Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Super Stories

Code Name Verity is receiving a ton of praise and attention.  It's received five starred reviews, which is an astounding achievement.  Although it's YA, Code Name Verity is definitely a YA title that has crossover appeal for adults.  Elizabeth Wein's tale of a female spy and her pilot friend set during World War II is a haunting tale of friendship, courage, and loss.  Readers should know that descriptions of Nazi torture methods on Allied female prisoners are disturbing (and historically accurate), and the ending is quite heartbreaking.  It requires a careful read, as some details (names in particular) can be a bit confusing until the pieces begin to come together. I plan to reread it once the holds list dies down, or when it's closer to ALA book awards time.  That being said, it's a remarkable, memorable, and unique read.

Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!

Faster than a speeding bullet....

Up, up, and away!

Truth, justice, and the American way....

Even casual fans of Superman know the common catchphrases found in Superman comics, radio/television shows, and movies.  Although Superman may have temporarily taken a backseat to Batman and Spiderman in terms of movie franchises (although a new Superman movie is coming out next year, which should create new fans), he remains a classic in the superhero genre, 80 years from his initial creation.  Most people are familiar with Superman's creation story (born on planet Krypton and put in a rocket by his father before the planet disintegrated), but the actual story of his creation by two Jewish teens growing up in Depression-era Cleveland is probably not as well known.  Larry Tye has created an incredibly addictive read (sprinkled with humor, scandal, and empathy) that traces the history of this American icon, including his forays into fighting for social justice, the influence of different eras on Superman's storylines, the troubled and sometimes tragic lives of the creators and actors who played Superman, and the enormous influence (and backlash) enjoyed and received by comic books during the 1930s-50s.  The actual narrative is an even 300 pages; the remaining 100 pages are reference notes and appendices. I was tickled by the fact that the popularity of Superman comics was nearly even among both boys and girls and that librarians during the 1930s created (unofficial) Superman "seal of approval" labels on library books in order to entice young readers.  Tye frequently creates vignettes that are quite moving, such as Joe Shuster watching theatergoers arrive for the opening of the Superman Broadway musical and unable to afford a ticket to see a show based on his own creation; George Reeves's struggles with alcoholism, depression, and the inability to get non-Superman movie roles, and the murder of Jerry Siegel's father playing an important role in Superman's first stories.  Comic book fans will appreciate this definitive history of this enduring character.  It's also available on CD.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I think you're right that Verity is more YA. There's just so much going on. The Superman book looks interesting!