Archive for July, 2012

Two new DVDs–Two thumbs up

July 23, 2012

Over the last couple of days, my husband and I had time to see two of our new DVDs.  Although they were different in tone, they could be categorized as romantic stories/comedies.  No drugs or violence interesting stories well acted.  Definitely, two winners.

“Friends With Kids” was written, produced, directed and starred Jennifer Westfeldt.  Basic plot: young, successful, affluent, married 30 somethings have children and their lives change forever.  One pair in this circle of friends is not married, but they are each other’s best friends.   Each wants children, and the clock is ticking.  So, the two unmarried friends decide that they will have a child together but not be together.  Some light-hearted scenes result.  But some serious stuff as well. 

“Salmon Fishing in Yemen” based on a book by Paul Torday is a different film altogether, but still it is light and romantic.  Lasse Hallstrom, “Cider House Rules,” Chocolat,” etc. is the director.  Nothing heavy handed here.  What carries the film, I think, is the acting.  Ewan McGregor plays an uptight Scot, Emily Blunt a hyphenated-named London mover and shaker, and Kristin Scott Thomas a very funny PR person to the English government.  Add these good actors to a plot really about salmon fishing in Yemen and you get a funny, well-directed, well-played movie.

Old books… to movies

July 19, 2012

Rumor (or truth) has it that Oz is coming to the big screen again in March 2013 with “Oz the Great and Powerful”. The Baum series is long one of my favorites though I hesitate to  sanction any movie before I view it personally.

Also, the Jim Henson Company has bought rights to A. Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” series which may become an animated feature film in the future. As always, I hope kids also read the books and not just see the movie.

“A Wrinkle in Time” revisited

July 19, 2012

In a recent Horn Book article, T.A. Barron, author and conservationist, reflected on the greatest of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time.”  With the success of Harry Potter and the “Lord of the Rings” series/movies, fantasy novels he believes have had a resurgence of popularity.  Although new fantasy novels tend to be longer in length, bigger, he stated is not always better. “A Wrinkle in Time” runs about 200 pages.  Stories must be more than a series of obstacles.  They must bring to the reader ideas and lead the reader to questions and meaning.  This is what this novel does.

He believes that there are three qualities that fantasy must share with all literature.  It must have depth of character, truth of place, and richness of meaning. Barron tests his theory by using “A Wrinkle in Time” as a model.  All three criteria are met in L’Engle’s fifty year-old story.  Meg, the main character, grows in wisdom and takes the reader along for the ride.  The setting is more than a backdrop to the action.  It is a fully realized place where we are.  Meg also grows in character for she struggles, makes choices ,and learns what it means to be human.

Barron concluded that the “best fantasy is true.”  The best fantasy “selectively distorts reality in pursuit of truth.”  

Frank Langella’s Dropped Names

July 19, 2012

When I checked this out I knew it would be mostly gossip. And it is. But it’s fun and Langella is a pretty good writer, and mostly fair in his assessments, I think.

Children’s and YA h/c sales are up

July 18, 2012

Good news! According to the Association of American Publishers, sales for children’s and YA hardcover titles have increased almost 60% in March 2012 over the same time period last year. But don’t get too excited; the AAP attributes a large percentage of the increase to the ever popular Hunger Games trilogy titles. But an increase is still a move in the right direction..

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