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Yesterday

For anyone out there who is a Beatles fan, is it even possible to not enjoy watching the movie, Yesterday (2019, rated PG-13)? It's jam packed with one great tune after another, with some of the best pop music ever written. In fact, there's even a deleted scene with George Harrison's "Something" that should have been included in the movie. The scenes that could have been created around all the fabulous music from The Beatles is probably endless and the movie would be five hours long.

And for the younger generation of music listeners, I hope they will also enjoy this romance/comedy and appreciate some of the music these four guys from Liverpool, England, brought to the world.

Listen to the soundtrack on Hoopla and check out the movie.

Jennifer is also a fan. Read her review.


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins' latest novel is a prequel to her well-known trilogy, The Hunger Games, which were also made into feature films. Not having read the books in some time, I started Hunger Games #0 without any expectations, simply following along with the story and characters and trying to piece everything together with the original trilogy.

While I feel that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2020) is not necessary in the grand scheme of things, Part 3 and the epilogue do provide a few big revelations to explain what transpires over the 60-year period before Katniss Everdeen finds herself wrapped up in the 74th Annual Hunger Games in Book #1: The Hunger Games (2008).

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive. The audiobook is also available to check out today on Hoopla.


The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles (2012) is beautifully told from the point of view of eleven-year-old Julia. As the Earth's rotation slows, it has unintended and dire consequences for all life on the planet. Meanwhile, Julia is already grappling with all the complexities of being a pre-teen girl, including a crush on a boy, falling out with close friends, and strained relations with her father.

Karen Thompson Walker does an excellent job of putting you in the frame of mind of this young girl, which makes the calamity seem that much more real and heartfelt. Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive. 



Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Imagination and reality come together in the beautifully arranged musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020, PG)Featuring Forest Whitaker as the once famous toy maker, Jernonicus Jangle, we see how one man with the help of his enthusiastic and intelligent granddaughter, Journey, overcomes what seems to be the impossible: reigniting his creativity and reuniting his family. The film begins in the present with Grandmother Journey (Phylicia Rashad) introducing her grandchildren to the story of the Jangle family and their friend-turned-foe, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key). In a year filled with what seems like one hardship after another, join this diverse and accomplished cast to inspire your sense of wonder and joy this winter.

Experience the magic of Jingle Jangle on Netflix with one of our Rokus.



Finding Neverland

When I heard Finding Neverland (2004, rated PG) was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, I hoped it would win--but it did not. Nevertheless, it is a terrific movie. Johnny Depp who portrays James M. Barrie and Kate Winslet are equally great together. All of the fantasy is typical Johnny Depp and had me wondering if there was any truth to this story about how James Barrie created Peter Pan.

As the movie progresses, a more serious tone emerges with a climactic ending befitting Academy Award worthiness. Heaven is a real place don't you know, and I for one can only imagine just how beautiful it will be.

Watch Finding Neverland on Hoopla today or on DVD. While it didn't win Best Picture, the film did nab an Oscar for Best Original Score. Listen to it on Hoopla. For more of the true story behind the film, read this New York Times article.


Echo

Echo begins as a fairy tale with Otto, a boy lost in the woods who meets three strange women telling him of a prophecy concerning a rare harmonica. From there, we hear three different stories of four pre-teen children who all live in different times, places, and circumstances, leaning on music to get them through hard times. The tales take you to Germany, Pennsylvania, and California, with storylines interconnected and centered around the possession of a rare harmonica. The audiobook was magical to listen to. I would recommend this beautiful, historical fairy tale to readers for all ages.

Listen to Echo (2015) by Pam Munoz Ryan on Hoopla today.



The Bad Beginning

The Bad Beginning (1999) is the start of the downright dreadful, disastrous, and dangerous turn of events that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire must endure after the passing of their parents in a tragic fire. They are sent to live with the dreadful Count Olaf, who cares more about the inheritance the children have than their wellbeing. The Baudelaire siblings must work together to thwart the evil doings of Count Olaf and figure out what really happened with the fire that killed their parents.

Lemony Snicket's writing gives the story character and makes the reader long for more with his unique style and prose.The Bad Beginning kicks off A Series of Unfortunate Events. Read the ebook on Overdrive or listen to the audiobook on Hoopla.



Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Here is a ghost story unlike any you've read before... in 1941, Frankie and her siblings have been left by their widowed father to live in a Chicago orphanage. They are left trying to make a way for themselves amidst poverty and injustice in a world left crumbled by the Great Depression and now on fire with war.

We follow Frankie's coming-of-age story through the eyes of a girl who died in 1918, whose spirit is left lingering the streets of Chicago, unsure how to move on. Glimpses of her past are pieced together as she remembers what happened to her and realizes that coming to terms with the truth is the only way to be set free.

Laura Ruby has weaved together a haunting and heartwarming blend of historical fantasy and mystery, full of rich characters whose stories reveal profound truths about the vast possibilities of human nature. Check out Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All (2019) today.

Read the ebook on Overdrive or listen to the audiobook on Hoopla.



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I just saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997) on Overdrive's ebook list. Well if you are looking for one great book to read, go no further. You found it. The best page-turning adventure that you can't put down, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first in this epic story of the eleven-year-old wizard who becomes every reader's favorite hero.

Even if you saw the movie, you'll want to read Harry's entire story. It has no boring parts and will grip your attention from page one. You will feel you've been transported into the story itself. And it does not matter how old you are. Even as I'm writing this, I can feel myself aboard the Hogwarts Express on my way to live Harry's journey with him and his pals Hermione and Ron. This is a ride you will not want to miss.

Check out J. K. Rowling's debut novel (and the one that started it all). Visit Overdrive to read or listen to the first book... then check out the rest of the series.



Penelope

Penelope Wilhern is living a fairy tale. She is an heiress, living in a beautiful mansion, being pursued by a charming aristocrat…and she's tasked with breaking the curse she was born with that left her with a pig snout instead of a nose. Such a task seems hopeless when suitor after suitor run away in terror after seeing her, but when one of those suitors helps Penelope learn to take risks, she begins to see there is more to life than breaking the curse.

Penelope (2006, rated PG) is feel good, modern day fairy tale peppered with comedy, fantasy, romance, and charming performances by Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon. Watch it on Hoopla today.


Good Omens

Good Omens (2011) is the brainchild of two legendary authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, who created a fun, humorous story of an unlikely duo. An angel from heaven and a demon from hell must work together to stop the apocalypse. Going against orders, they are trying to maintain the status quo so they can maintain their current lives and friendship. The unlikely duo bounce off each other with their dialogue, making it a joy to see on page how the story will unfold.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.

The book has been turned into a TV show on Amazon Prime. Sign up for a free trial or place a hold on the dvd or our Roku with Amazon Prime to see the adaptation.



Carry On

You've read and re-read all the Harry Potter books, watched all the movies, maybe even tried to find some magic in Narnia or Middle Earth, but you're still looking for more… Rainbow Rowell is here for you. Carry On (2015) tells the story of Simon Snow, the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. Somehow, even as things are falling apart around him (sometimes even catching on fire), things always work out, much to the dismay of his roommate and mortal enemy, Baz (who happens to be a vampire and maybe also the love of his life?).

Come and visit the Watford School of Magicks for a very Harry Potter-esque story with maybe just a bit more sarcastic humor. Enjoy the audiobook on Hoopla or the ebook on Overdrive, and then look for book two:Wayward Son.



So Weird. The Complete Series (1999-2001)

I have been finding that Disney+ is a great way to relive favorite shows of your childhood.  My latest binge was So Weird (TV-Y7), about Fiona, a teenager, on the road with a band for which her mom (Mackenzie Phillips) is the lead singer.  Fiona is drawn to everything strange and unusual, which she constantly stumbles upon, revealing more and more about her father's unexplained car accident when she was a baby.

While revolving around many supernatural occurrences, older kids and their families can enjoy this family adventure/mystery series together.  So Weird originally aired on The Disney Channel in the late 90s, but you can now stream the entire series on Disney+ via the library's Family Roku devices.

Series Spotlight: The Last Firehawk

Owls are determined to save their home – the island of Perodia – from the evil Thorn, a vulture who is destroying the island with the help of his army of tiger bats and prickle ants. Rivers are dry, trees are being destroyed, and no flowers are blooming. Heroes of this animal fantasy early chapter book are Tag, an owl who uses a magic map; Skyla, a squirrel who uses a slingshot; and Blaze, the last surviving firehawk who uses his wings. When Tag, Skyla, and Blaze are successful in the quest to find all the pieces of the ember stone, their home might be saved.

The first page of each book explains where Tag, Skyla, and Blaze are in their search for the ember stone so the books do not have to be read in order…but in order would be best. Start with The Ember Stone (2017).

A map of Perodia, which is a copy of the magic map used by Tag, is on the next page after the introduction. The reader will want to refer back to the map while reading the adventure. On the last page of each book are questions and activities suggestions, which will add to the enjoyment of the reader and extend their learning. Each of the 10 books (so far) in The Last Firehawk series by Katrina Charman are 90 pages. There are black and white illustrations on each page. Lexile range is 550-640.



Noelle

Disney+ has finally arrived!  Based on cast alone, my first viewing selection was Noelle (2019, G) which was originally intended for theatrical release, but was later reserved for the launch of Disney+.  It stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader as Kris Kringle's kids, Noelle and Nick.  Also in the cast are long-time actors Shirley MacLaine and Julie Hagerty, with comedians, Billy Eichner and Ron Funches.

Nick has trained his whole life to take over for his father as Santa, but as the pressure builds, he takes a vacation on his sister's recommendation.  Unfortunately, Nick took that to mean a one-way trip to the southwest.  Noelle has to venture out from the North Pole to find him, all while learning that Christmas is more meaningful when you focus on giving instead of getting.

Overall, this light-hearted film, albeit slightly predictable, will bring laughter and maybe even some tears to you and your family.  Find other Christmas movies to watch with the family on our website.

View Noelle and everything else Disney you can imagine with a Roku featuring Disney+.