Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TUNE: Vanishing Point

"TUNE: Vanishing Point" by Derek Kirk Kim reminds me a lot of Scott Pilgrim. It has the same retro feel to it. It's the story of an illustrator named Andy who dropped out of college. The book starts in a college end of the year party. It's made clear that he has a crush on a girl named Yumi. Yumi happens to be one of Andy's best friends. After Andy dropped out, his parents gave him a week to find an "art" job. The only people who would accept him wouldn't even pay him. At the end of the week Andy was given a lecture from his dad about how he wasn't special, he wasn't going to be famous and he wasn't destined for great things. I know, what a great dad. Andy is forced to go into the magical world of unemployment. He looks for work in offices, coffee shops, newspapers and fast food restaurants. None of them hire him.
One day while Andy sulks, he notices he is being drawn by Yumi. Once she finishes, she lets Andy look at a few pages in the front of her sketchbook. She doesn't let him look in the back because that's her journal. In a few minutes, she runs off to class, accidentally forgetting her sketchbook. Andy decides that no harm could come from reading a few more pages. Of course he ends up reading the whole book. Towards the end of the sketchbook, Andy learns that Yumi is just as in love with him as he is with her. In an hour he is at a job interview with aliens. I wont spoil everything, but lets just say Andy finds employment.  
The artwork in Vanishing Point is not the biggest whoop, but the thing I like about it is how the aliens are drawn. They are purposefully made to look like Marvin the Martian.  Everything else is pretty normal.
I would not suggest this book for immature audiences. There is a bit of strong language. If you can handle that, you can handle this. Vanishing Point came out recently so there is no sequel yet. I'm pretty sure that there will be another TUNE in the future. I would give Vanishing Point 3.5 alien abductions out of 5.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Rabbi's Cat


            The Rabbis Cat by Joann Sfar is quite different than anything I have ever read. Its the story of a talking cat who travels the world with his Jewish master. He travels to France and lives in Algeria. He cant talk to everybody, but he can talk to a few. For some reason this atheistic cat wants a BarMitzvah. He is constantly aggravating the Head Rabbi. The cat's master has a daughter named Zalabya. Another important character is Cousin Malka. Hes a big man with a white beard and a pet lion. Malka has jobs as a storyteller, a hunter and a swindler. He uses his lion to scare people, then he pretends to save the day. Malka is my personal favorite character.

       Here is a chapter that I personally enjoyed a lot. Zalabya's husband had ordered a crate full of books. When the box arrives, it is filled to the brim with books, and a dead Russian! Every rabbi and minister in town is at their household. The Head Rabbi tries to write on the Russian with the "pen of life". He wakes up with a yelp and socks the Head Rabbi on the jaw. He only speaks Russian so no one understands him except for the cat. The cat's master and his son in law have to find a translator. They hear a saint is sharing his home with a Russian.The Russian tells them that the man who was in the box is a painter. They also learn that a large group of Jews live further south  of Algeria. They are all  hungry for adventure. They make a flag with Russia and Jerusalem combined into one. Along the way they meet a girl who tells them she has no name and also, I quote, TinTin. They only spend a few pages with TinTin. Soon the painter and the girl fall in love. How precious. In the end, the group just becomes dissatisfied with what they find and go home.   
       The artwork in The Rabbis Cat is very beautiful. The cat is sometimes detailed and sometimes simple. The cat's ears are the most expressive part of his body. All of the words are hand written. The style is very French. I would give the art in The Rabbis Cat 5 talking cats out of 5.

       There is also a movie of The Rabbi's cat. I really like this movie just as much as the book. This is one case where a movie based on a book is completely faithful to the original storyline. It has 93% on rotten tomatoes.

        I think if your child is young, I would wait until they are older to read The Rabbis Cat. There are some bloody scenes. My recommended age is10 and up.