Claremont C. (1984, 1990, 1991, 2000) X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga NY: Marvel Characters, Inc.
A volume with the collection of Uncanny X-Men comic book numbers 129 through 137, Chris Claremont’s X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga is a graphic novel that shows the evolution of superheroine Jean Grey (more commonly known as Phoenix from seemingly the X-Mens’ most weakest member, to the dark and most powerful member. A physical manifestation of the Phoenix Force—which enables her to have telepathic/telekinetic powers, resurrect from death, and manipulate time—Jean finds herself encompassed by absolute power, giving in to an evil side in which she deems herself as the Dark Phoenix. Although throughout this graphic novel we see Jean as the Dark Phoenix, it is made known in the end that Jean is the Dark Phoenix, and one can not exist without the other—leading into Jean’s self-sacrifice. While many may find this dismal ending to be inappropriate for young adults who read graphic novels, it is more important to assess the surrounding theme of Jean’s story, and what young adult readers can learn from it. If one does not realize the power they hold and if it is worth sacrificing, that power they hold so dear may corrupt them.
Smith, Charles R., Jr. (2015). 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World. New York: Roaring Book Press.
What I love about this book in terms of stories for all and diverse books, is that it is not a work of fiction. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with children’s fiction books, as they do provide diversity in allowing children to feel relation to these fictional characters. However, this book which includes 28 descriptions of people and events in black history from 1770 to present day, makes known the importance of African American contributions and milestones. What makes this book even more personable is the fact that it then challenges the reader with a 29th day labeled, “today”. This urges children to ask themselves what today will bring them, how will they make a difference or impact on the world? How will their life story be told? Although it is a succession of biological facts, by including the reader, it allows who ever is reading it to question how they are making a difference in the world.
I should probably preface this by stating that one of my assignments for my Children’s/Young Adult literature class when I was taking courses at the University of Maine was that each week, we read a book from an assigned genre, and were required to write an annotation. My choice for fantasy/fiction was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. and though I am ashamed to admit it, it was my FIRST TIME EVER reading this novel. This year, I decided to listen to the audiobook and I was not disappointed. I feel like the annotation I did back in 2013 still holds true here in 2020.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (1937, 2002) The Hobbit or There and Back Again Boston: Houghton Mifflin A prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, gives the reader insight to the world of Middle Earth, as well as the year of adventures for Bilbo Baggins. A hobbit who lives in the neighborhood of The Hills, Bilbo Baggins’ life of comfort and solitude is greatly shaken when he receives a visit from the wizard Gandalf who prompts him to join in a quest with a herd of dwarves as a “burglar”. Traveling across Middle Earth in an attempt to gain back the dwarves riches–which results in various scraps with goblins, spiders, wolves, an encounter with a dragon named Smaug the Magnificent, and being witness to the Battle of the Five Armies–Bilbo finds himself enjoying an adventure that he never even dreamed was possible for him to experience. This leads into possibly the strongest and over-occurring theme that presents itself within the novel: overcoming the limits that race/lineage place on an individual’s choices in life, and using that strength to induce heroic acts. Though Bilbo himself does not recognize it, in the beginning of the novel we see the development of the hobbit’s interest in adventure and eagerness to show his bravery. This is made known quite early on in the novel, when we learn of Bilbo’s lineage–a constant struggle between his timid Baggins side and his adventurous Took side. A classic novel, The Hobbit also presents itself as a tool that young adults can use in analyzation as well as an enjoyable read. Aside from creating prominent themes and entertaining characters, Tolkien also uses intensifying imagery to bring to life the geography of Middle Earth, and have the reader feel as though this is a realistic place. This literary process of making the story more realistic geographically, is also used to make the story relatable emotionally. While this is a world of fantasy, the emotions evoked throughout this novel–embracing one’s fears and overcoming them through many an opportunity–open the young adult reader’s eyes; giving solace in knowing that whether real or imaginary, those emotions exist and can be used to one’s benefit in life.
Sheth, Kashmira (2013) Tiger In My Soup Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers
When a young boy is left in the care of his older sister for the day, he asks her several times to read one of his favorite books that, as the reader can infer from the illustration on the drawn book and the boy’s description, is about a tiger. However, as the sister is preoccupied with her own reading, she refuses him for all the different times he asks. The boy then gives up, asking for lunch, and the sister provides him with a hot bowl of soup in which she does not notice the tiger rising from the steam–but her brother does, provoking a journey of survival and adventure. This novel does not only appeal to children who have ever been baby-sat by their older sibling, but reiterates the idea that although some children may not be able to read their favorite stories, illustration and imagination can be just as exciting, continuing to promote a love of reading.
When you go to college for four years and come out of it with a degree in library science, you’re almost obligated to love any book with the words “library” or “librarian” in the description. This is why when I went into Barnes and Noble, gift card in hand, Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner was the first thing that actually made me want to spend half of the thirty bucks I’d been gifted. (No offense to B&B, but some of their paperbacks are seriously overpriced. In my opinion anyway).
This novel tells the story of twenty-nine year old librarian, Nina Redmond, whose life in a tiny, book/ridden townhouse with her roommate Surinder crumbles around her when the library decides to downsize and head in a more technological direction. Faced with this, Nina decides to pack up her books, purchase a van to store them, and head from Birmingham, England to a tiny village in Scotland where she opens up a mobile bookshop called the Little Shop of Happy Ever After.
I gave this book four stars on Goodreads because the setting of the countryside and the way the characters interacted and were portrayed in this setting gave me this pleasant sense of warmth. I would equate this Jenny Colgan novel to curling up on the sofa and sipping a hot cup of tea. Or, one of those cute and comforting stories you see presented in television, where the narrator’s voice is that of a whispery, old man or woman and the camera zooms in through the window on to the main character and then pans out into the story.
Books like these are dear to me because I feel as though they give me a break from contemporary books that take on serious topics such as suicide, disease, heartbreak, etc. They also bring me back to some type of positive reality when I’ve read one to many dystopia novels–which with the growing popularity of that genre, is too many to count. If you’re in need of comfort food for the mind, The Bookshop on the Corner is the way to go.