In first-time children’s author Pakzaban’s gently off-the-wall picture book, a little boy with an obsessive attachment to his tailor-made fancy pants learns a lesson in generosity and friendship.
Palace-dweller Pierre’s obsession with fashion begins as an infant when his mother embroiders his diapers with the initials LFP—short for Lord Fancy Pants. As he grows, Pierre lives up to his nickname, “insisting that his mother embroider giant letters in gold thread on the bottom of all of his fancy pants,” that “the best seamstress in the kingdom” be hired “to make beautiful clothes only for him,” and that his jackets be cut short in back to show his scrolled initials worked in gold thread. Strolling through the village to show off his fancy pants and shopping for silks and velvets in the village bazaar, LFP is the envy of the other children, and soon fancy pants become all the rage. (Lemaire’s pleasant watercolor-style illustrations render LFP’s adventures in sartorial splendor with a suitably light touch.) But when LFP snubs a village boy for wearing plain brown pants, and then oversees the creation of his own fanciest pair of pants yet, a lesson is in the offing. LFP’s new pants are so heavily encrusted with jewels he can hardly walk (“His pants were stiff and went all the way up to his underarms. They were ballooned at the knees in big billowy gold poofs”), and even his previously overindulgent parents laugh at the sight. The author’s not-so-subtle themes of sharing and friendship—and the other side of the coin, vanity and materialism—lead to a wiser Pierre when a mishap at the river involving his puppy leads to a rescue by the boy he snubbed earlier. Happy to have a friend to play with, Pierre generously donates his “old silly fancy pants” to all the children in the village, while the author offers a reassuring little twist at the end to say that caring about one’s appearance isn’t a bad thing and that it can be a boy thing, too. The author might consider, however, adding a line or two to show that LFP’s royal parents, who aided and abetted their son’s fancy-pants obsession from birth, learned a needed lesson, too.
An inventive take on the perils of excess and the pleasures of bigheartedness.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.