Sylvie — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
~ Brenda Ueland ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

The Writer magazine has a good article HERE that will help you create complex, dynamic characters for your story.

Derek Haines has an interesting article HERE on Just Publishing Advice that explains What is the Past Perfect Tense and How Do You Use It? It has very good examples.

The folks at Writers Helping Writers always have wonderful stuff in their posts. The post HERE will help you with How to Describe a Location You’ve Never Visited. I have some of these in my WIP, so this is a great one for me. I hope it is for you.

F2AA0CEF-F881-471F-A8DE-23D0DFD933CEAnd the isolation goes on. I am interested to see all the ways people are finding to make this time more tolerable. My favorite regional theatre, B Street Theatre in Sacramento, has virtual shows several nights every week. I sure wish I had bought Zoom stock! On Saturdays, they have a show called Maximum Occupancy which is a long-form improv with three of my favorite actors from the company. They ask for ideas from the audience, and then do almost an hour-long improv show. Last night’s show had an additional actor. The prompt from the virtual audience was, “A Flower-Arranging Disaster Therapy Group.” OMG, it was hysterical. I have no idea how they can come up with the things they think of, especially when they are not even in the same room, but are just seeing each other on little screens. Bravo! I hope you have something in your neck of the woods that is keeping you laughing. Since it’s virtual, you could sign up from anywhere. Go to https://bstreettheatre.org/virtual-party/ and scroll down to Maximum Occupancy and sign up! Very fun stuff.

sylvieEvery so often, I receive an email from a nice publicist for Candlewick Press offering me ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. I don’t often read graphic books, but this one looked cute, so I requested a copy. It actually comes from Walker Books, which is a British imprint that, I guess, is owned by Candlewick. I think this might have originally been published in French, but I’m not sure of that. It is a very European book, a memoir set in France, and the lifestyles of the children in the book are quite different from those of American children. Anyway, here are my thoughts about Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz, who is both the author and the illustrator.

We meet Sylvie when she is in elementary school. She had been born in Morocco, but now her family lives in France at a normal school (a college that trains teachers) for boys. Sylvie’s father is the principal, and they have an apartment in the same building as the classrooms. Sylvie and her brother explore the building and find interesting places to play and closed up rooms that are fun for exploring. Sylvie’s mother is a fourth-grade teacher and is not very nice to anyone in the family, but especially Sylvie. Mom is very demanding and so focused on Sylvie’s school success that she seems to miss the important things, like Sylvie’s talent and irrepressible love for art. Sylvie’s father had been an artist but decided to become a teacher to make a more stable life for his family, but he clearly understands his daughter’s heart. The book carries Sylvie and her family forward as Sylvie moves through middle school and through high school until she is moving on to college. Her friendships change, her family grows (adding a brother and sister), and her independence grows. She even finds a room down the hall from their apartment that she makes her own, giving her privacy and some level of freedom.

Sylvie Kantorovitz
Sylvie Kantorovitz

Young readers will be interested in the very different way of life children have in other countries yet the same kinds of problems and situations growing up brings to all. The illustrations are cute and certainly add to the story. A book that spans from early elementary school to college is a rare thing and might put kids off but for the graphic form. This will be a good discussion starter in classrooms and could well get reluctant readers engaged.

I have a gently-read ARC of this book for one of you, although I really have no idea when I will get to the post office. It could be a while. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

32 thoughts on “Sylvie — Review & Giveaway”

  1. I did not choose this book to review, because like you I don’t always appreciate graphic novels. So, I am delighted you chose to review it! European children have more freedom than American children, so this would make for an intriguing read for teens. Not often do you read a story about a mom who isn’t nice to her kids. So many themes to discuss. And great artwork. Enjoyed your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always feel like I’m cheating when I read a graphic novel. Comic books were something I was taught was too trivial, and that has stuck with me. It was better than I expected. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the drawing.


  2. Most people think everyone else lives just like them, so this sounds like a great book to start conversations about lifestyles. Also, I agree that it is unusual to see a book where a mother isn’t the champion of her children, but I’d be interested to find out the other dynamics of that relationship. Thank you for choosing to review this, Rosi.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never read graphic novels but this one sounds interesting to learn what it’s like to live in a different country. Glad you picked it up and shared it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a graphic novel fan, but I like the theme of exploring education from elementary to college age, and especially in Europe. You are right about how different the experiences are from those in America. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the link for describing locations you’ve never seen. I used Google maps a lot (with the little walk-around character) when I was writing my mystery set in Braga. I found that, plus correspondence with people I met online, so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve known Sylvie for years, since our children went to the same school together. I don’t know about her childhood struggles but I looking forward to reading her memoir. I am not a reader of graphic novels but Takeo’s graphic memoir changed my feeling about them.
    Can’t wait to read Sylvie’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not a big reader of graphic books but your review sure makes this one appealing. I’ll be looking for it. I also enjoyed the Writer’s Helping Writers link as I am always using locations in my writing I’ve never visited.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This book sounds great! How brave of Kantorovitz to write a book that steps out of the usual age range and spans such a long period! Also, the blurb on the cover from Dylan Meconis is no small thing, considering how much I loved her book Queen of the Sea. I’m glad that you’re finding ways to have fun during all of this, and I love the week’s meme as well! Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for the kind words. I hadn’t thought about how brave Kantorovitz was to write this unusual book, but you make a good point. Thanks for visiting. Good luck in the drawing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoy reading books in translation, and I think I’d really like this one, especially since it’s set in France. The illustrations look interesting as well. Your community improv sounds like a lot of fun. We don’t have anything like here that I know of, but I am trying to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking as much as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We don’t see a lot of middle-grade books set in other countries. That is fun. Good for you for getting out and walking. I walk in my back yard, but that’s all. Thanks for visiting. Good luck in the drawing.


  9. Graphic novels have been amazing reads this past year for me. I’ve been very impressed with the artwork and storytelling. Thank you for the review and chance to win a copy. I shared on twitter, pinterest, facebook, and tumblr.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love that you included Robert Kaplan’s parody cover of Alexander And the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. That’s one of my favorite Facebook memes from this month (and those are what keep me laughing!).

    I’ve read a few graphic novels and really liked them (even though I hadn’t expected to) but I haven’t read a graphic memoir. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

    Liked by 1 person

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