Monday, May 31, 2010

BookLook Review "On Stranger Tides"

“On Stranger Tides”
Captain Jack Sparrow will soon take to the seas again and the script is based on the 1987 pirate novel, “On Stranger Tides” by award-winning fantasy author Tim Powers. Tim(oddly both writers are named Tim)Elliott, the co-writer of the first three “Pirates” movies said the story of the novel aligned with where they wanted to take the fourth film being filmed in Hawaii this summer. “We wanted to do a story about Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth, and Tim Powers wrote a book about Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth... it just turns out that to do that story you would need that book," said Elliott. Therefore, we all must read this book now since everyone else will soon be doing it.
“On Stranger Tides” is great story-telling. It’s as fast as a pirate ghost ship skimming the tops of turquoise Caribbean waves. It is also just as shallow – don’t expect too much since this is a tall tale after all. An insane British scientist brings his lovely young daughter Elizabeth to meet up with Blackbeard himself on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. John Chandagnac, a handsome young man also headed for Jamaica is forced to join the pirates and is renamed Jack Shandy. We now have another Captain Jack who is more Orlando Bloom than Johnny Depp. And we have another beautiful Elizabeth who also runs around in a white nightgown. Pirate movie images do appear in your mind as you read this book and I would wager a gold doubloon that Tim Elliott read this book before he wrote the first two movie scripts. They are just too similar.
Black magic and voodoo dominate the story and the characters. There is an abundance of sorcery and creepy creatures returning from the dead to dance around on ghostly ship decks. The addition of legendary pirates who actually existed makes the book even more interesting. Their true stories are woven into the tall tale with skillful exaggeration. It’s not a book for young readers or book clubs, but those who enjoy historical fantasy writing will be thrilled and chilled by it.
We all know the book is better than the movie, so be sure to read “On Stranger Tides” before the movie comes out in May 2011. And thank you Springville super librarian John Averett for searching for the book for months to place it on our shelves. It should be arriving soon. You may want to call the library to see if it has been added to the collection. Now everyone please check it out to prove my prediction of its inevitable popularity!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The crazy hair cousin gang - 3 members

Congratulations to Laura for graduating from high school this week! One of her distinctive features for the past year has been her colorful hair - purple, blue, red, green.It's a lot of fun to see at family parties. As you can see she has started her own cousin crazy colored hair gang with Dawson and Haydon joining up for her graduation party.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dawson won Most Outstanding Student Award!

Dawson's proud family at the school assembly.The CUB, Most Outstanding Student award is sponsored by the Lion's Club and as the principal put it "It is for the nearly perfect student. They have high academics, are helpful and kind to others, good citizens, good leaders and examples and someday will be the presidents of organizations." Congratulations Dawson - I'm not surprised you won!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BookLook Review "H.I.V.E."

Kids accuse parents and teachers of using them as slaves. They complain we make them do our work for us – like take out the garbage, do the dishes and write our column. It’s true. Mr. Fluckiger’s fifth grade was conscripted this week to do my work for me. Thanks guys!
Most of the class really liked Mark Walden’s young adult book. Trysta submitted the most enthusiastic review I’ve ever read when she wrote, “HIVE are you kidding me, everyone that I know who’s read it loves it!” Her punctuation even gets me excited to read it. “It is a book that if you read it you’d be surprised that not all your predictions are right. Most of the time you will be wrong,” she continued.
H.I.V.E. stands for The Higher Institute of Villainous Education or as Kristina put it, “I’m not going to tell you because it is too long and it is a very different name. If you don’t like villain books you won’t like this book. But if you want a good book read this one.” I’m glad she reminded me what the title letters stood for, and I do like books with villains so there can also be heroes.
The story involves young characters who have been kidnapped and brought to a special school to learn how to become villains. Their peculiar talents and felonious activities have brought them to the attention of the sinister headmaster who plans on shaping them into the super crooks of the future. Kaden’s plot summary included, “Auto is stuck in HIVE and is hatching a plan to get out. How can he get out? The teachers are evil.” Evil teachers - must be our age difference perspective coming through or is Mr. Fluckiger not as beloved as I thought?
Kali summed up a couple of the characters. “Auto Malpence (main character) has been in an orphanage until one day he got tasered by a worker at HIVE. Shelby was a 13 year old girl, who was a professional jewel thief and she was like a ghost when she went to take the jewels” They do listen! I explained that the word wraith meant a ghostly apparition! I have made a difference in the world! That’s stretching it a bit, but still nice to know they have another vocabulary word to use.
Not everyone in the class loved the book. “If you wish to read an adventure book read HIVE. It’s not my type of book. I really am not a fan of realistic fiction. It is a weird and kinda creepy book. It’s just not my favorite thing,” wrote Erin. First of all, Erin I’m glad you can feel free to disagree. I often swim against the current and don’t like popular books either. But just to clarify this is not realistic fiction, I think it’s fantasy you don’t like.
“If you are tired of reading the same old book try 3 things in one book, fantasy, mystery and adventure,” writes Becky. If you think this sounds like an infomercial how about this sell-it sentence from Serina? “Wow, what a great book full of my favorite things! Action, adventure and humor. It’s awesome! It’s a unique adventure! The fiction will help you blast through all the pages of the book!” I couldn’t have written a better conclusion myself – having the fifth graders do my job for me turned out really well!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baby Nico is one month tomorrow

Dominic is the right name for this little bambino! He has beautiful dark wavy hair and a repertoire of facial expressions that would make any godfather proud, or grandparents of course.

Grandpa is explaining to Nico about "The Family", and how we don't actually have a godfather anymore - although Nico looks like he is applying for the mafioso job here with his cute chubby cheeks and serious "whadda ya talkin' about" look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BookLook Review "Unlikely Heroes"

“Unlikely Heroes”
I’m just one person. On a mission to get people to read. And finding good books for you, and your gift list. “Unlikely Heroes” by Ron Carter is perfect for you and everyone you know requiring a gift. Graduation or Father’s Day are up next on the gifting calendar and thanks to the Safsten’s persistent nagging, I finally read this really great book and will give it for both occasions. It is a collection of stories about the Revolutionary War which is everyone’s favorite war. My seventeen year old niece and my nearly 80 year old father will both enjoy these tales of “ordinary men and women whose courage won the revolution”.

With chapter headings like “The Petticoat That Saved Paul Revere” and “When six Hundred Stopped Five Thousand” it’s hard to choose a favorite. So I will share a couple of paragraphs from one heroic tale to convince you to read “Unlikely Heroes”. Maybe if the Safsten’s had done this months ago they would have hooked me sooner!

My first selection comes from the remarkable story of Margaret Corbin. This brave woman stood alone at the gun emplacement after her husband and all the other men firing the cannons were killed during an attack on Fort Washington on Manhattan Island. She had studied the men loading and firing the cannon as the enemy approached. Surrounded by the moans of dying men, she reloaded the cannon and fired it again and again until she was struck in her left shoulder by a musket ball. She recovered and painfully reloaded and fired before being struck twice more and knocked unconscious. After her life was saved by British doctors she was released back to the American army to regain her health and return home. “In 1779 the Continental Congress granted her a lifetime military disability pension…She was the first woman in the United States to receive such honors.”

“Unlikely Heroes” would also be great as a read-a-loud on family road trips this year especially if you are visiting any historical sites. Carter’s writing style is perfect for all ages and the length of the stories will keep everyone interested while they are being educated and entertained. It encourages patriotism and reminds the reader that sacrifice and bravery were required by many in the American war for Independence. This inspiring book is worth reading and giving as a gift for graduation, birthdays and especially Father’s Day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finn for Mother's Day

People kindly ask how he is doing and as you can see he's happy and healthy.

Cowboy Finn who will be up and ridin' behind his mom on a horse before ya know it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

BookLook Review "Winter Garden"

“Winter Garden”
Stories about mothers and daughters are complicated. In reality and fiction there is something different in their relationship compared to their male counterparts in the family. It seems more complicated, more intense, and more emotional. In the novel “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah the mother-daughter story has all these elements and a mystery from the past to keep the reader turning the pages.

Two very different sisters unite after the sudden death of their beloved father. Confronted with his deathbed wish that they learn to love their cold and distant mother, Nina and Meredith try to honor his request. The married oldest sister Meredith manages the family orchard business and fills her days with frantic “Martha” tasks. She cooks and cleans like a maniac to prevent her grief and other emotions from overwhelming her. Nina on the other hand has spent her years away from home as a famous photojournalist with an incurable wanderlust. The two sisters have grown apart over the years although they were once very close and loving.

The winter garden is a special place behind their family home where their mother Anya sits and stares out at the bare trees and snow covered ground. Anya came from Russia but refused to share anything with her daughters about her past. She told them a beautiful fairytale without an ending when they were young but now the girls suspect it was more than just a fictional bedtime story. As Anya is convinced to finish telling the fairytale, her daughters begin to understand why she closed her heart to them.

It is a story about a mother and her daughters. It is a story about forgiveness, and the complicated feelings within every family relationship and especially between mothers and daughters. It is a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for any mother who enjoys a good book.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A picture that is worth a thousand words

Although this is a composite photo it is a great image! I use the OK scuba signal when I substitute teach as a fun way to get kids to stop and listen quickly. I explain that they are my scuba buddy for the day. They can't make any sound because they are under the water when we make the signal.It works really well and it's more fun than some of the other annoying and over-used methods.