Happy Friday!

"Maleficent" by Little Sis, age 6 1/2

Little Sis drew this picture two days ago.  These daughters of mine have been counting down until May 30! I wasn't in too big of a rush to see Maleficent myself.  I was expecting to be bored at best, or to hate it at worst.  Another Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland-style disappointment...

However, the three of us worked ourselves ragged this week, purging toys, picking up, and organizing their bedroom and playroom. Finally, last night, we declared the project done.  Mr. B said he would finish the sweeping and mopping, if I would take the girls to see Maleficent.  And the verdict?

We loved it!  All three of us.  Lots of beautiful fairyland images, which always appeals to the frolicking-in-the-woods-wearing-pretty-dresses side of me.  Lots of cool feminist revisionism.  Good performances.  It was a fun, summer mother-daughter flick!

I should also tell you that the original 1959 Disney version of Sleeping Beauty was my very favorite movie at the age of two. My parents took me to see it multiple times at the old Crest Theater, a beautiful 1950s movie house that is sadly no more.  

Now on to books!

What I Read

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Crown, 2012.

This book is so different from my usual fare.  I don't read a lot of modern crime novels or psychological thrillers, but everyone kept talking about it, and I was feeling left out. It took me a little while to get into it, because the characters weren't particular likeable. I am so glad I stuck it out!  It's a sick, twisty ride, and I'm rather looking forward to seeing how it translates to the big screen.

The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell.  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011.

Okay, now this is more like my usual fare. It's a kid's book, of course, but that isn't why it's more me.  (Really!)  Rather, it takes place long, long ago, in a gloomy, decrepit mansion, and involves birds, ghosts, mysteries, lonely children...  It's been on my list of books to read for a couple of years now.  Hooray to finally getting around to it!

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.  Bloomsbury USA, 2003.

More fairy tale goodness!  Another book that has been on my "to read" list for some time.  I haven't read anything else by Shannon Hale, although I'm familiar with some titles (Austenland, Ever After High series), but this was her first.  It's a fleshed-out retelling of "Goose Girl" from the Brothers Grimm. Hale is kind enough to provide the original tale on her website, but if you want to read the novel and you're not familiar with the original, I'd wait.   

What We Read

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014.

Omigosh, this is such a lovely book. Beekle lives on the island where imaginary friends are born, waiting for the day when a child imagines them to life. But poor Beekle is waiting such a long time, that he decided he needs to find his child on his own.  The illustrations are marvelous, and the book made for a sweet bedtime story.

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker.  Roaring Brook Press, 2002.

How did I miss this one?  Thanks, Lucy, for featuring it.  I wanted to get some books about art and artists for my little artist.  The girls were familiar with at least one Pollock painting, thanks to the first Olivia book. I didn't realize until this one was in my hand that it was written by the same team who wrote A Ballet for Martha, one of our favorite dance books! This one is about Pollock's process, how he painted, and where. If you've seen the Ed Harris movie Pollock, don't worry - it doesn't get into his complicated personal life, as they discuss in the video below.

This book was our greatest surprise.  We loved it. I must admit, I'm not too familiar with Vasily Kandinsky's art, and the girls knew nothing.  The book delves into the theory that Kandinsky had synesthesia. He was quoted as saying he "heard" colors, and often named his paintings after musical pieces.  He tried to paint trees and houses like other artists, but his heart was in abstract expressionism.  The illustrations are by the illustrator of the American editions of the Harry Potter books, too, so you know they're gorgeous.  More gorgeous still, though, are the small reproductions of Kandinsky's actual paintings at the back of the book.  The girls were in love, picking out their favorites.  

Other than that, we're still working on Flora and Ulysses, and Big Sis is still reading Matilda.  I'm deciding which book to pull out of my library bag next.  I guess I should check which one is due back first!

The Wichita River Festival has started.  For once, I am not in a play and I'm free to do festival things.  We cheered on the drumline from our school at the Sundown Parade tonight, but grumpiness brought us home - no Pops concert, no fireworks.  That's life, I guess!

As always, Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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  1. oh MY, what a fun collection this time! That Beeckle book....I must try and find that one ASAP! serious love! so excited you guys got to see Maleficent, we're going to scoot ourselves there to see that also asap! it looks right up my fairy tale alley. I wonder if J is too young for Ever After????

    1. Okay, so I own Ever After, but I was way too lazy to dig through DVDs. I checked Roku to see if any of our subscription services were streaming it, and even checked YouTube. So guess what hits Netflix TOMORROW???? I tried to show it to the girls before, but they were too young. I think my oldest will love it, though. :)

  2. I want that Beeckle book too! We're off to the beach but when I get back I want to watch whatever you have about Pollack - is that his wife? And that pic at the top is really VERY good!

    1. The Pollock movie starred and was directed by Ed Harris. Marcia Gay Harden won an Oscar for playing his wife, Lee. It's dark and moody, but very good. At least, as far as I can remember - I haven't seen it since I saw it in the theater. I want to go to the beach!!! Have fun!

  3. Woohoo! Congrats on finishing your cleaning/purging project! I am in the middle of mine and it's a pain in the neck! But it's half done and I already feel better about organizing. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite movie too. But I was scared of Maleficent when I was child. I had this Disney Book and there was a full page with Maleficent in it and my cousins used to scare me by showing just that one page. I got over it eventually but it's funny now to think about it. Oh I would love to read The Noisy Paint Box.

    1. I still need to work on my family room and kitchen/dining area. We deserve a break after the girls' spaces, though. They were beyond awful. I liked Maleficent as a kid, but I liked the music that went with her, too. Hooray for Tchaikovsky! I might have been a little afraid of her becoming the dragon, though. I don't know. The Noisy Paint Box is a lovely one! :)

  4. I'll admit that I'm intrigued about Maleficent but I've been a bit wary just for the reasons you described! Glad to hear you liked it. I loved the Disney Sleeping Beauty too and bought it on DVD but I haven't watched it in at least 10 years now. Maybe it's time for another viewing! Then I'll have to watch Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and 101 Dalmatians, too. Disney binge! ;-)

    The Aviary sounds intriguing. I love gothic novels, even if they're for kids! (Obviously I don't think myself above juvenile entertainment despite being childfree.)

    1. I think the critics are being too harsh on Maleficent. To me, it was well done. A lot of thought went into it. I haven't watched my Sleeping Beauty DVD in years, either. My daughters are anti-Disney princess now, which is fine with me, but they have trouble separating the movies from the marketing gimmicks. They don't even want to watch the classic movies anymore. I just like the animation style, how it pulls from old Gothic art, and the way they adapted the Tchaikovsky ballet music is so lovely. And yes, Aurora may not have much personality, but Mary Costa's voice...!

      I still collected picture books and all things Olivia before I had the girls, but I wasn't reading kids' novels, aside from Harry Potter. I worked at the bookstore, but I seldom worked in the children's area, so I focused more on books I would have more of a chance to recommend. I finally started reading the novels again, once I started doing storytimes, and so I would know what to recommend to the girls as they got older. Now I use the blog as an excuse. Really, I just like to read, and that includes kids' books, YA, and grown-up books. ;)

    2. I just like to read, too, and if it's good it's good. (Or sometimes when it's bad it's good, too!) I've been revisiting some of my childhood favorites and going back and reading the books I missed. I was good at reading very early so I missed a lot of juvenile fiction in the rush to read "grown-up books."

      Ah, the Disney princesses. I loved so many of those movies but I do wonder about the affect the messaging has on girls.

    3. I think the way they started marketing them in the evil 2000s was worse. All the pink and pushing them down everyone's throat as a set. It took away whatever individuality the characters and their movies had. If that makes sense...

  5. Thanks for the recommendations! I'm putting some on hold right now!


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