Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

June's book club genre was "Book to Movie" - mostly so everyone else could go see The Fault in Our Stars (um no thanks, too depressing). I had a hard time finding a book this month because initially I required the movie to already be on netflix, plus I had to discount all the books and/or movies I'd already seen. I was going to go with a sappy romance (so unlike me!), but then decided on a kids book. I figured this wasn't quite cheating as I'm reading my way through Game of Thrones right now, and that sort of fits with the genre!

June 2014: Book to Movie

Fantastic Mr. Fox
By Roald Dahl
56 pages

Mr. Fox is a professional thief, and the evil farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean are his main targets. One day the farmers decide they've had enough, and set out to find and kill Mr. Fox. In doing so, they destroy the foxes neighbourhood and endanger the lives of all the other burrowing animals who live there. No worries though, clever Mr. Fox devises an ingenious way to feed his family and all the neighbours, while keeping the farmers at bay.

This was a cute and clever book. I've read a lot of Roald Dahl's books but never this one, and I'm glad I did. The familiar illustrations transported me back to my childhood and the Brit speak reminded me of The London Years. Written a long time ago and with a British mentality, it's quite graphic for children, but then again, video games are rotting their minds anyways so I'm sure the murderous text bothered me more than it bothers the wee kiddies.

"How will they kill us, mummy?" asked one of the Small Foxes. His round black eyes were huge with fright. "Will there be dogs?" he said. (p. 18)

"I refuse to let you go up there and face those guns. I'd sooner you stay down here and die in peace." (p. 28)

I read this book via a public library ebook, which isn't quite how I like to read books but at least I could increase the font up to large for my old lady eyes. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking that it would make a good movie and I was looking very forward to seeing the movie adaption...

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Directed by Wes Anderson
87 minutes

...which was...different. Obviously they needed to fill out details to make an entire movie (it's a short kids novel), but everything was...quite different. Not bad different, just different. 

I didn't know the name of the director until the end, and well, that explains everything. In hindsight, it is very much a Wes Anderson movie and as such is quite clever and entertaining. But again, quite different from the book. It's an interestingly visual movie because it was all stop-motion/claymation, which gives it an neat look. It must've taken them for-ever to film!

I enjoyed the movie, but as usual with Book to Movie titles, the book was better. Both are highly recommended for kids and adults alike though!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Book Review: Wonderstruck

I enjoyed The Invention of Hugo Cabret so much that I took a colleague's recommendation and read another book by the same author.

By Brian Selznick
640 pages

After his mother's death, Ben is left a little bit lost. While looking through his mother's house one night, he gets indirectly struck by lightening and is left completely deaf. Ben then runs away to New York City to try find his dad. Rose also runs away to New York City to find her mom. With the help of the American Museum of Natural History, Ben and Rose's stories intertwine and everything is resolved in quite a lovely manner.

Ben's story is told through narration, like a novel, but Rose's story is told through the same full page pencil drawings Selznick so deftly incorporated into Hugo. So both stories are told separately side by side, until at one point they collide and mesh together. Selznick really is a master storyteller, and the beauty of this story comes from the way he tells it, not necessarily from the characters or plot. That being said, this is really a story for people like me - those who love books and libraries and museums - as Ben's mother is a librarian and much of the action takes place in the Natural History Museum. It took me back to when I visited it in NYC last year, and I loved the behind the scenes descriptions. And now I want to visit the Queens Museum of Art to see the Panorama!

I wasn't quite as enraptured by this book as I was by Hugo, but it still is an excellent read, well worth your time to enjoy the beauty of the story as it unfolds in this rather unique way. If you're a museum person who loves a good story, you should especially check it out!