Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The song of the day is Senses Working Overtime by XTC. No real reason, it's just in my head.

Free Rice gives away 5 grains of rice to starving people for every vocabulary word you get right. Probably not the best way to feed the world, but it sure is fun.

Kampung Boy by Lat

Lat is one of the best known and loved cartoonists in Asia. He's won all the top awards in Malaysia and this is his classic, originally published in 1979, but finally available in English for our reading pleasure.

And pleasure it is.

This story starts with Mat's birth, in a small village in Malaysia. We follow him as he makes friends, goes to the Islamic school, fishes, and rides his bike into town to buy supplies with his dad.

There's no internal conflict or overreaching story arc besides life in general. A bit episodic and verging on nostalgic, it's a wonderful pick for kids and adults alike.

A funny look at childhood, it's Lat's drawings that make this story so phenomenal. His figures are simple, but their facial expressions are priceless, as are all of the teeth and tongues.

The circumcision scene is my favorite.

Town Boy by Lat

This is the most welcome sequel and follows Mat from the kampung to Ipoh, where his entire family moves after selling off their land to the tin company. Here, Matt grows up and we follow him through middle and high school. He makes new friends, goes on dates, and starts seriously studying art.

A must-have for those who enjoyed Kampung Boy, one only hope that a third is on its way, as the ending is even more bittersweet than that of the its predecessor.

Full disclosure: Town Boy was provided by the publisher at ALA after I did a little squeal when seeing it.

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