Christina Brookman

Christina Brookman (41)

When I first saw the title My Father Didn't Kill Himself, I thought I had misread it, so I reread it . . . and reread it. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it would be a really twisted adult novel; however, when I saw that it was, in fact, a junior adult book, well, I knew this would be a book of a different color and one I had to read. I am so glad I did. Suicide and death are not subjects we talk about often or openly discuss, especially with youth. I had a mentor commit suicide when I was in high school, and it devastated the community - adults and children alike - sending ripples of grief that are still there to this day. I wish there had been a book like this around then. How wonderful it would have been to grieve and read through Delilah's crazy adventures cuddled up in my blankets. I can only imagine the questions and discussions I could have had with my friends and parents.

Have you ever walked down the street when something catches your attention from the corner of your eye and stops you cold. Seconds later, you are startled by your own breath, because you didn’t realize you had stopped breathing? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me the first time I saw the cover of Camilla D’Errico’s Rainbow Children. Everything stopped and, suddenly, I was frozen in time with the girl on the cover. And then, as quickly as I was thrown into her world, I found myself sucked out, left haunted with the image of a young, innocent girl adorned in a crown of tentacles, crying a stream of rainbows tears. After glimpsing, or rather experiencing, the covering of Rainbow Children, you can’t help but want more. It would be like saying you will only have one bite of the most decadent bar of chocolates. That face, there are so many stories in her tears, so many questions you have for the world she comes from. You have to enter this book; you can't not dive into it head first - no going back. Rainbow Children is not just an art book, it is a portal into a very special world; a world inspired by pop art and anime along with childhood classics from the '80s, but, nevertheless, this world is very much D’Errico’s world, immortalized with the brushstrokes of her trademark sea creatures and dripping rainbows.

Hellboy is one of my favorite comic characters, so I was particularly excited to read Dark Horse’s recent release, Hellboy: Winter Special. What makes Hellboy so memorable amongst the plethora of comics out there is the emphasis on character, relationships, and timing. Your title character is, in reality, the antithesis of his name: just a little lovable pup with a big paw and a cigar. He is relatable and you laugh along in his insane adventures. This issue, however, reads as filler. Nothing is glaringly bad, just subpar; the laughs are there, but the story is just weak.

The Nites is a fun sci-fi adventure for young readers that is the first in a series of yet-to-be-published books by writer Charles Winters. It follows the story of Joe, a night watchman, and the bizarre happenings in his office while he is on shift. After Joe finds a strange, unknown object at work, he seeks out the advice of a professor from the local university. Both men's lives become entangled, along with Joe’s coworkers, as the days pass and still there is no answer as to what the object is or what strange occurrences are happening at Joe’s office. Tensions rise along with the ever-increasing sense of danger.  Winters is remarkable at building the feeling of unrest. The main character, while a little monotonous and predictable, is likable, as is the professor. Most importantly, the story is interesting and one that children will want to grab a hold of and relish. Here is where Winters' heart lies and where I see true potential in a series. If you don't have likable characters or an interesting story, particularly with children, you lose them. But, things that go bump in the night? A night watchman turned detective? There are a plethora of possibilities here that The Nites alludes will continue on in the series.

Snow Blind has all it needs to be a compelling and thrilling comic, but it just falls a little short. Set in the isolated landscape of Alaska, the creative team has set themselves up with a caveat of possibilities for their crime thriller series; the haunting watercolor image of a young boy and his dog wandering the snowy landscape with questions of his father’s past was enough to draw me in. But, will this be enough to keep the reader’s interest, not for just this first issue, but the entire series of four?

There is a simplistic didacticism woven into the folds of Julia's House for Lost Creatures that is both unexpected and refreshing. Upon first glance, this might look like your average children's book. The cover seems inviting with Julia, a charming young girl displaying a simple, sweet smile, her hand on her hip posing in front for her seaside house. Cuteness ensues when one notices the dragon tails, ghosts, and other various creatures peaking out of the house's windows; my inner child jumped in glee - eager to discover more about Julia, her house, and these creatures. Ben Hatke's beautiful drawings and heartwarming, child-friendly tale makes Julie's House for Lost Creatures a book that both parents and educators will want to explore with their children.

Magical. Transcendent. Inspired. It is difficult to capture in words what turning the pages of The Art of the Book of Life was like for me. Those who know me well know I am rarely at a loss for words; however, this book left me silent . . . just absorbing. I truly believe people come into your life at different times for a purpose. The Art of the Book of Life came into my life at just the right time, and, low and behold, I was lucky enough to be swept into a treasure trove of artistry, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of the upcoming animated film, The Book of Life, with a forward from none other than Guillermo del Torro, the film's producer!

RoboChuck is back for a third edition, and this time there is an fascinating air of macabre that is usually absent. This is, of course, not to say RoboChuck is not child friendly; it is absolutely for both adults and kids alike. RoboChuck #3, unlike its predecessors, which focused on introducing characters, starts to allude to the darker mystery of the missing persons in Flatland. The imagery Callahan uses perfectly depicts isolation, and, for a split second, I stopped laughing, haunted by the fate of a toon . . . a dot on a page. RoboChuck #3 has more of a politico feel, filled with laughs, but it is in this edition we grow up as an audience a little, we start to realize the brute reality of what is truly going on in this world, and how it is a reflection of our own.

It was somewhat ironic that I was reading a series of essays on fatherhood the week of Mother’s Day and, at the same time, poetically apropos. Women are always dying for a glimpse into the minds of men. It is rare we get to hear the male introspective view on parenthood; not just scholarly essays, but rather reflective, insightful, humorous stories filled with the emotion of Ben Tanzer’s Lost In Space. Lost in Space is a simple, yet powerful, memoir that will move you beyond words and leave you in stitches whether you are a parent or not.

When I heard that RoboChuck #2 had come out, I jumped at the opportunity to read it . . . and I was not let down. Chris Callahan packs in all the crafted artwork, zany, yet lovable, characters, and non-stop laughs of the first issue - and then some. RoboChuck is showing promise to be a series that will continue to maintain its quality and dare I say . . . like a fine wine, maybe even get better with each issue as you meet and fall in love with all of the characters.

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