Eleanor & Park Book Review



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Review:

A fairly angsty teen romance between an Irish/Korean boy and an overweight redhead with a bad family situation, set in a working class neighborhood in Omaha in the 80s. Beautifully written, and I thought it did a good job of capturing the intensity of young love, and the teen years in general.

My rating: (4 / 5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 3 Review



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Review:

Though not quite as consistent as Book 2, Book 3 is a strong and satisfying conclusion to the series, with many excellent episodes and an especially strong character arc for Zuko.

My rating: (4.5 / 5)

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Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 2 Review

Review:



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My favorite season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Starting with the introduction of Toph in episode six, “The Blind Bandit,” the show knocks it out of the park with a string of almost unbroken awesome until the season finale.

Along with Toph, who is tied with Iroh as my favorite character in the show, the season also introduces Zuko’s badass sister Azula and her equally badass friends Mai and Ty Lee as new antagonists, cementing Avatar’s position as one of the best depictions of strong, complex, and diverse female characters on television.

My rating: (5 / 5)

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Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 1 Review



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Review:

Avatar: The Last Airbender is not just one of the best children’s tv shows I’ve ever seen, it’s one of the best tv shows, period. The worldbuilding and character development are amazing, the animation quality is good (and sometimes outstanding), and there’s an enjoyable blend of action, humor, adventure, and more.

I do consider Book One to be the weakest season overall, but it’s still highly enjoyable, for the whole family.

My rating: (4 / 5)

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Mulan

Review:



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The single best Disney movie to show to girls (and boys), in my opinion.

Although Disney has gotten much better at presenting well-rounded and interesting heroines in recent years, many Disney movies still focus ultimately on romance. In Mulan, by contrast, the romance is a minor and understated subplot, and the focus is squarely on Mulan’s quest to save her father’s life and bring honor to her family. Along the way, her cleverness, resourcefulness, and quick thinking save China as well.

In addition to providing a great role model, Mulan also has some great songs, lots of action and humor, and lovely animation. A must-have for any family video collection.

My rating: (5 / 5)

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame



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Review:

Okay, I have seriously mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it mystifies me how Disney thought it would be a good idea to make a children’s animated musical out of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo’s novel had to be butchered and bowdlerized almost beyond recognition to make it even semi-appropriate for children, and despite the butchering and bowdlerizing, it’s still full of dark themes that are, imo, inappropriate and confusing for young children. This essential darkness melds very poorly with the elements intended to make it more appealing to younger audiences, resulting in a sort of thematic whiplash. Goofy gargoyles do a big song and dance number one minute, Frollo sings about burning Esmeralda at the stake if she won’t agree to become his lover the next. It doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, most of the songs are excellent, and Frollo is one of Disney’s best and most terrifying villains.

It’s worth watching for the incredible Heaven’s Light/Hellfire sequence alone.

Malificent is, and probably always will be, my favorite Disney villain, but she’s fundamentally a creature of fantasy and therefore truly frightening only to Disney’s youngest audience members. Evil fairies don’t exist in the real world. Frollo, on the other hand, is a distinctly human brand of evil. His hypocrisy and cruelty are terrifying in their very mundaneness – most adults have known a Frollo or two, or at least known somebody who has, and few will remember the encounter happily. For that reason, he is one of the few Disney villains that is probably scarier for the adults than the children in the audience.

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My rating: (2.5 / 5)

Lilo & Stitch Movie Review



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Review:

One of the most under-rated Disney movies, in my opinion. The wacky hijinks of little Lilo and her alien “dog” are enjoyable and often laugh-out-loud funny (“Oh good, my dog found the chainsaw”) but the action and humor disguise a poignant message about the importance of family – both blood, and chosen. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”

My rating:  (4 / 5)

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