Thursday, June 30, 2016

MOVIE - Hunt for the Wilderpeople

NR (1:41)
Limited release 6/24/16
Viewed around June 30, 2016
RT Critic: 97   Audience:  91
Critic's Consensus:   The charmingly offbeat Hunt for the Wilderpeople unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.
Cag:  5 Loved it
Directed by Taika Waltiti
Piki Films

Sam Neill

My comments:  I didn't write my thoughts and comments at the time, stupid me!  I do remember that this had heart and I really enjoyed it a lot.  A great family film from New Zealand.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, upcoming THOR: RAGNORAK) masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowd-pleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way.

38. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell

Audio CD read by Anne Flosnik
2006 Houghton Mifflin
2007 Blackstone Audio
245 pgs.
Contemporary realistic fiction with forays into the 2nd quarter of the 20th century
Finished June 30, 2016 on my second trip this summer north to Maine
Goodreads rating: 3.80 (17,700 ratings)
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary Scotland

First line/s:  "Let us begin with two girls at a dance.  They are at the edge of the room.  One sits on a chair, opening and shutting a dance card with gloved fingers.  The other stands beside her, watching the dance unfold:  the circling couples, the clasped hands, the drumming shoes, the whirling skirts, the bounce of the floor.  It is the last hour of the year and the windows behind them are blank with night.  The seated girls is dressed in something pale, Esme forgets what, the other in a dark red frock that doesn't suit her.  She has lost her gloves.  It begins here."

My comments:  This was a really good story. Well written, well read.  Iris, a 30-something with a complicated love life, discovers she has an unknown great-aunt - Esme - that's been hidden away in an asylum for 61 years - since she was 16.  And there was absolutely no reason for it.  The story unfolds in many ways - in the memories of both Esme and her now-senile sister Kitty and in the current day happenings of Iris and Esme. The reader had a wonderful British/Scottish lilt and the story was quite mesmerizing. (It did leave me with a real sense of anger about mental-health issues and the little regard society had for women just a short time ago in our history.)

Goodreads synopsis:  In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.
          Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. 
          Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?
          A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.

June Letterboxing

EVENT:  Get Your Kicks on Route 66 - June 4, 2016
I went to a large event just outside Washington, DC at Watkins Regional Park.
Found my 100th Letterbox there!

Found new boxes in Maine AND Pennsylvania.
I love doing this with Brendan and Ella.  And now, Laura's decided to try, and got Tristan a stamp, too.  She says he's most interested in stamping the Power Rangers, though.....

P2 F120 X61

New in June:
Traditional: 21 finds (now 120)
       1 new PLANT (Shel Silverstein Poet Tree at Bosler Library)
HH: none new, still 9F
Postals: 12 new finds (now 110)
        1 new plant (Pick a Few)
        1 new tracker created (Flower Garden)
LTCs: 1 new plant:  ANP on MDI for Hometown Postcards 2
     (now 3P and 28 F)
Personal Travelers:  14 Found at the Rte. 66 Event (now 54 found)
Event Boxes: 14 Found at the Rte 66 Event (now 34 found)

Carves:  1 new - Pick Me a Few for the Flower Garden Tracker
Repurposed:  Shel Silverstein Poetree became a traditional plant
                      Park Loop Road (favorite drives) became Hometown Postcards 2 LTC


Monday, June 27, 2016

Postcards Received Monday, June 27, 2016

411.  Portland, Oregon
This was a card received from the Letterbox Tracker Hometown Postcards 2 from Belless

412.  Colorado Springs: Olympic City USA
This was a card received from the Letterbox Tracker Hometown Postcards 2 from The Woodshed

413.  Delft, Netherlands
Mark van Huystee
Hi Chris,  I picked you a card by a local artist whose work I admire.  This is a city-centre picture and the bide just belongs there.  Of course there's also Delft blue (pottery) and loads of history, too.  I love my city!  Happy Postcrossing

414.  New York City, NY
Helmann:  In His Mysterious Cabinet of Dark Seances
Courtesy of Mike Caveney's Egyptian Hall Museum
Hi Chris,
I have all these cool magic-themed postcards, but I've felt like they're a little too weird for most postcrossers.  I'm glad you mentioned Day of the Dead.  I hope you enjoy whatever Hellman is up to.  I also hope that you're having a fabulous start to your retirement...Congrats!  Happy postcrossing!  Mary in NYC

415.  Vitedsk, Belarus
Hello!  My name is Dasha, I'm 20.  I study at the university in the field of history.  Postcrossing addiction, I enjoy reading, Belarus: an ethnography and medicine, history, traditions, rituals, cuisine.  Oh my country is very interesting and colorful.  My country has passed many tests in the form of wars, conquests, the change of power.  Our architecture is very distinctive and is not inferior to European.  For more information you can get acquainted with my country on this site:  The postcard shows the view of the city of Vitedsk - the northern capital of Belarus.  Regards!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Postcard Received Friday, June 24, 2016

410.  Erie Shop & RR Yards, Susquehanna, PA
This was a card received from the Letterbox Tracker Hometown Postcards 2 from Aunt Cake

37. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

Library book
2016, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House
256 pgs.
CRF in verse for Middle Grades
Finished June 24, 2016
Goodreads rating:  4.14 - 509 ratings
My rating:   4

My comments:  Stupidly, this is one of the reviews that I didn't write during the summer when I read the book (I HATE when I do that!)  It was written in verse from the point-of-view of different kids, and I wished that I'd taken quick, short notes about each of the kids from the start.  I think this would be an awesome book to use with middle grade book groups.

Goodreads synopsis:
Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.

But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill's fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They're going to speak up
and work together
to save their school.

Laura Shovan's engaging novel is a time capsule of one class's poems during a transformative school year. The students grow up and move on in this big-hearted debut about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Postcards Received Thursday, June 23, 2016

408.  Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Gijs Gans - uit Mamma Belle en het Dierenspel
Hi Chris,
My name is Erato and I'm Greek, but I live in the Netherlands.  The card falls not in your likes or dislikes and it's quite original, that's why I chose it for you.  Have you ever been to Europe?  I've never been the the USA but my dream is to go to Alaska and stay there for awhile!
Enjoy your retirement and always smile!

409.  Illinois Railway Museum; Union, Illinois
Hi Chris!  I'm a college student in Chicago, majoring in elementary education.  I'll be student teaching starting in January.  I would like tot teach first through fourth grades once I finish school, but I'm flexible!  Take care, Matt

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Postcard Received Wednesday, June 22, 2016

407.  Neva River and the Peter & Paul Fortress from the Palace Embankment; St. Petersburg Russia 
(card sent from Spain)
Hello!  I'm from Spain, but now I'm in the big trip on the gulf of Finland.  And sending you greetings from amazing city - St. Petersburg.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Postcards Received Monday, June 20, 2016

405.  Jarkarta, Indonesia
Hello Chris, I am Sititie. Greetings from equator.
Most people in Indonesia eat rice as a main food, that's why farmers do rice planting to provide enough rice.  Here we do in traditional way as you see in postcard.  When harvesting season comes, they also cut the paddy with manual, not by machine.
Best wishes &Happy Postcrossing.
Regards:  Sititie

406.  Germany
Hello Chris,
Greeting from Germany!  I wish you all the best, good luck and health.  Happy Postcrossing, Andreas

Sunday, June 19, 2016

PICTURE BOOK - A Year of Borrowed Men by Michelle Barker

Illustrated by Renne Benoit
1st published in Canada in 2015; US publishing in 2016 by PajamaPress (Canada
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.78 (23 ratings)
My rating: 4 
Illustrations: "The illustrations are rendered in watercolour and coloured pencil, with a little pastel, on paper."
1st line/s:  "I was seven when the French prisoners of war arrive at our house.  It was 1944.  Mummy told us the government had sent them because all our men were gone to war, and someone needed to keep the farms running.  She said we were just borrowing the French men.  When the war was over, we would give them back."

My comments:  This WWII picture book for older kids was not told from the "usual" point of view.  How often do we consider what it was like for the average German family during that time?  Based on a true story, Gerta's family take on three French prisoners-of-war to work their large farm while her father is away fighting in the German army.  The Frenchmen must stay in the "pig kitchen" and Greta's mother will be taken to jail if they treat them in any un-prisoner-like way.  However, Greta makes friends with them, finding them kind.   It's a great story to show still another point-of-view during wartime, one not too often told. 

Goodreads: When World War II borrows the men in six-year-old Gerda s family, the German government sends them three new men in return: Gabriel, Fermaine, and Albert, French prisoners of war who must sleep in an outbuilding and work the farm until the war is over. Gerda knows they are supposed to treat the men as enemies, but it doesn t seem fair. Can t they invite them into the warm house for one meal? What harm could it do to be friendly? Writing from her mother s childhood memories of Germany during World War II, Michelle Barker shares the story of one family s daring kindness in a time of widespread anger and suspicion. Renne Benoit s illustrations bring warmth to the era, showing the small ways in which a forbidden friendship bloomed: good food, a much-loved doll, a secret Christmas tree. Family photographs and an Author s Note give further insight into the life of Gerda, the little girl who proved that it isn t so far from Feinde (enemies) to Freunde (friends)."

PICTURE BOOK - Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Illustrated by Dylan Metrano
2016, Orchard (an Imprint of Scholastic!)
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.35 (122 ratings)
My rating: 5, It's a beauty
Endpapers: Orange
Illustrations:  Layers of cut paper.  Bold.  Gorgeous.

My comments:  What a lovely way to illustrate a poem.  The amazing illustrations are layered cut paper.  A perfect picture book!The 4-page Afterward explains a bit about each bird, with a smaller size replica of the illustration.

The poem: 
Every day we watch the birds
weaving through our sky.
We listen to their calls ans songs.
We like to see them fly.
Chickadee wears a wee black c ap.
Jay is loud and bold.
Nuthatch perches upside-down
Finch is clothed in gold.
Hawk hunts every day for prey.
Cardinal flashes fire.
Woodpecker taps hollow trees.
Crow rests on a wire.
Heron fishes with his bill.
Sparrow hops in brown.
Mockingbird has many voices.
Pigeon lives in town.
Eagle soars above the land.
Oriole hangs her nest.
Owl swoops soundlessly late at night.
Robin puffs his chest.
Hummingbird drinks flower nectar.
Goose flies in a V.
Bluebird sleeps at meadow's edge.
Gull states at the sea.
Every day we watch for birds
living right outside our door.
We pay attention to the birds.
Every day we learn some more.

Goodreads:  Young readers are fascinated with birds in their world. Every Day Birds helps children identify and learn about common birds. After reading Every Day Birds, families can look out their windows with curiosity--recognizing birds and nests and celebrating the beauty of these creatures!
          Every Day Birds focuses on twenty North American birds, with a poem and descriptions written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and beautiful paper-cuttings by first-time picture book illustrator Dylan Metrano. Interesting facts about each bird are featured in the back of the book.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

36. Lizzie and the Lost Baby - Cheryl Blackford

Book from Amelia Givin Library
2016 HMH Books for Young Readers
181 pgs.
Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Finished 6/18/16
Goodreads rating: 3.94 (90 ratings)
My rating:1/I had some definite problems with this book, and I can't even say it was okay...
Setting: WWII Yorkshire countryside

First line/s:  "Every window on the train had been painted black, blocking any possible view of the passing scenery."

My comments:  I hate to have to rate a book - any book -  less than a four, it makes me feel really bad. But I try to give my honest opinions in these reviews, even if sometimes I can't put my feelings into understandable words.  But I had some definite problems with this book.  Lots of stereotyping.  Lots of really bad adults.  Immoral, unethical ones.  What are we teaching kids?  I think a story about a brave girl is a great idea -- but even though there may have been huge amounts of unethical people in WWII Britain, I dislike the way the book portrayed the members of this community, including the police, as selfish, hateful idiots.  A whole community came together to house kids from the city, kids they didn't even know, to keep them safe, and then the individuals we come upon in the story itself have low ethics and morals? Kidnappers, liars, bigots...  Ridiculous.  Although this has some great information about WWII, safety issues, gypsies, etc., I won't be sharing it with any of my students or grandkids.

Goodreads synopsis:Cheryl Blackford's debut novel is set in England during World War II and told from the dual perspectives of ten-year-old Lizzie, a homesick girl evacuated from bomb-blitzed Hull to the remote Yorkshire valley, and Elijah, a local gypsy boy. When Lizzie discovers an abandoned baby, her dangerous friendship with Elijah is put to the test. Will Lizzie be able to find the baby's parents? And if she does, can she and Elijah remain friends in a world clouded by prejudice and fear

Postcards Received Saturday, June 18, 2016

403.  "Star of the East with Rising Suns, ca. 1870"
 Card from Easton, Kansas
Greetings fromthe Heartland!
Congratulations on your recent retirement from teaching.  It sounds like you are making the most of it!  We lived in Carlisle, PA from 1997 -1998 and really enjoyed our time there.  I, too, love quilting and I have many projects that I'm working on.  I recently read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Great book!  Enjoy your summer!  Barbara

404.  Ubudiah Mosque, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia
Completed in late 1917, Perak's royal mosque was designed by Arthur Benison Hubback and ranks high on the lsit of Malaysia's most beautiful mosques.
Hello!  Greetings from Malaysia.  This is one of the beautiful historical mosques in the country. kkkhor

MOVIE - Love and Friendship

PG (1:34)
Limited release 5/13/16
Viewed summer of 2016 - I think at the Majestic in Gettysburg
RT Critic: 98   Audience:  60
Critic's Consensus:  Love & Friendship finds director Whit Stillman bringing his talents to bear on a Jane Austen adaptation -- with a thoroughly delightful period drama as the result.
Cag:  3 Like it okay
Directed by Whit Stillman
Westerly Films
Based on the book of the same name by Jane Austen

Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny

My comments:   Unfortunately, I didn't write down my review when watching it, and this is being written over 100 movies later.  I remember being annoyed by one of the actresses, I think it was Chloe Sevigny, but I can't remember why.  Shoot, I had lots of reasons for rating it a 3 at the time...

RT/ IMDb Summary:   Beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon visits to the estate of her in-laws to wait out the colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and a future for her eligible but reluctant daughter, Frederica. In doing so she attracts the simultaneous attentions of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Postcards Received Friday, June 17, 2016

396.  Jiufen, Taipei, Taiwan
Dear Chris,
This is card from Taiwan.  My name is Li Yu Vou.  I am 28 years old.  There are a few sights in Taiwan you probably don't want to miss.  Jiufen is one of them.  If you have the opportunity I hope you can arrive to play.
Have a nice day.

397. Czech Republic
Hello Chris,
My name if Filip.  I live on Browsis.  I go to school Pneamost.  I am 14 years old.  My hobbies are cycling, cooking, sleeping and walking.  I go to seventh class.  My sister's name ua Poja,  My mother's name is Renatra and my father's name is Povel.  My dog's name is Bella.  Bye.

398.  Taiwan is Fun
Dear Chris,
My name is Louis.  I live and work in Taiwan.  I have been to visit USA several years ago.  It's a very beautiful country.  There are some famous landmarks of Taiwan.  I hope you like this postcard.  Best wishes, Louis

399.  Tom Purvis, British "East Coast Resorts"
a MOMA card from Hong Kong
I'm originally from Canada and have lived in Hong Kong over 9 years, teaching English.  It's a crowded, busy place, but interesting.  I've never been to your part of the world - haven't seen a lot of the USA.  Maybe someday I'll get there. 
Louis Porter

400.  Worcestershire Thatch, England
Hi kids,
What a great school project!  these houses date back before 1800 when slate for roofs started to become commercially available.  Today they are expensive to maitain, and difficult to insure because of fire risk.  But they look beautiful and there are still thousands around in the UK, and other parts of Europe.  I live in Droitwick, Worcestershire.
Best Regards, Duncan

401.  Lift Your Eyes!  Latvia
Dear Chris, my name is Ilze and I am 27.  I am writing you from Riga, Latvia.  It is a rural country in the northern Europe between the Baltic Sea and Russia.  Here we are only 2 million people.  We speak Latvian and we like to pick berries and mushrooms in the forest.  We also like the sea and everything about it.  We have cold winters and short summers but the nature id wonderful.  Have a nice summer!

402.  Berlin, Germany
Hello Chris!  I guess I never written to a person living on a "mt." before :)  Although your avatar doesn't look very mountainous :)  Ok, what you see on the front of this card is something famous (but not a building :) and Berlin Unique, a takeaway or sandwich bar called Konnopka's Imbib.  Should you ever visit Berlin don't miss a chance to try this one.  Wish you all the best, Andre
My reply to him:
Thanks so much for your card! I'm not sure why Mt. Holly Springs is named Mount. I lived for 30 years in Maine on Mt. Desert Island (which was an abbreviation for the way the French explorers named the Island of deserted mountains. They have plenty of conifers on them now!) My avatar is actually where I live during the school year, in Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is in a valley between FOUR mountain ranges - and there's no Mount in the name. Go figure. I love your handwriting, by the way. Can you tell I'm a school teacher? Best, Chris

Postcard Statistics

I love statistics.  For a left-brained person, I really get a kick out of numbers.  I've been keeping track of the postcards that my class sent and received all school year, and I think I'll continue tracking them. For most of the year we had three accounts.  All on Postcrossing (which is sorta frowned upon, but it worked for 21 kids).  Then we joined Postcards United and the school year ended.  I cancelled out our two classroom accounts, but have decided to continue with my original Postcrossing account and the Postcards United one, at least until I can't afford the postage anymore!

Sent 483 Received 483 (Includes Letterbox Swap)
63 countries; 5 provinces; 36 States (+ Washington DC)

Australia - Sent  6    Received   8
Austria - Sent  4    Received   2
Bahamas - Sent   2   Received    1
Belarus - Sent   13   Received   19
Belgium - Sent   10   Received   8
Bhutan  - Sent  0    Received   1
Brazil - Sent  2    Received   2
Bulgaria - Sent   1   Received   0
Canada    Alberta - Sent  1    Received   0    Received one unknown province
               British Columbia - Sent   1   Received   2
               Manitoba - Sent  0    Received   2
               Nova Scotia - Sent   0   Received   1
               Ontario - Sent  1    Received   4
Cape Verde, Africa - Sent  0    Received   1
Caribbean Islands - Sent  0    Received   1
Chile - Sent   1   Received   2
China - Sent  16    Received  21
Czech Republic - Sent  20    Received   12
Estonia - Sent   0   Received   2
Finland - Sent  24    Received   15
France - Sent  10   Received   12
Germany - Sent  80    Received   61
Great Britain - Sent  10    Received   8
Greece - Sent   0   Received   2
Greenland - Sent   0   Received   1
Guatemala - Sent  0    Received  2
Guyana - Sent   1   Received   1
Hong Kong - Sent  6    Received   6
Hungary - Sent  3    Received  0
Iceland - Sent   0   Received   1
India - Sent  5    Received   2
Indonesia - Sent  3    Received   4
Ireland  - Sent   2   Received   1
Israel - Sent   0   Received   2
Italy - Sent   3   Received  1
Japan - Sent   12   Received   13
Kazakhstan  -  Sent 1   Received 0
Korea (South) - Sent   2   Received   1
Latvia - Sent  2    Received   3
Lithuania - Sent   3   Received   2
Luxembourg - Sent   2   Received   1
Malaysia - Sent  7    Received  9
Mexico - Sent  2    Received   1
Nepal - Sent  0    Received   1
Netherlands - Sent   36   Received   33
New Zealand - Sent   2   Received   2
Norway - Sent   1   Received   2
Pakistan - Sent  1    Received   0
Philippines - Sent   0   Received   1
Poland - Sent  9    Received   9
Portugal - Sent   3   Received   5
Romania - Sent   1   Received  2
Russia - Sent  56    Received   46
Serbia - Sent   1   Received  0
Singapore - Sent  4    Received   1
Slovenia - Sent   0   Received   2
South Africa - Sent  0    Received   2
Spain - Sent   1   Received   7
Sweden - Sent   3    Received   3
Switzerland - Sent  6    Received   5
Taiwan - Sent   21   Received   15
Thailand - Sent  4    Received  1
Tunisia - Sent   1   Received   0
Turkey - Sent  4    Received   2
Ukraine - Sent   8   Received   4
U.A.E. - Sent   1   Received   1
USA  -
   Alabama - Sent   0   Received   1
   Arizona - Sent  1    Received   1
   Alaska - Sent  2    Received   0
   California - Sent   5   Received   5
   Colorado - Sent  4    Received   5
   Connecticut - Sent  1    Received   1
   D. C. - Sent   0   Received   1
   Delaware - Sent   0   Received   1
   Florida - Sent   2   Received   2
   Georgia - Sent  1    Received   1
   Hawaii - Sent  0     Received   1
   Idaho - Sent   0   Received   2
   Illinois - Sent   4   Received   3
   Indiana - Sent   0   Received   1
   Iowa - Sent   1   Received   0
   Kansas - Sent  1    Received   1
   Maine - Sent  0    Received   1
   Maryland - Sent   1   Received   2
   Massachusetts - Sent  1    Received   2
   Michigan - Sent  1    Received   2
   Minnesota - Sent  0   Received   2
   Montana - Sent  0    Received   1
   Nebraska - Sent    1  Received   0
   New Hampshire - Sent   0   Received   1
   New Jersey - Sent   0   Received   2
   New Mexico - Sent   1   Received  1
   New York - Sent   2   Received  5
   North Carolina - Sent   2   Received   3
   Oklahoma  -  Sent  1   Received   0
   Oregon - Sent   4   Received   8
   South Carolina - Sent  0    Received   1
   Pennsylvania - Sent   3   Received   2
   Tennessee - Sent   2   Received  1
   Texas - Sent   5   Received   5
   Utah - Sent   1   Received   1
   Virginia - Sent   2   Received   0
   Washington - Sent   1   Received  2
   Wisconsin - Sent   4   Received  2
 Vietnam - Sent   0   Received   1              

Quest Scouts Monthly Challenges

Quest Scouts website
June, 2016 - All Who Wander
May, 2016 - Paneled
April, 2016 - Breakdown
March, 2016 - Small World
February, 2016 - Postcards & Places
December, 2015 -  Atlas
November, 2015 - Paper & Ink

MOVIE - Me Before You

PG-13 (1:50)
Wide release 6/3/16
Viewed Carlisle 8 on 6/17/16 (new recliners were very comfy)
RT Critic: 57   Audience:  80
Critic's Consensus:  Me Before You benefits from Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin's alluring chemistry, although it isn't enough to compensate for its clumsy treatment of a sensitive subject.
Cag:  2 - Didn't really like it that much, the acting, the setting, but hated the story.  All of it.
Directed by Thea Sharrock
Warner Brothers Pictures
Based on the book by Jojo Moyes

Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin

My comments: Emilia Clarke, the grinny, upbeat protaganist of this movie is none other than the gal who portrays the white-blonde haired Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones!  Who would have thunk it?  She did a superb job in this movie.  The costume designer did a great job picking out the perfect just-a-little-offbeat separates for her, which I enjoyed immensely. That being said, this is a story for lovers of Nicholas Sparks, of which I am not.  This is a tear jerker.  I despise tear jerkers.  I'm so glad I didn't read the book, and I think I'm going to wipe any Jojo Moyes titles off my wishlist.  She gets filed away beside Nicholas Sparks (ech!) for me. 'Nuff said.

RT Summary:  Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jo Jo Moyes, Me Before You tells the story of the unexpected relationship that blossoms between a contented small town Englishwoman and the wealthy, paralyzed Londoner who hires her as his caretaker.

PICTURE BOOK - The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers

Terry Fan and Eric Fan
2016, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
 40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.02 (2,009 ratings)
My rating: 5
Endpapers lovely pencil-drawn leafy branches on green
Illustrations:  Intricate pencil drawings, some colored, some not.  WINNERS!
1st line/s: "William looked out his window to find a commotion on the street."

My comments: Opening to the first double page spread, I knew this book would be a winner.  Somehow the illustration reminded me of the illustrations in Homer Price, which brought back wonderful memories. I was not disappointed.  Although there is a short, pleasing narrative, this could easily be a wordless book.  It's delightful!

Goodreads:  One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Postcards Received Thursday, June 16, 2016

392.  Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
Chris,  Hello, greetings from Malaysia.  I hope you like this postcard.  It portrays the night view of Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.  Actually the view is much more interesting now because this postcard shos the old view which I believe is in the 1990s.  Good luck, chin Yen  12/5/16

393.  Suomo - Finland
Hello Chris!  I chose you an autumn view, because I just love the colours of our nature at that time.  This view could be from my summer house and perhaps you can imagine me sitting by the lake with a coffee mug in my hand and listening to birds singing to me while flying to warmer south.  Love, Tiina

394.  Fun Facts:  New York City
"Twice a year, during May and July, a phenomenon known as Manhattenhenge occurs in New York City.  The setting sun aligns perfectly with the east-west streets of Manhattan."
Hello Chris!
This postcard isn't traveling very far!  I live in NJ across the river from Philadelphia!
Hope you like this postcard!

PICTURE BOOK - Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hook

Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
2016, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.38 (72 ratings)
My rating:  %
Endpapers:  Pale Aqua
Title Page: Dirt-ish background with torn scattered pieces of musical score strewn about
Illustrations:  Collage and drawings together, perfect for this book!
1st line/s:  "Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash."  Powerwful!

Note:  In the MIM in Phoenix, there is a display of some of these intruments!  There has been a 60-Minutes segment on it and there are all sorts of YouTube videos.

My comments:   Nonfiction picture books that tell true stories of what's going on in other parts of the world draw me like a bee to nectar.  And when they're well told, illustrated beautifully, and loaded with pertinent information, I'm one happy teacher.  However, I don't have a classroom in which to share this book anymore, and this is a book to be shared and discussed.  Perfect for the intermediate-grade classroom that is learning about how to make a difference in our world.
          I can't imagine a town that's built on, at, or even near a huge garbage dump.  What a wake-up message for kids AND adults.  Lots of additional information so that I can look and learn more, and maybe even help a bit.....

Goodreads:  From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.
     Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option...until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

35. Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson

Helsinki Inspector Kari Vaara #2
Listened on Audible
2011 G. P. Putnam's
336 pgs.
Contemporary Murder Mystery
Finished 6/14/16
Goodreads rating: 3.84 - 1665 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Helsinki

First line/s: "The baby kicks against me from my hand and rouses me from my nap."

My comments:  There are three scenarios twisting and turning through this book, two investigations that Kari Vaara is working on, and a home situation that he must stay on top of.  He's moved to Helsinki from the Arctic Circle with his very-pregnant wife, a move he didn't want to make.  He has a brash young partner that tries him.  He's having debilitating headaches that you know aren't good.  He's investigating the murder of a shady Russian businessman's wife and trying to sniff out the facts about possible Nazi collaboration by his adored Finnish grandfather.  The cherry on top is that his wife Kate's siblings have come to stay with them from America.  Not only are they intolerant about Finnish customs and history, but one is a Bible thumper and the other's an alcoholic.  Kari Vaara is smart, an honorable, likable man.  Although a couple of the scenarios are wrapped up in this book, another is begun, and the possibilities at the end of the book are scintillating.  Can't wait to read more!  My only critical note is that there is a LOT of 20th century Finnish history mentioned, the names and situations are unfamiliar to me so they were a bit tedious and difficult to follow at times.

Goodreads synopsis:  Inspector Kari Vaara returns, more haunted than ever, in the follow- up to Snow Angels, "a must for fans of the international crime novel." (Booklist
     The Sufia Elmi case left Kari Vaara with a scarred face, chronic insomnia, a constant migraine, and a full body count's worth of ghosts. Now it's a year later, in Helsinki, and Kari is working the graveyard shift in the homicide unit, terrified that his heavily pregnant wife will miscarry again after she lost the twins just after Christmas. 
     Kari is pushed into investigating a ninety-year-old national hero for war crimes committed during World War II. The Interior Minister demands a conclusion of innocence, preserving Finland's heroic perception about itself and its role in the war, but Germany wants extradition. 
     In a seeming coincidence, Kari is drawn into the murder-by-torture case of Iisa Filippov, the philandering wife of a Russian businessman. Her lover is clearly being framed for the crime-and Ivan Filippov's arrogance and nonchalance point the finger at him. But he's being protected from above, leading Kari to the corrupt corridors of power. Soon the past and present collide in ways no one could have anticipated.

34. The Map Trap - Andrew Clements

Audio cd read by Keith Nobbs
2014 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
144 pgs.
Middle-grade CRF
Finished 6/14/16
Goodreads rating:  3.71 (408 ratings)
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary small town Illinois

First line/s:  "When the fire alarm began to beep and blink on the Tuesday morning, the first thing Miss Wheeling thought about was her hair."

My comments:  As usual when I read Andrew Clements, I was not disappointed.  I was twice-thrilled to discover that not only did this young many love maps, he was a geocacher, and this was described and mentioned throughout the book.  Very cool!  Geocaching is the next-best-thing to letterboxing (IMHO) and I've never seen it mentioned in a book before.  Alton is a polite, thoughtful young man who instantly drew me in.  The (very) young teacher in this book is so unlike me, but I loved her, as well as Alton's friend (whose name I've already forgotten).  Short, fun read.  This was on just two cds and read by the very talented Keith Nobbs. NOTE:  I think there are some cool illustrations in this book that I missed out on by listening and not reading.

Goodreads synopsis:  This map-tastic middle grade story from Andrew Clements gives the phrase “uncharted territory” a whole new meaning!
          Alton Barnes loves maps. He’s loved them ever since he was little, and not just for the geography. Because maps contain more information than just locations, and that’s why he likes to draw maps as well as read them. Regular “point A to point B” ones, sure, but also maps that explain a whole lot more—like what he really thinks about his friends. And teachers. Even the principal.

Monday, June 13, 2016

PICTURE BOOK - The Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier

Illustrated by Francois Thisdale
2012 Fitzhenry & Whiteside, CANADA
HC &$18.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.35
My rating: 2/It was okay
Endpapers: Slate blue
Title Page: Simple, with a few illustrations of stamps, tasteful
Illustrations:  Dark, with speckles of white, a little bit fuzzy, but very effective
1st line/s: "This is the sotry of not long ago and not far away.
It is the story of a boy who loves stamps and a boy who loves words.
This is the story of a life that is lost.
And found."

My comments:  Rating this book a "2" meaning "it was okay."  The Afterword was the best part.  The premise was wonderful.  But the story itself didn't grab me.  It was poetically written and dramatically illustrated, but the meat and potatoes were hamburger and mashed.  There was not enough detail, a little TOO much showing and not telling, if that's possible.  The relationship between the prisoner and the guard was non-existent and then there.  A story that children would love?  For example?  Perhaps if this book were written for adults ... but it is targeted for the children's audience, I believe, and I found it lacking.  And I'm really sorry about that.

Goodreads:  A city boy finds a stamp that unlocks his imagination; a country boy is captivated by stories. When they grow up, the two boys take different paths – one becomes a prison guard, the other works in a factory – but their early childhood passions remain. When the country boy’s stories of hope land him in prison, the letters and stamps sent to him from faraway places intrigue the prison guard – and a unique friendship begins.