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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

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Gr 6 Up—Recorded live at two middle schools in 2009 and 2005, storyteller Mark Binder recounts eight spooky tales using a variety of voices and vocal sound effects. Beginning with "The TV Deprogrammer" who rips out one piece of electronic equipment after another to a youngster's horror, the stories become increasingly scary. A humorous tale of a science project gone wrong comes from Binder's book, It Ate My Sister (Light Publications, 2008), as does a frightening account of a haunted playground on Halloween. A classic jump tale takes place at a spooky motel over several dark and stormy nights, while the next story features an embalmed politician who wins accolades for his steady appearance at work. Binder's rendition of "The Monkey's Paw" is less successful with its heavy-handed hysterics. While a laughing middle school audience offers gruesome suggestions for "The Death of Harry Potter," fans of the popular series may find this telling offensive. The final story, clearly intended for teens, requires a girl to dig up her vampire father and drive a stake through his heart. The quality of this production is very good, with some portions remastered from previous recordings. A fine mix of comedy and horror.—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
In this beautiful, heartrending, yet horrifying film, North Koreans tell their stories of imprisonment, sexual slavery, torture, murder, and escape to China or South Korea during the nearly 50-year regime of Kim Il Sung (1912—94). The interviews are illustrated through the interspersion of dance sequences, archival news footage, and drawings. Particularly interesting are the North Korean propaganda films celebrating Kim Il Sung as God and showing in the face of mass starvation happy workers, elaborate military displays, and the creation of a new flower in 1988 in honor of the 46th birthday of Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong Il. A valuable time line traces 20th-century events in Korea. Bonus features include previously unreleased footage of camp refugees. This mesmerizing film displays excellent production values and is highly recommended for Asia collections.—Kitty Chen Dean, formerly with Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY

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