February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Multimedia Reviews | December 2013

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The Painting (GKids) ©2013

redstarThe Painting. DVD. 78 min. GKids. 2013. ISBN unavail. $29.95; DVD + Blu-ray: $34.95.

Gr 9 Up– This animated film bursts with lush colors, excellent voicing, sophisticated artwork, and music that varies from gentle piano notes to menacing brass. In a painted kingdom, the mean-tempered, fully painted Alldunns rule. Narrator Lola is a Halfie—beautiful, rounded, full-lipped, and strong, with unfinished elements that mean she is second rate. The lowest caste is the Sketchies—mere line-drawn men and women that the Alldunns call disgusting. Alldunn Ramo is in love with Halfie Claire, but neither clan approves of the union. When Lola, Ramo, and a Sketchie named Plume venture into the Forbidden Forest, they reach the edge of the painting and fall into the real world. They explore other paintings, and enter the city of Venice, trying to find the Painter and convince him to finish his work. Along the way, they converse with images from a number of paintings, including a reclining nude, in all her flesh-colored glory. The touching ending includes new life for a scribble and the realization that our outer trappings shouldn’t define us. While the tale is simple, the animation is mature and complex. Colors are used in meaningful and gorgeous combinations. Art classes will enjoy finding the salutes to Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, and others. For computer animation students, the making-of featurette will be particularly interesting.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

redstarGeronimo Stilton: Operation ShuFongFong and Other Adventures. DVD. 95 min. Prod. by Atlantyca Entertainment and Moonscoop. Dist. by Entertainment One. 2013. ISBN 1417240873. $12.98.

Gr 1–5 –Inspired by the book series (Scholastic) about the mouse journalist, animated episodes from the TV series are now available on DVD. For those who haven’t gotten on the Geronimo bandwagon yet, he’s a globetrotting mouse whose life is full of adventures, weird relatives, mysteries, and mishaps. The books are packed with cartoon illustrations, so the transition to animation feels completely natural. In these four episodes, Geronimo is always accompanied by his nephew, Benjamin, which adds to the kid appeal. “Operation ShuFongFong” has our hero trying to rescue two endangered lizards. In “Mouse House of the Future,” Geronimo gets a robot butler which leads to techno-mayhem. “Reported Missing” takes place in Africa as Geronimo and company track down a missing explorer. “It’s My Scoop” has Geronimo acting against his news nemesis as they both seek the best news scoop in town. Naturally all the villains are nefarious, and Geronimo’s bumbling eventually saves the day. Fans of the series will be delighted to see all their favorite characters with all their whacky quirks. There’s even a fun theme song. Educational? Not really. Fun? Definitely. This high-quality animated program, with its exciting and humorous adventures, is sure to be a hit with young viewers.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

redstarThe Sea Turtle Story. DVD. 9:52 min. National Film Board of Canada. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $99.

Gr 1–5 –A mother sea turtle struggles ashore, leaving a trail behind her in the sand. She leaves something behind on the beach as well—a nest of buried eggs. Viewers watch as time passes and the eggs mature. Baby sea turtles hatch, but predators await and some are lost. Their journey to the sea is distracted by man-made lights. Those who make it find the ocean has its own hazards, but it is here that the sea turtles grow, mate, and eventually return to shore to lay their own eggs. This beautifully rendered look at the life cycle of the sea turtle is completely wordless. Only lilting and almost magical music accompanies the finely designed stop-action animation that conveys both information and emotion. There’s a little anthropomorphizing here. For example, the mother sea turtle sheds a tear as she leaves her nest for the sea. Viewers will become deeply involved with the fate of the one baby sea turtle the story follows, while enjoying all the other exquisite glimpses of life beneath the waves. The ending is especially poignant as the cycle begins again and the sparkling grains of sand shift to stars in the sky. From beginning to end, this is a production that shows the love and thought involved in its creation.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

redstarThe March. DVD. 60 min. Prod. by Smoking Dogs Films. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 9781608839582. $24.99.

Gr 9 Up –Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, this moving documentary considers the seminal event from a more personal point of view. Using archival video footage and interviews with March organizers and participants, the film chronicles the United States of the late 1950s and early 1960s when segregation and violence against blacks was commonplace in the South. While most people think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the face of the Civil Rights Movement, here viewers are introduced to A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who also advocated for nonviolent mass action and together orchestrated and organized the march. Through the three men’s aides and assistants, viewers are given an intimate look at what took place behind the scenes, putting a human face on the milestone event. Director John Akomfrah successfully pieces together stories to create a narrative that celebrates perseverance and principles. Narrated by Denzel Washington, the film smartly allows the voices of the people involved to do the telling, relying on Washington only when the footage or personal anecdotes require context. The images are powerful, especially a video clip showing blacks and whites sharing the same drinking fountains at the DC demonstration. The distinct soundtrack, ranging from cool jazz to gospels to folk songs, further enhances the documentary. Inspirational and thought-provoking, this is a must for any library collection.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

redstarFangirl. By Rainbow Rowell. 10 CDs. 12:49 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2130-9. $60.

Gr 9 Up –Rowell’s follow-up (2013) to the fabulous Eleanor and Park (2013, both St. Martin’s Griffin) doesn’t disappoint. Cather and Wren are identical twins, both freshmen at the University of Nebraska, who were abandoned by their mother when they were eight, and have been dealing with their loving yet unstable father since then. Though they have shared a bedroom and friends all their lives, they react to college in very different ways. Wren insists on living apart and wants to discover a new life for herself without her twin; she parties obsessively. Cath retreats inward, seldom leaving her room except for classes and throwing herself into writing fan fiction based on the mega-popular “Simon Snow” fantasy series. The story, told from Cath’s viewpoint, perfectly portrays the anxiety and nervousness a shy freshman can experience at a large university. Listeners get caught up in Cath’s life as she make mistakes, gets her heart broken, and grows from the experience. The audiobook benefits from having two narrators. Rebecca Lowman’s (Eleanor in Eleanor and Park) understated delivery is perfect for Cath. British actor Maxwell Caulfield’s crisp narration of both Cath’s fan fiction and the “Simon Snow” books, which are interspersed with the story, adds dimension to the audiobook. Give this to fans of Harry Potter, realistic fiction, and romance. A must buy for audio collections.–Julie ­Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC

redstarThe Hypnotists. By Gordon Korman. 6 CDs. 5:54 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545602723. $54.99.

Gr 5–8 –In this funny, fast-paced tale of supernatural suspense, Jackson “Jax” Opus never thought too much about his color-changing eyes until strange things began happening to people who looked into them. After a series of wacky mishaps, Jax discovers that he’s descended from the two strongest hypnotic bloodlines and that the powerful gift he has inherited could put all those he cares about in danger. Before he discovered his gift, Jax was just a normal teenager dealing with problems related to friends, school, and girls, but his ability draws the attention of many people, including Dr. Elias Mako, the head of an institute that promises to help the boy learn to control his powers—for a dangerous price. Korman has created a very believable hero. Any reader who has ever felt different will identify with Jax’s struggle to be “normal” while still doing the right thing. Ramon D’Ocampo’s well-modulated, youthful voice is a perfect fit for Korman’s story (Scholastic, 2013). He easily keeps up vocally with the nonstop action, but never goes too rapidly, and his decision not to do a fully voiced narration was absolutely correct. Listeners will eagerly anticipate the next installment in Jax’s adventures.–Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Librry, MI

redstarIn the Band. By Jean Haus. 7 CDs. 8:21 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9782480544161. $49.97.

Gr 9 Up –Riley has recently graduated from high school and her family has been shattered by divorce, leaving her to pick up the pieces. The teenager thinks that courses at a nearby college and caring for her sister are all she has to look forward to until she auditions for a band. The band members, including the guitarist, handsome Romeo, are blown away by her drumming talent. The tension between Riley and Romeo causes problems and spells disaster when it turns into attraction. Haus gives romance lovers plenty to swoon over in her novel (Skyscape, 2013), and her knowledge of music, specifically the drums, makes the story very believable. Kate Rudd’s deep, throaty voice is perfect for hard-edged Riley. When the protagonist’s feelings for Romeo develop, Rudd gives her a slightly higher, faster-paced speech to indicate just how hard she is falling. Her voicing of the male characters is also superb. Luke Daniels voices Riley’s audition from Romeo’s point of view. Teen romance and music fans will be hoping for a sequel.–Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI

redstarWild Boy. By Rob Lloyd Jones. 5 CDs. 5:48 hrs. Brilliance Audio, 2013. ISBN 978-1480518582. $54.97.
Gr 5–8
–The carnival is coming to town, complete with a travelling freak show. Its newest member, purchased by the routinely violent and drunk showman, is Wild Boy, so named because he is covered head to toe in hair. Abandoned as a baby on the steps of a workhouse, Wild Boy learned that the best was to survive being taunting and beaten was to keep silent—but he was always watching everything. When a fellow carny member is murdered, Wild Boy must join forces with his archnemesis, Clarissa, a young acrobat, to prove their innocence. He uses his amazing, Sherlock Holmes-like deduction skills to solve the mystery. Along the way, he makes a few friends, painfully loses one, and is taken under the wing of the Lord Mayor. After a double-take revealing of the murderer, listeners learn that “there are (more) puzzles to be solved,” leaving the door open for sequels. Jones’s brilliant writing (Candlewick, 2013) paints a vivid picture of the seedy, murky underworld of Victorian London: sewage and rats, slinking shadows, and secret tunnels hidden behind picture frames. The talented narration of James Clamp brings the story to life with unique voices, such as the hooded man’s slithering, gritty hiss, and his tones and inflections when describing inanimate objects (greasy cobbles, lamplight’s queasy glow, slimy nets). A top pick!–Cheryl ­Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH

redstarAngel Heart: A Music Storybook . By Cornelia Funke . CD. 67 min. with book. Oxingale Records. 2013. ISBN unavail. $13.88.

PreS–Gr 3 –Creators Lisa Delan (soprano) and Luna Pearl Woolf collaborated to make the kind of recording they wanted to hear as they tucked their children in at night. Woolf composed background instrumental music, contacted Cornelia Funke to write the story, and brought in professional cello and mandolin musicians to perform the music. They also compiled traditional and original pieces of music which are woven into the progression of the story. Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons narrates the lyrical tale in soft, mellow tones, as he reads about Rahmiel, the angel of love and compassion, who discovers Luna mourning beside a pond, her heart broken into a thousand pieces. Rahmiel guides her to the spirits of the North, East, West, and South in a quest to mend her broken heart. The vocalists, all of opera singer caliber, give soft and soothing performances for the songs, which are performed in a classic, symphonic style. The Children’s Choir of St. Martin de Porres School also lends its angelic voices. The songs include “All Through the Night,” “Mother Nature’s Son” (Lennon-McCartney), “Danny Boy,” “Je Porte Ma Lanterne Jolie” (traditional), “14 Angels” (Engelbert Humperdink), “Ho Ho Watanay” (traditional), “Russian Lullaby” (Irving Berlin), “Sleep, Baby, Sleep,” and five more. The accompanying booklet includes the illustrated text of the story and the lyrics for all the songs (for songs in a foreign language, both the original language and an English translation are provided). A beautiful, sophisticated lullaby concert for little ones that expertly interweaves story and songs.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

redstarBandwagon. Performed by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. CD. 42 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

PreS–Gr 3 –New York-based children’s musician Leeds and her band the Nightlights demonstrate brilliance on their fifth album for kids. Filled with 14 original tunes and one piggyback song about kid-centered topics, Leeds is at the top of her game. Opening with a rocking number about the first day of vacation (“Are We There Yet?”), Leeds moves forward with a country rock song filled with excitement about the end of summer (“Back to School”). Other highlights include a folksy celebration of making music (“Bandwagon”), a paean to the Big Apple (“I Love NY”), and a retro-sounding story-song about seeing something strange while traveling (“UFO”). “Nutritious” offers a delightful parody about eating good food set to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” sung with gutsy soul. Listeners will delight in songs about bike helmets, standing up to bullies, autumn, winter, going to bed, and nightlights. Musical arrangements are pitch perfect.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

redstarDesert Island Disc. Performed by Recess Monkey. CD. 40 min. Recessmonkey.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.99.

PreS–Gr 3 –Grammy nominee Recess Monkey continues to be the most innovative musical group for children today. They grow more intriguing with each release. Their latest recording picks up the storyline where Deep Sea Diver (SLJ, Aug. 2013, p. 58) left off—with our heroes shipwrecked on an island. The 14 original tunes follow them as they explore the desert island and find their way back home. After opening with “Coconut Radio,” a lush, nostalgic look at their past, they explore the island changing “coconut radio channels” by looking out from the “Tallest Tree,” become “Trailblazers,” play “Hide and Seek,” stop for a moment of melancholy thought about being “Long Gone,” find “The Hermit” crabs skittering, experience a scary adventure in “The Cave,” uncover “My Treasure,” and so on, until they are once again “Smooth Sailing” and “Going Home.” Each musician perfectly plays his part in this musical drama. The brilliant lyrics and harmonies, superb variety of musical styles, lush instrumentation, and singable tunes are backed by minimal accompaniment, though a small orchestra of multiple layers of violin, viola, cello, and clarinet. Flugelhorn is added for fullness at a few select places during the saga. Guest artists include Johnny Bregar, Dean Jones, Justin Lansing, and Sam Bishoff. Fans will wonder where Recess Monkey is off to next.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:



Drawing with Mark: We All Scream for Ice Cream and Happy Tails. DVD. 1 hr. Prod. by Shelter Island. Dist. by Entertainment One. 2013. ISBN 9781939517029. $14.98.

Early Childhood

Tickety Toc: Chime Time Adventures. DVD. 66 min. Anchor Bay Entertainment. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.98.


You Are in Charge of Your Body. DVD. 31 min. with tchr’s. guide. Human Relations Media. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62706-021-9. $185.


More Time to Teach: Building Community in a Challenging Classroom. DVD. 20:30 min. ChildSense. 2013. ISBN 9780615839011. $79.95.

Language Arts

Angelina Ballerina: Mousical Medleys. DVD. 62 min. Prod. by HIT Entertainment. Dist. by Lionsgate. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.98.

Lemonade in Winter. DVD. 12 min. with tchr’s. guide. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 978054562374X. $59.95; CD, ISBN 9780545623759: $12.95; CD with hardcover book: ISBN 9780545623766: $29.95.

Lost and Found. DVD. 54 min. Prod. by Entertainment One and Studio AKA. Dist. by Entertainment One. 2008, 2013 release. ISBN 141723217X. $9.98.


Marsh Mud Madness. Performed by Roger Day. DVD. 52 min. Roger Day. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.


The Whale: The True Story of Luna. DVD. 85 min. Prod. by Mountainwide Films. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2010, 2013 release. ISBN 193777266-7. $295.

Social Studies

How I Became an Elephant: One Girl’s Journey to Inspire a Movement. DVD. 82 min. Prod. by Rattle the Cage Prods. and the Dandelion Project. Dist. by Green Planet Films. 2013. ISBN unavail. $49.


Kung Fu for Teens. DVD. 105 min. YMMA Publication Center. 2013. ISBN 978-1-59439-257-3. $19.95.


Many of these titles are available for download and/or in Playaway format. Check distributors’ websites, playaway.com, and audio download retailers for availability and price.

Language Arts

Awaken: Abandon, Book 3. By Meg Cabot. 10 cassettes or 10 CDs. 11:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 9781449811983, CD: ISBN 9781449812027. $51.75

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. By April Genevieve Tucholke. 8 CDs. 8:45 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781469287485. $59.97.

Born Wild: Spirit Animals, Book 1. By Brandon Mull . 5 CDs. 5:37 hours. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545602709. $54.99.

Boy: Tales of Childhood. By Roald Dahl. 3 CDs 3:30 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611761894. $25.95.

Call the Shots. By Don Calame. 9 CDs. 10:09 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781469206271. $54.97.

Chancey of the Maury River. By Gigi Amateau. 6 CDs. 6:32 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518476. $54.97.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year. By Bill Harley. 2 CDs. 2 hrs. Peachtree. 2013. ISBN 9781561457700. $16.95.

Cherry Money Baby. By John M.Gusick. 7 CDs. 7:25 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518483. $54.97.

Gated. By Amy Christine Parker. 9 CDs. 10:20 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9781804123297. $50.

Ghost Hawk. By Susan Cooper. 7 cassettes or 7 CDs. 8:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6346-8; CD: ISBN 9780470363390. $77.75.

A Gift for Sophie. CD. By Gilles Vigneault. 33 min. with hardcover book. Prod. by The Secret Mountain. Dist. by Independent Publishers Group. 2013. ISBN 9782923163987. $16.95.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel. By Deborah Hopkinson. 5 CDs. 5:57 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804123617. $35.

Homicidal Aliens & Other Disappointments. By Brian Yansky . 6 CDs. 6:55 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518520. $54.97.

Joshua Dread: The Nameless Hero. By Lee ­Bacon. 6 CDs. 7.20 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9781804121897. $45.

Listening for Lucca. By Suzanne LaFleur. 5 CDs. 5:50 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9781804126878. $35.

The Lost Kingdom. By Matthew J. Kirby. 8 CDs. 8:42 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545631624. $34.99.

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things. By Cynthia Voight. 9 CDs. 11:04 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804122054. $55.

The Mystery: Troubletwisters, Book. 3. By Garth Nix and Sean Williams. 8 CD. 8:40 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781455821310. $64.97.

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl. By Emily Pohl-Weary. 6 CDs. 6:40 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480544222. $49.97.

Paperboy. By Vince Vawter. 5 CDs. 6:10 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804167956. $45.

The Teddy Bear Habit. By James Lincoln Collier. 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9780792797739. $49.95.

The Vampire Princess: Eerie Folktales of Humor and Suspense. Performed by Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder. CD. 60 min. Eastern Coyote. 2013. ISBN 9780979355455. $12.

We Were Here. By Matt De La Peña. 9 CDs. 11:02 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480524590. $59.97.

The White Fox Chronicles. By Gary Paulsen . 4 CDs. 4:19 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978145581077-2. $39.97.

The Wolf Princess. By Cathryn Constable. 7 CDs. 7:52 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545541299. $34.99.

Zombie Baseball Beatdown. By Paolo ­Bacigalupi. 6 CDs. 6:04 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804166782. $35.


Absolutely Positively Getting Along. Performed by various artists. CD. approx. 71 min. Prod. by Cool Beans Music and East Coast Recording. Dist. by AV Café. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

Count, Add, Subtract! Fun with Math, Music, and Movement. Performed by Hap Palmer. CD. 62:10 min. with tchr’s. guide online. Hap-Pal Music. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.95.

I Sneeze in Threes. Performed by Mr. Saxophone. CD. approx.. 28 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $11.99.

If I Were an Otter: Songs for Kids of All Ages. Performed by Alice DiMicele. CD. 41 min. Prod. by Alice Otter Music. Dist. by CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

Lullaby Confessions Presents: Tropical Encouragement. Performed by Ami Kosaka, Michelle Mai, and Terron Brooks. CD. approx. 73 min. Lullaby Confessions. 2013. ISBN unavail. $10.

Science and Wonder. Performed by The Whizpops. CD. approx. 38 min. The Whizpops. 2013. ISBN unavil. $9.99.

Worms & Dirt. Performed by Mary Lambert. CD. length unavail. AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.99.


The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition. By Jan and Mike Berenstain . CD. with hardcover book. Zonderkidz. 2013. ISBN 9780310742241. $24.99.

Social Studies

The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. By James L. Swanson. 4 CDs. 3:57 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545602761. $39.99.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.