This older Studio Ghibli film dates from 1988. Grave of the Fireflies, is a tragedy about a young sister and brother and their struggle to survive the fire-bombings of Japan during the Second World War. It is a moving study of humanity’s strengths and weaknesses. Who is your enemy? Who is your family, friend or neighbor? While their father is out at sea with the Japanese navy, their family is further fragmented in a fire-bombing raid. The children seek shelter with extended family but encounter callousness, neglect and exploitation. Some total strangers show more compassion than their own families and the older brother struggles to care for his sister and keep them all alive. The story of these children teaches us all about the horrors of war, and both the angels and demons of human nature. I imagine the title makes reference to the short life and light of fireflies. The artwork shows its age in the rendering style compared to more modern works, but expressions and animation are still top quality Ghibli. The voice acting in the English dub that I saw on Netflix was adequate, but I prefer to listen to the Japanese and read subtitles. This can be challenging during rapid dialog. Audiences should be ready for heartbreak when watching this film. It may be interesting to compare it with The Wind Rises, about the designer of the famous Zero fighter plane. But that recent film deals more with life before the war and Japan’s notable achievement in aeronautics. To me, the most powerful part of Grave of the Fireflies comes at its most cruel moment, when so-called “friends” stoop to staggering depths of avarice and disrespect. Grave of the Fireflies is a great film, but one to be watched with care.
Category Archives: Reviews – Teens
These book reviews have been written by teens you know!
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.
Title/Author: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Read by: Niyah-Chandler Brown
Summary: There was a boy name Bastian he found a mysterious book. That had racing snails, handglider bats, soaring luck dragons (Falkor). The book that Bastian had found there was a boy on an adventure. He was a childlike empress. He is supposed to go and save the world by going to the princess so she can give him the power to keep the world alive. The only way to do that is if Bastian keeps reading The Book (the neverending story).
Series or standalone? Standalone
Genre/subgenre: fairy tale
Would I re-read? Yes, I would.
Personal thoughts: I wish there was a second book that could continue the adventure Atrave was on.
Posted on July 31st, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Teens
Tags: a matter of trust, allen trussell-cullen, anne schraff, biography, caught up in the drama, department of youth services, DYS, nelson mandela, no way out, paul langan, peggy kern, reshonda tate billingsley, reviews, schooled, search for safety, sister souljah, Summer Reading, teen reviews, the coldest winter ever, urban literature
Some teens in a community partnership with the Boston Public Library are participating in the teen summer reading program by reading books and writing reviews for our blog. Here are some of those reviews:
Review by B.
The book is about a girl named Winter Santiaga. Her father was a big hustla in Brooklyn, NY. Everything was going fine until her father got busted because the people he was working with told on him. After than happened Winter and her family struggled throughout their life. I liked this book. The reason I liked it was because it explains how people struggled and how good things come to an end and everything that happens in the dark comes out in the light one day. I would recommend this book to a friend.
Nelson Mandela by Allan Trussell-Cullen
Review by B.
I just read Nelson Mandela. I enjoyed the book very much. Nelson Mandela was a good leader. I can relate to him because he was in prison. He always kept his beliefs in prison. He fought for his country and changed laws making people free and equal. The book inspired me to not fight and to think about issues. He believed in talking to people.
Review by R.
Darcy Wills is a student at Bluford high school with one special friend Brishana Meeks. Their friendship is put to the test when Brishana gets made and jealous of Darcy being friends with “the zeros” because she doesn’t like them. Ever since then they have been enemies and the tension gets worse when Darcy learns that Brisana is after her boyfriend Hakeen. Darcy is tired of being calm and being nice so she is now triggered with the thought Brisana and knows she wants to do something so she takes things to the next level.
Review by R.
Ben McKee is a kid who lives with his mother. Suddenly his mother is all in love with her boyfriend Larry and they are getting married. So Ben and his mother leave a great home to an even “greater one” (as his mother thinks). But all that changes when Ben’s stepfather starts leaving bruises on his mother’s body and it gets even worse when Larry starts putting his hands on Ben. Ben then gets a job to try and stay out of the house as long as he can but then his stepfather starts taking his money.
Schooled by Paul Langan
Review by R.
Lionel Shephard is a really good basketball player. His dad doesn’t pay him very much attention with all of his work and his mom is out of town on work duty. Lionel cannot read and his teachers really don’t know that so Lionel has to read and is save by the bell but over the weekend he has to prepare himself for the upcoming Monday of reading. Lionel is fed up and moves out of his house and moves in with his friend but his friend is just a party freak so he introduces Lionel to drinking and he ends up in the hospital.
No Way Out by Peggy Kern
Review by R.
Harold goes to Bluford high and is a freshman that lives with his grandmother. After his grandmother has a very hard fall down her apartment stairs Harold is threatened with take out of his grandmother’s custody. With the threat of that Harold also has been scared with medical bills that need to be paid so he gets a job but no sooner does Harold get a job, he turns to the biggest drug dealer on the streets.
Caught up in the Drama by Reshonda Tate Billingsly
Review by R.
Camille is a part of the good girlz and they’ve been best friends for a while. But she’s never told them she has a talent and that is her voice. Camille can sing and she gets picked to be in the Sisco’s (a rapper) new video. Camille loses her boyfriend and closest friends because of her new attitude. Camille has to kiss Sisco and with kissing Sisco things get deeper when he lifts her leg and is feeling up on her. She tells him she is uncomfortable and he says that it will be cut from the video but the
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
Nicole Castro was a rich, beautiful girl. Everyone thought so. She’d recently won a beauty contest for a scholarship. But she was also smart and kind. People said those things about her too. Then one day while she was rushing to class someone popped up out of nowhere and squirted acid into her face, into her left eye, leaving her scarred for life. But the question is, who did it? And why? Enter Jay Nazzaro, rhymes with Sbarro. He has epilepsy and knows what it’s like to be embarrassed in front of the entire school while unconsciously flopping around on the floor while everyone takes pictures and videos to post online of his public seizure. He’s intent on making everyone think he’s stupid by using an old flip phone and asking the cute girl behind the Starbucks counter how to text his father back. But looks can be deceiving. Jay is a hacker who likes to keep his computer parts looking cheap and worthless. His flip phone is smarter than any smart phone around and he’s determined to figure out who is the cruelest person in his hometown. Who would burn Nicole Castro? Is it her boyfriend? One of the teachers? One of Nicole’s rich tennis friends? Or someone else entirely? Jay and Nicole have never even talked to each other before but they may just become the best of friends, if not something more.
I picked up this book and right away I couldn’t put it down. There is a romance in it, but it’s very understated. Jay continually tells people he and Nicole are not in a relationship. The medical issues in the book, Jay’s seizures and Nicole’s acid burns, are spot on well researched and written to be easily understood. It helps that the author, Paul Griffin, is a volunteer EMT who also works with at-risk , special needs, and incarcerated teens, which brings a realness to his writing. This is not your typical mystery. There is no dead body. No murder. Instead, Jay is trying to figure out who would want to burn Nicole’s face. Half of her face is gone. She’s having to go to the hospital for skin grafts, where the doctor takes skin from another part of her body and uses it to cover her face. Never-the-less, her face won’t be the same again. She won’t be the same again. And the truth of what happened will astound you. You won’t see it coming. This is a fast read, but make sure you’ve got the time to read it cover to cover. You won’t want to put this one down.
Our TBOM book discussion group will be talking about it on October 1st, next Tuesday! Come in and get your copy today so you can join us next week for snack food and a good conversation!