While some images prove banal, this work offers plenty of captivating photos.

MOMENT

A debut photography book features people from around the world.

Abad explains in the introduction to this collection of photographs that the main goal is to show kids “the world from a unique global perspective—through candid ‘moments’ in the daily lives of children from other countries.” In the pages that follow, images depict cities as disparate as Shanghai and Santiago, Chile. As the introduction suggests, most (though not all) of the photos tend to show ordinary people (particularly children) doing ordinary things. In Mexico City, a boy walks with his mother in front of a small food stand. In Kazakhstan, a girl presumably waits for a school bus. In Odisha, India, children play in the ocean. In Shanghai, people participate in what appears to be a snowball fight. Interspersed on pages between photos are a number of quotes. Some are famous, some less so. These include a statement from Salman Rushdie (“The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step out of the frame”) and an anonymous Asian proverb (“Only he that has traveled the road knows where the holes are deep”). In some places, readers are left to decipher what exactly is going on. In a picture of four young boys in Shanghai, one lies on the ground. Has the boy been hit? Are they playing some kind of game? While the circumstances are unclear, the photo shows an intriguing day for these children. Such casual shots make for the most thoughtful images. But some pictures have a generic quality. A photo of the Great Wall of China looks like many other shots of the landmark. Images of Havana with old buildings and vintage cars do not add much nuance to the typical images of Cuba readers might expect. Yet taken as a whole, the photos certainly spark questions for children and adults alike. What is it like to have a snowball fight in China or to cavort in the sea in Odisha? The book makes it clear there is much in even the everyday world to discover.

While some images prove banal, this work offers plenty of captivating photos.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-578-77039-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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