Tag Archives: genre: action

Kid Beowulf: The Song of Roland Review

kid_beowulf_2Kid Beowulf: The Song of Roland by Alexis E. Fajardo

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017. 978-1449475901

Synopsis: Banished from their homeland, Beowulf, his brother Grendel, and the magic pig Hama journey south to the Frankish Empire to find their uncle Holger, a knight in the service of Charlemagne. But all is not well in Francia: the king lies ill and his steward has decided that capital gain in more important for the country than keeping its citizens happy, and the hero Roland could use a little help setting things right….

Why I picked it up: It’s epic poetry in a more digestible form for a younger audience.

Why I finished it: Fajardo has managed to faithfully adapt The Song of Roland while still maintaining the integrity of the original manuscript (of which, he notes in the afterward, there are several variations) and present the reader with a story that is easy to follow. We are engaged from the get-go with a broad synopsis of the original Song of Roland to help set the stage for the reader. The story then branches off in two directions, intertwining the past with the present as Beowulf and Grendel read the letters Holger wrote to their father about his journey to Francia. And once the pair (and Hama) reach Francia, they find that Daneland is not the only state in which things are rotten. There is an uneasy peace between the Christian Franks and the Muslim Spanish that is on the verge of being overturned thanks to the traitorous acts of Roland’s stepfather Ganelon. Ganelon is willing to help Spain take over the Frankish Empire as an act of revenge against Charlemagne and Roland, and we are distressed to learn that perhaps the plan is working. A good amount of hilarity ensues as Charlemagne’s banished knights attempt to reunite and work out a plan to get the country ready to fight against the army of Spanish invaders using the makings of Ro-Land, a theme park built to celebrate Francia’s greatest hero. Fajardo juxtaposes the darkness of the story with the use of bright colors and some off-beat humor that makes sure the reader is still following along. There’s also a few character cameos that fans of other middle grades comics will find fun as well. It’s another fantastically epic ride through history that will engage readers of all ages.

Other related materials: Kid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath by Alexis E. Fajardo; Kid Beowulf: The Rise of El Cid by Alexis E. Fajardo; Kid Beowulf Eddas: Shild and the Dragon by Alexis E. Fajardo; Bone series by Jeff Smith; Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard books by Rick Riordan; Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan; Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; Avatar: The Last Airbender series by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Gurihiru, and Bryan Koneitzko

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Feature Presentation: The Lego Batman Movie Review

legobatmanonesheetThe Lego Batman Movie starring the voices of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, and Jenny Slate

DC Entertainment/Warner Bros./Warner Bros. Animation/Vertigo Entertainment, 2017. Rated PG

Synopsis: When Gotham’s bad guys surrender themselves, it looks like Batman might be out of his post as vigilante crime fighter. Once heralded for his heroics and bravery, he’s even more broody than usual now that there’s no criminals wreaking havoc. Plus, there’s this kid he adopted at a city gala for the police commissioner’s retirement that he isn’t sure what to do with that he’s maybe sort of hoping he can send back to the orphanage. So when Joker hatches a plan to break the city apart (literally), it’s going to be up to Batman, Alfred, Robin, and Barbara Gordon to save the day.

I love that Will Arnett is reprising his role as Batman because he is able to bring a distinct humor to a traditionally much darker character. Granted, this is  family movie, but it’s still refreshing to see Batman’s more childish side – something that is prevalent throughout Lego Batman. The film makes reference to all of Batman’s previous movie and television appearances: Alfred makes note of Batman’s many ‘phases’ and there is a bit at the end in which words like “Bam!”, “Pow!”, and “Biff!” appear in the air as Batman and Robin are fighting (spoiler: it’s a reference to the 1960s Batman television series with Adam West). These may go over the heads of younger viewers, but for those of us that have followed Batman in his many incarnations will get a kick. Viewers will also be amused to note that Siri (the iPhone personal assistant) is the voice of Batman’s computer and she seems to have developed a little bit of a personality to offset Batman’s sarcasm. I also loved Michael Cera’s Robin/Dick Grayson because he is such an innocent overachiever. He, like Batman, wants love and attention, but since Batman seems to be afraid of having a family and letting people in, Robin is there to show him some unconditional love. Alfred is still the most awesome butler ever and his ability to ‘handle’ his adopted son/employer is a bit of a running gag as well. But I think what really sold me at the end was the element of friendship and friends being the family we choose – there’s even a catchy pop song to that effect at the end to rival “Everything is Awesome”. It’s sure to entertain viewers of all ages.

 

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Whales on Stilts! Review

whales_on_stiltsWhales on Stilts!: A Pals in Peril Tale by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1442407015

Synopsis: Lily Gefelty thinks it’s more than a little weird that her father works for a company that makes prosthetics for cetaceans. I mean, what do whales need stilts for anyway? But when she realizes her dad’s boss, Larry, is outfitting the whales with laser eyes as well, she knows there’s something even more dastardly going on. Luckily, she has her friends Katie Mulligan and Jasper Dash to help her save the day!

Why I picked it up: I wanted a short read for a weekend trip.

Why I finished it: What I like about this series is that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Our heroes find themselves in improbable situations, but for them these (for the most part) are everyday occurrences. The ridiculousness gives it the feel of a pulp novel while taking the reader on a highly imaginative trip through an alternative version of our own world. I really identified with Lily because I often wanted to hide behind my bangs and pretend I was invisible when I was younger. I know the feeling of not being up to par with my friends, of believing that I’m too ordinary to do the fantastic. But despite Lily’s shyness, she uses her cleverness and wit to be able to come up with a plan to stop Larry and his mind-controlled whale army from taking over the world. She might not have Jasper’s knack for inventing or Katie’s ability to fight off a zombie attack, but her ability to think and act quickly truly makes her a hero. I’d give this book to people who like fast-paced adventure and edge-of-their-seat action – it’s a pretty fast read and keeps up a good pace throughout.

Other related materials: The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony Review

artemis_fowl_5Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2009. 978-1423124948

Synopsis: The Fairies have a problem: creatures from another realm have been appearing above ground and causing a disturbance that could lead to the discovery of their race. The trouble is, they have no way of predicting these occurrences. Artemis Fowl, on the other hand, has the entire formula worked out – but so does someone else. And this someone else has been watching Artemis for a long time, working to stay one step ahead of the boy genius. Has Artemis met his match or will the secrets of the underground come to the real world?

Why I picked it up: I seem to be on an Eoin Colfer kick lately….

Why I finished it: This series is intriguing to me because it’s smart. Colfer assumes his reader is intelligent and so he’s not afraid to throw in some lessons here and there about art, science, and literature. This book in particular features quite a bit of science as it relates to time travel and physics – which is really pretty cool once you kind of get your head wrapped around it. It is also interesting to see Artemis sparring with someone who is his intellectual equal. It’s one thing to see him trade barbs with Holly, but it opens up a whole new world for our young anti-hero. The bit with the demons, which basically influences the entirety of the plot, doesn’t seem to be such a big deal until the latter half of the book. The science of the time travel and the worm hole that is pulling the demons into our world  is explained in simplistic terms, but I also felt that there was a large portion of the explanation for the shift that didn’t add up. On the other hand, the ending didn’t feel like it was rushed and it still gave our characters a chance to get their footing (for the most part) after the climax. And there’s definitely going to be some adjustment happening….  Fans of the series will eat this up just as fast as the others and be eagerly salivating for the next adventure – at least, I know I was!

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer; The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer; The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer; The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

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Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception Review

artemis_fowl_4Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2009. 978-1423124559

Synopsis: Artemis Fowl is a teenage criminal mastermind that lives for the thrill of a heist, so much so that his latest mission to recover an oft-stolen art world treasure could be his greatest theft yet. But he also has memories floating just at the back of his mind that he can’t seem to place as his own; memories that have made him a target for revenge. And he’s going to have to remember if he wants to survive.

Why I picked it up: We know Artemis retained his memories from the mind wipe in the previous book, so I was curious to know how he engineered retrieving them.

Why I finished it: The notion that Artemis is struggling with two different parts of himself isn’t something that has been particularly prevalent in the first three books of the series. It’s not something we’re used to seeing in our favorite boy genius, but it’s also a reflection of the fact that Artemis (like the reader) is growing up. His life has changed drastically since the first book, and he still has to make a tough decision about whether to embrace the normal or continue to indulge his criminal enterprises. Most of us didn’t deal with those exact circumstances, but we do/did struggle with figuring out who we are and how we want to live our lives. Holly seems to be struggling in the same way: there’s a promotion waiting for her if she would take it, but it means that she gives up some of the thrill of being a field operative in favor of serving her people in a different capacity. Both seem to be at a crossroads that isn’t fully resolved by the end of the story, but it’s a series, so I have no doubt the journey will continue. The plot seems to hit the ground running this time around as well and keeps up a relatively steady pace until the end, keeping us turning the pages and on the edges of our seats. Fans of the series thus far won’t be disappointed and will be eager to read more.

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer; The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer; The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer; The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

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Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code Review

artemis_fowl_3Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2003. 978-0786819140

Synopsis: Now that his father is back from exile, he has told Artemis that he wants to focus more on legitimate business ventures rather than the underhanded schemes that have made the Fowl name famous. But Artemis has different ideas: he’s planned one last score before he goes straight, a scheme that lands him in hot water and puts Butler in danger. Will Artemis take the chance to be the hero that his father had challenged him to be or will he fall back on deviousness to come out on top?

Why I picked it up: I saw it at the library and remembered that I never got around to finishing the series.

Why I finished it: Artemis may have grown some over the course of these three books, but at his heart he’s still the young, conniving genius that we came to know and love in the first book. Though he is now thirteen and has been made to return to boarding school, it still hasn’t stopped him from planning and (somewhat) successfully executing his (supposedly) last job. And it would seem that Artemis has come to the end of the line, what with his bodyguard being fatally injured and the fairy people (politely) forcing a mind wipe of himself and his personal protection team after he loses and recovers a supercomputer built from stolen fairy technology. But we all know that Artemis isn’t done – I mean, there are other books, after all; we know that our favorite anti-hero has a few tricks up his sleeve that will enable him to continue doing what it is that he does best. What I liked about this volume is that it hits the ground running and doesn’t stop, giving it the feel of a spy thriller rather than a middle grade novel. Newcomers to the series will appreciate the accelerated pace after the more moderated pace of the first two books. The end is ultimately satisfying, but leaves an air of mystery about it. We know Artemis isn’t done, but what remains to be seen is what he will do with the (fairy-free) time that is given to him.

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer; The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer; The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer; The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

 

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Crogan’s Vengeance Review

catfoot_s_vengeanceThe Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance by Chris Schweizer, colored by Joey Weiser and Michelle Chidester

Oni Press, 2015. 978-1620102039

Synopsis: When “Catfoot” Crogan becomes the new favorite of an infamous pirate captain whose crew he was forced to join, he incurs the wrath of the murderous first mate D’or. Can Catfoot keep his new crewmates safe when D’or hatches a scheme that will bring the full might of every navy in the West Indies down on their heads? Previously published as Crogan’s Vengeancefrom Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I got the chance to meet Schweizer at the American Library Association Annual Conference this last summer and loved the idea behind the book. Plus, I owed it to my eight-year-old self who wanted to become a pirate…or an actor…or a veterinarian…or an author…or a reporter…or an editor….

Why I finished it: This is a well-crafted story on every level: there is a good balance between action and drama with characters that seem to leap off the page. While this story isn’t based on an actual family tree or any actual people, the historical basis behind The Crogan Adventures gives the reader a little bit of a history lesson within a fictional realm. Schweizer’s storytelling skills really engage the reader and keep them turning the pages to see how Catfoot will manage to keep himself and the crew from getting in trouble. I liked Catfoot as a main character because he’s smart and he’s clever. He finds a way to make do with what he has and what skills he’s acquired to be able to stay one step ahead of D’or and gain the trust of some of the other crew members. The plot seems to move slowly at first, but it picks up the pace after the first few pages. Schweizer sets his scenes piece by piece and likes to build off small details like character quirks to add other layers to the story. I liked the colors and they way they too add to the story: muted browns, blues, reds, and greens bring the18th Century West Indies and the pirates to life. It makes me want to learn sea shanties, how to sail a boat, and brush up on my fencing skills. It’s a story that has a little bit of something for everyone, especially those more adventurous type and most anyone you knew that grew up wanting to be a pirate even if it isn’t still a legit profession…or is it?

Other related materials: The Crogan Adventures: Five Years’ Service by Chris Schweizer, colors by Joey Weiser; The Crogan Adventures: Loyalty by Chris Schweizer; The Creeps books by Chris Schweizer; Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale; Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About the Civil War by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Tim Robinson; Which Way to the Wild West: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About Westward Expansion by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Tim Robinson; King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About the American Revolution by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Tim Robinson; Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko; Guys Read: True Stories edited by Jon Scieszka

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