Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: Artsy-Fartsy

Title:  Artsy-Fartsy
Author/Illustrator:  Karla Oceanak/Kendra Spanjer
Review Copy Provided by:  Bailiwick Press

About the Book:  Aldo Zelnick is the star of a new comic novel series for children. Ten-year-old Aldo lives with his family in Colorado. He's not athletic like his older brother, he's not a rock hound like his best friend, but he does like bacon. And when his artist grandmother, Goosy, gives him a sketchbook to "record all his artsy-fartsy ideas" during summer vacation, it turns out Aldo is a pretty good cartoonist. In addition to an engaging cartoon story, Artsy-Fartsy includes an illustrated glossary of fun A words used throughout the book, such as absurd, abominable, and audacious. 

My Review:  This was my first comic novel, and I really enjoyed it.  The interspersing of pictures throughout the story, in paragraphs, on the edges, on pages of their own, etc., helped to make this one a fun, quick read.

Artsy-Fartsy was released in December 2009 as a book for kids aged 8-13.  It has a male main character, which I think is great!  The reason I think so many of my male students picked up Diary of  A Wimpy Kid was because it was about a boy.  I think they will pick this one up for the same reason. 

This book is centered around a red letter sketchbook that Aldo received from "Goosy," his grandmother.  In fact, the sketchbook is the book you are reading.  I had my students create Writing Notebooks in my class and this reminded me so much of what some of them did and what was my ultimate goal for their notebooks.  It is a place to write, draw, add your secrets, treasures, etc.  If I were back in the classroom, I would definitely use this book to inspire my students, especially the boys because they usually think the notebooks are more like diaries, which are for girls!

Aldo's not real sure what to put in his sketchbook, but as he adds thoughts, stories, drawings, he realizes that his sketchbook is whatever he wants it to be: a place to be himself.   And, he didn't even want the sketchbook at first, but by the end he may be ready for another one.  Interesting turn of events, right?

I love the added bonuses with this book.  Aldo uses and asterisks many "A" words in his sketchbook.  The definitions to all of these words is included in the back of the book.  You and/or your child can learn more about Aldo, hear how the words are pronounced, get recipes, coloring pages, see the author/illustrator's appearance schedule and sign up for the email list by visiting Aldo's Website.  Aldo is also on Twitter: @AldoZelnick

By the way, Artsy-Fartsy is the first book in the Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series.  I bet you're thinking, "since this book focused on 'A' words, then the next book must focus on 'B' words."  Well, you're absolutely right!  The next book in the series, coming Spring 2010, is Bogus

This just in from Bailiwick Press:

We're a Book of the Year Award Finalist!

Foreword Reviews just named Artsy-Fartsy a Book of the Year Award finalist in not one but TWO categories:

juvenile fiction

graphic novels!

The contest honors the best books published by independent publishers from across the country. The top three winners in each category will be announced at Book Expo America on May 25th.
Yay Aldo!

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