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A.Trendl "What should I review next?" (Wheaton, IL USA)

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Island of the Blue Dolphins (Puffin Books)
Island of the Blue Dolphins (Puffin Books)
by Scott O'Dell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karana: Tenacious and Hopeful Hero, 24 Jun. 2005
As a child, my grade school librarian wore out from me asking to borrow so often. Later, as a private tutor, my students chose this again and again. "Island of the Blue Dolphins" lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest children's book ever.

Libraries are good for borrowing books, but some books should be on the shelf of any young reader. Scott O'Dell's magnificent "Island of the Blue Dolphins" is just that. Save your librarian some grief and buy a copy.

"The Island of the Blue Dolphins" is the story of a foolish young girl who missed the boat when the island was being evacuated. Far from it. Karana was on the boat. Her playful little brother, Ramo, wasn't. He was only 6 years old and could never survive alone. She jumped off and headed to shore to save him. The boat left.

Every little girl or boy has been alone, frightened without a clear way of finding his or her way home. Often, the problem is fixed by turning the next corner, finding out it is the same neighborhood it has always been. In the case of "The Island of the Blue Dolphins," Karana's home never changes. Everyone she knows and loves, however, leaves.

For 18 years Karana took care of herself, and she grows from a preteen child into a woman just entering her 30s. This is that story, filled with adventures similar to "Robinson Crusoe," another true story set to fiction. Fans of "Swiss Family Robinson," will likewise enjoy this.

Karana's ingenuity to survive is surpassed by her tenacity and hope. Weathering hard circumstances, such wild dogs, storms and the constant need to find fresh food and good water. She uses what she learned from her parents and other villagers before the left, and what she learns by trial an error.

As exciting as "Treasure Island," only with a female protagonist, the book is more than a tale of heroics. Scott O'Dell's keen sense of description separates this from the rest of the bookshelf. Although sensitive that his reader is younger, he still manages to place to reader in the story, imagining the smell of sea or hearing the not-so-far off bark of wild dogs.

Like other classics as "Old Yeller" and "My Brother Sam Is Dead," not everything comes easily to Karana. There are somber times when people leave, when her brother dies, or when things look bleak. O'Dell tells the story as realistically as he can, which makes the happy times happier.

I fully recommend "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell. It won "The Newberry Medal for Best Children's Book" for good reason.

Anthony Trendl
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Bringing Up Boys
Bringing Up Boys
by James C. Dobson
Edition: Paperback

42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Dobson Does Best, 30 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Bringing Up Boys (Paperback)
In "Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men," James Dobson gets back to what he knows best, child psychology.
While over the years, Dobson has been outspoken for better and for worse about things within and outside of his expertise, many parents agree that what he has to say about families is solid and accurate. In "Bringing Up Boys," he gets his message across.
What is his message? It isn't very complicated: Focus on rearing your son with love and with Christian principles, and you'll do a lot of good for him as he becomes an adult.
Not unlike "Crisis in Masculinity" by Leanne Payne, Dobson effectively asserts masculinity can be encouraged, and should be fostered, and with Christ as the center of your family, things have more hope.
Granted, the book is not for everyone. He says a few bold things that might make a nonChristian cringe. He doesn't shy from or water down his Christian beliefs, but, just like any parenting book, his worldview influences his ideas, whether liberal or conservative. Consider that a caveat, and with Dobson's reputation with Focus on the Family, no reader will likely be suprised as he integrates his faith with his psychology.
While "Bringing Up Boys" is not the last word in parenting boys, it is a place to consider some tough ideas, and react to what Dobson states. He unapologetically refutes and denounces some popular thoughts on modern psychology, and gives plenty of things to consider.
For the reader willing to be challenged, or for those readers who are fans of Dobson, Focus and desire to learn some pragmatic thoughts on parenting boys, I fully recommend "Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men" by James Dobson.
Anthony Trendl

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2005: The Reference Tool for the Christian Writer
Christian Writers' Market Guide 2005: The Reference Tool for the Christian Writer
by Sally Stuart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.55

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,100+ Markets, Sensibly Organized, Cross-referenced, 29 Mar. 2005
The "Christian Writers' Market Guide" is still the reference book every Christian writer needs. Consider this a gimmee. Buy this year's edition. Buy next year's edition. Plan on the following year as well.
What you need to know about this edition:
* 1,180 markets. Pick a Christian denomination (Catholic and Protestant), and their publication is likely listed.
* Almost 700 periodicals, over 350 book publishers. Think of how many you are aware of? "Christianity Today," "New Man," "Decision" are probably at the top of your mind for periodicals. Tyndale, NavPress, InterVarsity Press are probably among the book publishers you know. Maybe you know a few more. Here, you'll discover how vast the Christian publishing world is.
Literary agents, contests, advice for various markets, editorial services, market analyses, specialty markets (like greeting cards) all have sections.
If you are looking to connect with other writers, you'll be happy to find the lists of writers' groups and clubs, and for conferences and workshops. A key group is the Evangelical Press Association, but there are smaller ones geared for denominations and market.
The structure is similar to previous editions, but, as always, the current year provides the most accurate data.
Each publication starts with symbols indicating if it is new, if the data is confirmed, and if they pay. There's the title, the contact info including a URL, an editor's name, a brief description, the page count and circulation number, the subscription cost, percentage freelanced, submission preference, payment style, and general content needs.
Missing but I hope soon changing, is a purely digital version. Searching through a book to find, for example, what periodicals pay for poetry, can be frustrating when I know a sensible CD version would allow me a complete list within seconds.
Weak also are listings for foreign markets, but this may as much a fault of the publisher as the guide's editor, or may be due to the limited number of international Christian publications.
Add up the above, and you will see how any writer aiming for the Christian market at large would find this an indispensable volume. It fills in the gaps left open by the very useful "Writer's Digest" market guides, and provides the required tools for connecting writer and publisher.
I fully recommend the "Christian Writers' Market Guide," as it remains the best option for any Christian writer.
Anthony Trendl

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Sing-Along Stories)
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Sing-Along Stories)
by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Woman's Bad Diet Becomes A Favorite Song, 28 Mar. 2005
The great mystery of one woman's dietary adventure has intrigued children for generations. Although she has avoided the stronger points of both the South Beach and the Atkins diets, she did bring in a diverse meal plan with lots of protein with minimal carbs.
The woman described through pictures here is not a pleasant, friendly woman, but one who is terribly overweight, and who apparently eats her pets as well as bugs. Look out Fido! Look out Fluffy!
It is the tale oft-told, and the rhymes will please the young one's ears. It is easy to remember, and so much fun that you may find yourself humming the tune. Like the classic folk story, "Stone Soup," the song builds with each retelling. First, she eats a fly, then a spider, then a bird. You get the idea. While her plan was not to eat any of these things, she does.
While the pictures are fun, it is the song we all love, and the one you and your family can sing on vacations, school busses. It works in rounds, or in groups. The children are sure to giggle through it, since funny vocal inflections beg to be employed.
I fully recommend "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." But, I must admit, I don't know why she swallowed the fly. Your guess what will happen to her is as good as mine.
Anthony Trendl

I Was a Mouseketeer!
I Was a Mouseketeer!
by Kieran Scott
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars From Good Genes to Looking Good in Jeans, 28 Mar. 2005
This review is from: I Was a Mouseketeer! (Paperback)
"I Was a Mouseketeer!" by Joe Neumaier is a curious, quick read, and not a book worth the purchase price. Their lives now hardly reflect the wholesome nature of a Mouseketeer, and little here reveals anything more than a Disney publicity stunt.
Reminding the reader of the teen version of People Magazine, it errs in sounding like it wants the Mouseketeers to be cool to the fans of the highly packaged, underdressed celebrities.
Fans will enjoy the pictures from the stars younger days, and compare. Do a thread count for fun. Place a Britney or Christina picture from today next to a Mouseketeer one.
Gullible moms thinking this is showing their children the value of hard work won't see the pressured parents pushing these children, or that these kids were chosen as much for their good looks as their dancing ability. Hard work will need to be extra hard if overcoming less than perfect genes.
Pass on this one, and buy yourself a copy of "I Was a Teenage Brady."
Anthony Trendl

Danny and the Dinosaur 50th Anniversary Edition (I Can Read Book 1)
Danny and the Dinosaur 50th Anniversary Edition (I Can Read Book 1)
by Syd Hoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Danny Helped Me Learn to Read, 28 Mar. 2005
I first reviewed Syd Hoff's "Danny and the Dinosaur" as a seven year-old. In second grade, we called it a book report, but my feelings on the book haven't changed. Danny's adventure includes a visit to the ballpark, which still has me smiling. Also, like hiding an elephant, Danny discovers playing hide-and-seek with a dinosaur can be difficult.
While the writing and drawings aren't on par with "Make for Ducklings," or "Mike Milligan and the Steam Shovel," it capably compares to H. A. Rey's "Curious George" series. "Clifford, the Big Red Dog" readers will connect with Danny playing with an oversized lizard.
The text is simple, and the story is sweet, unencumbered by the intentional messaging found in many modern children's books. It is just a fun, silly story. It helped me learn to read and to love books. Maybe Danny's tale can help your son or daughter read too.
I fully recommend "Danny and the Dinosaur" by Syd Hoff.
Anthony Trendl

You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...
You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If...
by Frank Benjamin
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Both Sides Take Well-Deserved Humorous Heat, 28 Mar. 2005
When I picked up "You Know You're a Republican/Democrat If..." I expected a collection of off-color, just the usual "I hate Bush," or "Kerry's just a rich liberal" puns. I thought, given the title, the writer, like Jeff Foxworthy in his redneck series, just picked low-hanging fruit.
It is quite witty. Some jokes are reiterations of ones heard on Leno and Letterman, redone in the "You know you're a" style, but others are current, fresh and funny.
I tried to guess the writer's political leaning, but the jokes are well-balanced. He honestly pokes fun at whatever his side is, and thoroughly jabs the other. My hat is off to him for not revealing who will get his vote.
Ironically, left side of each spread is a Republican joke, and the right side is a Democrat joke.
Some of the jokes are based on simple stereotypes, like, "You know you're a Republican if... you think Florida election officials are fair and unbiased. You know you're a Democrat if you think 'fair Florida elections' is a contradiction in terms."
Other jokes show keen wit, and understanding of the deeper philosophical differences and inadequacies between each party and their adherents, like, "You know you're a Republican if you've thought about becoming a Libertarian, but have trouble with their philosophical support of prostitution, gay marriage, and uninhibited personal freedom. You know you're a Democrat if you've thought about becoming a Libertarian, but have trouble with their support of free trade." Another: "You know you're a Republican if you prove your racial sensitivity by saying 'gracias' to your gardener. You know you're a Democrat if you're strongly committed to racial equality even if you don't personally know anyone of a different race."
Two of my favorites is, "You know you're a Republican if you're afraid of the IRS. You know you're a Democrat if you're afraid of the FBI," and "You know you're a Republican if you support George W. Bush's plan to put a man on Mars. You know you're a Democrat if you want that man to be George W. Bush."
Maybe the gem in the whole book is "You know you're a Republican if you think Colin Powell might make a good President, if he wasn't black. You know you're a Democrat if you think Colin Powell might make a good President, if he wasn't conservative."
This is a book worth stocking in the bathroom, or for reading aloud on trips. Both sides take some heat, so no will be offended.
Anthony Trendl

Pop, Your" Poifect"!: Athree Stooges Salute to Dad
Pop, Your" Poifect"!: Athree Stooges Salute to Dad
by Patrick Regan
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Pops Will Salute Sons Who Give This Book, 28 Mar. 2005
This swift gift book is cute, and is filled with pictures of our favorite stooges with fun taglines. Constructed to be a Father's Day gift from a son to a dad, it will bring a few chuckles and smiles. Many of the pictures are in standard Stooge calenders. The writing is not particularly funny for anyone over 12. Fans of the Stooge shorts will recognize where the captured frames were first shown.
The limits of any Stooge print product is it misses the master delivery by Moe, Larry and Curly, and even the late-comer Stooges, Shemp, Joe ad CurlyJoe. A good thwap on the forehead isn't able to be retold in a printed picture.
The Stooges are an American icon as much as Elvis, Snoopy and Mickey Mouse. Few parts of popular culture can be enjoyed by both father and son as the Stooges, helping making this book an worthy gift from a younger boy looking to please Pop.
I fully recommend "Pop, Your" Poifect"! A Three Stooges Salute to Dad" by Patrick Regan.
Anthony Trendl

Is a Very Funny Fellow
Is a Very Funny Fellow
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £5.92

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosby Circa 1963 As Funny As He Is Now, 28 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Is a Very Funny Fellow (Audio CD)
Bill Cosby's gifted comedically in ways the average sitcom actor dreams of, and has created a level of standup few compete with. He is a master artist, and no mere funnyman. "Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow... Right!" is one of his best efforts.
Having found "Himself" to be hilarious, I expected more of the same. It is isn't. Instead of stories about his childhood, or his family's adventures at home, he gives us a story about Noah and God talking over how the ark should be built, how his coach would inspire the team, the trouble Superman might run into while changing in the tollbooth, and two cows discussing the dilemma of having hoof and mouth disease. Then there's his story about riding the subways, finding a nut in every car, and the advantages of knowing karate.
As always, Cosby makes the mundane incredibly funny.
The drawback of the CD is there's no video. While Cosby isn't as physical of a comic as some, he still uses the stage, mike and chair as props. A DVD version of this must be great.
I fully recommend "Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow... Right!" It is Bill Cosby at his best, but he's always at his best.
Anthony Trendl

The Terminal [DVD] (2004)
The Terminal [DVD] (2004)
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £3.45

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying, Thoughtful, Funny Movie for the 30+ Crowd, 28 Mar. 2005
This review is from: The Terminal [DVD] (2004) (DVD)
Tom Hanks, and the plot make "The Terminal" a top movie for the 30+ crowd.
There's nothing blockbuster happening here, belying the expectation we have of any Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg movie, and yet it simmers near the top of Hanks' acting. He's better here than in "Forrest Gump" and "Green Mile," and more persevering than in "Catch Me If You Can." It is a movie that's easy to miss, but worth catching. Spielberg milks his skills as a sentimentalist, and gives us a satisfying time at the theater.
Calling it an intellectual movie is going too far, but it definitely is a thinking man's comedy. If outlined into a genre, it might fall into a situation comedy. Summing it up to "A man is confined to an airport terminal, and laughs ensue as he tries to get by day-to-day," would miss the layers of characterization and plot. The comedy evolves and unfolds slowly as we relate to Hanks and the troupe of airport employees who support or hinder him in his plight.
Tom Hanks is Viktor Navorski. He's flown in from his home, an Eastern European country, which suffers a coup while Viktor is on a plane to New York City. His mission is to acquire the autograph from a legendary jazz sax player to complete his late father's collection. Because of the coup, however, Viktor has his passport and related travel papers taken away. He becomes as stranded in an international airport terminal as he was in "Castaway." Through Viktor's attempts to resolve his quandary, we see Hanks sounding more Russian than Robin Williams as Vladimir Ivanoff in "Moscow on the Hudson," convincing us he is truly from the fictional country, Krakozhia.
As in "Castaway," Viktor improvises humorously to create an environment in which he can live. With tools left by construction workers and tradesmen, he rebuilds a wall, creates a Napoleonesque fountain and he finds a niche within the terminal that has gone unnoticed that he uses for a bedroom. He manages relationships with airport employees. In one situation, he sets up a food worker with an immigration official in trade for a meal. In another, he shows Amelia by example not all men are cheats.
Drawbacks and oversights discourage plausibility at times. From the pratfalls Viktor takes when walking into windows, to the naive persona he displays, there is a surprising stereotype of the Eastern European simpleton. Hanks, and especially Spielberg should know better. Also, Viktor is quickly useful in one scene to help translate for a Russian traveler, but never during Viktor's stay is a translator found for him. NYC has every tongue known to man, and yet there is no one who speaks his language? Why doesn't Amelia ever inquire more about Viktor's life? I don't buy it. These holes should have been filled.
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Amelia provides an average performance as a lonely flight attendant in a seven-year affair with a married man. Her on/off interest in Viktor as a subplot shows the romantic side of Hanks' character, but nothing of Jones. Being attractive isn't enough to give us much to feel compassionate about, or to care whether or not Viktor and she connect. We want Viktor to be happy, having such hapless luck foisted upon him, but she is only a means to that end.
Frank Dixon, as played by Stanley Tucci, has a unique job as a foil to Viktor. As security chief, he's the one who oversees the airport's efficiency, mindful of the details that keep things both secure and peaceful. Viktor's presence is not welcome, but Frank has no legal options but to let him stay. We can't be sure if Frank wants to help Viktor or not, as he flops indecisively in his efforts to oust Viktor from the airport. Although Tucci could've played Frank better, his lines needed more work. His character came across as underutilized by the scriptwriters.
Kumar Pallana plays Gupta Rajan, a janitor who cantankerously protects his job. When Viktor loses something in the garbage and tries to retrieve it, Gupta snorts, "Do you have an appointment?" Gupta is on the run from the Indian police and suspects everyone as being from the CIA. Pallana is funny with and without lines. His insidious smile as travelers trip and slide on a wet floor is as good as any John Belushi eyebrow lift.
The movie is an appropriate Father's Day film, as Viktor's undaunted devotion to his father's dream is touching. Recognizing the subcultures and society of the unseen airport support staff is well-done when stereotypes aren't in force. In a post-9/11 era, and the rigid needs of airport security, the movie highlight the confounding struggle innocent immigrants and travelers must now endure in order to walk from no-man's land to the land of the free.
I fully recommend "The Terminal." It has great DVD appeal, but seeing it on the big screen brings nothing special when compared to its competition of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Shrek 2." However, when it lacks in special effects, it swells in thoughtful, timely humor and drama. Send the kids into see "Harry," and hop into "The Terminal." It is no "Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan" or "Philadelphia Story," it is still a movie that will leave feeling good but not stupid.
Anthony Trendl

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