It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.
This week I’ve got a bit of everything to share with you, so let’s jump right in!
I just finished re-reading a great historical nonfiction epic – In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. In 1829, the Essex set sail from Nantucket in search of lucrative, oil-rich sperm whales. Just over a year into its journey, the ship was rammed by a massive, eighty foot long male sperm whale, and quickly sank, leaving its twenty crewmen stranded on three small boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Fearing the reported cannibals of nearby islands, the men decided to sail 3,000 miles to the safety of South America. While only a limited supply of food and water and little protection from the elements, the men would spend the next THREE MONTHS adrift at sea, slowly succumbing one by one to starvation, thirst and exhaustion. Twenty men would escape the Essex, but how many would survive the sea?
This gripping, true-life story inspired a young sailor and writer named Herman Melville, who worked elements from the account of the Essex into Moby Dick. Part history, part social commentary, part survival story, it’s little wonder that this gripping tale was adapted into a film – it’s an incredible page-turner that will have readers at the edge of their seats. This is my second read-though, and I’m whipping through it like crazy. Definitely recommended, though not perhaps for the faint of heart – as one might expect, this perilous journey is not without its gruesome moments.
I also recently finished watching the second season of a Netflix original anime series: Knights of Sidonia.
The year is 3394. A thousand years before, the Earth was destroyed by a terrifying alien race known as Gauna. The last survivors of the human race escaped on hundreds of massive ships, but the Sidonia, with its 500,000 inhabitants, has lost contact with the other ships. Society has survived and thrived through the adoption of scientific advances such as photosynthesis, genetic engineering, cloning and asexual reproduction. Sidonia is under constant threat from relentless Gauna, and relies on mechanized, piloted weapons known as Guardians to keep the enemy at bay as they search for a safe planet to colonize.
In the first season, we met Nagate Tanikaze, a young man who was raised in isolation by his grandfather until the older man’s death. Tanikaze is your typical “chosen one” character – he’s awkward and weird and initially unpopular, but has incredible innate powers that eventually make him a hero and a leader. As the series progresses, Tanikaze has to adjust to his new role as a war hero, and builds relationships with his fellow pilots.
Knights of Sidonia has a very specific art style that’s unlike any other anime I’ve ever seen. The characters are drawn in such a minimal, simplistic way, and are often so over-exposed, that at times they are almost indistinguishable from each other. The action sequences, however, are beautifully rendered, and can be quite gripping to watch, with fantastic sound effects that bring the scenes to life. Similarly, the characters aren’t nearly as well developed as they are in other series – the emphasis is definitely on the larger storyline, and I don’t feel as invested in the characters as I could be. It’s a fascinating science fiction anime that really makes the most of the genre in terms of setting and world-building, but doesn’t quite give us as much character building and development as I would like. Still worth watching, though, if you’re a science fiction fan like I am!
Lastly, I finally got my hands on a wonderful new picture book from the reliably wonderful Sara O’Leary – A Family is a Family is a Family.
A teacher asks her students to think about what makes their families special. One child worries that her family is just too strange, too unusual, too special, and is hesitant to talk about her special family. As her classmates share stories about their own families, though, the child begins to realise that all families are special, in their wonderful own ways.
What makes A Family is a Family is a Family so special isn’t just its inclusive message, which has been addressed in picture books before. Rather it’s the sensitivity and subtlety with which O’Leary and Leng share their story that really sets this picture book apart. In their deft hands, A Family is a Family is a Family never becomes preachy, heavy handed or saccharine, and is instead a joyful, quirky celebration of family love. Clever, heartfelt and authentic, this is a new family classic that is a must-have for any library collection. Perhaps more than ever, it’s vital that our bookshelves be filled with books that celebrate and embrace the similarities and differences that make our world such a colourful and beautiful place. Highly, high recommended.
I hope everyone has a great week, and thanks so much for stopping by!