FCBD: What About The Books? Part Two
For an explanation of my FCBD rating system, see the article "FCBD: What about the books? Part One" from Sunday, May 09.
FAME LADY GAGA / THE PUPPY SISTER FCBD flipbook (Bluewater)
FCBD titles with multiple and different stories are a real challenge for my ratings system, but I've handled it already (see last posting). If there is at least one worthwhile story in the bunch then my ratings will reflect that good story more rather than the bad apples so that readers won't overlook the title and decide not to taste it.
The latest in a series of biography books from Bluewater Productions, FAME begins this month with the LADY GAGA issue. The FCBD edition contains an eight-page preview of LADY GAGA as well as a five-page preview of the TAYLOR SWIFT bio scheduled for July release.
I haven't read all of Bluewater's biography titles (FEMALE FORCE, POLITICAL POWER, etc.) but the ones that I have were all different. These books are far from predictable. Sometimes the biography is told by a narrator and includes some fiction as bookends or throughout the factual information. Sometimes it's a fairly straight biography. This FCBD edition gives you a look at both versions.
The LADY GAGA story includes quite a bit of fiction. We discover some details about Lady Gaga at the same time the main character does, as he becomes interested in her and starts to explore her music and art.
The unidentified main character is a middle-aged slob spending most of his time slouched in a beat-up recliner in front of the television, watching MTV and complaining about the music while his equally sloppy wife tries to coax him into doing some household chores. His now-oversized Kurt Vonnegut custom t-shirt doesn't cover his belly anymore and his Bowie ball cap no doubt covers up his baldness. He's a bit of a music snob and a classic rock elitist. A video comes on featuring Lady Gaga and he becomes enchanted with her, running out to his local music store to pick up the latest cd and later researching everything about her via You Tube.
He's an unsympathetic character and a very unusual choice for this biography/story. Writer Dan Rafter is taking some liberties and chances here, risking the ire of the primary audience for this book (Lady Gaga teenage fans). I respect and admire that. He's certainly got my attention after 8 pages; and I want to know how he finishes this up. Rafter also seems very knowledgeable about modern music, as he references and name-drops bands, legendary music writers, and different genres. I think I'm going to have to check out another music biography if I see Rafter's name in the credits. Impressive. Artist Kristoffer Smith has an appealing style that reminds me of the better work of Humberto Ramos (but without the exaggerated fore-arms).
The TAYLOR SWIFT second feature is much shorter and very straight-forward. It seems tedious by comparison to the Lady Gaga piece. Caption boxes relate different facts and aspects of Swift's career as the pictures back up the text. I already knew that she was a very young, down-home, family values type of performer. What I didn't know and learned from this story is that she is also a very young humanitarian, giving some of her profits to various charitable agencies. That is admirable in a young person. Glad to hear that she has become a role model for many teenagers.
The flipside of the Bluewater FCBD book is an seven-page preview of THE PUPPY SISTER, an original graphic novel (for spring 2010 release) scripted by noted author S.E. Hinton with help from Don Smith. S. (Susan) E. (Eloise) Hinton has won numerous best books for young adults awards and is the author of "The Outsiders" and "Rumblefish" (both made into very powerful films).
On the surface THE PUPPY SISTER seems like a very simple tale for younger readers. But there are hints of a deeper story under the surface layer. Main character and middle school/teenager (not sure which) Nick gets a puppy instead of the brother or sister he was wishing for.(Could be a dramatic back-story behind that, I suspect).
What's interesting is that the captions are narrated by the puppy Aleasha, who is also reacting to the new owners just as they are trying to bond with her. During a highway rest stop, Aleasha breaks away from her leash to chase down a rabbit. The art by Yasir Fajardo is crisp and uncluttered, very open and friendly with vivid colors throughout.
COVER APPEAL = 3 POINTS. Lady Gaga ought to attract teenage readers. And anytime you have a flip book you have two chances in the display case, so that counts extra. Plus, the PUPPY SISTER has a very child-friendly cover. STORY = 2.25 POINTS. I'd go 3 if I was only rating the Lady Gaga story, but I'm rating this overall. ART = 2.25 POINTS. Good art throughout. Three different artists. Three different styles. YOUTH APPEAL = 3 POINTS. Grabs 'em young, and grabs 'em younger. NEW READER APPEAL = 1.5 POINTS. I don't think more seasoned readers are going to be attracted to this title.
PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS = 1 POINT. Just a website address on the credits page is all. On the upside = I respect that this FCBD edition is all story and free of ads. On the downside = an opportunity to list some other books available and indicate how diverse Bluewater's offerings are was missed. EXTRA BONUS = 1 POINT. I like 2 out of three stories here, with a hearty recommendation for the Lady Gaga (which I did not expect to enjoy!)
TOTAL SCORE = 14 POINTS. . . MEETS EXPECTATIONS. Above average and worth your time.