Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers is the story of a beloved nanny and the magical adventures that seem to follow wherever she goes.  Travers wrote several books about Mary Poppins.  In the first book, we are introduced to the Banks family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Banks and their four children: Jane, Michael, John and Barbara.  John and Barbara are the baby twins.  After their nanny quits, Mary Poppins appears seemingly out of nowhere to become the new nanny.  Poppins turns out to be much different than any other nanny they had known before.

The children realize right away that whenever Mary Poppins is around, amazing things happen.  I enjoyed reading about their unusual experiences.  One of my favorite characters is Admiral Boom.  He yells out random nautical phrases like “Land ho!” and “Heave away there!”  I also enjoyed a chapter called “Laughing Gas,” in which Mr. Wigg (also known as Uncle Albert) fills with laughing gas and elevates in the air when he loses control of his laughter.  For some reason, Mr. Wigg finds it especially difficult to control his laughter on Fridays, and when his birthday falls on a Friday he floats like a balloon.

This book is filled with many other quirky and amusing episodes.  However, one thing that surprised me was the personality of Mary Poppins herself.  She apparently has a vanity problem, because she always seems to admire herself when she sees her reflection.  I was also taken aback by the manner in which Mary Poppins treats the children.

For example, we read: “’Ask him.  He knows—Mr. Know-All!’ said Mary Poppins, nodding her head scornfully at Michael.”

As another example, we read: “’Oh, really?  I thought it was the other way round,’ said Mary Poppins with a scornful laugh.”

Yet another example of her attitude toward the children: “Mary Poppins turned and regarded him with something like disgust.”

There are many other examples of this kind of behavior by Mary Poppins.  She is not always mean-spirited toward the children, and she seems to have their best interests at heart.  I was just surprised to read about her snapping at the children from time to time.  Still, by the end of the book, the children seem to love her (for some reason).

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.  There were many humorous and delightful elements to the story.  The book is also full of surprises, especially when it comes to the occasional rude or even scornful remark by Mary Poppins.  If you have seen the 1964 Disney movie, then you will be surprised by the differences.  I would say that the Mary Poppins character is much more gentle-hearted in the movie than in the book.  In spite of that, I would recommend this book, as well as its sequels.

-Oliver H.

Marry Poppins by P. L. Travers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers is the sequel to Mary Poppins.  The story picks up just a few months from when the original book left off.  The Banks’ house is in complete disarray.  Mary Poppins had deserted the family without notice.  They had hired other nurses to take Poppins’ place, but none of them lasted long.  One nurse, for instance, had been spat at by young Michael Banks and quit immediately.  Michael fought with his sister Jane, little twins John and Barbara quarreled, the kitchen flue caught fire, the cherry trees were devastated by frost, and so on.  Mrs. Banks does not know what to do.  In despair, she sends the four children to the park so she can have some peace at home.  Jane and Michael decide to fly a kite to entertain John and Barbara.  As they pull the kite back in, to their astonishment, they see Mary Poppins herself holding the string and gliding down with the kite.

Within moments, Mary Poppins is already ordering the children around.  Much like the original book, Poppins assumes a stern and haughty attitude.  However, the children enjoy many new adventures in this sequel.  I enjoyed reading about their magical ability to fly above the park holding just one balloon each.  I also liked reading about the day they met an interesting man named Mr. Turvy.  The day happened to be the second Monday of the month.  Every second Monday, mysterious things happen to Mr. Turvy.  He flips upside-down, he finds himself outside when he wants to be inside, and he even feels sad though he normally feels happy.  This quirky episode is strange but I found it to be quite amusing.

Mary Poppins is as scornful as ever in this book.  She displays a short temper and even intimidates the children.  On one occasion, for example, we read: “Mary Poppins, in her fury, seemed to have grown to twice her usual size.  She hovered over him in her nightgown, huge and angry, waiting for him to reply.”  Poppins also proves to be quite vain.  For example, as she passed by a glass window, “Mary Poppins gave a little conceited nod to her reflection and hurried on.”  She also seems to be dishonest with the children.  After almost every adventure, Poppins denies that she had anything to do with it or that it even happened at all.

I began to wonder if all the tumult in the Banks’ household was caused by Mary Poppins herself, so that the family would appreciate her more when their situation magically improved.  Whether or not my conspiracy theory is correct, everyone still seems to love Mary Poppins by the end of the story.  Despite her periodic rude comments to the children, they seem to enjoy her company as much as ever.  The main reason for this may be that many exciting and delightful adventures seem to follow Mary Poppins wherever she goes.  These adventures make the book charming to read, if you can look past Mary Poppins’ less-than-perfect attitude and behavior toward the children.

-Oliver H.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Film Review: Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe

Phineas and Ferb were one of the biggest childhood shows of this generation, and the attention that this movie received is no doubt due to the many nostalgic memories many people had. The show sheds light on Candace, one of the main characters and older sister of the two brothers who create all the inventions. I would recommend and rate this movie fairly well as it provides a new view on a childhood favorite.

The movie overall was good and had many standout aspects. What story and character
development lacked, the soundtrack and environment did more than made up for it. The soundtrack especially was outstanding given what the show is meant to portray, and the songs fit the situation and character interactions perfectly. The movie also has the same witty humor that the show had when it aired, with minor interactions between characters livening up the movie and creating a fun atmosphere. The story was not necessarily deep, but it allowed the characters themselves to shine rather than detracting too much of the viewer’s attention while still being relevant to the development of the main characters. One minor issue I had with the movie is that many side characters were just there to be in the show, rather than having some sort of impact. They felt more like afterthoughts rather than side characters that were important in one of our favorite childhood shows.

Overall, I would still say this movie is one of the most entertaining animated movies to have
come out recently and is worth watching for not only the nostalgia but a great time overall as there are many comedic and wholesome moments throughout the movie that remind us why this franchise is one of our childhood favorites.

-Benjamin L.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The dystopian fiction novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins serves as a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy, and it narrates the story of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. It is set in Panem, the same setting as the Hunger Games trilogy and most events take place in the Capitol or District 12. Readers of the trilogy know that Coriolanus will go on to become President Snow, the main antagonist of the Hunger Games. I think that it was an extremely smart idea to write this book after the Hunger Games trilogy because it gives readers an extra interest and pulls to the book, especially with the very beginning.

The introduction of Coriolanus Snow is completely contradictory to readers’ views of President Snow, since he is shown as extremely rich and lofty in the trilogy, but he is introduced in the prequel as extremely poor; in addition, readers can clearly understand how important Coriolanus’s family is to him. As a big fan of the Hunger Games series, I do not recall any emphasis on Coriolanus’s family, except for his famous motto, “Snow lands on top!” (which is reiterated multiple times in this novel). The implication of Coriolanus’s love for his family (consisting of his grandmother known as Grandma’am and his cousin Tigris) is only strengthened throughout the book, and the pure irony of this description and portrayal of Coriolanus is extremely captivating to readers. 

I must mention that Coriolanus’s grandma insists on taking care of roses in a roof garden, and these roses make multiple appearances throughout the book. In the trilogy, roses also have significance in symbolizing the evil of Coriolanus Snow.

Moving on, Coriolanus is one of the 24 students selected to mentor tributes in the 10th annual Hunger Games, and he is matched with the District 12 girl named Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray is a singer from the Covey in District 12. She seems extremely strange, with her optimistic outlook, her behavior at her reaping, and many other unusual qualities. The mentor of the winning tribute will receive a scholarship to attend the University, which Coriolanus needs, but he is highly doubtful of Lucy Gray’s capability to win. However, the two seem to acquire an extremely strong bond. 

In my opinion, the ingrained animal instincts in human nature is the most well established theme in the novel. Although the prime example of this theme is in the ending (and I believe that endings should never be disclosed in book reviews), it can be seen throughout the book, especially in the arena of the Games. The significance of 24 people locked into an arena and told to fight to their deaths is self explanatory in the theme of animal instincts in human nature. 

Another theme in this novel is the theme of morals. Again, the Hunger Games are completely immoral, and to readers’ surprise, the rest of the Capitol feels the same way.

This novel has an invigorating plot line, multiple twists, and amazing literary devices, and it is easily one of my favorite books I have ever read.

-Ayati M

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Opinion: 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' is the best children's ...

Where to begin with the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender? When I was little my family and I would watch this show to no end. Then, after many years apart, this show appeared back on Netflix and I must say, it is amazing. I would say this show from 2005 was way before its time in many aspects. The writing, character development, villains, and overall plot of the show was very interesting and exhilarating.

One part that I absolutely love is female empowerment. Remember this show came out over 15 years ago when most TV shows and movies did not include the most feminist characters. Different than shows and movies today, the female involvement was not pushed or forced rather than just written to be strong leads. Characters like Toph also inspired young me, as she was blind but in my opinion, on the most powerful characters in the entire series. Each of the different women brought different things to the table but really showed me that, hey I can be just as or more powerful than anyone else.

Another aspect that needs to be talked about is the plot. This story about a young boy who was frozen in ice for 100 years to wake up and find out a war has been going on for 100 years and was partially his fault. Being the avatar, master of all 4 four elements, he meets some friends who help him on his journey while facing many challenges. Seeing the change in the duration of year was pretty spectacular. These young kids turned out stopping a war against a crazy fire lord. Episode after episode we see a group of 4 kids overthrowing corrupt governments left and right. For a kids show it was very deep. The writers introduced some real world problems to young and old viewers. The ideas of governments that aren’t what they seem took up almost half a season of the show. Along with passing by starving people and large groups of refugees as a result of the war. For a kids show, they were not afraid to include real issues and problems many face.

Lastly, I’m going to talk about my personal favorite part of the show, the villains. In my personal opinion, many of the villains were simply misunderstood. For the siblings Zuko and Azula we get to see why their actions came to be. Being in a royal family with an abusive father and mother who was forced away. Azula was a prodigy firebender, that in my opinion the most powerful fire bender in the entire show. Along with Zuko who is also powerful but not up there with Azula. During this show, we get to see the character arc of Zuko as he finally puts his wants behind him and joins the avatar and his friends in joining the fight against the fire lord. Sadly for Azula this is not the case, she goes insane while trying to be perfect to please her father.

This show is a must watch for anyone in any age group. There is something in this show for everyone. The writers hit gold when producing this show. Also, some appearances from some of my favorite actors such as Mark Hamill make an appearance throughout the show. If I had to score this show it would definitely be a 11/10 for me.

-Lilly G.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Return of the King - Wikipedia

After the previous installments in the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, the last novel, The Return of the King, is not to be missed. In it, the fate of the both former Fellowship of the Ring and the quest of the Ringbearer are revealed in the same rich literature that is characteristic of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The war against Sauron the Dark Lord is not going well. The great city of Minas Tirith is already under siege by the great army of Mordor, and its allies in Gondor are nearing the same fate. The only hope for the armies of the West is if the Ringbearer, Frodo the hobbit, succeeds in his quest to destroy the One Ring, for then and only then can Sauron be defeated.

However, Frodo, too, has reached obstacles in his journey to Mount Doom. He and his companion Samwise must muster up the last reserves of their strength to take on the uphill battle that is the destruction of the One Ring, and face the unavoidable fact that, even if they should succeed, they will never return home to tell the tale.

In the exhilarating finale of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, danger is more present than ever, and the heroes must face the daunting task of saving Middle-Earth as they know it. The Return of the King is a fitting end to the incredible trilogy, and should not be missed for the world.

-Mahak M.

The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

When 111-year old Bilbo Baggins, hero of The Hobbit, gifts a stunning ring to his beloved nephew Frodo, he unknowingly changes the course of Middle-Earth history forever. For the innocent-looking ring is in truth the One Ring, which the Dark Lord of Mordor has lusted after for years, and will do anything to retrieve.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the Grey appears in the Shire, warning Frodo of great danger. In order to preserve what is yet good in Middle-Earth, Frodo sets off with only his gardener Sam and his cousins Merry and Pippin as his companions. During his travels, he encounters numerous allies that eventually form the Fellowship of the Ring, the sole task of which is to destroy the One Ring in the fire of the fittingly named Mount Doom in the dark land of Mordor. 

However, the Company faces great dangers during their journey, and are pursued by the hated Orcs, soldiers of Sauron himself. Nevertheless, the greatest danger proves to be the object of their quest, the One Ring, whose malignant influence on all members of the Fellowship spurs a sudden betrayal that results in a kidnapping and a death.

The first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring is sure to delight all readers, combining action and adventure with a realistic world that readers will not hesitate to thoroughly immerse themselves in.

-Mahak M.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. IT can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Magician by Raymond Feist

Countless tales of the struggle between good and evil in Medieval times have been told. But it takes a true artisan to delve into not only fanciful creatures but other worlds as well. Raymond Feist does this masterfully.

This book is a classic in the realm of fantasy and adventure. It has been captivating readers for more than 30 years. After reading it, I understand its appeal. The author creates parallel universes that are enthralling. A rift opens in the Kingdom, and they are attacked by the Tsurani. The Tsurani have no metal in their world, however, they are rich with magicians. These magicians are powerful and wreak havoc wherever they go. There are also many Kingdom characters who are instrumental in the survival of their world. We watch as they grow and change throughout the course of the invasion transforming to meet each challenge. There is no lack of adventure.

Don’t be put off by the length of this book (841 pages!) It will draw you in and keep your attention as you live their story. Sometimes, it is hard to keep track of all the characters, but the resolution ties all the strings together at the end and makes it worthwhile.

I recommend this book if you are someone who enjoys fantasy, adventure and doesn’t mind conflict. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Also note, that this is the first in a series of many books that continue the Riftwar Saga.

-Elijah Y.

Sky: Children of the Light

Sky: Children of the Light is a very fun game. 

The stars have fallen. The darkness has conquered the light. You have a character in the game which is trying to help bring back the light. You must overcome many difficult challenges as your character pushes onward in the dark, guided by you. Who knows if you will succeed? Or will you become a star like the rest before you complete your mission? Play the game to find out!

This game is such an amazing game because of the storyline, which plays a big part in Sky: Children of the Light. However, since the graphics are so convincing, they use up a lot of your battery. So, you can change the graphics resolution so that it does not use up as much of your battery.

Tips and Tricks: Keep in mind that the Children of the Light, shown by golden glowing children throughout the levels, are usually found in places off the main path, or places which are hard to reach. Don’t be afraid to explore! Even if you get lost, you can release a call to help you find your way back. You can do this by tapping on your character to release a small call. You can also hold your character until they crouch, then release them for a much louder call. Your call will show you where the temple is, or where nearby players are. A call is extremely useful.

Candles: Every day there will be two candles in front of the door to a level. In that level, there are big bundles of candles. By lighting them, you can get candle wax, which is later used to forge a candle. If you can’t see two candles in front of a door/portal, that may be because you have not unlocked the level which has those candles. You can use candles to purchase hearts to buy things like capes, or you can use candles to buy other cosmetic items like hairstyles or spells. 

Seasons: Every couple months, a new season will begin. You can find the seasonal spirits and live through their memories, earning a new emote, stance, or call. During every season, you can find seasonal candles throughout the levels and light them for some seasonal candle wax. A seasonal candle can be used to buy cosmetics or level up emotes from a seasonal spirit. Each season is different, so seasonal candles reset every season. If you can’t get one of the seasonal spirits before they leave, sometimes some seasonal spirits from past seasons will come back to visit, known as a traveling spirit. 

Energy: You will receive more energy from children of the light, which are golden glowing children throughout all of the levels. Land roughly, hitting a rough surface, being exposed to rain, infected water, or being attacked by crabs or krill are all ways to drain your energy and to even lose the children of the light which are with you. 

Once all of your energy is gone, your light begins to drain, indicated by a flame symbol at the top of your screen. After your light drains, if you still continue hurting your character, you can lose winged light. Prevent this by trying to always have as much energy and light as possible.

So, all in all, Sky: Children of the Light is a great game. I would strongly recommend you to try out the game. I still enjoy playing the game, although I have already finished it! It is so fun to explore the varying areas.

Game Rating: 10/10

– Peri A.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander, is the first book of his well-known fantasy series called the chronicle of Prydain.  This is the story of a young man named Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper in a place known as Caer Dallben.  Taran leads a simple life, caring for farm animals and making horseshoes, but he dreams of making a sword and becoming a hero.  One day, something strange happens to the farm animals.  They begin running away as though they are frightened.  Most troubling is that the special pig, named Hen Wen, manages to escape.  Taran dashes after her, leading to an unexpected adventure to save the land of Prydain.

Many elements of the story are inspired by Welsh legends and mythology.  I found some of the names difficult to pronounce, but I think the Welsh influence adds to the charm of the book.  The ancient feel of this fantasy makes the book very enjoyable to read.  Taran joins with several unusual characters who aid him on his quest and add humor and intrigue to the story.  For example, Taran encounters a bard named Fflewddur Fflam, who possesses a magical golden harp.  Fflewddur is prone to exaggeration, and whenever he stretches the truth, at least one of his harp strings breaks.

This book is a wonderful blend of action, adventure and humor.  We also learn many good life lessons, as Taran seems to learn something valuable from each of his companions.  After reading this book, I highly recommend reading the other four books in the series.  The titles of the other books are The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King.  These books are worth reading not just for the delightful characters and engrossing story, but for their portrayal of the true meaning of heroism.

-Oliver H.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.