Archive for October, 2006

Book review: Beast

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

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Author:Donna Jo Napoli
Reading Level (Conceptual):Children 12 and up
Reading Level (Vocabulary):Children 12 and up
Genre:fairy tale
Year of publication:2000

Beast is the story of how Beast (from the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast) got to be who he was in the original story. It is based in Persia, and Beast starts out as Prince Orasmyn.

I enjoyed reading this book very much, for many reasons. One is because at first I was very confused about how Persia, Prince Orasmyn, and all the other things had to do with Beauty and The Beast at all, but it ended up making perfect sense, with the same happy ending and everything. I also thought that it was very cool how the Beast used lots of real Persian words in the story.

In the story, Beast feels many emotions very strongly; in some parts he is extremely happy and in other parts he's so sad he almost kills himself, and I liked that very much and feel that they made the story more exciting.

I found this book slow going at the beginning, but even if you start to think it is a boring book, I recommend that you keep on reading -- it ends up being a very wonderful book.

-- Fizzy, age 11

Notes to parents:

  • There is a description of lions mating and some other content that Fizzy thought some might find "inappropriate" for some young readers.
  • Napoli's take on the Frog Prince from the prince's perspective is similar to Beast in that it helps the reader empathize with the prince in his froggy embodiment. However, The Prince of the Pond, Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin although quite sophisticated in theme, is probably appropriate for younger readers than Beast.

If you found this review helpful and/or interesting, consider supporting our book habit: Buy this book!: Beast

Movie review: An Inconvenient Truth

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

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Inspired by the thought that \”People of most faith traditions are called to love one another and to be responsible stewards of God’s creation. … Global warming is not a political issue; it is a moral issue.\”, a local church group has blitzed our community with multiple showings of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. They presented it on several school days right after school at a church just down the block from the middle school, and on several nights as well. They made An Inconvenient Truth convenient to get to at least.

And yet, as someone who is capable of transitioning from \”denial to depression\” (as Al Gore calls it) in hyperspeed, I was reluctant to go. After all, if I was ever in denial about global warming, I can’t recall it. But as just one person in a pretty overwhelming world, I am (still) not certain what I can/should do.

But just look at this invitation:

Students, parents and teachers are especially invited to attend. We need to give our kids the training they will need to deal with the broken earth we are leaving them. \”Imagine we are 17 years into the future and share a brief conversation with our children and grandchildren as they are living their lives in the year 2023. Imagine now that they are asking us: ‘What were you thinking? Didn’t you care about our future? Were you really so self-absorbed that you couldn’t – or wouldn’t—stop the destruction of Earth’s environment?’ What would our answer be? We can answer their questions now by our actions, not merely with our promises. In the process, we can choose a future for which our children will thank us.\” An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, 2006.

How could I not go, and how could I not take my 11 year old daughter?

Well, my daughter was not enthusiastic. It’s going to be DEPRESSING, her friend told her. And I thought that might be true.

But it wasn’t. Al Gore narrates the film and he speaks from his experience. The anecdote he started with totally captivated my daughter. Gore shows a flat map of the earth, with South America and Africa in the center. And describes how when he was in grade school, a classmate commented that those two continents looked like puzzle pieces, as if they once fit together. The professor responded that this was a stupid idea. The continents are too large to have ever moved. And that student went on to become a ne’er-do-well and drug addict, and the professor went on to a high-ranking position in setting environmental policy in our current administration.

My husband could not attend — he is buried in the proofs of his upcoming book. And when we returned home, dear daughter was just plain exhausted (we went to the last, evening performance). And he said to her, \”Al Gore has the reputation of being a wooden speaker; what did you think of the movie?\” Dear daughter replied, \”I thought he was wonderful. I thought the movie was wonderful. I was afraid that the movie would be too depressing. But he presented the facts so clearly. And at the end, he does provide a long list of actions we can take. I want to do all of them, and when I’m older, I want to vote for people who won’t lie to us about climate change.\”

Yes, we did learn about the very depressing plight of the polar bear. And, yes, it is amazing how many glaciers and permafrost have already been lost and are continuing to be lost. And those in our government are still actively engaged in deceiving us about the science and scope of this impending disaster. And yet, it is still possible that we can slow these changes and possibly reverse them. If we try.

I’m thinking that maybe this Christmas, all anyone gets is a CD of An Inconvenient Truth.

Please make sure you and your children see this movie. We need great minds, in addition to Al Gore’s, to get involved with this.

Book review: Mister Monday (Book 1 of the Keys to the Kingdom Series)

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

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Author:Garth Nix
Reading Level (Conceptual):Children 8 and up
Reading Level (Vocabulary):Children 8 and up
Year of publication:2003

Creepy, kind of random horror story, featuring an asthmatic protagonist.

There are many fantasy books for children. I found little of interest in this one. For an opposing view, please see this book report by a ten year old fan of the Keys To the Kingdom series. -- Emily Berk

If you found this review helpful and/or interesting, consider supporting our book habit: Buy this book!: Mister Monday (Book 1 of the Keys to the Kingdom Series)