Monday, May 29, 2017

Picture Book Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Scholastic, New York, 1963.
Here is a Caldecott Medal winner for best picture book of the year.  This book has some truly marvelous pictures.  In the middle of the book are six pages, three pictures back to back with no words of the wild thing rumpus.  The pictures are imaginative, fantastical and very well done.

Book Review: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket

The Grim Grotto: A series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eleventh by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York, 2004.
These books increase in intensity as the go along.  This on we almost lose Sunny, who ingests a poisonous fungus, and only when Violet, Sunny and Klaus working together are they able to come up with an antidote.  Again our heroes orphans are in trouble through out, this time in a submarine.  And again they are betrayed by people the think should be on their side, and stand up to the evil Count Olaf.

Movie Review: ***^The Circle (2017)

This is a movie with an all str cast in my mind, but didn't quite hit the mark.  It stars Tome Hanks as Bailey, CEO of a mega giant computer company, and Emma Watson, as Mary, new employee.  Annie (Karen Gillan) helps recruit her, and over the course of the movie sees Mary move up while she moves down. This company is a bit different, in that the philosophy is that the company sort of owns you, and they are able to actually do this through their cameras, and computer soft ware.  They know everything there is to know.  When this goes wrong, and Bailey's boyfriend (Ellar Coltrane) ends of driving off a bridge as a result, the tide turns.  Ty (John Boyega) is an important character.  He developed the soft ware, but is not pleased with how it is being applied.  Mary and Ty decide to do something about it.
Sheri and I went to this movie.  Sheri thought it was great, except for the ending as it didn't really end.  It has that eerie feel to it which is popular.  Sheri thought the company it was portraying may have been Apple.  It was in the Bay area, with a large circular campus.  Apple is finishing their circular building in Cupertino, and is also in the Bay area.  I was not so enthusiastic about the film.  I think these stars could have done more.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Children's Picture Book: Me First

Me First by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Scholastic, New York, 1992.  This is a delightful story about a little pig who always insists on being first.  He is also insisting on being first for everything, including getting on and off the bus, in the meal line and going down the slide.  However he gets in trouble when he says he will be first to care of a sand witch (he had heard sandwich) and got himself into trouble caring for the little witch all  day until he learns his lesson.
This reminds me of a time I volunteered at school, just as someone  was vomiting.  Guess who got to help clean up the vomit.  The pictures of the pushy little pig are very well done.

Musical Review: ****^Newsies

No I did not see this live, but I came home and was told to watch it via Amazon.  Man was this a fun ride.  The Disney musical adds some characters which really adds to the story.  It also turns the story from being about just the Newsies, to a children's crusade in general.  And the sparks were there between Jack Kelley (Jeremy Jordan) and Katherine (Kara Lindsay.)  I was waiting for the love song, and it didn't disappoint.  My son and his wife sang this a couple years ago in a Broadway Review.   (They weren't yet engaged.)  Music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman. This is a show my kids have loved since it appeared on television so many years ago.  The girls have taken their turns dressing up as Newsies.  I know Natalia, Ty and Miranda have seen a live performance in Seattle.
This is a great show and I have really enjoyed it.  It leaves you feeling good.

Picture Book: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

This is a delightful little story about a duck who insists on sitting her own eggs.  The duck's pride almost gets the duck eaten by the sly fox who offers his back shed for the sitting on the eggs.  However, Jemima had told a dog what she was about, which sparked an investigation and in the end saved Jemima, although they were the worse for wear for their efforts.  Jemima was allowed to sit some eggs, but proved to not be a very good sitter as only a few eggs hatched.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Great glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1972.
This is the continue sage of Charlie and the Chocolate factory.  Where do our eight persons go after being picked up by the elevator, Charlie's parents, grandparents, Charlie and Mr. Wonka.  They of course travel to space to the new U.S. Space Hotel.  However at the hotel the meet pernicious knids.  The barely escape with their lives.
This is a cute story.  It gets really exciting when Mr. Wonka is battling against the knids.  This is a strange being that likes to eat others.  They are lucky the elevator is knid proof, otherwise they had been goners.  In all this fuss, Wonka and the elevator have to rescue a ship traveling to the hotel with guests.  It seems pretty dicey for a moment.
A cute theme is, can Willy Wonka get the three grandparents out of bed so they can help Charlie in the Chocolate factory.  They don't want to.
There is a part of this book that paints Dahl in a negative light.  This is when he is making fun of Chinese in the voice of the U.S. president.  He makes a couple jokes at the expense of the Chinese.

Dr. Seuss's ABC

Dr. Seuss's ABC, Beginner Books, Random House, New York, 1963.
A Dr. Seuss ABC book is fun, because you get the Seuss illustrations.  The book has a rhyme on each page, but the highlight is Z where we see the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz.

Movie Review: ****Mrs Miniver (1942)

This is an excellent WWII film.  It shows the Battle of Britain, from the view point of a community which is close to and airstrip, and consequently subject to fighting over head and bombing.  Mrs. Miniver (Greer Carson) is the matriarch of a British family.  Their oldest (Richard Vey) son joins the Royal Air Force and flies a fighter.  The film depicts his brief romance and marriage to Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright).  Mr Miniver (Walter Pidgeon) takes part in the boat rescue of the men from Dunkirk.   When he returns he is proud of himself, while he figures his wife has had it easy.  however for her part, she was able to capture a German pilot who had parachuted from a plane.  the interaction between Mrs. Miniver and the pilot is very telling.  The germans had lots of pride in their Luftwaffe.
William Wyler directed this film.  It was his effort to bolster the war effort and to show the results of the war to the American public, by portraying a family hunkered down against the air attack.  Six Oscars including for best picture, best director, best actress and best supporting actress.

Picture Book Review: The Night Before Mother's Day

The Night Before Mother's Day by Natasha Wing, art by Amy Wummer, Grosset and Dunlap, Penguin Group, New York, 2010.
This rhyming book takes the rhythm of the popular poem "The Night Before Christmas."  In doing this, I can sing it as in high school we sang a version of this song.  That makes this work even more fun for me.  And this Mother's Day was special.  It included spa and manicure given by her daughters.  The artwork is also very well done.  I especially like the last picture, a crown and mother's head, father in a cooking apron with a silly grin, and the daughters on mother's lap.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: The Slippery Slope: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Slippery Slope: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Tenth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Scholastic, New York 2005, Harper Collins, New York 2003.
The tenth installment of the Unfortunate Events keeps the same general flavor, with new perils, and meeting a new friend.  The Baudelaire Orphans continue pursuing the mystery of what VFD might stand for, and what does the organization mean to them.  The make a new friend, the third member of the Quagmire triplets.  And together the find the headquarters for VFD; but only after it has been burned to the ground by cohorts of Count Olaf.  The two who burned the headquarter are so evil even Count Olaf is scared of them.  They are going to take Olaf's gang to new levels of despicability.  The Baudelaires, Violet and Klaus at the headquarters sifting through the remains, and Sunny with Count Olaf's men serving as cook, and being a spy, both discover that there is still hope.  The followers of VFD are going to meat for a meeting.  However, the destiny of our heroes is imperiled at the end, as the toboggan away from Olaf and his evil cohorts, but end up in a river, and separated from the Quagmire Triplet.  I am enjoying these books, and appreciate the dry humor of Snicket.  He is always advising his readers go away, so as to avoid a sad story, and I just keep coming back for more.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Musical Movie Review; ****^Anastasia (1997)

This is one of my favorite animated musicals.   This film boasts an all star cast.  Meg Ryan portrays Anastasia, and Kirsten Dunst plays the girl Anastasia.  However they do not provide the singing parts.  Liz Callaway sings for Anastasia.  John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer plan the two who discover her.  Christopher Lloyd plays the evil Rasputin.  Bernadette Peters plays the grandmother's cohort, and Angela Lansbury the Queen mother, or Anastasia's grand mother.  I love the song "Once Upon a December."  "Journey to the Past" is also wonderful.  And the story of finding yourself, and then maybe that is not the thing you really want to do.  I think the Rasputin character may be over done.  He is always falling apart and putting himself back together, and it gets old after a time.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Movie review: ****Sully (2016)

This is an excellent movie, which leaves you feeling good int he end.  Sometimes, heroes are hard to define and understand.  This movie shows us a hero.  Chelsey Sullenberg (Tom Hanks) is the pilot of the plane which landed in the Hudson River, with all passengers being accounted for.  Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) plays the first mate.  This movie shows the scrutiny they were put through by the National Transportation Safety Board.  It was looking like Captain Sullenberg was being condemned because he landed in the river.  However, by the end he was proclaimed a true hero, and the difference in this case.  They ask the first made if he would have done anything differently.  His response, I would have done it in July (rather than January when the incident did take place.)
Tis is a great feel good movie; because that is how I felt at the end.

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket

The Carnivorous Carnival: A Series of Unfortunate Event Book the Ninth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York 2002, Scholastic 2003, New York, 2003.
The adventure takes us now to a carnival, with a fortune teller, and three new coworkers who should be friends, but things don't turn out that way.  There is also Count Olaf with a pack of lions, and he wants to improve attendance at the carnival by giving people a live show of a lion eating someone.  It does bring the crowds, and the lions get there way, but not with the intended victims.  This is again a story of betrayal, and outright abuse as Count Olaf and Esme, his girlfriend, continue to seek the Baudelaire fortune.

Movie Review: **^Interstellar (2014)

I found Interstellar to be confusing and in the end a bunch of mumble jumble.  It is about an astronaut, who leaves his family, but somehow by twisting universes, he is able to visit them as a ghost.  He finally returns to his family, his daughter's death bed, while he has not aged much because everything is relative.  It uses ideas about gravity and time and jumbles this all together.
Move stars Matthew McConaughey as the astronaut, John Lithgow as his father, Mackenzie Foy as his youth daughter, and Ellen Burstyn as his adult daughter.  Anne hathaway stars as a fellow astronaut.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Movie Review: ****Guardians of the Galaxy Volumn 2 (2017)

Again our heroes team up to save the galaxy, this time from the father of Peter (Chris Pratt), Ego (Kurt Russell).  This movie has all our old beloved characters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) the blue humanoid, Drax (Dave Bautista), the tattooed guardian, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper)  the raccoon looking creature and Groot (voiced by Van Diesel).  In addition to Ego, we have two other new characters, an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora's sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan).  First our heroes are saved by Ego, and then betrayed by him, as he is hoping to use Peter to help him reshape the universe, destroying all life except himself and his son.  Seems pretty demented.  However, since Ego is an immortal, it makes his defeat pretty complicated.  Yondu (Michael Rooker) the individual who kidnapped Peter when he was young, and emotional abused him,  also plays an important part, that enables Peter to come to terms with his past, and understand what happened.  The two sisters finally come to an understanding, after trying to kill each other most of their lives.  Some of the funniest moments happen when the empath interprets the emotions of the others.
The think that makes this movie is the relationships between the characters.  there is platonic love, admiration, friendship and camaraderie.   In theaters now and good for a fun adventure.

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket

The Hostile Hospital: A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eighth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York 2001, Scholastic, New York, 2002.
I keep coming back to the Series of Unfortunate Events.  Each book the author says the reader should go elsewhere because of the depressing events which happen to the Baudelaire orphans, but I keep coming back.  I think it is because I like the characters, Violet the inventor who ties her hair in a ribbon when she wants to think, Klaus the scholar, who loves books, and then Sunny, the baby who likes to chew things.  These three character make for an interesting read.
In this book, the orphans are escaping from an accusation that they are murderers, which was promoted by the real murderer, Count Olaf.  They seek refuge in a hospital, sleeping in the unfinished side.  They are looking for the "Snicket File" which hopefully will shed more light on their circumstances.  They only find one page, and this page gives them hope on of their parents may still be alive.  However, they are again caught in a web created by Count Olaf.  In stealing the keys to the hospital library, looking for the file, they violated the trust of the caretaker.  However when Olaf burns the library, and the hospital, they are blamed for much more.  Mixed in her is the almost cerebral decapitation of Violet, as part of an operation in the hospital.
Our orphans stay in a miserable circumstance, which only gets worse.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Tale of Tom Kitten, Beatrix Potter

The tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne and Company, London, 1907.
This is a delightful tale.  However it is not only about Tom Kitten, but also his two sisters, Mittens and Moppet.  But most importantly it is about their mother, who cleans them up, and dresses them smartly, but then leaves them in the garden so they are out of the way so mother can finishing preparing for her tea.  Of course her goal is a show of the kittens.  However, kittens in a garden are not going to stay put, and they don't.  The soil their clothes, and in fact the ruin them, and they are picked up by the Drake Paddle Duck family, who instead of retuning them put them on as best the could.  When mother finds the kittens, she smacks them, and sends them to their room.  I think the mother kitten may need some help.  The ducks do as well, when they went swimming the clothes all fell off as they had no buttons.  The ducks are always putting their heads under water looking for the clothes.
I like that last cute tid-bit as an explanation for duck behavior.  Very enjoyable story.

Movie Review: Baby's Day Out

In this movie Baby Bink is played by twins, Adam and Jacob Worton, and is so cute his smile carries the show.  Three kidnappers, pretend photographers, run off with the baby, Eddie, Norby and Veeko (Joe Mantegna, Joe Pantoliano and Brian Haley).  This is a baby vs three bumbling crooks movie, with the baby being one step ahead throughout.  The kidnapping goes well, but then the baby crawls out the window, and is on his way to many adventures.  His parents (Laura Flynn Boyle and Mathew Glave) are of course heart broken and worried, and do all in the power to get him back.  Fred Thompson plays the head of the FBI.  The nanny (Cynthia Nixon) has been reading the same book to the baby every day for 100s of times, Baby's Day Out.  The baby goes on many adventures, visiting pages from the book, including a taxi ride, a bus ride, to the zoo (where a gorilla befriends him) to the park, to a construction site, and finally to the old soldier's home.  It is when the nanny hears where she has been, that she realizes he is reenacting the book, and knows where he will be next.  Baby comes home safe, and when the baby sees where his book is, the kidnappers had taken it to calm him down, the police are turned on to the location, and they are caught as well.
This book is fun.  It puts the baby in horrifying situations, but all comes out right in the end.  The charm of the movie is how baby escapes so many close calls, while the kidnapper, trying to recapture him, always fail and get beat up as a result.  Written by John Hughes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Vile Village: Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Seventh

The Vile Village: Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Seventh by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York, 2001.
This is the continuing sage of the Baudelaire children.  The big the Vile Village because it is called V.F.D.  In this case the initials refer to Village of Foul Devotees.  The town is infested with crows, and the village members almost worship them.  There is one thing worse than crows every place, and that is Count Olaf and his henchmen, who also show up.  However, they keep getting messages from Quagmire triplets.  Klaus has to put the messages together, to discover where they triplets are, so they can be rescued.  At the same time they must rescue themselves.  The Village is their guardian, but actually it is just Hector who cares for them.  Hector is afraid of the town council, so goes along with the purpose of the Baudelaires is to clean after everyone.
In this  book, the children do better at rescuing than saving themselves.  The are accused of a murder, of Count Olaf no less, who actually murdered Jaques Snicket, who had information for the children.  However he isn't allowed to deliver his message before he is murdered, and the Baudelaire children are framed.
The Baudelaires and the Quagmires, and Hector attempt to make their escape in the invention of Harold which Violet improved.  A self sustaining floating vehicle.  In the end, the Quagmires escape, and the Baudelaires get away on foot in the end, and just miss the Quagmire notes which have more information on VFD.
Each book the kids are frustrated in finding information abut their parents, the fire, and who is this Jaques Snicket that had a message for them.
There is plenty to keep you coming back for more of this, even though the author sends you away at the beginning of each book.