July 13th, 2013

Book with cat 1

It’s a Feudal, Feudal World / Kenta and The Big Wave / Orange is the New Black

I have a third kid's book coming to review; I wanted to wait and do all three at once in one post, but I had time tonight so I did the first two. For people less interested in book reviews, Orange is the new Black is a review of a "TV" (Netflix exclusive) show.

Both of the books fall under the "Book #30" umbrella in my book count for the year.

---

It’s a Feudal, Feudal World by Stephen Shapiro, art by Ross Kinnaird. (Link goes to Amazon CA, unavailable on Amazon US.)
(Book received for free for review from Annick Press Ltd.)

While described as a children's nonfiction book, I'd recommend It’s a Feudal, Feudal World to adults before I would to the average child. For being only 48 pages long, Feudal World packed an amazing amount of information about the Middle Ages into one book. The art style didn't really work for me, but the book sure had a good format for getting a lot of information across in easily accessible ways:


It was far, far from just dry boring facts, too:


I learned a whole lot, both "normal" things as well as silly stuff. It had everything from how a girl grew up into a Lady, to how to storm or defend a castle. (Did you know that in the Middle Ages a doctor never touched women?)

I suspect the average child might think this too much like actually learning (or would they be fooled by all the cartoonish art?), but any kid who liked to learn would be all over this book.

Either way, this was a great book and I fully recommend it.

---

Kenta and The Big Wave by Ruth Ohi.
(Book received for free for review from Annick Press Ltd.)

What a sweet, simple book. I loved the art style to death -- how does something so simple work so well?

I wish I could have shared one of the larger pictures, but shrinking them down did them no justice. The artist's landscapes done in this style were so simple yet beautiful.

Unlike It’s a Feudal, Feudal World, I would fully recommend this book for any child (or adult!). It tells the story of the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan, and how a boy lost his ball in it and how a boy in America found it and mailed it back to him. There's very little text, but more isn't needed.

Kenta and The Big Wave successfully conveyed that bad things do happen in life, but that people can get over them. The bad things could be small, like losing your ball, or big, like losing your home in a disaster (Kenta lost both), but in the end everything turned out okay. An important message for kids to see.

---

If you have Netflix and don't mind R-rated shows, Orange is the New Black is quite entertaining. I watched the first five or six eps today, and really enjoyed them. (Other than the opening theme, which for some reason is about twice as loud as the rest of the show and a music style I dislike.)

The plot of the show is about a white* woman who has to go to prison. It's not dark and gritty, it's more about the characters, their relationships, their crimes, etc. That makes it sound like some chick lit show, but it's not that either. (* I mention race because it's important in a prison environment, I'm not implying anything else.)

The women inmates and the mostly male staff are fascinating. Their backgrounds, their relationships. The ones with slight or major mental or physical issues. Sexual issues.

There's a smattering of humor, but it's mostly serious stuff. I'm far from an expert on prison, but it's realistic enough that I fully buy into it.

There are adult themes, which are sometimes graphic. Sex of all flavors (including surprisingly touching scenes between a guard and an inmate), language, tons of race issues. I can't think of a single case of violence thus far though, other than minor and brief fist fights.

It's very much worth checking out! It's made by the folks who did Weeds, and has that same flavor (though thus far without the wackiness).