Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hunger Games, The Movie Version

Today, I had the opportunity to watch the movie, The Hunger Games. I watched it with two of my kids, JoAnn and Lia, and my partner, in our bedroom, on our very old 13 inch TV. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sustain through watching the whole thing. For the most part, I do not like watching movies at home. I made it about 2/3 of the way through before getting that rather claustrophobic feeling that tells me I really don't want to be watching a movie anymore, which is pretty good. I did persevere and make it through. My thoughts are that it was lacking. It seems a lot of the themes of the book were sort of run over. Many of the characterizations didn't feel as deep as in the books, most noticeably Peeta and Haymitch. If I was just watching it, not having read the book, I would rate it a 4 out of 5 though which certainly isn't bad. It was a good movie, I think. I just was hoping for a bit more.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Savvy, by Ingrid Law

I read numerous positive reviews of the children's book, Savvy, in 2008 when it was first published. There was something about the plot that didn't hook me though, and it never ended up in my reading queue. Recently, we visited a library that we don't usually frequent, and they had a display of Newbery Award winners and honor books, and there was Savvy. I pulled it off the shelf, along with Princess Academy which I have also never gotten around to reading, and I just finished it.

It was a quick read. My copy was soft cover with a gorgeous cover illustration and huge print that was easy on my eyes. The book tells the story of Mississippi Beaumont (just call her Mibs) and how she turned thirteen. You see, the Beaumont family is mostly just like other families, accept each member of the family develops a special talent, known as a "savvy", on their thirteenth birthday. Mibs's thirteenth birthday is complicated by family troubles, mistaken savvies, over zealous adults, and troubling interactions with peers. The resulting journey leads to a whole lot of growing up for Mibs and her older brother Fish and their friends.

I liked the fact that this book dealt with a whole lot of problems without being overly negative. I also liked that the children had power, but there was some realism tucked in there to make it all a believable story, even if it did have a tall tale feel to it. The feeling of realism managed to hold out right through the end which is often not the case with fantasy novels, where magic often much too easily solves everyone's problems. At the same time, I didn't like the fact that most of the story's plot lines worked out OK. I just felt that it was a little too optimistic. (It is odd for me to say that!) This may simply be due to my own cynicism and feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy, but it keeps this book from making it to the top of my favorites.

I recommend Savvy particularly for girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 15 who like fantasy and/or tall tale type novels. There is a lot of adventure in this book. Its reading style is easy, and I particularly think it might appeal to kids who find longer or more difficult novels overwhelming. It could also make an exciting read aloud for multiple ages or in a 4th through 6th grade classroom.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

TV and Us

We don't have any real TV reception here. We live in the country, and we don't have an antenna so we don't get local reception. We don't have cable or satellite TV. We don't have any of the various forms of internet TV hooked up to our television. We do have a DVD player, and we do occasionally get Netflix streaming but we aren't getting it at the moment and haven't for several months.

Sometimes I have a sort of culture shock when I realize that other people regularly watch TV. It is just so far outside of what we do. Matter of fact, when we are at someone else's house and the TV is on, we find ourselves enjoying the commercials simply because we have not seen them before.

We do watch some television programs directly over the internet through various channels or on DVD. Currently Diana and I are working through Big Love on DVD from the library. Diana, Josie, and Lia watch Glee together online whenever a new episode comes out. JoAnn and Lia watch new episodes of Project Runway and America's Next Top Model when they are available online. Lia follows Jersey Shore and Extreme Makeover Home Edition online. Antonio is currently following Gravity Falls and Sword Art Online. We also make a special trip for Diana to watch the latest Dr. Who episode on DVR at Emma's house with Esme after it airs.

We have regularly watched other showing in the past. We are not in anyway opposed to TV. Ant is always watching documentaries online. It just is funny to me that it isn't something that is happening here everyday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Growing Up

This is our last official year as N.Y. State homeschoolers. Although Josie and Lia are both completing 10th grade this year, JoAnn has reached the magic age where she does not need to be reported. This is an ease to my mind (one less thing to do!) It also is a reminder that my children are growing up. Es is living with Emma's family, and we here are now five. We are considering downsizing our car when the time comes to replace trusty Hannah Joe Montana.

This is changing some of our thought patterns. It is exciting but a little sad too as we move into a new stage of our life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Busy Saturday

We (as in Diana and Josie and Lia and I) went to the Central New York Pagan Pride Festival this weekend in Longbranch Park. It was the same as usual. I was pleasantly surprised that the workshops were better than they sounded in the descriptions. I think some presenters might need to hire a copywriter, and I happen to know an excellent one! I made a super delicious salad thing with turkey and celery and apples and grapes and walnuts and salt and mayonnaise, but it had a lot of calories so I had to sort of limit my eating the rest of the day.

After the Pagan Fest, we met some people we hadn't met in the outerweb yet for a potluck, which was actually really nice because the hostess really made a whole meal, and we just brought snacks and dessert. There was one other guest and the family that lived there.  They had two sons (maybe 10 and 11 or so) and a daughter (maybe 4). Josie and Lia played Magic the Gathering with the boys and really seemed to have fun. There was good music and games, not so much conversation, but we are the kind of family who needs to meet with people many times before the conversation flows.