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Book Review: “Hour of the Bees” by Lindsay Eagar

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar.  Candlewick Press, 2016.

 

There might be nothing worse for a twelve-year-old city girl than to be forced to spend an entire summer in the hot, boring New Mexico desert taking care of a grandfather she’s never met. Carolina, who goes by Carol, dreads helping her family pack up the dying sheep ranch and move her dementia-riddled Grandpa Serge into an assisted living facility. But Carol and Serge begin to form a connection as he recounts her Mexican-American heritage and the life that once occupied the barren desert. Carol finds herself desperate to solve the mysteries of the bees, the lake, and the people from Serge’s stories that seem too fantastical to be real. By summer’s end, Carol (Caro-leee-na as Serge calls her) finds herself desperate to save the ranch and her heritage connected to it.

 

Hour of the Bees is a great introduction to magical realism as Eagar weaves reality and fantasy together in this celebration of Mexican-American heritage. This book could be used in a scholastic setting for growing cultural awareness and diversity in young readers. Thematically, the story focuses on the importance of familial love, personal sacrifice, and cherishing culture. The main character’s journey also communicates the message of appreciating where you come from and being aware of the negative effects that urbanization has on personal individuality and identity. Even though Carol is young, she experiences great personal growth by spending time with and caring for her grandfather. While there are some gaps in various character developments, overall,Hour of the Bees is an outstanding work that raises familial and cultural awareness.

 

Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

 

 

Book Review: “Tea Rex” by Molly Idle

Tea Rex by Molly Idle.  Viking Juvenile, 2013.


To hold a perfectly polite tea party, you must follow certain rules—especially if your special guest is a dinosaur and a T-Rex, to be exact. Cordelia and her little brother are perfect hosts. They offer their guest a comfortable chair, make small talk, serve refreshments, and pour the tea. Although a few mishaps may happen along the way, it’s all worth it when Cordelia and her brother are invited to T-Rex’s next tea party.

 

Tea Rex is a fun twist to your average tea party. While the text is simple and straightforward, it is Molly Idle’s illustrations that bring fun and excitement to the story. This book is appealing to children who love to host their own tea parties, and to those who love dinosaurs and a little misadventure. A recommended read for children and adults, Tea Rex will have you laughing at every page.

 

Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



Movie Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky, 8/18/17, 1hr 59mins, PG-13

In 2013 Steven Soderbergh announced he was retiring from making films.  He has returned to direct Logan Lucky and we are lucky he did. 

Logan Lucky is a heist film.  Soderbergh made “Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13.” So heist movies are in his wheelhouse.  This time around though the actors portray stereotypical southerners trying to steal money from Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Not only one of the most notable tracks on the NASCAR Schedule, but they want to do it during one of the biggest races of the year, The Coca Cola 600.

The humor in this film is a dry, deadpan style that is funny.  The best character for me was Joe Bang.  Daniel Craig playing an explosives expert with bleach blonde hair was really fun.  He never once sounded like James Bond and was always on point.  Plus there are some cameos in the film of NASCAR Drivers not playing drivers that were fun to catch.  Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as the Logan brothers play off of each other very well.

I was very entertained by this film but I must say I am a NASCAR fan so there was something extra in it for me.  The ending did make me ask some questions, but there may be a sequel.  Also this is not a true story as you will see in the disclaimer at the end of the credits.

If you plan to take your kids to Logan Lucky there is some language spread throughout the film.  You will also see some violence in the jail as prisoners fight guards and each other.  A man is naked in the back seat of a car but he is visible only from the chest up. 

Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 and I am giving it a B+.  


Presidential Poetry

I love to read biographies because I can learn so many interesting things about people. Among the biographies I love to read are those of the Presidents of the United States, and recently I’ve found some great new books that present Presidential biographies in a poetic format. While many people may not connect the genres of poetry and biography, children’s poets are masters at using their medium to convey information. These works of nonfiction poetry offer some great benefits to young readers, one of which is the fact that they are very short. 


The concise format allows the author to provide a lot of information in a small space, allowing readers to get a sense of the person without reading a lengthy biography. Another benefit to readers is that the poetry allows for humor to shine through and give readers funny facts that may not fit in a traditional biography format. For example, The Presidents Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents (written by Susan Katz and illustrated by Robert Newbecker) features a poem about William Taft who weighed 340 pounds and often had problems with his size. This book features different poetry styles that bring to life little known tidbits about the presidents and their family members.


 Another great book of Presidential poems is Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by John Hendrix. Singer does a great job of bringing the presidents to life by packing her poems with information, but she also includes some additional fun facts at the end for those who want just a little bit more. Hendrix’s humorous illustrations also add to overall playful tone of this great book. 


If you still don’t have your fill of presidential poetry, then you can also check out Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Dan Burr. Featuring clerihew, which is a simple poetic form specifically invented to make fun of famous people, this collection of poems and comic illustrations add great insight and humor into the presidential antics. So if you want to have a little fun but still want to learn a little bit more about our Commander and Chiefs, then why not check out a little bit of presidential poetry on this recommendation from us here at “Worlds Awaiting.”

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


The Presidents Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents by Susan Katz illustrated by Robert Newbecker. Clarion Books, 2012.

Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by John Hendrix. Disney-Hyperion, 2013.

Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Dan Burr. Roaring Brook Press, 2015.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



Movie Review: The Glass Castle / The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

The Glass Castle, 08/11/17, 1HR 27 Mins, PG-13

The Glass Castle is the story of the Walls Family.  Jeanette Walls (Brie Larson) and her siblings learn about life from their eccentric and government hating parents Rex (Wood Harrelson) and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts).  The parents keep the family together despite being on the run from bill collectors and the law in a few states.  The kids always hope for more but never quite seem to get what they hope for.

You might think this film would be considered a tragic story but this slice of life is very well done.  The characters in this film are deep and learning about them throughout the film is a joy.  Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of a father who loves his family deeply but can’t always show it, is beautiful to watch. 

This film is based on a true story and it feels like it.  The scenes in which Naomi Watts and Harrelson are fighting and then making up are both crazy and touching.  This dysfunctional family hurts each other but at the same time would go to the ends of the earth to save their family.  You can see both the love and the disdain on the screen.  I have become a fan of the director Destin Daniel Cretton even though this is one of his first feature films.

The film is rated PG-13 and does depict violence in the home although the parents do not hit their children.  A daughter is taught to swim by throwing her into the water.  There is a suggestion of sexual abuse by a grandparent.  A woman is seen hanging from a window ledge.  A child’s clothes catch fire on the stove and she is burned.  There is some language and one daughter sews up a gash on her father’s shoulder.

The Glass Castle is a wonderful film and I am giving it an A-. 

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, 8/11/17, 1hr 31 mins, PG

Yes folks there is a sequel to The Nut Job that came out in 2014.  This time around though it’s not a bad film.  Surly (voice of Will Arnett) has it made with his other animal friends in the basement of the Nut Shop. There is plenty to eat and life is good until the boiler explodes and they have to go back to the park.  Even that is troublesome though since the Mayor wants to replace the regular park with a revenue generating amusement park.

This may not be a bad film but it is also not a film that will change your life.  The story is simple and easy to follow which is good for kids.  Plus there are jokes that will make adults and kids laugh at the same time.  I was surprised since I did not have high hopes for this film from the start.  There are some touching moments and the characters go through a learning process during the film that is interesting.  All in all the film is fun and can be entertaining at times.

The animal characters are relatable but the bad guy in the film, The Mayor (Bobby Moynihan), is really annoying.  That may be what the filmmakers wanted but this was too much for me.  Plus his daughter is just Darla from “Finding Nemo.” 

Since the film is rated PG there isn’t much for parents to worry about.  I do have to say though that there is a bit of violence in the film but that is all animated and so not on a level of reality.  Many pratfalls and people being attacked by animals.  One character is a mouse that uses Martial Arts.  Animals are attacking humans to get them out of the park so there is some reasoning for the violence.  There is also a scene where a dog regurgitates his food on purpose and then eats it. Eww!

The Nut Job2: Nutty by Nature is rated PG and I am giving it a B-.      

Worlds Awaiting: International Books

There is little doubt that we live in a global society. Because the world, in many practical ways has become so much smaller, it is essential for us as human beings to have a better sense of global literacy. For me, global literacy means that people have a strong understanding of the world and how we are all interconnected. While there are lots of ways to develop global literacy—making new friends, enjoying cultural experiences in our own backyards, and even travelling extensively across the world—it will come as no surprise that I find books and reading a fine way to build global literacy. There are many wonderful books that can extend our global viewpoint. However, it is also important to say that there are also some books that are not quite so wonderful. When extending ourselves into global literature it is important that we find the best books to assure that we are not inadvertently consuming incorrect information or hidden stereotypes. 


To help you find those great books, I’d like to recommend the International Board on Books for Young People, or IBBY. This non-profit organization includes members from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY does amazing work advocating for books from around the world. Among its many programs, it gives out the Hans Christian Andersen Award to a living author or illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. Among the award recipients will be familiar names like Maurice Sendack and Scott O’Dell. But there will likely be lots of unfamiliar names like Mitsumasa Anno from Japan and Ana Maria Machado from Brazil. There are also national sections of the IBBY such as the United States Board on Books for Young People which produces an Outstanding International Books List each year to represent the best of children’s literature from other countries that are available in the United States. 


One of my favorites from a recent list was a book from the United Kingdom called I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. This work is a great philosophical picture book that has lots of contrast and texture in the illustrations. So, if you are looking to add a little more global literature to your reading this year, take a tip from Rachel’s World and check out the information that the International Board on Books for Young People has to offer.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


http://www.ibby.org/

http://www.ibby.org/awards-activities/awards/hans-christian-andersen-awards/

http://www.usbby.org/HomePage.asp

http://www.usbby.org/list_oibl.html


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



 

Movie Review: Valerian

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, 7/21/17, PG-13

Director Luc Besson gathered funds together to make this film and was inspired by the original French comics “Valerian and Laureline.”  In this story Valerian (Dean DeHann) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) must investigate a mysterious energy at the center of Alpha, the city of a Thousand Planets. 

The visuals of Valerian are mesmerizing, as Besson created an incredible look for the film with all the different aliens and planets that are in the story.  Artistically the film is stunning.  The story fell a little short when it came to keeping my interest.  When the story waned though I had the visuals to look at.  The range of characters is fantastic in the film, going all the way from elegant savages to scruffy intellectuals.  The love story in the film did not work for me.    

The big mystery of the film is not that hard to figure out either so my attention again went back to the visuals created by the team of artists Besson had working for him.  The look of this film does feel reminiscent of “The Fifth Element.” That is not a bad thing.

This adventure does have some violence in it, including the shooting of weapons and threats being thrown about.   Explosions decimate a planet as well as many creatures upon it.  A large shootout takes the lives of many.  A creature dances on a pole. The main Characters are seen in swimsuits for some of the film.

Science fiction fans will enjoy this film as will those who go for the artistry.  I did enjoy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and I am giving it a B grade. 


 

Worlds Awaiting: Fake News

There has been a lot of talk about fake news lately as recent political and social events are making us aware of those who are blatantly passing off any news as real. My librarian colleagues and I have been talking about fake news, and our discussion has centered on what we can do to help people be critical of the information they receive. By helping children to develop information literacy skills, our hope is that they can navigate this world that is constantly inundated with convoluted information. One skill we have been discussing is how to help children and teens determine authority. With information, one of the things you have to determine is whether or not the author or distributor is qualified to give that information. For example, if you were going to get information on medical treatments it would be apparent that a nurse would be more qualified to give you that information than a truck driver. This same principle holds true for all kinds of information including the news we read. However, the tricky part today is that much of what we consume is online—where it really is difficult to tell who is giving you the information, let alone if they are qualified to do so. Years ago, when our news came in discrete packages like newspapers or magazines, we had a pretty good system that allowed editors and publishers to make sure that there was at least some authority to the information being published. But the Internet allows everyone to publish anything, easily masking their qualifications (or lack thereof). Producers of fake news really try hard to make their sites and posts look just like real news sites. So what can we do to make sure we are finding the best information from the best sources? To start, check out the URL to determine what kind of site you are accessing. From there, look closely to find the exact author of the information. If you can’t find a named author, or if there are no real credentials for the website, the information is most likely suspect, and you really should look further. This is just the start. But if recent events have shown us anything, it is that being able to critically assess the source and authority of alleged information, is a necessary skill. And we here at Rachel’s World know that this critical thinking process is one that we as concerned adults can help our children to master.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



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