srsly Hamlet

hamletTitle: srsly Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone

Summary: I am a hardcore bardolator – I love Shakespeare. I read his plays for fun. I get really excited when new productions of his plays, especially the ‘boring’ historical ones, come to town. I’m the first person in line to see the latest movie adaptation. And yes – I am recommending a series of books that retells some of the greatest plays ever written using emojis. I know what you are thinking – I need to reconsider my membership to the Shakespeare Fan Club. I’m the last person I’d ever think would say this, but these books are so much fun! I expected to ‘hate-read’ them but as I kept turning pages, I found the design of the book, featuring not just emojis but all sorts of modern communication techniques, to be very, very charming. Take a look:

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These books are quick and light and probably best suited to readers who have already read the original plays or seen productions or film adaptations. Sometimes you just need a good laugh and these books provide that, making them perfect for end-of-summer reading. As the adapter of this volume, Courtney Carbone states perfectly in her dedication: “To all my extraordinary English teachers, I’m sorry.”

Who will like this book?: This book would put a smile of the face of pretty much any reader. It might make some Shakespeare lovers angry, but it’s all in good fun!

If you like this, try this: More books in the OMG Shakespeare series, including YOLO Juliet and the forthcoming Macbeth #killingit and A Midsummer Night (no filter). If you are interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s plays, along with his life and times, try DK’s The Shakespeare Book. And if you want to take a deep dive, read Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by critic Harold Bloom.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Cartoon History of the Modern World

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Title: The Cartoon History of the Modern World

Author: Larry Gonick

Summary: Starting with the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the current war in Iraq, this two-part graphic series tells the story of the personalities, movements, and catastrophes that make up Modern history. You might think you have a good grasp on the big picture – The Age of Exploration, The Renaissance and Reformation, The Industrial Revolution, Imperialism, etc, but author/illustrator Gonick has a special knack for highlighting  the important connections between people and events that are lesser-known, even to acknowledged history buffs.

Irreverant and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, Gonick will show you history in a whole new light. Read this book (pay special attention to the info-packed, literal ‘foot notes’ found on many pages) and impress your teachers!

Who will like this book? This is a great choice for older teens with an interest in American or European history. Readers who likes to get ‘the story behind the history.’

If you like this, try this: A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (adapted by Rebecca Stefoff.) Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Castle Waiting

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Title: Castle Waiting

Author/Illustrator: Linda Medley

Summary: What happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up? She leaves her enchanted castle behind to go live with her prince, of course! This imaginative graphic novel tells the story of those she left behind – ladies-in-waiting, magical creatures and other castle dwellers who also succumbed to the sleeping spell who wait…and wait…and wait for their princess to return.

The castle becomes legendary as a place for outcasts and wanderers, including the mysterious Lady Jain, taciturn Iron Henry, and the hilarious Sister Peaceful. Like any great fairy tale, there is no shortage of magical creatures wreaking havoc and clever solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Castle Waiting is a charming, fast-paced read and will leave you smiling.

Who will like this book?: Fans of fractured fairy tales and light-hearted, romantic, fun stories.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. For mature readers, the Fables series by Bill Willingham or books by Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, etc.)

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Full Metal Alchemist

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Title: Fullmetal Alchemist

Author: Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: Edward and Alphone (Al) Elric have been cursed ever since they tried to bring their mother back through transmutation. Edward has as an advanced-metal arm (automail) and leg, while Al is trapped inside a hollow suit of armor. The land they live is dominated by a military presence, ruled by the State Alchemists. When Ed is recruited, he and Al are drawn into a whirlpool of danger and discovery.

The Philospher’s Stone has the ability to make anyone the strongest person on earth – the catch is that it requires the death of hundreds of humans. The seven humunculi (the results of failed transmutations) are after the stone, as well as a mysterious Ishbalan named Scar. No doubt that Edward has joined the military at the right time: the country’s on the brink of another war between the Ishablans and the Military, the homunculi control the strongest people in the country like puppets, Scar’s on a killing spree, and Ed simply cannot get people to stop calling him short. Looks like it’s going to be another tough day for the Full Metal Alchemist.

Who will like this book?: It’s shonen (but I like it and I’m a girl). It’s kind of like action/fantasy. As depressing as the summary is–it’s a rather sad plot–there is a rather large amount of humor in it as well. Great for the violence & magic/alchemy lovers, and people who enjoy really in depth and twisting plots and historical metaphors, in this case World War II. (Note: Definitely not recommended it if you’ are strictly religious or don’t like stories that question or critique traditional Protestant/Christian ideas.)

If you like this, try this: Inuyasha, D.Gray-Man, Trinity Blood, Trigun, Phantasy Degree, Spiral, Black Cat, Hellsing.

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader

xxxHolic

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Title: xxxHolic

Author: Clamp

Summary: Kimihiro Watanuki has always been able to see spirits. When one day he is drawn to a mysterious shop, he meets the “Space-Time” Witch Yuuko. He is “given” a job there and finds out that Yuuko is willing to do deeds in return for something of equal value.  Not everyone can see the shop, and not everyone always gets what they want…as they are more twisted than they think. To add to the mystery, there’s Doumeki, who has been able to kill evil spirits, but cannot see them, and Himawari–Watanuki’s crush–who isn’t as innocent as she seems.

Who will like this book?: People into spirit/sci-fi stories and a little bit of mystery. It’s just as good as the other Clamp titles and if you read Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, it’s cool to see how these two link up, those it’s not necessary to read both to understand. It’s actually very funny and can be a light read at times.  It’s also a long series, so the plot develops more slowly, and some of the chapters may seem like fillers or mini-stories, but they’re all related. There’s also a lot about the Japanese culture, so if you’re into that, it’d be good to read the pages of culture explanations at the end.

If you like this, you should try: Anything by Clamp –Tsubasa, x/1999, legal drug, magical knights, etc. Also Tokyo Mew Mew, E.S., Dorothy of Oz, and D.N. Angel.

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader

Hunter X Hunter

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Title: Hunter X Hunter

Author: Yoshihiro Togashi

Summary: In order to find out about his father, Gon must first get a Hunter’s license, which requires going through various difficult trials. Thousands of applicants try out and only two or three make it per year. On the way, Gon meets up with Killua, the youngest son of a famous family of assassins, Kurapica, whois the last of his clan, and Leorio, a smart businessman. Together they face the trials, tricky competitors, and mortal danger. But the Hunters Test is only the beginning of the long journey the group must endure to find what they are looking for.

Who will like this book?: It’s aimed at males, but can be enjoyed by anybody. You have to enjoy a good fighting story with a fantasy touch.

If you like this, try this: Bleach, Naruto, D.Gray-man, Fullmetal Alchemist, and other Shonen-style manga. This is rated Older Teen (16+)

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader

Ranma 1/2

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Title: Ranma 1/2

Author: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: Ranma Saotome was your average guy until he fell into a cursed hot spring. Now whenever dowsed with hot water, he turns into a girl! Only cold water can change him back. Even worse, he just found out that he’s been engaged to a ill-tempered tomboy named Akane Tendo. Add in some crazy suitors, a panda father, a psychotic principal, some deadly cooking, and the Tendo school of martial arts, and you’ve got Ranma 1/2.

Who will like this book?: People into fighting, but not just boxing or sparring. Wacky martial art styles and weird twists are common, so you’ve got to be up for anything. There is romance too, and some nudity. This is rated Older Teen (16+)

If you like this, try this: Negima!, Inuyasha, Cowoy Bebop, Trigun.

Recommended by: ZZ, Fairfield resident and avid reader.