Why The Beach Boys Matter

Review by KC Carlson It’s a pretty tall order to tell the Beach Boys’ oft-confusing, decades-long history in a 176-page, 5″ x 7″ book, but Tom Smucker does an admirable job in Why The Beach Boys Matter, recently published by Music Matters/University of Texas Press. I admire someone who can write well about such a complex subject in such relatively short space. It’s important to note some of the many bands that didn’t have the longevity of The Beach Boys, […]

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Batman & Robin Crime Scene Investigations

This set of four hardcover storybooks makes up a new series in which the famous caped crimefighters use forensic investigation techniques to solve crimes. It’s a clever way to encourage scientific thinking and understanding the real-life background behind superhero adventures. The Batman & Robin Crime Scene Investigations series is written by Steve Korte, illustrated by Dario Brizuela, and published by Capstone Press. The subjects are well chosen: Fingerprints and footprints are classic mystery elements, while DNA keeps the heroes up-to-date […]

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The Question of the Dead Mistress

Fifth in the Asperger’s Mystery series, which started with The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen four years ago, The Question of the Dead Mistress is as enjoyable as any in the series, simply due to the character interactions. Samuel, who has Asperger’s syndrome, runs an agency called Questions Answered. Each of the volumes is spurred by an unusual question, which usually leads to a murder to solve. In this case, the question is, “Is […]

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Doctor Who: Tales of Terror

What an odd but effective mash-up. Doctor Who: Tales of Terror is a collection of twelve scary stories, each featuring one of the twelve Doctors. This would make an excellent Halloween gift for your favorite Whovian. I wouldn’t have thought to put the two together, but then I remembered that Doctor Who has lots of monsters in it, and particularly the fourth Doctor specialized in horror tales. This was put out by BBC Children’s Books, so nothing in it is […]

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The Two-Pencil Method

It’s been fascinating to see Mark Crilley’s how-to books move from genre, with the Mastering Manga trilogy, to a story about learning how to draw, to a set of illustrations with a wide variety of influences, to hyperrealistic art. His latest how-to book continues in the vein of that last one, although it could also be classed as almost fine art. The Two-Pencil Method: The Revolutionary Approach to Drawing It All is a series of instructions for using a regular […]

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20-Some Things I Learned From DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need To Know

Review by KC Carlson DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need To Know is a brand-new, 200-page book, published by DK, packed with information about the entire DC Universe (and its history). However, unlike previous DC Comics books from DK, it has a somewhat skewed sense of the minutia of the DCU that matches up with mine, so I’m finding it particularly entertaining and quite funny/absurd in places. I suspect the books’ four authors — Liz Marsham, Melanie Scott, Landry Q. […]

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Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian

I loved the concept of Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian when I heard about it, and I’m pleased to report that the book was as good as I hoped. Jacob Sager Weinstein wrote and Vera Brosgol (Leave Me Alone!) illustrated this twist on a classic spy adventure. Doctor Glockenspiel threatens to unleash an army of giant moths to eat the world’s books unless he’s given a lot of money. When the world’s best secret agents fail, it’s up to Lyric McKerrigan, […]

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Picture Book

I can see some of the critics I read in grad school frothing at the mouth. A kids’ picture book retelling a TV show? Degradation of the format! How dare those purveyors of mass media trash infect our previous children and their literary tastes? I think it’s a clever idea. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Picture Book, Kim Smith turns the fan-favorite series into a bedtime story with adorable younger versions of the cast. I loved it from the […]

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