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Pants' Books & Stuff!

Hi there! I imagine you must be wondering what the heck is up with my blog name. The short answer is, Pants has become my internet handle in a lot of places where I hang out (somehow). I mainly read YA and comics, and I also frequently read speculative fiction of pretty much any kind. My other hobbies include watching anime and playing video games. Other random tidbits: I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences. I also have an affinity for tea.
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - Kazu Kibuishi
Introduction: I'm making up a pathfinder for good introductory graphic novel titles for older children (6-12 years; I also hope that it could be used as a list of core titles for librarians who might want some guidance) and I've found that it's actually an area in graphic novels I'm not very knowledgeable in. This title caught my eye it was edited by Kazu Kibuishi (of Amulet fame, which I have not read), and I've never read a graphic novel comprised of stand-alone short stories either, so I decided to give it a go and see if it would be a good pick for my pathfinder.

Under the Floorboards by Emily Carroll
This was deliciously creepy, but not so scary that it would scare off the intended audience (older children). The story kind of reminded me of a condensed version of Anya's Ghost I love Carroll's artstyle -- imagine Kate Beaton and Noelle Stephenson's artstyles having a love-child. (4/5)

Spring Cleaning by David Roman and Raina Telgemeier
I wanted to like this one more (I'm a fan of Telgemeier's work), but this one didn't grab me. In terms of tone and art style, it's quite different from the story that came just before it which was slightly jarring, and the narrative felt much more frantically paced and rushed. As always, I enjoyed Telgemeier's signature colourful and expressive art style, but a part of me was anticipating her doing something a little darker. (2.5/5)

The Keeper's Treasure by Jason Kafoe
This is a nice little fantasy piece that has a good dose of humour. I was a little torn on the art -- the line art for the protag was a little lacking, but the ogre-like character was wonderfully drawn and coloured. The backgrounds were also gorgeous, really bringing this little snapshot of the world to life. I was slightly confused by the "message" of the ending, but it was cute nonetheless. (3.5/5)

The Butter Thief by Rob Sechrist
Ohmigosh, the art in this story is CRAZY GOOD and beautiful to look at (though I wish there had been a bit more contrast in the colour and values). The story is very cute, though I am not at all familiar with the mythology it was based on (if it even was based on any real-world mythology, I'm not even `00% sure.) (4/5)

The Solder's Daughter by Stuart Livingston with Stephanie Ramirez
While the art in this was pretty solid, I wasn't so fond of the writing; it had an air of melodrama to it that felt too forced and almost laughable. The message of "WAR IS BAD FOR EVERYONE" is trite and overdone, though it may feel fresh and subversive for younger readers who haven't encountered these kinds of narratives yet. (2.5/5)

Whatzit by Joanne Matte with Saymone Phanekham
Loved the colourful and exaggerated art-style; it's wonderfully cartoony, clean and very professional. I am not at all surprised she did storyboards for Dreamworks (How to Drain Your Dragon) and Nickolodeon (Avatar: The Last Airbender). The story was super cute, and I loved the idea of everything in the universe being contained in boxes. It was impressive the amount of world-building Matte managed to fit into this short piece and without even really saying anything. (4/5)

The Escape Option by Kazu Kibuishi
Didn't really feel this one. I liked the art (it reminded me a lot of Kafoe's), but the story felt *too* clipped. Still, what Kibuishi managed to cram into such a short amount was impressive. (3/5)

Conclusion: For me, this collection was a little uneven (a risk all anthologies encounter), but I didn't despise any of the stories and I quite enjoyed others. The art was consistently solid, and the content was appropriate for the intended audience (while rarely being pandering or condescending). I'm still debating whether I'm going to include this on my pathfinder, but I think it's a good example of short stories in the graphic novel form.