Synopses & Reviews
Martin Lemelman's elegiac and bittersweet graphic memoir Two Cents Plain collects the memories and artifacts of the author's childhood in Brooklyn. The son of Holocaust survivors, Lemelman grew up in the back of his family's candy store in Brownsville during the 1950s and '60s, as the neighborhood, and much of the city, moved into a period of deep decline. In Two Cents Plain, Lemelman pieces together the fragments of his past in an effort to come to terms with a childhood that was marked by struggle both in and outside of the home. But his was not a childhood wholly without its pleasures. Lemelman's Brooklyn is also the nostalgic place of egg creams and comic books, malteds and novelty toys, where the voices of Brownsville's denizens—the deli man, the fish man, and the fruit man—all come to vivid life. Between the lingering strains of the Holocaust and the increasing violence on the city's streets, Two Cents Plain reaches its dramatic climax in 1968, as Lemelman's worlds explode, forcing him and his family to re-create their lives. Through his stirring narrative and richly rendered black-and-white drawings, family photographs, and found objects, Lemelman creates a lush, layered view of a long-lost time and place, the chronicle of a family and a city in crisis. Two Cents Plain is a wholly unique memoir and a reading experience not soon forgotten.
"Lemelman's memoir of his childhood in 1950s Brooklyn gets off to a promising start, with his parents recounting their travails as Jews trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland (a story told fully in his earlier Mendel's Daughter). After meeting in a German displaced persons camp, the pair soon headed to America, where they promptly had two sons. And here the trouble begins. Once Lemelman becomes a character in his own childhood, potentially engrossing stories about growing up in a thriving Jewish neighborhood peter out or meander due to poor pacing and a lack of focus. The ostensible anchor is his father Tovia's shop, Teddy's Candy Store, but even the tales of Tovia's eccentric customers seem little more than impressions. The same can be said about Lemelman's pencils, which sometimes court vivid life only to give way to muddy, poorly conceived blobs. Lemelman's episodic remembrances are all mood, all era, and little story; the bittersweet nostalgia connects, but even the most skilled storyteller shouldn't take readers' indulgence for granted. (Sept.) In this collection, Cinderella has left the scullery behind, ditched Prince Charming, and becoming what others see as 'a globe-trotting gadabout with a beef against her ex-husband.' The secret is that she's actually a spy, working for the forces of Fabletown. As in the Fables series, where this incarnation of Cinderella made her first appearance, Fabletown is inhabited by characters from fairy tales. This, the first spin-off for an individual character from that series, gives her the difficult mission of figuring out who's taking magical objects from Fabletown and selling them in the regular world of Mundy. Sci-fi novelist Roberson writes an irreverent and fun tale for Cindy, taking lots of picaresque detours into a variety of fairy tale characters. Cinderella's prickly relationship with Aladdin, her partner in crime-fighting, gives the requisite romantic thrill, while her Manhattan store, 'Glass Slipper Shoes,' contains many of the story's funnier moments. The masterful McManus brings his trademark energy and precision to his drawings, making sure Cinderella looks great in Prada and Gucci as she jets about beating down baddies. Fables fans and new readers alike will rally around this collection. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Martin Lemelman is the author/illustrator of Mendel's Daugher and has illustrated over 30 children's books, and his work has been published in magazines ranging from the New York Times Book Review to Sesame Street magazine. A professor in the Communication Design Department at Kutztown University, he lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania with his wife, Monica, and is the father of four sons.