Friday, November 26, 2010

My Neighbor Totoro DVD - Rated G


Read the Back:

Enter a whimsical "garden of earthly delights" (The New York Times), in this enchanting fantasy adventure that has become an international favorite of children around the world.

Deep inside a tree trunk, two children discover a fascinating new world inhabited by Totoros - amazing, charming creatures who become their friends. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are furry, lovable and ready to do wondrous, magical fly over mountains and make giant trees grow in the middle of the night! Best of all, Totoros can't be seen by adults, only the children who love them.

With its imaginative characters, heartwarming story and striking animation by the award-winning Hayao Miyazaki, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is "certain to delight" (Los Angeles Times) again and again.

My Thoughts:

This is a very enchanting film for "children" of all ages. We purchased this DVD on a whim since we have liked several of Hayao Miyazaki's films and we were NOT disappointed in the least! My daughter (2.5 yrs. old) watches this film repeatedly in any given day. She really enjoys the Totoros which look similar to bunnies or teddy bears. She also really enjoys the music that plays during the credits. What I love about this movie is that even if we watch it multiple times in a row there is always something new to discover in it. Also, it's not annoying as most children's DVDs can be.

I found the back of the DVD to not really hit on the plot description so here is a basic run down without spoiling the movie.

The main characters are sisters named Mei (4 yrs.) and Satsuki (10 yrs.) and they have a mother who is ill and in the hospital. They move into a new house with their dad and discover that there is more to their new place than they expected. They befriend the Totoros and have a few adventures along the way.

Just in case you are wondering what a Totoro is exactly...

What is Totoro?

He has been called many things from "a giant furry thing" to "a rabbit-like spirit". Basically, he is a spirit of the forest. Totoro is not a traditional Japanese character, he came completely from Miyazaki's imagination. However, he is obviously a mixture of several animals: tanukis (ie. the raccoon dog, a wild dog similar to raccoons), cats (the pointed ears and the facial expressions), and owls (the chevron markings on their chests and the "ooo"-ing sound they make with their ocarinas at night).

The name "Totoro" comes from Mei mispronouncing (she has a tendency to do so, though it wasn't clear in the dub) the word "tororu", which is the Japanese word for "troll". When Satsuki asks her "Totoro? You mean, the Troll in our book?" she is referring to their book "Three Mountain Goats" (The Three Billy Goats Gruff). In the closing credits you can see their mother reading the book to them. Although it's hard to see it on the tape, in the picture book for the movie you can see the picture on the cover shows a goat running over a bridge while a Totoro-like troll looks up from underneath the bridge.

I would give this DVD a 5 out of 5 stars as I found it engaging and not annoying :D

Monday, November 22, 2010

ALPHIE GIVEAWAY - Details at end of Post


Created by Playskool


Who better to explore the world with than someone who's new to it? This ALPHIE robot is on a "field trip" from his home planet and, with a kooky grin and funny faces, it's his "mission" to explore the world! There's practically nothing this little dynamo doesn't want to "talk about" -- from letter sounds and shape sorting to patterns, cause and effect, vocabulary development and much more, your ALPHIE robot is like a classroom in one little portable robot buddy. Educational fun on-the-go is as easy as can be, too, with this little guy's handled noggin and storage spot for his cards in his backpack. There's a whole lot to discover when you're a preschooler and this ALPHIE figure shares one of the most important lessons, too: learning can be tons of fun!

Product Description:
Now more lifelike than ever before, this learning buddy boasts an LCD screen to depict facial expressions, a childlike friendly voice and a playful, inquisitive personality making ALPHIE robot not just a learning toy, but a beloved companion. Along with an animated personality that children will adore, this modern ALPHIE friend from PLAYSKOOL features important educational activities that help develop early learning skills in toddlers. With their playful ALPHIE pal leading the way, preschoolers can learn the alphabet, rhyming, counting, colour and shape recognition, matching, animal names, instrument sounds and much more! The new and improved ALPHIE learning companion has a sleek new look and convenient carrying handle and comes with thirty double-sided cards containing over 350 fun questions and challenges. Alphie language will have the Canadian Pronunciation of the letter "Z" as well as Canadian spelling of the word "colour" Requires three "AA" batteries, included.

Add even more educational fun to your child's ALPHIE robot (sold separately) with this fun booster pack of number-themed cards! Help your little learner choose from 25 double-sided cards with more than 300 questions and challenges featuring all kinds of number excitement. From counting to 20 and number-object correspondence to amount comparisons, money funamentals and more, there's a whole "world" of discovery waiting to be explored!

Set includes 25 double-sided cards and is geared for ages 3 and up. Also available is the Playskool Alphie Bookster Pack – Letters.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Which None Can Shut


by Reema Goode

Read the Back:
“See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.” REVELATION 3:8

Imagine a place where becoming a Christian is a punishable crime – and your own family exacts the punishment. Where those who spread the Gospel among locals are deported if discovered. Where converts to Christianity face persecution, isolation, or even death as the price for their faith.

“Reema Goode” and her family are Christians working in a closed Middle Eastern country where all of these things are true. Yet they are also firsthand witnesses of a whole new world, where an unprecedented number of Muslims are becoming followers of Jesus.

In this powerful collection of personal stories, Reema takes us deep inside her Arab neighborhood to show how God is opening doors in just one of many Islamic communities. As she walks us through everyday life in a Muslim town, she reveals the diverse, creative, unexpected, and thrilling ways God is reaching her neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This encouraging, uplifting, and even humorous firsthand account of a Christian family living among Muslims will inspire you in your own walk of faith, teach you how to pray for Muslims and those who minister to them, and encourage you with the knowledge that God’s loving Light is penetrating the darkness.

My Thoughts:
What an amazing testimony of how lives are being changed in the Muslim world and about the power of prayer! This collection of stories will touch your life in ways you never thought possible. I found it to be a great insight into the lives and culture of the Muslim people. The moments that Reema speaks about when a seeking Muslim person finally “sees it” brought me great joy and spread a smile across my face. These testimonies are similar to many of our stories. There are many prejudices towards those of Middle Eastern descent (especially after the tragedy of 9/11). I think that this book can help alleviate some prejudice as well as some ignorance that western society has. It is quite important for us to continue praying for the Middle East and those that are living in the dark. God is doing AMAZING work there!! Each story in this book blessed me in a different way and opened my eyes to the amazing power of God and of prayer. Please pick this book up for yourself and/or someone you know and help eradicate ignorance!

This review was made possible because I received a copy of Which None Can Shut from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching Moondrops


by Jennifer Erin Valent

Read the Back:
Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she has grown up. Having just turned nineteen in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of.
But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett – a young, black doctor – comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface.
The tension starts to bubble over when Miss Cleta, Jessilyn’s neighbor, becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that anger can make her heart as full of hate as the Klan members who have terrorized her family and her town.

My Thoughts:
This is book 3 in a series of books by Jennifer Valent. The first book is called Fireflies in December, followed by the second book, Cottonwood Whispers. This book, Catching Moondrops, is incredibly well written. The author transports the reader back into a time when whites and blacks were separated from each other and the tension between them was at its peak. At times it feels as though you are reading two different books as you have the love story plot lines and the racial tension plot lines. This keeps the book very interesting. I found myself not knowing what could happen next. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to portray the hatred that Jessilyn was feeling towards some of the characters based on their actions. I also really like how Jessilyn struggles with her faith like many people must have during that time period, and still do now for that matter.
I really like how you forget that Jessilyn is only 19. She encounters things that no one, no matter what age, should have to deal with. I have a very hard time imagining what it must’ve been like for someone to live during that time period, but Jennifer Valent really paints the picture of the language, mannerisms, and conflicts that were rampant in the south. One of my favorite parts of the book is the dialect. I can really “hear” the southern drawl of the characters. You can, based on the dialect, picture the mannerisms that the characters must’ve been using (i.e.: a curt nod of the head, a little curtsy, etc.)

Again, a very well written book and I highly recommend it!

This review was possible because I received a copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.