Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MOVIE - Marshall

PG-13 (1:58)
Wide release 10-13-17
Viewed Tuesday evening, 10-17-17 at the Regal Theater in Harrisburg
IMBd:  6.8
T Critic: 87     Audience:  87
Critic's Consensus:  Marshall takes an illuminating, well-acted look at its real-life subject's early career that also delivers as an entertainingly old-fashioned courtroom drama.
Cag:  5/Loved it
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Open Road Films

Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell

My comments:  What an excellent movie!  I particularly loved all the humor and the growing relationship between Samuel Friedman and Thurgood Marshall.  Perhaps these parts were added with "creative license," in that writing a biopic about something that happened 76 years ago (1941) can't be full of the truth, and this is a movie, after all, not a documentary. The actors, and acting, were superb (although Kate Hudson's portrayal seemed a little off to me). Powerful storytelling about a piece of our history - a LARGE piece - that is shaming and shameful.  There was an older (white) couple sitting behind me in the theater that were cheering and clapping every time something positive happened, or every time someone put an arrogant white person in their place.  They applauded at the end.  That's how I felt, applause is necessary.  Highly recommended.

RT/ IMDb Summary Starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell. Director Reginald Hudlin's Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer, Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad). Together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and Anti-Semitism. The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall's creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

MOVIE - Victoria & Abdul

PG-13 (1:51)
Wide release 10/6/17
Viewed Sunday, 10/15/17 at Gettysburg Majestic with Claudia

IMBd: 6.9/10
RT Critic:  68  Audience:  72
Critic's Consensus:  Critics Consensus: Victoria & Abdul reunites Dame Judi Dench with the role of Queen Victoria -- which is all this period drama needs to overcome its imbalanced narrative.
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by Stephen Frears
Focus Features
Based at least partly on a true story, which the Brits hid for many years!

Actors:  Judi Dench, Ali Fazal (and Dumbledore plays the Prime Minister of England!)

My comments:  While watching, although I'd heard that this story is based on fact, I wondered how much.  After getting home I did a little research, and was delighted to find that at least some of the story is based on fact.  The humor included, whether real or not, was excellent.  I discovered that Abdul spends over 10 years with Queen Victoria.  I wish the movie had showed this much passage of time more effectively.  Judi Dench ROCKS!  Ali Fazal, who plays Abdul, is apparently a Bollywood star.  He did a really good job with the role, I enjoyed very much watching his expressive face.  One reviewer summed it up pretty well....it's how joy and humanity are combined that makes it.  How much you think is real and how much is fake is up to the beholder.  It's a good movie no matter which it is!  Recommended.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria's (Academy Award winner Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen's Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

Ding-DIng-Ding! A Hundred Books

100 books read and reviewed so far this year.  Granted, only 61 or them are "full length" novels.  39 are picture books.  Yes, I've read oodles more picture books, but I've only reviewed those I really like, really don't like, or fit a category that I'm trying to keep a list of.  Yee-ha!

PICTURE BOOK - Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
2012, a Schwartz & Wae Book
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.68 - 595 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers:  solid pinky beige

1st line/s:   "An empty street.
                    Outside, a mean wind blows.
                    Icicles hang from the windowsills.

My comments:  Another math picture book, and it's cute.  The illustrations, by G. Brian Karas are fun to peruse.  A little girl and her younger brother decide to purchase ingredients, make lemonade (and limeade and lemon-limeade) and sell it outside in the blizzard.  There's all sorts of math having to do with quarters and how they add up, how much they spend, and how much they make.  They even have to come up with marketing and advertising ideas!  Nice for first and second ... and perhaps some third graders, too.

Goodreads:  In a starred review, Publishers Weekly declared this delightful picture book "a beautifully restrained tribute to trust and tenderness shared by siblings; an entrepreneurship how-to that celebrates the thrill of the marketplace without shying away from its cold realities; and a parable about persistence."  
          A lemonade stand in winter? Yes, that's exactly what Pauline and John-John intend to have, selling lemonade and limeade--and also lemon-limeade. With a catchy refrain (Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LEMONADE!), plus simple math concepts throughout, here is a read-aloud that's great for storytime and classroom use, and is sure to be a hit among the legions of Jenkins and Karas fans. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

61. I've Lost My Hippopotamus by Jack Prelutsky

illustrated by Jackie Urbanovich
read the book - from Bosler Library
2012 Greenwillow Books
144 pgs.
Kid's Poetry
Discovered and read on 10/10/17
Goodreads rating:  3.89 - 277 ratings
My rating:4

Some of the poems I liked to follow comments, below

My comments:  I was greatly surprised to see this book pass through circulation at the library....I'm very familiar with other Prelutsky books that "look" the same - A Pizza the Size of the Sun, New Kid on the Block, Something Big Has Been Here. - but this was totally a new one to me.  There were lots of poems that take two words (one being an animal) and combining them:  Pelicantaloupes, Crabacus, Asparagoose, and Wiguanas to name a few, where he goes on his usual silly explanations that no one else can get away with.  And there are six haikus!  CAMEL:  I have one large bump,/ Two long, beautiful lashes,/ And a foul temper.  His vocabulary usage, as usual, is superb, introducing what I am sure are many new words to unsuspecting young'uns.  Lots of fun!

Goodreads synopsis: Some of the animals in this book are real. They include:
the hippopotamus (she's missing)
the elephant (he's artistically talented)
the octopus (it's great at multitasking).
          Others may not be quite so real. These include:
the wiguana (very hairy, for a lizard)
the halibutterfly (there's something fishy about it)
the gludu (quite clingy).
          In the tradition of Jack Prelutsky's classic poetry collections The New Kid on the BlockIt's Raining Pigs & Noodles, and A Pizza the Size of the Sun, here is a book packed with more than 100 funny poems and silly pictures. Most of the poems are about animals—some are big and some are small, some have unusual interests, and some are just plain unusual.

A handful of haiku: (!!)


I have one large hump,
Two long, beautiful lashes,
And a foul temper


All evening I sing.
Happy on a lily pad,
Celebrating spring.


Tunnel!  I tunnel!
I never see my tunnels,
Yet they comfort me.

I’m clearly no gem,
But in my interior
I’m growing a pearl.


I am glorious!
My tail has a thousand eyes
For you to admire.


Black white black white black.
I am a striped illustion,
A horse in disguise.


I’m very fond of cupcakes
And love to eat them up,
But I’ve never found a cupcake
That came inside a cup.

I Played a Game of Golf Today

I played a game of golf today –
I’d never played before.
I wasn’t ery good at it
And won’t play anymore.

I shot a sixty-seven,
Which was surely not my goal.
My score was even higher
When I played the second hole.

I’m Gazing through My Telescope

I’m gazing through my telescope
At something in the skies,
Something I could never see
If I just used my eyes,
Something that’s so far away
I wonder haow the light
Can even reach my telescope
Sop I can see the sight.

Somewhere in the universe,
As distant as can be,
I now extraterrestrials
Are looking back at me.
Of course, I can’t detect them,
And in fact, I have no hope,
If they can see me, the must have
A Better telescope.

A Centipede Was Thirsty

A centipede was thirsty,
But to satisfy its need,
It drank too much for it to hold ---
And so the centipede.

My Pencil Will Not Write

My pencil will not write,
My crayons do not draw,
My lantern cannot light,
My saws refuse to saw.
My toothbrush is too soft,
My football can’t hold air,
My kit won’t stay aloft,
I’ve lost my underwear.

My songbird has no song,
My you-you doesn’t work,
My calendar is wrong,
My clock has gone berserk.
My TV won’t turn on,
My hat falls off my head,
My cat’s meow is gone ---
I’m better off in bed.

My Snake Can Do Arithmetic

My snake can do arithmetic,
My snake is far from dumb,
My snake can take two numbers
And come up with a sum.

She can’t subtract, which makes her sad,
And two things make her sadder . . .
She can’t divide or multiply ---
My snake is just an adder.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Sona and the Wedding Game by Kashmira Sheth

Illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi
2015, Peachtree, Atlanta
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.62
My rating:4
Endpapers: Pink with intertwined streamers from edge to edge

1st line/s:  "My grandparents and my ousing have come from India for my sister Nisha-ben's wedding."

My comments:  What a delightful way to explore the customs of another culture and religion!  In this charmingly illustrated story of an older sister's wedding, Sona figures out how to steal the groom's shoes to follow tradition, while the reader learns all sorts of interesting information about an Indian wedding.  It's followed by two very readable Author's Notes pages with more explanation.  Recommended.

Goodreads:  Sona's big sister is getting married and she's been given an important job to do. She has to steal the groom's shoes. She's never attended a wedding before, so she's unfamiliar with this Indian tradition as well as many of the other magical experiences that will occur before and during the special event. But with the assistance of her annoying cousin Vshal, Sona finds a way to steal the shoes and get a very special reward.

Friday, October 6, 2017

YA National Book Award 2017

I got looking at the longlist, then the shortlist, of the National Book Award nominees for 2017, and wondered how they correlate with other awards, such as the Printz and maybe even the Newbery AND how they "match up" to what Goodreads readers feel about them.  So, as part of that investigation, I thought I would look at this year's list:

*Shortlisted books are highlighted in yellow.
Goodreads ratings as of 10/6/17 follow each title

Arnold, Elana K.: What Girls Are Made Of (3.77 - 332 ratings)
Benway, Robin:  Far from the Tree (4.48 - 332 ratings
Mabry, Samantha:  All the Wind in the World (3.63 - 84 ratings
Perkins, Mitali:  You Bring the Distant Near (4.26 - 218 ratings)
Reynolds:  Long Way Down (4.60 - 376 ratings)  Free Verse
Sanchez, Erika L.: I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter ((3.92 - 75 ratings)
Snyder, Laurel: Orphan Island (3.82 - 1577 ratings)
Thomas, Angie: The Hate U Give (4.61 - 49,661 ratings)
Williams-Garcia: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (3.99 - 459 ratings)
Zoboi, Ibi: American Street (4.03 - 2770 ratings)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - A Very Improbable Story by Edward Einhorn

Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
2008, Charlesbridge
HC $16.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.99 - 94 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Dark blue
Illustrations on much or most of page, text is on white
1st line/s:  "one morning Ethan woke up with a cat on his head."

My comments:   Oh my gosh, what a great picture book to introduce probability to older kids!  It's cute and fun and gives wonderful mathematical information in a straight-forward, interesting way.  It gets a little convoluted at the end, but if it's being used as a read aloud, stress and pausing  can be used  effectively, and then play a probability game similar to one described in the book and VOILA!!

Goodreads:  Ethan wakes up one morning with a talking cat on his head. The cat refuses to budge until Ethan wins a game of probability. Without looking, Ethan must pick out a dime from his coin collection, or two matching socks from his dresser, or do something else improbable. Avery improbable story about a challenging math concept. Author: Edward Einhorn Format: 32 pages, paperback Ages: 7-10

Monday, September 11, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Lines, Bars and Circles: How William Playfair Invented Graphs by Helaine Becker

Illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay
2017 Kids Can Press
36 pgs.(yes, I counted twice)
Goodreads rating: 3.85 - 54 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Solid light yellowish-brown

1st line/s:  "William Playfair was a dreamer.  He saw the world differently than other people."

My comments:  William Playfair (don't you love the name?) was, well, a goof-off and loser.  He was a great thinker with great ideas, but most of them fell through or got him in trouble.  And although he was the first recorded person to create and use line charts, bar graphs, and pie graphs, they were more-or-less scoffed at during his lifetime.  Poor guy.  This book chronicles all his failings and some of his triumphs, giving us a glimpse into the times as well - historical information is presented within the book (not as an afterword) on The Scientific Method, The Industrial Revolution, and The French Revolution. There IS also a three- page afterword with more information about the charts that Mr. Playfair actually created.

Goodreads:   Born in Scotland more than 250 years ago, William Playfair was a dreamer who ?saw the world differently from other people.? Unfortunately, this difference sometimes got in the way of his success. Early on, as he attempted to apply his unique perspective to a series of career opportunities in order to gain ?riches! fame! glory!? he instead suffered one failure after another. Then, while writing a book about economics, Will's innovative vision inspired an idea that would set him apart: he created the first modern line graph. Next came a bar graph and later a pie chart. These infographic inventions provided a way for numbers to be seen as pictures, which made them easier to understand and to remember --- and thus changed the way the world would interact with data forever.
          With this story of an unconventional man whose creative expressions revolved around math, science, engineering and technology, bestselling author Helaine Becker has created the perfect picture book introduction to STEM education. It would easily find use across curriculums in the classroom. On one level, it is a well-told and engaging biography of an intriguing man, illustrated with humor by Marie-Ève Tremblay. But it also explores math concepts such as measurement and geometry, as well as history, with sidebars on subjects such as the Industrial Revolution and steam engines. In addition, the book teaches the important lesson that everyone should follow their own curiosities to wherever they lead. The end matter includes historical notes, as well as more detailed explanations of the three types of graphs.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Programming Ideas

A major part of my job as a Youth Services Library Assistant is to develop and present programming for kids from BABY to TEENS.  My expertise is with kids from about 8 and up.... I'll leave the ideas for little guys for the little-guys-experts/

There are a zillion ideas bumping around in my head, each one pretty much ignited by reading a  picture book, and I'm going to start with MATH.


Book:  Lines, Bars and Circles: How William Playfair Invented Graphs by Helaine Becker
Activity Ideas:  Make a Bar Graph using M & Ms, Skittles, Froot Loops, or something similar.  If it's nice outside, kids could take their completed graphs and, using chalk, draw them on the sidewalk.

Book:      Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford
Activity Ideas:  Create Infinity Tiles based on this Babble Dabble Do activity.
     Also "Endless Tiles" based on the work of Sebastian Truchet.  Information can be found on Math Munch  and  with an "instructable"  called Amazing Math with Truchet Tiles.

Book:  Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins

Book:  A Very Improbable Story by Edward Einhorn
Activity Idea:  Begin by teaching about the different colors, suits, and cards in a deck of cards.  Then teach about Likely, Unlikely, Possible, Impossible, Even chances, Certain, etc.  Teach about tally marks and draw sets of 10 cards from a bag, discussing the probability of pulling out a certain card, or suit, or face card.....
          Throwing a pair of dice 100 times and recording the results also makes the beginning place of what are the chances....especially if you make bar graph showing your results.  It's actually quite impressive and easy to see the "odds."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
2012, Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis (a division of Lerner Books)
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.99 - 814 rtings
My rating: 4
Endpapers endless numbers black on gray

1st line/s:  "The night I got my new red shoes, I couldn't wait to wear them to school."

My comments:  Infinity has always been a tough concept for me to wrap my mind around.  In this book, a little girl inquires of different people what they think of when they think of infinity.  The illustrations are really interesting and different.  I'm planning to use this book as the perfect  introduction to a quick program for kids that's an inquiry about infinity.

Goodreads:   When I looked up, I shivered. How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity. I started to feel very, very small. How could I even think about something as big as infinity? Uma can't help feeling small when she peers up at the night sky. She begins to wonder about infinity. Is infinity a number that grows forever? Is it an endless racetrack? Could infinity be in an ice cream cone? Uma soon finds that the ways to think about this big idea may just be . . . infinite.

Friday, September 8, 2017

MOVIE - Home Again

PG-13 (1:37
Wide Release 9/8/2017
Viewed Opening Night (just a coincidence) at Carlisle 8
IMBd: 5.8/10
RT Critic: 34   Audience:  64
Critic's Consensus:  Home Again gathers a talented crowd of rom-com veterans on both sides of the camera -- all of whom have unfortunately done far better work.
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by Hallie Myers-Shyer
Open Road Films

Reese Witherspoon, Candace Bergen, Michael Sheen

My comments:  A really lighthearted comedy that could happen to absolutely anyone as long as they're gorgeous, rich, have famous parents, beautiful children, and unlimited money so they don't really have to work.  Cuteness abounds.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  HOME AGAIN stars Reese Witherspoon as Alice Kinney in a modern romantic comedy. Recently separated from her husband, (Michael Sheen), Alice decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters. During a night out on her 40th birthday, Alice meets three aspiring filmmakers who happen to be in need of a place to live. Alice agrees to let the guys stay in her guest house temporarily, but the arrangement ends up unfolding in unexpected ways. Alice's unlikely new family and new romance comes to a crashing halt when her ex-husband shows up, suitcase in hand. HOME AGAIN is a story of love, friendship, and the families we create. And one very big life lesson: Starting over is not for beginners.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

MOVIE - Logan Lucky

PG-13 (1:59)
Wide Release 8-18-17
Viewed 9-3-17 at Carlisle 8
IMBd: 7.3/10
RT Critic: 92   Audience:  76
Critic's Consensus:  High-octane fun that's smartly assembled without putting on airs, Logan Lucky marks a welcome end to Steven Soderbergh's retirement -- and proves he hasn't lost his ability to entertain.
Cag:  5 Loved it
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Fingerprint Releasing/Bleeker Street

Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hillary Swank

My comments:  Now this was a really, really good comedy.  Not a silly comedy, or stupid one.  Not a black comedy or even a slap happy one.  It was smart, fun, and very, very funny.  For me, Adam Driver really stole the show.  Between his Forrest Gump-like accent, artificial hand, and straight-faced delivery of all his lines, I couldn't wait for the next scene he was in.  And believe it or not, the entire movie was full of good, positive family values even if it was about a heist!  Channing Tatum was his usual charming self an Daniel Craig, Hillary Swank, and Katie Holmes were all superb.  The only off note for me was the character that Seth MacFarlane played.  Too over-the-top, more silly than the rest of the movie warranted.  A really well done move, not Oscar Material, but clever, well acted, and well made.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Monday, August 28, 2017

51. Outage by Ellisa Barr

Powerless Nation #1
read on my iPhone
2014 Parker Heritage Press
218 pgs.
YA CRF/Dystopia
Goodreads rating:  3.81 - 458 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: contemporary rural Washington state

First line/s:  "Dee sat outside the farmhouse and peeled slivers of paint from the old porch swing."

My comments:  A survival story, and a believable one, for the most part. Definitely entertaining, I felt like I was watching this story. Not necessarily living it like other stories, but intensely observing. The only character you really get to know is the protagonist, Dee, because you get inside her head. Near the beginning you discover that one of the characters is part of a Mormon family, but to my relief and delight the book never gets preachy or religious. I've watched enough of the new tv shows about post-apocalyptic survival, so there was nothing particularly surprising happening, but the descriptions and panic and planning and problem-solving kept me interest from beginning to end.  

Goodreads synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa's farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right.
          A high-tech electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country's power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water... even her cell phone?
          The chaos caused by the EMP isn't her only problem. A sinister plot by a corrupt official threatens Dee and all she holds dear. She will have to fight if she wants to survive in this hostile new world.
          Written for all fans who love apocalypse stories, Outage is a Young Adult novel of survival with a hint of romance and a lot of action-adventure.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Snail Mail: With Pull-Out Postcards by Sharon King-Chai

Illustrated by the author
2016, Hodder Children's Books (UK)
32 pgs. with 6 x 8 envelopes containing heavy-stock postcards
Goodreads rating: 5.0 - 2 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: A map of the world with the "snail trail."

1st line/s:  "Hi there!  I'm Sam, the Seashell Snail.  I live by the seashore."

My comments:  
I vacillated between a 4 and a 5 for this one, mainly because my adult mind questioned how snails could travel the world, and so quickly. But the premise of the book. - similar to the idea of the Jolly Postman books and Vera Williams' Stringbean's Trip to the Shining Sea - and the information presented are top-notch. So are the fun and fanciful Snail family and friends. Actually, the whole package is just plain FUN! It would fit perfectly into any sort of epistolary unit that a teacher may do in school, too. Two thumbs up.

Goodreads:   Sam the Seashell Snail is too young to go surfing around the world with his brother, Tiger. Not wanting Sam to miss out on the adventure, Tiger sends him Snail Mail from Brazil, America, India, Japan and France. Tiger's last Snail Mail has a very special birthday surprise!
          With pull-out postcards to pore over, this fun and charming picture book will captivate even the most tech-savvy of children.
          A Jolly Postman for this generation.