Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White


As a kid, I loved the animated movie, but I had never read the book. Thanks to my cousin Shan, who sent us a copy, I finally got around to reading it, and I loved it.

To be honest, I was wary about reading it aloud to Sebastien. He has been known to have nightmares, or just cry at bedtime, saying he doesn't want to die, or he doesn't want someone he loves to die. Knowing that death is a big theme in this book, I wasn't sure how he would handle it. Well, I finally decided to read it to him, having heard before that story books are generally a safe and comfortable way to address big issues with kids without actually making them feel insecure in real life.

Right off the bat, I felt this book was meant to be read aloud. It seems to lend itself to just the right cadence to be heard in an entertaining and meaningful way. Of course the goose's speech is fun in and of itself, with dialogue like, "Probably-obably-obably!" But there were also descriptive passages that were a joy to read even while they left a lump in my throat, like the following on page 131 of my edition: "The children grabbed each other by the hand and danced off in the direction of the merry-go-round, toward the wonderful music and the wonderful adventure and the wonderful excitement, into the wonderful midway where there would be no parents to guard them and guide them, and where they could be happy and free and do as they pleased."

Sigh. Which brings me to the next reason I loved this book. It's just the perfect depiction of life and death and birth and growth and change and acceptance. Charlotte is a beautiful and intelligent friend to Wilbur, but she's still a spider, which means she drinks the blood of bugs. No use trying to ignore that fact, that's just the way it is. She lives her life fully, even as she ages and grows tired. Still, seasons change, and life continues. Fern grows up, as all children must.

About 2/3 of the way through the book, Sebastien wanted to take a break from it - I'm not sure why. But when he was ready to pick it up again, he was committed to finishing it. I teared up lots as the book came to a close, but Sebastien wasn't bothered. I think it all seemed matter-of-fact for him. I know he liked it, because he kept asking for one more chapter, one more chapter!

This book is going on our family room bookshelf, and I hope he picks it up again one day to read for himself.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Local - Wayland, MA


I'm afraid my experience with this restaurant has been a bit inconsistent...

First I went for drinks with some other moms in my neighborhood. All I had was a glass of white wine, but I did look longingly at some of the appetizers the other women ordered. I took a bite of the Brussels sprouts, and thought they were very good, but I politely refrained from eating off anyone else's plates, as this was the first time I was meeting some of them.

The next time I went, it was for coffee and dessert. The coffee was quite good, but the desserts, I'm afraid, were surprisingly lackluster. One of them was bread pudding, of which I'm not really a fan, so maybe it's not fair for me to judge that one. But the other dessert was a kind of chocolate cake, and I LOVE chocolate in all forms! But... I don't know. I was unimpressed. At the time, I remember thinking it wasn't sweet or chocolatey enough.

Soon after the dessert visit, I went for lunch with my good friend Sarah. I ordered a fruity cocktail - I believe it was the Raspberry Fizz - but was disappointed. It was fine, but it wasn't delicious. Sarah said her drink had much too much ice in it. We both enjoyed the homemade potato chips, and I had shrimp & grits for an appetizer, which was by far the best part of my meal. I loved it, even if the chorizo pieces were cut a bit large for my taste. My entree was fish tacos, which was remarkably bland, and the soft tortilla shell was mostly malleable, but unpleasantly hardened to a crisp in places.

Then, Ken and I went for dinner, and we actually had an impressive meal. The mussels we had for an appetizer were flavorful and plenty, and my short ribs with Brussels sprouts and grits was delicious - though a bit more sauce would have been nice. The only down side was that my ginger margarita was not very gingery. This meal alone would have been 4 1/2 stars.

Altogether, considering the multiple experiences, I guess I give them 4 stars.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (#3) (2014)


Wow! A continuous adrenalin rush. Aptly named "The Battle of the Five Armies", as the entire movie pretty much consisted of one battle scene after another. I don't care what the critics say, I enjoyed the movie, and I'll take Legolas any time he wants to show up.

I liked the movie so much, I'm going to re-read the book again!

(I suppose I should include a small disclaimer acknowledging that this was the first movie Ken and I have seen in the theaters together in who knows how long. We had a great dinner out beforehand, and probably I was so giddy about being out of the house on a date night that I was primed to enjoy whatever movie we saw!)

Gone Girl (2014)


I saw this in the theaters, but forgot to review it at the time.

Certainly entertaining, with quite a few unexpected twists and turns. Makes you realize how important it is to really get to know someone before marrying them! Of course, we all put our best foot forward when meeting people, so how long would it take, and how much delving would you have to do, to find out who someone really is? And what would it take to keep you in a marriage you actually despise? Is there any real, viable solution to Ben Affleck's character's situation at the end of the movie?!

Anyway, it fell a bit short with some undeveloped characters and unanswered questions, but my friend with whom I saw the movie said the book did address most of my concerns. Not sure if I'll read the book, as psychological thrillers aren't usually my thing.