Monday, November 24, 2014

Monstrously Funny Cartons by Christopher Hart

book cover
Monstrously Funny Cartons
by Christopher Hart

ISBN-13: 978-0823007165
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: October 14, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Learn to draw the silliest and scariest monsters, zombies, vampires, witches, mummies, and other creepy cartoon favorites. Cartooning master Christopher Hart teaches aspiring artists all the drawing tips and tricks they need to create laugh-out-loud renditions of their favorite monsters and scary creatures.

This cartooning guide shows readers how to capture the lighter side of these creepy creatures by combining them with Hart's incredibly popular cartoon drawing style. Taking readers step-by-step through each monster type, Hart demonstrates how to draw everything from terrifyingly silly heads to wacky comic strip-like scenes of monstrous menace.

My Review:
Monstrously Funny Cartons is a step-by-step drawing guide for making funny monster cartoons. Much of the text is spent making jokes, so the main learning is done by the reader copying the drawing steps to replicate Hart's drawings. Once you've drawn his cartoons enough, the theory seems to be that you'll be able to start modifying them to make your own funny monsters. His target audience appears to be teens (and adults) who have some basic drawing experience but are content to learn by imitation.

He covered zombies (25 pages), vampires (37 pages), monsters that go bump (11 pages), cartoon aliens (9 pages), mummies (17 pages), legendary monsters (7 pages), weird & bizarre (17 pages), and scenes/backgrounds (19 pages). So nearly half the book is on zombies and vampires. In this book, he likes to make monsters "funny" by exaggerating features, so he gives hints and shows how to do this.

The text was mainly jokes, but he did have some teaching text. It ranged from "His ears are created with a combination of straight and curved lines" (which is obvious from the drawing) to "Push up the lower eyelids for a vengeful expression" (pages 42-42). He often didn't explain why you should make the feature that way, so you're left to guess if it's whim (and can be modified) or if there's an important, underlying reason to it.

I can see teens having a great deal of fun with this book and quickly creating a range of monsters of their own. I really like to know the "whys" before doing something and had expected to quickly be making original cartoons, and this book didn't really leave me feeling confident. I did enjoy making some cartoon aliens, though, as that section gave a bit more detail on coming up with your own designs.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chaucer's Tale by Paul Strohm

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Chaucer's Tale:
1386 and the Road to Canterbury by Paul Strohm

ISBN-13: 9780670026432
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult
Released: November 13, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A lively microbiography of Chaucer that tells the story of the tumultuous year that led to the creation of The Canterbury Tales.

In 1386, the middle-aged Chaucer was living in London, working as a mid-level bureaucrat and sometime poet. Chaucer was swept up in a series of events that left him jobless, a widower, and living isolated in the countryside of Kent without the close circle of friends with whom he had shared his poetry. At the loneliest time of his life, Chaucer made the revolutionary decision to write for a national audience, for posterity, and for fame.

Brought expertly to life by Paul Strohm, this is the eye-opening story of the birth one of the most celebrated literary creations of the English language.

My Review:
Chaucer's Tale is a biography about Chaucer with a focus on the events that led to his decision to write The Canterbury Tales. Not a lot of personal details are know about Chaucer. The author took what the records do say about him and then gave details about what life was like for a person in that position. He also described the politics that influenced Chaucer's life.

For example, we're told details about what life was like in London and how noisy and poorly-lighted his London gatehouse apartment would have been. We're told what the controller of the London wool customs did and what serving on a parliament would have been like so we get an idea of what his jobs were like. We're told what the literary scene was like--how poetry was usually written in certain ways and how it was read to a small audience rather than read in written form.

When the politics went bad, Chaucer lost his support structure and had to re-think his goals. He had to change his audience and writing style, which tapped into the social and technical changes that eventually brought him to fame.

The book was a quick, easy read. As I was more interested in the historical background of Chaucer's life than the man himself, I thoroughly enjoyed the details about the time period and the influences that prompted the creation of The Canterbury Tales. If you're looking for a lot of personal details about the man or a detailed critique of his writings, this may not be the book you're looking for.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Baby Care Book by Dr. Friedman, Dr. Saunders

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The Baby Care Book:
A Complete Guide from Birth to 12 Months Old by Dr. Jeremy Friedman
Dr. Norman Saunders

ISBN-13: 9780778801603
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Robert Rose
Released: September 14th 2007

Source: Borrowed from library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
The Baby Care Book is a clear, thoughtful and objective guide that helps parents raise a newborn. The subject of parenting is often confusing. The great value of this book is that it empowers parents with knowledge and allows them to make personal choices for each circumstance and situation.

Both authors are leading experts from the world-renowned Hospital for Sick Children. The Baby Care Book covers an extensive range of topics in clear, easy-to-understand language. Specially commissioned "real life" photographs throughout complement the text, providing additional instructions and information.

The chapters include: Getting Ready to Have Your Baby Your Baby's First Few Days Feeding Your Baby Your Baby's First Month Helping Your Baby to Sleep Your Baby's Months 2 and 3 Playing with Your Baby Your Baby's Months 4 to 6 Safety and Childproofing Your Baby's Months 7 to 12.

My Review:
The Baby Care Book is a book on baby care from prenatal to 12 months old. My my brother and his wife want to start their family. They asked my mom to be there when a baby is born, so she wanted to read up on the latest baby care information to make sure she remembered things correctly. I checked this book out of my library and gave it to her, and she gave me the following review of it:

"I was very impressed with this book. It covers everything you might have questions about and would be a good choice for first-time parents. It has good pictures--and many of them. It has a chart in the back for various illnesses and that chart directs you to the pages in the book that give more information. It's a good reference book for practical use. I recommended that [my brother and his wife] buy this book and read it."

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.