Friday, November 28, 2014

THE WORLD NEEDS BOOKS

This little girl is amazing.  Watch the video and hear this child speak some adorable words about books and little libraries.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Be the judge of your own happiness.

The next book in the Austen Project has been released and this time it is Emma.  Alexander McCall Smith is the author.  His earlier work includes the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.


Emma Woodhouse has just graduated from University and she's headed  home to Norfolk.  She's ready to enter adulthood with a bang. But on her own terms. 

While trying to get her interior design business up and running, Emma gets distracted by the infinite possibilities of matchmaking.  Soon she's pairing up people in the village, including her friend Harriet.  

Emma thinks she's wise beyond her years but she's about to realize that she still has a lot to learn.

*****************************************************

I have seen some truly scathing reviews of this novel.  Honestly, you'd think they were written using basilisk blood and meant to turn possible readers to stone. But I'm not going to let that stop me.  I'm going to give it a chance anyway.  Waiting on the library for it though so...soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have Courage and Be Kind


I have been waiting for news of this movie for some time now.  The only thing we had was a poster with a glass shoe for the longest time.  Now, we have a trailer for the new Cinderella film.  Press play and feel the magic!



P.S. Hayley Atwell is in it and I adore her to bits.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day: I'm Dreaming of Home


Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 
written and illustrated by John Hendrix

During the Christmas of 1914, a great and terrible war was being fought but something miraculous happened.  Soldiers from both sides agreed upon a truce and celebrated Christmas together.  A young British soldier writes home to his mother describing how soldiers who were supposed to be enemies shared songs, gifts and Christmas trees.

Firstly, this picture book is beautifully illustrated.  It also doesn't shy away from depicting fallen soldiers. However, if you're worried about it being graphic.  It isn't.  It does not show gaping wounds or blood. Remember, it's a children's book.

I loved the fictional account of the main character.  It really highlighted the humanity of the soldiers.  That they were people with lives outside the conflict.

This picture book is interesting because from the beginning, it gives you the historical context of WWI.  I really enjoyed the last few pages where the author included a bibliography of what he looked at during the writing process.  He even included a historical photograph of a Christmas Truce from WWI. Hendrix even included a scene in the book of soldiers taking pictures together to mirror the archival photo.  As an adult, I can appreciate this but I don't know if young children will.  Maybe it will lead to an interesting discussion with your children as you read it together.

Overall, a really great picture book that takes a look at an event that does not receive enough attention.


In this same post, I would like to share one of my favorite foreign films, Joyeux Noel.  It too is about the Christmas truce of 1914 and it is an amazing movie.  One of the things I love about it is its range of experiences.  On the battlefield, there are three groups: the Scottish, the French and the German. They are all given a voice.  This movie is also fantastic at showing the politics and ideology behind warfare.  Some of it will leave you in angry tears.

I do recommend the film to an older audience (i.e. 18 years of age or older) just because it has some content that may be considered disturbing and mature. 



Why Pokemon Can Be Great











A lot of parents scoff when they hear the word Pokemon.   Spending that $50 every few years for a game you think is ridiculous chips away at your soul.  I can understand this.  However, I am here to change your mind about that.

Here's 3 good reasons to give the game a chance:

1. LITERACY.  The game requires you to read.  A lot.  You spend quite a bit of time talking to different characters to gather information and having different characters talk to you for battles.  This is great for reluctant readers because it is a game.

I will say this though, your child has to be able to read.  Do not buy this game if they have just started             reading because the game will only frustrate them.  But also pay attention and know when they are ready for it.  Below is an example of the sorts of sentences players will frequently be running into.
       

2. DIVERSITY.  That's right.  This game has got some diversity.  I remember back in the old days when the colour and graphics were so basic and all you could choose as a character was a boy.  You could name him, but it wasn't the same.  You wanted to make your character look like you a little.

And now you can.  You can be a girl and even a person of colour in the video game. 


But wait!  There's more because even characters you meet will be people of colour.  This is progress that I was not expecting.  It's a step in the right direction and I hope that the game developers will keep on that path.


3. IT'S CHALLENGING.  Pokemon may seem very childish because of the TV show and the cute creatures, but it is designed to challenge players.  You start out as a new Pokemon trainer and you're constantly learning the mechanics of the game over and over again.  Players also have to make critical decisions during battles (i.e. what pokemon to use  or what move to use).  

The whole point of the Gym Leaders is about testing the strength of the Pokemon the player has raised and their knowledge.  All Pokemon have their weaknesses and not being aware of them can be costly.  But being aware of them can win you the battle.

Pokemon also has such a diverse audience that includes a hefty number of adults.  If it were strictly a child's game, it would bore an adult within a day. 


I hope this post has opened your mind to the possibilities of  Pokemon.  The next Pokemon games in the series Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby come out in North America on November 21st.  


UPDATE: Sad news, everyone.  The character customization offered in Pokemon X and Y will not return in Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire.  You can still choose between a boy and a girl but choosing your skin colour is gone.  It is a step back in my opinion because it really gave fans a chance to experience Pokemon with a character that could represent them more fully. 

Ultimately, I do not know why the decision was made but saying that it was left out because it was game specific to X and Y or because this is a remake of an older game doesn't quite make sense.  They're just hollow excuses.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

New New New Chu



The next installment in the Chu series will be out April 21st, 2015.

Glad to see that the Gaiman and Rex team is still going strong.