Monday, October 24, 2011

Chopsticks - Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

While I was meandering through the showroom floor at SIBA11, trying my hardest to be good and only take books that made my pulse race, I stopped by the Penguin table.  And The Temptress, also known as Doni Kay, put this book in my hands and told me I had to read it.  She gave me the top-line synopsis (young piano prodigy's descent into madness told via pictures, scrapbook items and direct messages) and off I went, predictably, with my pulse racing.  I read the book that night in the hotel, despite my exhaustion.  And came back the next day to talk about it.  This book really WAS all that and an order of fries.  Let me give you a little more info about this creative mind-twister...

Synopsis:  Glory is a teenage piano prodigy that has been raised by her widowed father, and remembers her mother only through old photo albums and old wine bottles that she had collected.  One day, a handsome artistic boy moves in next door, and Glory becomes infatuated with him, creating tension between her and her father.  Glory steadily unravels and soon the only thing she can play on the piano is "chopsticks".

But as the story ends, the reader questions what is real and what is fantasy.

In a story told completely with photos, drawings, ticket stubs, Youtube links (that are real), direct messaging, and clipped newspaper articles, it is all about the power of observation and noticing the little details.  Guaranteed to inspire multiple re-reads.  (Publication date tentatively 11/1/11, marketed to ages 7th grade and up.)

My thoughts: My first regret is that I cannot show you pictures within this book...they are what makes this read something special.  Unfortunately my copy is an unfinished one, and Penguin isn't releasing the illustrations until the book is officially published.  But the concept is quite clever.  It is part scrapbook, part graphic novel, part "I-Spy" game, all telling a story that is a mystery. 

It may seem at first glance that you can flip this book casually, when you are killing a few minutes here and there.  If you do, you certainly are not going to pick up on the subtle clues buried within the pictures.  You are going to want to pay attention.

Which is, in fact, both the beauty and the downfall of this book.  Once you figure out what is really happening in the story, you break out into a big smile and go "Ohhhhhhhhh", then immediately flip back through the pages.  But the real question is, will the reader "get" it?  My 8th grade daughter read it and had no clue what was going on.  After Kathy finished it, she and I had to text awhile to talk through it.  I almost think it would be best to market this book by emphasizing the twists hidden within, so the reader knows to look for it.

I'm thrilled at this concept of scrapbooking stories, and letting pictures talk.  It goes beyond the graphic novel to something more visual, more intuitive, more tangible.  I saw one other novel at SIBA11 that was very similar called "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt" by Caroline Preston (review coming next Friday) that equally engages both sides of the brain.  I look forward to this new trend in literature.

4 out of 5 stars 

22 comments:

Nymeth said...

I love the scrapbook concept as well. I can't wait to take a peek at the final illustrations!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm all for new concepts that might entice new readers...as well as intrigue those of us "seasoned" readers (I started to type old but then changed my mind ;)
I'm curious as to how the reader reads the YouTube videos...would this be a book that would be marketed more for ebook format?

bermudaonion said...

Doni Kay is quite the temptress, isn't she? As you remember, I tried to flip through this book while we were at SIBA and it didn't work at all. I really enjoyed it when I had time to sit down and really look at it when I got home. The texts with you helped a lot too!

Jenny said...

This sounds good but I'm afraid I wouldn't get it!

Beth F said...

I like this trend too, but I'm less inclined to read a book that makes me run to my computer. I want my books to take me *away* from electronics. But I'll likely take a look.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm with Jenny - I'm sure I wouldn't get it either!

caite said...

interesting idea, but yes, will the target audience 'get' it since I am not sure I would. ;-)

Anita said...

IT sounds very interesting. I've not seen anything done like this yet, so I'll have to check it out.

Zibilee said...

Knowing what the twist is in this book will help me I think, as I might have a hard time picking up on the clues. I have been flipping through this one, but you are right, the intricacy of the way the story is told really begs a linear reading. Hoping to get to this one soon and let you know what I think. I am also going to be passing it to my daughter to see if she gets it as well. Wonderful and very engaging review, Sandy!

Melissa said...

Very cool idea..I spy, pictures!

Alyce said...

This book looks like it would be a fun read. I like the idea of having to figure out what's going on with multi-media resources. Fun!

Julie P. said...

I WANT this book!!! Sounds very cool!

Lauren said...

It's a really neat idea. The online aspect reminds me of The Amanda Project, while the pictures part is much like David Levithan's newest book Every you Every Me. And then the scrapbook part is quite similar to the Important Artifacts and Personal Property of Lenore Doolan.... book. So, I like that its' taken aspects already done and created something new.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

What a neat concept! I like the idea and layout a lot. Very cool.

christa @ mental foodie said...

Not something I'd pick in a million years based on the cover. But your review (and the scrap-booking concept - even though I'm not a scrapbooker) really intrigued me!

Melody said...

This sounds good! I'll have to check it out!

Carrie K. said...

Oh, man, another one for the to-read list!

Melissa said...

I love how different this one sounds! I will be reading this one!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

This is the second book I have seen today that includes pictures or a scrapbook. I read some reviews for Frankie Pratt today. I think both of these books will be must reads for me. Interesting idea..I just hope I can get it when I read it.

heidenkind said...

Interesting idea! I'm not sure I'd take time out of reading a book to chase down a YouTube link, though.

Kathleen said...

Wow, this sounds like a really interesting book. I wonder if it would fool me?

Alice Teh said...

I'm so looking out for this one. I like the idea and you piqued my interest BIG time. I can't wait. I can't wait!