Monday, October 11, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/9/21

Five books this week, all from the library - I was trying to get things in to read for this weekend and next, and it worked out perfectly.

That means, of course, that something else is about to go horribly wrong....

Making Friends: Third Time's the Charm is the (unsurprisingly) third book in Kristen Gudsnuk's "Making Friends" series, about a middle-schooler who inherited a magical sketchbook from her great-aunt and has used it to create ever-more complications in her life. (See my posts on books one and two for more details.) This one seems to follow immediately from the ending of the second book and sees  our heroine Dany's life transformed, along with elements of the whole world, in ways I suspect have something to do with other bequests from that deceased great-aunt. (I had a note about that in my post about the second book; Gudsnuk's books look wacky and like they're just hurtling at high speed, but she's a deeply sneaky writer, which I hugely appreciate.) I don't know if this series will keep going on, since it seems to be getting bigger, wackier, and more transformative with each book, but I'm up for it if it does.

Switching gears entirely (though still sticking to the big middle-grade graphic-novel world), I also have When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, a National Book Award Finalist and a Big Serious Book about a Big Serious Thing. (Kids get a lot of them foisted on them, always out of good intentions, but sometimes it means millions of fourteen-year-olds have to waste dozens of hours on Ethan Frome.) Mohammed was a child refugee in Kenya, and this is the story of a child refugee in Kenya named Omar and his younger brother Hassan - the LCC code on the copyright page puts it in a non-fiction bucket, so I believe this is essentially a memoir in comics form. (Jamieson is the artist, and probably also helped scripting this - she's done two graphic novels for younger readers before this one.)

Wendy, Master of Art is a graphic novel for adults by Walter Scott (no, not that one; this guy hasn't been knighted...yet?). The main character is an artist: my sense is that the book collects a bunch of stories (or maybe just one long story; I'm not sure if it appeared anywhere else first) that cover a big chunk of her career and/or life. And she's Wendy, obviously. I've seen good notices of it...waves randomly...somewhere, and I'm always up for reading graphic stuff by creators new to me.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 12: To All the Squirrels I've Loved Before is the end of the series, by the usual creators: Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi. And, I guess, that means that Marvel's scheduling system was what finally beat Doreen Green: no comic can run forever these days.

Last is Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part II by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, and Rich Tomaso. But, Andy! you might say, I thought you hate those books! Well, "hate" is a strong word. I'm definitely finding a lot of things to criticize and complain about in these books, absolutely - but I was an editor; pulling apart books is what I do. It's one of my core skills. So getting such great material to work from is wonderful, and I'm not unentertained by the series to date, even as I do see it as hugely flawed in ways that reflect badly on superheroes in general and the modern comics scene in particular.

(Note: you might not say that, since I realize my post on Age of Doom, Part I has not posted yet. But you will say that once it does. Or you might, I dunno, I don't want to put words in your mouth.)

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