You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening

Summer in Portland, Or is here, and to supplement getting my hands in the dirt a few times, I bought myself You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening by Gayla Trail. The book is filled with basic tips on everything from acidity to organic composting to guerrilla gardening. There are tons of crafty projects, such as building one's own planter or making an apron, so I'm looking forward to testing some projects from this book. This summer's focus, for me, will be the container garden, because I do have to move at the end of July. But I look forward to tips on transplanting, harvesting seeds, and building that planter. I want to take some strawberry and raspberries with me to my new home, and I have poppies growing in my yard and would like to harvest the seeds.

Meanwhile, I will read, dream, and container garden away!

There's also a sweet blog and website (actually started before the book was written) at yougrowgirl.com.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This graphic novel by Craig Thompson is painstaking, lovingly done. He is a master of his art, telling stories through lyrical language and images.
Blankets is his story, a memoir about a childhood that was often painful, an awkward and lonely adolescence, and his first love, unabashadly portraying sexual abuse, poverty, questioning of one's identity and beliefs, sexual development, and learning how to love. This bildungsroman's chronicles his rivalry and playful love of his younger brother, his first heart-break, and Thompson's slow and gradual break from the strict Protestant faith he was raised in.

For high-school students, I would recommend permission slips: swearing, nudity, sexual content, and alienation from religion.

Recommended! Also, check out www.dootdootgarden.com, Thompson's online blog.

Cairo by G. Willow Wilson

Finished reading Cairo the other day, a graphic novel about a group of people trying to escape from an evil-doer who kidnaps and kills in an attempt to control a box that contains the ancient word "east" from the divine language.

Interesting conflicts include a reluctant young hero's journey from becoming a would-be martyr driven by anger to an altruistic young man driven by love and curiosity; an impassioned Egyptian journalist's and naive American girl's struggle to understand the other's desire to help the people of the region; and a drug-smuggling arrogant Egyptian discovering love with an Israeli special forces operative. It's a story that blends ancient myth with modern realism--sort of a magical realism-- about love, acceptance, and repositioning of egos.

High-school student appropriate: little swearing, no nudity.

Illustrated by M.K. Perker.
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Published by DC/Vertigo 2007