Here are two examples of book reports on illustrated books (for an English Portfolio Activity). For this assignment, students were asked to write a report introducing one of the illustrated books, comic books or manga in our school’s English Corner. I have written these two book reports as examples. The books are mainly from these two lists:
1. The Song of Memory
|Book Title||The Song of Memory|
|Summary||Song of Memory is an illustrated book by Hong Kong writer and artist Jeanie Leung.|
The main character Oowa lives in a white forest with his friends. Oowa collects his good memories in a glass jar and exchanges them for the things he needs most— smiles. As for the unwanted bad memories, Oowa just gets rid of them completely.
One day, however, he runs out of good memories, so he goes with one of his friends to a tunnel in the forest, where it is said that all memories exist. While exploring the tunnel. He doesn’t pay much attention to his friend. The friend just follows him around.
In the tunnel, he finds more good memories—all of them of a girl he used to love and all the happy experiences they shared. However, from all those good memories, he is only able to get a single smile, and that smile won’t last for long.
Feeling worried, he returns to the tunnel with his friend to try to find more good memories, but instead he only finds all of those unwanted sad memories that he has been ignoring, especially those related to the girl he used to love. He has to face a series of unhappy memories. In one image, for example, he is shown on alone on a stage, a rose in his hand and tears rolling down from one eye. The accompanying text is “No one knew I was too fragile to survive even a single blow.”
In the end he is able to combine the good memories with the sad ones. Each memory becomes a note in a beautiful song, a song that brings him many smiles.
|Overall impression of the story and artwork||I enjoyed reading this story. Although the drawings are cute and cheerful and there are only a one or two sentences on each page, the story is quite serious and philosophical. |
I love the artwork in this book. The characters—Oowa, his ‘dear’ and his friends are cute, and the soft pastel colors of Jeanie Leung’s paintings create a dreamy mood that is suitable for a story about vague emotions and memories.
Some of the scenes are inspired by the paintings of French artist Monet, and the forest scenes are especially beautiful.
|Themes & reflection||The theme of the story is to accept all of our memories—the happy ones and the sad ones—because together they help make us who we are. |
Sometimes when you break up with a friend or lover, you might want to try to bury your sad memories, thinking that you will be happy if you can just forget about things that make you sad. That might work for a short time—like it did for Oowa. However, in the long term, it might be better to keep all the memories—to appreciate the love you once shared and to learn from the mistakes that you made. If you learn from those mistakes, maybe the next relationship won’t end the same way.
At the very end of the story, Oowa faces the friend who has been accompanying him and smiles warmly at her. Perhaps he is now ready for a new relationship.
The book delivers an interesting message. It is similar to the theme of the animated film Inside Out. We shouldn’t try to completely avoid or ignore sadness as it is one way in which we can cope with and learn from hurtful experiences.
Best Bear Ever by Liz Climo
|Book Title||Best Bear Ever|
|Summary||Best Bear Ever is a collection of short comic strips by Liz Climo. Her comics feature anthropomorphic characters (i.e., animals that talk and behave like people).|
The comics have different kinds of humor. Sometimes the humor comes from the characters giving in to their animal instincts. for example, a tennis-playing dog can’t stop fetching the ball. Other strips rely on puns and wordplay. For example, the characters, worried about their fitness, decide to go to the gym but end up going to Jim’s Donuts.
In other comic strips, the animals are used to show common human behaviors. For example in one strip, a sloth and a turtle talk about how they are perfect running partners because they can always work together to come up with excuses not to run. The sloth and turtle represent the lazy procrastinators among us.
|Overall impression of the story and artwork||The comics are quite amusing. They won’t make you laugh out loud, but you will smile from time to time. |
Liz Climo’s artwork is simple but effective. Her drawings of of animals are just filled-in outlines (without any shading or tiny details) and the animals are usually just shown talking to one another against a plain white background.
I prefer the beautiful illustrations of Jeannie Leung’s book, but Liz Climo’s drawings are effective. You can immediately recognize each animal. The simplicity of the drawing also helps the reader focus quickly on the dialogue.
|Themes & reflection||There are two main themes running through the Liz Climo’s|
collection of comic strips.
One theme is simply that the animals (who represent humans) have lots of weaknesses. There is a bear addicted to pizza, a lazy sloth, a clumsy shark, two boring fish stuck leading boring lives in their tiny fishbowl, a weird-looking hammerhead shark, a fussy crocodile (or alligator) and a dog who just can’t stop acting like a dog. We all have flaws; some of them we can change, but some we just need to accept.
The other main theme of the collection is related to the love between friends and family members. Each strip features animals, quite often of different species. They are always there for one another. They hang out together and chat about whatever comes to mind. When one of the friends does something annoying—like an elephant sticking his trunk into a bowl of shared ice-cream— or stupid, the other friends won’t get angry or insult him/her. The friends accept each other’s flaws and don’t try to change each other. In Liz Climo’s comics, friendship is about tolerance, acceptance and support.
~ by longzijun
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