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Book Review: “La La La: A Story of Hope” by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Jaime Kime. Candlewick, 2017

A small girl is singing her song to the world. She listens with her hand to her ear, but there is no response, just a few falling leaves. Are they answering her song? She ventures outside but neither the tree nor the pond nor the grass are responsive. She returns inside, frustrated. The leaves continue to follow her inside. Has something changed? She ventures out again into the night, but still nothing sings back to her. She finds a ladder, but still can't seem to reach the answer to her song. Back inside, she sings herself to sleep and from outside she hears a song. Running outside she basks in the song of the moon and sings her own song in duet.

 

A beautifully illustrated pictorial story of loneliness, discovering a friendship with nature, and imagination. The background indoors is white, plain, and isolating. The orange leaves add color as they tumble in on her and draw her outside where she investigates her colorful Fall surroundings, but finds no friends. Her frustration is evident, although the only word in the entire book is, "la". The illustrations of the exterior never fully consume the page until the night, when each illustration covers everything. Her first glimpse into the dark is framed in complete white as if she is contained in a box and about to be set free. This is a great book for the imagination, as it leaves so much open to personal interpretation. Wander with your little reader into the open world outside, and take this wonderful book with you.

 

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: Ferdinand

Ferdinand, 12/15/17, 1hr 46 min, PG

Today we are talking about Ferdinand.  The film about a bull who is raised to fight, but doesn’t want to fight.

The film opens with Young Ferdinand on the ranch running about and smelling the flowers.  He takes care of them and tries to protect them as much as he can.  The other young bulls on the ranch are trying to become fighters and be chosen by a matador to fight them in the ring.  Being a pacifist Ferdinand does not fit in.  Ferdinand though escapes the ranch and eventually grows to be a huge bull, so those who do not know him think he is some sort of monster.

This is a good film for the whole family.  The voice acting is great especially Kate McKinnon’s character Lupe.  This is the definition of comic relief.  It was almost like watching Robin Williams as the Genie again.  Some of the other voice actors though were there for name placement only such as Peyton Manning.  I did like John Cena’s performance as Ferdinand. 

There are some touching moments in this film and the message of nonviolence and being yourself is a good one that parents can discuss with their children.  This film does get over the top at times but it’s not too much in this film.

Given the nonviolent message of the film it is a little surprising that there still is violence shown on screen despite it being played for humor.  There are scenes of a slaughter house though it is at night so no workers are present but the bulls do get things running and are in danger.  Also some children may not understand why the matador is trying to stab a bull.  This film can also be a good reminder that things are not always as they appear to be.

Ferdinand was fun to watch and is rated PG. I am giving it a B Grade. 

Movie Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 12/15/17, 2hr 32min, PG-13

I must start with a disclaimer that I am a big Star Wars fan.  Not a huge fan as some are but I love this franchise.  I had to say that before I said that I came out of the theater for this film and I was blown away by the story and the events that take place.

The first thing about this film is that everyone needs to stop speculating about the trailer and go see the film.  A lot of things people are guessing about are wrong. 

The next thing about the new Star Wars film is that it is amazing.  It is long, but it does not feel long.  It does feel like a complete story despite being part of a trilogy that is in a trilogy of trilogies.  The old characters are back, at least those who can be.  This film also delves into the reasons behind the actions of certain characters. 

Rian Johnson deserves many accolades for making this film feel so cohesive.  It all feels like it belongs together.  The character development of this film is wonderful.  You can see the characters thinking about what is happening and then growing from their experience.  The special effects are amazing.  The only thing I will reveal about the film is that at one point when you are watching it the theater will go quiet and so will the screen. 

If you are thinking of taking the whole family to the theater remember that this is a war film.  Battle scenes are prevalent and people do die.  Bodies are seen laying around and people are seen being killed on screen.  Many ships are destroyed in dogfights and the good old light saber is put to good use here.  Some characters do find themselves in dire situations though out the film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is rated PG-13 and I am giving it an A


Book Review: “Bad Unicorn” by Platte F. Clark

Unicorns are everywhere! Makeup brushes, frappuchinos, nail polish, purses! Where will the madness for sparkly ponies with a rhinoceros complex end?! Well, at least author Platte F. Clark has a different approach: a unicorn called, Princess the Destroyer.

Bad Unicorn is the first in the Bad Unicorn Trilogy. In this book, Max lives in today’s world. He’s working on a book report, but his book keeps changing subjects. He's had this his whole life. Currently, he’s reading about Princess the Destroyer, a bad unicorn who eats humans. Meanwhile, in the Magrus (magical world), Princess the Unicorn is making a deal with a head sorcerer in order to get to the Techron's (the human world). Max and his friends in the human world learn that his book is the most magical book in all existence. Unfortunately, they learn this when it sends them into the future where machines rule the world and humans are extinct. Princess and her attending wizard have made it to our world. But since Max and his friends are in the future, she cannot find them or the book. She eventually overtakes the world with the machines, and they in return, make her an immortal robot. She is forced to catch up with Max the long way, and eventually they meet in the future. In a stroke of magical luck, Max and his friends beat Princess in a series of combat trials. While still stuck in the future, Max meets the king of dragons, who offers to take Max back to his time if he will kill the powerful sorcerer who hired Princess in the first place. This sets up for the next novel, Fluff Dragon.

This book exceeds expectations. Mixed with the intentionally silly references of the Zombie Duck and rebellious squirrels, the narrative follows a serious plot which stresses the importance of personal confidence and growth. Max’s personal journey is to believe in himself, even though he has trouble believing he can be a powerful sorcerer. He is aided by friends who believe in him unconditionally, which influences Max to do anything to save them. Juxtaposed to this story line, Princess is selfish and has no friends. Magar, her wizard, is a slave whom she treats poorly. She has no motivation except the selfish one, to eat humans and eventually rule the world. It turns out to be her metaphorical downfall, since it is her pride and greed for power that leads her to a showdown with Max. This leads Max, in a desire to save his hostage friends, to find the power to use one of the fifteen Prime Spells against Princess. Overall, this book is an enjoyable read for middle grade readers. There are essentially four primary characters: Max, his new friend Sarah, Princess, and Magar. However, there are two other important secondary characters: Max’s friends - Dirk the human and Dwight the dwarf.  These two characters have less character development and are a means to progress the plot. Dwight acts as the adult figure to ground the three children (Max, Dirk, and Sarah). However, the story could progress without him. Dirk is completely useless except for comedic relief. As Max’s best friend, he joins the journey by default, but essentially contributes nothing to the narrative except a secondary nerd to backup Max’s own decisions. Aside from this, the story is a great addition to middle grade literature. Also check out book number 3 in the Bad Unicorn Trilogy, Good Ogre, where Max encounters new adventures.

 

By Olivia Noli, Social Media Manager, “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.