Daily Archives: September 5, 2011

Feature Presentation: Rio

RioRio starring Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway

20th Century Fox, 2011. Rated G

Synopsis: Blu is a blue macaw who as a young bird was taken from his home in the Brazillian rainforest and taken to coldMinnesota where he is adopted by a young girl named Linda. Many years later, an ornithologist finds Linda and explains that Blu is the last of his kind and asks her to bring Blu toRio so that he can be mated with a female blue macaw named Jewel. While inRio, Blu and Jewel are bird-napped and must rely on the help of some colorful locals to help him get back to Linda.

Why I liked it: At the surface, the movie is clearly for children. But the message of self-discovery and fulfilling your dreams is universal for any age group, particularly tweens and teens. The movie is very colorful and visually attractive, especially the birds and the Carnivál floats, and the musical numbers are catchy and fun. I found myself cheering for Blu for most of the film: in his endeavors to find Linda, trying to convince Jewel that he is a good bird, and trying to overcome a mental block that is preventing him from learning to fly. The situation is somewhat unbelievable (but then again, it’s a kid’s movie), but Blu’s journey mirrors one similar to one that people go through each day – finding a sense of self, figuring out who we are, making new friends, and realizing our dreams.

Other Movies like this one: Happy Feet, Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Rango, Ice Age, Despicable Me

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Harriet the Spy review

Harriet the SpyHarriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Delacourte Press, 2000. 978-0-385-32783-1

Synopsis: Harriet M. Welsch is a spy who wants to be a writer and to know many things. She writes everything in a notebook, both good and bad about everyone she knows and the people she spies on. Her nurse, Ole Golly, has always been supportive of Harriet’s ambitions and is there for Harriet when she needs to talk. But Ole Golly is now gone and her classmates have found her notebook and read all of her secrets. Now Harriet has to figure out a way to get even or make things right without Ole Golly to help her.

Why I picked it up: I want to be a writer just like Harriet and to know everything.

Why I finished it: There is something ageless about Harriet’s story, even though it was written in 1964. Harriet goes through an entire range of emotions, especially after she figuratively exposed when her classmates find and read her notebook. Even as an older reader, I feel like I can relate to what is going on with Harriet and reminds me what it is like to be a young teen. It is one of a few books that makes me laugh and cry, even after multiple readings. I also loved the portrayal of Harriet’s parents as simultaneously aloof and completely out of control and out of touch with their daughter. It teaches us that our parents drink and sometimes send us to therapy. It teaches us that we aren’t the only ones who want to stay home from school cause we feel ‘sick’. It teaches us the importance of forgiveness, honesty, and the need for good friends. It helps us feel less alone in the world, less awkward about growing up.

Other Related Materials: Harriet the Spy (movie), The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, The Phantom Toolbooth by Norton Juster, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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