Monday, October 22, 2012

I am a Pole (And So Can You!)

I am a Pole (And So Can You!)

By Stephen Colbert
4/5 stars
Reviewer: Nichole

I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)

If you’ve ever wondered about the goals and aspirations of inanimate objects we take for granted every single day of our lives, I suggest reading I am a Pole.  If you’ve ever wondered how a pole decides what type of pole to become in this world of many, many types of poles, then I suggest reading I am a Pole.  But mostly, if you’ve ever felt like a picture book about self-discovery and finding your way in the world in a really cheesy and funny way may appeal to you, you should read I am a Pole.

And as a bonus, there’s a cute exchange between the late Maurice Sendak and Stephen Colbert, which began on “The Colbert Report”, led to the writing of this book, and capitulated in Mr. Sendak’s comment on the book, which published the day Mr. Sendak died.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History & Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began

By Art Spiegelman
5/5 Stars

Reviewer: Nichole


Nothing you’ve read about the Holocaust can prepare you for what these two graphic novels are going to deliver.  This isn’t just the story of a man’s experience in Auschwitz during WWII.  This isn’t just a graphic novel cleverly depicting each race of people as a different animal, Jews being mice, Americans as dogs, Poles as pigs, Germans as cats, etc.  This isn’t simply a collection of haunting images of death, destruction and unimaginable cruelty and loss.  This is the story of a father and son.  And if you’ve ever looked at your parents and thought they were irritating or embarrassing to you, you know some of Art’s pain dealing with his father Vladek.  This is a story of Art interviewing his father about his history, getting to know a young Vladek, tortured away, and how this affected Art’s relationship with his dad.

This is not an easy read.  This is not a light afternoon-at-the-beach book.  This will move you.  This will make you think.  This will make you ache.

What is striking in the books is the disparity between “present day” and “pre-war” Vladek.  He begins as a charismatic, carefree, wealthy man, married into big money, and they were a family of influence.  He and his wife Anna had a young child and they were happy, with confidence and resourcefulness enough that the ominous talk about the anti-Jewish feelings in Hitler’s Germany may at some point have an impact on their world in Poland.  Maybe.  Slowly, they lost more and more: their factories, their home, their valuables, they sent off their child to a safe haven to find out he died there, their family was taken away to camps, killed, until it was just Vladek and Anna, hiding, going from one barn or basement to another, until they ended up in Auschwitz.  Vladek’s focus the entire time he was in the camp was to survive and find his way to Anna.  People died all around him, were shot or beaten to death for no reason, were sent to the gas chamber and then the ovens, and he witnessed inhuman cruelty.  And though you know he and Anna survive, it’s harrowing to experience just reading it.  But the story is coming to you from a neurotic, stubborn, miserly, racist man, and though all of these traits were present in the younger version of Vladek, they helped him survive the Holocaust, and they became overwhelming elements of his personality until his death.

Part of what makes the book so special is that it’s brought to you by the Vladek’s son, through his drawings done from interviews he did with his dad, despite their strained relationship, which are incorporated into the books themselves.  And Art is not shy or dishonest about his own intolerance of his father, which plagues him with guilt, as well as being the son of a survivor, which has even greater psychological impact, and we find that Art is struggling as much as Vladek, trying to make sense of what the Holocaust did to their family, and how it affects them throughout their lives.

Read it.  Not because it won a Pulitzer Prize or because it may teach you something.  Because it will make you feel something.  And maybe, you may learn something about yourself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Z is for Moose

Z is for Moose
by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky
5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Dawn

Acting as the referee, Zebra is certain he will be able to direct everyone to appear on the correct page, at the appropriate time. He is hoping for no mishaps, hurt feelings or unnecessary drama. It’s the ABC’s, what can go wrong, right? Well it’s not that easy when there’s a forgotten moose….

At first I thought this book would be a normal ABC book. It starts off like any other ABC book, but this is not your average book of the ABC’s. It’s hilarious! Moose just can’t wait for his turn with the letter M, but he gets a surprise, just like us, when we finally reach his letter. Moose is clumsy and obnoxious, but loveable and the ending is sweet satisfaction for Moose and readers alike. Both children and adults will get a huge kick out of this story. The illustrations alone demand for MANY rereads and this ABC book will not disappoint!

Monday, October 15, 2012



Author: Thad Ziolkowski
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Lydia

            Wry wit, vivid imagery, and intelligent pop culture references abound in this quirky novel about a wayward man who returns home to find his family life in ruins. Set in Wichita, Kansas, college graduate Lewis Chopin returns to find his New Age mother busy with her current business of the moment—storm chasing tours—and his brother on the verge of another mental breakdown. The family is so crazy that Lewis—adrift, unemployed, and recently dumped by his longtime girlfriend—actually seems to be the most normal of them all. 
            This is essentially the plot of the novel, but the story told is far from thin and weak. The novel is layered with Lewis’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences as he watches his peculiar brother slowly unravel while his mother slips further into denial. The humor in this novel masks a truly crushing sadness as the Chopin family, each member dealing with his or her own issues, attempts to stick by each other in a troubled time.
 Ziolkowski’s acerbic novel demonstrates what it means to live—both alone and in relation to others—in the twenty-first century. The ending is raw, powerful, and as gripping as a tornado itself. I finished this book in a matter of days, and then recommended it to everyone I know. It’s just that good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


by Elisha Cooper
5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Deb

Summary:  Home isn’t just where the heart is.  Home is often where the dog is.  And for this loyal dog-who you will recognize if you ever loved a dog-home is where YOU are.
Review:  If you have loved a dog this simple sweet story will hit home with you.  Homer is depicted as an older dog who enjoys just being at home watching the daily activities of the family.  He is watchful during the day and at night he takes his place in his special chair after his day is done. Short and simple is sometimes best as this story is.