Splendors and Gloom

Splendor's and Gloom.jpgWeird. That is the only way I can describe Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. As far as children’s fiction books go, this is rather dark, and the story is confusing. The story bounces back and forth between different character’s and perspectives, and the real focus of the story does not become clear until much later in the book. (About ½ way through the book you finally figure out what happened to Clara, and ¾ of the way through the book you finally realize how all these characters relate to one another.)

The synopsis of the story makes it sound like the focus is discovering what happened to Clara, however, in truth, her disappearance is only a small part of the bigger picture. Perhaps a better synopsis would be:

An old curse, two enemies, and the lives of three unhappy children collide in this tale of magic and greed set in London in the 1800s. Cassandra, a witch who will stop at nothing to dispel her curse, and Grisini, a master puppeteer with a desire for power and money, care little for the lives they must take and the happiness they will destroy in their quest for freedom and power. Caught in between are three children – Clara Wintermute, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall – each being viewed as a tool – a puppet – for Cassandra and Grisini to achieve their desires. Life was hard for the children, and thanks to Cassandra and Grisini, it just became harder.

The story though, is not without merit. The children, even Parsefall who is the most “hardened” of the children, are examples of selflessness and courage. Lizzie Rose in particular is a good example of compassion, showing mercy and kindness even to those who hurt and mistreat her. The story also has an interesting way of dealing with each character’s grief and helping them find the peace and healing they very much need.

Angela’s Christmas (Netflix)

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Angela’s Christmas is a cute Christmas story geared towards young children and based off of a book called Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt. The movie tells the story of Angela who notices that the Baby Jesus in the manger has no clothes. Concerned he is cold, she steals him in an attempt warm him up.

While the movie is geared towards children, adults will enjoy watching the show with their child/children as Angela’s genuine sincerity as she tries to warm Baby Jesus will put a smile on your face. I will be putting it on my “favorites” list for those with young children.

The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix)

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The Christmas Chronicles (PG) is one of the recently released Christmas films produced by Netflix. It tells the story of two kids who startle Santa (played by Kurt Russel) causing him to wreck his sleigh and lose the presents and the reindeer in the process. Together the kids and Santa must find a way to ensure all presents are delivered or calamity will strike – the Christmas spirit will disappear, leading to all sorts of unpleasant things. (According to Santa, the Dark Ages and almost every war in history is a result of him not being able to complete his Christmas deliveries.)

The Christmas Chronicles is one of the best newer Christmas movies I’ve seen. There is something in it for kids and adults. It is just an all around fun, relatively clean (only a couple of instances of profanity “hell” and maybe a “damn” – I can’t remember.) Christmas movie that families can enjoy together. The show is well acted, even by the child-actors, and what I would consider about 4 steps above your stereotypical “Hallmark” Christmas movie. So, check it out!

Book: Out of Abaton, Book 1 The Wooden Prince

Out of AbatonOut of Abaton, Book 1 The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis. This story is entertaining and acceptable for children of all ages.

I am currently listening to the audio version of it narrated by Ralph Lister. If it weren’t for the superb job done by the narrator, I’m not sure I would have made it through the entire story, but the narration/dramatization of the book makes it enjoyable and entertaining.