Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Game for Swallows

A Game for Swallows: To die, to leave, to return by Zeina Abirached. Published 2012 by Graphic Universe.

This book has been compared to Persepolis and it is very similar having to do with war in the Middle East and in black and white graphic novel form. Where Persepolis takes place over years as one girl grows up amidst war in Iran, this novel takes place over the course of a night with subsequent flashbacks for different characters. This book explores the war in Lebanon in the 80s and how one apartment complex takes refuge in the foyer of one family's apartment sharing in their fears, hopes and anxieties.
The drawings are very rounded and seemingly simple creating a cartoon like feel but the claustrophobic crowding of the panels creates the feel of the apartment as more and more people come in for comfort and refuge. The speak bubble literally create the tension in the air as they wait to hear from the children's parents who have been missing for hours.
I think this book is a great history lesson and companion to other books on the subject of war in the Middle East or war in general.

Intended reading level: Grades 7+
Genre: Non-fiction, Graphic Novel, Memoir, War

Questions to the Reader: Would you want to stay in your family home and city or would you want to leave under similar circumstances? Why or why not? Why do you think all the neighbors gathered into the one home?

Read-alikes: Persepolis 1 and 2, Maus I and II


Freakling by Lana Krumwiede. Published 2012 by Candlewick Press.

Apparently my to-read stack is two years behind publishing dates. I don't know how other librarians have time to read everything as it comes in and before it hits the shelves; I wish I could be one of them but I guess I will always lag behind.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is another dystopian/sci-fi title where an alternate version of the earth in some unknown future date (or  past however you want to look at it) has a colony of people living on another side of a mountain that separates them from the Republik. This is not the most important part. The important part is that the reason they are separated is that they are people who all have the ability to wield psi--to be able to use their minds to do everyday tasks such as feed themselves, put on their clothes, drive psi vehicles, etc. Some people have more power and control of their psi and some don't have any at all. If you do not have psi you are sent to a town outside the city where you have to actually work as regular humans do, using zippers and forks and everything else hand related.

While this ploy seems highly improbable and absurd, the tale itself is action packed and interesting. The story focuses more on what power means and how one wields their powers in either a benign or malicious fashion. It also speaks to whether or not the powers we have should be used at all.

Intended reading level: Grades 4-7
Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopian

Question to the readers: What would you have chosen if you were Taemon? Do you think Taemon made the right choice? Why or why not? Would you want to be the True Son? What would you do if you had psi?

Read-alikes: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Matched by Ally Condie