Ponyo - "The Little Mermaid" Reincarnated

Ponyo, a children's animated film released in theaters in 2009, is a great, fresh take on the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Little Mermaid."

In Ponyo, "a young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship before Ponyo's father forces her to return to the sea. Ponyo's desire to be human upsets the balance of nature and only Ponyo's mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature's balance and make Ponyo's dreams come true."

With a famous English voice cast, including stars such as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Cloris Leachman, and Lily Tomlin, Ponyo is entertaining and intriguing, though it may be a little slow or long for younger children.

There is also a bit of an environmental theme in the movie, influencing the audience to help keep the oceans clean.

Oddly enough, there are diverse other reworkings of "The Little Mermaid." These include a teen fiction novel, Midnight Pearls, in Debbie Viguié's Once Upon a Time series; an adult fantasy novel entitled The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C. Hines; and of course, the most well-known, the Disney film adaptation of the story.

Separated...

What would you do? You're one of four siblings, separated from each other 15 years ago when taken as hostages to save your family's kingdom from invasion. Now one of you is going to be places a puppet ruler and the remaining three are to be killed. Would there be enough family-ties to unite you to save yourselves and ultimately the kingdom from the evil Bloodlord? Find out in Dave Duncan's Children of Chaos and Mother of Lies.

March Books to Film (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #202)

The latest adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is based on the perennial classic by Lewis Carroll.
This time, 17 year old Alice returns to the whimsical world she first encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends, and embarking on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.

For a intimate perspective of the real Alice, try debut novelist Melanie Benjamin’s fictional biography in Alice I Have Been, as Alice Liddell looks back on a remarkable life, from a pampered childhood in Oxford to difficult years as a widowed mother, and how she became immortalized through a problematic relationship with the author.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the first of Stieg Larsson's international bestselling Millennium trilogy, in which a disgraced journalist and a troubled young female computer hacker investigate the mysterious disappearance of an industrialist’s niece.

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her beloved uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
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The Ghost Writer is based on The Ghost by Robert Harris. It stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan with Roman Polanski directing.

When a successful British ghost writer agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister, his agent assures him it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start. Before long he begins to uncover clues suggesting a dark secret linking the PM to the CIA. (See The New York Times review).

The novel The Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is adapted for the motion picture starring Matt Damon as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a rogue U.S. Army officer assigned to hunt down Saddam’s WMD, who must wade through faulty intelligence and high level Washington cover-ups before war escalates in an unstable region.

The Last Song is based on the bestselling novelist Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel.

This tearjerker is set in a small Southern beach town where an estranged father gets a chance to spend the summer with his reluctant teenaged daughter. He tries to reconnect with her through the only thing they have in common --- music, in a story of family, friendship, secrets and salvation, along with first loves and second chances.

Forest Whitaker and Jude Law star in Repo Men, a sc-fi thriller adapted from a novel by Eric Garcia (originally published as The Repossession Mambo).

Human lives have been extended and improved through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. But if you don't pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property. Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business, until he too, find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement...as well as a hefty debt.

From Russia with Love...

Max is a loser. He sleeps all day and stays up all night. But, his life has changed. In Max's dreams, he travels to the city of Echo, where he is recruited to join the Minor Secret Investigative Force. Now you can join Max in his supernatural investigations of midget murders and other strange things. Originally written in Russian, The Stranger has been translated to English by Polly Gannon. There are seven more books in the series, all in Russian, which have not been translated yet.

Graceling

Kristin Cashore's 2008 book, entitled Graceling, is listed as a honor book of the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award, and will be of interest to most teens looking for a fantasy.

The book takes place in a world of seven kingdoms. The main character, Katsa, is a Graceling--that is, a person who is Graced with an extreme ability. All Gracelings have complete heterochromia--two different colored eyes. The Gracelings are either seen as blessed or burdensome, and this provides much of the conflict in the book. It also provides much of the significance in the work, inspiring feelings of tolerance and acceptance of others'--and especially one's own--differences.

This book is probably best suited to teen girls who are independent or tomboys, as that is Katsa's character. There are elements of romance, violence, and sparring humor involved that create for a great storyline. However, the drawbacks may irritate some older readers; there are some instances of poor sentence structure, and the ending may be found wanting.

For those interested, her latest book is Fire, which contains the same seven kingdoms, though entirely different characters. It is not considered a sequel, but a companion.

Overall, it isn't one of the best works in teen fiction, but it is definitely worth a look.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #200

In Danielle Trussoni's contemporary epic fantasy Angelology**, Sister Evangeline, a 23 year-old nun at the convent of the Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York is drawn into the 1000-year old conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the beautiful, powerful, and cruel, half-human-half-angel Nephilim when she comes across letters between philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller and the late mother superior, referring to "an ancient artifact" - an article the Nephilim are desperate to claim.

The imaginative multilayer plot; the circuitous unfolding of Evangeline's personal connections to the Angelologists; captivating characters real and imagined; scholarly blending of biblical and mythical lore; rich historical references; seductive imagery; treachery, mystery and adventure make for an engrossing and entertaining read.

Film rights to Sony Pictures with Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment producing. Rumor has it that Trussoni is at work on a sequel. Can't get here soon enough for me. (I won't spoil it for you though).

Comparison to The Da Vinci Code is inevitable but more appropriately would be Katherine Neville's The Eight; and Kate Mosse's Labyrinth.

Coincidentally, Trussoni, a graduate of University of Wisconsin and the Iowa Writers' Workshop now resides in the Languedoc region (France) where Labyrinth is set. Her memoir Falling Through the Earth was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times.

** = Starred reviews

And along came a spider...

"Fat Charlie" Nancy has a problem. He lives in London and has a job he doesn't much like. Charlie tries to contact his father in Florida and finds out he just passed away. So, Charlie goes to Florida for the funeral. While there, Charlie learns two disturbing things. First, his father was actually the human incarnation of Anansi the African trickster spider god. Second, he has a brother, named Spider, who shares some of his father's powers. From here on in, Charlie's life takes a bad turn, with Spider stealing his fiance, getting him fired, and being arrested for a white-collar crime. What will "Fat Charlie" do? Use his own magical powers of course. Follow the exploits of "Fat Charlie" in Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys.

If I were a rat...

Firmin is a rat. He is the runt of the litter. Born in a bookstore, his mother shredded copies of Moby-Dick and Don Quixote for bedding. As the runt, Firmin finds himself more and more isolated from the rest of the rat population so he turns to books as his friend. Later in our story, he is befriended by science fiction writer Jerry Magoon. Through Jerry, Firmin learns about jazz and other human pleasures. Travel along through Boston in the 1960's in Firmin Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage.

February Books to Film, Part 2

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The very popular The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book One by Rick Riordan is now a feature film (not yet rated).

This wildly popular series for young readers makes the leap to the big screen on February 12. Adapted from the first book in the series, the film is directed by Chris Columbus (who brought the first two Harry Potter books to the screen) and stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson.

It's the 21st century, the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson's Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they're not happy: Zeus's lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy's mother.

And FINALLY, the twice-delayed, Martin Scorsese-directed Shutter Island is to be released on February 19th (let's hope).

Shutter Island is an army facility turned hospital for the criminally insane. When a beautiful-and certifiably crazy-patient escapes, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, are called in to investigate. Embroiled in uncertainties and mystery, the two soon learn there's much more at stake than simply finding one missing woman.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max von Sydow star in this thriller based on the bestseller by Dennis Lehane.

Celebrate the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief Movie Party!

Hopefully you have read the books by Rick Riordan and are ready to see the movie based on the first book in the series, The lightning thief, that hits theaters on Friday, February 12. Come dressed as your favorite Olympian, and be ready to play some games, test your knowledge of Greek Mythology and the books. We'll have prizes and CUPCAKES from the Cupcake Station for snacks! If you haven't already be sure to read the rest of the books in the series The sea of monsters, The titan's curse, The battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian.

Kids and Teens in GRADES 4-8 are invited on Thursday, February 11, 7:00-8:30 PM at the Traverwood Branch. This event is FREE, and does not require registration.

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