Based on a true story, Spare Parts describes the journey of four undocumented Mexican boys who, with the help of their substitute teacher (George Lopez), enter an underwater robotics competition. Despite overwhelming odds and an underwhelming budget, Oscar, Christian, Lorenzo, Luis, and â€śStinkyâ€ť (the robot) defeat the reigning champion MIT in this remarkable underdog story. Throughout the film, the boys are faced with numerous hardships, including the difficulties of attending a poverty-stricken high school, being part of families faced with the danger of deportation, and the issues that come from not having an American birth certificate. However, the film also highlights the themes of hope, teamwork, and the importance of doing your best, even if the odds are against you. Overall, Spare Parts was an exceptional, family-friendly film that I would recommend to viewers of all ages. (Also available at the library is Underwater Dreams, a documentary directed by Mary Mazzio that tells the real story of these boys who accomplish what no one thought was possible.) Overall Rating: A
Make something special for mom on Mother's Day!
My initial reaction to Zac Brown Bandâ€™s newest album Jekyll + Hyde was disappointment. The album is a showcase for what is clearly a versatile group of musicians; but going from the country sound of â€śHomegrownâ€ť to the big band sound of â€śMango Treeâ€ť to the hard rock sound of â€śHeavy is the Headâ€ť was disconcerting. However â€śBeautiful Drugâ€ť, â€śLoving You Easyâ€ť, â€śHomegrownâ€ť, â€śBittersweetâ€ť and â€śTomorrow Never Comes (Acoustic version)â€ť are a few favorites. Zac Brown Band always includes one song on an album that they didnâ€™t write, and â€śDress Bluesâ€ť written by Jason Isbell about a young husband, father and Marine who was killed in the Middle East was their choice. There is something for everyone on this album, and perhaps after a few more listens, it will grow on me. Overall Rating: B-
Book Review: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
May is National Physical Fitness & Sports Month
Big Eyes is based on the true story of artist Margaret Keane, played by Amy Adams, and depicts the events of one of the biggest art frauds in history. After leaving her husband, Margaret struggles as a single mother until she meets Walter Keane, (Christoph Waltz) a slick salesman and wannabe artist, whom she marries and subsequently allows to take credit for her much-loved paintings of children with large eerie eyes. In that time period, the 1950s and 1960s, woman were taken less seriously in the art world and struggled in general in the workforce, (this is evident when Margaret goes on a job interview and the man behind the desk asks her if her husband has given her permission to work.) Margaret must deal with the lie that has taken over her life and its consequences, which include a troubled relationship with her daughter, and eventually a widely-publicized legal battle. The movies pace is a little slow and from a modern-day perspective Margaretâ€™s meek behavior can be annoying at times, however, it is an entertaining film and worth watching. Overall Rating: B-
Book Review: The Giving Tree
Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, follows the life of Louis Zamperini (played by Jack Oâ€™Connell) from troublesome child, to high school track star, to Olympic athlete, to a soldier fighting in Japan during World War II. After a near fatal plane crash, Louis and his surviving crew members manage to survive on a raft in the middle of the ocean for an astounding 47 days, only to be captured by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. As to be expected during a time of war, the conditions of the camp are brutal and deplorable, making it difficult to watch at times knowing that this is completely based on real-life events. Louis Zamperini is a fighter and hero in every sense of the word, never giving up regardless of his situation, and consistently putting the well-being of others ahead of himself. He lived by the motto â€śIf I can take it, I can make it,â€ť and he certainly proved himself to be a resilient man who truly could not be broken, even among the most terrible of circumstances. Overall Rating: A
Today is author and illustrator Eileen Christelow's birthday!
Crafting with Kids: Art Extravaganza
The 2014 comedy-musical rendition of â€śAnnieâ€ť is a modernized version about 10-year-old Annie Bennett (played by QuvenzhanĂ© Wallis). Annie is a foster child that lives with her calculating foster mother Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) in Harlem. Annieâ€™s dream is to find her biological parents, but in the meantime, she crosses paths with a hard-nosed billionaire and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who has been coaxed by his campaign advisors to befriend Annie and let her move in with him to help him win the mayoral election. Well, during their time together, Annie steals the heart of Will Stacks and the happily-ever-after story unfolds for foster child Annie after all. This movie had great actors in it that could sing, dance, make you laugh and even tear up from time to time. I really enjoyed this movie and I would recommend this movie to people of all ages. Overall Rating: A-
Book Review: Who Was...? series
This month's story time starter features something everybody lovesâ€”food!
This intriguing film begins in the future, where an old woman disclosed the life of her affectionate father Coop (Matthew McConaughey), both an engineer and a pilot who became a farmer in an environmentally damaged, drab, dusty earth. Events catapulted Coop back into using his previous skills as a pilot, with some assistance from his ten year old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). The scenes in this 168-minute science fiction film moved back and forth in time; in some scenes, Coop and Amelia Brandâ€™s (Anne Hathaway) space exploring crew traveled through a wormhole to find a planet habitable to earthlings, and were met with obstacles, while other scenes occurred on the ruined earth. Themes of loss and regret flowed through the film; McConaughey particularly captured the disquiet of Coop. I was endeared with the interactions of the characters in the film, whether the interactions occurred between the explorers and their earthbound families, or between the explorers and their robotics. Overall Rating: B
Congratulations to the winners of our 2015 Poetry Contest!
It's National Humor Month!
This film version of the Tony Award-winning musical, Into the Woods, reimagines the work of the talented Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (who was born in Mansfield) in a slightly more Disney fashion. The story follows a childless baker and his wife who cross paths with several classic fairytale characters â€“ Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack - as they try to undo the curse laid upon them by the evil Witch next door. Every character in the story longs for and receives a particular â€śhappily ever afterâ€ť, but the main theme of the story is to be careful what you wish for. Highlights of the film are the performances by the leads including Meryl Streep as the Witch, James Corden and Emily Blunt as the Baker and his wife, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, and a surprisingly hilarious Chris Pine as her Prince who claims he was â€śraised to be charming, not sincere.â€ť The gorgeous costumes and brilliant set designs compliment the terrific cast whose vocal skills are well up to the task of Sondheimâ€™s tricky score. Overall Rating: A-(Once you have watched the Disney film version be sure to check out the live stage version filmed as an episode of American Playhouse with the original Broadway cast â€“ it includes some great songs that were cut from the new film.)
Our featured craft this month is totally cute and completely customizable! Keep reading to see how to make your own Tin Pocket Pal.
Book Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell
Today is the first day of spring!
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the third and final film of the series. The ancient tablet of Ahkmenrah, which originally brought the museum exhibits to life, is corroding and is losing its power. Larry Daley, night guard at New York Cityâ€™s American Museum of Natural History has Dr. McPhee arrange a trip for Larry, Ahkmenrah and the tablet to the British Museum to ask Ahkmenrahâ€™s parents what can be done to save the magic. When Larry and his son Nick are smuggled into the British Museum by Ahkmenrah, they discover a few friends have made the journey as well and so the adventure begins! The movie has an interesting plot, funny dialogue, and memorable performances by Ben Stiller as caveman Laaa, Rebel Wilson as the British Museum night guard, and Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt in one of his last screen appearances. Overall Rating: B+
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This yearâ€™s Academy Award winner for Best Picture is Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson, an actor who is beyond his prime and is hoping to revive his career with a leading role in his own Broadway production. The movie, which is filmed in long, one-shot sequences, brings us into Thompsonâ€™s tortured world as he tries to deal with his past, his relationships, and the chaotic and frantic pace of the theater. In the film, Thompson is plagued by self-doubt (which literally follows him around in the form of Birdman, his past iconic superhero role), and also by his need to be loved by the public. The story, which at times is dark and confusing, and weaves in and out of reality, has its comedic moments and will keep you guessing and truly invested in its characters. The acting is superb (supporting actors Edward Norton and Emma Stone are amazing), and if you enjoy intense human drama, you will definitely like Birdman. Overall Rating: B
Hugs story time starter
In this Sci-Fi thriller, the title character Lucy (played by Scarlett Johansson) gets caught up in a drug deal that turns into a nightmare for her: a bag containing a powerful, synthetic drug is inserted into her abdomen and she is being used to smuggle the drug into a foreign country. The plan changes when the bag containing the drug bursts, leaking it directly into her body, and Lucy decides to get revenge on her captors. The story follows the effects of the drug on the human mind, and the unimaginable changes and super-human powers that occur to a person when their mind is unlocked beyond the standard 10 percent that the average person uses. While the storyline can definitely be seen as far-fetched, I have to admit that it is interesting to consider that there is an â€śunlockedâ€ť portion of our mind and explore the possibilities that come as this potential is reached. This film kept me interested to the very end, wanting to know what happened next as Lucy inched closer and closer to unlocking her mindâ€™s full potential. Overall Rating: A-
Book Review:The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Today is the 111th anniversary of the birth of a boy named Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss!
Get On Up is about the life story of James Brown (played by Chadwick Boseman), the legendary Godfather of Soul. This film tells us about Brownâ€™s rise from extreme poverty, abandonment, abuse, and being in jail as a young adolescent and how he was able to overcome all of his life struggles and still follow his dream to be a singer. Brown began his music career joining an R& B group known as the â€śThe Famous Flamesâ€ť. From there, Brownâ€™s music career took off with many twists and turns and he became known as one of the most loved, iconic, and influential entertainers of the 20th century. I really enjoyed this movie and it kept me entertained. The movie has great energy and music and it will make you want to â€śget on upâ€ť and dance. Overall Rating: A-
What would it be like to be a kid in the future? Amy Zuckerman and James Daly attempt to answer that question.
Fish story time starter