Thursday, July 27, 2017

MOVIE - Despicable Me 3

PG (1:30)
Wide Release 6-30-17
Viewed 7/27/17 with Tristan and Ella (Carlisle 8)
IMBd: 6.4/10
RT Critic:  61  Audience:  58
Critic's Consensus: Despicable Me 3 should keep fans of the franchise consistently entertained with another round of colorful animation and zany -- albeit somewhat scattershot -- humor.
Cag:  2
Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Universal Pictures

My comments:  Yup, cute...another cute movie.  Got the biggest kick out of watching Tristan and listening to Ella, who kept giggling.  The Minions had a very small part, unfortunately.  I like those little guys, especially listening to them talk....

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Illumination, who brought audiences Despicable Me and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, continues the adventures of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters-Margo, Edith and Agnes-and the Minions in Despicable Me 3. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, co-directed by Eric Guillon and written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, the animated film is produced by Illumination's Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, and executive produced by Chris Renaud. Joining Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig in Despicable Me 3 is Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner Trey Parker, co-creator of Comedy Central's global phenomenon South Park and the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. Parker voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who's grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the '80s, and proves to be Gru's most formidable nemesis to date. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

43. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane

read on my iPhone
2016, Skyscape
260 pgs.
Finished 7-26-2017
Goodreads rating:  3.96 - 8256 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary summer at a summer camp on a lake in Michigan

First line/s:  "The doorknob locks with a single key from the inside of the cabin.n  My bag hangs over my shoulder as I stare at the silver knob like it might start talking.  This can't be legal."

My comments:  Welcome to Camp Padua, where, on a lake in Michigan troubled teenagers spend the summer in cabins: living, eating, sharing (or not sharing) their problems and quirks and oddities.  Most of the story is told from the protagonist, Zander's, (or Z for short) point of view.  It's a good story, though a troubling one.  It's also the story of friendship between four young adults, two guys and two girls, all suffering from different mental problems.  Friendship.  Caring.  Trusting.  Loving.  that's what these kids ultimately found, but it wasn't easy.

Goodreads synopsis: According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
          Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
          But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.

Monday, July 24, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde

Illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
2015, Kar-Ben Publishing
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.07 - 29 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers: front:  Berline/ back: Shanghai streets
1st line/s: "On his tenth birthday, Marcus found himself on an ocean liner, headed for Shanghai."

My comments:  Here's another wonderful picture book that sheds light on yet another aspect of history that I was totally unaware of.  It leaves me with many questions....are there still Jewish communities in Shanghai?  I'll have to research farther.  This was a book celebrating history, friendship, traditions, and cultures.  Wonderful!

Goodreads:  Fleeing the Holocaust in Europe, Marcus moves with his family from Berlin to Shanghai. With help from his new friend Liang, Marcus sets out to build a unique sukkah in time for the harvest festival of Sukkot.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

42. Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder #9
listened on Audible
2017, Minotaur Books
320 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 7/23/17
Goodreads rating: 4.34 - 1207 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting: Contemporary Amish Country, Ohio

First line/s:  From Prologue:  "He waiting until the children slept."
From Ch. 1:  "The Tuscrawas Bridge is a Painters Mill icon."

My comments: I so loved her first books about Kate Burkholder and Amish country, Ohio.  I liked this one slightly better than the last one, but not much.  I'm starting to find the writing, as well as the thinking and actions of the protagonist to be repetitious to the point of being frustrating.  And there really weren't any surprises in this plot, everything could be figured out well in advance.  Interesting flashbacks helped the reader put Kate's feelings about the "bad" guy, her childhood friend, into perspective.  However, they were noted near the beginning of the book, but then lengthier descriptions were added later in the story about the same memories with only a little bit of extra description.  Unnecessary .  Kate really is impetuous and strong minded, almost to a fault.  I didn't even like her as much in this foray.   I'm disappointed, because this has gone from being my favorite series to one that is only "eh."  Darn.

Goodreads synopsis: In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.
          Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a "fallen" Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.
          News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.
          Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

Friday, July 21, 2017

More particularly cool postcards - Received 7/13 through 7/21/16

807.  Chisholm, Minnesota USA
Day of the Dead
"A male skeleton dressed in a charro outfit wielding a machete, accompanied by a drunken skeleton."  Illustrations by J. Posada, 1910
Hi Chris,  Our gardening season is in full swing!  It is good to have fresh food from the gardenand look forward to enjoying the surplus - canned or frozen - in the winter!  Enjoy your summer away from triple digits and fires.

808.  Torun, Northern Poland
How are you doing?  I also like books and libraries - the atmosphere in there is special and so calming.  My 9 years old son's name is Chris.  I am trying to learn him that books are very important part of our life.  I hope he'll love books as much as I do.

809.  Greetings from Slovenia

810.  Greetings from Japan! 
 Kyoto Tower is near the Kyoto Station.  Have you ever been to Japan?  You're very welcome to visit here at any time!

811.  India
Butea Monosperma (Palash) :  Flame of the Forest, commonly known as Palash, Tesu etc. is native to India.  It is a medium-siuzed tree, 20 - 40 feet high.  The flowers are 2.5 cm. long, bright orange-red.   It is said that the tree is a form of Agni Dev, the God of Fire.  It was a punishment given to Him by Goddess Parvati for disturbing her and Lord Shiva's privacy.  The tree has lent its name to the town of Palashi in West Bengal, famous for the historic Battle of Plassey fought here.  The flowers are used to prepare a traditional Holy colour.  It is also used as a dyeing colour for fabric.  India Post has brought out a stamp on this flower.

812.  Alberta, CANADA
"April and June dig up an old friend"
Happy 241st birthday to your awesome country!!  America doesn't look a day over 200, she's aging beautifully.  Canada turned 150 on July 1st, but that's not as impressive at 241.  Eat a hotdog and light some fireworks for me!

813.  Apolda, Germany
I got this postcard at the [can't read} 4th Horticultural show.  It's a huge gardening event currently hosted by my hometown,

814. Russia 
Ivan Bilibin, Russian Artist (1876 - 1942)
On postcard illustration of the famous Russian artist Bilibin.  he created wonderful illustrations of fairy tales.  It is possible that you library has a book with his illustrations.

815.  Belarus
20 years of postage stamps

817.  Moscow, Russia
Good day!  I live in Valuga.  It's not far from Moscow.  We're proud of Cosmonautics State Museum.  I love art, puzzles, rock music, psychology.

818.  Bronnitsy, Russia
Hi!  My name is Yulia.  I am 18 years old.  I live in the suburbs of oscow.  this year I finished school and I want to connect my life with medicine.  What is your dream?

819.  Germany
"Bills and Love Letters"
This box looks similar to the German post boxes: both are yellow.  But they have no different "entrances" for bills or love letters. :)  Maybe then it would give more love letters.

MOVIE - Maudie

PG-13 (1:55)
Limited release June 16, 2017
Viewed date at Carlisle Theater (downtown) onFirday, July 21, 2017
IMBd: 7.7/10
RT Critic: 90   Audience:  93
Critic's Consensus:  Maudie's talented cast -- particularly Sally Hawkins in the title role -- breathe much-needed depth into a story that only skims the surface of a fascinating life and talent.
Cag:  5.5.Loved it
Directed by Aisling Walsh
Sony Pictures Classics

Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

My comments:  About halfway through the movie I realized that it had to be a biopic, based on a true story.  Had to be.  Maudie Lewis was Canada's Grandma Moses, born in 1903, died in 1970.  Sally Hawkins was amazing as a arthritically crippled painter, aging, becoming more bent and stooped while looking for the good in her curmudgeonly husband, played by Ethan Hawke.  He was pretty decent, too (but MUCH better looking than the real guy probably was), but Sally Hawkins stole the show completely.  Their actual life was lived in Nova Scotia, but the movie was filmed in Newfoundland and was just gorgeous.  The credits at the end of the film were interspersed with some of Maud Lewis's real paintings.  Superb movie, easily a five.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  MAUDIE, based on a true story, is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. MAUDIE charts Everett's efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie's deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

41. The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen #1
read on my iPhone
2017, Skyscape
300 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished 7-19-17
Goodreads rating:  3.84 - 6963 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting:  Ancient times, Middle east?"

First line/s: "Snowy mountains tear into the ashen sky, their jagged peaks pearly, like wolverine fangs.  Cold winds sting my bare cheeks and exposed hands.  The frosty temple coutryard is barren of the other daughters and sister who reside here.  Only my best friend is with me."

My comments:  For a couple of years I taught Gilgamesh and a bit about ancient Sumeria to fifth graders at Tucson Hebrew Academy.  Interesting stuff.  Emily R. King uses some of the ancient Sumerian religion as a basis for her fictional Tarachand Empire and its religion.  Although there was battling and bloodiness, tournaments and fighting, those parts were not belabored and kept my interest completely.  Excellent characters and characterization.  Some of the bad guys were really bad. Some of the bad guys weren't quite so bad.  Lots of secrets.  Cool setting.  There's something about one guy with 100 wives and at least as many paramours that is very entertaining and though-provoking.  There was nothing boring about this book, I looked forward to returning to it, and I'm disappointed that it's finished.  I know there's a book two and wonder if there'll be more.  Good read.

Goodreads synopsis: As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.
          But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.
          Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.
          In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Hattie & Hudson by Chris Van Dusen

Illustrated by the author
2017, Candlewick Press
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.82 - 173 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers:  All pale green - small island on a lovely lake/silhouettes
Illustrations:  Bright, bold, and completely covering most pages
1st line/s:  "Haddie McFadden loved to explore.  Every morning after breakfast, she'd grab her life jacket, wave good-bye to her parents, and paddle out in the canoe to see what she could see."

My comments:  Chris VanDusen does it again! (I love his stuff.)  His illustrations amaze me - big and bold, covering the page from edge to edge.  Hudson is a "monster" who lives at the bottom of a quiet country lake.  (He looks more like a dinosaur to me.)  I can't wait to read it to my grandson - he's afraid to swim in fresh water, but LOVES the stories of Sasquatch and Bigfoot.  I'm betting he's going to love this.  And I like the end note that Mr. Van Dusen writes on the copyright page: "And to all the young explorers who will be spending time at a lake this summer: Remember, there are no such things as a lake monster.  They don't exist.  At least I've never seen one.  But I keep looking."

Goodreads:  A little girl and her colossal friend teach a monster-size lesson about prejudging others in a charming new offering from Chris Van Dusen. 
          Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified except Hattie, who looks into the creature's friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant whom she names Hudson and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn't scary or dangerous at all? 
          Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

40. The Lost Causes by Lisa Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

read on my iPhone, my first netgalley read
2017 (Sept 5) Kids Can Press
344 pgs.
YA Fantasy/SciFi
Finished 7/15/17
Goodreads rating:  3.89 - 37 ratings
My rating: 1 / A waste of time
Setting:  contemporary US

First line/s:  "The Cedar Springs High campus looked Photoshopped that morning."

My comments:  This was my first netgalley read, and they'll probably never let me read another one.  I'm so sad to say I didn't enjoy this book at all.  It took me forever to finish. And I almost didn't.  I really wanted to like it and I feel terrible giving it a bad review, but I must be honest.  It was ridiculous.  Nothing was believable in even the tiniest way, I found myself rolling my eyes over and over again. For so many reasons.  Stupid bad guys that did stupid things and still got away with them even though there were all sorts of (smart?) people investigating.  Using kids in the laid-back way they did. Having FBI agents totally unsupervised.  Uninteresting things going on and on and on and interesting things just mentioned quickly and done.  Boring writing, characters I didn't care about or that didn't seem based in reality.  I could go on, but would give away more spoilers.  Perhaps I feel this way because my usual genre is police procedurals and crime investigations and this is so far-fetched compared to them that you can't even compare them.

Goodreads synopsis: They're the kids that no one knows --- or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they're out of other options. They're lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal. 
          There's only one problem. She's not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power. 
         Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. 
Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover. 
          But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm's way and makes them wonder who --- if anyone --- they can trust.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MOVIE - The Big Sick

R (1:59)
7/14/17 Wide Release
Viewed 7/13/17 at Carlisle 8 - actual night before it opened
IMBd: 8.1/10
RT Critic: 98   Audience: 91
Critic's Consensus:  Funny, heartfelt, and intelligent, The Big Sick uses its appealing leads and cross-cultural themes to prove the standard romcom formula still has some fresh angles left to explore.
Cag:  5/Loved it
Directed by Michael Showalter
Amazon Studios
Written by the lead protagonist and his "real" wife

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

My comments:  As a couple was leaving the movie, I heard the guy ask the girl, "What did you think of that?"  And she said that it was really cute.  Yes, this movie had a lot of cuteness to it.  And it also had a lot of heart.  A whole lot of heart.  I didn't even realize it was based on a true story, and the male lead played himself, until I came home and did a little research.  Super choices for actors.  Looking inside a Pakistani family to see how it functions.  Arranged marriages.  Hospitals.  Sickness.  Infidelity.  The right attitude.  Being a good person.  So yes, this movie was cute, and it was a whole lot more.  I loved it.  I didn't think of anything else throughout the entire viewing.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he's never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MOVIE - Wonder Woman

PG-13 (2:21)
Wide release 6/2/17
Viewed date at 7/11/17
IMBd: 7.6
RT Critic: 92   Audience:  88
Critic's Consensus:   Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot's charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.
Cag:  4.5 It was really good, with lots of WWI history
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Warner Bros. Pictures

Actors: Chris Pine, Gal Godot

My comments:  This ended up being an unexpectedly good movie.  From the supernatural Amazon tribe, hidden away for many years in preparation to bring down Aries, comes Diana, daughter of the Amazon queen Hippolita.  When WWI spy Chris Pine breaks through the invisible barrier and crashes into the ocean near the island, he is saved by beautiful Diana.  The backstory of Wonder Woman proceeds from there.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Monday, July 10, 2017

MOVIE - Trolls

PG 91:40)
Wide Nov. 4, 2016
Viewed July 10 with Laura, Ella & Tristan (Dollar Morning Summer Movie) at Carlisle 8
IMBd: 6.5/10
RT Critic:  74  Audience:  68
Critic's Consensus:  Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn't without rewards for parents.
Cag:  3 Liked it - very cute
Directed by Walt Dohrn & Mike Mitchell
Studio Dreamworks Animation

Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christine Baranski

My comments:  This was an extremely cute movie.  I didn't really want to see it, I just wanted to spend some time with the kids.  So I went.  And I enjoyed it!  Anna Kendrick spoke and sang the lead and Justin Timberlake, although he didn't sing until the end, played Branch, the other protagonist.  The evil chef, preparer of troll stew, was unmistakably Christine Baranski.  very cute with, of course, a great moral - everyone has happiness, or the possibility of it, inside themselves.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  DreamWorks Animation's TROLLS is an irreverent comedy extravaganza with incredible music! From the genius creators of SHREK, TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Together, this unlikely pair of Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they've ever known.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

39. Age of Order by Julian North

read on my iPhone (also won a copy from Goodreads, which I donated to Bosler Library)
2017, Plebeian Media
Kirkus Review
339 pgs.
YA/ Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 7/9/2017
Goodreads rating: 4.14 - 211 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting:  Future Bronx & Manhattan, USA

First line/s:  "A gunshot pierced the night."

My comments:  3.5  One of the things I like best about this novel was the way that the author withheld information from the reader - things the protagonist/s knew of or discovered, without disclosing them immediately to the reader.  They would get in a bind and - voila! - things they'd put into place unbeknownst to you would happen.  I loved it!  As for the rest of the book and its premise, I can imagine this sort of future happening, a terrifying thought.  There was a lot of technical talk, both of presently-know technologies and futuristic technologies that went right over my head.  I didn't want to think about them too much, so I didn't.  Between the dystopian aspects and the "magical" aspects of Daniela and Andrew's reality, I can see why many young adults would love this book.  Great that the main protagonist was Hispanic.  And the underdog definitely wins!

Goodreads synopsis:  What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?
         In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.
          Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck school. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
          Age of Order is a novel explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Red Queen, Divergent and Red Rising will enjoy this world of secrets and deadly intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cool Postcards Received July 8 to 12, 2017

804.  Riga, LATVIA
"Castle of Light" - Latvia's National Library
Greetings from Riga, Latvia.  This building is our new National Library (called the Castle of Light).  It was opened in 2014 and now is an important landmark in the cityscape.  Maija.

803.  Perm, RUSSIA
Hello Chris!  I hope this post you'll like it.  My name is Olesya.  I am from Russia, I live in Perm city.  I like to read books, go to the cinema and go for a walk in the morning time when birds are singing.  Olesya 23 VI 2017

802.  Kouvola, FINLAND
I'm Kati and live in Kouvola City, Finland.  Happy Postcrossing!

800.  Shanghai, CHINA
A large, square card with the  greeting, "Hello, friend!"

799.  Furstliche Bibliothek Corvey - GERMANY
(Princely Library Corvey - aristocratic private library)
Hello Chris, my name is Hans.  This is one of many rooms of library at the Princely Palace Corvey, Germany.  all the best.

798.  Maas en Peel Library, The Netherlands
De Bibliotheek Mass en Peel - Vestiging Reuver
Hi Chris, my name is Jessica.  I am German, but I moved to the Netherlands for a job many years ago.  My husband is German, too.  We met on the internet!
NOTE:  She responded to my thank you!:
“Hi Chris,
yes, the card shows my local library. They used to do postcrossing, too (TheBusyLibrarian), but they stopped because the postage costs have been rising through the roof in the Netherlands the last 3-4 years. It made me cut down considerably, too :-( It's becoming a little bit of a luxury in the Netherlands, doing postcrossing. But hey, it's a hobby and hobbies do tend to cost money ;-)
By the way, I took the picture myself and also, it is me in the picture, haha... They weren't open at the time I was there to take pictures and the staff was busy, but I wanted somebody in the picture to make it look more alive. So I took a remote-control picture of myself :-)
Well, wishing you a nice day & happy postcrossing.

796.  Northeast Ontario, CANADA
Greetings from NE Ontario.  Today is your big holiday - we celebrated Canada Day on July 1st.  It's our 150th, so celebrations all year.  It's a beautiful day, sunny & 30 degrees C, we've had a lot of rain so the is welcome!  Hpe your mailbox is full of great postcards!

794.  Sweden
This is the map of the south part of Sweden.  Regards.

793.  Bonn, Germany
"Colorful Mailboxes"
Bonn is the birthtown of the famous composer L. V. Beethoven.  I'm Gabi and I like to travel around the world.  Have days of smiles.

791.  Zug, Switzerland
Virpi Pekkala:  1974 Tee-se-itse, Gor det sjalv
Hello Chris!  Nice to met you!  I live in Zug, in the German speaking part of Switzerland.  Zug is lovely situated on the shore of Lake Zug with beautiful view to the Swiss Alps.  We have one of the most romantic sunsets here in Europe.  This postcard I bought in a small shop in the old town of Pauuja during a summer holiday in Finland.  I have been there by train and by ferry boat because I don't like travelling by plane.  To my work I ride on my red bicycle.  Kind regards, Merlin

789.  Nowy Klincz, POLAND
"Summer Reading"
Greetings for Poland!  My name is Agnieszka and I love to read, too.  Usually I read fantasy novels.  I work in health & beauty shop as an assistant manager, but I hope that it's only a temporary job.  My dream is to become a writer - very good and famous of course. 

788.  Benedictine Monastery Library in Broumov, Czech Republic
send from a postcrosser in Poland
I'm a 45-year old woman who works as a pediatrician and I love my job.  I come from a small town Itza, 80 miles south of Warsaw, which was famous for its clas pottery in Poland since the Middle Ages.  Nowadays, Itza is know for ruins of the medieval castle (you have received postcrd with photo of them from Piorunica), knigh tournaments, and delicious ice cream.  Cheers  (I visited this place two years ago.)

787.  Friesland, a Province in the northwest of the Netherlands, on the North Sea.
sent by a postcrosser from Germany
My name is Sonja.  I'm 24 years old and come from the south of Germany, near Stuttgart.  Greetings!

786.  Hangzhou, CHINA
Hello!  I'm Silvia.   Greetings from China.  I live in Hangzhou.  It is a modern presperous city to the west of Shanghai.  What strikes me most is the beauty of West Lake.  Spring and autumn are the best seasons in here.  Best wishes to you.

785.  Meldorf, GERMANY (close to the North Sea)
Warm greetings from the north of Germany.  My name is Svenja and I live with my family in Meldorf, a small town really close to the North Sea.  My oldest son was very excited when I told him that I have to send a card to Pennsylvania!  He ask, "to Anne and Philipp?!?" because he loves the stories about the magical treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne.  I prefer reading books on the dyke at the coast while my husband is playing with the kids on the mud flats (of course I am a "mud monster" very often).  Best Wishes!  Svenja

Friday, July 7, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - We're All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

Illustrated by the Author
2017, Alfred A. Knopf
32 pgs.
Read 7/7/17
Goodreads rating:  4.15 - 1142 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Endpapers Bright Red
1st line/s: "I know I'm not an ordinary kid."

My comments:  I've read the original chapter book thrice - twice aloud to a group of 3rd and 4th graders.  Their discussions about the book were marvelous and right-on.  This book is a simplified version, focusing on the "be nice to everyone" aspect.  Much of our discussion was "try not to stare," there's a really cool person on the inside. Let's face it, there's a certain shock of first seeing someone that looks really, really different.  It's hard not to stare. That's what I think the Ms. Palacio is trying to say. I don't think it's sappy at all (as some reviewers have suggested).  It's a good starting place to begin conversations with younger kids and/or kids who haven't read the original chapter book about how not to hurt other people's feelings, especially when you're caught off guard.  Ms. Palacio's illustrations are bold and colorful.  I like it a lot.

Goodreads:  The unforgettable bestseller Wonder, soon to be a major motion picture, has inspired a nationwide movement to Choose Kind. Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio.
          Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy.
          Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.
          We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Lilla's Sunflowers by Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Illustrated by  the author
2016, Sky Pony Press
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.21 - 29 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers: Huge sunflowers
1st line/s: "Cicadas sang their summer song.

Part of Dedication:  "Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country to protect our freedom.  

My comments:  This is a very special picture book.  The illustrations are lovely, sunflowers and summer and simple, expressive facial expressions. Illustrations that cover the entire page with no white edges.  But the story is a real special surprise, heartfelt and so relevant for kids in our current times, when parents are deployed and gone for long periods of time. And what happens to all the new sunflower seeds at the end of the story is absolutely PERFECT and delightful.   A winner, for sure!

Goodreads:  Lilla and Papa enjoy spending magical times in Lilla’s sunflower patch. Before Papa leaves for a trip that will take him far away from home for a long time, Lilla gives him a sunflower seed. “To remember me, Papa,” Lilla whispers.
          Seasons pass, and Lilla’s mood falls like autumn leaves. Finally, news comes that her papa is coming home! The following summer, to her surprise, she receives letters from families with photos of their loved ones pictured with sunflowers. She learns that her gift to her father brightened the dark days for many people, and that her one small seed continued spreading sunshine across the country.
          Colleen Rowan Kosinki’s lyrical style and whimsical artwork bring this story of love to life. Lilla’s Sunflowers will resonate not only with military families but also with any child missing a loved one. This is a wonderful gift for holidays celebrating our country’s military heroes as well as a quiet story for bedtime read-alouds.
          For kids aged 3 to 6, this is a must-have for military families or for families where one parent does a lot of traveling and is away from the home for extended periods of time. It also serves as a charming story about sharing what you have and the benefits that can reap.