“Under Earth Under Water”

For the budding scientists out there, this new book by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski will definitely keep you entertained and informed for many hours.  “Under Earth Under Water” takes the reader on an unusual journey covering a wide-range of topics.

If you decide to start “Under Earth” you will be presented with information on a number of diverse topics from caves, to tunnels, to paleontological finds, to burrowing animals, etc.  The thing that all of this subjects have in common is that they are found “under earth.”

If you flip the book over, you will encounter a wide 9780763689223_p0_v2_s118x184.jpgvariety of subjects that all are found “under water.” This section of the book covers everything from giants of the deep, to scientists underwater, to the Mariana Trench, to the history of submarines and diving suits.

This oversized book contains colorful, detailed drawings and short bits of information.  Most of the topics are presented in two-page spreads that are filled with large and small illustrations.

This is definitely a book that readers in grades three and up will be able to pick up, turn to any page, and become engrossed in for long stretches of time.

“Captain Fantastic”

Billed as a comedy/drama, “Captain Fantastic” is a unique view of a family who has adapted an alternative life style.  Viggo Mortensen is the father of a family of six children, who live in the wilderness of Washington state.  Ben Cash and his wife Leslie have become extremely disillusioned with the American way of life.   As a result, they have decided to raise their children in an area where they can co-exist with nature.

When the film opens, Leslie, who suffers from a bi-polar disorder, is being hospitalized in Arizona.  Ben Cash continues to home school his children and provide for their physical and mental health as well.  When the family receives word that Leslie has taken her life, they decide to make the trip to Leslie’s parents’ home in Arizona where she will be buried.0025192358913_p0_v2_s118x184.jpg

As they journey from Washington to Arizona in the family bus, we learn more about the family and how fiercely loyal they are to one another.  Trouble will ensue when Ben Cash protests to Leslie’s family about their funeral arrangements for their daughter. Conflict and a reevaluation of what’s best for the family will result in a stronger family unit.

As this year ends and film critics announce their picks for the best films of 2016, “Captain Fantastic” is finding its way on to many lists.  Viggo Mortensen’s performance is also being talked about as being one of the best of the year.

This is a film with a strong ensemble cast.  Quirky yet sincere this film has definitely found a following among movie goers.

Best Books 2016


Whether you’re looking for last-minute gifts for family and friends or curious about what you may have missed in 2016, Publishers Weekly is one of the many publications who has recently released their ‘Best of’ lists. Familiar names like Richard Peck, Kate DiCamillo, and Raina Telgemeier appear on the titles for middle grades. Many bright new authors are also present. Canadian Louise Penney appears on the Best Mysteries list. Here’s a suggestion: set up your own Book-of-the-Month-Club gift for a loved one by filling a basket with selections from their favorite categories. Click on the “Best” icon to view the lists.

“The Most Perfect Snowman”

Author and illustrator Chris Britt is well known for his editorial cartoons, which have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines.  With the publication of “The Most Perfect Snowman,” Britt’s name will also soon be identified with children’s books, too.

The author tells the story of Drift, the loneliest of snowmen.  It seems Drift was hastily built and soon forgotten.   Unlike the other snowmen, he has no hat, scarf, mittens, not even a carrot for a nose.  If only he had these things, he would be perfect and accepted by the other snowmen.  But unfortunately since he was different, the other snowmen simply giggled at him.

As luck would have it, one day a group of young children come upon Drift.  After commenting on the fact that he was so plain, they offer him mittens, a hat, a scarf and a carrot for his nose. Now he is the most perfect snowman.9780062377043_p0_v1_s192x300.jpg

The children play with him all day, but at dark they return home.  When a blizzard begins to blow, all those things that Drift was given which made him think he was perfect begin to fly away.  The only things he still has are his scarf and the carrot.  When he meets a lost, cold and hungry bunny, he realizes what he has to do.  This gesture makes him really the most perfect snowman of all.

This delightful book is perfect for readers ages 4-8 on several levels.  It carries the concept  of being different, and the importance of friendship and acts of kindness.  The  soft pastel illustrations, especially the expressive faces of the characters, make this a heartwarming winter story.