Beware of Librarian

The exception(s) to the rule

I was recently in a discussion about if I thought movies were ever better than their written counterparts (otherwise know as books).  As a rule, I would say, “No, the book is better.”  However, every once in a while, there is a movie that exceeds the original storyline, or perhaps a storyline that is so exceptionally acted, staged or produced, that it enriches the author’s intent.  To augment our discussion, we looked at the lists of others, mostly based on author’s reactions to the films.  In my experience, this requires something more than the author’s stamp of approval, therefore, I decided to compile my own list.


Atonement by Ian McEwan – Achieving a difficult task because this book was very well written.  The acting and narration are what put the movie over the top.  The pain that the narrator expresses is acute and pulls veiwers into her sorrow long after the credits roll.atonement

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – This amazing writer pens stories for a myriad of media and this particular story I thought was written for the screen!  The story, the acting and action, the drama and humor was beautifully illustrated in the film!


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson – The stateside release of this movie cut out a huge amount of the politics that slowed the story down (in my opinion).  The film itself was well acted, dramatic and painfully believable.

girl with the dragon tattoo

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket – I wanted so much to like this book when I picked it up years ago when I worked for B. Dalton and we got an advanced copy in for the staff to read.  I found the sentance structure stilted and the plot details poorly constructed.  A fine plot idea and some delicious dark humor couldn’t make up for what was lacking.  I think Jim Carey created a character that was more applealing for audiences and the general plot was better demonstrated in the film.


Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – Although the character’s gave up some of their more logical characteristics (the anthropologist’s like / dislike of children: book / movie respectfully), they served to drive the plot and create an interest and connection to the viewing audience that Crichton didn’t quite achieve.

jurassic park

These movies did justice to the books

  1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  3. Princess Bride by William Goldman
  4. Hunger Games by Susanne Collins
  5. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

Honorable mention

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (for the stunning performance by Audrey Hepburn)
  2. Shrek by William Steig (A good picture book that inspired hours of film entertainment)

Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton

Thirteen Chairs is a delightfully chilling collection of ghost stories.  Although readers will have to guess as to what brings these guests all together for this scrumptious feast of fear, it becomes clear that served cold or hot, these are dishes that fill you up and leave you wanting more.

I thoroughly enjoyed these short stories and the author’s spiraling closure that delivered a satisfying end and an expectation of beginning.

A recommended read for Hi-Lo Young Adults or anyone that enjoys a good ghost story.  These are more subtle horror rather than graphic.


Nightwing or Red Hood: a mentor’s challenge

It is that time of the year when I submit programming to the Denver Comic Con.  This year’s most passionate submission revolves around one of my favorite characters, Dick Grayson.  I knew I wanted something that the audience could participate in, something engaging and fun and something that they could help shape.  I am writing a choose your own adventure story line wherein the audience begins as a generic Robin sidekick figure, as they make choices they will be shaped into either Nightwing (Dick Grayson) or Red Hood (Jason Todd).

As the title implies, mentoring your sidekick is an important part of being a hero.  It belies the question of nature and nurture and how much each person is shaped by his environment and what he brings with him into the world from the start.  In the case of Dick Grayson and Jason Todd they are both orphans, but Dick was a part of an extremely close family whereas Jason Todd didn’t know his family at all.  I think similar experiences changed each of these young men in different ways.  Dick seemed to have clung more doggedly to the law, whereas Jason seems to have shed conventional rules like an old coat.  Jason also suffered at the hands of comic readers; this new Robin was rejected and bullied out of the comic until he returned as Red Hood.  Red Hood uses weapons without regard to their lethal outcomes.  Nightwing follows in the footsteps of Batman, choosing escrima sticks, a staff, and his own version of a bat-a-rang; ‘wing dings’.

I think it will be fun to see where the audience takes this story and what kind of interest it might ignite.


STARVE by Brian Wood, Danijel Zezelj, Dave Stewart

Alright…my first impression of the character was, “boring, privileged, white male” however, the story line provides some chances for emotional growth and the character seems to take some steps toward becoming a better human being and letting go of some of his bitterness. The artwork is beautifully rendered and bolsters the story through mood and movement.

The main character, Gavin, tells readers that he has ‘gone native’ in south-east Asia.  His rough and tumble life is interrupted by the past that comes in the form of a helicopter and a T.V. contract that demands Gavin star in eight more episodes of an “Iron chef” meets “Survivor” reality program called “STARVE”

We meet people and situations that Gavin was running away from; his wife that he never divorced but who had him declared legally dead, the child who became a woman in his absence, his rival who Gavin describes as a “hollow opportunist” (a fit description of himself in my opinion).

He blames the ex for ‘stealing his money’ and his rival for ‘stealing his career’ when it was Gavin who left three years before.  For the storyline, Gavin’s self-imposed exile allows the readers to be introduced to the comic world where JFK airport is underwater because of global warming, the economy has suffered a global collapse and is struggling to recover and the elite insist on flaunting their wealth and power by judging chefs cooking abilities on the reality show, STARVE.



I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Intrigue, mystery, murder!  This princess does not sit around waiting to be rescued!  Priest keeps readers guessing in this fast paced, story with beautifully woven elements of teen life today – Webcomics, fan art, and hackers.

In the beginning, this could be the story of any two girls, who were thrown together for circumstantial reasons, becoming best friends.  The story takes a serious turn when one of the girls dies in a car accident and the other’s parents split up.  Although sad, the story doesn’t seriously gear up until May discovers the webcomic “I Am Princess X” – at this point, the drama is ramped up and the reader is roped into the mystery behind the all too familiar story of Princess X, but not the way May wrote it.

More than a case of plagiarism, Princess X inspires hope that her best friend is still alive!  This is a lively, story with a satisfying ending.



The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Renee Ahdieh looks behind the classic tale of 1001 Arabian Nights to bring us the first in what promises to be an enchanting series.  Without giving anything away, I will say that the ending was not what I expected.  This author does not talk down to her audience (but a glossary for some of the non-English words is provided at the end) and her characters are interesting and complex.  Even in the (fictional) historical setting, the protagonist is a strong woman who is respected by those who meet her.  At my age it is sometimes hard to remember that what may seem like an overdramatized view of love / romance, I acknowledge that from the eyes of a 16-year-old girl (our protagonist), the expressions ring true.  My favorite secondary character was Omar with the curious heart.  :)  Most likely because I too have a curious heart that runs away without me.  This is a compelling story for high level readers looking for something new.

Look for the next in this series, The Rose & the Dagger, on May 3, 2016.



Calvin by Martine Leavitt

I got to delve into a different type of illness with this story.  Whereas the last book I reviewed focused on living with a family member with an illness (Huntington’s disease), this novel is told from a young man with schizophrenia.  Unlike the Raw Shark Text protagonist, Calvin can recognize his illness, but like both the first and the second Eric Sanderson, he is unable to assert any control over it.  Calvin’s illness manifests in a Tiger named Hobbes rather than a mind eating shark.

Calvin and his friend Susie embark on a hazardous journey across a frozen lake on a pilgrimage to find Bill Watterson the creator of the popular comic, Calvin and Hobbes.

Calvin captured my heart from the beginning of the book, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Everything I’m going to say in this letter is true with some real stuff thrown in.” (p. 1)

“…I’ve got nothing against knowing the molecular difference between an acid and a base, but how about something practical once in a while? I just want to look around in the world and not be totally baffled by it, even as I recite the periodic table, you know?” (p.18)

“Doctor: Calvin, do you know how many people in North America suffer from schizophrenia? I’ll tell you. Over two million. You’re not alone.
Me: Wow. If we were mutant zombie killers we could have taken over the world long ago.” (p.34).

“I loved my brain right then, Bill.  Even a sick brain was a miracle when you thought about it.  Time might be a dimension, but the human brain could chop it up into minute bits, observe it as a phenomenon of existence.  Physics and chemistry weren’t much without biology and the human brain to guess endlessly about what it all meant.  Space might be infinite and full of an unspeakable number of stars, but it didn’t know how beautiful it was.  I knew.   Calvin knew.” (p.169)