A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle in Time was originally published in 1962. Hope Larsen adapted and illustrated this novel and published in 2012. I’ve not yet read the original, but I believe the text is comparable and the illustrations add another layer to the story.

This is a novel that I requested for my 8 year-old son to read. I recommend this to him and he read it in less than a day. Instead of waiting to get the original novel, I read the graphic novel in order to talk to him about it.

This novel follows a group of children who have to travel through time and space to save their father. Meg Murry is an ordinary child with an extraordinary brother Charlie. Their father has been missing for awhile and no one knows if he’ll return. Charlie befriends their strange neighbors and another schoolmate of Megs, all of which have strange abilities that help them communicate with other people. Its some sort of telepathy and ability to see the future combined with extreme empathy and the ability to hop through the wrinkles in space and time. The other world that they find themselves is a negative utopia with mind control and order being the goal.

Having been written in the 1960’s, there’s probably a glimpse into communism and the Cold War that I didn’t put much thought into while reading it. Its also a little similar to religions with one being knowing whats best for everyone, but I really read it with my 8 year-old in mind.

This was a fun, interesting read with a strong moral lesson that we need to stand up for what’s right and we all have the power to do that. I plan on reading the non-graphic novel after it comes, and I may put more effort into the symbolism at that point. Or maybe, I’ll just enjoy the read…

Read August 2017

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was home from my first year of college and read it at the request of my friend’s mother. She taught 6th grade and wanted to know if I thought the novel was appropriate for a 6th grader, or if it was too mature or scary. I read it, liked it, and gave it a glowing recommendation for a 6th grader, and never thought about it for years after. Then suddenly, Harry Potter seems to be everywhere and everyone read them! I think I might have been a few years to old to be in the main age grouping, and way too sophisticated of a college student to follow up on a novel that I recommend to a 6th grader…

Years later, I’ve watched most of the movies, but never read any of the other books, for no particular reason. I re-read parts of this novel with my then 4 year-old son and watched the movie. Again, I enjoyed the book but didn’t take it further than my son’s interest. I think the second novel, which we started together but never got very far, was too scary for my son and the novel was put down and forgotten.

I’ve just finished reading this novel again with my 6 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son, and I again loved it. But this time, both my kids are crazy for it!! We finished this book and have already started the next one!! Since we’re home for summer, I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep this up in the school year, but its exiting to read something that entertains the kids so much! They seem to be the perfect age for this book. While parts can be scary, it helps to be reading it aloud together so we can talk about anything that bothers them. In fact, while I’m writing this post, they interrupted me to ask to read more Harry Potter!! I love it!

I don’t feel the need to sum up this novel since most people know these series and the title gives a good reminder of the storyline. This is a well written story full of imagination and magic!

Read August 2017

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Rigg’s novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children tells the story of Jacob and what happens when he returns to the house that his grandfather lived during World War II. Jacob’s grandfather always told magical stories about his time spent on a small island off Wales, Cairnholm, where his parents sent him during the war.

Jacob always loved his grandfather, and loved his stories when he was little. As he grew, the stories became unbelievable, and Jacob wasn’t sure what to think about his grandfather’s childhood. When his grandfather is mysteriously killed, Jacob suffers through some post traumatic depression which he uses to convince his parents to allow him to travel to the island where his grandfather spent time.

Once Jacob and his father arrive at Cairnholm, Jacob discovers what happened to the home where his grandpa lived. The home was bombed on September 3, 1941 and all but his grandpa was killed. But he makes many more exciting, unbelievable discoveries once he ventures to the bombed out home and finds a secret world filled with his grandpa’s friends.

This is a whimsical, great read. I wasn’t sure what would happened and the middle and end of the story was very surprising.

Read November 2015.

Vanishing Girl

Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girl starts as a teen drama and finishes with a psychological mystery. Two sisters, very different from one another, are dealing with their parents separation in their own way. Nick, the perfect sister, of course, never causes the problems that Dara, the problem child causes. When Dara starts dating Nick’s childhood best friend, their sisterhood becomes troubled and its worsened when Nick crashes a car that both girls were in.

After the accident, the break in the sister’s relationship grows deeper. When Nick returns to her mother’s home a couple of months after the accident, she’s no longer the “good” sister. Returning to her old life without her sister by her side is hard at first, but she soon gets a job and things start to feel somewhat normal again, except that Dara refuses to talk to her.

Nick tries to investigate what Dara is up to and why they were on the specific stretch of road when she crashed, she ends up uncovering more than she bargained for in their little peaceful coastal town.

This was an enjoyable read. I’m not positive this was a Young Adult book even though I categorized it as such, and I think many age groups would enjoy it. It was a pretty quick, easy read too. Perfect for the summertime.

Read August 2015

Orphan Train

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline tells the story of two young girls abandoned in childhood and suffer through the abuse of the welfare system set up to save them. Vivian Daly was orphaned as a young girl and put on a train from New York City to the mid-west in an attempt to find her a home during the Depression. Vivian’s story is told as a mirror to modern day Molly Ayer, who entered the foster care system as a young girl and is months away from aging out.

Neither girl’s childhood was warm and cuddly, but they each have their talisman as a reminder to whom they are and where they came from. A Claddagh necklace for Vivian given by her grandmother in Ireland and a necklace with a fish, a raven, a bear charm given to Molly by her father. Vivian and Molly find each other when Molly needs to perform a community service after getting caught stealing a book from the library. Although a victimless crime, she almost loses her foster placement until her boyfriend’s mom works out a deal with her elderly employer, Vivian. Kline weaves the two stories together as each girl struggles with the life they’ve been forced to lead. Neither had much love in their young lives and do not let people into their heart easily.

In Vivian’s life, the orphan train changed her entire life, but in real life it had to have changed so many more. I don’t know who would have thought to take orphaned or street kids from New York and ship them off to such a different world. The options laid out for older children like Vivian (really Niamh at this point) and Dutchy are bleak and dangerous. The smaller children, like Carmine, have better chances, but they’re still open to potential horrors since there is little oversight or follow-up for any of the children.

This was a great young, adult novel. There were very complex ideas of family and survival that would resonate with many angst filled teenagers as well as adults.

Read April 2015

afterparty

When I picked up Ann Redisch Stampler’s afterparty, I didn’t realize that it was a young adult novel. I’m not opposed to reading YA and many times I really enjoy the book, but this book really was meant for a young reader. Emma is the good girl built by her father’s idealism and overprotectiveness. She has an interesting past, having moved around every couple of years following her father as a traveling professor. She changes her name with the moves, but isn’t allowed to grow into the teen that she is. Her skirt length is regulated as are her after school activities and friendships. Her father supposedly is a Psychology professor who can’t see how ridiculous his helicoptering is.

After moving to LA for her father’s job, somehow Emma is enrolled in a super exclusive private school where the uber wealthy children attend. Of course Emma meets the bad-girl Siobhan on her first day and starts breaking all her fathers super restrictive rules. She’s mildly bullied, nothing compared to what I think would’ve happened, and her and Siobhan create a pact to make Emma cool. They create a French boyfriend and excuses to get Emma out of the house to attend crazy high school parties with the goal of checking off a teenage activity to-do list before the big Afterparty.

There are some interesting aspects of this book and I was surprised by the twist at the end, but this was a simple read. I think most teenagers are capable of more complexity that what Stampler gives them. At the end, I didn’t look back favorable on this book. There are many flaws in the storyline that I couldn’t get over, even with the twist at the end.

Read February 2015

The Fault in Our Stars

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is a tragic love story between two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who both have battled cancer. Augustus lost his legs to cancer but is in remission. Hazel undergoes an experimental treatment that keeps her cancer at bay but keeps her perpetually weak and requiring oxygen. Hazel had been terminal prior to the treatment and still lives life separated from her peers. Her mother makes her attend a cancer group for kids where she meets the charismatic Augustus.

This is a teenager’s story written for teenagers, but there’s a lot to like about this book. Most of the main characters are suffering and dealing with issues that I, as an adult, have yet to come across, yet they are still so young and immature and hopeful. There’s a lot in the book is unrealistic but it allows the characters to experience places that they wouldn’t have otherwise. One way the two connect is by reading and loving a fictional story about a kid with cancer, An Imperial Affliction. Not only can they both relate to the story of cancer, but the author left the ending ambiguous. As if the kid just died while writing it and there was no more to know.

I read quite a few reviews that stated that both the characters were unbelievably intelligent and thats what makes their conversations so interesting. But reading this as an adult and having been around kids who have been sheltered from normal childhood things, I don’t think its their intelligence that makes it so well written. I think Green gets that these are kids who had to grow up quick. These are kids that spent an abnormal amount of time hanging around with adults and not enough time with kids. But these are still kids. Hoping to grow up. Hoping that tomorrow will be a little bit better, or at least not a little bit worse. And Green gets us to hope with these young souls that the world won’t be a horrid place filled with hospitals and treatments.

While this is a very sad book, about sad things, the sweetness of the romance and young love fill the book with hope. I would recommend this book, another one with a box of tissues, to everyone. Not just the young adult crowd.

Read January 2015.