“The Way Way Back”

Final a movie that is labeled a comedy that didn’t gross me out.  Produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures “The Way Way Back” is similar in tone to two other pictures produced by this company:  “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Set in a beach community, the credits identify it as Duxbury, MA, the plot revolves around two families who will spend the summer at their beach houses.  Steve Carell, not playing the nice guy, and his girl friend, Toni Collette, are both divorced.  Both are parents and have brought their children with them on this beach vacation.  Allison Janney, playing a constantly inebriated divorcee, is the next-door neighbor with two kids.

Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who also play small roles in the movie, this pair has the potential of being the next Coen “Brothers.”  The real stand outs in the movie are Liam James, who plays Collette’s son, and Sam Rockwell, who runs the local water park and befriends Liam James.

The antics of the adults and typical summer fun times at the water park produce many funny moments in the film.  The conflicts arise out of the interaction between the adult parents and their children.  The parents are really the ones with the problems, while most of the kids are the mature ones.

The combination of drama, comedy and good acting makes this an enjoyable movie.

“Smile” by Raina Telgemeir

This a very popular graphic novel in my school library. I saw we have Telgemeir’s newer GN “Drama”, but not the older “Smile.” This is a graphic memoir about a pre-teen/barely teen who trips and falls so hard she knocks out her two front teeth. The story describes surgery, braces, embarrassing mouthware and not-so-nice-friends in a coming of age story. It also won the Eisner Award for best graphic novel. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

“The Wishing Thread”

I am not familiar with books written by Lisa Van Allen, but her newest may be a winner on three fronts.  “The Wishing Thread” published by Ballantine Press involves magic, three sisters, and a knitting shop called The Stitchery.  The setting Tarrytown may also interest readers from this area.

Van Allen is not a Tarrytown native but loves that area so much that she knew she had found a perfect location for the book she was planning.  In order to get local color and the history just right she said she did a lot of reading and spent quite a lot of time in Tarrytown.  She has been to every major Halloween event and, of course, has toured Sunnyside.

For more about Van Allen see Tuesday, October 29’s “The Journal News.”

Ghost Gone Wild

I started to read this Carolyn Hart mainly to determine if it qualified as a mystery.  It does, although I didn’t get very far into it.  (The story is about a ghost sent from heaven as an emissary from the Department of Good Intentions, able to appear and disappear at will.  But something goes wrong on this trip and the magic doesn’t work.)  I didn’t get very far into it, as the humor was piled on too thick for me.  This happens sometimes – I start a book I think will be funny and then it tries too hard and puts me off.

I did get a laugh when I read the article about, board book “classics.”  And I think Lillian is right, we should order some because they’ll be asked for, either seriously or as a joke.  I know I’m curious!

Board books reinvented

I have started to weed the children’s collection this week starting with the board books.  I was surprised to see that the circulation numbers are good for this type of book.  The collection features very typical board books focusing on counting, colors, and very simple stories.

And then I read a front-page story in the Sunday, October 27th, issue of the NYT entitled “A Library of Classics, Edited for the Teething Set.”  Publishers catering to parents and experts in the area of child-development have now expanded the range of board books.  There are now available from various publishers the board book version of “Moby Dick,” “Les Miserables,” “Sense and Sensibility,” among others.

Since playing classical music to babies in the womb, teaching foreign languages to children at very young ages are now readily accepted why not “expose babies to fine art and literature,” says Linda Bubon, the owner of a Chicago bookstore called Women and Children First.

These board book versions of the classics do not try to explain the complicated plots of these stories.  What they use, according to the article, is “Romeo and Juliet” or “Wuthering Heights” as a “springboard to explain counting, colors, or the concept of opposites.”  And it seems that the idea has connected with parents because publishers have seen their sales rise steadily in this children’s book category.

As I went back and looked through our collection, I thought that our sampling of board books has stimulated and interested toddlers even though none of the titles were written by Shakespeare or Melville.  But having said that maybe we should order two or three newer board books that approach learning for the little ones through the classics.  What do you think?