Saturday, June 30, 2012

Movie: The Leaf Men

It appears William Joyce's The Leaf Men has experienced an interesting journey to the big screen including a title change. It now called Epic.

Lovely trailer!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

48 Hour Book Challenge 2012 Finish Line

Well, I managed to finish The Likeness by Tana French for my last 4 hours of reading. I've read all three of French's Dublin mysteries now and I understand a fourth is due this year.  These are not YA books.  Her writing is very compelling.

I split my time evenly between blogging and reading this year.
 Time Reading  5.5 hours
 Time writing and visiting other blogs  5 hours

 Glad I had the time to write some posts anyway.  Will be making a $20 donation to RIF in honor of this annual event. I knew I would be pressed for time and attention this year but it is an annual event that MotherReader heroically organizes and I have managed some level of participation every year.

Kuddos to everyone!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

48 Hour Book Challenge 2012 #3

I confess that ordinarily, I do not read animal stories.  I avoid horse stories due to my fourth grade reading of Black Beauty and the image of the expired Ginger being carted away that is seared into my imagination.   No Marguerite Henry for me, thank you very much.  To this day,  I am ignorant of  Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian despite having happily handed them over to many passionate horse story loving girls over the years.  Even entling no.1's enthusiasm for the entire Black Stallion series complete with matching Breyer horses did not move me unil I saw the beautiful Black Stallion movie.   I did get through Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James one summer because it was on my grandparent's bookshelf and I was out of reading material.

The glorious cover of this new Iain Lawrence novel called to me though. I adored Pam Munoz Ryan's sweeping Paint The Wind and IT had a horse on the cover. I did not read the jacket blurbs but dove right in.   It was not until I was well in to the story, told by the horse James (Jimmy) Pigg himself,  that I realized the pony was in the hands of the doomed Robert Falcon Scott and would be part of the race to the South Pole.


The story is compelling and Lawrence has remained faithful to history. He skillfully inserts bits of Scott's own words, from his journals to move the story forward.  The end of the story is poignantly told.  The race to the South Pole between Amundsen's Norwegian expedition and Scott's British group was something I knew about as a child. I suspect I would be hard pressed to find a student today who could even name the two explorers.

My initial reaction to this book was that it was but I have found myself reflecting on the story again and again in recent weeks since I finished it.  I attribute this to the excellent "Author's Note" which  puts the entire story in context. Lawrence recalls his own  negative childhood feelings about Amundsen and the more recent research that has painted Scott in a more realistic light. He posits the view that it was Scott's compassion for the animals that doomed the expedition early on. Lawrence cautions about judging the past by modern standards.  The love and compassion of the handlers, some feeding the ponies their own food rations, helps the reader empathize with the animals AND the men.  He lifts the tragic story at the end by suggesting an afterlife for the horses which is gentle and appropriate given the USAF naming of navigational waypoints on the route used by "all air traffic between New Zealand and McMurdo Station in Antarctica" after Amundsen’s sledge dogs and Scott’s ponies including this story's Jimmy Pigg

"Polar Sidekicks Earn a Place on the Map" by John Noble Wilford.  NYTimes, September 27, 2010

48 Hour Book Challenge 2012 #2

My Sister's Stalker by Nancy Springer. Holiday House, 2012.

There is no pigeonholing Nancy Springer as a writer.  I have been follower from Sherwood Forest to Camelot to the London of Sherlock Holmes.  When I realized The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye: An Enola Holmes Mystery was going to be the last Enola Holmes book, I purposely delayed reading it because I did not want the series to end.  Springer's new book is a tightly written thriller.

Children of divorce, Rig and his older sister, Kari do not see each other very often. Kari is at college and Rig is still in high school. He is living with his space cadet mother (you can understand why his parents divorced) when he googles his sister's name one day and discovers an entire website devoted to her.  Kari is a sophomore in college but there are photos of her on the site dating back to her high school years.  Many of them seem to be recent photos taken from afar.  Who is behind this site?  Who is stalking his sister?  Rig turns to his estranged father for help when his mother refuses to see the photographs as anything threatening. 

One of the gratifying aspects of this book, as an grown up reader, was how realistically Rig's father responds to the threat to his daughter. In approximately 100 pages Springer sketches a story that should give young adults pause before they post every moment and location of their lives online.  This is a great "quick picks" book.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

48 Hour Book Challenge 2012 #1

Lunch lady and the Mutant Mathletes by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.  Random House, 2012.

Dee, Hector, and Terrence are assigned to the school mathlete team in lieu of detention for skipping out on the class field trip to the museum (Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco: Lunch Lady #6.)  The team must compete in the Math Match Competition against the never defeated private school Willowby Academy kids who sneer at the public school teams.  There is something strange about the kids on the Willowby Academy team.   Lunch Lady and her trusty assistant Betty investigate and ride to the rescue wielding their high tech lunch room gadgets

Krosoczka absolutely connects with young readers through his art and his sense of humor. I personally believe his insight stems from his time working at the Hole in the Wall Gang camp.  It may be a chicken and egg thing. Did he work there because of this focus or did he gain it from working there. Dunno.  My niece told me that she really, REALLY liked the Babymouse books I sent her but she LOVED the Lunch Ladies.

48 Hour Book Challenge 2012

Starting my mini-version of MotherReader's 7th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.
Off to see what is on top of the reading stack.  See ya!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Jennifer Holm has a blog!

This will be a fun blog to follow:  Jennifer L. Holm, Author (I wear slippers to work)

Here, I learned that she will be appearing with her brother Matt Holm at the Dallas BookSmart Festival  at the Dallas Museum of Art this weekend.

On her "Coming Soon" tab she talks about the new Babymouse for President book and Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year In Stuff which is the sequel to her absolutely brilliant Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff.  These books tell their stories in a scrapbook fashion. What is astonishing is how Holm manages to tell a humorous, poignant and tender story through a collection of post-it notes, texts and the flotsam and jetsam papers of daily life.
I'm looking forward to seeing what she wants to share on her blog.