Archive for Reviews

June 2, 2009

Book I Edited Won an Award

How very cool! I spent most of last summer editing a book, Campus Calm University, by Maria Pascucci, who self-published it in the fall. About a week ago, Maria learned that the book won a Gold Gold Medal in 13th Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards!

If you have a child in college or know someone who has a child in college, I highly recommend Maria’s book. Not only is it superbly edited (heh, heh), but the subject is one near and dear to my heart. Maria wrote the book (and started her company, Campus Calm) to help students relax and live emotionally healthier lives while in college so that they set themselves on a lifelong path of fulfillment and success (which each person defines for herself). The book includes chapters on learning again how to love learning, being creative, focusing inward, thinking big, and just plain having fun. Pascucci doesn’t advocate being irresponsible and/or partying for four years; she advocates embracing the college experience by slowing down enough to figure out what you really love to learn and to do and then pursuing those things.

As you might imagine, the book’s stop-and-smell-the-roses theme resonated with me. Many of the things Maria writes about, from anxiety-ridden, over-scheduled students, to kids who take courses only to check off graduation requirements, to students who care only about their GPA and not what they’re learning, reflect perfectly what Mr. Enigma and I hope our children can avoid by being homeschoolers. They have the time to follow their interests and the environment in which to truly know themselves. We don’t ever want to hear them ask, literally or figuratively, “Will this be on the test?”

Seriously, I know I’m biased, but Campus Calm University is a great book and a great read for anyone — even us old folks out in the so-called real world — who has found him- or herself caught in the rat race and who feels stressed out and stuck. If you need some calm, on campus or off, check out Campus Calm University.

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January 13, 2008

Graphic Novel Review: The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs

weirdly world of strange eggs cover

I recently took a psychedelic trip through The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs, led by the Egg-Man. Goo goo g’joob.

In Chris Reilly, Steve Ahlquist, and Jeremy Mann’s all-ages graphic novel, the mysterious Egg-Man shows up in the tree in Kip and Kelly Hatcher’s yard, speaking in verse and offering eggs that can hatch into anything the kids’ imagination can conjure. (Hatchers. Eggs. Get it?)

Kip, the boy who emanates imagination, and Kelly, his older, logical, scientific sister, take in and hatch one of the eggs. But first they debate the best way to keep the egg warm: Kelly wants to build an incubator because it’s more precise; Kip wants to sit on the egg because it’s more motherly. Kelly’s reasoning wins — but it’s the last time her scientific solutions will prevail. She builds the incubator, and Hoop is born. I have no idea what kind of creature Hoop is, but then again, he isn’t a product of my imagination.

Hoop’s a bit of a trouble-maker. He tricks the kids and meets the Egg-Man to receive the next egg delivery. But this egg is an abomanog egg, which apparently means something abominable will hatch from it. And once this creature, Party Hat, hatches, the story just gets weird.

We have a blood-sucking Party Hat, a Willy-Wonka-like Egg-Man, fart-launched butt bats, a possessed veterinarian, and jelly. Lots and lots of jelly.

Strange Eggs, indeed. (Most peculiar, Mama!)
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December 16, 2007

Graphic Novel Review: Rex Libris: I, Librarian Volume I

Forget the image of the tight-lipped, bun-haired, aged, school-marmish librarian. She’s gone. If the Shifted Librarian hasn’t sufficiently stuffed her worn, tattered butt into the relic bin, Rex Libris will drive a stake through the old stereotype’s barely beating heart.

Rex Libris, the invention of illustrator-turned-comic book creator James Turner, is, according to the cover of my book, “The World’s Favorite Kick-Ass Sesquepedalian Librarian.” I don’t know what “sesquepedalian” means because it’s not in Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary. “Sesquipedalian” is there, though: it means “having many syllables” or “given to the use of long words.” Those definitions make some sense given that our hero, Rex, is incredibly well read and tosses out words like “floccinaucinihilipilification” willy-nilly.

Maybe that’s because he’s kind of old: he was born in ancient Greece (or was it Rome?). With his dark suit and tie, thick, dark-rimmed, bottle glasses and puffed-up torso, he looks like Clark Kent on steroids. But he’s no alien in tights; he’s the the weapon-toting, universe-trotting, several-thousand-year-old head librarian at Middleton Public Library. His job: to protect the collected knowledge of civilization by tracking down every last overdue book, no matter how many galaxies away it might be or how strong the forces of evil or ignorance that stand in his way. Or even how much brute force he has to use.

Volume I of Rex Libris follows Rex on his quest to recover an overdue copy of Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica from supreme warlord Vaglox of the planet Benzine Five. Rex accepts his assignment, given by his boss, the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, who lives in the bowels of the library, by saying, “You got it boss. I’ll get the book back an’ give him a few lumps for good measure.” Lucky for me my librarian still just charges a fine for overdue books.

But by this point we already know that Rex is no ordinary librarian. In fact, Chapter One opens with Rex doing battle with a demon spirit samurai who has come to the library looking for the book, Evil Made Easy. Rex will let the samurai can read the book in the library but won’t let him leave with it. Why? Because the demon spirit has no library card, of course! A fight ensues, naturally, and Rex lures the samurai the mythology section where he picks up Demon Samurai and How to Defeat Them, where he learns the best way to, well, defeat the demon samurai.

Knowledge is, indeed, power.
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