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Book Review: “Book of Mordred” by Vivian Vande Velde

When I was a teenager one of my absolute favorite things to read was Arthurian Legend, and one of my absolute favorite authors to read was Vivian Vande Velde. So when I found a book by Vande Velde based in Arthurian legend, you can bet it was a hit. The Book of Mordred focuses on the villain of the story. There have been quite a few books that have taken on the point of view of the villain; Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a prime example. Many novels have taken on the Arthurian villain as well: Nancy Springer's I Am Mordred, Sarah Thomson's The Dragon's Son, and Elizabeth Wein's The Winter Prince—all tell Mordred’s story. And one of the great novels you can add to this lofty canon is The Book of Mordred


Far from rehashing stale territory, Vande Velde offers significant insight to Mordred’s life. The story is told from the perspective of three women who play a significant role in Mordred's life. As the novel progresses, Mordred becomes more of a minor character as the story focuses on Lady Alayna; Nimue, the sorceress; and Kiera, Alayna's daughter. These women provide a deeper insight into Mordred’s psyche, allowing readers to develop sympathy for Mordred and see beyond the villain he is portrayed to be. The book chronicles various events over a ten-year period, finally ending with the deaths of Mordred and Arthur. Throughout the book the characters’ impact on each other's lives connect in a vividly action-packed plot that bring the familiar setting to life. 


Despite weighty themes such as love, loyalty, chivalry, family, destiny, evil, and death, the story is never overwhelmed by them. Readers who have yet to be fully introduced to Mordred will find this novel, with its concluding comprehensive outline of the whole legend, very accessible. Even readers who are familiar with Arthurian tales will find the novel rich and interesting. So here at Rachel’s World we recommend that if you want to breathe new life into an old legend, check out Vande Velde's retelling, which will be excellent reading for fantasy and historical fiction fans alike.

 

The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2005.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by Douglas Smith. William Morrow, 1995.

I Am Mordred Nancy Springer. Philomel, 1998.

The Dragon's Son by Sarah Thomson. Orchard Books, 2001.

The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein. Athenaeum Books, 1993.


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: Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes, 9/29/1/, 2hr 1 min, PG-13  

In 1973 the Battle of the Sexes, as it was promoted, Pitted Billie Jean King the number one woman tennis player in the world against former number one men’s tennis player Bobby Riggs.  At the time King was 29 years old and Riggs was 55 and a serial self-promoter. Riggs could not stand to be forgotten, so when he got the chance he was all in and did all he could to put himself in the spotlight.

The trailer for the film depicts much more of a story surrounding the actual match that was played.  The film on the other hand expands more into the years before the actual match and what led up to it.  Including the lives of both Riggs and King.  Riggs was dealing with a wife who did not appreciate his gambling debts.  King was also having personal problems, she was trying to promote equality in women’s sports.  Plus she was questioning her sexual orientation at the time.

The acting in the film is good and Steve Carell playing Bobby Riggs was a great choice as he played a male chauvinist very well.  Emma Stone was also wonderful as Billie Jean King.  The actual battle that takes place on the tennis court was historic in many ways and that is not lost in this film.  If you don’t know the outcome I won’t ruin it here.

Parents will want to be aware that there is lesbian sexuality in this film.  Women are seen disrobing and some lingerie is shown. Only shoulders and bare backs are visible.  Due to the setting in the seventies and the sponsor of the women’s tennis tour there are scenes which include smoking and drinking.  The portrayal of sexist thinking is also prevalent during the film.

Battle of the sexes is rated PG-13 and I am giving it a B grade. 

 

Book Review: “Tallulah’s Toe Shoes” by Marilyn Singer

Tallulah's Toe Shoes by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. Clarion Books, 2013.

 

After watching the Lilac Fairy dance in the Sleeping Beauty ballet, Tallulah desperately wants to learn to dance on pointe—on her toes. However, Tallulah’s mom and dance teacher tell her she needs to wait until she’s a little older. Determined to prove them wrong, Tallulah takes a pair of old pointe shoes out of the trash after dance class. She tries on the pointe shoes once she gets home, but she can’t seem to stay up on her toes. When she does manage to dance on pointe her feet hurt terribly. Feeling discouraged, Tallulah returns to dance class the next week where she talks to the girl that danced the part of the Lilac Fairy in the ballet. The Lilac Fairy tells Tallulah that dancing on pointe takes practice and her feet hurt at first, too. Tallulah returns to her ballet class with renewed vigor and determination.

 

Tallulah's Toe Shoes is Singer's third book about Tallulah. Readers can learn with Tallulah that sometimes you have to wait a little bit before you can accomplish your goals—but with hard work and dedication it’s still possible. The book uses a few basic, French ballet terms, which can be difficult for readers to pronounce. However, readers without any dance experience can easily follow along and enjoy the story. The illustrations are charming and perfectly show Tallulah’s joy, disappointment, and enthusiasm as she tries to dance on pointe. Tallulah’s Toe Shoes is a great addition to any aspiring dancer’s collection.

 

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: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, PG

Yes this is a review for a film that is 40 years old, but that’s because it is back in theaters.  There’s a reason this film is back in theaters for its 40th Anniversary… It’s just that good.

I remember going to this film and being dropped off with my friends at a theater and being engulfed in a story that asked questions and made me think about the world around me.  After viewing it again 40 years later I still had the same reaction.  Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Terri Garr, Melinda Dillon and the score by John Williams all combine to make this film the masterpiece it is.

This is the story of an Indiana power worker who meets up with a UFO and becomes entranced by what he feels is drawing him to learn more about the encounter.  His search envelopes his life and crumbles his marriage and family.  So much so, he builds an inexplicable model of Devil’s Tower in his living room. 

This is an amazing film visually.  The Chance to see this on a big screen is the real reason to go back and see it again.  Of course if you haven’t ever seen it, get a ticket.  The large scale shots in the film are meant to be seen on a big screen and they do not disappoint.  The storytelling is moving and the characters feel like your friends next door.  Spielberg attributes this to the fact that he felt like all the actors were playing themselves in the film.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is rated PG and there are a few profanities.  A woman is seen in her robe and underwear.  Some suspenseful scenes may be too much for some younger viewers.  This is a treasure of a film and it gets an A grade from me.