Saturday, October 1, 2016

Banned Book Week: Graphic Novel Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

So I have been following this series since it began and had no idea it has been so controversial. It has been highly challenged due to its nudity, sexually explicit scenes, and oddly enough for being anti-family (which is confusing to me since the whole series so far has been about the family trying to stay together).  In my opinion, if anyone was going to get upset I would have imagined it would be the violence, especially between opposing species.  While I do see how parents would want to keep this out of the hands of young readers who don't have the maturity level to handle this, it is on the parent to be aware of what their child is reading and how to discuss it with them, not the library's responsibility to removed it from all readers.  As far as I can tell, this one hasn't actually been banned any where just repeatedly challenged.
Synopsis: "From the Eisner Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private Eye, Pride of Baghdad) and Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, Thor), SAGA is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. As they visit a strange new world and encounter even more adversaries, baby Hazel finally becomes a toddler, while her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana struggle to stay on their feet."

My Review: I understand now why so many were a little frustrated with the Saga series, I have had to ponder a while before posting a review. This series went from a rather epic fantasy adventure with multiple story lines and a family on the run because of their multi-species relationship, to a rather mundane story of drug abuse and family issues. This was a really slow read and difficult to get through, but I am going to continue the series and call this a transitional book. With regular novel series, we often have the transitional middle book where the action is lacking but the book is necessary for character and plot development, but while we find that transitional book to be dull we often continue the series in hopes of more in coming books, I think that is the case here.
My Rating: I really wanted to enjoy this one but like I said it has the feel of a transitional book in the series so was kind of lackluster.  I will definitely continue with the series but this one in particular gets a rating of Two Paws.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Banned Book Week: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

Since this book was first published in 2005 it has appeared on the annual top ten most challenged books (according to the ALA's list) 7 times, many of those have been in the top spot! That is shocking to me in today's society were same sex couples are adopting children, and those kids are entering the school system. By reacting negatively to this book or withholding it (and others like it) from our children we are causing ignorance and possible hatred.  The other thing that I find surprising is that the people who are challenging this book are not challenging a work of fiction but actual fact, an actual event that occurred and trying to suppress that event.  Honestly, the challenges and bans of this book infuriate me the most of all the banned books I have read recently. This is a beautiful book about love in all its shapes and forms.  After reading And Tango Makes Three I asked Munchkin one question, "Do you think the two daddies and the baby make a family?" without hesitation he responded "Of course Momma, they love each other and take care of baby just like you and daddy take care of me." In that moment, I could not have been more proud of Munchkin, and am happy in the knowledge that I have done something so right in raising him!
Synopsis: "In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango's family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children's book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo."

My Review: I picked up this book for Banned Book Week to read with Munchkin. We listened to the audio CD in the car while he looked at the book. It is a touching story and the illustrations are adorable. We both really enjoyed the story and have listened to it multiple times already. I also love that this is a non-fiction book, and of course Munchkin has always loved penguins!
Rating: We absolutely love this story, Munchkin has been requesting the penguin story almost every time we are in the car anymore.  Oh and can I just say that I love Neil Patrick Harris narrating this book! We can't help but give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Banned Book Week: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Can you believe this book is still being challenged, even as recent as 2007?! Again the irony of censoring books about censoring books. Some high schools have even used redacted copies for classes.  Some of the reasons it has been challenged include vulgar or obscene language, the burning of the Bible and depictions of Christians and firemen. Again people need to understand that this is a work of fiction, and the point of it was more about a way of life we are being sucked into which sets human interaction and books aside in favor of computers, televisions and instant gratification.
Synopsis: "Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future, narrated here by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family". But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life."

My Review: This is yet another book that has been on my TBR list for quite some time and it was about time I read it. I don't know why I took so long to read it. This book was actually a surprisingly short, easy and enjoyable read. I did have a little bit of difficulty imagining the setting, but I have never done well with futuristic sci-fi settings. I did however find the characters to be relatable and quickly became very attached to them. I absolutely adored Clarisse and while she played a major part in Guy's awakening, she was a minor character who I would have loved to see more. This was a fascinating read, one that you can find similarities with the way of life in the book and in current times, it is almost a little eerie and foreboding. Definitely a great book that everyone should read.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected I would. I did become rather attached to Clarisse and even though we spent little time with her. I give this book a rating of Four Paws!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Banned Books Week: 1984 by George Orwell

This is yet another one of the top challenged and banned books. I have had it sitting on my shelf for some time and finally took this opportunity to read it. The reasons for the challenges and banning have been widely discussed in the past. I do find it ironic, as so many other do as well, that you would ban a book about censorship. I also find it to be interesting that it has been banned and contested for being both pro-communist and anti-communist, when it actually presents a totalitarian system. While there are some similarities between these governmental systems there are also vast differences.  I will not go into that as I am not a government professor, I will leave that job to the right people.
Synopsis: "The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia" -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time."

My Review: This is another book I picked up for Banned Book Week, it is a classic that comes highly recommended as well as controversial. As I have said before, I don't read these books searching for the reason for banning them or for the controversy, I simply read them as a novel. I go back and forth on how to rate this one, it was rather captivating for the most part but became a slog to get through in part 2. The massive info dump in that section, especially of information that we had already concluded along with Winston in the previous section was dull. I must say the best and most terrifying part was chapter 5 in the first part. I actually had to write down quotes from the book, which I almost never do. "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words." was a line when they were discussing the Newspeak dictionary and how instead of expanding it they were eliminating words. The other quote that impacted me was "How could you have a slogan like "Freedom is Slavery: when the concept of freedom has been abolished?" that line sums things up rather nicely. All in all it was an interesting read, not one that I would seek out again but one that I am glad I finally took the time to read.
My Rating: For me this was an okay book, it read quickly for the first part and then slowed way down in the second and the picked back up in the third part. It has some pretty radical ideas but at the same time the relation to current events is chilling. I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Banned Book Week: The Giver by Lois Lowry

When I originally picked up this book, I had no idea it was on the banned/challenged book list. To me it was a highly recommended book that I had not yet read. Now I know that it has been on the ALA's challenged/banned book for the past two decades! Rather than rambling on and on about this, I found one article that summed everything about the Giver being a banned book including a perfect quote from Lois Lowry herself. Check it out at Walden Media.
Synopsis: "This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he's given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community."

My Review: I wasn't really sure what to think of this book when I started, I had heard it raved about but didn't know much else. It is a slow moving book that allows the ideas to sink in and gives you time to absorb. I can imagine this book could be brilliant in an active discussion group or class. Some of the ideas presented sound brilliant until you ponder on the longer and larger impact. I think it is a book that can be applied to current events no matter the era and what is happening. I did feel a little let down at the end of the book, I wasn't looking for a happy ending tied up in a bow but a little more closure would have been nice (I do realize it is part of a series but I don't know if I will continue with it).
My Rating: While this isn't the most exciting read, it is a hard hitting book that really makes you pause and think about what happens around us on a day to day basis. I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Have you read The Giver? How do you feel about using censorship to bring everyone to the same level and expectations?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Book Week: Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle

This was yet another book that I did not realize was on the Banned/Challenged Books list when I originally picked it up.  As I got it from Munchkin's old daycare, and it is a much loved copy, I know they used it in class. I have not seen it in his new preschool, and for their reaction to other things, I have a feeling it will not be used. It is an often challenged book due to the nudity of the man and women on one page.  As with all Eric Carle books the illustrations are in collage form and is a little free form, the nudity is not explicit by any means.  Upon reading it Munchkin didn't even think twice about it, just kept on looking at the pictures and reading the story.  If we as adults do not sexualize the image, then the kids will not even notice or react to it, especially for the target age group.
Synopsis: "Draw me a star. And the artist drew a star. It was a good star. Draw me a sun, said the star. And the artist drew a sun.? And on the artist draws, bringing the world to life picture by beautiful picture until he is spirited across the night sky by a star that shines on all he has made. In Draw Me a Star, Eric Carle celebrates the imagination in all of us with a beguiling story about a young artist who creates a world of light and possibility.?A remarkable, quintessentially simple book encompassing Creation, creativity, and the cycle of life within the eternal."

My Review: We really enjoy Eric Carle's books and I happened to come across this one at Munchkin's old daycare when they were closing and had to pick it up. The artwork is in Carle's collage style which I really enjoy and it always gives lots of interesting textures to the pictures. The story itself is interesting as it seems to tell the story of creation without actually saying it. Munchkin enjoyed the little lessons on how to draw a star (both 5 point and 8 point are included), he would follow his finger along with the artist crayon. This is another wonderful Eric Carle book!
My Rating: This is a beautiful book, as always with Eric Carle books. Munchkin enjoyed this book and liked following the artist's pencil/crayon to learn the movements to draw a star.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Carnival at Candlelight by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Unexpected by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Resist by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Longing by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Here All Along by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
More Than Words by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Irresistibly Yours by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Can't Stay Away by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Hot Burning Love by Dominique Eastwick (After Dark/ Mini Review)
You Are Mine by Karen Blake-Hall (After Dark/ Mini Review)
The Green Ember by  S.D. Smith (Mini Review)
Zeus's Eagle by Lucy Coats (Mini Review)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Mega Machines = 1pt
Howl for Halloween = 1pt
One Lavender Ribbon = 3pts
Season of Sandstorms = 5pts
Zeus's Eagle = 5pts
Tango Makes Three = 1pt
Hot Burning Love = 3pts
Draw Me a Star = 1pt

Currently Reading:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Audio - 32%
1984 by George Orwell - PB - on page 267 of 328

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
     244 points + 20 points + 10 points (completed series) + 10 points (competing Series Challenge + 10 points (24 hours listening) - 55 points spent = 239 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 1099
Total Points Spent this Year: 884

Pages Read/ Time Listened
218:44 Hours Listened (10:50 listened this week)
35,551 Pages Read (590 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - 15 points spent
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir - Audible Download
Zeus's Eagle by Lucy Coats - 20 points spent
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - 20 points spent
Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan - Requested Review
Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott - Scholastic Books order
Apple Picking Day by Candice Ransom - Scholastic Book Order
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Hello everyone! I hope that you had fun last week with my Author Feature of Lilly Avalon.  I hope to do more large author features in the future.  If you have someone you would like to be featured (or if you are an author and would like to be featured) please feel free to contact me. 

Anyway, as you probably are aware, it is Banned Book Week. I kicked off the event here on my blog with a post yesterday about censoring what your children read.  I really don't pay attention to what books are challenged or have been banned at some point, I don't go out seeking them to read or avoid. I simply read great books I find or are recommended to me.  With that said though, I usually forget about Banned Book week, but this month I made sure I had a plan.  I have several reviews and posts on banned books for you this week, including children's books and graphic novels, because it isn't just the classics that get challenged.  Anyway, I hope you will stop by some of the posts to discuss with me. 

Next week we will finally return to my regular posting schedule.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Books Week Discussion: Censoring Your Own Child's Books

So it is Banned Books Week, an event that brings to light the issues of censorship of books to the point of challenging them and even banning them in some cases that goes against the First Amendment.  Now to be honest I usually miss this week because I have never really focused on reading banned or challenged books, if it looks like a good book, something I would be interested in or comes highly recommended, I read it. Simple as that, but right before Munchkin was born someone did make me think, and it is something I have been thinking about ever since, so I thought it was time to bring these thoughts to you for discussion.
A few months before Munchkin was born, a friend of a friend contacted me regarding censoring my child's reading. She was writing a thesis paper on the matter and wanted an avid reader, book lover and future parent's take on the issue.  Of course when she first asked me the question 'Will you censor your son's reading or not allow him to read certain books?" my initial and immediate response was no, absolutely not.
Now, Munchkin is 4 years old and starting to pick his own books at the bookstore and what he reads off our shelves at home. This question comes back to me often. Am I censoring what he reads? Some might question whether at this age if it is even a matter of concern but as we look at the ALA's website there is a whole list of Children's books that have been challenged and banned.  Some of the books on that list are for a slightly older reading audience the my son but some of them will surprise you. . .
So anyway back to the question at hand. Have I already started censoring what my son reads? I certainly do guide him away from the books that we have read in the past that caused him nightmares.  I also make it a point to put books that are more age appropriate on the bottom of our bookshelves. But do I actually censor what he is reading? I do not believe so, instead what I do is provide a vast number of options that are appropriate for him at this time.  I look at that list of Children's books that have been banned and challenged, and I can honestly say I don't think there is a single book on that list that I would feel uncomfortable with him reading at some point.  In fact I did read a couple of them on the list that we haven't read before to discuss throughout this week, and I didn't find anything disagreeable to him or myself in them, and certainly no reason to remove them from a bookshelf.
(The bookshelf in Munchkin's own room offers a variety of books for him to read and look at, including some of the books on the banned list)
As he gets older, I will be asking myself this same question time and time again. Am I censoring my son's books?  I would like to think that I will encourage him to read what he enjoys, provide him with enough options of age appropriate books, and even books that others have challenged in the past. I would like to believe that he will be able to read a book and be able to come to me with any questions the content of the book may bring up. I also hope that if his school bans a book from lesson plans or their library that I will be able to find out and get a copy for ourselves and read and discuss it at home.
So I would like to hear from you. Have you been asked this question in your own lives?  Some might consider the fact that I try to limit him to age appropriate books to being a form of censorship. What do you think constitutes as censoring books your child reads?  Have you encountered book censorship in your own lives?