Sunday, October 21, 2018

MMGM (10/22/2018): The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea by Eileen Beha

For MMGM, I am recommending The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea by Eileen Beha.

The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea is told from the point of view of a sock monkey named Throckmorton. Ten years earlier, a wealthy woman named Ethel Constance Easterling sewed Throckmorton, her 49th sock money, and gave him to her new great-granddaughter, Annaliese, continuing a long-held tradition. Annaliese loved Throckmorton as a young child, but, all of a sudden, she stopped paying attention to him. But when Throckmorton's original maker sends out invitations to her 90th birthday celebration, which require that attendees bring their sock monkeys, Annaliese and Throckmorton happily reunite. Problems at Annaliese's home, Eastcliff-by-the-Sea, remain, however: she is still a lonely girl with a sad/angry father, a mother who left for reasons unknown to Annaliese, a nanny who doesn't fit in well at the home, and two siblings who are soon to be sent to boarding school, leaving Annaliese alone. In the days leading up to the big birthday celebration, Annaliese and Throckmorton learn more about what exactly is going on in the Easterling family, persevere through hardships, and prepare for the party, where several shocking events change both Annaliese and Throckmorton's lives forever. One of the best parts of The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea is its characters. Throckmorton's third-person narration of the story does a great job of showing readers what it would be like to be a sock monkey, while Annaliese's remarkable personality allows her to keep going in her hard life, caring about others and bringing a spark of life to the world of the story. The story is rich with long-hidden family drama (which everyone loves when it isn't related to their families!), tales and traditions, and mystery. Other characters are wonderful as well, such as Annaliese's great-grandmother, whose remarkable eccentricities and wisdom make her a compelling addition to the story. Finally, the ending of the novel makes the 300-page read absolutely worth it, tying up story threads realistically and happily! The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea is a novel unlike any other, and readers young and old will adore the novel's fabulous characters, developed world, and hopeful and uplifting themes!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

MMGM (10/8/2018): Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

Sorry about my erratic posting schedule lately—life has become nothing short of insane! I have another graphic novel this week to recommend (they are helpful when I have almost no time to read): Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson. I hope to get back to posting more often—that may or may not be this month, but I'll try!

A few months ago, I read Greg Pattridge's review of Libenson's newer book, Positively Izzy, but I decided to read her debut graphic novel first. Invisible Emmie switches viewpoints between Emmie, an extremely quiet girl who loves to draw but hates to be around others, and Katie, an extremely popular girl who seems just about perfect. Emmie's part of the story looks like a book filled to the brim with illustrations (usually one or two per page), while Katie's storyline is drawn in traditional comic panels. The novel chronicles one day of school in which Emmie loses a silly but mortifying love note that she wrote with her friend, Brianna, and a mean student finds it and tells virtually the entire school. Katie (who shares Emmie's crush) attempts to help her, but it is ultimately up to Emmie to make the best of her situation, even if she is no longer as "invisible" as she used to be. Emmie is an excellent narrator for the majority of the story that she tells, interspersing silly doodles and visual gags with descriptions of her own anxiety and experiences. Katie may seem unrealistically perfect to the reader, but her qualities exist for a good reason (which will shock you when you learn it at the book's end!). Other characters in the book are great, too, such as Brianna, Emmie's super-smart and somewhat-bossy best friend (the same one who is a character in Positively Izzy), and some of the other students in the school, who gradually become more than just nameless faces. Finally, the art style of the novel is fun and cartoonish, and the use of dimmer, sadder colors in Emmie's portion and brighter, more vivid ones in Katie's portion helps to emphasize the two characters' different temperaments. All in all, Invisible Emmie is a fun-yet-poignant graphic novel that all readers, whether shy or not, will relate to and enjoy!