Really Wild Animals is an excellent nature series from the always reliable National Geographic catalog. I picked up one video tape in the series at a local thrift shop and was impressed enough to track down several others in the Ventura County Library collections.
Though geared for young people, the beautifully-photographed and fast-paced footage will easily appeal to adults as well.
Everyone should be entertained by Spin, a jovial animated globe/planet Earth, who introduces and narrates each episode. Voiced by versatile British actor/comic Dudley Moore, Spin provides an energetic verbal flow of puns, wise-cracks, and, of course, information in a rapid-fire stream that both informs and entertains. This is definitely not one of those talking head (talking globe?) documentaries.
More information is provided by contemporary-styled songs which back up the animal footage.
Each episode explores a different natural environment. The library collection has nine volumes, including Polar Prowl and Deep Sea Dive. I especially enjoyed Totally Tropical Rain Forest and Wonders Down Under. The DVD versions also include bonus episodes and a few extras.
Online user reviews are mostly positive, and someone noted that "the DVDs are informative without being explicit. No zebras being eaten here!" Which is fine with me, though the concept of predator and prey and environmental threats are touched upon as well.
I see these DVDs as great for inspiring an early love and respect for the variety and wonder of the natural world and its amazing creatures. After all, more explicit reality will kick in soon enough.
In 1989, Tom Clancy brought back Jack Ryan, the hero of his earlier novel Patriot Games (1987), for a 700-page tome exploring the American war on drugs. Clear and Present Danger is a true doorstop of a book, featuring a large and potentially confusing cast of characters operating across continents in service of a mission about which few are in possession of all the details. The 1994 film version—starring Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, and Joaquim de Almeida—greatly simplifies the cast and plot while still managing to deliver a powerful and compelling story that covers much of the same thematic ground as its source material.
|Mustering up the will to crack open Clear and Present Danger can be tough, especially if you aren’t used to novels of this size, but Clancy does a good job of starting strong with a series of compelling events that pull you into the plot immediately. What is less apparent from the start is how the various characters and settings are ultimately going to tie together, but the slow reveal there is, after all, part of the appeal of the genre. Our introduction to the novel’s plot is the brutal murder of a family aboard their boat by two drug runners, an event which leads to the revelation that the boat owner was involved with laundering large sums of money for a Colombian drug cartel. The President of the United States decides on a course of action—motivated in no small part by an upcoming election—which is designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs into the country and involves a good deal of clandestine action abroad. When the cartel begins pushing back, things begin to unravel, and Jack Ryan is faced with the task of uncovering exactly what is going on and finding a way to minimize the damage as powerful political entities threaten to sweep the operation under the rug.|
|The film version of Clear and Present Danger, directed by Phillip Noyce, is a pretty typical example of what tends to happen when a book is adapted for the screen: characters disappear or are merged, certain scenes and subplots are eliminated, and the story as a whole is somewhat simplified. However, the film is also an example of how these types of changes do not necessarily harm the final product. Noyce’s version did not suffer as a result of its adaptation; the film was well-received, managing to adequately capture the essence of Clancy’s original while accommodating the fundamental differences between the two formats. Harrison Ford gives a strong performance as Jack Ryan, shifting seamlessly between scenes of intrigue and action and ably supported by such talents as James Earl Jones and Raymond Cruz, in addition to Dafoe and de Almeida. And while simplified, the story holds its own as an entity independent of the book, and can be fully appreciated by audiences who are wholly unfamiliar with the original—something which cannot always be said of lazier adaptations. Simply put, Clear and Present Danger is not only good by the standards of adaptations, it is good by the standards of movies in general.|
Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library in both book and audiobook (cassette) format, or you can download the eBook to your device through OverDrive. The film is also available at Foster as part of our first-floor DVD collection. If the version you are interested in is not on the shelf at your local branch, you can request for a copy to be delivered to your home branch in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.
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Grab a bookmark/coupon at any of our Ventura County Libraries or use the discount code:
** Cannot be combined with any other offer. Offer expires August 29, 2014.
Book reports and book reviews are similar. Book reports tend to be a little more descriptive: what is this book about, who are the characters, what are the plots, what is the conclusion? Book reviews are usually more persuasive: why should or shouldn't a reader read this book? Both offer a combination of summary and commentary.
For book reviews you want to provide basic information about the book, and a sense of what your experience reading the book was. You should include:
Analysis and Evaluation
Try to get the main theme of the book across in the beginning of your review so your reader knows right away if they want to read the book.
Next, analyze or critique the book. You can write about your own opinions, but be sure to explain and give examples. Don't try to summarize each chapter or every angle. Choose the main idea/ideas or characters that are most significant and interesting to you.
Some questions you might want to consider (you do not need to use all of these):
- Did the author achieve his or her purpose?
- Is the writing effective, powerful, difficult, beautiful?
- What are the strengths or weaknesses of the book?
- What is your overall response to the book? Did you find it interesting, moving, dull?
- Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?
- You may want to say what impression the book left you with, or emphasize what you want your reader to know about it.
- While you're writing, try thinking of your reader as a friend to whom you're telling a story.
Book reviews of children’s and young adult books by their readers are always welcomed and encouraged by library staff. Look for book review forms in many new books or ask our staff on the children’s floor for one. We do ask that the book you review is age-appropriate (would your teacher accept this book for a book report?) and that it be a new book (from our new book shelves with a pink dot on it). To thank each reviewer for their input we will present them with a Hershey’s candy bar. Only one book review per week, per reviewer please.
These book reviews help the library staff and your fellow readers as well. Happy reading!
This event has been postponed because of excessive heat - please watch for a rescheduled date!
On May 14, E.P. Foster Library will be hosting local author Jeffrey Wayne Maulhardt. Mr. Maulhardt is known for his volumes on local Ventura County history, and will be discussing some of his recent works at this free event. You can check out his website for more information on his career and other writings.
This talk has been postponed!
The Wild and Wonderful World of Herbs
Fillmore Library Wednesday May 7, 4pm
Join Janine Reese, owner of the Scented Path and The Fillmore Wellness Center, for a reading of Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn Galbraith.
There will be herbs to touch and smell and a raffle for two books.
Attendees will learn about the history of the art of spinning and weaving. The talk will be followed by a demonstration of techniques.
It all starts at 2 p.m. in the Topping Room. If you’re looking for a fun weekend event, come on by!
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