I'm a mom of 3 kids, and I love to read and watch movies, and I'm picky about what my kids read and watch.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BOOK: Any Which Wall (by Laurel Snyder)

Any Which Wall
by Laurel Snyder

This book is sort of a tribute to Edward Eager's delightful Half Magic (which I recommend, by the way).  Four children discover a magic wall which dispels their summer boredom, and, of course, they learns some lessons along the way.  It's not as original as Half Magic (because, as the author will admit, she stole ideas from it), but it's lots of fun and kids will enjoy it.  I appreciate books like this that entertain without using bad language or crude behavior, and have plenty of adventure and excitement, but no violence.

Age Recommendation:  7 - 12 years  (great for read-aloud)

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Flipback" Books

Not only do I love to read, but I love books.  Good old-fashioned paper & print books.  I am flummoxed by the popularity of the whole e-book reader thing (Kindle, Nook, et al).  It simply does not appeal to me.  I can understand their value to road-warriors who are also avid (and speedy) readers or are prone to be indecisive when it comes to choosing reading material, and would otherwise weigh their baggage down with multiple volumes from various genre. 

But the whole idea of reading something digital?  Ugh.  Give me the feel of a real book in my hand any day.  With real pages to turn.  And you don't have to charge batteries or wait for it to boot up.  You really can't improve on it, which is why this medium has remained basically the same for centuries. 

I don't know who wrote this, but when I first read it several years ago I thought that not only is it very clever, but it makes my point exactly.

Anyway, if printed books can be improved, it's possibly this that could do it.  No, I don't think it will kill the Kindle, but it's darn intriguing. 

FILM: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (rated PG) (based on the book by Roald Dahl)
starring (voices) George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartmann, et al (the list of famous names is long)

Why did it take us so long to see this movie?  I really knew nothing about it, but had heard it was good.  I think it's now a new favorite for our family.... at least for me and Jay.  I think it's actually more of an adult movie, though kids enjoy it on a different level (for the slapstick, etc.).  The humor is odd and quirky, and there is much to be gained from multiple viewings. Wacky fun!

I'm always a little nervous about Roald Dahl (a lot of his books are weird and have language and creepy stuff), so I was pleasantly surprised.  I'm not sure why it's rated PG... I don't remember any "language," though there is some cartoon violence, and I guess some scenes that are mildly frightening.  There is some smoking, so that probably has something to do with it.  Otherwise, it's pretty safe.

Oh, and the soundtrack is wonderful!  Or, I should say, "Fantastic!"  :)

Recommended for:  FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT

FILM: Five Children and It (2004)

Five Children and It (rated G)
(based on the novel by E. Nesbit)
starring Freddie Highmore, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard (voice)

We watched this via Netflix with our kids.  It was cute and the kids liked it.  Like most films based on novels, there is plenty of stuff left out or changed, but it works.  Freddie Highmore is always fantastic, and how can you go wrong with Kenneth Branagh and Eddie Izzard in supporting roles?  The story is a fun fantasy centered around 5 siblings (and their horrible cousin), so naturally, most kids will enjoy it.  There is plenty of action, nothing offensive (with the exception of a few naughty childish pranks), and there are some sweet emotional moments.

Recommended for:  Family movie night!

FILM: I Am Number Four (2011)

I Am Number Four (PG-13)
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron

We went out to dinner and a movie to celebrate Jay's birthday.  This was Jay's choice, but I found it entertaining.  I really didn't know anything about it before hand, but I noticed that the star of this film, was also starring in the film playing in the next theatre.... apparently, he is quite the hot item right now.  I feel so au current!

Anyway.... this is your typical action/sci-fi flick, with plenty of villains/creepy creatures, slow-mo action sequences, and explosions; several dumb lines of dialogue and minor plot holes; plus some moderately graphic violence, and a bit of strong language.  What else can I say?  Obey the rating.

Overall, it's entertaining and you probably won't fall asleep.  There a couple of interesting supporting roles, a mildly interesting romance, and the story is fairly intriguing.  It could have used a little more humor though.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

BOOK: Have a New Kid by Friday

Have a New Kid by Friday
by Kevin Leman

A tough, no-nonsense approach to parenting, based on sound principles that really work (though you have to be vigilant... this isn't for the faint of heart or for wimps).  I like how the author doesn't go on and on to fill a book (like many books in the categories of self-help, parenting, relationships, etc.) but gives you straight-forward solutions, plain and simple, in just a few chapters.  You can start employing the principles right away.  The rest of the book is a reference guide so you can look up specific issues (listed alphabetically) and learn how to address them.  Definitely worth reading... and probably good to keep on hand!

Monday, March 7, 2011

FILM: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Justin Bieber:  Never Say Never (2011)
Rated G

So, I have a 9 year old daughter, and yes I took her to see this movie.  She was thrilled.  I was not.  But I was willing to take her, since none of the guys in our family weren't about to.  My kids listen to the song of the same name constantly, and I sort of like it.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  I actually really enjoyed this movie.  Before seeing it I really knew nothing about Justin Bieber except that he was the guy with "the hair," and that every preteen girl in the country is in love with him.... and therefore every preteen (and teen?) boy (except my son) wears his hair the same way.

Now that I know more about "JB" than I thought I ever would, I admit I'm pretty impressed.  He is quite talented and he seems to be pretty down-to-earth.  (Whether he will stay that way is the question.)  He actually has a really difficult and exhausting job, and I would never want to do it. 

Totally clean, very entertaining, and every girl will love it.... and their moms probably won't hate it.

BOOK: Left to Tell (by Immaculee Ilibagiza)

Left to Tell:  Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
by Immaculee Ilibagiza

This is not just a beautifully written memoir and a fascinating true story of survival (which it is), but an inspiring account of a life filled with sorrow and hope, despair and faith, hate and forgiveness, love and loss, and redemption.  Well worth reading.

There are some fairly graphics descriptions of the reality of the Rwandan holocaust (though I'm sure they don't even come close to depicting what it was really like), but they are necessary.