Arcade Fire goes big with their latest release, Reflektor; Katy Perry’s new album Prism roars; Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag guarantees hours of swashbuckling fun and exploration.
Love, Concord. DVD. 1:30 hrs. Prod. by Optificer Media. Dist. by FilmWorks Entertainment. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $19.98.
Gr 7 Up–Gerry is a likable, goofy high school student who spends more time playing basketball and video games than he does studying, but he dreams of majoring in computer design one day. Money is tight in his single-parent family, and Gerry’s future seems limited to local junior colleges. No one really takes him seriously, including himself, until he meets bookish Melinda, [...]
Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids. Performed by Alastair Moock and others. CD. approx. 38 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.99.
K-Gr 5–When Alastair Moock’s five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, he began singing and writing songs with her. Hek realized how much the music brightened Clio’s mood and the result is this album, the goal of which is to bring joy to kids with cancer. Joined by several guest performers (Elizabeth Mitchell, the [...]
My Cup of Tea. Performed by Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band. CD. approx. 43 min. Sukey Jump Music. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.
PreS–Gr 3–Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band’s second album is a diverse mix of original songs and traditional children’s music. The ukulele is featured throughout and pairs well with the guitar, bass, drums, and other nontraditional instruments such as the slide whistle, jaw harp, clave, and doumbek. Swedberg’s pleasant, expressive voice is often joined by others [...]
Gravity Vacation. Performed by Marsha Goodman-Wood. CD. 27:22 min. Marshagoodmanwood.bandcamp.com. 2012. ISBN unavail. $12.
PreS-Gr 4–Goodman-Wood makes quite a splash with her debut album. The nine original songs are a unique blend of science and positive social messages encompassed within toe tapping melodies and sing-along worthy lyrics. This combination allows for numbers such as “Sheep Don’t Wear Shoes,” which teaches about self-confidence and the importance of non-conformity without being the least bit didactic. Science is highlighted in tunes about the make-up [...]
Vito: The Life of Gay Rights Activist Vito Russo. DVD. 93 min. First Run Features. 2013. ISBN unavail. $27.95.
Gr 9 Up–Presented by HBO Documentary Films, this moving portrayal of the life of one of the significant leaders of the Gay Rights Movement clicks all the proverbial boxes. Consisting of two significant threads, the nicely paced and logically developed presentation puts a very personal face on the campaign as well as offering an historical retrospective to gay visibility. Russo fueled his [...]
Gotta Be the Pants! Performed by Mike and the Mighty Magic Pants. CD. approx. 55 min. AV Café. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.97.
PreS-Gr 3–Veteran children’s performer Mike Mennard’s new group, Mike and the Magic Pants, delivers a debut album filled with music, poetry, and fun to delight the entire family. By combining clever, easy-to-follow lyrics with fantastic vocals and harmonies, each song in this collection is a joy to listen to. Each number has its own flavor and tells a story [...]
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. By Kathi Appelt. 5 CDs. approx. 6 hrs. Simon & Schuster Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442366121. $29.99.
Gr 3–7–Appelt’s latest work (Atheneum, 2013) features a host of eccentric characters including two raccoon scouts, Bingo and J’miah; a 12-year-old boy named Chap who is grieving his grandfather’s death; and the Sugar Man, a Yeti-type creature who has been asleep for 60 years. The raccoon brothers are tasked with waking the Sugar Man if the swamp [...]
How does a filmmaker adapt Markus Zusak’s bestseller The Book Thief, written in Death’s candid point of view? Director Brian Percival tackles that question and more in this atypical family movie set in Nazi Germany. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse, the adaptation expands to theaters nationwide in the coming weeks.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. By Benjamin Alire Saenz. 7 cassettes or 7 CDs. 7:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 9781470370190, CD: ISBN 9781470365127. $123.75.
Gr 9 Up–When Dante meets and offers to teach Aristotle (Ari) how to swim at the local pool, neither boy has a clue how much their lives will change. While both are 15-year-old Mexican-Americans living in El Paso, they differ in many ways. Dante is self-assured and charismatic, while Ari is [...]
For those who can’t wait two more weeks to see Catching Fire, relief is at hand. The taut How I Live Now offers a slimmed down dystopian world at its most bucolic—a survival tale meets hot-and-heavy first love with a punkish swagger. The screenwriters have tweaked the snarky-but-soft-hearted narration of Meg Rosoff’s absorbing novel (Random, 2004), but given the heroine a still-defiant voice.
The Life of Muhammad. DVD. 3 hrs. Prod. by Crescent Films. Dist. PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN unavail. $24.98.
Gr 9 Up–Three one-hour segments review the life of the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with his time spent in Mecca as a chld, where he had his first revelation, and continuing with his relocation to Medina, where he established a new and unique community. The documentary concludes with his elder days as a moral leader who continues to impact the world today. Host Rageh [...]
From Up on Poppy Hill. 2 DVDs. 91 min. GKids. 2013. ISBN unavail. $29.95, DVD + Blu-ray: $34.95.
Gr 7 Up–The first moments of this visually stunning film sweep through a hand-painted watercolor setting of a post-World War II Yokohama, Japan, as appropriate upbeat piano music sets the mood. The film’s characters, also hand-drawn, are done in a more traditional anime style which, when contrasted with the realistic settings, underscores the film’s theme of a place in transition. The teenage protagonist is [...]
P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia’s sequel to her Coretta Scott King award-winning One Crazy Summer, offers offering insight into the African-American experience of the 1960s as seen through a young girl’s eyes. Sisi Aisha Johnson’s narration of the audiobook is spot-on. Check out the starred review.