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BOOK REVIEW: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill

The people of the protectorate make an unbelievable sacrifice once a year to keep the 'wicked' witch at bay. Every year a sweet, loving witch saves the baby they leave in the forest, not knowing that the baby is an offering of an ideologically oppressed city. Each year, Xan finds the baby and feeds it goat milk and starlight until she finds it a loving home where it will be cherished. Then comes lovely little Luna with a moon-shaped birthmark on her forehead. Xan mistakenly feeds this beautiful baby moonlight, which activates her magic. Magic children are a particular challenge, so Xan decides to love and raise Luna herself. Luna grows, sheltered from even her own magic until her 13th birthday, when magic, myth, and truth collide to free the protectorate, reveal the star children to the families of their birth, and heal all those who have suffered from the delusions of a very, very wicked witch who has been hiding in their midst all along.  This is a touching, wonderful story saturated with themes of love and family. It begins, however, with harsh infant sacrifice that shocks the reader out of any kind of complacency. This is intentional and successfully amps up the themes previously mentioned, but some may object to this being part of a children's novel. There is a disfigured character that also provides an opportunity to discuss handicaps and kindness. Hints of Xan's origin, the misconstrued beginnings of the myths, and the occluded air of the protectorate tantalize readers but are never fully revealed, possibly for a future sequel. The mystery they evoke remains, even after so many misunderstandings and so many questions resolve, which lends to the credibility of the story overall. The primary problem faced by the characters is the lack of questioning about what is happening, even among the good people. This is the story of how the power of love and unity can overcome.

 

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

 

From 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.

 

Image result for The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Monologue/Book Review: “Paris” / “The Story of Diva and Flesa” by Mo Willems

Ah, Paris.  That beautiful city of lights and towers bounded with a touch of exotic romance.   Ernest Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”   It seems that not only did Hemingway find Paris to be a moveable feast, authors of children’s books do, too! When you think of Paris and children’s books, the first one that most certainly will come to mind are Ludwig Bemelmans’ books about Madeline. Since it was first published in 1939, Madeline and her adventures with Miss Clavel have brought Paris to many generations for readers. But one of my most recent favorites set in Paris is Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi’s book The Story of Diva and Flea. Diva, a very small dog who lives at 11 Avenue Le Play in Paris, feels safe in her garden even though big feet might step on her. Flea, a cat who lives on the street, loves to explore and has adventures every day. One day Flea’s travels go past Diva’s garden and the two strike up a friendship. Flea regales Diva with stories of the wide world and eventually convinces her to take a few small steps to see the tower that pierces the sky. In return, Diva introduces Flea to the wonders of the indoors like food that is there for the taking and brooms that don’t chase you away. Together the pair discover new worlds as they face down their greatest fears and Diva learns to confront the feet entering her garden. Willems's signature playfulness balanced with DiTerlizzi’s rich illustrations create a beautiful storybook perfect for developing readers. Diva and Flea are delightful characters whose personalities shine through with the humorous text and detailed illustrations. The setting is perfect for the plot and the illustrated backgrounds expertly reinforce the scenes adding richness to the story. The subtle theme about facing your fears and exploring the world is effortlessly displayed through both Diva and Flea’s point of view in such a way that young readers will certainly respond. Along with the work's division into brief chapters and the supportive illustrations balancing each page of text, this story is perfect for sharing or for a young one’s independent reading. So, maybe if this year a trip to Paris is just not in the plans, take a little tip from Worlds Awaiting and find a way to travel there through the pages of a great book.

 

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.  Penguin Group, 2012.

The Story of Diva and Flea By Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi.  Disney-Hyperion, 2015.

 

From 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.

 

Image result for The Story of Diva and Flea - mullins

Book Review: The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

A fiddler on a journey brings a gift to his wife: a tiny duckling about to hatch. He names the duckling Alfred Fiddleduckling. A mighty storm upsets the boat and sets them adrift. Alfred sees a shadow on the waves and discovers the violin floating in the water. He falls in love with the instrument when he hears the strings strum a bit of music. He finds his way through the fog to the island and begins to play. His happy strumming brings the farmer's dog and the farmer's wife. Even on the waves the farmer on his raft hears the music that is calling him safely home.

This is a beautiful book. The artwork is colorful and hazy by turns, emphasizing the weather patterns in the story. Each time Alfred strums the violin it sends sparks of color into the air that represent the sounds that are guiding everyone near. Especially charming is the point in the story that Alfred swoops up the guitar to keep it from feeling lonely. The tale itself is a lovely story about finding family and home. The story hovers between practical feelings and the unlikely ability of a duckling to play the violin; this creates a marvelous and moving tension between hope and fear. This is a wonderful story of hope and persistence in the face of difficulty.

 

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

 

From 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.

 

Image result for The Unexpected love story of alfred fiddleduckling

Movie Review: Early Man

Early Man, 2/16/18, 1hr 29min, PG

Early Man takes the audience on a journey back in time to when a big asteroid hit the earth.  That asteroid became a ball, and that was how “Football” or soccer was born.  Yes this is how the sport was really born.  Kicking a rock hard alien substance around and into a goal.

If nothing else that is a funny premise for a film.  The same animators who did Wallace and Gromit at Aardman studios ran with that premise and made an entertaining film for families. 

As the film progresses the hunters and gatherers are forced out of their valley by the more advanced and greedy people of the Bronze Age.  Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is curious as to where these people have come from and their technology.  He finds himself in a city and discovers more about his tribe than the people of the city. 

The story takes the little guys and pits them in a football match against a really good team of professionals.  You might see where this is going from here.  All the same there are some funny jokes and gags as the story moves on and you do want to root for the little guys.  I did find the duck gag to be funny, can’t say more than that or I’ll ruin it.. 

Some of the humor is considered crude as a bird poops on a man and the backside of a man is seen in a shower. Plus there is some humor based upon flatulence.  The violence in the film is played for comic effect so there are not many serious injuries.

Early Man is rated PG and can be enjoyed by the whole family.  I am giving it a B grade. 

 Image result for early man

Movie Review: Black Panther

Black Panther, 2/16/18, 2hr 14 min, PG-13

The much anticipated Black Panther is now out in theaters and Marvel has another hit on its hands.  This film has two things working for it, one it is the last Marvel film leading up to Infinity Wars and two it has an incredible cast. 

This is not the first film for the Black Panther character but it is the first time a black character has been the lead in a Marvel film.  That lead actor is Chadwick Boseman who is fantastic, as is Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Basset, Michael B. Jordan, Sterling K. Brown and many others.  And yes, that is quite a good cast of actors.

Even with that cast I was not blown away by this film as some people were.  I did like the story, the effects and the cast but I wanted more.  I felt as though the story relied too much on the fighting and I wanted more back story and character development.  That is not to say this is a bad film because it is not.  I just wanted more.

This is a Marvel comic book film so there is a fair amount of violence including people being killed on screen.  Some scenes include people being stabbed and some who are shot.  There are many fight scenes and many people fighting.  This would include a great battle on the plains of Wakanda that includes many people and some animals.  Some of the fighting is intense. There is some profanity used in the film including gestures.

I must say that Black Panther is a film that will be noticed for good reason but I wanted to get more from the characters and their story.  It is rated PG-13.  I am giving this film a B+ grade.    

  Image result for black panther 

Monologue: “Reading for Life Experience”

As adults we have built up many barriers that affect how we relate to the world we live in. Prejudice, sexism, stereotyping, and fear are just a few of these barriers. Some of these, such as fear of snakes, for example, can be beneficial for us. Others, such as prejudice, are more destructive.  It seems that it is the experiences and events that happen to all of us during the growing-up process, that provide the context for us to develop these barriers. For example, a child may take on a protective shell of fear of snakes after receiving a bite. A teenager may take on a barrier of racial prejudice in order to fit in with a local peer group.


 No matter what the barrier is, these types of boundaries only close the doors of possibility for children. A fear of snakes may shut the door to the entire world of wonderfully uncanny reptiles. The barrier of racial prejudice closes young people off from potential friends, and if it leads to violence, entire lives of possibility can be cut short. Author, Susan Cooper has observed that young people react to books in a very uncomplicated manner. Young people experience literature with much the same attitude grown-ups have when they have just fallen in love. Children surrender to books with complete acceptance, warmth, and generosity. Because children are more accepting, children's literature is more apt to present anything at all without barriers. Because authors of children’s books write to an intended audience of children, this gives them a slate of literary elements to work with that allows them to convey stories with candid honesty. 


It seems then that books can present world views that are free of barriers. The contrasts between characters who live with and without barriers show children more positive ways of living. By exposing them to numerous events and to many different views of life, reading assists young people as they break down their own boundaries. So, a book like I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano, may just help break down a barrier of fear. And, a book like Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper may break down barriers of prejudice. Children close their open doors of potential and create barriers because they are frightened by the perceived evils that lurk around them. So, we figure here at Worlds Awaiting that it’s up to us as the adults, to show children through great books just how to have the courage to break down a few barriers.

 

I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano.  Candlewick Press, 2015.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015.

 

 From 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: Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit, 2/9/18, 1Hr 33min, PG

The tale of Peter Rabbit as written by Beatrix Potter is well known and has become a classic.  So it is not without merit that a film would be based on it.  Although this film is not that actual story.  The characters and themes of the book are in this film, but the story itself is much more modern.

Peter Rabbit (James Corden) is fighting with old man McGregor (Sam Neil) until the old man dies.  Peter thinks the animals now own the garden and the house until McGregors Grand Nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) shows up so he can sell the house.  That’s when the fireworks begin, sometimes literally.

The filmmakers may have taken liberties to make their own story with these characters, but at least they made it a good story.  The live action and animation did look good together on the screen and the story was enjoyable for adults and kids. 

The PG rating of this film comes from the violence that is sometimes played for comic effect.  Such as people being shocked by electricity and flying many feet in the air.  Other times the character are just physically fighting with each other.  Plus the attempts to capture the animals in the garden use traps and explosives and can be little intense.  Thematic elements in the film include death and family.  Plus, the script includes a few lines of crude humor.

While I expected this film to be boring I actually found it interesting and a little entertaining.  I am giving Peter Rabbit a B grade. 

 

Monologue: “Defining Young Adult Literature”

One question I am often asked is, What is Young Adult Literature?  While most people have a general sense of what this category of books is, they are often looking for a more specific sense of what makes a book for young adults different from a book for children or even for adults.  So to help answer that question in a very small way, let me offer you my definition of young adult literature which is:  Young Adult Literature is a work that represents an entirely adolescent point of view that is mainly marketed to that same audience


But how does that definition help us to identify young adult literature? For me it helps, because that definition carries in it two very important defining features of young adult literature. First, that it tells their story from a teenager’s point of view and it is marketed to teens. For me, books that fall into the young adult category feature not only teen protagonists, but teenage perspectives on the world. So, by this definition, books such as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street would not be considered young adult. While these books do have teenage protagonists, they are not told from the point of view of a teenager; rather, they are retellings of memories and are rendered by an adult looking back on a life as a teenager. 


As a result, these books feature analysis or insight about events or characters that comes from an adult’s reflections on the past. On the other hand, books that I would consider as young adult, such as Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl and Matt de la Pena’s Mexican Whiteboy, not only have teenage characters but make use of the teenage point of view, embodying typical teenage feelings, language, and ideas. 


In addition to point of view, publishers impact the makeup of a genre. When a publisher publishes a book, it decides which audience that book is best marketed to, and their designation clearly holds a lot of power since publishers target certain librarians, readers, and booksellers to help them promote and market their works. These decisions clearly influence whether or not books make it into teens’ hands. And so, I feel that how the book is marketed should also be considered when classifying books as young adult. It is these two elements, that for me, make up a young adult book. And maybe that little bit of information from Worlds Awaiting can also help you decide just what young adult literature is.

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Random House, 2002.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.  Vintage, 2009.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. Simon Pulse, 2008.

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena. Delecourte Books For Young Readers, 2008.

 

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.

 Image result for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Monologue: “Reading for Life Experience”

One of my favorite authors for children, Lloyd Alexander, believed that for young people, literature is a dress rehearsal for life.  This is a common thought for authors, and even for teachers, parents, and librarians.  As adults we can see that through books, young people are given time to audition different aspects of their world. As they read, they encounter diverse situations that allow them to practice new values and ways of dealing with problems. 


Literature guides children through the numerous possible attitudes a person can have toward life. Books show them an infinite variety of values, emotions, and lifestyles. Then these same books help young people select from this rich pallet those portions which are correct for themselves and the society around them. One item of critical importance to children on this journey of discovery is that it is done in a non-threatening environment. The perils and evils in books are not overly harmful or overwhelming, and they are easily vanquished by simply closing the pages. 


One of my favorite quotes paraphrased from an idea by author G.K. Chesteron by another great author Neil Gaiman, notes “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”  This thought captures for me just how powerful stories can be in giving us ways to deal with life. Many adults may be shocked or even outraged at the numerous unbounded worlds available to young people in books. This is especially true when we propose that children use books to test all aspects of their world. We are all inclined to protect children from the harsh realities of the world. In doing this we also try to censor the things young people read with the hopes of keeping them innocent. This certainly is a noble endeavor, but might I suggest here there is some caution needed. 


Since young people truly desire to know and experience many things, it is important that we not make the mistake of showing them only the simple, easy, and light portions of the world. We must allow them to discover and face the hard things, as well as the good, so they may have an opportunity to formulate their own values and find the solutions to problems by themselves. I believe that as adults we must guide children, but not manipulate them. It is the children who are allowed to make mistakes who are the most fortunate. For we see, here at Worlds Awaiting, it is only through this gentle, non-manipulative guiding that great books provide, that young people will be able to acquire the keys to their future.

 

Neil Gaiman https://dragonscanbebeaten.wordpress.com/tag/coraline/

 

From 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 - Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Maze Runner: The Death Cure, 1/26/18, 2hr 22min, PG-13

Welcome to a 90 second movie review for Maze Runner: The Death Cure on BYU Radio.

This is the third installment of the Maze Runner series, and another teenage dystopian society film.  When will it ever end?  I admit I did not see the 2nd Maze Runner film, but do I really need to? 

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his gang are trying to rescue some of their friends from being taken by WCKD.  So they take a whole train car and still don’t get everyone.  Thus begins this film that feels reminiscent of all the other dystopian films.  Fight the big bad government who is keeping us all down. 

Despite being an OK action film there have been too many of this same story recently.  Just because all the books made money doesn’t mean they all need to be made into films.  The theme is getting tired and that makes even what could be a good movie just too much to take.  I did like the fact that the movie just gets right into the story and doesn’t worry about reconnecting with people we already know.

I did like some of the action in this film but the plot got predictable and I knew what was coming as the story went on.  I did not read the book either.  There was one good plot twist at the end though that peaked my interest.

If you are considering taking kids to this film you’ll want to know that it contains a lot of action with guns and hand to hand combat.  People are kidnapped and there is some blood shown coming out of wounds.  Also, those who are infected have some veins coming to the surface of their skin.  There are a few battle scenes as a city is under attack.  Officials shoot into a crowd and zombie like creatures attack people.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is rated PG-13 and I am giving it a C+ grade. Thanks for listening I’m Shawn O’Neill and this has been a 90 second movie review on BYU Radio.