Thursday, November 10, 2011


Words have an impact, a point that is illustrated beautifully in Kathryn Otoshi's One.

One isn't the loneliest number anymore!

You might be thinking to yourself, "Girl, why you reviewing a children's book?" and I might answer you, "I liked it." At this point I might also stick my tongue out, completely invalidating the message of standing up to bullies and doing so without being a completely rude canoodle that the book actually makes.

I really did love this book, though. I used to teach 4 and 5 year olds and this was one of the books that we used. It captured the message in a simple way that didn't bog the kids down with the superfluous.

Even at their young age they could relate to the story of Blue and Red. They really took the message to heart that it 'only takes one to stand up'. After we did (you don't read to children, you do books with them. Let them guess about what happens next, let them re-enact portions of it, they need to interact with it) the book once we saw the kids in our class try to be more inclusive. They wanted to play with other children that they normally wouldn't play with and stood up for students that were being left out.

Without going into specifics (spoiler free and all) this book has a great anti-bullying message that can be told not just through the words on the page, but through the artwork that shares the story.

As well as the anti-bullying, this book can be used to teach colors, including the hard to learn color grey, and numbers. Each number needs to stand up and 'count'. It can also be used to help a child learn sequencing and to determine which situation will come next.

I even started the book by going through each color/character and asking the students what each color made them feel. The book gives each color their own characteristic as well so after reading it I asked each student which color they felt the most like. This helps each student learn to empathize a little bit with their peers.

Such a simple book, but so many different lessons it can teach. It is definitely one that  I am going to get for my future children one day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

21 Jump Street

This one might not be so spoiler-y because this review is coming to you from the future. Waaahhhhhooooooooo.

Not really. But I am going to attempt a review of a movie that hasn't come out yet just based on it's trailer and the source material. If this review makes it so that I eat crow later on, well, I'll eat it, but I somehow don't think I'm going to have to.

This is the red band trailer, so it's probably a bit more risque, though I watched it and saw nothing too terrible. 

This movie is based on the 80's era tv series of the same name helmed by the late Stephen J Cannell. Running from 1987 to 1991 it starred Holly Robinson, Steven Williams, Peter Deluise, Dustin Nguyen, and Johnny Depp. It revolved around a group of officers that looked young enough to pass as high school students in order to break up crimes. The show gave us a variety of different plots that were topical at the time. In the first season there was an episode that dealt with AIDS; they had plots that dealt with rape, hate crimes based not only on race but on sexuality, prostitution, gangs, and of course, drugs. Those are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. This was a show, marketed to teens and young adults, where kids died. They got shot, they died from drug overdoses, they were prostitutes.

Some of the episodes were a little silly (they had their moments), kind of melodramatic as most shows of the time were. But I think the show tried to treat the subject matters as things that were serious and to handle them as respectfully as possible.

I must stress that I was actually kind of excited about this movie when I first heard it was being made. I thought, how awesome would it be to see them update the story to deal with things that are more contemporary. This is kind of what they might be doing, but from what I can see in the trailer for the new movie "based on the 21 Jump Street series" helmed by Jonah Hill and starring the same this serious cop drama has been turned into a comedy. It seemed like, if the writers and producers watched the original, they could not get passed the melodrama of an 80's and thought that it was supposed to be funny. Let's update it, but we're gonna make it all funny.

One of the biggest things in the trailer shows two of the officers deciding to throw a party so they can figure out who is selling drugs in the school. Not only do they buy alcohol for underage students, they also take the drugs themselves because they need to prove that they aren't narcs. This is something that would never have happened in the original show; in the original they delved into the ethical gray areas that these officers would have to face as they were undercover as minors participating with minors that might be drinking or doing drugs. It wasn't treated as a joke.

To me, it seems like Jonah Hill is trying to re-do Superbad but realizes that he's not an entirely believable high school aged teen anymore.

I hope that I am proven wrong. Even though I was much to young to watch this show when it first aired I did get into it during my own teen years (and I still enjoy it, not being that far out of my teen years). I got into it for the Johnny Depp, but I stayed for the rest of the cast, even watching the last seasons when Johnny Depp was doing anything he could to get out of his contract and when he finally wasn't even on it anymore. It was never a comedy. It had light-hearted moments, but first and foremost it was a cop drama.