Monday, June 29, 2015

Recommended Reading: Young Avengers Omnibus

Book Description:

It's not important what our parents did. It matters what we do. Someone has to save the world. You're someone. Do the math. The critically acclaimed team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reinvent the teen super-hero comic for the 21st century - uniting Wiccan, Hulkling and Kate "Hawkeye" Bishop with Kid Loki, Marvel Boy and Miss America. No pressure, right? When Wiccan makes a horrible mistake that comes back to bite everyone on their communal posteriors, we cue five issues of hormonal panic. Fight scenes! Fake IDs! Plentiful feels! (a.k.a. "meaningful emotional character beats" for people who aren't on tumblr.) Young Avengers is as NOW! as the air in your lungs and twice as vital.

High-quality superhero hijinks and pitch-perfect characters. It's big, it's colorful, it's fun, and it's intense! There's a fantastic character lineup in the description, and every character gets something important to do in the plot. They combine and play off each other well, and they make a great team. They act realistically, they're young, but they're teens and 20-somethings who want to be good people and strong superheroes... They have troubles, but they don't whine. The plot is great too, with an interestingly meta villain and a good excuse for the team to be on their own. (After all, if Captain America could just swoop in and save everyone, it would've be a very interesting story!) If you've enjoyed the popular new Ms. Marvel or award-winning Hawkeye, this is a great next step!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Recommended Reading: Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Did you or your child start the Series of Unfortunate Events, but never finish? Since Netflix has announced a new TV series based on the books, this summer is the perfect time to go back and read 'em all!

The thirteen books follow the misadventures of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. The three children are sadly orphaned at the beginning of the series, and are put in the care of the nefarious Count Olaf, who tries to get their inheritance for himself. The children escape, and spend the rest of the series traveling between different guardians and trying to evade the Count.

That description really doesn't do the series justice, though, because it's all about the tone. Lemony Snicket -- a pseudonym of author Daniel Handler -- is one of the best narrators in fiction. He frequently stops to inject his own commentary, explain vocabulary, and foreshadow future events. It's a great opportunity to teach literary methods, but it's also just plain hilarious, and it makes the whole series unique. While others tried to imitate the books' tone in the wake of their success, no one ever quite managed it.

A few books in the middle can seem a little repetitive, as they follow the established formula of introducing a new guardian, having Count Olaf appear in disguise, and then ending with the guardian's departure (through death or other events). If you push through to the later books, though, you'll be rewarded with a fantastic ending. It may seem rambling, but by the time you get to the end you realize it's one complete, satisfying story, and well worth the effort!