Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BookLook review of "The Hunger Games"

It wasn't really laziness having these YA readers write the column but a quest for reaching out to the younger newspaper readers by involving them.

"The Hunger Games"
Young adult fiction can be a pleasant addiction for all ages. The books are often “good-clean-fun” and provide entertainment for readers who are turning thirteen or turning twenty-nine (again). In “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, her futuristic novel causes the reader to wonder if reality T.V. could get extreme enough for a real battle to the death. Will the television viewers of the future regress to barbaric Roman times with televised teen gladiators?

Mrs. Winkleman’s sixth grade students from Art City are writing the review for this week’s column. I wish there had been room to print all their comments! Their voices will give you a better description of this very popular young adult book.

I asked the students why they obviously liked the story and here are a couple of their interesting answers. “I like this book because the setting is in the future. Will she win the Hunger Games? Will she take home the gold?” (Betsy) “It’s really riveting. This book is a funny action packed book that is hard to predict and the characters are smart.” (Keaton)
“It’s an amazing adventure right here in North America. This is a book that I can’t swim away from.” (Dylan – not sure the difference between walking away and swimming away from a book…) “I enjoy reading the book because it’s intense. You are instantly hooked and you feel emotion when something happens to the characters.” (Leah) “I believe you would like this book just as much as I do because it is action packed.” (Suzanne) “I recommend this book because when I started to read it I couldn’t put it down. This book is filled with romance, action, and drama.” (Scott – and he had book 2 sitting on the corner of his desk so he means what he says. He was the only boy to mention the romance sub-plot so heads up mom and dad.)

What did they think about the main character who is a sixteen year old girl? “The characters in this book are sweet but have to learn how to be tough. If they don’t that could end their life. When Katniss volunteers to go to the Hunger Games in place of her little sister, her life could end. It shows that if people don’t rebel against a bad government everyone has to pay.” (Carmen – if she runs for student council watch out for her Mr. Rowe.) “It’s about a girl named Katniss who is stuck in the hunger games because her sister was drawn to be in them but Katniss said she would take her spot. This tells you that she is a very responsible sister and brave.” (Jason)

Students were warned not to give away the ending although as an obvious lead into book two it was not very satisfying. “Peeta, a boy who is fighting with Katniss goes to the Capital and gets pushed into a habit ring to fight other people to the death. They must know how to survive…will they or will they not?” (Bailey) “If you read this book you will never put it down. I am not going to tell you the ending so you better find out by reading it!” (Samantha)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grandma Ava is 90 years old!

Grandma Ava had a very nice 90th birthday party - in the hospital unfortunately. At her routine physical in the morning they found a blood clot which has been causing her leg to swell, but are confident it will be resolved in a day or 2 in the hospital. She enjoyed a cake with lavender and pink roses - her favorite, flowers, gifts, and a better than usual singing of happy birthday thanks to harmonizers in the family.

Mike and Tyfani and their handsome boys give Grandma Ava kisses on her birthday. The ruffled knit blanket was a gift from them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marie and Chris's family Baby Shower

How many Barrett girls does it take to assemble a stroller? Since Chris and grandpa were very late due to laying tile at baby's house, Marie and her sister tackled the stroller with complete success. I also wanted to post the picture of Marie now less than 3 weeks away from her due date which as we know is when you look your very best. Note her large binky necklace prize is now in perfect proportion as an accessory and she should wear it often.

One of Aunt Alyssa and Uncle Seans many gifts were these entertaining booties which we all loved.

Our gift was "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." which is usually reserved for weddings but it fit. The card is Chris as a baby wearing one of the outfits we gave them.In the 2 plastic storage containers (more useful than wrapping paper for later) was the "new" outfit of a tiny board-short swimsuit and a t-shirt saying "scuba team member" and then Chris's "old" baby outfit, sweater and blanket. The blanket was crocheted by great grandma Brodie so even more precious.We let them borrow the baby book of Chris for a little while.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Five Year Olds Play Basketball?

Haydon is tied for the shortest on the team but definitely has some of the best footwork. His awesome natural spikey hair serves as distraction for his opponents too. At the end of every game he tells us, "We won again!" The fact that they don't keep score in this league is probably for the best.

After a 10 minute practice right before the game they are issued color coordinated wrist bands to match up with an opposing team member. Haydon (in red tshirt under black jersey) for sure got the concept. Stick to that guy no matter what. Defense, offense whatever is happening stay all over him - and he sure did even if the ball was no where in the area. He told me, "I don't shoot baskets, I pass the ball." Good to know your special skill when you are for sure the skinniest kid on the court.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Look Review "The Madonnas of Leningrad"

“The Madonnas of Leningrad”
The painful lament of 82 year old Marina’s husband strikes a chord with all of us who have seen a loved one develop Alzheimer’s disease – also known as the long goodbye. "She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach. He cannot follow her, and he wonders where she goes when she leaves."

Marina goes back in her memory to Leningrad during the German siege. As a young woman she was a docent at the Hermitage Museum before the war. She then spent 90 months of cold and hunger in the cellar of the museum during the famous siege of her city. After crating and hiding the famous paintings, statues and thousands of irreplaceable treasures, the museum staff and their families took shelter under the museum – all 2,000 of them. The frames were left on the walls as symbols of hope that the paintings would soon return. But the weeks stretched into months and many died from starvation. One of the elderly attendants at the museum teaches Marina how to build a “memory palace” to keep an accurate catalog of the missing treasures. As she wanders between the empty cavernous galleries, the vacant frames are filled by her memories of title, artist, color and composition.

One of the most poignant scenes occurs as spring arrives in Leningrad and Marina takes a group of young military cadets on a tour of the bare, dripping Hermitage Museum. As she passionately describes each glowing painting from her memory palace, a wondrous thing happens to the little tour group. Everyone can see the paintings through her eyes as she sketches on the blank walls. And then we are back to the present, and Marina’s tragic Alzheimer’s locks the door to the museum forever.

The author Debra Dean takes the reader between Marina’s present-day confusion at her granddaughter’s wedding in the Northwest, and her clear memories of the terrible winter of 1941 in Russia. It is a love story about Marina and her family and Marina and the art of the Hermitage Museum. My only complaint was that it was a little too short, and I was left wanting more of the story of the Leningrad siege. It is a great debut novel with the caution that there is one scene of intimacy between Marina and her fiancĂ© that is explicit. Skip that passage if you want to and still enjoy a very well-written book.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sledding in the Mountains

Grandpa holding baby Ro Ro who wants to keep riding down the slopes

a happy face full of snow - Haydon's happy now but it took some powerful persuasion by mom at the top to get him to go down

mom wants to ride down with "speedy"

well, Dawson kindly let his mom ride down with him a couple of times even though it slowed him down

a one year old snow bunny with his papa on his first sledding run and he loved it but he never could put his arms down in that snowsuit

zooming down the long hill all together

Hurry - jump off we are about to be crashed into by another sled!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BookLook review of "Grave Secret"

“Grave Secret”
I am suffering with a severe case of multiple personality syndrome aggravated by the voices in my head. I know the cure is to finish one of the two books I am listening to on CD and get to the end of one of the three books sitting on my bedside table. These symptoms always appear in January since I listen to a book while dismantling Christmas and I start my Christmas gift books to see how good they are. They are all good. I am reading all of them at once. I am going crazy.

“Grave Secret” by Charlaine Harris was the book on CD I finished first. I liked this odd tale and it distracted me from the mundane bubble wrapping of a million fragile Christmas ornaments. It is the fourth and perhaps final book in a murder mystery series featuring Harper Connelly. When young Harper was struck by lightening she acquired the paranormal gift of finding dead people and seeing their last memories. She has made a business out of this unusual talent and clients pay her to “read the bones” of their dearly departed. Her gift also allows her to solve crimes along with providing comfort and closure to her clients.

Harper takes her ability on the road accompanied by her stepbrother/boyfriend Tolliver who handles the business side of her psychic side show. Returning to her home state of Texas to do a reading for a wealthy family, she sets off a dangerous series of events
when she reveals their family secrets. Her own tragic family secrets soon become linked to her client’s story and finding out what really happened eight years ago is the only way to stop the next murder.

I plan to do some extra reading this week since it is the only cure for my mental anxiety problems. It’s also a good excuse to read on a chilly January evening. I only have two books left to finish reading, so does that make me a schizophrenic now?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Brodie Castle Scotland - May I Move In?

As a member of the Brodie clan, from the Canadian side of the family, I should be in line to inherit this Brodie castle soon.

Or possibly, the National Trust of Scotland would just let me move in for the summer?