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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Gem & Dixie

gem&dixieI had originally paired this read with another book (one that is now to be reviewed later) which happened to include sisters, but it was too fanciful and too light of a connection. I had even mentally titled that post “Hello, seestra,”  which delighted me, but as this week’s schedule fell apart, that title just seemed too flip, too light for this thoughtful read. So  instead we have a single book to examine, one with three starred reviews, and a place on the PW year-end list. This is absolutely and centrally a book about sisters, about how sisters sometimes can complete each other and still grow apart. It’s also about how families give us a place, and that place shapes our very selves. And it’s also a book that, despite being about the hard and harrowing ways our families can fail us, is a tender read.

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Year of the Beasts

Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell
Roaring Brook, May 2012
Reviewed from final copy

By my count, Year of the Beasts has received two stars; it’s in the buzz portion of our contenda list. Some of that buzz, I know, has been from me to Karyn: Cecil Castellucci is always doing interesting work, and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole blew me away a few years ago and I can’t wait to read it, I kept saying. I’ve actually been carrying this book around in my bag for months, starting it and then stopping because…well, I don’t know why, exactly. I just wanted to keep reading it, I think. (Don’t look for sense-making there.) So it seems having a hard deadline for a review is a good thing for this type of nonsensical situation. I don’t think Karyn wants to hear any more buzz from me until I can also tell her I actually read the book.

We have: summer, the end of school, the arrival of the carnival, sisters, friends, boys. But then fall arrives, and so do tragedies, Greek myths, panels and pictures. Told in alternating chapters, this is the story of Tessa and Lulu. Castellucci writes the summer chapters, the Then chapters. Tessa and Lulu had a hard summer; Tessa is the older sister, the plainer sister, the sister with a crush on Charlie. Lulu is younger, prettier — and Charlie only has eyes for her. Powell’s art takes over the fall chapters, the Now chapters, except that Now Tessa’s monster self is apparent; she is transformed into Medusa and her hard eyed glare turns friends and family into stone figures. Her friend, Celina, is a siren, a mermaid on a seashell. And Tessa can’t take her eyes off the Minotaur, a wounded, wandering figure that doesn’t want to speak to her. [Read more…]