Encanto (2021)

Reviewed by Jen Bremer (Library Staff)

If you haven’t already seen and become OBSESSED with Encanto, run don’t walk to watch this film! It’s a beautiful family saga story worthy of the best family movie nights – blanket forts and all. The Madrigal family is an extraordinary, multigenerational family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed home called the Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift — every child except Mirabel. However, she soon may be the Madrigals last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger. The film follows Mirabel’s journey to save her family home and figure out her place within her family. The film is another Lin Manuel Miranda and Disney film collaboration. The music is phenomenal and will have you singing your heart out long after the film ends. If you love uplifting and magical stories, you’ll love this film.

Located in DVDs (DVD ENCANTO)

Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

Fig, a sixth grader, wants desperately to see the world as her father sees it, but she’s unable to do so. Her dad is a once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years, and whose unpredictable good and bad days keep Fig on her toes. Her mother left the family the day she was born, so it’s always just been Fig and her dad. She’s a science and math nerd, but to try and understand her father better, takes an art class to experience life the way an artist does. Unfortunately, Fig’s dad shows up at school one day, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig, and she’s afraid that life as they know it will come crashing down around them. Before we know it, though, Mark, a neighbor from across the street, intervenes to help with her dad, and for the first time she can remember she’s not on her own. This is a powerful story fueled by a daughter’s love for her father, and what she’ll do to keep him safe.

For ages 10-14

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC MELLEBY)

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

When Rahul Kapoor is about to go to seventh grade, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him a piece of advice to tray and calm his fears: “Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.” Rahul isn’t really sure what it is he’s “best at,” but he’s sure that once he figures it out, things will improve. Rahul has a few things to work on in the meantime. He is bullied at school by Brett Mason, and he finds himself staring quite a bit at his classmate, Justin Emery, but with his best buddy, Chelsea there to support him, he’s ready to take on whatever comes next. But what if he discovers he isn’t the BEST at anything? This is a funny, charming, and incredibly touching story about friendship, family, and the courage it takes to live your truth.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC PANCHOLY)

Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

I think what initially drew me to Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home was that the dog looks just like one of my dogs, but I also can’t say enough good things about the story itself. In this wordless picture book, a young woman finds a homeless dog under a park bench. The dog is very timid and runs away. Over the course of the book, the woman tries to gain the dog’s trust. After days of trying, the story culminates in a fierce thunderstorm, and readers see whether or not the woman’s attempts were successful.

The artwork renders this heartwarming story beautifully, following the woman and the dog through a mix of small and large art panels. Not only that, but the wordless nature of the book gives children and parents the opportunity to interpret what the two characters might be thinking and/or feeling. I never thought a picture book could make me so emotional, and it has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. I highly recommend this book!

Available through the Bridges Library System

You Be You! The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family by Jonathan Brafman, illustrated by Julie Benbasset

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

This is a very factual and simply written book for children, discussing all kinds of things about love, attraction, marriage, the decisions about whether to have or not have children, as well as extensive information concerning gender identity. Written for children, it includes lots of colorful pictures, and does a great job of explaining phrases children may not have heard before. The chapters are short, and very easy to follow, and the entire book has a very kid-friendly vibe without being the least bit “cutesy.” I think this will be helpful to kids of all ages and their parents (and teachers.) I highly recommend it as a very good read about subjects that are often daunting to approach, approached in a very calm and informational manner.

Located in Children’s Nonfiction (J 305.3 BRA)

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

This incredible poetry book by Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander is not to be missed. Originally performed for an ESPN program of the same name, “The Undefeated” highlights the struggles, the trauma, the perseverance, the persistence and ultimately the hope of the African American experience in the United States. Beautiful illustrations by Kadir Nelson show famous African-Americans (Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, just to name a few) and highlight lesser known heroes as well (African American soldiers during the civil war, for example). A stunning title that stays with you long after you read it.

Located in Children’s Nonfiction (J 811.6 ALE)

Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Spencer has a new pet. This pet is a bit unique, however–it’s a balloon. Spencer loves his pet and wants to take him everywhere–to the vet, the park, a birthday party–but dangers for his pet lurk everywhere: a porcupine! A fork! A cactus! What is Spencer to do when the inevitable happens? The twist ending will take you by surprise and the illustrations are flawless and engaging. A wordless book that’s a bit quirky for kids but amusing for adults.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E SIMA)

Aladdin (2019)

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I was apprehensive for the new live-action version of Aladdin, because I grew up with the classic animated film (I even had a stuffed Rajah!) But I love all things Disney, so I was willing to give the new movie version a chance. And while it was not as good as the original, it was an entertaining movie that captured the spirit of Aladdin.

My favorite part about this new version was the costumes; they were gorgeous! The bright colors and fabulous jewels created an amazing visual. The scenery was stunning as well, from the palace gardens to the busy street market, I was transported. The music and songs were good, but not as great as the original movie. However, I was glad that Jasmine got her own song to sing.

So while this movie is a step down from the original, I would still recommend watching it because the costumes and scenery are amazing, and it is enjoyable for nostalgic purposes.

Located in DVDs (DVD ALADDIN)

Overboard (2018)

Reviewed by Kelsey (Library Staff)

When it comes to movie remakes, the remake is generally never as good as the original. This could be because the remake doesn’t hold the same memories, we become attached to certain actors and actresses in a role, or we are just bitter because the movie industry can’t seem to come out with any original ideas. No matter the reason, I went into this movie fully expecting to see a carbon copy of the beloved original and to be unimpressed on all fronts. I will say I was pleasantly surprised. There is no doubt they pulled heavily from the original, but reversed the roles with Anna Faris playing a single mom to three girls and Eugenio Derbez playing a wealthy Hispanic playboy with amnesia. With their humor and the slight plot twists the studio felt like throwing in, this remake was fun enough that I don’t regret the time I spent watching it, but at the same time it isn’t anything I would feel the need to run out and buy for my personal collection. That said, if you are looking for a fun and light family movie that will have everyone in the room smiling and laughing, then this is the perfect fit for you.

Located in DVDs (DVD OVERBOARD)

Far From the Tree (2018)

Reviewed by Kelsey (Library Staff)

Every family is different, every child is different and there is no right or wrong formula for how to raise “normal” kids. This documentary, a follow up to the New York Times bestseller, considers the different forms family can take and gives a profoundly human look at families raising children that society deems “abnormal”; a son with Down syndrome, a daughter with dwarfism, a son who is gay, and a couple with a nonverbal autistic son. While this movie should be on everyone’s must watch list in an effort to open our eyes to the wider world around us and to see things from another’s perspective, I do believe it will resonate strongly with those parents who have struggled or are currently struggling to understand their own children. At only an hour and a half long, this documentary holds your attention and your heart strings and I definitely had moments of awe while watching it. It won’t surprise you to see the depth of these parents love for their children, but I think it will shock you how “normal” these children are.

Located in DVDs (DVD 305.9 FAR)

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