Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn (InfoSoup)
Samira is having a good day, enjoying school and spending time with her best friend, Frida. But then her teacher says something perfectly horrible. She explains that inside everybody is a skeleton with a skull, ribs, spine and more. Samira is horrified and soon can’t see anyone without seeing their skeleton without skin. She starts to avoid her classmates, particularly Frida. Luckily her mother has a great plan. She offers to remove Samira’s skeleton entirely right there in the kitchen. But Samira’s skeleton doesn’t want to lay still for the operation and runs outside and off to the park where Samira’s skeleton and Frida’s skeleton run around together and soon Samira can see Frida as herself once again. Of course, there is still tomorrow’s lesson to get through…
Samira is a child with a huge imagination, one that just won’t shut off easily either when it gets an idea. The story is a refreshing one with a parent who deals with the issue in a calm and playful way, saving the day. Samira herself is complex and interesting, a girl who visualizes ideas intensely, reacts to her own imagination with zing and has no problem being entirely herself.
The illustrations are fantastic with plenty of personality and good humor. Samira is an African-American child and her best friend is Caucasian. Another very clever aspect of this story is to show that we are all the same underneath our skin. So when Samira is seeing everyone as a skeleton, suddenly there is no race in the class, just bones. It’s a subtle message that the book introduces and never belabors.
A dynamic and funny look at the intersection of science and imagination. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff (InfoSoup)
Released March 8, 2016.
This second book in the Delilah Dirk graphic novel series will have fans cheering once again for this Victorian sword-wielding heroine. When an English army officer threatens Delilah’s good name, her thirst for revenge takes over. But Selim sees it in a calmer way, trying to divert her attention back to their travels. He wishes to travel to England, though Delilah has no interest in going there. That is until she discovers that it may be the way to take down the office who wronged her. Soon the two travelers are in England where Delilah reveals her own background and Selim attempts to enjoy his first trip there even as he is pressed into service for Delilah’s family.
This second book is just as delightful and refreshing as the first. Delilah stays entirely herself, taking on those doing wrong, defending her personal honor, and managing to have many amazing battles along the way with her sword whirling. Selim too remains the calm epicenter of Delilah’s world as the two of them travel together. He can’t get her to listen any better in this book, though in the end he seems to have known best all along. Their dynamic with one another is a major part of these books, the two of them both appreciating one another at times and then almost breaking into fist fights others. It was a particularly good choice to put their dynamic at risk in this book, making it all the more readable.
Cliff’s art is gorgeous. He has action galore here whether it is horses galloping or near escapes. Of course his battles in particular are incredibly done, frame after frame offering detail but also keeping the pacing brisk and the story line firmly in hand. The swirling skirts of Delilah match her swords and she fights in a most decidedly feminine and brutal way. It’s a delight to see.
Another winning Delilah Dirk book that anyone who loves a great sword fight will enjoy. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from copy received from First Second.