It was spring break and we had lots of time for reading and watching movies.
The Hound of Rowan is the first book in the Tapestry series by Henry Neff. For a debut author/illustrator, the book is quite a feat! Plotwise, Max is a 12 year old whose mother is missing and whose father is an ad exec in Chicago. On his mother's birthday, they go to the Chicago Art Institute to look at her favorite paintings, and Max discovers he is being followed by someone with a scary eye. He enters a blocked off room and while there sees a supernatural vision of a tapestry. Max is soon invited to attend a special school for "Potentials," a Hogwarts-esque place for tweens and teens with magical skills. Adventures ensue immediately--some of which are quite scary. Toward the end of this volume, the young people's dangerous situation turns rather dark. We were listening to this as a book-on-CD in the car on a road trip, and I winced at certain parts, as my 7 year old and 4 year-old were listening. It's a great debut effort by Neff. The writing is crisp and the characters very well drawn.
The other book we listened to on CD was This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch. It is the second book in a series (a thing I didn't realize when I checked it out from the library) but it's explained well enough to stand alone, especially about 15 minutes into the story after the narrator finishes waxing eloquent about the merits of chocolate. (I love food talk, personally.) The story centers on Cassandra, a tween who with her two friends must find The Tuning Fork, a special ancient fork that can make food (or any substance) into the eater's favorite dish--or at least taste like it. It's a dangerous weapon, and it is desired by the evil "Midnight Sun" society. Cassandra and friends must keep it out of their hands. Meanwhile Cassandra is seeking for the true identity of her parents, as she was a foundling. The kids loved this book, and I found it pretty entertaining as well. The self-aware narrator made it fun, and the recording had fantastic dramatization with half a dozen actors voicing the characters.
For a book freak like me, The Hunger Games was a feast. The film stayed remarkably true to the books, and in fact made the main character more likable than she was in the story. In the off chance you haven't read the books, the plot is in a nutshell, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be proxy for her baby sister in a state-required teenage fight to the death. The stakes are incredibly high, and they just keep ratcheting up. The film portrayed the nurturing side of Katniss better than the books did (for me) and I found her to be even more sympathetic. I rooted for her from start to finish, and I felt Peeta's love for her (and Gale's as well) intensely. So well done! My husband came out of the theater thinking "Meh," probably because he has to have more comic relief than the film provided, but I was loving it! It's just great storytelling.