Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas – Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

primatesPrimates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas  written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Maris Wicks is a book I think I will get hold of a copy of to make sure it’s available for the kids.

It’s a story in three parts, told from the point of view of the three researchers in turn, and is a fascinating look into some of the intense work, and the personal sacrifices, that has gone into gaining the knowledge I, for one, now take for granted about our fellow apes, the chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.

In fact, I’d pronounce it a pretty much perfect book, except I am so indescribably bothered by the colour choice for (and partly the faces of) the chimpanzees. Really. How do you get two of the three apes so right and the third so wrong?  If it wasn’t for the text insisting they really are meant to be chimps I’d be assuming that I was misunderstanding something fundamental.

Well, that aside, it’s still a cracking book, and if you have any interest in natural history (and you should have) you should read it, and if you want to encourage a similar interest in the kids in your life you should make sure they read it, too.

Wandering Son, Vol 8 – Takako Shimura

wanderingsonvol8I picked up Vol 1 of Wandering Son by Takako Shimura because it was displayed quite prominently at the main branch of the local library, and pretty much devoured the first 7 volumes in quick succession last year. I never got around to writing about it, and so thought I’d borrow one of them again as a reference to get a blog post down, but then found that Vol 8 had made its appearance, so I borrowed that instead.

The plot of Wandering Son centers around Shuichi Nitori, «a boy who wants to be a girl», and Shuichi’s friend Yoshino Takatsuki, «a girl who wants to be a boy» and I find it quite fascinating for a variety of reasons. There are another 7 volumes to go, and I will definitely be reading them all once they appear in English.

According to the wikipedia page, the series has received a lot of positive attention, but has also been criticized for the unrealistic maturity of the protagonists. To some extent I suppose there’s something in that. The series starts when Shuichi starts fifth grade at a new school, and on the whole most of the people he meets seem curious and accepting of gender bending, which has struck me as somewhat unrealistic. The only really antagonistic and, in contrast with all the rest, childish reactions come from Shuichi’s sister. And perhaps both Shuichi and Yoshino are more maturely self-aware than one could expect. On the other hand I suspect being transgender, in whatever degree or form, would tend to force self-awareness on any kid.

On the plus-side the artwork is delightful, deceptively simplistic. The characters may be unrealistically mature, but they are loveably human and I find it fascinating to follow their transition into puberty (which holds unusual challenges if you’re transgender) and their attempts at coming to terms with their identity.

The English edition is «unflipped», which means that though the text is translated, the pages are printed like the original, you need to start at what we’d consider to be the back of the book and read the panels from right to left. You’d think this would be tricky to keep track of, but once you’re into the story it’s such a page-turner that I really didn’t notice.

On the whole I highly reccommend Wandering Son. If you’ve been meaning to read more graphic novels, or try manga, this is a pretty good place to start. And for me it covers all of two topics on the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, so that’s a boon, too.


Low Moon & andre historier – Jason

jason_low_moonLow Moon & andre historier var også julegave, sammen med Delisle. Jeg har selvsagt lest Jason før, men bare kortere historier publisert i antologier/tegneserieblad. Jeg må vel ærlig innrømme at jeg ikke helt skjønner hva som er så stort med Jason.

Det er to ting som ikke funker for meg. For det første er det for lite tekst. Dette er rent subjektivt, og jeg vet ikke engang om det egentlig er det som er problemet (for jeg liker andre tegneserier med lite eller ingen tekst), men det føles som et problem når jeg leser Jason.

Det andre problemet er et problem for historiene, og det er kanskje også subjektivt, men jeg synes alle i persongalleriet hans er for like. Jeg sliter med å holde dem fra hverandre. Historien forsiden her er hentet fra er et godt eksempel. De to på bildet er hovedpersoner i historien, eller snarere historiene, for det er to parallelle. Men hovedforskjellen på dem visuelt er at han ene har prikker på kinnene, han andre hitlerbart. Det er greit nok når de er i samme rute, men det er rett og slett for lite info når jeg skal forsøke å følge dem som historien utspinner seg, jeg blir sittende og forsøke å huske hvem som er hvem. Dette gjentar seg i flere historier, og gjør at det blir slitsomt å lese.

Når det er sagt er nettopp den historien som omslagsbildet er hentet fra – den heter bare & – den jeg liker best i boka. Den har noe underfundig over seg som får meg til å humre, men den har også dybde.

Likevel, jeg er liksom ikke solgt. Boka havner på pluss-siden på liker<->liker ikke-skalaen, men bare så vidt.

Burma Chronicles – Guy Delisle

delisleBurma Chronicles by Guy Delisle was a Christmas gift and I read it during the Christmas holidays. Delisle is a Canadian cartoonist and animator, and this is his third (as far as I can gather) travelogue in graphic novel format. Delisle spent a year in Burma (Myanmar) with his wife who works for Doctors Without Borders and his son who was a baby at the time. The book chronicles their stay, the mundane, every-day workings of a household as well as the inevitable politically charged incidents.

Delisles artwork is, well, I was going to say flawless, but that might be stretching it a bit far. Let’s say «very good». The drawing style is deceptively simple, but catches enough detail to set the scene perfectly. Clever techniques are used to excellent effect, such as the trouble of drawing with ink in the rainy season:

delisle_regnHowever, as far as the narrative goes, I have a hard time deciding whether I love it or loathe it. There is, after all, no rule that says that a book from Burma must neccessarily be all about politics and suffering and so on. And to a certain extent some of the best sequences in the book involve Delisle going about his normal activities and accidentally stumbling into something that is loaded with meaning, or even menace, simply because this is Burma and not Canada. However, sometimes the white, male tourist takes over and makes me fundamentally uncomfortable. He keeps wanting to go into the forbidden zones, for example, and seems annoyingly unconcerned about the possible dangers, not only to himself, but to the people he’s with (if he’s caught traveling without a permit, surely that must create difficulties for the organisation his wife works for and those employees that actually need to be there?). And his sole reason for wanting to go seems to be pure curiosity, and smacks of slum tourism. Something which is not helped by panels like this:

delisle_skuffelse«This slum is not slummy enough», basically. He’s unimpressed by the forbidden zone. I’m unimpressed by his attitude.

To a certain extent Delisle’s «living in a priveleged bubble where nothing I do can hurt me»-attitude helps throw into relief some of the atrocities of a dictatorship like Burma, but it fails to work (for me) as often as it does work. So I don’t know.

Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh

hyperboleHyperbole and a Half is a book in the category: «I have to own this NOW». When Allie Brosh announced on the eponymous blog that one could buy it signed (or preorder, rather) I realised I HAD to have it signed. I therefore preordered from Powells in Portland, Oregon. An utterly wonderful bookshop, by the way, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood. In this case it was the only option for preordering signed copies willing to send the book to Norway. For a price, of course. Not an exorbitant amount, but I estimate I spent at least twice what I would have had to for an unsigned copy. Well, these things are what they are.

I can no longer remember when I discovered Hyperbole and a Half (the blog, that is). This is partly because on discovery I immediately went back and read the whole of it from the start. It was, however, quite definitely before the famous This Is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult, which contains the image you’ve most likely seen even if you’ve never read the blog, since it has evolved into a meme over the past couple of years.


In any case: The book contain 16 stories, most will be recognisable if you’ve read the blog, but there are additional drawings and various edits, and I, for one, am happy to have these in book form in any case. How the selection has been made, I don’t know, but as long as a selection has been made people are bound to miss a favourite that was not selected. This is the way of the world. However, since the book contains the very excellent «Depression» (in two parts), I am happy. It’s the sort of thing that should be mandatory reading.

I had so very few feelings, and everyone else had so many, and it felt like they were having all of them in front of me at once. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

Brosh excels both at the drawings, which are deceptively simple, and at the storytelling, where she twists the language to express things in surprising, but perfect ways.

Other favourites in the book are «The Simple Dog» – where Allie tries to assess the intelligence of her dog and hilarity ensues, for the reader, anyway – and «Lost in the Woods» – which is insanely funny to read, but was probably quite terrifying to live through.

In short: Read it! Also buy it! And really, it would be a perfect Christmas gift, so you might as well buy a few copies while you’re at it.

Here, in conclusion, is a snap of my signed copy:


Julies bokbabbel har også lest boka.

Castle Waiting Vol. I and Castle Waiting Vol. II – Linda Medley

castlewaiting1I finally got around to buying Volume II of Castle Waiting recently. Once I started it, I realised pretty quickly that I really needed to reread Volume I first. So I did.

Linda Medley’s fairytale world is a charming, if sometimes quite disturbing, place. The first volume starts with a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from some of the peripheral characters’ point of view, which helps explain the existence of the castle as a refuge. The plot then moves on to Jain, who flees an abusive marriage and travels, pregnant, in search of Castle Waiting. Though people claim it’s just a legend, Jain is sure it exsists, and she has a map her father, who travelled widely in business, has drawn to guide her. After a long trip and a few adventures she arrives and is heartily welcomed by the castle’s inhabitants. As she makes herself at home and gets used to life at the castle, she is told the stories both of the castle and of the various inhabitants bit by bit, and these backstories make up a large part of the book. In volume one the main story, apart from Jain’s, is Sister Peace’s retelling of parts of her life and of how the Solicitine Nuns, an order of nuns conisiting solely of bearded ladies, came into being.

castlewaiting2The story continues in Volume II, which starts off with Rackham, the steward, giving Jain a tour of the castle. Guests arrive, two *ahem* dwarves (there is disagreement in the book around whether this is an acceptable term or not), or Hammerlings. We learn more of them, and of the slightly mysterious smith Henry, as well as more of Jain’s backstory (though far less than one could wish).

On the whole, the main problem with Castle Waiting is that there is no more (yet?). Linda Medley is officially «taking a break from writing any more chapters», so let’s hope she returns to it eventually.

So what makes Castle Waiting so special? Well, the drawings are superb, the dialogue natural, the characters lovable (well, except when they’re not supposed to be). Moreover they are lovable despite, or even because of, their flaws. Just like real human beings, in fact. Medley borrows elements liberally from fairytales and folklore, Castle Waiting is a treasure trove of a character gallery for intertextuality freaks like me. Oh, and then there’s the babywearing, of course:

Babywearing while touring the castle, we like!


But more than anything what makes Castle Waiting so special is the effortless acceptance and celebration of difference, which comes from the knowledge that everyone has a story, that everyone needs acknowledgement and that everyone has a contribution to make.

The Sandman: Season of Mists and A Game of You – Neil Gaiman

I’ve had The Sandman on my wishlist for a while, and got some for Christmas 2011 (which I read at the beginning of 2012, but neglected to blog about) and two for Christmas 2012. However, I had to exchange one because I goofed, I put vol. 3 onwards on my wishlist, but I already had 3. Luckily, Outland were nice about it and let me exchange vol. 3 for vol. 5, so I have now just finished vol. 4 Season of Mists and vol. 5 A Game of You.

Every volume I have read so far is beautiful in its own way. The cast of characters, both the recurring ones and the ones who appear in only one storyline, are by turns electrifying, charming, terrifying and lovable, but always fascinating. The themes are far-reaching and open ended, leaving more questions than they answer. Gaiman borrows lavishly from pretty much every mythology, and puts his loot to good use.

And on top of that the illustrators do their job beautifully throughout.

In Season of Mists, Dream of the Endless accidentally (sort of) aquires the key to hell, and much chaos ensues while he tries to figure out what to do with it. Along the way we get chilling images of boarding school life as well as philosophical musings on the role of hell and humankind’s need for punishment.


A Game of You appeals to me even more, with its captivating set of somewhat lost humans getting involved in something far beyond their conscious imaginings.

It’s hard to say much more without spoilers, I find. I’ll leave it there.

Bokbloggturnéen: Drabant

DrabantDrabant skulle vært omtalt i bokbloggturnéen i slutten av juni, men ble forsinket fra distributør og det er først nå jeg har hatt tid til å sette meg ned og skrive noe fornuftig om den. Ja, altså, hvor fornuftig det blir får vi vel se på…

Drabant er en grafisk roman med handling fra grafittimiljøet i Oslo. Året er 1994 og kommunen ruster opp kampen mot «vandalene». 16 år gamle Fredrik, alias Deks, blir kjent med den noen år eldre Viktor, alias Senc, og virvles inn i mer enn han har kontroll over.

Mikael Noguchis strek er suveren. Grafittielementer blandes med mer «klassisk» strek til en imponerende helhet, og bildene suger deg inn i historien.

Men så var det den historien, da. For der må jeg innrømme at jeg ble skuffet. Jeg hadde veldig lyst til å like denne boka, men jeg klarer ikke å få tak på hva Øyvind Holen vil med det han forteller, og selv om Fredriks sjebne til å begynne med fenger meg, så mister jeg interessen et stykke uti og slutter å bry meg. Det er mulig det er den prektige siden av meg som slår inn, for selv om jeg har sympati for fremmedgjort drabantungdom, og selv om jeg til en viss grad var (og er) på grafittikunstnernes side, så har jeg fint lite til overs for bruk av dop – og enda mindre for langing. (Ja, jeg skjønner at langing er en fristende måte å skaffe seg penger og status på. Ja, jeg skjønner at dop kan være en fristende virkelighetsflukt når livet er forjævlig. Likevel.) Og Drabant klarer i alle fall ikke å gi meg noen overbevisende grunn til å skifte mening om den saken (ikke at jeg tror hensikten er å overbevise meg om at jeg bør bli doplanger), og dermed opprettholde min interesse for hvordan det skal gå med hovedpersonen.

Likevel anbefaler jeg å ta en titt på boka om du liker grafiske romaner, eller bare er nysgjerrig på dem. For som sagt er illustrasjonene i en klasse for seg selv.

Ingaplinga var på lista etter meg, men fikk skrevet omtale for en stund siden. Hun er mer positiv enn meg, men har en annen – og kanskje mer faglig relevant – innvendig mot dop-tematikken.

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

persepolisVi har kommet til Midtøsten i Lyrans jorden rundtutfordring og jeg valgte meg Persepolis, siden den tross alt har stått på «skal lese snart»-lista en stund.

Jeg tror jeg hadde litt for høye forventninger til denne, eller kanskje litt feil forventninger? Jeg er glad i grafiske romaner, så det burde ikke være formatet som hemmer meg, men jeg ble litt mindre engasjert i Satrapis historie enn jeg kunne ønsket. For all del, boka var opplysende, tegningene er til dels svært talende (om de sier mer enn tusen ord skal jeg ikke gi meg ut på en diskusjon om) og jeg fikk et nytt innblikk i det å vokse opp i Iran. Men… Nei, jeg vet ikke. Jeg ble liksom ikke helt fenget.

A different sort of catch-up post

I’m going to a bookcrossing meetup this afternoon, and have gathered a pile of books to bring, most of them bookcrossing copies that have been lying around for over a year without being read, and I feel it’s time to let them go. But then the odd one shows up that I have read, but that I have neither journaled nor blogged. Remiss of me. So here:

Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler was sent to me as an rabck. I had it on my wishlist following a discussion in the forums about travelogues written by women. I actually read it when I said I would, that is following the reread of Aubrey/Maturin last winter, but I didn’t want to wild release it, and so it ended up on a pile of «need some effort on these» books and has been neglected ever since. The book is pretty good, and I did enjoy it, but it didn’t quite hit its mark with me. I think one reason is I simply don’t understand the obsessive fascination with Antarctica (or the poles) which Sara Wheeler certainly seems to share with a lot of people, and she doesn’t really help me understand it either. I’m not suggesting she should have explained better, as I’m pretty sure it’s not something one can explain, like a phobia, obsession is hardly rational, but I do wish she’d made me feel it. Without that the book is a bit too long, too dry, dare I say too cold? Still, worth reading. I’ll try to find someone who wants it this afternoon.

Alice by Lela Dowlings is a graphic rendition of Alice in Wonderland and is simply wonderful. I’m putting it on my «be on the lookout for» list, as I want this in my permanent collection, but this copy is travelling on.

Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold is a competent fantasy, with clever use of Chinese cultural symbols and with the nicely executed «people with affinity with animals» theme that I’ve come to expect from Lindskold. First in a series, and I’ll be looking for the rest, but I don’t think I’ll reread, so I will register and bring it today.