Archive for October, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

October 23, 2012

I just began reading this Newbery Award winner and so far it is hysterically funny. The author is the main character, and I suspect there may be a lot of truth about the trouble that he gets into, having heard the author, Jack Gantos, speak at a conference about his formative years. The story begins in a small town in Pennsylvania called Norvelt, where the author did in fact grow up, and the action commences with Jack firing his dad’s WWII Japanese rifle. He’s aiming to hit the Japanese soldiers on a drive-in movie screen off in the distance, but what he doesn’t know is that there are bullets in the rifle. As an ambulance pulls up to his neighbor’s house, he is worried if he shot Miss Volker in the head, his mother will never believe it was an accident, since he has to help Miss Volker with some chores the next day. Jack also relates that his father will sentence him to death by a firing squad for using the rifle in the first place. If the rest of the book is as good as the beginning, it promises to be a great read…

The Giver Quartet

October 23, 2012

With the publication of “Son,” Lois Lowry has completed the story she began with the publication of “The Giver” in 1994.  In a recent interview that appeared in the NYT’s magazine section, Lowry discusses her opinions of blockbuster novels in the genre of young adult fiction, as well as, offering insights into her own work.

“The Giver” received the Newberry Medal in 1994 and has sold millions of copies worldwide.  For almost 20 years it has also been near the top of the American Library Association’s list of the most banned or challenged books.  Critics point to the euthanization of a troublesome baby as the troublesome aspect of the story.  Lowry believed that adults have a real problem with the book because it rejects “the authority and wisdom of the governing body.”

Lowry’s lost her son Grey when his F-15 plane crashed in Germany.  He was an Air Force flight instructor; mechanical error due to the negligence of two mechanics was blamed for the crash.  “The fact that I lost my son permeates my being.”  Loss permeates “Son.”

She admits that she doesn’t read children’s literature in general, but has definite feelings about the megahits in the field.  “Hunger Games,” she feels, definitely has links to “The Giver,” but is far more violent and disturbing.  She understands why Suzanne Collins books were so well received but feels that children killing children is very troubling.

The Giver Quartet she feels is a guide for teaching children how to be a good person.  Supercharged with a very emotional story, “Son” features a face-off between the name character Gabriel and the sinister Trademaster.  Gabriel refuses to fight, instead battle evil with empathy.

 

 

Marvel’s the Avengers

October 23, 2012

This DVD is a great action film. So much going on I didn’t know what was happening half the time. Briefly, S.H.I.E.L.D. is an international peace keeping organization made up of Marvel Super Heroes from all the comics: Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, the Black Widow, Hawkeye.  Many characters are played by the movie heroes (Robert Downy Jr. is Iron Man etc.) An uncontrollable energy source is activated which opens up a space hole and allows the entry of Loki, an exiled God, and his gang.  They steal the Teseract (the energy source which looks like a giant sparkling ice cube) and set out to take over earth. Mega action follows. All the action effects are spectacular. I love this kind of nonsense.

Mad magazine has done a spoof which I am taking home tonight to read.  Should be as good as the movie.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

October 22, 2012

I was eagerly anticipating The Raven Boys, the first book of a new four book series by Maggie Stiefvater.  The story revolves around Blue Sargent, the local psychic’s daughter, and the Raven Boys, young men from the local prestigious boarding school.  Blue has been told that she will kill her true love if she ever kisses him, so she just avoids boys all together.  She lives with her mom and several wacky relatives who seem oddly one-dimensional despite detailed descriptions.  The Raven Boys, Gansey (rich and privileged), Adam (scholarship student), Ronan (rich and angry), and Noah (barely talks), are all on a quest to find Glendower, a Welsh king who is supposedly buried on a ley line (supernatural energy) and who will grant a wish to the one who wakes him.  Blue gets involved because she sees Gansey’s spirit on St. Mark’s Eve on the ley line, which means that he will die in the next year.  According to her wacky aunt, the fact that non-supernatural Blue saw Gansey means either he’s her true love or she killed him. Blue joins their quest and they battle against the poorly outlined villain (I can’t even remember his name!) that is trying to wake the ley line before they do.

I really enjoyed her Shiver Triology, so I had high hopes for this book. I finished it a couple of days ago and I’m still not sure what to make of it.  At times it was riveting and a page-turner, but other times it dragged and left you with the feeling that you were missing some piece of vital information.  It actually seems like it was the victim of bad editing because as I was reading I had the nagging feeling that there was more to the story and that it was just hidden from my eyes.  I don’t think I’m even looking forward to the next book at all.

9/11 Memorial Water Falls

October 22, 2012

I had not been near the WTC since 9/11.  Yesterday we were babysitting my grand niece and nephew and decided to walk to the memorial, as we were nearby.  Twin waterfall/pools have been created in the footprints of the two destroyed buildings, with the names of those who died inscribed in bronze panels surrounding the edges of the falls.  I did not expect it to be so beautiful and yes, uplifting.  We were very glad we went.


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