Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Henry Huggins, Beverly Cleary

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary illustrated by Louis Darling, Morrow Junior Books, New York, 1950.

This book is where the writing career of Beverly Cleary started.  As a library the kids asked, why are there not books about people like us.  This sparked a collection of books about normal people.  We are introduced to all the characters of the neighborhood, but the story focusing mostly on Henry and his dog.  Cleary has a skill of creating interesting characters of her children.  Henry’s life was sort of average; until he found a dog.  He names the dog Ribsy because he was too thin and his ribs were showing.  There are many adventures, including how to get a dog home when you can’t take it on the bus, how Ribsy wins a special prize at the dog show, and who is the rightful owner to the dog.  I don’t remember reading this book, but I remember a story about a dog and ownership being determined by whether he goes to one boy or the other.  So it is likely I ready or had read to me this story at some point, but I don’t remember it at all so it was new to me.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Music Review: The Kingston Trio Greatest Hits (1989)

This is a compilation album put together by The Special Music Company.  Most of these songs where from years before.
The Kingston Trio has their own unique sound with banjo and guitar and sometimes adding bass.  The sing in the fold tradition, and where pioneers in this movement.  "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" is one of my favorite.  They are not the first to record this song written by Pete Seeger.  This is a progressive circular song, and others performed it as an antiwar  song.  They have a version on this album of "When the Saints Go Marching In" which I really didn't care for.  Also is an early version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."  This version just focuses on the "Awimbawe" the Zulu word for Lion.  They have some of the melody we like in background with no lyrics, more a hum.  In the folk tunes the Trio tells many a fine story.  This collection does not include Tom Dooley, the trio's first hit which tells the story of a condemned killer.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Music Review: Mercy River by Mercy River (2008)

For the most part this music is enjoyable.  However by the end it is getting repetitive.  There are a couple up beat tunes; and the set could have used a few more.  "You Make Us Want to Sing" and "Go Climb that Mountain" fit that bill.  "Mercy River" gets it's message across of the healing powers of Christ's mercy.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: ***^Henry and Beezus by: Beverly Cleary

Henry and Beezus
This is an interesting tale about the relationship between Henry and his neighbor, Beezus (short for Beatrice); but more about Henry’s struggle to get a bike.  His parents cannot afford to buy him a new bike, so he is determined to earn money to buy one for himself.  However money earning takes forever and is slow, and bikes are expensive.  Ramona, Beezus’ is in this book as well.  She has quite the imagination, but is also a bit spoiled which can affect those around her.  A neighbor boy, more of a rival than a friend, Scooter, has a new bike and he brags about and makes a big deal.  Henry, who is still on foot responds by telling Scooter he will get his own bike.  Now he is set up to having to prove himself.
I like the character Cleary has developed.  They seem real.  Her goal in writing was to show real people.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Music Review: Greatest Hits 1972

There is lots to love about this album.  I love Fogelberg's voice, and his guitar.  In this album he puts his best.  I have always loved "Hard to Say" and its comments on love and marriage.  It seems many of his song have this theme

"Sometimes it isn't easy and it isn't clear, who's to navigate and who's to steer, and so we flounder drifting ever near the rocks."  That is poetry at its best.  
However there is more.  "Leader of the band" is very nice.  I love "Missing You."  It is a bit more upbeat.  "Make Love Stay" carries the theme from "Hard to Stay" and does an excellent job.  He poses the question, but never really gives an answer.  I guess asking the question is part of the battle.  "Now that we loveNow that the lonely nights are over  How do we make love stay?
This is a fun album.  I purchased at Streetlight in San Jose.

Movie Review: **^Conagher (1991)

This is another Louis L'Amour Sam Elliott made for TV movie.  It tells the story of Evie Teale (Katherine Ross), who has moved to the West with her husband and children.  Her husband leaves them to buy cattle for their new ranch.  He does not return as has an accident which claims his life.  She is struggling in the middle of Indian territory, and cattle rustler territory.  In the mean time Conagher (Elliott is messed up in a hairy situation with a group of cattle rustlers who are stealing from Conagher's boss.  This movie has some serious drama, until Teale takes control, realizing she needs a husband in this territory.
I must admit, I had some difficulty following the plot, and understanding the motivations.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Movie review: ***The War of the Worlds (1953)

This is an early science fiction movie.  It is based on an H.G. Wells radio program.  The Martians home world is no longer sufficient for them, and they come to earth with the sole intent of destroying humanity and taking the world for themselves.  Nothing can stand in their way.  I remember watching this as a youngster and being totally frustrated as nothing the humans did had any impact at all.  The point of this movie is sometimes prayer is enough; and sometimes the only solution.

Book Review: Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary Ramona the Pest
I have never read any Ramona books before, and was surprised when she was only a kindergartner.  However, even so, the confusions of a kindergartner, and thoughts prove quite interesting.   In the end, Ramona backs herself into a corner and it is hard to tell how Ramona is going to get herself out.  Sometimes our thoughts can get the better of us, and thinking your teacher does not like you is a big thing. 
I always thought Cleary was a contemporary author, but these books were written in the 50s.  Who would have thunk.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: The Enormous Crocodile by Roal Dahl

The Enormous Crocodile by: Roald Dahl  illustrated by Robert Blake, 1978.

This is a fun picture book, and tells you, you should not brag about the bad you are going to do before you do it.  I guess you shouldn’t brag about the good you did either.  However is bragging attitude is what thwarts the Enormous Crocodile whose desire is to eat a child.  In the elephant it is he that goes for a ride, at the behest of the elephant who spins him and spins him and sends him flying.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: The Forbidden Library

The Forbidden Library by: Django Wexler, Kathy Dawson Books, New York, 2014.
Alice is a girl whose life is turned upside down.  It starts when her father is confronted by a fairy, and she happens to see them talking in the kitchen.  Father suddenly leaves for a trip, and is reported lost at sea when his steamer sinks.  She is sent to live with a long lost relative.  This relative claims to be her great-great-great-great grandfather.  He has been watching her grow up, and takes an interest in her for her abilities as a reader.  She becomes his apprentice. 
This book centers around an unusual library, where books are used not for reading, but for entrapping dangerous creatures.  Only a reader can read the text and enter the books.  Otherwise the letters just give you a headache.  Alice discovers she is a reader, and she is required to face a swarm of dangerous mystical creatures; then a tree nymph; and finally a dragon.  This books goes through some exciting adventures.  Behind it all is Alice’s desire to know what really happened to her father.