Books I read in June 2010

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Cover of "Thuvia, Maid of Mars"
Cover of Thuvia, Maid of Mars

Picture Books

  • Manatee Winter by Kathleen Zoehfeld
  • Tiki Tiki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieszka
  • Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck
  • Loud Emily by Alex O’Neill
  • Harry’s Box by Angela McAllister

Manatee Winter is touching without being heavy-handed.  Worth reading if you want to garner sympathy for manatees.  Cowboy and Octopus is funny, especially if read aloud.  Loud Emily is nice for girls or boys who are always being shushed.


  • Escape  to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
  • Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Androids are Coming.  Edited by Robert Silverberg.

Order of the Arrow was violent and thoroughly repulsive.  Escape to Witch Mountain was easy reading, though very outdated.  Thuvia, Maid of Mars was pleasure that I refuse to feel guilt for.  It was so much fun reading it again after all these years.  It’s a simple love story with several frays thrown in for good measure.  The Androids are Coming – inquiry into what it means to be human.


  • Stitches by David Small
  • Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto #1, #2
  • Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya #1, #2
  • Bleach by Tite Kubo #1, #2, #3
  • Foiled by Jane Yolen  & Mike Cavallaro
  • Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
  • The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith
  • Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg
  • Fall in Love Like a Comic by Chitose Yagami #1 & #2
  • Black Bird by Kanoko Sakurakoji #1
  • Tail of the Moon by Rinko Ueda #1
  • Shinobi Life by Shoko Konami #1

Lots of good comics this month.

Stitches was painful and exhilarating and ugly and beautiful.  It’s the horrible story of David Small’s childhood.  It reminded me of A Child Called It but with a poetic touch.  It ends quietly and triumphantly; I am grateful that I read it.

I’m reading 3 bestselling series:  Bleach, Naruto and Fruits Basket.  I’m liking Bleach best but the other two are entertaining as well.

Foiled by Jane Yolen is deceptively simple.  It’s about a young fencer who discovers she’s living in the midst of a fantasy world. I plan to buy it and reread it more carefully.  I want there to be a sequel.

Robot Dreams is wordless story of friendship between a dog and robot.  Not my favorite but there was nothing wrong with it.  With the Dragonslayer, Jeff Smith is getting a little less exuberant.  I wish things would stay small and funny and not veer into high fantasy.  Plain Janes tried to hard for me but I have nothing against young people challenging the status quo through art.

Black Bird is a story of a bird demon who falls in love with a human girl who is pursued by denizens of the supernatural world.  Tail of the Moon is a perky story of a clumsy ninjette who needs to marry a ninja leader to satisfy her family honor.  Shinobi Life is a fun story of a time traveling ninja who believes he’s found his princess in the person of a raucous contemporary girl.  All three please me enormously and I plan to collect all of them.


Ninjas and Office Ladies and Sparkles

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Shinobi Life 1
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I went to Barnes and Noble today and bought three manga:  Shinobi LifeButterflies, Flowers; and Otomen.

I haven’t read them yet but here are the plots.

Shinobi Life by Shoko Conami is about a modern girl Beni who is suicidal and uncouth in her speech.  A thug is attacking her when a ninja falls into the future from the distant past to save her.  He thinks she’s the princess that he has sworn to protect.  She thinks he’s crazy.  The first couple of pages are funny and I like the slightly simple artwork.  I’m not big on ninja but he’s very cute.

Butterflies, Flowers by Yuki Yoshihara.  The title refers to raising a child as gently as you would handle a butterfly or a blossom.  There’s nothing delicate about the story though.  It concerns an inept office lady named Choko who comes from an aristocratic but impoverished family.  Her boss Masayuki is openly set on tormenting her but in a moment of stress, he reveals that he was her family’s chauffeur’s son.  Choko used to adore the boy he was but it’s hard to see that boy in the arrogant man he’s become.  It’s much funnier than it sounds.  For instance, he tells her to say to him, “I look forward to working with you, Director Domoto. ♥”  She repeats the sentence.  Then he insists on the “♥” at the end.  She responds, “”  How could you not like her after that?

Some reviewers were disturbed by the overt sexual harassment in the story.   I’ll have to read more to see if the narration condones the inequality between them.  At the moment, it is much less off-putting than Hot Gimmick.

Otomen by Aya Kanno.  Asuka acts like the perfect male teen (at least in manga): good at sports, emotionally repressed, last minute rescuing of damsels in distress.  However, he has an embarrassing secret.  He likes girly stuff: plushies, romance comics, sewing, preparing bento.  But then he meets the girl of his dreams Ryo who really likes his macho display when he rescues her from thugs.  Now he must keep his secret and win her heart.

My favorite part of the opening pages is when he wanders through stores while pondering his dilemma with Ryo.  He finds himself in the PINK aisle.  You know the one where there’s nothing but pink tulle and glittering tiaras all the way down the aisle.  He stands there surrounded by sparkles and giggling plushies.  He succumbs, of course and comes home with piles of girly stuff.

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