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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BOOK: When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead

Wow.  This book took me completely by surprise.  It's a coming-of-age story and a great mystery that will leave you with your jaw on the floor.  I found myself feeling an unusual mixture of emotions at the end of the book... happy but sad, amazed and surprised... half laughing, half crying, utterly shocked, and completely satisfied.

The main character/narrator, twelve-year-old Miranda, lives with her single mom in New York City.  The book is set in 1978, so kids reading it today will be surprised at how the world has changed.... sixth-graders were very independent, roaming the city on their own, and they didn't carry cell phones or iPods or play video games.  BUT the issues of friends, popularity, money, relationships, bullying, etc. will all be familiar to them.

As for content, the only "language" is a couple of uses of deity as profanity, there is a brief kiss, mention is made of the mom's boyfriend not having a key to the apartment (thank goodness), and some brief mild violence.  There are some pretty intense moments and somewhat mature themes, so I would recommend it for older kids and teens (both genders!)... and adults who love a good read! 

Age recommendation:  12 years and up

Friday, September 16, 2011

BOOK: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (first book in the Mandie series)
by Lois Gladys Leppard

This is the first in a series of "Mandie books."  I think I would have liked these books as a girl, and I'm sure my daughter will enjoy them.  (There are twenty-something in the series.)  The writing isn't fantastic, but it's adequate and there are no glaring errors.  However, the story is quite compelling, which is what makes it worth reading (part adventure/mystery, part heart-warming family story).  If the rest of the series follows suit there will be much to like.  The book contains nothing offensive.

Age recommendation:  9 - 12 years old (writing level is a bit younger, but it's OK)

BOOK: Cotillion

by Georgette Heyer

My sister only recently introduced me to Georgette Heyer.  What a find!  This is a very fun, clever and witty story, well-told and utterly delightful.  (It would make a great film/mini-series.... BBC, are you listening?)

The period slang is a little difficult at times, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it.  Jane Austen fans, grab a Georgette Heyer novel and enjoy.  If you are not an Austen fan, best steer clear. 

Apparently Heyer was quite prolific, publishing two books a year on average.  Many were "Georgian" and "Regency" as this one is (a la Jane Austen), but she also wrote thrillers, historical novels, contemporary novels, and short stories.  I'm looking forward to reading more!

BOOK: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba (and Bryan Mealer)

This amazing memoir from a poor farm boy in Malawi is truly inspiring.  A self-taught scientist, electrician and inventor, he designed and built a windmill to bring electricity to his home and village... and brought hope with it.  It changed his life in dramatic ways.

The story is at times heartbreaking, and the living conditions and descriptions of life in a third world country during drought, disease and death are a bit difficult to bear.  My 12 year old read the book and really enjoyed it as well.  I think he learned some great lessons too.... be grateful for the wonderful circumstances you live in, work hard and you can accomplish anything.  An excellent read.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

FILM: Sixty Six (PG-13)

Sixty Six (2006)
Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Marsan

Jay and I stumbled upon this interesting indie flick and quite enjoyed it.  It's a quirky and heart-warming story.... the director's real-life experiences.... about an English boy (a younger son) struggling to be noticed by his working-class family and have the best bar mitzvah ever. 

The PG-13 rating:  Though I imagine there is a bit of "language" in the film, I never heard any because of the actors' accents.... in fact, I missed a bit of dialogue because of it, but it didn't seem to matter; I still got the gist of it.  (There may have been some language I didn't catch because the Brits use some words that don't have the same meaning to Americans.)  There is a brief reference to male genitals and a glimpse of a nude backside, which were very both very mild.  There is also one uncomfortable (but brief) scene where the boy accidentally glimpses a passionate scene between a man and woman, but the audience doesn't see anything.  I wouldn't want my 13 year old to see it, unless it was edited.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BOOK: I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This (Bob Newhart)

I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This
by Bob Newhart

I crack up just thinking about hearing Bob Newhart on one of his "phone calls."  This memoir of his life and experiences in the comedy business includes the script of some of those "calls," though they don't always translate well to the printed page.  For the ones I hadn't seen, I immediately went to YouTube and watched him perform them and laughed and laughed.

I really appreciate clean comics, and Bob Newhart is one of them.  He has been around a long time for a good reason.  He became a comedian quite by accident, and the story of how he got there is interesting.

Now I'm headed to the library to pick up the DVD set of season 1 of "The Bob Newhart Show."  I'm ready to laugh some more.