Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Cool Guy Interviews Another

About Me!About Me!There's a terrific guy book blogger named Daniel Johnson who runs a site called The Readers and Writers Paradise. He started blogging when he was TWELVE and has been at it for five years, making some really great recommendations along the way. He also writes his own stories and--get this--makes audio recordings of great short stories! This guy does it all! You can find his reviews in his Archives sections and his stories and recordings under the proper tabs on his page. Daniel is now seventeen and still writing about books boys like, although, since he's grown up a bit, he has started writing about YA stuff. We became blogosphere friends this year and he was good enough to interview me in his latest post. Take a look here. Thanks, Daniel! I'm really thankful for guys like you carrying the word about great guy reading.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Turkey Is Thankful For...

It's November again and that means it's time to think of all the good things I have to be thankful for.
NO, it's NOT the time to start putting Christmas presents under the tree, although most of the world seems to think that way if you look at the stores. It's the month for THANKSGIVING! Then next holiday can wait until December. It's time to look around and see how much we can be grateful for. And if you think even for half a minute, you could come up with a lot.

Here are a few random things of my own:

I'm thankful that the Charlotte Mecklenburg library is in such good shape. We have survived the massive budget cuts of 4 years ago and are thriving once more. And I'm grateful for leaders like Mr. Lee Keesler and Mr. David Singleton, who guide us faithfully and well, as well as Trilby Meeks, my own supervisor, who not only makes the Myers Park library a terrific place to work but also encourages to write about guy books!

I'm thankful for great loggers like Ms. Yingling and Betsy Bird, two grownup bloggers who have turned me on good books and some of my favorites series like Percy Jackson, Brixton Brothers and Alvin Ho. I'm also thankful for boy bloggers like Erik and Daniel, actual boy bloggers who spread the good word about guy reading.

And I'm grateful for truly cool books for guys that are out there now. The pickings were rather slim when I was a lad; now there so many that I can't keep up them all! Here are two, just in time for
Veteran's Day. And they are about World War I, a war that, as I heard, "is fast fading from memory." That's a shame because it was a huge part of our history and deserves to be remembered.

View full imageWar is full of terrible things (you'll see that in the next review) but sometimes it brings out the best--courage, friendship and loyalty. That's what makes Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I's Bravest Dog by Ann Bausum such a terrific book. It's the story of  a WWI soldier, the dog that latched on to him and what happens to them in the Great War. While J. Robert Conroy, a young man from New Britain, Connecticut, drilled with his fellow soldiers on the athletic fields of Yale University, he attracted the attention of a stray Boston  bull terrier. They called the dog "Stubby" because his tail had been clipped so short. Soon Conroy and Stubby became best friends. Stubby was a smart dog; Conroy even taught Stubby to salute! All the men loved Stubby and he became the unit's mascot. But then they had to ship overseas to fight in France. (this was before the days of air flight) How could Conroy sneak a dog onto a ship? And even if he did, how could a dog survive the trenches, shelling and gas attacks of WWI? You won't find out if you don't read this book! But what a story! There's a special bond between a guy and his dog that nothing, not even a war, can break and this is one of the best such stories I've ever read. And those pictures!! How could anybody resist that friendly, smiling dog? Every guy will wish he had a dog like Stubby!

View full imageOne of the most entertaining, exciting and extraordinary new book series is a set of graphic novels about----no, not interstellar shootouts or magicians blasting each other with wands or spies fighting ninja-style. They're about HISTORY! Who'd of thought it? But that's what Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series is about. And these books make history not only come alive but fill it with adventure and excitement--not to mention a big dash of humor. (You can see my review of one of the books, Big Bad Ironclad, here) This one, Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood is all about World War I. I've read a bit about WWI over the years but few things have ever made it as compelling as this.
If you don't know the story, the whole idea behind this series is that Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary War spy who was hanged by the British, fell into a giant history book and knows what will happen to the United States. He gets the hangman and the British officer to keep from hanging him by telling them stories from America's future. In this book he tells the terrible story of the first World War. And what stories he tells them! You will long remember the soldiers who got lost in the fog during the battle of the Argonne, the fate of Private Juan, and the German officer who got a fort to surrender by knocking on the door! Yes, there is a lot of humor in here, much of it provided by the hangman who likes cute little animals. (Wait a minute--a hangman who likes cute little animals!!??) Anyway there's lots of humor, as in his other books, but there's also the awful conditions and the terrible cost of war. In the end, was it worth it? You'll have to decide but you'll get plenty of information between the covers of this terrific book. Nathan Hale (yes,that really is the author/illustrator's name!) makes the complicated issues of this war easily understandable--in fact, I never understood the causes of WWI as well as I did until reading this. But don't worry, guys; this is not some boring, dry history textbook--this is history brought to vivid life with exciting stories and outstanding artwork. Guys, if you love graphic novels and good stories, you'll want to check this one out. And grownups and teachers, if you want a good resource on WWI, this is IT! Be sure to get to your local library and get one.

And if you know any veterans, be sure to thank them for all they've done for us.