Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review: River Rose and the Magical Lullaby by Kelly Clarkson

2.5 stars ★ ★ (½)

Pop singer Kelly Clarkson has sold 61+ Million records worldwide since winning the first season of American Idol now the popstar and now mother of 2 has decided to try her hand as an author.

Her debut book River Rose and the Magical Lullaby, is a children's picture book inspired by her own daughter River Rose. The book is about a young girl named River Rose who is so excited to go to the zoo that the night before she is unable to sleep, that is until her mom sings her a lullaby that helps her fall asleep, once asleep she goes on a magical adventure to the zoo with her dog Joplin.

      I found out around the holidays that Kelly Clarkson, one of my favorite artists, wrote a book! Then I checked out Barnes and Noble and seen they was offering signed edition copies which I had to have even if only for the signature! I didn't mind if it was a children's book. Plus I have a little nephew I could read it to if anything.

I got it and read it by myself, it was short but colorful picture book. I enjoyed the colorful illustrations  and how the illustrations matched perfectly with the story being told. The plot was pretty simple and short but I'm sure a child wouldn't care. I think the writing could have been better, specifically the rhyming, it wasn't the best.. but again something a child won't take notice of. The lullaby itself is cute but it doesn't translate as well on paper as it does when Kelly sings it, you can tell it's definitely made perfectly for her!

Overall I think a child would definitely enjoy it as a read-a-loud but as an adult reviewing it I think it could use some work. She's definitely a talented singer and song writer and I'm sure with a little bit of work with the rhyming meter ect. her next book would be better.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mini review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

3 stars ★ ★ ★

The Herdmans are the town menaces. The 6 children are a handful to say the least with a mother who works all the time and a father who disappeared a few years back that gives them more opportunity to wreck havoc. The Herdman is notorious for cussing, stealing, drinking, bullying other kids, and even setting things on fire.. even neighbors tool shed!

One day at lunch Charlie, a fellow classmate of one of the Herdman kids, lets out a fib after getting his lunch stolen by one of the Herdmans by saying that at church he gets free food like cake and sweets anyways causing it to peek the Herdman kids interest.

On the following Sunday the 6 of the Herdman children show up expecting food but finds out that the Sunday school were auditioning people for the Christmas Pageant, which all the other kids dreaded every year. To everyone's surprise when asked who would like to be in the pageant all the Herdman kids raised their hands which sure enough intimidating any other children who may have thought of auditioning.

With no other people willing to go against the Herdmans the main cast was given to them.. The town just knew this years Christmas Pageant would be a complete disaster with them in it, especially once they found out that the Herdmans didn't even know the Christmas story.

     Continuing with my Christmas December reading I found this book on several "Best Christmas books to read" list and decide to give a chance.

It was a short less than 100 page children's book but definitely didn't disappoint. It was a quirky and fun read to get someone in the ''Christmas spirit" without all the sappiness that some Christmas books have.

The Herdmans were definitely entertaining to read about and I could see why the book had such positive reviews online. With the book being less than 100 page long it is certainly a straight to the point book without digression.

When reading the book it kind of gave me the vibe of A Christmas Story, that lighthearted classic Christmas comedy that you can enjoy reading/watching at any age. After reading the book I took to watching the 1983 film staring the M*A*S*H  star Loretta Swit and a young Fairuza Balk and it was just as entertaining.

Would recommend to anyone who is a fan of the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, or just anyone who is looking for a short non sappy Christmas story.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mini review: A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Ooima

1.5 stars ★ (½)

Originally titled 聲の形 Koe no Katachi , English titled: A Silent Voice , is a short story manga known as a one-shot written by Yoshitoki Ooima which after success was later picked up and serialized into a series. 

A Silent Voice is about a girl named Shouko Nishimiya who has impaired hearing and transfers to a new new school but soon finds out that it's not what she hopes. When to the new middle school she is picked on and bullied by her fellow classmates and teachers for her hearing disability. After being harassed by a specific troubled boy named Shoya Ishida she transfers out of that school, but, Ishida soon finds himself on the same side as Nishimiya when he starts getting bullied.
     I recently came across a trailer for the film A Silent Voice, which became a big hit in Japan, and after watching the trailer I loved the concept. Well months later I got the opportunity to read the one-shot and was excited, I don't read a lot of manga and this was one I was looking forward to, but after reading the one-shot I found myself disappointed. 

Let me start off by saying I like the premise of the bullied deaf girl and overcoming the stigmas of disabilities ect. But the story fell flat for me. The main character was boring and a push over, all the other characters were boring and it felt like the author tried too hard to make EVERYONE a bully.

 It felt very over done to me. I think that the story needed more plot than just bullied bullied bullied the bully gets bully then the bully tries to make it right years later. It was a very predictable bully story with unforgettable characters.
I do understand that it is a one-shot and that they try to condense a story into 60 pages ect. But I just think if you're going to do a one-shot or a short story ect. You have to atleast make 1 character likeable or have some characteristics where he/she stands out.
I understand being bullied as I was a big chunk of my life but this was a very cheesy overdone way of getting the message across in my opinion. I feel the main characters both weren't very likeable and didn't seem to stand out enough to the point where an hour after reading the manga I forgot their names!
With all that being said lots of people seem to love and claim that the official serialized manga series gets better with more of a plot and the characters become more likeable, so, I will possibly be willing to give the first volume a try.
And I still want to see the movie.
Again: This review is for the one-shot only!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mini review: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

3 stars ★  ★  ★

Dr. Seuss' most popular character and story was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which is about one of the most grumpy and cranky being you could image hating everything especially Christmas.

The small-hearted 53 year old Grinch lives in a cave high up the mountain that looms over Whoville with only his dog Max. This year the Grinch has enough of the holiday merriment noises and decides that he will ruin Christmas for all the Whos down in Whoville if it's the last thing he does, so he comes up  with the plan to sneak into Whoville while all are asleep and steal any and everything pertaining to Christmas..

     Dr. Seuss is definitely a talented author and artist. He has made dozens of children's books with witty inventive rhyming words, talented illustrations, and unique stories making many families come together and have a good laugh. They are cute and fun and I'll read more in the future, I particularly love the illustrations that Dr. Seuss does in his books. I grew up watching his Tv specials and movies, so reading them as adult I'm a bit more critical to the books with them obviously being more simplified than the movies, but they're still a fun light read.

After reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Me and my partner watched both the 1966 short version and the 2000 Jim Carey version and we enjoyed both and love watching every year.

I can see why people love him so much, Dr. Seuss' long successful career as a hardworking author and artist has earned him the title of the one of the best children's book writer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mini review: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

3 stars ★  ★  ★ 

'Twas the Night Before Christmas is a poem originally published as A Visit from St. Nicholas anonymously in 1823 and claimed by Clement Clarke Moore 14 years later and eventually becoming commonly known as 'Twas the Night Befor Christmas and The Night Before Christmas.

 The poem is about a father who awakens on Christmas Eve night to noises outside while his wife and children are sound asleep. Looking out the window he sees that it is St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus riding in a sleigh being pulled by 8 reindeer coming to his very house to perform his duties as Father Christmas, the gift giver to children that have been good all year.

     To continue my holiday reading for December I couldn't leave out the most well known classic Christmas poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The nearly 200 year old poem proves to be as timeless as ever with it being a staple in houses all around the world and even if it isn't a holiday staple it's probably known by them at the very least.

Although just a short poem its simple and cheery rhyme scheme along with the classic Christmasy story makes it appealing among children and adults of all ages.

Along with the infectious poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas has became known for its multitude of different illustrated editions throughout the years. The specific edition that I chose is the hardcover animotion holographic cutout edition by Accord Publishing illustrated by Jon Goodell. Jon Goodell's vibrant illustrations with the contrasts of the interactive motion holographic cutout images makes it not only a sealed deal for the younger audiences but also the older!

I definitely understand why 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Night Before Chrisrmas, A Visit from St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas, whichever title you choose, is the most popular Christmas poem ever and suggest everyone read it at least once, as it is truly is timeless.

I myself plan on making it a yearly tradition to read and as well as exploring the other illustrated editions.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Mini review: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

2.5 stars ★  ★  (½)

The Polar Express is a 32 page children's Christmas story picture book by Chris Van Allsburg who is also known for his popular book Jumanji.

The short story is about a boy who one late Christmas Eve who lay in his bed waiting to hear the ringing bells of Santa's sleigh but instead he hears the sounds of a mysterious of a train that appears in the front of his house. The conductor steps out to invite the boy stating that the train was The Polar Express and headed to The North Pole so the boy takes his invitation and once aboard meets other children also delighted to be going to The North Pole to meet Santa Clause.

Once they arrive the conductor explains that Santa gathers every year in the center of the city in order to give one of the chosen children "the first gift of Christmas"

    The Polar Express is a book that is well knowned for the filmed adaptation with the great Tom Hanks, which I watched numerous times throughout elementary school and enjoyed then. However, I can't recall ever reading it.. So I decided that this Holiday season I'll read it and see how the book version is.

I didn't love the book. I liked the illustrations but I don't think they would appeal to most children or kids, they are a bit.. hmm. What's the word? Dull? Dark? Mute? For younger people that is, for me I liked the illustrations especially considering they were illustrated by the author. I think that the illustrations combined with the shortness of the book wouldn't really hook younger audiences to make them want to come back to read the book again. Had the illustrations been lighter and more to do with Christmas opposed to the surrounding landscapes then maybe I would've rated it better. The writing was very simplistic as well.

The ending for me probably is the reason I didn't rate it lower stars:

“Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”

The last page was probably the best part for me I appreciate the overall message it gives but the story itself and the writing just seems a bit flat to me.

Another con was that the synopsis in the book was basically the whole story wrapped up in about a paragraph so unless you want to be spoiled don't read the blurb!

I'll be rewatching the movie adaptation to see if I still enjoy it now that I am older, I remember it being more expanded and entertaining but we'll see.