Friday, January 31, 2014


After the previous installment in the graphic novel series (LEGO NINJAGO #5: KINGDOM OF THE SNAKES), the Spinjitzu masters, Jay, Cole, Zane, Kai, and Sensei Wu are left to travel on foot without the Weapons of Spinjitzu and without their powers. In LEGO NINJAGO #6: WARRIORS OF STONE they come across a forest made entirely of stone. At first they believe it to be some artistic masterpiece. However, it becomes clear that there is some kind of enchantment at work that has turned the forest to stone and it’s up to the Masters of Spinjitzu to discover exactly what that is. I was really impressed by the quality of this graphic novel. The illustrations are really colorful and look like an animated cartoon instead of panels from a graphic novel. I was also surprised at how good the story was. I wasn’t expecting a graphic novel about Lego ninjago warriors to keep my interest so well; I thought it would be kind of a kiddie version of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS with Legos. Instead, it was more like the original TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume in the series.

Graphic Novel Review: OTTO'S ORANGE DAY

The title character of OTTO’S ORANGE DAY is a young male kitten. Otto’s favorite color is orange. He likes it so much that he even makes up a song about it. One day a package arrives from his Aunt Sally Lee. Inside is a lamp. Otto begins to rub it to clean it up and out pops a Genie. The genie tells Otto he has one wish and Otto wishes that everything were orange. At first Otto loves the orange world, but then he starts to discover some of the less desirable effects. Will the world ever return to normal? If not, how will Otto cope in this totally orange land?

OTTO’S ORANGE DAY is a ToonBook and is a Level 3 Reader. It’s geared towards readers from about Kindergarten-1st grade. I enjoyed the book. I really liked how the story taught a couple of really good lessons (be careful about what you wish and be kind to others) without being preachy. Overall, OTTO’S ORANGE DAY is a great little graphic novel for young readers.

Final Weekend of Hard Road's DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

Tonight (Friday, January 31, 2014) and tomorrow night (Saturday, February 1, 2014) are the last chances for you to catch Hard Road Theatre's production of DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Showtimes begin at 7:30 p.m. Seating is limited, so it's recommended you order your tickets online (plus you save money that way).

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Jimmy Fallon's getting ready to take over THE TONIGHT SHOW and last night the guys from FULL HOUSE helped him overcome some of his fears.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Nostalgia sells in a big way. Everything that was old is new again. There’s a company, Curio and Co., that has come into existence by selling nostalgia. The company currently sells reproduced ads for a limited time soda, illustrated drawings from a 1960s animated tv show, reprinted volumes of a 1980s Italian comic book series, and a fan club collectors pin, among other items. The company is also responsible for printing FRANK AND HIS FRIEND: SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION, VOL. 1, a selected group of comic strips from the much beloved comic strip “Frank and His Friend.” However, there’s a catch: none of this stuff actually existed. It’s all been made up. All of it is cleverly created to look and feel like actual artifacts from days of yesteryear, but until the company released it, this stuff never existed.

“Frank and His Friend” is supposed to be a beloved comic strip that ran from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s. FRANK AND HIS FRIEND: SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION, VOL. 1 is the third book to feature these characters (FINDING FRANK AND HIS FRIEND was the first and that was followed by TIME FOR FRANK AND HIS FRIEND).  Frank is actually the stuffed person that the young boy in the strips carries with him. They go everywhere together and although Frank is stuffed, there are times that he seems to be alive (clearly building on the false history that “Frank and His Friend” were part of the inspiration for “Calvin and Hobbes”). The comics in the book look just like comic strips from the 1970s: the style is a perfect recreation of the period. The paper even has a feel to it of being an older book. The strips are also kind of fun to read. However, there’s not much that happens so there are no story arcs and very little characterization. The comics are just about a boy having fun and exploring the world with his favorite toy. It’s a simple book from a much simpler time, even if it never did exist.

Muppets Toyota Super Bowl Commerical

This Toyota Super Bowl commercial makes me want to buy a Toyota. A car commercial has never done that to me before.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: DINOSAURS #1: IN THE BEGINNING

From the fine folks at Papercutz, DINOSAURS #1: IN THE BEGINNING is a series of comic strips (ranging from one page to several pages) that works both as introduction for youngsters to the fascinating creatures we call dinosaurs as well as a book to increase the knowledge of someone who has already become enthralled with the creatures. The book is sort of narrated by Indino Jones, but he has help along the way from a bunch of compsognathi who often end up in some serious trouble. The book explains where the name dinosaur came from, what distinguishes dinosaurs from other creatures who lived the same time they did, where they lived, what they ate, how they behaved, etc. In total, the book examines about 17 different dinosaur species. There’s an index of terms at the very end as well as a list of some of the different dinosaur species (as well as important information about each one) that were examined in the book. I really enjoyed DINOSAURS #1: IN THE BEGINNING. I learned a couple things I didn’t know before, such as there’s a dinosaur that has the nickname of Elvisaurus. This would make a great book for any child interested in dinosaurs.


Benjamin Bear, the title character of the BENJAMIN BEAR IN FUZZY THINKING (which was nominated for an Eisner Award) created by French artist Philippe Coudray, is back in BENJAMIN BEAR IN BRIGHT IDEAS! Each page of the book is a comic that involves Benjamin. His friend Rabbit has returned and there a few newer recurring characters, too. Benjamin might not be a role model, but he is a character that kids will love. The theme of the book is thinking outside of the box. Some of the ideas are clever and some are unusual, but foolish (and sometimes funny). My two favorite strips in the book are when Benjamin decides to visit his friend goldfish at his house in the water and when rabbit draws a picture of Benjamin on a tree. BENJAMIN BEAR IN BRIGHT IDEAS! is a short, but entertaining book filled with simple and enduring illustrations. Recommended for kids in kindergarten – 3rd grades.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: THE BIG WET BALLOON

Written by Liniers, a famous artist from Argentina, THE BIG WET BALLOON is a short Toon Book about a young girl named Matilda and her sister Clemmie. On a rainy day, Matilda wants to go outside and play with Clemmie, but Clemmie won’t go. Matilda does everything in her power to illustrate to Clemmie the fun and joy of playing in the rain. I really liked the watercolor illustrations in this book. In terms of story, Toon Books are usually fairly short and THE BIG WET BALLOON isn’t any different. Nevertheless, I was expecting a little more to happen. Overall, THE BIG WET BALLOON is a beautifully illustrated Toon Book that youngsters will probably enjoy having read to them or flipping through the pages to look at the pictures.

Friday, January 24, 2014

B.J. Novak Becomes a Novelist

So, BJ Novak, one of the producers of the American THE OFFICE and on-again, off-again real life boyfriend of Mindy Kaling has a book of comical short stories coming out on February 4th. I'm not a big fan of celebrities who become authors. However, Novak has been writing for a long time and I'm willing to read his book. I love the promo they shot for it. Watch it below.

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Stay Away from the Sides

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Set in the world of Geronimo Stilton, THEA STILTON #1: THE SECRET OF WHALE ISLAND follows the adventures not of the famous mouse Geronimo, but his sister Thea. However, in THEA STILTON #1: THE SECRET OF WHALE ISLAND, Thea Stilton is not seen for much of the book. Instead the story focuses on the Thea Sisters, five female teenage mice who attend the Mouseford Academy where Thea is a journalism teacher. There’s some danger surrounding whale island as a lone orca keeps ramming into ships for no apparent reason. Meanwhile, the Mouseford Academy is all abuzz as Vanilla and Vic Vissen, children of multi-billionaire cosmetic queen Vissia de Vissen, arrive at Mouseford. The illustrations in the book are very colorful and the storyline is full of action. Although the series is definitely marketed towards girls, THEA STILTON #1: THE SECRET OF WHALE ISLAND is a story that boys will probably enjoy, too. I’d guess the reading level for the book is for those in 2nd-5th grades. Personally, I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading another book in the Thea Stilton series.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Opposite of Poverty Is Not "Enough"

I was listening to a Christian radio station the other day. The lady was talking about poverty and those in need and about a time she was on a mission trip. On this mission trip she said that one of the leaders had told them that the opposite of poverty isn't wealth, but "enough"; just by having enough is the opposite of poverty. I can understand why someone would say that, but it's just not true. Poverty is the absence of having enough while wealth is having excess of enough. Therefore, the opposite of poverty is not "enough". The opposite of poverty is wealth. Don't be deceived, even by those who mean the best.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


It’s no secret: I’m a big fan of the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine." In my opinion it's one of the best strips currently running in newspapers. As is often the case, much of the humor in this collection of “Pearls Before Swine” strips, UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT, comes in the form of witty one-liners, witty puns, and extensive verbal gags. The book features strips that ran from February 28, 2011 to December 4, 2011. Pastis’ pleasure in using Sunday strips for elaborate puns continues. Some of the major storylines featured in the collection include one where Larry the Croc becomes the Vice President of a neighborhood Kids Club treehouse, Rat returning to work at Joe’s Roastery, a story where aliens who are just anthromorphic beer cans visit the neighborhood, the imprisonment of Stephan Pastis for Rat’s anti-government tirades, and Zebra’s decision to build a huge wall to protect him from the Crocs. Characters from the comics “Dennis the Menance”, “Pluggers”, and “Peanuts” make appearances in a few of the strips. There’s also a great regular weekday strip where Pig gets a little bit of “revenge” on Rat on Opposite Day. I also like the Sunday Thanksgiving strip in this collection which features a tribute Charlie Brown. Overall, UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT is another great collection of "Pearls Before Swine" comic strips.


Benny and Penny, the lead characters of a series of graphic novels from Toon Books are back again in BENNY AND PENNY AND THE TOY BREAKER. In this story the brother and sister duo of Benny and Penny are informed that their cousin Bo has arrived. Quickly the siblings attempt to hide their toys because Bo always seems to break things. They do their best to hide their toys and not play with Bo while he's there. But Bo has a way of popping up when not expected. Something happens to Bo that causes him to not only reevaluate his behavior, but that also causes Benny and Penny to question they way they have been treating Bo. Toon Books are a great series of graphic novels published specifically for children. The Benny and Penny series is a popular series and BENNY AND PENNY AND THE TOY BREAKER doesn't disappoint.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: HEARTS by Thereza Rowe

HEARTS by Thereza Rowe is a Toon Book. For those unfamiliar, Toon Books is a company that publishes high-quality graphic novel specifically oriented toward children. Toon Books are distributed by Candlewick Press. HEARTS is a short story about a female fox named Penelope who loses her heart in the sea. Thus begins a dangerous voyage filled with sharks, cats, and other strange creatures to get her heart back. The images in the book are full of bright colors and the overall design of the illustrations are quite playful. However, in terms of content, there’s not much here. Also, I think the more symbolic elements of the story will be lost upon the younger readers that the book is oriented towards. Overall, HEARTS is a high-quality and brilliantly illustrated graphic novel, full of interesting illustrations, but somewhat confusing in plot.

Friday, January 10, 2014


BEDLAM is the 30th “Baby Blues” comic collection. It follows the daily lives of the humorous, but relatable MacPhersons clan: Dad Darryl, Mom Wanda, oldest daughter Zoe age 10, son Hammie age 7, and baby daughter Wren age 1. The strips in BEDLAM ran in newspapers from Dec. 4, 2011- Dec. 29, 2012. The book is full of typical “Baby Blues” humor: Wanda being overworked, Zoe complaining about fashion, Darryl trying to balance being the breadwinner while being a supportive husband and father. Unlike other collections of “Baby Blues”, there really aren’t many longer story arcs in the strip. There is about a week’s worth of strips where Wanda starts a blog and there’s another small collection of strips where Zoe borrows a jewel gun and goes nuts putting jewels on everything. Also, there seems to be a lot more strips that focus on Hammie and the adventures he gets into. The collection here is a good collection of “Baby Blues” strips.

However, there are a few flaws about the way that BEDLAM is published. I’m not sure why, but unlike the previous 29 collections, BEDLAM is almost twice the physical size of the previous 29 collections: instead of being an almost square of 9” X 8.5”, BEDLAM is 11” x 8.5”. There are many different comics that are published this way (for instance, several of the “Calvin and Hobbes” collections were published this way and most of the collections of “Zits” are published this way). However, if you have collected the previous 29 collections, BEDLAM doesn’t fit with them. Also, I’m not sure why, but there are a handful of Sunday strips in the book that are published over two pages. The illustrations are bigger, but some of the dialogue gets lost in the book binding, making them difficult to read. Therefore, even though the content is just as good, the format of BEDLAM makes it a level below the other books in the “Baby Blues” series.