Saturday, November 14, 2020
Jesse Sings by Victor Hess is about the struggles a young boy named Jesse goes through in the mid twentieth century. Jesse and his mom escape an abusive father, but encounter new problems as they try to settle into a new life. His mom, a seamstress, struggles to get by and support herself, and Jesse all while being pregnant and suffering from what I suspect is PTSD because of her abusive spouse who gambled and drank. There is also a judgmental pastor who won’t let Jesse and a friend into a Bible camp because the friend doesn’t know who her dad is, and Jesse’s dad is in jail. But there are good people too, and Jesse meets friends and other supportive people. Overall, The story is enjoyable, and I think it would be good for kids and adults alike to get to know Jesse and watch how he faces life and his struggles. Jesse Sings is followed by a companion novel called The Clock Tower Treasure as Jesse goes on another adventure! Jesse Sings was published in 2017.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary is a fun middle grade adventure where the reader goes along with Ralph Mouse on his adventures. He lives in a hotel with his relatives between the walls and under the floors. He's told to stay away from humans. But one one he makes friends with a young human named Keith who rescues him when Ralph falls in a garbage can and can't get out without help. Keith lets Ralph borrow his toy motorcycle, just the right size for a mouse. (He can actually make it run by making a motorcycle noise with his mouth.) When he accidentally loses the motorcycle after falling into a load of linens, Keith loses faith in Ralph. But when Keith gets sick and there's no medicine, it's up to Ralph to save the day! Will he be able to find medicine in time to help Keith? Read the book and find out! The Mouse and the Motorcycle was first published in 1965.
When the Evers Family stops at an old mansion where they believe the owner wants to talk to them about selling it, they get a lot more than they bargained for! Realtors Jim and Sarah Evers played by Eddie Murphy and Marsha Thomason are the parents of Megan, played by Aree Davis and Michael played by Marc John Jefferies. On their way to an overdue family vacation, they decide to stop at the mansion for a visit that Jim promises his family will be "twenty minutes, tops" since they got a phone call the day before from a servant representing the owner who wishes to sell. But the adventure lasts a lot longer than twenty minutes when they discover the house is haunted! Will the family be able to figure out how to help the good ghosts, and stop the bad one before it's too late? Watch the movie and find out! The Haunted Mansion is clean family fun, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys funny movies with a little bit of scary added in! The Haunted Mansion was first shown to audiences in 2003 and was directed by Rob Minkoff.
Thursday, November 5, 2020
In Ramona's World by Beverly Clearly, Ramona Quimby is just getting ready to start the fourth grade, and can't wait! She's got a new baby sister, and she's excited to tell the other kids about that, but she's also able to meet Daisy, a new friend who is cool because she's got braces! Ramona wants braces too, but doesn't need them. That's not so bad. But things quickly take a difficult turn when Mrs. Meecham uses Ramona's misspelled words as spelling words, and Ramona falls halfway through the attic floor in Daisy's new house, she realizes that the fourth grade isn't going to be so easy after all. I recommend this fun book for kids, and adults who enjoy remembering what it was like to be a kid! Ramona's World was first published in 1999.
Friday, October 9, 2020
The Indian in the Cupboard was based on the book by the same name by Lynne Reid Banks. It stars Litefoot as Little Bear, and Hal Scardino as Omri. The movie was directed by Frank Oz. There were some things I liked more about the movie than the book, in particular Little Bear's character. His character wasn't unbelievable in the book, it was however, less likable; particularly his views toward women. In the book, he asked Omri to find him a wife, which Omri did. Little Bear didn't think at all about how they were taking the young woman (Twin Stars) possibly away from a home and family that she might not see again. He just wanted a wife. It worked out that Twin Stars liked him back, but the uncertainty of whether she would or not before hand, and his not considering that, bothered me. In the movie he is more sympathetic and actually tells Omri not to turn the plastic figure Omri had gotten, into a real young woman and expressed concern about taking her from her family. But there were parts of the movie that I didn't think were appropriate. There was one scene, very brief, where the boys were watching scantily clad women dancing before they changed the channel. That part wasn't in the book, and in my opinion, should not have been in a movie made for children. The movie otherwise follows the plot of the book, and has an appropriate amount of suspense, tension, and a dangerous race against time and a (to Little Bear) race against a giant rat as well! I would recommend parents reviewing the movie before showing it to their children because of that one unnecessary scene. The Indian in the Cupboard movie came out in 1995.
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks tells the story of a young boy, Omri, who gets, among other things, an old medicine cabinet for his birthday, and a small plastic Native American. He puts the little toy indian in the cupboard, and with a key that his mother gave him that he finds locks and unlocks the cupboard, locks his toy in for the night. In the morning, he discovers, to his surprise and delight, that the plastic figure has turned into a human! But it isn't just that the plastic figure came to life, the tiny (from Omri's perspective) man is an actual Iroquoi from the past transported forward in time, and made tinier in the journey! Things are made complicated when Omri's friend Patrick finds out, and then brings a cowboy from the 1800s along with the cowboy's horse, forward in time as well! While the title may be out of date, I do appreciate the way the author handles Little Bear's culture, and explores ideas of racism and prejudice that Boone and Little Bear face and deal with. This begins an adventure that is both exciting and dangerous! I recommend this story for young middle grade readers who like time travel adventure. The Indian in the Cupboard was first published in 1980.
The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan is an exciting fantasy adventure follows the story of Halt, a successful and famous ranger in the kingdom of Araluen. While I have not read any other stories in this series, I was able to follow this story fairly well, and did not find myself wondering overly much what was going on. Halt clearly had established himself already from a previous book, but the way this story was written, I wasn't confused about anything. The evil Baron Morgarath (which reminded me somewhat of Morgoroth from Spiderwick at the beginning, though the names are pronounced differently) has recruited an apelike species known as the Wargals to help him try to take over Araluen. But will Halt, King Duncan, the rangers, and the soldiers of Araluen be able to stop them? I enjoyed the story, and while there is violence, it is not descriptive or gratuitous. I believe that readers who enjoy fantasy that is clean, though with a lot of action and a little bit of violence (there is a war after all) would enjoy this book. The Battle of Hackham Heath was published in 2017.