Featured earlier this month at the Brattle Street Theatre near Harvard Square, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a splendid new masterpiece from Studio Ghibli. The BPL has several copies on order so place your requests now to borrow a copy when they arrive. Princess Kaguya is a classic Japanese fairy tale about a magical girl who mysteriously appears in a bamboo stalk while an aged bamboo cutter is working in the forest. The tale tells a multifaceted story about family joy and longing, a girl coming of age, and the deeper spiritual mysteries of the human experience. The artwork is revolutionary for studio Ghibli. Set in a more rice paper/watercolor style, the animation, use of light and shadow, and extreme dynamic effects reminiscent of expressionism captivate the viewer throughout the film. The artists employ unique cell work with dappling shadow overlays as the characters interact and move through the bamboo groves and deeper woods. The overall palette of rice paper-style imagery completely immerses the viewer in an authentic Japanese artistic world. The dynamic effects during dream sequences and storm scenes are gripping, even in their minimalism. I strongly recommend this film for all anime fans. Even loyal Studio Ghibli fans will be impressed by this new direction in artistic style. The story is classic and refreshing at the same time. Beyond its imagery, Princess Kaguya is a bold venture into the depths of the human struggle.
Category Archives: Reviews – Staff
These book reviews are from librarians you know!
Title/Author: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Read by: Anna at the Central Library Teen Room / Read for our TBOM book discussion group on December 19th.
Summary: Anna is a magician used to traveling with her mother who is a medium. Together they put on shows and seances to make money. It’s mostly a con. But what her mother doesn’t know is that Anna has real paranormal abilities and lately, she’s been getting visions of a very terrible ending to their lives.
Series/Standalone: book one
Diversity: none that stood out
Could I Relate to These Characters: yes
Would I re-read?: yes
Personal thoughts: Once I started reading, I could not put this book down. I love the 1920’s New York City setting and I love stories about magic. I think Teri Brown did a fantastic job bringing them both together. While this is the first in a series, it can be read as a standalone as well, yet, I’m looking forward to reading the second one just to see what might happen next.
Title/Author: Hell Hole by Gina Damico
Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Summary: Max is a good kid. He would never even think about stealing something. But the cat pin is so distracting he can’t help but walk away with it. The only problem is, his stealing brings a devil up from down below and Burg will never be happy unless Max steals him junk food and secures him a stolen mansion with a hot tub. What’s a teenager to do? Especially when his Mom is sick in bed waiting for a heart transplant? Life couldn’t get any more complicated.
Genre/sub-genre: Light Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Humor
Diversity: none that stood out
Relatable characters: yes
Would I re-read?: No.
Personal thoughts: This book was very well written, and I would recommend it to those who like reading humorous, paranormal stories with a tiny bit of romance thrown in. While I really enjoyed her Croak trilogy, this one just wasn’t for me. The humor didn’t grab me the way it did in Croak, and I think that was what turned me off to it. However, if you’re into crude humor about a devil who refuses to wear any pants and his reasons for not wearing pants, among other things, you’ll definitely like this.
This is the final story in the Redwall series. It chronicles a group of hares, shrews, sea otters and a few hedgehogs, as they race against time to reach Redwall Abby before the murderous vermin crew of the ship, Greenshroud. The ship and her wearat captain, Razzid, once thought to be defeated by fire, have returned, bigger and better than before. Now, the ship not only sails the seas, it has wheels that allow it to sail on land as well! Will the warrior hares from Salamandastron and the mighty sea otters of the High North Coast reach the Abby in time to save the good woodland creatures who live there? Or will more vermin along the way keep them from reaching their goal and their friends?
I started reading this series nineteen years ago. Yes. You read that correctly. Nineteen years. The first book in the series, Redwall, was originally published in 1987, though I didn’t find it until a few years after that. The Rogue Crew (book #22) was first published in 2011. So you can see just how long this series has been going on. If it weren’t for the death of the author, Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes), this series would still be going on. This will always be one of my favorite series, and Brian Jacques will always be one of my favorite authors. Though he lived in Liverpool, England, I was lucky enough to get to meet him on three separate occasions and I can say he was an amazing person to listen to. His voice was as rich and deep as his stories. Did you know Redwall got started as a story for blind children? Jacques delivered milk to a blind school and wrote Redwall for them, making his style of writing as descriptive as possible so the children could see everything in their imaginations. A former teacher of his eventually showed Redwall to a publisher without telling Jacques, and as they say, the rest is history.
Because of his descriptive style, his work makes me feel like I’m in an adventure with all these different creatures who are kind, caring, tough, warrior-like, evil, mean, innocent, whatever words you can use to describe people, you can use to describe these creatures. I really do feel like I’m there, in the midst of a battle, or enjoying a huge feast on a beautiful summer evening. Though, one thing I adore about these books that tends to be a deal breaker for other readers, is the fact that each type of animal has its own way of speaking and Jacques uses that throughout all of the dialog. I see it as a fun time to learn how to speak like a mole or a hare. Others, find it distracting. If that is something that bothers you, this might not be the book for you. If it doesn’t, I urge you to check it out. I can’t recommend these books highly enough, and I’m very sad to have finally reached the end. A note about the order of the books: Each book is its own story with its own set of characters. If you’re new to the series, you should start with either Redwall or Mossflower. Redwall was the first book published and Mossflower is the prequel. After that, you can read them in any order you like. I admit, they might get tiring after awhile if you attempt to read all 22 in a row, but take a long break and come back to them and you’ll remember why you enjoyed them so much when you first picked them up. To me, these are timeless classics set in their own fantasy world. Thirty, fifty, even perhaps one hundred years from now, I imagine they’ll still be readable and enjoyable by many and I hope they’re never forgotten by readers of all ages.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room
Dragon shifters abound in this tale of a young woman who is half dragon and passing as human. Someone is threatening the 40-year-old treaty keeping peace between the dragons and the humans. But who would do such a thing? And why? And how can they be stopped? Those are the questions Seraphina longs to answer as she goes about her days as the court’s Music Mistress, working hard to put the program together for the Treaty Eve festival. However, memories her mother planted in her mind often get in the way and threaten to expose her for what she really is, something no one knows exists. With her life in danger, memories trying to swamp her mind, and visions getting out of hand, Seraphina is making friends in high places and hoping against all hope they don’t notice anything amiss.
I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters to really get into this book. But once I was in, I was in. I was really interested in the different characters Seraphina sees through her visions. I was especially drawn to Fruit Bat, a mute boy who seems to be the only one who responds to her attention, as if he is a real person who can interact with her. Yes, there is a romance in this book, yet it doesn’t overwhelm the plot at all. In fact, it’s so subtle, you might miss it, which makes for a nice breath of fresh air. It’s a fantasy like no other. Rachel Hartman has taken the classic character of the dragon and made it as unique as a fingerprint. She did a great job making them new, different, and extremely interesting. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes fantasy.
The end of the book leaves it open for a sequel which is slated to be released sometime in 2015. And any who enjoyed this first book might enjoy the 17 page prequel, which can be found for free here. Or by the link on the Goodreads page here.