Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big Bad Ironclad

For once in going to review a non-fiction book. It’s a book called “Big Bad Ironclad” by Nathan Hale.

 This book features the historical spy, Nathan Hale, telling the story of the ironclads to his executioners. As most of you know, Nathan Hale was not alive during the Civil War. But in the story, he somehow read a history book that told him the future.

The main characters of the story within the story are the historical characters, William Cushing and Gideon Wells. The villain of the story within the story is Stephen Russell Mallory, the Secretary of the Confederate Navy. When the Confederates steal the U.S.S. Merrimack, Mallory has the top plated with iron. It is also renamed the C.S.S. Virginia. While it is in the works, the Union navy board has been searching for an inventor to build them an iron ship. When John Ericson auditions they are very hesitant because John Ericson built a cannon for the navy that blew up. It killed 8 people including the Secretary of the Navy. Abe Lincoln finally convinces the navy board to sign a contract with John Ericson. When the Monitor is finished, it fights the Merrimac. If I tell you more it won't be interesting.

One scene I like is when the Union army is attacking the Confederate shipyard and the Confederates have to blow up the wounded Merrimack so the Union won’t get it. I liked this scene because it shows how powerful a healthy ironclad can be.

            The artwork in Big Bad Ironclad is unbelievably cartoony. It is not my favorite, but it is not my least favorite ether. It feels smooth instead of rough like Usagi Yojimbo. Overall, its not bad at all.

           Additionally, I really enjoy all the childish humor, such as how much of a kid the hangman is. 

The book is good for history lovers and comic lovers, of which I am both. So go check it out. It’s very entertaining.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Neko Ramen

Kenji Sonishi's Neko Ramen is definitely one of the best book series I read. I enjoy it on a daily basis. It’s about a cat named Taisho who owns a ramen shop. He has one frequent customer named Tanaka. Taisho is constantly creating different sorts of unusual ramen and having Tanaka test them. On top of that, Taisho hires more part timers than he can count, and most of them don’t do much. There’s Mi Chan who sleeps all day. There’s Shige who steals from the cash register. There’s an elder named Toku who is paid with glasses of milk. There’s the second location guy who runs the second location. There’s Maru who’s a chicken. Finally, there’s a bunch of prairie dogs.

Taisho’s father is the complete opposite of Taisho. While Taisho is a middle class ramen shop owner, his father is a rich and famous cat model who makes $1,000 a day. Taisho ran away from home when he was a kitten and tried many occupations until he settled down with ramen.

A scene I liked was when there was a sign for a new ramen dish called “All Fried Chicken Ramen". Tanaka thought Taisho had fried Maru, but it turned out that Maru cooked the ramen.

The artwork in Neko Ramen is very simple. It appears to be drawn with a pen alone. It has a large charm to it. If you like complex art, this is not for you. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SIDEKICKS by Dan Santat

          Dan Santat’s SIDEKICKS is an  awesome book. The author illustrated a book for my own mama Ayun Halliday. The book was “Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo”. Children love that one.

          SIDEKICKS is the story of a superhero named Captain Amazing whose pets, Fluffy the Hamster and Roscoe the Dog, are sentient. Captain Amazing has done his job for a long time and now is getting old. His old sidekick/pet, Manny/Static Cat, ran away years ago and Captain Amazing needs a new sidekick. Roscoe sees his chance to use his ability to become metal to become more close to his master. Fluffy doesn’t have a power so he has almost no chance of becoming Captain Amazing’s sidekick. Meanwhile, Captain Amazing had purchased a chameleon online. He named it Shifty. Roscoe and Fluffy are apposed to the idea at first. Then Fluffy gets used to the idea.

          Fluffy wants to be a superhero real, real bad. So he ventures out in an American superhero outfit to catch a raccoon who stole an ipod. Right before Fluffy catches the raccoon, he scurries away. when he starts to leave he finds himself cornered by 1, 2 and 3 cats. Apparently Shifty had followed him and fell from his hiding spot. A low growl is heard and a shadow scares away the cats, Fluffy recognizes the shadow as Manny. They bring Manny his favorite toy, Nummers. Manny invites them to an underground bar of sorts. Manny gives them a few tips about crime fighting. With their new information, they take care of a hippo who was eating all the food.

          Meanwhile, Captain Amazing is starting to lose his reputation. A new superhero named WonderMan is rising to fame. Also another hero is up. Roscoe is fighting crime under the name of Metal Mutt. The day of the auditions has come. Superheroes line up across the city to have a chance to become Captain Amazing’s sidekick. When Wonder Man hands in his application, Captain Amazing chooses him. 

          The artwork is shiny, bulgy and colorful. It looks somewhat like plastic instead of paper. It looks pretty cool in my opinion.

          I won’t tell you any more. If I did I would spoil the ending. SIDEKICKS is one of those books you can probably find in your average public library. The cost in an American book store is 12 bucks. It will be more expensive online. Dan Santat has written many children’s  books. If you are 11 or under you will most likely like them. This book is good for kids my age and all others :D 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Usagi Yojimbo Book Four

Usagi Yojimbo is an all time favorite graphic novel series of mine. The author and illustrator is Stan Sakai. It is the story of a wandering rabbit samurai. If you are worried about morbid violence you don't have to. The fighting in this book series is un-realistic and cartoonish which makes it fine for children such as my self. Unless of course you count the first one. that one can get a bit bloody.

The book i'm going to talk about is book 4, for this is the one i'm most familiar with, but you can tell that by the title. Usagi Yojimbo Book Four is the story of a corrupt pig lord named Lord Tamakuro who tries to over through the shogun*. A group called the neko** ninja are attacked by Tamakuro's men. Their leader was not there during the slaughter and thinks it was Usagi who murdered his comrades. Usagi was already trying to fight Tamakuro hoping to save a friend of his named Tomo Ame who had been captured  on a mission for her master, Lord Neriyuki.

The artwork in Usagi Yojimbo book 4 is very heavily shaded. The characters are mostly solemn, but they don't always have sad faces. They can still have a sense of humor. Because the book is about a samurai, there is blood, but it's not graphic like in other books. The amounts  of blood shown are like pebbles, literally. The shading style is a trademark of the book series. The strange lizards that seem like substitutes for dogs are a clever and cute idea.

I started reading them when I was only 6. I loved them so much I read almost every book in the series not including 9 through 11 and 23 (only because I never found them). They come out once every summer and are always suspenseful. Of course you can buy each chapter in comic form at all different times.

Now I would like to describe a scene from Usagi Yojimbo book 4. Usagi is in a pit  with bones scattered on the floor. He sees the ghost of Tomo. She accuses him of leaving her to die and charges at him roaring, mouth filled with jagged teeth. Usagi wakes up gasping in a small hut and is greeted by Shingen. What I liked about this scene is that it shows the desperate situation of the heroes of the story. Usagi is going insane, Tomo is near dead and most of Shingen's men are dead. It gives the book more drama which I personally like.

If you are new to the Usagi series, you should not start with book four. Most of the characters are introduced in book 1 except  for Shingen who was introduced in book 3. So what are you still doing here? Go read Usagi. There are 26 books in the series as of now.

*overlord of  Japan