Monday, July 26, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/24

I'm in the middle of a string of weeks with very little mail -- possibly due to the usual publishing summer doldrums, possibly because the massed publicists have finally wised up and purged small blogs like mine from their lists -- which is just fine with me, since it means less time sitting in a hot basement, tapping away at this keyboard.

But below are two swell-looking books I did get this week, both from the fine First Second graphic novel imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a for-younger-readers division of the vast Holtzbrinck publishing conglomerate. I haven't yet read either of them -- so what I can tell you before is based mostly on looking at the covers and publicity letters -- but I do expect to read both of them withing the next month.

Brain Camp is the second graphic novel written by the team of Susan Kim (who has also worked as a playwright and scriptwriter for animated TV shows, such as Courage the Cowardly Dog) and Laurence Klavan (Edgar award-winning novelist and also a playwright), after the WWII homefront adventure City of Spies earlier this year. (I reviewed City of Spies here as Book-A-Day #78.) This time, the art is provided by Faith Erin Hicks, whose The War at Ellsmere I read during my Eisner comics-to-brain download weekend last year. Brain Camp is about two teenagers, a boy and a girl, who are separately sent to the strange and mysterious Camp Fielding to jump-start their academic achievement. Of course, Fielding is not what it seems to be at first -- how could it be, in a story like this? -- in a Stepfordian way, if I don't miss my guess. Brain Camp will be published in August, so it's likely already on its way to a store near you.

And then coming a month later, in September, is The Unsinkable Walker Bean, a new graphic novel by Aaron Renier, author of Spiral Bound. It's some kind of adventure story about a boy whose grandfather was cursed by a menacing skull -- I presume the glowing one on the cover, unless this book has two menacing skulls -- and has to set off on the high seas to set everything right. It looks weird and unique and roisterous, with can only be good -- and it has nice quotes from Lane Smith and Jeff Smith on the back cover.

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