Posts tagged Abrams Books
Posts tagged Abrams Books
An amazingly touching self portrait of a child coping with friendship, family and school after suddenly becoming deaf due to meningitis at age four. CeCe Bell is a normal kid who faces an extraordinary challenge adapting to a new environment of quiet, learning how to understand and communicate with her friends and family after her illness. Honest, intimate, poignant and funny, El Deafo is ultimately a joyous triumph of one’s girl’s determination to navigate her way through the various pitfalls inherent in childhood friendships, first crushes, teachers, classmates, parents and siblings while managing her hearing issues. Her phonic ear, the audio device which enables her to hear more acutely in school, gives her superpower hearing: the ability to hear her teacher wherever she is in the school building, thereby giving her a distinct advantage with her school friends when she reveals its attributes. As a graphic novel memoir, El Deafo is seamlessly engaging and surprisingly helpful, illustrating aspects of the life of a little girl dependent upon visual cues for connections with illustrated diagrams. The illustrations are loving and playful and are the genius behind the book. Cece’s double talent of writing and illustrating bring her childhood experiences to life in ways that every reader can identify. I enjoyed seeing it as much as reading it and as a reader, I was cheering her on along the way. A note from the author explains deafness and the deaf culture in more detail. Kudos, Cece Bell!
A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community (“IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?”) and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell’s earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe (“eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!”), and her invention of an alter ego—the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters (“How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?” she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)—all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece’s predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8–12. — Publishers Weekly starred review, 7/7/2014.
@trkravtin Have you looked at p 40 of Jabba yet?— OrigamiYoda (@OrigamiYoda) August 28, 2013
@OrigamiYoda I read it all voraciously, but I must have missed it! *scurries off to look again*— Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (@trkravtin) August 28, 2013
@OrigamiYoda OMG!!!!!! I DID miss it. *happy dance* TY— Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (@trkravtin) August 28, 2013
— Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (@trkravtin)
@trkravtin me too! Hi!— OrigamiYoda (@OrigamiYoda)
@origamiyoda Woot!— Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (@trkravtin)
— Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (@trkravtin)
We were! Tom was on the row in front of mine which I realized when we were on the approach into NY. In baggage claim we chatted it up, and took a picture.
@trkravtin We may be on same plane… I’m headed there too!— OrigamiYoda (@OrigamiYoda)
ABRAMS Amulet Books will be publishing the new illustrated middle grade series by bestselling author Jon Scieszka. The news broke over the holiday week via Publishers Weekly and ran an exclusive in the 12/24 print magazine. The series will not be published until fall 2014.
Senior Vice President and Publisher Susan Van Metre and Editorial Director Charles Kochman at ABRAMS Amulet Books imprint beat out five other children’s publishers for the first six books in a new illustrated middle grade series by bestselling author Jon Scieszka, the nation’s first National Ambassador of Children’s literature. Titled Frank Einstein, Kid Scientist and illustrated by Brian Biggs, the series is about a budding scientist who battles an evil genius with the help of two well-meaning but imperfect robots that he invents. The first book will appear in fall 2014. Scieszka’s longtime agent Steven Malk at Writers House orchestrated the deal. Amulet Books plans an extensive marketing and publicity campaign for the launch.
Jon Scieszka always wanted to be a kid science genius. The closest he got was winning a green “Participant” ribbon at his fourth grade Science Fair and dressing up one Halloween as a bloody Albert Einstein. Scieszka studied pre-med in college. He taught elementary school, including second grade science, in New York City for ten years. For over twenty years, he has been a children’s book writer, and is the author of The True Story of 3 Little Pigs!, The Stinky Cheese Man, the Time Warp Trio series, Math Curse, Science Verse, the Trucktown series, the Spaceheadz series, and more. In 2008, Scieszka was named the nation’s first National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. He is also the founder of the web-based literacy initiative for boys called Guys Read, and is the editor of the Guys Read Library of Great Reading series.
Founded by Harry N. Abrams in 1949, ABRAMS was the first company in the United States to specialize in the creation and distribution of art and illustrated books. Now a subsidiary of La Martinière Groupe, the company publishes visually stunning illustrated books in the areas of art, photography, cooking, interior and garden design, craft, architecture, entertainment, fashion, sports, pop culture, as well as children’s books and general interest titles. The company’s imprints include Abrams, Abrams ComicArts, Abrams Image, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Amulet Books, Abrams Appleseed, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, and STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books. Abrams also distributes books for The Vendome Press, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate, Royal Academy of Arts, Booth-Clibborn Editions, Five Continents and others.
It’s that time of year again, when “Best Books” lists make the rounds. This past week, there was exciting news from the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly in children’s books. Here are the notable books from the publishers I represent. Congratulations, all!
Infinity and Me from Carolrhoda Books Wins Prestigious New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Infinity and Me, written by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska, and published in 2012 by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group—has been named one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2012. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, The New York Times Best Illustrated awards are selected by a panel of judges from among the several thousand children’s books published this year. The annual special Children’s Book section will run in the November 11 Sunday Times Book Review.
In Infinity and Me author Kate Hosford and illustrator Gabi Swiatkowska explore the concept of infinity through the eyes of a little girl who can’t help feeling small when she peers up at the night sky. She begins to wonder about infinity. Is infinity a number that grows forever? Is it an endless racetrack? Could infinity be in an ice cream cone? The little girl soon finds that the ways to think about this big idea may just be … infinite.
“When Kate Hosford sent me the odd little picture-book dummy she’d made with her friend Gabi Swiatkowska, I was immediately smitten,” said Andrew Karre, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books. “It was an unusual way for a new project to come across my desk, but we’re ecstatic about the results and this award is a great confirmation. Kate, Gabi, editor Anna Cavallo, and designer Zach Marell did an outstanding job of realizing the potential of that odd little dummy.”
“I’ve been a long standing fan of Gabi’s unique artwork and I was excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with her on Infinity and Me,” said Zach Marell, creative director of Lerner Publishing Group. “Gabi’s distinct style and beautiful paintings were the perfect pairing for this special story.”
“We knew that this was a special book from the moment we saw the proposal,” said Adam Lerner, Lerner Publishing Group president and publisher. “We are thrilled that The New York Times fell in love with Infinity and Me as much as we did, and we are honored to win such a distinguished award.”
For more information about Infinity and Me, including a downloadable discussion guide and bookmark, visit www.lernerbooks.com or contact Lindsay Matvick, senior publicist, Lerner Publishing Group.
About Carolrhoda Books
Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, creates high-quality fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Founded in 1959, Lerner Publishing Group is one of the nation’s largest independent children’s book publishers and currently has thirteen imprints and divisions. For more information, visit www.lernerbooks.com or call 800-328-4929.
" … absolutely gorgeous. Gabi Swiatkowska’s illustrations are vivid and mesmerizing. Caldecott short lists will shift for sure with this release. Ladder this one with Math Curse, but keep it separate for its focus on grandmothers and their special brand of love; and in Transcendentalism units for discussions regarding how we find ourselves in the moment within an ever-changing universe.”
It’s testament to Klassen’s skills as a writer and an artist that a book with the exact plot of his previous one—hat is stolen, hat is sought, hat is retrieved at costs unknown—offers a reading that’s entirely different but just as delicious. This time, rather than focus on the victim, Klassen peeks into the giddy mind of a thief who thinks he’s gotten away with it.This Is Not My Hat
Like Klassen’s very funny and much-praised I Want My Hat Back, this story involves a hat theft; this time, Klassen ups the ante by having the thief narrate. It’s a small gray fish who has stolen a tiny bowler hat from a much larger fish (“It was too small for him anyway,” the little fish sniffs. “It fits me just right”). Klassen excels at using pictures to tell the parts of the story his unreliable narrators omit or evade. “There is someone who saw me already,” admits the little fish, about a goggle-eyed crab. “But he said he wouldn’t tell anyone which way I went. So I am not worried about that.” The spread tells another story; the crab betrays the small fish in a heartbeat, pointing to its hiding place, “where the plants are big and tall and close together.” Readers hope for the best, but after the big fish darts in, only one of them emerges, sporting the hat. It’s no surprise that the dominant color of the spreads is black. Tough times call for tough picture books. Ages 4–8.
Koertge wreaks bloody havoc through fairy tales from Rumpelstiltskin to Rapunzel, finding often unpleasant truths where no one thought to look. Dezsö’s cut-paper illustrations are no less sharp-edged, and these 23 giddy, grisly, and unexpected retellings take some very old stories in very new directions.Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
With sardonic wit and a decidedly contemporary sensibility, Koertge (Shakespeare Bats Cleanup) retells 23 classic fairy tales in free verse, written from the perspectives of iconic characters like Little Red Riding Hood, as well as maligned or minor figures such as the Mole from Thumbelina and Cinderella’s stepsisters. For the princess from the Princess and the Pea, hypersensitivity isn’t all that great (“A puppy licked me and I’ve still got a scar”), and the Little Match Girl appears in a poem with the rhythm of a rap song (“She’s selling CDs on the corner,/ fifty cents to any stoner,/ any homeboy with a boner”). Several stories trade happily ever after for disappointment and discontent, as with the danger-addicted queen in Rumpelstiltskin, or with Rapunzel, who is left with a moody prince instead of the attentive witch who locked her in. Dezsö’s cut-paper Scherenschnitte-style silhouettes nod toward Hans Christian Andersen’s own papercuts—if Andersen were creating a storyboard for the Saw franchise. From Bluebeard’s beheaded wives to a bloody dismemberment in “The Robber Bridegroom,” there are gruesome surprises throughout. A fiendishly clever and darkly funny collection. Ages 14–up.
This remarkable fictionalized account of the life of Nelson’s great-uncle, Harlem bookseller Lewis Michaux, offers powerful evidence of the change that one person can bring about in ways small and large. The voices of Harlem residents, bookstore visitors, and others form a chorus in tribute to Michaux and his influence, joined by abundant artwork, photography, and research.No Crystal Stair
Nelson and Christie, the team behind Bad News for Outlaws, blend photographs, original artwork, and archival materials with fictionalized first-person narratives to tell the story of Nelson’s great-uncle, Lewis Michaux, who opened a Harlem bookstore that served as a meeting place and symbol of black empowerment for 35 years. Tracing Lewis’s roots to a childhood filled with questioning and rebellion, Nelson alternates between Lewis’s voice and those of his parents, brothers, and others—characters who, like Lewis, spring to life on page. After rejecting a life in service of the church, Lewis leaves Virginia for Harlem, where in 1939 he opens the National Memorial African Bookstore, “by and about black people,” earning the nickname “the Professor.” The narrative expands to include the voices of Harlem business owners, residents, and store visitors over the decades, their stories and perspectives revealing how one man’s vision helped galvanize his community. Nelson and Christie deliver an engrossing blend of history, art, and storytelling in this deeply moving tribute to a singular individual. Final art not all seen by PW. Ages 12–18.
In this remarkable autobiography, Close gives readers a breathtakingly intimate window into the mind and thought process of an artist. His portraits are reproduced beautifully throughout; in tandem with Close’s no-holds-barred narrative, it’s an inspirational piece of work for anyone with an interest in or passion for art.Chuck Close: Face Book
This substantive autobiography concentrates on the evolution of painter Close’s massive portraits. In interview form, with children’s questions written atop the pages (“How do you make your pictures look so real?”), Close describes his work with candor and insight (“Inspiration is for amateurs. Artists just show up and get to work”). He explains how he coped first with a global learning deficit (“I still add and subtract by using the spots on dominos”), then with a collapsed artery in adulthood that left him a quadriplegic (“I had to figure out some way to be able to get back to work and make some money”). Yet it’s clear that he considers these setbacks of little significance compared to the shaping of his identity as an artist and the excitement of creating paintings. The high quality printing and lush colors of the reproductions make it easy for readers to share that excitement. A nifty mix-and-match section lets readers compare the methods used in 14 of the artist’s self-portraits, but Close’s examination of his own work provides more than enough gratification on its own. Ages 8–12.
In an ambitious and important work, Rappaport shares stories (some never before told) of real-life defiance, offering a heroic alternative to narratives that only portray Jews as helpless victims of Nazi genocide. Instead, she presents stories of dangerous and brave acts of resistance that speak to the human will to survive in the face of hatred and genocide.Beyond Courage
In a thoroughly researched project far more ambitious and expansive than her acclaimed picture-book nonfiction, Rappaport (Lady Liberty: A Biography) has assembled more than 20 stories of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, some never before told. From all corners of Nazi-occupied Europe, these harrowing accounts are heart-wrenching and hopeful as they pay tribute to the brave thousands who defied their oppressors in ways large and small. In one, 12-year-old Mordechai Shlayan sneaks explosives in his violin case and blows up a hotel where German officers are dining. In another, 22-year-old Marianne Cohn is caught smuggling children into Switzerland; she turns down an offer to escape to remain with some of the imprisoned children and is executed soon after. Introductions preceding each of the book’s five sections provide historical context; numerous photographs are sometimes graphic and often painfully poignant. Also included are maps, a pronunciation guide, bibliography, source notes, and index. These true stories, while at times hard to stomach, honor the incredible human spirit in the face of unimaginable suffering and torment. Ages 10–up.
I wasn’t in New York City very long this past week for publisher sales meetings and Book Expo America. Despite the fact that there were fifteen hour days in multiple succession, I don’t have much to show for it except exhaustion.
My colleague Angie Smits and I met Shelly Maycock for an after dinner drink. Not at the Candle Bar, but it made a good picture. Shelly and I were reps together fifteen years ago. My how time flies. I’ve been with Southern Territory Associates for ten years now. Shelly and I worked together for almost five years. Shelly was in NYC for a Shakespeare event at Yale, and by serendipity we were able to meet up.
We had meetings all day Sunday and Monday. This is our meeting room at the Hotel Beacon. Angie Smits photo.
Angie brought her Jubliee tea towel and bunting to decorate our desk. Angie was celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. Angie Smits photo.
Angie and Geoff Rizzo shopping for Jubilee memorabilia with the Queen. Angie Smits photo.
On Sunday evening, I invited Cindy Minnich to join STA for dinner. I got to meet her in real life after meeting her online through our avid dedication to books and reading. Cindy teaches high school in Pennsylvania and was in NYC to accept the Independent Book Blogger Award Young Adult & Children’s category on behalf of The Nerdy Book Club blog. Exciting!!
Angie Smits photo.
You can’t say we don’t try to have fun when we can. [Someone] borrowed Angie’s camera and surreptitiously snapped a photo while she stepped away from the table.
Another day of meetings and to end the day, we previewed the Steidl list for the fall. Included in the new titles, is a unique product for those who value the printed book: Paper Passions fragrance via Karl Lagerfeld. Angie Smits photo.
Dinner at The Tangled Vine with Geoff, Angie and Jan Fairchild.
Another end to a long day.
Bright and early Tuesday morning the first day of BEA, I found the lovely and gracious Raquelle Matos at the Candlewick booth. Raquelle works in the Boston Candlewick office, and we tweet frequently about our favorite Candlewick bears, books, authors, and illustrators.
STA colleagues Elaine Rathgeber and Rayner Krause at the Human Kinetics booth.
Lots of fun new plush dolls of book characters at the MerryMakers booth.
I spotted Cindy again in an aisle waiting patiently for an author signing!
At the Chronicle booth there were galley giveaways of an exciting middle grade book for kids, The Templeton Twins Have An Idea.
And a big poster in the aisle of the cover.
At the Sourcebooks booth, we met an author of an interesting book of Revolutionary era reporting coming this fall. Read about the Revolution as every other citizen did, as it happened. The author has an unprecedented collection of colonial era newspapers, and we got to see and touch them as he explained the significance of the substance of and the style in which the news was reported.
Rayner and Geoff with Abrams author Heather Ross in the Abrams meeting room.
Publicist extraordinaire Kalen Landow and Angie at the Taylor Trade booth inside the larger National Book Network booth.
Alas, Elaine and I made our way out of the Javits Center at 3 pm to stand in the taxi line, our show over until next year. We got a GREAT view of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel billboard. By some miracle, we finally got a cab, and I made my 5 pm flight home to Atlanta.
I called Erica and asked her to send a copy to the author right away. Sharing books with the perfect reader is a barometer for the potential audience for the book. I also made sure my teacher reader in Indiana had access to it. He teaches 11th grade AP language arts and has a wicked sense of humor and I knew he would love the book.
Fast forward. One day on Twitter the three of us found ourselves in a hilarious conversation on Twitter with the author, Jesse Andrews. It is so much fun to experience excitement about a new author, a fantastic reading experience, with other readers and the author, too!
Here is some of that Twitter banter, including some general tweets shared about the book.
@LaurelSnyder I’m reading a YA right now where the [main character] has these “imagined” scenes that read as screenplays #mglitchat
@LaurelSnyder Deeply satisfied, I retire to the HILARIOUS BOOK I’m reading. Nighty night!
@muellerspace Eavesdropping on you and the book you’re reading. Unless you seriously can’t tell us.
@LaurelSnyder Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Naughty eff-bomb laden YA about a geeky boy and a girl with cancer.
@LaurelSnyder Too soon to tell if it’s going to “go deeper” but I can say it’s brilliantly funny and kids will LOVE.
@LaurelSnyder Oh, & also— this awesome YA book is about a JEWISH kid. That’s right! First Mirka, then Inquisitor’s Apprentice and OJ, now this.
@LaurelSnyder And there are these screenplay thoughts/excerpts in the book. Oh, it’s GOOD. I predict big things.
@LaurelSnyder This book is a riot AND it’s about a girl with cancer. How does one do that?
@LaurelSnyder “It’s somehow worse to draw attention to the fact that there are two boobs. ‘You have nice boobs.’ Bad. ‘You have two nice boobs.’ Worse.”
@LaurelSnyder Oh, hell. This book is awesome. An awesome funny BOY-MC YA book. I cannot stop laughing. It’s Adrian Mole on speed, with lots of cussing.
@LaurelSnyder Okay… I’m officially starting a @swerdnaessej [Jesse Andrews’ Twitter name] fan club. Just finished his book & I cried from laughing, & then, umm… the other way too.
@trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I’m joining the fan club. Maybe we can get @PaulWHankins, too.
Paul W. Hankins:
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej I missed the thread, but if you’re talking about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I am in…
@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Abrams, & Amulet continue to provide readers with super titles in the humor genre.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej Okay. I just spewed Vernor’s all over my laptop. Earl’s first lines in the whole book? Too rich.
@trkravtin @PaulWHankins Are you laughing? @laurelsnyder @swerdnaessej
@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder I am a little worried you guys are all fake aliases my mom created to improve my self-esteem.
@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej @trkravtin I like it. Let’s play with him a little while. Let me look at his profile picture again.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Yep. As I suspected. Looks like Seinfield and De Niro had a love child. This makes for funny (wink).
@LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Hilarious romp about cancer, immobilizing self-awareness, family, class and donkey d*cks.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The most telling, most brutally honest look at the microcosm called high school.
@swerdnaessej @trkravtin @paulwhankins @laurelsnyder Oh man, you guys. I am legitimately verklempt right now.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder Earl is all the great sidekicks. If we do Hero’s Journey with this, we have to include his question.
@trkravtin @PaulWHankins I thought Earl was great, too. @swerdnaessej @laurelsnyder
@LaurelSnyder I thought Earl was VERY carefully balanced. Tricky stuff, that. But so smart, and so purposeful. @trkravtin @PaulWHankins @swerdnaessej
@PaulWHankins @LaurelSnyder @trkravtin @swerdnaessej I love how Earl is able to float among characters, infiltrate Greg Gaines.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @laurelsnyder@swerdnaessej “I know you’re Jewish but I just want to say something from the Bible.” Too funny.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej “She wanted us all to be ‘surprise Jews.” Meaning, with sneaky Anglo-Saxon names.” Classic.
@PaulWHankins @trkravtin @LaurelSnyder @swerdnaessej The main characters response to the news about Rachel. So authentic. This book’s a winner in 2012.
@LaurelSnyder Yes, this. So actual. So honest. And the growth is the same way, incremental, believable. @PaulWHankins @trkravtin @swerdnaessej
@swerdnaessej @LaurelSnyder @PaulWHankins @trkravtin Hurrah for you guys! And again, it’s fine if you’re all my mom/grandma, just please cop to it
@PaulWHankins 5 of 5 stars to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews bit.ly/t7RHjp
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 9781419701764 ABRAMS Books/Amulet Jesse Andrews $16.95 Cloth.
Laurel Synder is the author of many books for children. Her most recent novel is Bigger than a Bread Box, and her most recent picture book, Good night, laila tov, is brand spanking new and perfect for Earth Day!
Paul W. Hankins teaches 11th Grade English and AP English Language and Composition in southern Indiana. He is the creator/moderator of RAW INK Online, a digital learning community that connects his students with the Young Adult authors they are reading. Hankins created the hashtag campaign, #SpeakLoudly and co-hosts the new SpeakLoudly.org site with David Macinnis Gill. Hankins lives in southern Indiana with his wife, son, and daughter. A writer, Hankins’ work can be found in an anthology, Where Handstands Surprise Us and Motif 2: Chance.
Read my Goodreads review here.
Read Jesse’s post on the Abrams Blog here.
UPDATE: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a top six pick for the 2012 Spring New Voices for Teens by the American Booksellers for Children Association.
Kirkus *STARRED REVIEW*: “Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable…”
A frequently hysterical confessional from a teen narrator who won’t be able to convince readers he’s as unlikable as he wants them to believe.Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*: “One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.”
“I have no idea how to write this stupid book,” narrator Greg begins. Without answering the obvious question—just why is he writing “this stupid book”?—Greg lets readers in on plenty else. His filmmaking ambitions. His unlikely friendship with the unfortunately short, chain-smoking, foulmouthed, African-American Earl of the title. And his unlikelier friendship with Rachel, the titular “dying girl.” Punctuating his aggressively self-hating account with film scripts and digressions, he chronicles his senior year, in which his mother guilt-trips him into hanging out with Rachel, who has acute myelogenous leukemia. Almost professionally socially awkward, Greg navigates his unwanted relationship with Rachel by showing her the films he’s made with Earl, an oeuvre begun in fifth grade with their remake of Aguirre, Wrath of God. Greg’s uber-snarky narration is self-conscious in the extreme, resulting in lines like, “This entire paragraph is a moron.” Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being.
Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.
Greg Gaines, 17, would be the first to tell you that his constant “dickhead behavior” makes him the least likely person to befriend a classmate dying of leukemia. But he’s pushed into it by his mother and, well, the result is this “horrifyingly inane,” “unstoppable barf-fest” of a book. Greg prefers to keep a low-profile at school, instead collaborating with his almost-gangsta pal Earl on terrible remakes of classic films: Apocalypse Later with Super Soakers, The Manchurian Cat-idate with cats. But his knack for cracking jokes keeps the dying girl, Rachel, smiling, and pretty soon the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero. He’s even pushed into making a final opus: Rachel the Film, a.k.a “the worst film ever made.” One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book, highlighted by screenplay excerpts and Earl’s pissy wisdom. What’s crazy is how moving it becomes in spite of itself. The characters are neither smart or precocious. Greg is not suitably moved by Rachel’s struggle. His film sucks. He thinks “bereavement” means “being attacked by beavers.” But it’s this honest lack of profundity, and the struggle to overcome it, that makes Andrews’ debut actually kinda profound.