exactly what it seems.
Check the WRL catalog for We Were Liars.
Milo the Magnificent was not magnificent at all. In fact, his whole magic show was a disaster. Milo needed to clean up his act! On his quest for a better trick, Milo meets a talented and flexible bear who might just help him go from bad to brilliant!
I’ve read this book aloud at least a dozen times and it never gets old! Each time, my group is giggling and laughing right up to the very end. In typical Jon Agee fashion, this story is hilariously written with its clever and quick witted text and the illustrations are expressive and filled with subtle humor. A perfect book for school aged children in grades K-3.
Check the WRL catalog for Milo’s Hat Trick.
Laura shares this review:
If there are graphic novel fans out there who really like Scott Pilgrim but would prefer a little less plot and a lot more fighting and jokes, this book was made for you. Sharknife, Stage First is a frenetic, fun, and sassy volume filled with game references, youth culture, eggroll-seeking monsters, and a fortune-cookie powered superhero. Any pretense of seriousness is immediately put to rest on the first page when a character breaks the fourth wall to introduce herself and the town she lives in.
Chieko Momuza is a self-described “spazz-banana living in a cyclone of hyper.” Her father Raymond owns a Chinese restaurant that had the misfortune of becoming THE place to be in town. Why is this unfortunate? Because formerly the hottest spot in town was a smoke shop owned by a man named Ombra. Occupation: gangster. Like any respectable bad guy, Ombra can’t pass up the opportunity for a revenge plot. In the spirit of the best James Bond villains, his plan is ridiculous, obsessive, and bizarre: he plants mechanical monsters into the walls of the restaurant that come alive when they smell food.
Fortunately, the Momuzas have a bus boy, Ceasar (sic), who turns into a powerful being named Sharknife when he consumes one of Chieko’s fortune cookies. He fights off the bad guys and Ombra sends more, better ones. That’s it, the whole of the plot. This is a fun story, folks, not a deep one. These fights, which take up most of the space in the volume, are what you are paying the price of admission for. Interspersed in the action are sly gaming homages such as health bars, power ups, and key combinations for special attacks.
The lettering for the sound effects reverberates throughout the art with each crash and hit performing the sound for you through movement and line energy. Characters even step (or are thrown) in front of the sounds, and the text occasionally layers on top of several panels, fully integrating into the noisy landscape.
This is certainly a fast read with the only disappointment coming at the end of the book when you run out of pages. Fortunately there is also another volume to consume.
Recommended for fans of Scott Pilgrim and other hyper-but-clever teen literature. Not recommended for anyone who would grit their teeth at hearing someone say “oh noes!”
Search the WRL catalog for Sharknife.
There is joy in Gotham! After decades of legal wrangling, the 1966 Batman TV show is finally coming to home video in November. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo, the series achieved pop-culture immortality thanks to its campy style and viral catchphrases, which need not be repeated here.
Confession: Adam West was my first Batman. I still love the show, but the parody wears thin, and Batman is a Batusi-dancing buffoon. For a more artistic and complex Batman experience on the small screen, I recommend that you turn your eyes and ears to Batman, The Animated Series, which aired on Fox in the 1990s.
The Animated Series was created by actual comics artists and writers, while the live-action series was not. It is stunning to look at. Don’t take your eyes off the screen, because you are bound to miss something beautiful. The 40s noir atmosphere is enhanced by the use of black backgrounds, against which Batman’s eyes are nothing more than white slits. Lead artist Bruce Timm’s characters are drawn with stark angularity: Batman’s jaw is literally square.
Does the Joker’s voice sound familiar? It is Mark Hamill, going against his heroic Luke Skywalker type. Other members of the stellar cast include Kevin Conroy as Batman, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon, Efram Zimbalist, Jr., as Alfred Pennyworth, and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman. Adam West himself was invited on the show to play an aging superhero in the episode, “Beware the Gray Ghost.”
The storytelling is just as strong. The characters, especially the villains, are developed as real people who talk, feel and act like adults. This was not at all the norm for a kids’ cartoon show, which is how Batman was marketed. Take the Emmy-winning episode “Heart of Ice,” written by Paul Dini. Underneath his refrigerated suit, the seemingly emotionless villain, Mr. Freeze, is a grieving husband bent on vengeance. Woven into this dramatic story is a humorous and clever side plot: After being blasted by Mr. Freeze’s ice gun, Batman catches a cold, which Alfred treats with chicken soup… and if I told you what happened to the soup I would spoil the joke, so I won’t.
These episodes will keep everyone in your family happy for 22 minutes. Parents, never fear: the Bureau of Broadcast Standards scoured every scene to make sure it was suitable for children. You can read some of the creative team’s comments about the censors in the beautiful companion book to the series, Batman Animated. For example, “Censor wants us to figure out someplace for Catwoman to land other than on her face or breasts.” Or “We have to make it clear… that Batman’s kneeing the Walrus in the stomach.”
Check the WRL catalog for Batman, The Animated Series
This book starts off with the origin story of the feline felon. Early comics had her as a bored socialite who liked the taste of danger in stealing jewelry, while later comics expanded her background to mousy, expendable secretary or avenging prostitute. In all scenarios she turns to a life of crime, and despite Batman’s efforts she will not reform.
Chapters then address her costumes (tight), tools of the trade (poisoned perfume and fabulous whip, to name a few), and an ongoing flirtation with Batman. Each chapter includes frames from comics, tv shows, or movies to help illustrate the point. My favorite part of the book is the interspersed comics that show the feline arch-villain as she appeared in the 1940s through early 2000s. The book even ends with a Bob Kane “Batman with Robin” adventure featuring Catwoman.
This Catwoman book is more overview than in-depth study. It’s a purr-fectly delightful read. But Catwoman fans will have to go to another source for information about how the character was fully developed and which comic artist contributed what feature to the story.
Check the WRL catalog for Catwoman.
Batman Week, Day 3. Today’s post highlights a small sample of Batman books for the younger generation. These books are very popular at the library, so be sure to check the catalog if you don’t see these on the shelf!
Let’s start with a Junior Graphic Novel, Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight, written and illustrated by Ralph Cosentino.
This book covers the basics of the Batman story and introduces four familiar villains without going into a specific story of how they are vanquished. The layout is very similar to a picture book with many of the illustrations covering both pages. But like a comic strip, the book has word boxes and the familiar sound effects (boom! bonk! pow!). While the story talks about Batman studying hard to outsmart the bad guy, the pictures show him using his physical strength to subdue the villain.
The library also has several titles in the Junior Easy Reader series by Scholastic. I borrowed a few books for reading level 2 (reading with help) and level 3 (reading alone). These were my favorite stories:
Level 2 stories like I Am Batman and Batman Versus Bane have pictures on every page, but also tell a simple story of how Batman uses his brains and cool gadgets to battle the bad guy. These stories in particular have illustrations reminiscent of the Dark Knight movies.
The Mad Hatter, a level 3 story, has a more complex plot and fewer pictures. The pictures are more comic-like with frames and word boxes, and the story is quick moving action. Once people report that their hats have been stolen, Batman quickly figures out that the Mad Hatter is once again in Gotham City. He catches up to the bad guys at a museum, but the Mad Hatter escapes with a cryptic message: “My next adventure will be my crowning glory!” Batman knows the villain is up to something big and has to figure it out before the Mad Hatter strikes again. Brains and cool gadgets once again help Batman make the city and its citizens safe.
And finally, the Junior Fiction chapter books include a DC Super Heroes series about Batman by different writers and illustrators. I picked up The Fog of Fear. This was the most complex story of the batch I collected. Written in chapters with an occasional picture, the book features many challenges for Batman to overcome. A master criminal called “The Scarecrow” releases a fog on Gotham City. It appears to be just a nuisance until Batman discovers that water will react with the fog to create hallucinations of your greatest fears. Batman has to figure out a way to clear the dense fog from the city. And in the process, he must help a friend who gets transformed into a vicious Man-Bat!
This is definitely another action-packed adventure for young fans who are ready for a bigger reading challenge. My only gripe was the illustrations. I love Legos, but didn’t like that the Batman in this series looked like a Lego character. Probably not a big deal for the audience this is actually aimed at—but I thought the illustrations from the Scholastic series were better. I also liked the added features at the end of the book—a profile of the villain, discussion questions about the book, and writing prompts for further activities.
Check the WRL catalog for Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight
Check the WRL catalog for The Mad Hatter
Check the WRL catalog for The Fog of Fear
Lizzie shares this review:
“Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…”
Fullmetal Alchemist is an amazing story so far.
The two main characters, Edward and Alphonse Elric, are really interesting. They both are very brave and caring. Neither of them would put someone’s life on the line on purpose. The major difference between the two brothers is that Edward becomes angry easily, while Al is more calm.
The main plot point is centered around Edward’s attempts to bring Alphonse back to his body. They are aiming to find the Philosopher’s Stone.
Altogether, I hope to read more of this series. I have really taken a liking to it.
Check the WRL catalog for Fullmetal Alchemist.
It’s Eva’s birthday and she is given a very special present…a magic box! Eva climbs inside. With the wave of her wand she pulls rabbits from hats, makes things float in the air, throws a fantastic party complete with delicious food, entertaining musicians and lots of dancing. But for her best trick of all she wishes for a pet named Monty and gets more than she bargained for.
I love this book because it reminds me of how much enjoyment my children always got out of a seemingly ordinary box. This simple story is rich with whimsical illustrations and celebrates the power of imagination. It is a perfect book to use in a birthday story time with a toddler group or to share one on one with your children at home.
Check the WRL catalog for Magic Box: A Magical Story.
Batman Week, Day 2. With our regular comics blogger off at Comic-Con, we implored librarian and geek culture goddess Jen to write about a favorite Batman story arc. This one comes from the library’s collection of graphic novels for adults. — Ed.
We librarians are not known for our poker faces. We’re bad liars. So what to do when a co-worker (yes, Melissa, I am pointing the finger at you) comes to you in desperate need of a blog post. And not just any blog post: would you be willing to write a Batman blog post? What she doesn’t know is that you have an entire storage box full of classic 1980s Batman comics. You hesitate, wondering if you can get away with the lie that you know zip about Batman. She waits. After a long pause, she whips out “that’s not a no!” And there you are. Stuck with the job.
Where do you start? There is just soooo much! You can’t go into your hidden stash and pick a comic. That could take weeks and she needs this thing stat. So I did what any smart librarian would do: I went to the stacks (bookcases for you regular folks out there). And —yay me! — found a true gem of the Batman universe.
Batman: The Killing Joke was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. When you write about Batman comics you have to come to grips with the fact that many people over the years have not only told portions of his story, but many people have been tasked with drawing it. And in my mind these sometimes undervalued illustrators are just as important as the story’s writer. Actually, to be truly honest, I feel the illustrator is MORE important than the writer. Many a time I have picked up a story and put it right back down, left absolutely cold by the illustrations. I like realism in my graphic novel world. I don’t particularly care for comic-y looking illustrations, and I have a really, really hard time with jagged line artwork (not a huge Frank Miller/The Dark Knight Strikes Again fan.) Brian Bolland does a fine job and leaves it up to Alan Moore to hit the home run with his amazing story.
The story is absolute genius. We see how a normal man, hounded by the pressures of providing for his family and the continual failures at succeeding at his chosen job, yields to temptation and has “one bad day.” Interposed with the flashbacks that make up The Joker’s bad day, we see Commissioner Gordon’s “one bad day” as provided by none other than The Joker. The Joker seems bent on proving to himself and all others that what happened to him would happen to anybody. In looking at the story deeper, Moore has sprinkled it with parallels, and we get to see that Batman and The Joker are really two sides of the same coin. Both men are created from “one bad day,” and in some ways both are insane because of it. If you like Batman and you haven’t read this story yet, I highly recommend it. If you have read it, but it’s been a while, it might be time for a reread. And while you’re reading, see if you can spot the origin of one of DC’s most amazing heroes, Oracle. And while all librarians are super heroes… some of us take it to a whole new level!
Check the WRL catalog for Batman: The Killing Joke.
From fire trucks to race cars and from tractors to airplanes, this book is full of vehicles that every youngster will enjoy. In this problem solving gem, Leo Timmers creates characters dressed in clothes that match the vehicle they are driving. Each page has 4 four costumed animals and the reader is asked to guess “Who is driving the….?” The character is matched with the vehicle on the next page to reveal the answer. Sometimes it gets a little tricky, though, and you have to look really hard to figure out which ones coincide.
I’ve used this book for story time and it was a little bit too hard for my younger audiences but worked like a charm for Kindergarten. At home, one on one, you could get away with reading it to younger children. The story is simple enough that the kids can almost “read” it themselves. The illustrations are bold and colorful and full of detail making it a visually pleasing book that is sure to pass the test. Drive on over to the library and check it out!
Check the WRL catalog for Who Is Driving?
All week, Blogging for a Good Book honors Batman, who is celebrating his 75th anniversary this year. To lead off, Laura reviews a book that takes us back to the Caped Crusader’s early career as a detective. –Ed.
Since the basic premise of Batman is so well known, it can be reimagined countless ways and effectively applied to a wide range of storylines. In this version, Batman is not a lone crusader; he is merely the most recent member of a longstanding roster of familiar historical detectives, including Allan Pinkerton and Teddy Roosevelt.
The action begins with events that preceded the Lincoln assassination, which set loose a devious plot by an evil faction led by a southern gentleman who looks remarkably like the Joker. Like many comic bad guys, they are pinning their hopes on a remarkably intricate stratagem. This one might be a tad on the unbelievable side, even for a villain’s plan, since it will take 74 years to come to fruition.
The time lag brings the action into the modern day, which in this case is 1929. Poor little Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents and then gets sent off to boarding school for the next ten years. Fortuitously, his travels around the globe give him a chance to study a wide range of subjects, including criminology, oriental fighting techniques, and costume design, which are surprisingly useful for his later activities (although one can imagine the despair experienced by his school’s career counselor). His talents catch the eye of others, and he is quickly enlisted by the detective group. They are known to each other only by number, and as their most recent member, he is known as Detective #27. He has a lot to learn and not much time to do it, but at least he has, as always, the loyal Alfred by his side.
Will good triumph over evil? Or will the Joker’s minions rule the day? Find out next week…or just read the book. Recommended for graphic novel readers, historical fiction readers, and anyone who has spent time in Gotham and enjoyed it.
Search the WRL catalog for Batman: Detective No. 27.
Lily shares this review:
The sequel to The Goose Girl, Enna Burning is about a feisty, strong girl named Enna. She was one of the workers that Isi (Ani) lived with in her months of hiding, and since then their friendship has remained – even though Isi was returned to her rightful place as princess. Enna learns the lost language of fire, against Isi’s warnings, and begins to use her gift to scare away the enemy troops camped at Bayern’s borders…
Enna Burning is a story that proves that the best friendships endure and that you can never judge a book by its cover.
Check the WRL catalog for Enna Burning.
Is your glass half empty or half full? When life hands you lemons, do you make lemonade? And, can two friends overcome a series of unfavorable events when all they want to do is have a nice picnic together? Well, if you follow along with Rabbit and Mouse in Jeff Mack’s story, Good News, Bad News, having a good or bad time will all depend on your point of view.
“Good News, Bad News” is the only text throughout the story that relies on illustrations. Author/illustrator Jeff Mack brings together a wonderfully hilarious story of two friends and their reaction to and handling of life’s unexpected challenges. The illustrations are colorful and depict lots of action and expression. This in turn successfully emphasizes the characters’ comical predicaments and reactions as they try to enjoy a picnic.
Rain, wormy apples and a swarm of bees threaten. Learn how Rabbit and Mouse are able to reach a positive conclusion to their picnic day gone awry.
This story is well suited for children five and up as they would understand the humor in the illustrations more so than a younger child.
Check the WRL catalog for Good News, Bad News.
Jessica shares this review:
Given the multiple starred reviews of this realistic fiction read, I had fairly high expectations. And it didn’t disappoint.
Eleanor is an outsider who dresses strangely and is a target for bullying with her curly red hair, curvy build and freckles. Her home life is nothing short of a nightmare, and with no friends to turn to, Eleanor is completely alone. Park is well adjusted, and though a bit different with his Korean heritage, accepted. His parents are as in love as the day they met, and outside of getting his driver’s license, Park wants for little.
Needless to say, it’s not love at first sight. But Park’s inner kindness comes through, and he gives Eleanor the empty seat on the bus next to him. While the two remain silent at first, Park begins to notice Eleanor reading his comics through sideways, downcast glances. To his own surprise, Park starts bringing Eleanor comics to take home and read on her own. From that point on, a fairly unpredicted relationship begins to emerge. The comics progress to mix tapes and even more heart-turning, conversation. And all of a sudden, Park wonders how he didn’t fall head over heels for Eleanor the day she stepped on the bus.
With more in common than most, Eleanor and Park develop a strong bond that keeps them together through all the high and lows in Eleanor’s life. Unknowingly, Park provides Eleanor with an escape from her terrifying stepfather and secret home life. For once, Eleanor begins to feel safe and loved and cared for. But with so many factors in the works throughout the novel, something is bound to test their commitment and pull them in opposite directions. For two sixteen year olds, they show a remarkable level of depth and emotion. Rowell has truly managed to craft an imperfect love story that will leave readers with both smiles and tears. Even romantic skeptics will enjoy the push and pull and leave cheering on the unlikely couple.
Check the WRL catalog for Eleanor and Park.
Summer is a great time for a good mystery book. I always look for something with a bit of action, an interesting setting, and characters with whom you enjoy spending time. This is the sort of book I like to while away a lazy summer evening or weekend. Barbara Hambly’s A Free Man of Color, the first in her Benjamin January series, certainly fits the bill here.
Hambly’s protagonist, Benjamin January, the free man of color of the title, lives in New Orleans, where he teaches music and performs with an ensemble of mixed races. January is also a doctor by training, having studied as a surgeon in Paris, where he lived prior to returning to New Orleans after the death of his wife. January is a fascinating character, thoughtful and ethical, but with an understandable anger beneath the surface. Much of the tension in the stories comes as January walks the precarious racial lines of the city in the years before the Civil War.
Hambly ably portrays life in 1830s New Orleans, showing interactions among all levels of society, especially pointing out the distinctions between white, black, and colored, and she clearly depicts how New Orleans society is changing with the arrival of increasing numbers of Americans. In this first book in a superb series, January is drawn into solving the mystery of the murder of the colored mistress of a recently deceased plantation owner.
With its mix of history, mystery, and social commentary, Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series is a great summer read.
Check the catalog for A Free Man of Color
Also available in ebook format
In one of the first posts here at BFGB, I wrote about Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding mystery series, set in 18th century London, and featuring the blind magistrate of the Bow Street Court, brother to novelist Henry Fielding. Alexander’s untimely death brought the series to an end in 2003, and so I was interested to recently come across a new series featuring Sir John in the library’s ebook collection.
Unlike the Alexander books, where Sir John Fielding is the primary character, Lake’s series focuses on John Rawlings, a young apothecary in London. In the first book in the series, Death in the Dark Walk, Rawlings initially comes under suspicion of murder when he comes across a body in the popular, and unruly, pleasure gardens at Vaux Hall. He is quickly cleared of wrongdoing though, and then assists Sir John Fielding in seeking out the actual murderer. Further titles in the series find Sir John calling on Rawlings’ assistance in a variety of cases across England.
Though lighter in tone than Bruce Alexander’s mysteries, Lake’s series is a pleasure to read, especially if you have an interest in 18th century England. The stories move easily from the upper ranks of society to the dark and seedy corners of London, and Lake has a good command of the language, social customs, and pastimes of the period. Lake introduces a number of fascinating secondary characters throughout the stories, both fictional and historical, including some romantic companions who complicate John Rawlings’ life, and make for fun reading. The characters are also developed in sometimes surprising ways over the course of the stories, which adds to the appeal of the series.
We have a number of the titles in the series in both our print and ebook collections, and you can get started here:
Check the WRL ebook collection for Deryn Lake’s John Rawlings series
Check the WRL catalog for the John Rawlings series
Children never seem to tire of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books and neither do their parents. In The Pigeon Need a Bath! readers can expect the same humorous antics for which the Pigeon stories are so beloved.
The story begins with the reader being introduced to the Bus Driver character from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. He informs the reader that the Pigeon needs a bath and he could use some help. As usual, the Pigeon has his own strong opinions and he announces that he doesn’t really need a bath. The Pigeon gives various arguments as to why he doesn’t need a bath. His points start out calm and rational, but he is, after all, the Pigeon. He eventually loses it as his strong convictions rapidly deteriorate. One comical point in particular is when the Pigeon questions the readers own cleanliness and their right to judge him.
Mo Willems’ illustrations are fun and are always successful in depicting the range of emotions that make the Pigeon so comical in his zeal to prove a point. It’s hard not to laugh as he whips himself into frenzy.
Readers are certain to enjoy the conclusion and the Pigeon’s comedy of errors when he discovers the truth about bathing.
Check the WRL catalog for The Pigeon Needs a Bath!