The Happiest Millionaire is a favorite lesser-known Disney musical that offers toe-tapping charm. Fred MacMurray is a wealthy father who keeps pet alligators in his mansion and hosts a Bible-and-boxing club in the stables. Lesley Ann Warren, Greer Garson, and the irrepressible Tommy Steele add to the family fun.
Archive for December, 2013
Australian bachelor Don Tillman is a brilliant genetics professor whose social skills are anything but genius. He’s reached a point in his life at which he’s willing to deviate (slightly) from beloved routine in order to find a suitable life partner. A scientifically sound process is designed, and soon “The Wife Project” is underway. Enter Rosie, a woman who meets none of Don’s criteria and who has a personal project of her own. If your resolution is to explore upbeat fiction that appeals equally to men and women, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion passes with flying colors. Optimize your results by choosing the audiobook read by Dan O’Grady and enjoy hearing Don’s deadpan earnestness and inadvertent humor delivered in a native Aussie accent.
The New Year is almost upon us and resolutions are on everyone’s brains. Maybe, just maybe, 2014 can be the year that you finally give yourself the time to learn how to dance. Watching Dancing With the Stars is ok…but what if you could dance like the stars?
Click here to see a list of instructional dance DVDs.
John Lewis Krimmel is not much remembered by history, but he was the first American painter of genre scenes – daily life and urban events with small-to-large crowds. If he had a nemesis, it was Charles Wilson Peale, a traditional portraitist. Krimmel set forth artistic rebellion in the Philadelphia art scene dominated by Peale. Lion and Leopard by Nathaniel Popkin delves into the young American art scene through multiple points of view, ranging from three best friends (a rogue, a consumptive, and a ladies’ man) to Peale’s pet monkey. If you like elegant, leisurely historical fiction, and art history, Lion and Leopard is a must-read debut.
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Page Count: 552
Genre: WWII fiction, coming-of-age stories
Tone: Haunting, lyrical, leisurely-paced
1. Why do you think Markus Zusak chose to use Death as the narrator?
2. Did you see Death as a certain gender?
3. Did you have any preconceptions about Death? Did the character match or differ from these notions?
4. Would you consider this book as a Young Adult or an Adult title?
5. Do you think teens and adults have differing reactions to The Book Thief? What elements might appeal to teens? Are those elements different than what would appeal to an adult?
6. Has reading a book considered by some to be a Young Adult title made you more inclined to read other YA titles?
7. How did you feel about the bold interruptions in the story? (Ex: lists, characterizations, Death occasionally setting the scene)
8. What are some examples of foreshadowing in The Book Thief? It seems like Death is constantly letting the plot out of the bag. Did this bother you? Did you like it? (Ex: Knowing Rudy was going to die hundreds of pages before it happened)
9. The Book Thief is divided into 9 sections each titled with a book Liesel received. The section title pages list the chapters within each section. Some of these reveal parts of the plot. Did you notice? How did you feel about it?
10. The Gravedigger’s Handbook, Shoulder Shrug, The Whistler, Dream Carrier, Word Shaker – these are some of the fictitious titles Liesel received. Do you think there is significance to the titles?
11. The text is broken in several places by Max’s picture books to Liesel. What do you think these stories added to The Book Thief? Could you have done without them?
12. What did you notice about the language Zusak used?
13. What do you think the symbolism of the cover is? (Re: dominoes about to be pushed over)
14. What characters seemed most developed? Were there any throw away characters you could do without?
15. There was an emphasis on words and literature. What was the difference between how Hitler used his words and how Liesel used hers?
16. Were there any scenes in the book that overwhelmed you? What scenes stood out?
17. Hitler’s burning of books was a form of censorship. Is the censorship of books ever acceptable?
18. How do you feel about the relationship between Max and Liesel?
19. This book continuously alternates between great sorrows and small joys. As an example, Max is forced to hide in Liesel’s basement, but Liesel builds him a snowman inside. What are other examples of the ups and downs of The Book Thief? Do you think Zusak had a purpose in this alternating?
20. How does The Book Thief add (or subtract) from the wide variety of literature already written about WWII? Do you think it stands out?
Markus Zusak’s website
Greenwich Library book discussion questions
One Book, One Chicago resources
Random House readers’ guide
Part I, Part II, and Part III of Markus Zusak at the Sutherland Library
New York Times review of The Book Thief
The Guardian interviews Markus Zusak
If you liked The Book Thief, try…
With its chilly upper-midwest setting (accents included), Fargo is the classic Coen brothers’ film. A botched kidnapping planned by a bungling William H. Macy is met with the polite, small-town-smarts of a pregnant police chief (Frances McDormand). This is dark humor at its best balanced with warm humanity.
There is a beauty that is uniquely winter, whether it be snow-dusted landscapes or the crystallized branches of exposed trees. Maestro Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky was inspired to give voice to the season in the wordless poetry of Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13: “Winter Dreams”. As performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra, life is given to swirling winds, hushed silver skies, and the brisk exhilaration of chilled temperatures. Certain movements showcase lush, full melodies that create the ethereal mood evoked in the title, while others invite the instruments to playfully dart back and forth like animal tracks in the snow. Warm your ears with music that will whisk away any lingering grumbles about winter ills.
Cozy mysteries are considered “gentle reads.” Usually, a female sleuth – who’s not actually a detective – solves a crime in a small town. There’s little-to-no sex, violence, or harsh language on the page. M.C. Beaton, Carolyn Hart, and Leslie Meier are fine examples of this genre.
For more cozy mystery authors, click here.
M. Night Shyamalan wants you to be interested in education reform. The director who made The Sixth Sense, The Village, and other Hollywood blockbusters, has become an armchair education expert. I Got Schooled is the accumulation of Shyamalan spending five years funding non-partisan studies on how to close the achievement gap in the United States. In this quick, conversational read, Shyamalan outlines five keys to succeeding schools. These keys range from eliminating underachieving personnel to keeping kids in the classroom longer. If you like breezy reads that make you think long after you’ve put them down, try Shyamalan’s idealistic I Got Schooled.
Before Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel teamed up to make the tense, gothic melodrama The Beguiled. Set near the end of the Civil War, The Beguiled tells the story of a Union soldier wounded in Southern territory, who finds refuge in a girls’ school.