Saturday, February 28, 2009

Warhol Live! at the De Young Museum in San Francisco

We arrived in the underground parking garage at the De Young - right beside Golden Gate Park - at the opening hour of 9:30, so we got one of the first parking spots and a relatively uncrowded tour of the exhibit. It was fun to have the audio tour - much of the information was given as informal conversation by people that knew Andy Warhol (1928-1987), and was full of interesting facts. I've been to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, and even saw a Warhol at the Belagio a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas, but I learned a lot about him from this exhibit that I'd never known before. It was really the story of his life. The first thing that greeted us was some of his favorite icons from the silver screen, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Elvis... The second was a plexiglass wall of all album covers that he designed - I'm thinking there were 52 in all! The wall was covered with album covers from his own collection. We were treated to excerpts from his favorite music throughout our "excursion." Rollin' Stones, Beatles, Jazz, Dylan, Maria Callas. Pieces of his art, his movies-making, his tv show "15-Minutes of Fame", The Factory (his loft in NYC, completely silver), his magazine "Inter View," and his sponsorship/production of The Velvet Underground. Now this was news to me...I loved the Velvet Underground my last two years in high school. One of the rooms we passed through was a strobe-lit, colorfully psychedelic party room with a big, square red "sofa" in the middle, an invitation for reclining and going back a LOT of years. Fantastic exhibit. I feel lucky to have been able to see it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Darwin Saw - Rosalyn Schanzer

The Journey That Changed the World
National Geographic Society
For: grades 3/4 and up
48 pgs.
Rating: 5
Published: 2009
Read: Feb. 25, 2009 B&N
Endpapers: Forest Green
Really attractive cover - I'd love a poster of this book, also the "family tree" of the evolutionary theory (p. 39) is poster-worthy

This appears to be a well-researched book. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) set off in 1831, at the age of 22, on a 5-year voyage around the world. He traveled with Captain Roert FitzRoy on The Beagle , obtaining specimens and recording observations for an amazing amount of species that no one in Europe had ever seen. Along the coast of South America, past the tip and up to the Galapagos Islands, across to Tahiti - we are his companions as he smells and survives - riding with gauchos on the pampas, watching volcanos erupt, feeling earthquakes shake, eating exotic cuisine and taking in the world. We see dinosaur bones and giant iguanas and unique shells and exotic flowers.

The last part of the book tells of his arrival back in England, his further studies and writing, his family, and how he shared his reasearch with the world. Pgs. 46-47 show a world map detailing his voyage.

Illustrated beautifully. Written in graphic format, with what looks like his own words - if so he was a great writer, using cool, sophisticated (but understandable) vocabulary. Sidebars with additional information keep the story flowing. Great book - I want to read it again. And even if you find yourself in the midst of the controversy about science vs. faith, this is a wonderful biography of a world-famous scientist.

"Forests and flowers and birds I saw in great perfection. If the eye attempts to follow the flight of a gaudy butterfly, it is arrested by some strange tree or fruit; if watching an insect one forgets it in the stranger flower it is crawling over." Mmm, mmm good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Willoughby and the Lion - Greg Foley

For: young kids
Published: 2009
Rating: 3
Read: 2-25-09 B&N
Endpapers: Front: One shiny black, the other shiny white
Back: Golden cardboard coin embedded into a black palm on the inside back cover, facing a gold page

This is a very gold book. It's on shiny white pages drawn entiely in black and metallic gold. Simple black lines.

Willouighby moves away to a small house near no friends. But in his empty back yard, sitting on a big rock, is an enchanted gold lion. He tells Willoughby that he'll grant him ten (10!) wishes, but unless he wishes for the most wonderful thing of all, the poor lion willl be stuck on the rock forever. Willoughby enjoys his daily requests for concrete things - a palace, a roller coaster, fast shoes, sweets, even a pair of x-ray glasses and an ancient set of books that would answer all his homework questions. But before his tenth wish, he tries to cheer up the lion. They tell stories and talk and laugh. It makes Willoughby think - a his tenth wish, whispered into the lion's ear, will, of course, be the one that freed the lion. A TRUE FRIEND. That's the wish. Then we turn to the back cover and the golden coin, mentioned above.

The book is a great idea, but I don't think Mr. Foley nailed it. He needed to spend an extra page - at least - creating more of a friendship between Willoughby and the lion...or something. Something was missing. A good attempt, though.

The Tsunami Quilt - Anthony D. Fredericks

Grandfather's Story
Illustrator: Tammy Yee
Published: May, 2007
For: School-age kids (though it says 5-10, I'd go with the older end)
Rating: 4.5
Read 2-24-09 Himmel Lib.
17.95
Endpapers: White

After Kimo's grandfather, who is also his best firend, dies, his father tells him the story of how, on April 1, 1946, his grandfather watched his brother and 23 others be swept away in a tsunami. Kimo has accompanied his grandfather yearly to the memorial overlooking the sea where it happened -- but now he understands. Father and son also take a trip to the Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hilo, where one of the exhibits is a quilt created in honor of the twenty-four who lost thier lives at Laupahoehoe Point (Lah PAH hoy hoy) on that April day in 1946. However, the title's a bit misleading - the book is not about the quilt, just the story behind it.

Full page illustrations with text over the artwork - even the page with the copyright information. Sad story. Cool telling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"The Traveling Onion" - Naomi Shihab Nye

I went to my second "Introduction to Poetry Writing" class at the U of A Poetry Center tonight. We had to "critique" each other's poems. The assignment was to use repetition, and next week we have to write a story poem. It's very, very intimidating. I'll speak more on that at another time, just say I don't understand how so many of my students can clamor to share something they've just written. It sure is hard for me! But it did give me the chance to immerse myself in poetry for the first time in a long time, and I've stopped a few times this week to take the time to read my favorite poet, Naomi Shihab Nye. I love her poems, I love her essays. She creates the richest images I've ever read. What follows is one of my very favorites:

The Traveling Onion

When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.

And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,
disappear.

— Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words

Monday, February 23, 2009

13. The Book of Lies - Brad Meltzer

AUDIO Read by Scott Brick
For: Adults
Book Pub: 2008
Audio:
10 discs/11.5 hours
352 pgs.
Rating: 2
Finished: Feb. 23, 2009

This was my first Brad Meltzer. I was not greatly impressed. Neither the story nor the characters were very engaging - I had no empathy for any of the characters, I never really felt like I got to know a single one of them. It switched around from one person's perspective to another. And there were an awful lot of "bad" guys. The protagonist is Cal Harper, whose father pushed and killed his mother when Cal was nine. After eight years in jail, his dad never came to find him. So now at 28 he lives his life in a beat-up van on the streets of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, helping and working with homeless people. Very noble. His partner, a black preacher named Roosevelt, is his philosophical friend. When they happen upon a shooting in the park and discover the victim is Cal's long-lost father, the mystery and flight after an unknown historical treasure begins. We hear from a guy named Ellis, who, with his dog, Benoni, is also after the treasure. Ellis works for a mysterious "Prophet." Cal's father is accompanied by a young woman named Serena - it's really quite foggy about how she came into his life- and then there's the law enforcement official, Naomi, who's after them all. She doesn't know who the bad guys are, and she thinks a lot about her adopted son, which seems really out-of-place. She's constantly on the phone with a wheelchair-boound guy named Scotty, and Ellis keeps calling an unknown judge. This, I suppose, is to keep the suspense high while wondering who the bad guy/s really is/are. Throw in Cain and Abel, Superman author Jerry Segal and his father, Mitch, a trip to Cleveland, Nazis and a strange group called The Thule, lots of tension between Cal and HIS father, Russia.....and lots of vague information. Get the picture? It's pretty foggy, eh?

My last impression was "who cares?" Not a good way to end eleven and a half hours of listening. It was not easy listening, either, because I really didn't care for the reader. He emphasized words in a way that I never would have if I'd been reading them myself. I went to the library this evening to pick up a new audio book and as I was walking toward the check-out I realized the reader was Scott Brick. I must admit, I turned around and found another book.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2008 Academy Awards

I can't go to bed without raving about tonight's Oscar Award Show. Wow! It was total entertainment, clever, fun, flamboyant, lots of new innovations - and Hugh Jackman, as emcee, was fantastic. He sang. He danced. He made jokes. He was totally charming.

The introductions for the four top actor/actress awards were amazing. They showed five top actors/actresses that had received the same award, then onto the stage they came. Each made a personalized introduction for this year's nominees, leaving barely a dry eye. It was a pretty cool way to introduce the nominees and the winners.

BEST MOVIE: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST LEAD ACTOR: Sean Penn, Milk
BEST LEAD ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Saturday, February 21, 2009

At Ellis Island - Louise Peacock

A History in Many Voices
Illustrator: Walter Lyon Krudop
For: Grades 3-4
Published: 2007
Ratng: 3

Mixed feelings about this one. It has lots of information. There's a first person account in letter form. There's primary source material, illustrations and photographs - all good. But it's very confusing to read, even though different fonts are used to differentiate between the first person "story" account (in blue cursive) and a story line in a different font - red - that I finally figured out is a contemporary person's reflections as they look at the musem at Ellis Island, maintained by the Nationaal Park Service. Also on almost each two-page spread is some sort of primary source in the original handwriting, and photos along with the illustrations. But what do your read, in what order?

10-year old Sera Assidian has come by herself from Armenia. We discover that her mother has been killed and her father has sent for her. The story includes her experiences on the boat AND on her experiences on Ellis Island.

My Name is Bilal - Asma Mobin-Uddin

Illutrator: Barbara Kiwok
Published: 2005
Rating: 3
Endpapers: Bright Yellow

When Bilal and his sister move to a new town from Chicago, they realize they are the only Muslim kids at their school. Afraid of being bullied, Bilal claims his name is Bill and doesn't stand up for his sister when a bully tries to pull off her head scarf. His teacher, Mr. Ali, was an old friend of his father's and meets Bilal at the mosque with a gift of a book about an ancient Bilal. After reading the book and having a dream where he is put into the same situation as his ancient namesake, he decides to be himself. Miraculously a situation appears where he can make friends with the bully (you realize the the "miraculously" is tongue-in-cheek....) and he meets an older, respected student who is a Muslim and stops playing basketball to pray.

There's lots of information about the religion, but the story itself is not particularly clever or believable.

Barbara Kiwok's illustrations are lovely, in most cases covering about 2/3 of the two-page spread from edge-to-edge. The text is on the remaining white third of the page. In the middle of the book there are two pages with no illustrations - only texxt - on the bright yellow color of the endpapers. I don't think I recall this happening in any other picture book. I wonder why?

Overall: Weak story, but excellent information woven in, with lovely illustrations.

Henry's Freedom Box - Ellen Levine

A True Story from the Underground Railroad
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Published: 2007
Read 1/31/09 B&N
Rating: 5
2008 Caldecott Honor Book
Endpapers: Medium brown

What a story! What detailed, heart-tugging illustrations! It begins, "Henry Brown wasn't sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren't allowed to know their birthdays. That sure says a lot. The illustration is of a young, barefoot boy sitting on a barrell and just staring....

Henry is sold away from his family. He works in a tobacco factory for years, meets a young woman named Nancy, they are given permission to wed. They have three kids. But one day, Nancy and the kids are sold and he loses them forever. He decides to try to become a free man. With the help of a white doctor who thought slavery was wrong, he mailed himself in a crate to Philadelphia - and freedom. It worked.

I think as much as we hear about families being torn apart, about the indignity that black slaves went through, that a story like this for kids that tells (and shows) the truth is still very much needed to make a hard-to-understand concept more real.

And oh, the illustrations. Kadir Nelson's illustrations for All God's Critters were really different than those he did for this, but just as amazing and wonderful. I have a new hero! Crosshatched pencil lines are covered with layers of watercolor and oil paints. The back flap says he also illustrated Ellington Was Not a Street (Ntozake Shange) and Just the Two of Us (Will Smith). You'll see both of those reviewed here soon, what do you want to bet?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

12. What Would Emma Do? - Eileen Cook

For: YA
Published 2009
307 pgs.
Rating: 4
Finished: Feb. 15, 2009 in Las Vegas

A trade paperback that never came out in hard cover, is copyrighted 2009 AND already in the Pima Library at the end of January? This, in itself, is an oddity.

Another oddity - this is the second book in a row - totally unintentionally - that is about fervent Christian-right teenagers being caught as hippocrites, followers, liars - with the still fairthful but honest, THINKING teen being the protagonist.

Emma lives in a small town, Wheaton, Indiana, middle of America's heartland, middle of America's dairy farms, and splat in the middle of the midwestern Bible belt. Pastor Evers leads his Trinity Evangelical flock wihich includes a high school, the setting for this story. Darci Evers, his popular daughter, is the antagonist. Emma's two best friends - one, Colin, a young man that she's known and trusted since she was two, and the other, Joann, who is kind and trustworthy and always there for her, are now, as seniors in high school, a couple. Emma's single mom moved them from Chicago back to her hometown when Emma was young. And lastly, Emma is a runner - is on the track team - is really, really good and hoping for a full scholarship to Northwestern, which is the only way she knows she'll get to leave this small town that she hates.

So. The stage is set for the story. Short chapters. The beginning of each is an italicized "talk" that Emma has with God. Clever and thoughtful and very, very, very funny.

All of a sudden the crowd of popular girls start fainting and having seizures (just like late 17th century Salem, though that is never mentioned), to cover up a drinking/drug party that Darci Evers attended. It goes up and down from there - quickly and with continued humor that I greatly enjoyed.

The ending was disappointing. Build up, build up, drop fast. Darn! Another twenty pages of the kind of action and talk that took place in the rest of the book would have made this a five for me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

11. What My Mother Doesn't Know - Sonya Sones

For: YA
Published: 2001
Rating: 4
Finished: (3rd time) Feb. 9, 2009
259 pgs.

This is a much-loved book by many female middle schoolers of my acquaintance! We're reading it for my teacher book club, so I was happy to read it again. The first time I read it I sat in an overstuffed chair in Bookman's from start to finish. It's in verse, and takes no more than an hour and a half. It reads fast. Sophie is spunky and fun, an artist with two close friends. She has a boyfriend that she quickly tires of and finds herself unusually drawn to an "outcast" that she's known since she was little. For some reason he has become the butt of jokes, but she's not sure why. He, too, is an artist, and they bump into each other over Christmas break at the Museum of Fine Arts. The story's set in Cambridge/Boston (but that's a minor point other than the museum). It's pretty light, but does make you think about how much we care about what other people think, whether we want to or not....and why would an average-looking, nice young man become such a pariah? There's another book by Sones called What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know, and it's from Murphy's point of view, if I remember correctly. The girls love it, too.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

10. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature - Robin Brande

For: YA/7-10
Published: 2007
Rating: 4.5
Finished: Feb. 8, 2009
265 pgs.

This was a grabber from the start. Mena has been totally ostracized by her friends, her pastor, AND her parents- even kicked out of her church. We know that she has written some sort of letter that is has gotten her into this hot water - her pastor and many of her ex-friends' families are being sued big-time. We only slowly get the story, which begins on her first day of freshman year. Not only is she ignored by the friends she grew up with - she is bullied and pushed around and embarrassed. And what these "devout" Christian kids do in the name of Jesus and God -- here, in black and white, is a story for young adults about some right-wing religious fanatics vs. open-minded thinkers. And we're talking right-wingers that don't read or watch anything that hints of magic or sorcery (think Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) and tithe heavily.

Throw in an intriguing, off-beat biology teacher that's about to begin a unit on evolution, a cute, brainy - and male - science lab partner, and a dozen black lab puppies, and you have a story of how one girl begins to fight back, keeping her love of God and the Bible evenly balanced with good sense and creative thinking. Mena become Bible Grrrrl - so she doesn't cop out on her ideals, but shows her humanity. This is definitely a thought-provoking story, and not one that I've seen tackled quite in this way. I liked it a lot.

The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom - Bettye Stroud

Illustrator: Erin Susanne Bennett
Published: 2005
Rating: 5
Read: 1/31/09 B&N
Paperback version, no endpapers

I am becoming more and more impressed with the quality of story and illustration that Candlewick Press publishes.

Based on a quilt code that has been verified (and written about in Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, published by Jacqueline Tobin and Dr. Raymond Dobard, 1999), Bettye Stroud has written a story about Hannah and her father's arduous journey as runaway slaves from a Georgia plantation into Canada. There are lots of details - about quilt patterns, about the Undergraound Railroad, about Quakers and some of the history of help along the way. However, it's not too lengthy - it's a fascinating account and overview, but short enough to keep even a younger child's interest. It would be a great read aloud to go along with a slavery, Black History, (or even Harriet Tubman) unit - and the quilt patterns which are integrated into the story could be integrated beautifully into the classroom in various ways - math and art and illustration and even hands-on with fabric, needle, and thread!

I Want to Be Free - Joseph Slate

Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
For: Kids - School age
Published: 2009
Rating: 4.5
Read: 1/31/09 B&N
Endpapers: Med. Sage Blue

In rhyming couplets we accompany a slave - who is able to remove the chain from his leg, but not the clamp from his ankle - to his freedom. Along the way he encounters a motherless child who is being left behind for slave-hunters to find, so he takes it upon himself to take the young boy with him. Then he forages for two...to the Land of the Free. There, the child touches the ring on his ankle and it falls away. This is when it gets weirdly religious - "How, dear child, did you set me free?/ I'm from the Lord. You cared for me."

Hmmm. Then I turned the page and got my explanation for this curious ending: AUTHOR'S NOTE: "This poem is a retelling of a story in the sacred literature of Buddha about his disciple, the Elephant Ananda, as related by Rudyard Kipling in his novel, Kim. I moved its setting and language to anther time, as I believe its them to be universal." Okay, that explains that. Maybe its time for me to investigat Buddha a little, 'cause I have no idea about this Elephant Ananda......intriguing.....

I just read The Negro Speaks of Rivers, also illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Wow. His dark, full page illustrations are emotional and inspiring.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

9. Mexican Hat - Michael McGarrity

For: Adults
Published: 1997
300 pgs.
Rating: 4
Finished: Feb. 6, 2009

This is the second in Michael McGarrity's series about Kevin Kerney, and unemployed inquisitive ex-cop in rural New Mexico. This story has a different setting than Tulerosa, it takes place in southern New Mexico, in the Silver City area, with one foray into Green Valley, just south of Tucson (which is always fun).

This time Kerney's taken a seasonal job as a forest ranger. He stumbles across some mysterious animal shootings, which look like possible smuggling jobs, and then a murder. Teaming up with game warden Jim Stiles and cat-and-mousing with the new assistant DA Karen Cox, they all work together to solve what turns out to be two sets of inter-realted crimes. Karen's elderly father, Edgar, and his twin brother, Eugene have not spoken in 60 years - and this, of course, is the center of the mystery. It was a good one, but some parts were slow and the introduction of the local militia needed more foreshadowing.

I'm looking forward to the next installment, Serpent Gate, to see where it takes place and what new characters it introduces.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

All God's Critters - Bill Staines

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Published: Jan. 2009, Rating: 4.5
Read: B&N 1/31/09
Endpapers: Black

Full page illustrations of large, fun, extremely whimsical animals - there are even two pull-open pages that show all the animals, arms over shoulders, kicking their feet like the Rockettes and, with heads thrown back, singing for all they're worth.
The music and lyrics are on a 2-page spread in the back.

This is a joyful book. It's too bad that a CD is not included, but it IS on Bill Staines"The Happy Wanderer" cd for kids that was released in 1993. I've seen Bill Staines perform three times, I think. He's great. And he yodels, too!

The I Love You Book - Todd Parr

For: Babies and toddlers
Published: 2009
Rating: 4
Read: B&N 1/31/09
Cut-out heart cover

I love you when you are silly...sad...scared...brave. I love you when I am away, when we are cuddled up close, when you sleep, when you don't sleep. I love you when we dance, when we stroll, when you are sick, when you feel better, when you give me kisses, when you need hugs....and on it goes. It's all about unconditional love, and illustrated the only way Todd Parr can - closest thing to Keith Haring - thick black outlines with bright primary colors. This one's got hearts everywhere. Makes sense!

Splat the Cat - Rob Scotton

Published: 2008
Rating: 5
Endpapers: Front: White with small grey mouse (Seymour), Back: white with small mouse hour door

I adore Splat. He's a fuzzy black cat with huge round white eyes and a questions mark tail. All the cats are the furriest, fuzziest, funkiest cats I've ever seen.

Simple, simple storyline - first day of school for Splat ("his tail wiggled with worry"), he doesn't want to go, but of course ends up loving it. It's the illustrations that really got to me - I flipped through the book three times before going on. He also wrote Russell the Sheep and two other Russell books. I bet they're great. I think Rob Scotton's British...

Black and with and shades-of-gray illustrations with one (well, sometimes two) objects of strong color on the page.

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness - Colin Thompson

Published: Sept, 2008
For: (See note below)
Rating: 4
Read: Jan. 2009
Endpapers: Tiny brown and white print with pawprints (after I read the book and looked again I realized the prints were of a 3-pawed dog with a "peg" leg - clever)
Font: Cool - looks like hand printing
Australian

Round, roly-poly George lived with his grandmother and was very lonely and sad. "Most Friday afternoons on his way home from school, in that time before the weekend when lonely people realize just how lonely they are, George visited the dog shelter." (Boy, do I know what he means!) The very last cage in the back and bottom of the shelter was where the dogs were kept that were about to be euthanized. That is where he found 3-legged Jeremy - another lonely soul. George and his grandmother took Jeremy home and built him three different kinds of new legs. And life was to be much better for many years to come for them all. A friend at last. And even George and his grandmother's relationship seemed closer after Jeremy's arrival.

Gentle humor. Funky illustrations - very brown. I really like this a lot.

NOTE: It mentions the fact that Jeremy's about to go to "the big kennel in the sky" a number of times, so unless you want to explain that to very young children, I'd stick with older ones you know will understand the idea of euthanasia.

The Secret Seder - Doreen Rappaport

illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully
Published: 2005
Rating: 4
REad: Jan. 25, 2009
Endpapers: Rust

A young nameless Jewish boy must pretend to be Catholic in order to hide - he lives in France during the time of Hitler. It is spring, the time of Passover, but Jews cannot safely celebrate. Marching black boots are everywhere. One night the boy's father takes him out of the village and up the mountainside to a dark cabin where a small graoup of men are daring enough to celebrate the Passover Seder. They whisper. They have no food and only one piece of matzo. But they share the ritual of the seder and the young boy, for the first time, participates in the Hebrew his mother has been secretly teaching him.

Powerful story. Beautiful - though dark - illustrations. Another piece in a sad, sad story that must continue to be told.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

MOVIE - Slumdog Millionaire

Rating: Topnotch
Viewed: Feb. 4, 2009 at El Con with Laraine
Rotten Tomato: 94% Mine: Same
EW: B cag: A
Genre: Drama (and Romance)
Released 11/12/08
R (2 hr 0 min)
Directed by Danny Boyle (Brit.)
British film
Mombai (Bombay) slums
2008 Academy Award Winner - BEST MOVIE (2/22/09)

Incredible storytelling, superb casting, and a surreal setting work together to make one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. No matter how much you hear about the poverty, the huge population, or the multitude of parentless, homeless children in India, watching this movie makes it real. Sometimes, too real.

18-year-old Jamal Malik is competing in India's 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire," and is about to win 20 million ruppees. But because the show's producer does not believe a street urchin could possibly correctly answer all the questions that Jamal did, he is taken into custody and interrogated to see how he cheated. Throughout this interragation his story is told, which shows how he knew the answers that were asked, and bring him through the years to the time and place that he currently resides. It goes back to when he was a young boy and orphaned, with his brother, Saleem, in Bombay. They are joined by Latika, a young girl in the same situation, and the relationship between Latika and Jamal is the thread that holds this story together. The three sets of actors that play the three protagonists are superb, really excellent. It's a mesmerizing film. And although I would have never believed it from watching the opening scenes, I walked out of the theater happy - and quite satisfied.