Sunday, November 28, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 13 - Silver Diamond

Module 13 - Silver Diamond v.1 by Shiho Sugiura

Suguira, Shiho. Silver Diamond v.1. Tokyopop, 2003. ISBN: 978-1-4278-0965-0

Rakan is a handsome, orphaned boy who lives alone in his grandfather's house. He has a talent for growing flowers, is sweet and friendly, but mostly a loner. Chigusa is a "monster" from another world who is accidentally transported to our world. When they meet, there is a confrontation, confusion and ultimately, acceptance. This is because Rakan looks like the evil prince from Chigusa's world. Another man is transported to Rakan's world, Narushige, who owns a talking snake (who can also transform into a gun). These three make an unusual, but interesting group as they start to learn about each other and the world around them.

What I Thought
While there are many series out there that have people from other worlds come into contact with each other, there is something original about Sugiura's manga. The world that Chigusa and Narushige come from is bleak. Rakan's world is bursting with flowers. When he encounters Chigusa, he accidentally causes his "gun" to grow. Later, he grows an entire "gun" tree. This is because in the other world, there are plant analogues for most technologies. Rakan is considered a "sanome" which is someone who causes things to grown. This explains Rakan's green thumb!

The ways that Chigusa, Narushige and the talking snake, Koh, experience Rakan's world are funny. It's also very touching to see the two adult characters respond to Rakan's instinctive kindness. Both Chigusa and Narushige have been "discarded" and considered "trash" in their world. Rakan values them and treats them with respect and demands respect back. Chigusa's understanding (or rather, misunderstanding) of this respect is where much of the humor lies. Chigusa is always saying inappropriate things, hugging too much and otherwise being "pervy" by accident.

This is one of my favorite manga series. I love the quiet theme of respect that underlies the story. There is a great sense of human dignity that is lightened by the silly humor of Chigusa and the snake, Koh. So far there are seven volumes available and it's worth reading. The plot gets more involved, more characters are added and more is revealed as the manga continues.

Outside Reviews

"Koh can conveniently transform into a sword, so when Chigusa discovers him they begin to duel in an extremely artistic manner with their snake-sword and plant-guns. That sums up the loopy appeal of this series. The plot elements are a mishmash, but the characters all look impossibly pretty and they fight with insanely symbolic weapons. I think Silver Diamond would be a must buy for fantasy shounen ai fans. I’m curious to see if the second volume settles down a bit since first volume spent plenty of time setting up the characters and their relationships with each other. Is Rakan the true prince of Chigusa’s world? How will he manage to go to high school while taking care of two otherworldly warrior house guests?"
TangognaT. (2008, January 11). Silver diamond volume 1. Retrieved from 

"All of the characters introduced so far are likeable and interesting. Rakan is practical and thoughtful, and though he realizes pretty quickly that his houseguests have something to do with his origins, he’s reluctant to ask questions about it, lest the normal life he wants for himself be threatened. Chigusa is enigmatic but smiles often and seems kind. Late arrival Shigeka functions somewhat as a go-between between the other two, answering questions as well as raising them, particularly where Chigusa’s true nature is concerned...On the whole, I come away with a very favorable impression of Silver Diamond and am genuinely interested to see where the story goes from here. If the purpose of review copies is to hook people on new series they might not ordinarily have investigated, then mission accomplished."
Smith, M. (2008, July 23). Manga review: silver diamond, volume 1. Retrieved from 

Using this book in the library
This manga series is a great addition for older teens. It's especially appealing to girls who love shonen-ai (boy love) mangas. This type of manga is written by women for women. It involves pretty boys hanging out with other pretty boys. All of the men (even the evil ones) in this manga are eye-candy, for sure.

For fun:
Take a sneak peek inside the mangas at the Tokyopop website. There is an interactive viewer for the story that you can also see below.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 12 - A Hole in My Life

Module 12 A Hole in My Life - Jack Gantos

Gantos, Jack. A Hole in My Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. ISBN: 0-374-39988-3

Writer Jack Gantos tells the story about how he wound up in prison for smuggling drugs and how he learned to become a writer in the process.

What I Thought
This story of Gantos' life resonated with me. Gantos wanted to be a writer but felt he had nothing to say. As he takes a journey to smuggle drugs (his ticket off the racially divided island of St. Croix), he is really embarking on a journey where he confronts himself. One of my favorite parts of the story is where he is in his jail cell and finds the words "WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE" scratched above the mirror. Gantos comments on this saying, "Some wit had carved it into the cinder block so that each time he looked in the mirror he reminded himself that the biggest failure is self-communication," (p.158). Gantos felt that he hadn't been honest with himself and when he finally was, he was able to write.

As Gantos deals with himself honestly, he starts to find his voice as a writer. This self-examination is very important for everyone, especially young people. Finding yourself by exploring who you are is essential. Without good self-communication young people may find the wrong mates, wrong jobs and not find their perfect fit.

Outside Reviews
"In this dual-layered memoir for high schoolers, Newbery Honor-winner Gantos details his short-lived criminal career as well as his transition from wannabe writer to serious author. Twenty years old and desperately seeking money for college, he recklessly agreed to sail a boat full of hashish from St. Croix to New York City. He explains: "This was the jackpot. The answer I was looking for...I didn't think of the danger involved with breaking the law.: But he was caught and send to a federal prison. As a teen, Gantos always knew he'd be a writer, but he never knew what to write about or how to start. During his 18-month incarceration, however, he learned to look within himself for material. Gantos' hope is to inspire, not scare, teens, but he relies on blunt prose throughout, including grisly descriptions of jailhouse violence. The result: a humorous, frightening, heartbreaking, and above all, honest introduction to the world of nonfiction."
Rodman, B., & Pricola, J. (2002). HOLE IN MY LIFE (Book). Teacher Magazine, 13(7), 50. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"The autobiographical account of the author's search for his magical muse is thwarted by a get-rich-quick scheme of pirating a ship of pot up the coast. Gantos takes his consequence in the dregs of prison and reinvents a plan to spring free his intellectual aspirations. This candid, vivid, and illuminating page-turner emphasizes the salvation of journaling while showing how smart choices can right wrongs. Audio version available from Listening Library."

Follos, A. (2004). Hole in My Life (Book). School Library Journal, 50(11), 67. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Using this Book in the Library
This story is great to expose to young adults who are all in the process of finding themselves and learning about the consequences of their actions. This book would make an excellent book-club discussion pick.

For Fun
Visit Jack Gantos' website. The site is designed mostly for children, however, it's interesting to see Gantos today, knowing what he went through as a teen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 11 - The Day-Glo Brothers

Module 11 - The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Barton, Chris. The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand New Colors. Charlesbridge, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-57091-673-1

Bob and Joe Switzer didn't set out to invent Day-Glo paint, but that's what they did and their invention changed the world in small but significant ways.

What I Thought
Since this book is cataloged in my library as Dewey Decimal number 535, I thought I would be learning only about science when I picked up the book. However, while I did learn a little about florescence and chemicals and how the scientific method worked, I also learned about a great life story of two inventors. While Bob and Joe had originally wanted to different things with their lives, fate steered them in a different direction. They weren't able to do the original jobs they wanted, but both were able to help people and create different and new things.

This book is great for exploring the Switzer's lives. The author, Chris Barton, is a historian and his telling their story helps uncover a small but important part of history. The Day-Glo paint and pigment was used to save lives and changed the way we looked at the world.

The illustrations by Tony Persiani are an excellent accompaniment to this story. As the book starts out, most of the illustrations are gray. But as the Switzers discover and invent Day-Glo paint, the pictures in the story become brighter and more colorful.

Outside Reviews

"In this debut for both collaborators, Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher as he chronicles the Switzer brothers' invention of the first fluorescent paint visible in daylight. The aptly named Day-Glo, he explains, started out as a technological novelty act (Joe, an amateur magician, was looking for ways to make his illusions more exciting), but soon became much more: during WWII, one of its many uses was guiding Allied planes to safe landings on aircraft carriers. The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes ("Bob focused on specific goals, while Joe let his freewheeling mind roam every which way when he tried to solve a problem"), formidable obstacles (including, in Bob's case, a traumatic accident), a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal. Persiani's exuberantly retro 1960s drawings--splashed with Day-Glo, of course--bring to mind the goofy enthusiasm of vintage educational animation and should have readers eagerly following along as the Switzers turn fluorescence into fame and fortune."
(2009). The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. Publishers Weekly, 256(26), 127. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"First featured in the Fall Preview, Chris Barton breaks down the story behind the discovery of Day-Glo colors in this tale of two brothers--one practical, one creative--who worked together to develop the neon brights that forever changed the world. The book required extensive research, as Barton delved into one brother's notes and interviews with the family to re-create the story The effort was well worth it. "The final pages explode in Day-Glo radiance," said the Kirkus reviews: "Rendered in 1950s-cartoon style, with bold lines and stretched perspectives, these two putty-limbed brothers shine even more brightly than the paints and dyes they created."

(2009). The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. Kirkus Reviews, 77(22), 10. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Using this book in the library
This book would be a good fit for a classroom environment when it's time to introduce both science concepts and history. This books is fun to read and look at and gently introduces both science and biography in a fun way.

Just for fun
Visit the DayGlo company website. This is the company founded by Bob and Joe Switzer. You can request color samples and find out more information about DayGlo today. Now DayGlo colors are in eye makeup, food coloring and other assorted things. The company is located in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fotonovela Art

This is a little piece of art that I created from discarded fotonovelas. If you're not familiar with "fotos," they are small, Mexican comic books. Most of the themes are very dramatic (think soap operas). They're very popular and wear out quickly. This art comes mainly from the covers of the fotos.

Click to enlarge my collage!