Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is set in Missouri in the early 1800’s and follows a young teenage boy named Huckleberry (Huck) Finn. Huck has spent most of his life poor and alone, and when trying to get away from his abusive father, he ends up having many extreme experiences with Jim, a runaway slave. As Huck and Jim travel down the Mississippi River, they meet many different people such as con men, thieves, and slave traders. While they met many bad people, the good people Huck met impacted his character throughout the story.
In my opinion, the characters in this story are very realistic which makes the story much more enjoyable. One of the qualities that makes the characters so realistic is the fact that this book was the first to ever use a dialect. In particular, Huck’s character is interesting because he has a huge struggle with himself about growing up with slavery being considered alright and not knowing how to feel about that. Some critics were not happy with the ending, but I actually thought it was fitting because it really portrayed Huck’s flaws as a character instead of making him a hero. A part of the story that I really liked was the dynamic between Huck and Jim; it was entertaining reading their conversations on the raft.
Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, is a winner of the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King award. The genre of this book is historical fiction and takes place in 1936 during The Great Depression, following the main character Bud Caldwell who is 10 years old and lives in Flint, Michigan.
Bud had been living in an orphanage since his mother died, so he is used to staying with different foster families and being returned. When he is suddenly told he will being staying with a new family, he is prepared. Soon after arriving with this new family, he starts receiving abuse from them and decides to escape Flint. Everywhere Bud goes he takes his suitcase with him. Inside this suitcase are all of his belongings, which consist of a blanket, some rocks, and three flyers for a band called “Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!” When Bud starts to believe that the man on his flyer (Herman E. Calloway) is his father, he sets out on a journey to find him. As Bud goes on this journey he has many adventures and meets people who help him along the way.
In this story, the protagonist is Bud, and the antagonist is the environment. The book is set during The Great Depression when the stock market crashed and a lot of people lost their jobs. During this time, the country was very poor, and people would travel long distances to find work. This environment is very challenging for Bud since people were not very kind to children or black people. A part of The Great Depression were Hoovervilles (named for president Herbert Hoover) which were shantytowns built by the homeless out of scrap materials. Bud visits a Hooverville in the beginning of the book when he was thinking about taking a train to Chicago to find work. “It was a bunch of huts and shacks throwed together out of pieces of boxes and wood and cloth. The Amoses’ shed would’ve looked like a real fancy house here.” Even though Bud has to face all of these difficult situations, he just continues on with a positive attitude.
The theme I will focus on in this story is perseverance. This is a theme that is shown strongly throughout the book and is a huge characteristic of Bud. Ever since Bud was little, his mother used to always tell him that when one door closes another opens, and this is what has always kept him going. Even when Bud had just run away from the family who had treated him badly and he was sleeping outside under a tree, he still thought, “But now that I’m almost grown I see Momma wasn’t talking about doors opening to let ghosts into your bed-room, she meant doors like the door at the Home closing and leading to the door at the Amoses’ opening and the door in the shed opening leading to me sleeping under a tree getting ready to open the next door.”
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I felt like the ending of the story went by a little too fast. The story finishes at the climax, and it sort of felt like this dramatic scene just happened and then the story was over. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and to people who like reading fast paced stories.
I rate this book: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, is a New York Times bestseller and has also won various awards such as the Newbery Honor award and the Scott O’dell award. The genre of the book is historical fiction and the recommended audience is age 10 and up. This story follows the protagonist Annabelle, who is 12 years old in the fall of 1943 (during World War II), and lives a quiet and routine life in a small town in rural Pennsylvania.
Everything is normal until the day a new girl named Betty Glengarry comes and changes Annabelle’s world. As soon as Betty moves to town, Annabelle learns that Betty is not like the other kids. One day on her way home from school, Betty stops Annabelle and threatens to hurt her. Annabelle becomes scared and confused about if whether or not she should tell someone that she's being bullied. She starts lying to her family about something being wrong. The next day when she goes back to meet Betty, someone unexpectedly comes and defends her.
The person who defends Annabelle is Toby, a veteran from World War I who lives near her family’s farm, Betty is infuriated when someone gets in her way so she begins to try and frame Toby for multiple crimes. Most people in town think that Toby is very strange since he is quiet and reclusive and they begin to become suspicious. When Annabelle is the only one who knows the truth what can she do to try and clear Toby’s name?
One of the most prominent themes in the story is person versus self. Multiple times throughout Wolf Hollow, you will see characters who have to face some sort of personal challenge and go against what they think they should do. One example of this is when Annabelle’s friend Ruth is seriously hurt in an incident. Annabelle suddenly becomes scared and wishes that everything could go back to normal, but she has to overcome this and try to save Toby who has been framed for the crime. Another example is at the end of the book when Toby has to go way outside of his comfort zone and save someone even though it could be dangerous. This is a huge challenge for Toby because he has a lot of trauma from the war, which usually makes him avoid people.
Not every story has a moral, but this book does and it is definitely that you shouldn’t judge someone because of their appearance. An example in the story of this is how everyone thinks that Betty is innocent because she looks like an innocent little girl and that Toby is dangerous because he is dirty and dressed poorly. “Annabelle, you can stand there in your nightie and make all the proclamations you want, but I don’t see what we can do. It’s out of our hands. Betty’s not going to change her story. Why should she? Everyone thinks she’s the victim. And I can’t really blame them. She looks like one. And Toby looks like a villain, whether he is or not.”
I think that people who enjoy both historical and realistic fiction will like reading this book. In my opinion the story ends feeling very complete, and I am satisfied reading it. The story is very fast paced and keeps moving until the end. I would give this book 4/5 stars and would have given it 5 stars, but for one reason: I thought that Annabelle’s character was unrealistic when it came to how she just so happened to know all the answers to the problems.
by Bean, edited by Platypus
I rate this manga: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Cells At Work! is a manga (that they then turned into an anime) written by Akane Shimizu. The story is exactly what it sounds like: you explore the daily life of cells working in the human body. There are loads of characters, and the first one we come across is Red Blood cell.
Red Blood cell has fiery red hair and a bad sense of direction, but her passion for her job is what keeps her going. When she was strolling through the body, bacteria suddenly floods in. Red Blood cell, in awe from the attack, was frozen, technically the perfect prey for the germs who try their hardest to infect the body. When she was almost eaten, White Blood cell pops out from nowhere! Most people fear the white blood cells, but they’re actually pretty easy-going guys excluding the fact that they’re assassins. White Blood cell kills the germ, keeping Red Blood cell safe.
Almost everyday Red Blood cell is getting in trouble, and almost every time the same White Blood cell comes to save her. Once, when White Blood cell encountered Red Blood cell, he escorted her to her destination, because she’s bad with maps. During this, they stumbled upon some platelets. Because platelets look like small children, the other cells are often found staring at them and making remarks on just how cute they look.
While the White Blood cells are tough, the Killer T cells are tougher. They’re only sent out when the White Blood cells need backup. The training is brutal, and you’ll often find the squad leader yelling at his trainees, and generally being grouchy. The Killer T cells have no mercy, and they eliminate whatever is causing harm.
Then the Macrophages come into play. While they may seem dainty and “cutesy,” they too, are hardcore murderers. They help out when things get really bad and often work with young children to teach them basic things, almost like preschool for cells.
There are so many violent cells in this series! Another is the NK cell. She is like the female version of the T Cells, and tends to act a little sassy and annoys the them like there’s no tomorrow. The Helper T Cell, who, unlike the Killer T cells, gives orders to attack instead of actually getting his hands dirty. The Helper T often relaxes in his office when nothing comes up, sipping tea and eating biscuits. B cell creates weapons to destroy bacteria, and often fights with Mast Cell, whose job is to create Histamines and such. Lastly, is Eosinophil, another type of White Blood cell, who is weaker then the average White Blood cell, but has her own strengths. She’s often teased by the regularly cells who think she’s weak, but the other White Blood cells know her power.
I may have missed a few cells, but all in all, every character is different and that’s what I like. I certainly enjoyed this series, and it actually tells you quite a bit about real cells, and is pretty educational while being entertaining at the same time.
If you like semi-comedic stories that have a twist to them, I’d say this is for you. The author, Akane Shimizu, is actually in the middle of writing the 6thbook, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5
This shonen manga called Noragami written by Adachitoka is about a god named Yato who is unknown to most humans and dreams of building a shrine and becoming the most popular god. He helps people who have problems for a small fee. Yato can be very rude and not very good at his business. He had a spirit who served as his weapon, but she got fed up with him and quit.
Yato later meets Hiyori Iki, who is in a “blind spot” in between the near shore, which is the mortal realm, and the far shore, which is what humans call the afterlife. Yato and Hiyori meet when Yato is out looking for a cat and he runs into the street to get it. Hiyori pushes him out of the way when a bus just misses him. Hiyori is hit instead and sent to the hospital where she meets Yato again. She later goes back to school, but ends up falling asleep, causing her spirit to leave her body. From then on, she is like a spirit from the far shore, but returns to her body at random.
There are also corrupted spirits that feed on depression, so if they get a hold you they’ll make everyone around you hate you. This leads to rotten thoughts, which to these spirits are a delicious snack. But a reminder, only animals, young children, and people in blind spots can see the spirits. They do not believe spirits are the cause of this, which leads to sadness thinking people don’t like them.
I find this story interesting. It can come off as weird to some, but I think the story will go further then just swordfights with spirits. I think Yato is different from other shonen protagonists and sometimes acts like a child. I would describe the genre as fantasy, comedy, and action. I give this manga 4/5 stars.
I rate it: 5/5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️/ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Laid Back Camp is a manga series written by Afro about girls in high school who are very passionate about the outdoors. The first two main characters are Rin Shima and Nadeshiko Kagamihara. They’re complete opposites who meet while Rin is camping. Nadeshiko is a very bubbly, happy-go-lucky girl who loves food, while Rin is just and introvert who likes to camp alone and read.
They become friends and later find out they go to the same high school—Motosu High. Every since first meeting Rin in the wilderness, Nadeshiko discovers a love for the outdoors and wants to join the school’s more relaxed outdoorsy club, the OEC (Outdoor Exploration Club) where she meets the only two members, Chiaki Ōgaki and Aoi Inuyama. Chiaki is very serious about camping and tends to overreact, and makes life kind of fictitious. Aoi is Chiaki’s friend, and is very kind and goes along with Chiaki’s strange habits.
Then we have Rin’s friend, Ena Saito. She’s very cheerful and has a pet Chihuahua. So, just watch as they learn about wildlife, and food while battling their high school life, and meet new friends.
This manga is adorable! The art ranges from very detailed to very cute chibi. I think anyone can enjoy this manga, and it actually gives you camping tips that are quite useful, such as reviewing types of sleeping bags, and food tips. This is also an anime that you can watch on Crunchyroll.™ A second season is also in progress, so hopefully that comes out soon!
Do you enjoy reading fantasy books? If so then The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman might be a great book for you!
The Graveyard Book follows Nobody Owens (also called, Bod) as he is raised by ghosts in a graveyard which he calls his home. One night when Bod was a toddler, his family was murdered. Unknowingly, he wanders into a nearby graveyard and meets the ghosts who live there. When they realise that Bod is helpless and has nowhere to go, all of the ghosts agree to help raise him. He is given to his foster parents Mr. and Mrs. Owens along with “The Freedom of The Graveyard.” He also is taken care of by Silas, his guardian, who is able to leave the graveyard to get Bod food and clothing.
As Bod grows up, he experiences all sorts of fantastical adventures as he explores all the corners of his little graveyard. While everything is mainly happy for him, Bod still has many questions about who killed his family, eventually learning that the person is still out there looking for him.
I really enjoyed this book because of the characters and the descriptions in the story. The characters have a lot of depth to them and you can really imagine what they would be like. While some of the characters only appeared for a chapter, you can still learn a lot about them because they have very defined personalities. The descriptions of the setting and emotions the characters felt were also very enjoyable and detailed.
One of my favorite things about the book are the insightful quotes that the characters say like this one from Silas when he was talking about a death from suicide: “... It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.” (pg 104)
I have read that they are going to be making a movie of this, but nothing seems to have happened so far. I really hope that someone will.
Voices of a Distant Star by Makoto Shinkai is a science fiction manga based on the animated film from 2002 that follows the perspectives of Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Terao. In the year 2046, Mikako and Noboru (both age 16) were classmates and very good friends when suddenly Mikako was chosen to become a pilot and fight the alien species “Tharsis."
Now on Mars, Mikako (eight years away from Earth) tries to stay in contact with Noboru through texting, but as she gets farther away it begins to take longer for her messages to send. The more time she spends in space the more she realizes how scared she would be returning to Earth and trying to deal with all the time that has passed without her, since she wasn’t aging and everyone else was.
Meanwhile, Noboru checks everyday waiting for a message and he struggles with loneliness since Mikako was his only friend and they were planning on going to the same school together. As time passes, he begins to hear from his friend less and less until he starts to think that she has just moved on and forgotten about him. Noboru, now age 25, tries to start over and forget about Mikako until one day he receives a message from her that was sent eight years earlier. When he realizes that she has been trying to message him all this time, he sets out to try and see her again, not knowing if it will be in space or on Earth.
I love this manga! The art in each panel was very detailed and beautiful, the writing is also very well done. So many of the scenes gave me the chills because even though it’s science fiction you can still very strongly feel the same emotions as the characters while reading. Honestly, I’ve never really been a huge fan of sci-fi mainly because I feel like a lot of the stories repeat themselves, but this story was very unique and kept me interested.
I definitely recommend this manga to anyone who likes the genres of: drama, sci-fi, and fantasy! This book is not a series so it's quick to read.
I can't even, it's so cute-
I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5)
Horimiya by HERO is a manga that takes place at school. The first character you meet is named Kyouko Hori. She’s beautiful, smart, popular, and has many friends. The other main character, Izumi Miyamura, is pretty much the opposite. People think he’s gloomy, and weird. Hori also has to manage her brothers’ life too. Her parents work quite a bit and never really come home, and her friends and most people don’t know this about her.
One day, her brother comes home with a bloody nose and she rushes to see him. She notices someone there with him. It’s her classmate, Miyamura. There’s also a side of him nobody’s aware of. He normally keeps his hair down to hide some of the piercings he has during school, and wears his school jacket all year long to cover up his tattoos. Hori and Miyamura are actually more alike than they think. They become friends and Hori introduces Miyamura to her friends with him becoming a part of their group.
I think this manga is cute. At first I kind of thought it was cliché, but I was wrong. I have to admit the beginning was a little slow, but the second and third books pick up the pace a little and make it quite bubbly – yet sad. I have not finished the series, but I really hope to. There are eleven of these books written and illustrated by HERO. It can be quite funny at times, so I’d label it a romance comedy in a way.
A Silent Voice (Koe no katachi) by Yoshitoki Oima is a drama manga following the main character Shoya Ishida. The first book starts off by showing the present time and then telling Shoya’s past and explaining where he is currently. In elementary school Shoya was never interested in what school had to offer, and was constantly bored. He decides to beat this boredom by doing dangerous dares and games with his friends that sometimes lead to physical fights, eventually becoming known to the school as a bully.
One day it’s announced that a new student will be joining Shoya’s class and this new student is Shoko Nishimiya. Shoko is deaf meaning that she can’t hear and can only communicate by writing in her notebook and using sign language. Shoya decides that she is his new target for mischief and he begins to bully her in any way possible. Shoya suddenly is surprised when he learns that everytime he bullies her she doesn’t react or get angry, making him determined to get a reaction out of her. This goes on for good amount of time until one day the teachers tell his class that Shoko had transferred to different school. Now years in the future Shoya is still incredibly guilty about how he treated Shoko and is determined to apologize to her.
I am currently on the 4th volume out of 7 and a huge fan of this series! I like the story a lot because it is very original and doesn’t have a lot of the cliches you see repeated in other mangas. The characters are also amazing and the author did a really good job of expressing the emotions the characters feel. For example, for most of the first book I kind of hated Shoya for what he did to Shoko but in the end I just felt really bad for him. The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is because I didn’t like how the teachers were portrayed. While teachers don’t always know what to do in certain situations I still was annoyed with how in the story they just let the kids keep bullying. Even when they did try to make the other students stop, they basically admitted that they also found Shoko annoying, which I didn’t like.
I definitely recommend this series to anyone who anyone who enjoys manga and it’s also a great first manga to read. The series was made into a movie, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available to buy anywhere I’ve looked.
Platypus and Bean is a website of many different subjects and reviews.