Monday, December 30, 2013

Fa La La La Films

During the Christmas Season, The True Book Addict runs a Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. There are numerous levels of participation for holiday reading as well as options for movie viewers. This winter I've been viewing movies rather than reading holiday books.

This month I have an enjoyed a traditional Rankin/Bass marathon with Little Drummer Boy Book 01, Little Drummer Boy Book 02, Pinocchio's Christmas, Frosty's Winter Wonderland, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, A Year without a Santa Claus, Jack Frost, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, as well as the Leprechaun's Christmas Gold.  These movies feature retro cartoon animation and stop-motion animation. Their most known piece was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

More family friendly flicks are Disney's The Small One, Pluto's Christmas Tree, and Mickey's Christmas Carol. Disney's Christmas Carol features well-known characters from a wide variety of Disney features and cartoons. Dreamworks also featured Shrek in a holiday flick called Shrek the Halls where Shrek discovers how to celebrate the season for the first time. If live acting is more family-friendly for your viewers, find a copy of Elf, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, or Shining Time Station Holiday Special. Shining Time Station might be hard to find, but that series was the American version of Thomas the Tank Engine. (The predecessor to today's Thomas adventures.)

Moving on from children's films, other holiday movies included The Holiday, Last Holiday, Holiday Day Inn, White Christmas, New in Town, While You Were Sleeping, and Meet Me in St. Louis.

It's a been a full and fun holiday movie extravaganza! What Christmas movies do you enjoy over the holidays? I hope to view a couple more before the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge ends on January 6, 2014. Happy viewing, friends!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Wanderville

WandervilleWanderville by Wendy McClure

Are you familiar with orphan trains? Children from New York (or other big cities) were sent out West to live "better lives" with families and big open spaces. Yet, many children were fearful of the unknown.

Jack, Frances, and Harold were a couple of children sent out to Kansas on an orphan train. They didn't want to leave, but they couldn't escape their traveling fate. After hearing awful orphan stories on the train, they decide to "jump ship" in the middle of Kansas. They meet up with another orphan named Alexander who gives them a new look at life in the prairie wilderness.

When I began reading this story, I thought it would be historical fiction mixed with fantasy. I was completely wrong. The magic of Wanderville and the letdown was realized at the same moment as Jack, Frances, and Harold. It was rather ironic and heartening to relate so well to the characters. Just as the children came to grips with their new situation, I knew that this wouldn't be a fantasy story, but reality (albeit in history). Don't let the knowledge of no fantasy elements steer you away from reading Wanderville!

McClure mixes historical fiction with a kid's today approach. The book is set in history, but the children face many emotions and circumstances that kids' today can encounter. The emotions of loss, fear, hope, friendship, and survival are very relate-able to today's audience. The theme of overcoming circumstances is largely woven throughout the text in different ways, but not overpowering. The story ends with a gentle cliffhanger - one that will have readers imagining what's going to happen next. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in 2014!

I think this story would be very appropriate for 3-6 graders. The author offers many different situations that can open the floor to great classroom, book club, or family discussions.

Reviewed from an Edelweiss copy. Thank you, Razorbill!
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