I would be remiss in my duties as a graphic novel reviewer if I didn’t include some titles suitable for children. To be honest, it gives me a legitimate reason for reading them (like I really need an excuse). So, for my first foray into children’s GN’s (graphic novels), I chose a darling book called Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires.
Binky, the reader will discover, is no ordinary cat. He is a Space Cat, certified by F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), and it his mission to patrol his space station (home) and watch for aliens (bugs) in outer space (outside), all with his trusty toy mouse, Ted, by his side. He trains everyday to be on guard against the aliens, outsmarting and eating any that dare to invade his space station. When his humans have to leave the space station, Binky realizes he will need to build a rocket ship in order to protect them. Building his rocket from parts found throughout the house, he is ready to leave when he realizes he’s forgotten something. What could it be?
Binky the Space Cat is just plain adorable and you’ll find yourself laughing at his comic adventures, whether he is training on the flight simulator (also known as a ceiling fan) or building a rocket ship in his cat box. He’s a sweetly drawn fat cat that anyone would love, whether you’re a cat person or not. Even my husband found this book amusing. Kids will get a kick out of his vivid imagination as he continues in his quest to defeat bugs everywhere. It’s a fun read for all ages.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
Book Club Packs are now available at E.P. Foster library.
What is a Book Club Pack? A bag with 8 titles of a single book. Some supplemental items are included, like a reading guide or discussion questions.
How do I check the books out? One person uses a Ventura County Library card to check out all 8 books.
How long can I have the 8 books? You can check out the bag for one month at a time. In order to prepare for the next group, we will set your due date to the next-to-last day of the month. Late fines are $2.00 a day!
Can I have it sent to another library? In order to keep to our schedule, and so you don't lose days with the pack, we prefer you pick the bag up at Foster.
What titles do you have? Currently we have:
How do I sign up? Call Sara at 641-4414 and she will put you on the list for a month!
Featuring the work of Vietnamese artist Binh Pho, Shadow of the Turning focuses on art, philosophy and storytelling, yet is an entirely ficitonal story, blending the mythic worlds of fairy tale, fantasy, romance and adventure. Not surprisingly the characters find themselves journeying to Ojai where their lives are transformed.
The Giant Coreopsis is a woody perennial plant native to California and Baja California. The stem is a trunk that can grow up to 8 feet tall and up to 5 inches in diameter. Bright green leaves and flowers are on the top of the trunk, the rest of the trunk is bare. The flowers are yellow and daisy-like, which isn't too surprising since it is in the same family as sunflowers and daisies. The flowers are usually about 3 inches in diameter and bloom from mid to late February through the beginning of May, depending on weather conditions. In full bloom the plant looks very much like a bouquet of flowers growing on the coastal hillsides.
It has a bare trunk in summer and can be found on the north and central Southern California coast, the California Channel Islands, and further south on Guadalupe Island, Mexico. It thrives in frost-free areas because its stem is succulent. Storing water in this way makes the plants tolerant to drought but especially susceptible to frost. The name, Coreopsis, comes from the Greek word, koris, which means “bug”, and refers to the tick-like shape of its fruit. Individual leaves can be up to 10 inches long, are stringy and form shaggy clusters at the end of the branches. When their blooming season is over, the plants form ugly, alien-looking stalks. Once you've seen these unique plants in bloom, you'll never look at them the same way again.
You don't have to travel along the coast to see these amazing plants, which grow only in a limited corridor of our coastline. The Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in the Ventura Harbor has a botanical garden which features plants native to the Channel Islands, which includes the Giant Coreopsis. If you would like to find out more about these fascinating specimens, and other wildflowers native to California, you can check out these books at E. P. Foster Library.
We’ll be “Going Green @ the Library” celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Spring and recycling.
Our special guest is storyteller Jim Cogan with performances at 1:30pm and 3pm.
To promote book recycling bring a gently used children’s book and pick another book to take home. There will be Story Corners hosted by Simi Valley and Santa Susana High School drama students, coloring stations and a special craft.
Fun for all ages and it’s FREE! * * * Remember to wear green!
Though born more than a hundred years apart, these two authors shared a common ideological passion for life. The Reformation shaped the life of Miguel Cervantes, while it was the Enlightenment that gave Voltaire his perspective. Both periods shared a common theme of Church and State criticism and ridicule. The vehicle used by both to dispatch these institutions was satirical fiction. It was effective, often cruel, pointed and biting. And it got both writers into trouble on occasion.
The Reformation was a volatile time for Europeans. It was precipitated by earlier events, like the Western Schism, the expansion of the Moors into Spain and The Black Death, all of which eroded people’s faith in the Catholic Church. That along with the printing press and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire led Martin Luther to posting his “95 theses” condemning Catholicism . The Spanish Inquisition was also significant during this period, reaching its pinnacle before the taking of Grenada, ending the Muslim presence in Iberia in 1492.
The Age of Enlightenment was a cultural revolution, prompted by science and logic. Its purpose was to reform society with reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted science, skepticism and intellectual interchange, opposing superstition, intolerance and abuses by Church and State. Gone was the age of chivalry, to be replaced later by a naive optimism, the two main themes in the works of Cervantes and Voltaire.
DON QUIXOTE De La Mancha By Miguel Cervantes
Chivalry had died out during the Reformation, although the cornerstone of it (Might makes Right) was alive and well in Spanish Christendom. It was in the guise of the powerful Inquisition . (Interesting too, that the narrator calls himself, Cide Hamette Benengeli, an Arab of Moorish Spain. Its as if Cervantes wants to introduce the 1st great European novel to be written by a Muslim.)
Thus we find Alonso Quijano, a land owner from La Mancha . He is obsessed with his library of chivalrous books . Driven mad by the inconsistencies he perceives in his own time, he sets out to restore dignity to the lost profession of knight-errantry (as if to reform the Reformation).
He assembles a rudimentary sword, tarnished and dented suit of armor and a bowed plough horse named Rocinante, falsely perceiving himself to be a dashing Knight on his stallion steed in glimmering silver armor ; and then heads out into Spain in his quest for glory, calling himself, Don Quixote. Accompanied by his faithful , bloated and longsuffering squire, Sancho Panza, the two chase his dream through the contemporary countryside. The discussions between them along the way are endless and bizarre, in which Quixote’s heightened insane view of life come crashing down to earth with Sancho’s sly pragmatism. They are locked into mutually exclusive views of the world, even though one cannot do without the other. The reader faces in the same moment, an ideal world and the brutal facts of the real world.
Quixote tilts with windmills, thinking they are giants and fights with innkeepers he envisions to be ogres, causing heavy damage to their premises while also attempting to rescue a maiden in the form of a statue of the Virgin Mary from her captors only to get beaten up by priests. He acquaints himself with a scullery whore and names her Dulcinea, a noblewoman of refined qualities . We then wonder if he will ever see the world for what it is, laughing at every episodic adventure. But in the end, it is he who has the last laugh.
Yet we continue to read page after page, year after year, century after century of his adventures and faux conquests feeling quite sorry for the moribund hero. It is only when Quixote is confronted by the Knight of the Mirrors (a disguise by his neighbor ) in which The man from La Mancha recognizes his reflection for what it is, does the adventure cease. But with that, Cervantes craftily leads us to the recognition that even though the man was mad, his world view held more sanity than the real world about which he lived.
The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor
The Beatles were the One Direction of their day, or to put it correctly, One Direction are The Beatles of today. Few bands have been so loved for so long as the boys from Liverpool. My mother spent her teenage years listening to The Beatles. It’s a love that hasn’t faded, and it’s a love she passed on to me. I remember playing her albums (in the days before CDs and downloads to your IPod), singing along to the songs.
So, what’s the point of my reminiscing, you ask? Well, I’ve just finished a new graphic novel called Baby’s in Black. It’s about the early days of The Beatles, when the Fab Four was the Fab Five and they were playing small clubs in Germany, and had yet to make their big debut in America. At its core is the blossoming relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe (the fifth Beatle) and Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer. It tells of their first meeting and their instant attraction for one another. It details the early struggles the group had trying to make a living in Germany; of Sutcliffe’s renewed interest in painting; and his eventual departure from the group. It also tells of his growing headaches and fatigue, followed by his untimely death at age 21. Subtly alluded to at first, his condition is always acknowledged, but downplayed as merely working too hard.
The book is drawn in lovely black and white, and while the artwork may be simple by design, it is no less effective in the story it tells. Arne Bellstorf, who wrote and illustrated the book, does a fine job conveying a sweet love story between Stuart and Astrid, which is the real heart of the book. It’s actually a rather nice surprise to see it from Astrid’s point of view. John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete (Ringo Starr was not a part of the group at this time) are just teens who really want to play music. There is only a hint of the fame that is to come.
The characters are distinct enough to know who’s who, and the drawing is charming. At 196 pages, it certainly can’t go into massive detail about the events but it does a nice job of giving you enough of the story to know what’s going on. It’s a pleasant, nostalgic look at The Beatles before they were The Beatles.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess