Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by Julia Denos

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by Julia Denos

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by Julia Denos, is a beautifully illustrated picture book with a story of wildness turned to kindness. Swatch loves colors and colors love Swatch. The colors even listen to her and come when she calls them. Swatch is wild and loves to tame the colors.
Moving on from just taming them, Swatch decides to collect the colors in jars. She likes to find rare colors, shades of colors that you might only see in one place in the world. In Between Gray, for example, is found only on her kitten’s leg. Swatch scoops them up in the jars, pokes holes in the lid, and then keeps them in her room. There is one color that has eluded her, though – Yellowest Yellow. When Swatch finally finds Yellowest Yellow, she finds that not all colors want to be tamed.

The art in Swatch is whimsical and bright. The characters, mischievous. It feels like a colorful take on Where the Wild Things Are. I would recommend Swatch to all young artists in preschool through elementary and their parents.


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Raven Pirate Princess: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, by Jeremy Whitley

Raven Pirate Princess: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt

Take one pirate princess without a crew or a ship, add a heaping scoop of determination, and round it off with a band of misfits that come together under her colors and you have Raven Pirate Princess: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt. I expected action and adventure, but what kept me hooked was the witty humor and lovable characters.

Having previously been abandoned to a tower by herself to wait for her prince, Raven now faces an onslaught of the stereotypical male pirates as she begins her search for a crew. She hears everything from “not all men,” to “Help! I’m being oppressed by the matriarchy!” as she turns down man after man for the job. The crew comes together from women around town who are looking for new adventures. They’ve slayed the Goblin Kings in their table top games, now it’s time to band together and go search for real danger. Led by the new first mate, Katie (a.k.a. Muscles), a diverse crew of women rallies behind Raven to set out to reclaim her rightful place as the head of her family’s pirate enterprise.

The art in Raven Pirate Princess: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew was stunning – the scenes are all well drawn and dynamic and the story flowed easily from one panel to the next. Beyond the writing and artistic skill used to portray the women, I truly appreciated the diversity that is included among the crew. Yes, it is an all women crew, but you will not confuse one woman for another. They each have their own unique looks, backgrounds, interests, and dialogue style. Any Pirate Princess can pick up this graphic novel and see herself in its pages. This graphic novel is recommended for ages 9+ and is a quick, fun read for any girl (or their mom!) that’s ever dreamed of the sailing the seven seas.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Raven Pirate Princess: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, by Jeremy Whitley. 


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Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Until now I haven’t read an entire book in one sitting since I checked out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a teenager and stayed up all night to read it. I picked up Seconds the other day and brought it home. I was exhausted but I decided to start reading anyway. What harm would a chapter or two be before bed? 

What I didn’t know, as I cracked open the book, was that I wouldn’t put it back down until I’d finished the last page. I loved O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series and, if I’m totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much. I hadn’t read much about Seconds, but knew that it always caught my eye on the shelf or in the bookstore. Now that I’ve read it, I can say that comparing Seconds to Scott Pilgrim is apples to oranges. The art style is similar and the writing hooks you, but they’re truly worlds apart in direction.

When we meet the main character, Katie, she’s 29 and is a chef at one of the city’s best restaurants – Seconds. Katie had opened the restaurant with friends and is gearing up to open her very own restaurant in another part of town. She’s got the place picked out and the contractors are working on the renovations. With one foot out the door at Seconds, Katie is feeling a bit lost. After a serious accident at work, she’s presented with a mushroom and a choice – if she could change one thing, would she? The mushroom not only comes with the choice, but with a set of rules.

Katie makes her decision and thus begins her descent down the rabbit hole à la Alice. As Katie falls deeper into a world that is changing day by day, she wonders what has brought her to this point and how can she fix it.

I’ll end my synopsis there, as this book truly takes some wild turns and I’d hate to spoil anything for the next potential reader. Going into Seconds blind (which sounds a lot cooler than saying I checked out a book without reading the description on the cover) turned out to be a good decision. I knew when I picked it up that if I didn’t connect with the story, I’d at least have loved the art and I wasn’t expecting any of the twists that came along.

Wait! One last thing! The art! That’s what I’ll leave you with. If you liked O’Malley’s art in Scott Pilgrim then you’ll love it in Seconds. His style is still the same but it feels very unique to this story. My favorite character design is Lis with her white hair and red eyes. She is somehow creepy and adorable in the same panel and has an epic sense of style thanks to Hazel’s contributions to her wardrobe. Now, go! Pick up a copy of Seconds and tell us what you thought of it!

Check the PPLC catalog for Seconds.

 

 


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Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

undereggThirteen-year-old Theo Tenpenny has a lot on her shoulders. A few months ago she watched her grandfather, Jack, collapse in the street and die. Ever since then it has been her primary responsibility to feed the chickens, tend the garden, repair the house, and pay the bills with the meager $463.00 remaining to the Tenpenny family. Theo has a mother, of course, but she stays locked in her room all day, compulsively working out math problems and drinking expensive tea.

Theo doesn’t complain, though, because she knows that if she doesn’t buckle down, everything Jack worked for will come to ruin. She does wish however that she knew what Jack meant in his last words: “Under the egg… a letter… and a treasure.” Theo couldn’t care less about a letter, but she could really use that treasure right about now. Little does she know that right around the corner lies the meaning of Jack’s words—and a discovery that will change everything.

This story could be described as The DaVinci Code for middle-schoolers. Under the Egg was masterfully written, fast-paced, and full of amazing details. There was a great deal of knowledge imparted to the reader in the form of small asides that made the story educational as well as entertaining. It is not difficult imagine a person following up on one of these asides and beginning a brand new hobby in research.

The story is set in New York, and every character jumps off the page. The cast is wonderfully diverse, and each individual is unique and memorable, even if they only appear for a moment. Of course, Theo is the real stand-out. In the beginning she is a surly, do-it-yourself-er who is closed off from the world and unwilling to ask for help. Her transition into the local community is subtle and fantastic. There are no true villains in the story, merely people living out their lives, and, in the end, the reader will warm up to even the worst of the lot.

In short, Under the Egg is the whole package, and readers of any age should check it out.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Under the Egg.