Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cartoon Saturday-- Escape From Alcatraz and Sunny Makes a Splash

Sullivan, Tom. Unsolved Case Files: Jailbreak at Alcatraz: Frank Morris the Anglin Brothers' Great Escape 
September 7th 2021 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Like this author's great Escape at 10,000 Feet, this Unsolved Case File takes a deep dive into an interesting historical mystery. In an interesting collage style, with typewriter font text, we get a good history of Alcatraz and it's accommodations, as well as some brief accounts of earlier escapes. We then get all of the nitty gritty about the innovative, hard work that Morris, the Anglins, and a man who didn't manage to make the escape, Allan West, did in order to escape from the prison island. Really, it's remarkable how they used their limited resources (magazines from the prison library!) to carve through their walls in undectecable ways, make boats and life jackets out of raincoats, and swim to the mainland in order to get away. There's no proof that they did this, but information recently came to light that the Anglin brothers might have escaped and lived in Brazil. Readers who enjoy true crime podcasts or Denson's FBI Files will be thrilled with this series. 
Strengths: While this has enough pictures to be considered a graphic novel, there's also a good amount of text. The illustrations are a bit quirky, but very fun to look at, and capture the vintage vibe really well. There's such a wealth of information packed into the book as well. This is a perfect read for students who don't quite know what they want to read!
Weaknesses: It would have been nice to have a timeline of Alcatraz included. Not necessary, but if teachers wanted to pare this with Choldenko's Al Capone Does My Shirts, it would have been helpful. 
What I really think: I'm not a fan of true crime podcasts or crime writing in general, but still found this intriguing. I was amazed at the effort the men put into their escape, and honestly, felt that if they did manage to make it to Brazil and lived exemplary lives without running into trouble with the law, that's probably okay. Definitely purchasing, and expect this to be in steady rotation.

Holm, Jennifer L. and Holm, Matthew. Sunny Makes a Splash. (Sunny #4)
September 21st 2021 by Scholastic Inc. 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's summer just outside Philadelphia in 1978, and Sunny is faced with the tedium of watching her younger brother Teddy while her mother is spending the entire summer cooking and doing laundry and being super stressed, maybe because she's drinking too much Tab so she can fit into her double knit polyester pants and she's trying to give up smoking (that's all MY conjecture). There are a few times when the family is invited to go to the country club pool with friends, and when she is there, Sunny steps in to help a classmate, Tony, at the snack bar during the busy adult swim time. His dad runs the pool, and offers to hire Sunny to help out. Her mother (whom she interrupts during her programs while she's folding socks) reluctantly agrees but lays down a lot of rules. These don't really affect Sunny, who has an awesome summer hanging out, eating the occasional deep fried ice cream treat and debating jumping off the high dive. The older life guards include her and Tony in their after work parties, which means she gets to be out at NIGHT. Her grandfather comes for a visit because the roof of his condo has fallen in, and his going out also irritates the mother, who accuses both of them of "acting like teenagers". At the end of the summer, Sunny heads off into 8th grade with a new friend (and potential romantic interest) to keep her company. 
Strengths: Why are there not so many more books about tweens having exciting summers, hanging out with friends? Sunny had a rough time, with her older brother having drug problems in the first book, so she deserves sun and fun! 
Weaknesses: I cannot travel back to 1978 and have THIS summer instead of the one I did have!

What I really think: Who am I kidding? I can't be objective about a book that almost perfectly depicts the family room in my parents' house. And yes. Bowls of ice cream every night while watching television. Because we didn't serve dessert WITH dinner. To this day, my father thinks this makes sense. Definitely purchasing, and delighted to know that Ms. Holm's birthday is just one week after mine!

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