Thursday, July 31, 2014


Instructions Not Included /No Se Aceptan Devoluciones is the story of Valentin, a playboy whose life changes overnite. In the middle of a love triangle, he answers a knock at the door. Standing in the doorway is an old girlfriend with a baby girl in her arms. The expression on Valentin's face says it all. She places the baby in his arms and rushes to catch a cab. Now, he’s a single dad with no clue what to do with a baby!

Eugenio Derbez (Valentin) and Loreto Peralta as six-year-old Maggie are a talented duo. In a couple of scenes they are wearing matching father-daughter outfits. The movie is filled with surprises. First, Valentin bonds with the baby by jumping from a ten story building into a pool to rescue her. With that leap, his life as a stuntman begins. He has to face his fears with every jump, but it’s worth the income and the time he gets to spend with his little girl.

Instructions Not Included is one of the top five most successful foreign films in U. S. history.  The story twists and turns and keeps you guessing right up until the very end. Derbez,  co-writer, director and star of the film, exhibits a full gamut of emotions throughout. His face is fascinating to watch!  

If you like Instructions Not Included, check out It's Not You, It's Me (No Eres Tu, Soy Yo), also at the Virginia Beach Public Library.I laughed all the way through the movie. And here's a hint: if you like dogs, you will like this comedy.

Derbez plays a cardiovascular surgeon jilted by his wife only a week after their wedding. Wallowing in self-pity, he drives everyone around him crazy, including his best friend, his in-laws, his parent, his co-workers and even his psychiatrist! I recommend both Instructions Not Included and It's Not You, It's Me. Both are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birders [videorecording] : The Central Park Effect


Birders: the Central Park effect, a documentary film directed by Jeffrey Kimball, focuses on the wide variety of migratory birds inhabiting Central Park and the pleasures of bird-watching. Spring, summer, autumn and winter, bird-watchers or 'birders', congregate with binoculars looking up through the trees, hoping to get a glimpse of nature’s treasures. Kimball describes his first excursion into Central Park, “it was as though I stepped through a portal into a wild world in my own backyard.”

And his backyard is the landing ground for over 200 species of birds. For four years he wandered through the park filming birds and interviewing birders. This DVD comes with a little booklet containing a Birding Log and pictures of over 100 of the birds seen in Central Park, much more than just pigeons and swallows.

A few years ago I won a birdfeeder and seed in a raffle. I placed the feeder outside my window and watched the birds every morning. A cardinal was a frequent visitor. One of the birders in the film commented to his friends, " Do you ever get tired of looking at a cardinal?"  My answer is, no!

Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in love : a wildlife drama in Central Park points out in the film how migrant birds fly over Manhattan just looking for a patch of green. If you would like to learn more about the red-tailed hawks in Central Park, check out Red-tails in love at the Virginia Beach Public Library. Or, if you would like to attract birds to your own backyard check out Best-ever backyard birding tips : hundreds of easy ways to attract the birds you love to watch.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whose Nest? by Victoria Cochrane

Children ages 4 to 8 are in for a treat when they peek behind the flaps in Whose Nest?

Does a gecko have a nest? Does a bumblebee? A tree frog? I read this book to a group of four and five year olds and learned a thing or two myself. A nest is a shelter for keeping eggs or young animals safe. And it is not always made of twigs and sticks.

If you want a nonfiction picture book that's large enough to read to a group, this book is perfect. Children can guess who each nest belongs to as they learn new vocabulary, an early literacy skill. The nest on the cover, made of moss, sticks and feathers, is actually very tiny and can barely be seen in a tree. It belongs to the hummingbird. Put this title on your list of books to use in a science center in a classroom along with sticks, twigs, feathers, shredded paper and whatever else you can find so children can create their own nests. Tell stories about who might live in the nests to encourage narrative skills.

If you and your child are interested in birds and what they use to build their nests, check out Mama Built a Little Nest, a picture book with colorful cut paper collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins.

Want to learn together about why a nesting bird is so quiet while other birds whistle, twitter and caw?  Or, what to do if you find a bird sitting on her nest? Read Rita Gray's book Have You Heard The Nesting Bird? It includes a mock interview with a robin. Find it here in the Virginia Beach Public Library catalog.


Monday, July 28, 2014

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

Under the dust jacket for The Nesting Place is a smooth cover that looks like scraped chalk paint. Inside the journal-sized book Myquillyn Smith, aka “The Nester” in the blogging world, shares a personal history of the homes she has lived in and the lessons she has learned from decorating them.

According to her Imperfectionist Manifesto: “Home should be the safest place on earth." A place of rest, creativity and beauty. A place where you have the freedom to take risks in decorating. Do you have a piece of furniture or art you love? Use it. Smith believes if you love it, it works! She found a giant sailfish on Craigslist and hung it on her wall.

The Nesting Place is full of fun quotes, calligraphy, Bible verses, and plenty of color photographs to inspire you.

"Quieting a room" is a technique Smith uses to survey what she already has and what she needs. She strips a room down to its’ bare bones, taking out all the small stuff and clutter. Without all the visual shouting, the room speaks to her. She listens, making a mental list of what she wants to change.

And, if you are a renter, don't despair. Smith includes her “Top Eleven Reasons Renting is Awesome.”  Renting forces you to work within what she calls “Lovely Limitations.”

Smith’s creative decorating has been featured in such shelter magazines as Better Homes and Gardens’ Do It Yourself Magazine, available online through VBPL's Zinio Magazine Collection.

If you like The Nesting Place, try Inspired You: Letting God Breathe New Life Into Your Heart and Home by Marian Parsons aka Miss Mustard Seed, also a blogger.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

Being thin and awkward, Beauty hardly lives up to her nickname, especially when compared to her two exceptional sisters. But she is happy in her life--living with her sisters and father in their small cottage--until the day her father returns and tells them of his unfortunate journey and the promise that will take Beauty away from her family to live in an enchanted caste with a terrifying monster.

This retelling of the classic, French fairy tale is like no other. The story is filled with details and plot that have never been explored and work together to make the tale more realistic and engaging. Add to that a heroine who isn’t classically beautiful, but lets her inner beauty shine through her courage and compassion, and you have an amazing fantasy novel that stands apart from the original telling.

When I read this book I became so swept up in the story that I forgot it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast until I reached the end! The characters are incredibly engaging and the events of the book are detailed and rich without becoming dull and plodding. Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors; she has mastered the art of retold classics and has created her own stunning fairy tales. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and theBeast was her first novel and it does not disappoint! McKinley shows a quality and talent for writing like few else have.

If you love Beauty, try Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty). Or if you want something new, try Shadows, an original novel also by Robin McKinley, about an alternate world where magic is outlawed. These great titles and more are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Black Butler directed by Toshiya Shinohara

If you’re looking for a moody, supernatural anime with memorable characters and suspenseful plot, then this is the show for you!

Black Butler revolves around Ciel Phantomhive. Ciel is the most powerful and influential boy in England. He is rich beyond measure and has the bratty attitude to prove it. But Ciel also has a dark secret; after being forced to watch his parents’ murder and being abducted and tortured, Ciel sold his soul to a demon in exchange for revenge on the people who hurt him and his family. This demon—Sebastian--now serves as Ciel’s personal butler. Sebastian works with Ciel to solve the mystery of his parents’ death and find his vengeance while simultaneously protecting his own investment until it is time for the debt to be repaid.

Each episode in this series is a new adventure for the pair and for the other members of Ciel’s staff (all of which are hiding their own dark secrets) as they encounter other demons, grim reapers, and people who aren’t all that they seem. But as the group comes closer to Ciel’s objective, the price of his revenge weighs heavily. Despite the affection Sebastian shows for Ciel, his ultimate goal is unchanged: to eat Ciel's soul.

This show is suspenseful and dark but somehow manages to maintain a lighthearted playfulness at the same time. I sat in shock as the end drew near and kept thinking to myself, “Sebastian can’t eat Ciel’s soul; He wouldn’t! Would he?”

If you love the anime check out the manga of the same name: Black Butler by Yana Toboso. Or if you’re looking for a similar story without the art, try The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (the first book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy). These and more great titles are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Jacob is a little boy just like everyone else. But when Jacob plays with the dress up clothes at school, he doesn’t want to be a firefighter or knight, he wants to wear the princess dress. Some of the kids in his class think he is weird and make fun of Jacob, telling him that, “Boys don’t wear dresses.” But Jacob has a strong support group of teachers and parents who help him feel confident being who he wants to be and wearing what he wants to wear.

I was so excited when I first saw Jacob’s New Dress in the library. It’s such a positive and empowering story about a child who doesn’t follow conventional gender norms and the adults who support him in his decisions without forcing their opinions on him. My favorite part of the book is the father’s response when Jacob proudly shows him his new dress.

Jacob learns that what he wears on the outside doesn’t change who he is on the inside and that he can be a strong person just by accepting himself the way he is. Children and parents can both learn a lot from Jacob’s positive attitude and the brave way he deals with being different.

If you like Jacob’s New Dress, check out My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis and the Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. These titles and many more are available through the Virginia Beach Public Library.