A Late Media Saturday: Dolphin Tale, The rest of The Hunger Games trilogy, & The Mistmantle Chronicles

Hello friends :). I haven’t felt well but I’m trying to catch up on posts the best I can.  Today I’ll be reviewing the movie “Dolphin Tale”, the rest of The Hunger Games trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay), and The Mistmantle Chronicles (a book series for kids). Warning: there may be a few spoilers.

#1 Dolphin Tale

dolphintalemovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/

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Usually, I don’t watch animal movies. I loved them as a kid but you can only watch the Free Willy plot played out in different movies (as different animals) so many times. It just bores me. But my son has really wanted to watch “Dolphin Tale”. I can’t resist that sweet face. At first, I was busy crafting & painting a spring welcome mat but soon I found myself sucked in.

The story follows Winter, a special Dolphin that loses her tail but still learns how to swim and survive. The movie is based on a true story and I loved it. But I was disappointed to find that most of it was fiction including the children in the movie. Winter is real though & it’s true she has no tail.

Anywho, in the movie this little boy Sawyer has a hard time with life. He’s in summer school and his cousin just left for Iraq. The kid’s dad left him 5 yrs before and he lives with his single and working mom. Sawyer is rather depressing until…..he finds Winter tangled in a net on the beach.

Sawyer begins visiting Winter at the marine hospital. At first Winter doesn’t have the will to live but we find out that her and Sawyer have a bond. Sawyer is able to help Winter to keep living. Soon the dolphin learns to swim without a tail by moving her body like a snake. The problem is that her spine was never built for those type of movements. If she isn’t able to swim the right way then she will die.

Sawyer’s cousin is injured in Iraq. While at the VA hospital, Sawyer meets a man who makes prosthetic limbs for soldiers. Sawyer is able to convince the man to make a prosthetic tale for Winter. This is not an easy task considering how slippery dolphins are. At first, Winter rejects the tale and later we find out it’s because of the sock they put on first. It irritated her skin. They are able to come up with a gel like sock that doesn’t irritate. Winter is finally able to swim the right way.

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There’s alot of drama in this film….a hurricane, financial stress etc… Most of it is fictional but Winter is real and she does wear a prosthetic tale. The material created for her new tale is actually being used for humans now. There is a touching part in the movie where a little girl with one leg travels over 8 hours to visit Winter and she says “Mommy, she’s just like me!”. I about cried, honestly. It IS true that people with missing limbs come from all over to visit Winter and to get in the pool with her. Winter really is an inspiration. You can watch Winter on web cam at:

http://www.seewinter.com/

#2 Catching Fire & MockingJay (The Hunger Games Trilogy book 2&3)

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I actually finished this series not long after reviewing the first book, The Hunger Games. I’m just now getting around to reviewing them. If you missed my first review here it is:

Media Saturday: The Help & The Hunger Games

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Just a quick recap. You can read the rest on my other post. The Hunger Games trilogy centers around a teenage girl named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss lives in Panem, a dystopian society that used to be the United States (which was destroyed by natural disaster possibly nuclear war?). Panem is made up of 12 districts and is ruled by The Capitol. The Capitol is like Rome and Hollywood meshed together. The people in the Capitol are like leeches. They live off of the hard work of the poor & starving people in the other districts. It is a dictatorship ran by President Snow. Once there was 13 districts but we’re told the 13th was wiped off because they rebelled against the capitol.

Every year The Capitol hosts the hunger games to remind the people what happens to rebels. The hunger games are evil. One male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen (& forced) to compete in the hunger games (tributes). They are all dropped in an arena and made to fight to the death. They can’t refuse either because the game makers can control the arena environment & push people to do things. The person left standing wins food for her district and gets a nice house in town etc. The sick thing is that the capitol people are so desensitized that they enjoy watching the games. The tributes are forced to train and to dress up for tv appearances & celebrations (like celebrities) before the games. The winner is treated like a super star. The people in the districts are forced to watch their children kill each other. They hate the capitol but are afraid to rebel. The capitol has eyes everywhere.

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Katniss’ younger sister Prim is chosen for the hunger games but Katniss volunteers to take her place. She is sent with a boy named Pita, to compete in the hunger games. Okay that was a long recap…oops. Anywho, Pita & Katniss end up helping each other in the first book and they are they are the ones that survive the game. The game maker decides to allow both children to live when the kids act like they’re going to eat poisonous berries (commit suicide) rather than kill each other. The whole time Pita & Katniss pretend to be in love so they will gain the sympathy and help of the capitol people.

In Catching Fire, Pita & Katniss return home as heroes. But they are forever scarred from the games. Both Pita & Katniss have bad PTSD. What’s bad is that they are expected to tour the districts where the other kids were killed and to also train the next years tributes for the next hunger games. But don’t think for a second that Pita & Katniss slaughtered people. No, they actually did their best to beat the Capitol at their game & to show mercy & compassion to the other tributes. They only killed to protect themselves etc. Most of the tributes died at the hands of others or from the hostile environment (poisonous insects etc).

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Well, President Snow believes Katniss’ act with the berries was rebellious and has caused people to revolt. Some of the districts have already begun to revolt against the Capitol and some believe District 13 still exists but has moved underground. President Snow visits Katniss and threatens her and her family.

Every quarter the Capitol has a quarter Quell which is another Hunger Games but with a a cruel twist. Twenty Five years ago the quarter quell involved doubling the tributes. This year it’s obvious the Capitol is getting back at Katniss & the people for rebelling.  One male & female tribute winner will be sent from each district to fight in the hunger games. Usually tribute winners are exempt from the hunger games & live in the lap of luxury. Most of the winners are old and their mind and bodies are destroyed from addictions (to deal with PTSD). It would be like sending a Vietnam Vet with severe PTSD back into war….bad idea. Katniss is the only female winner in her district. Her and Pita are going back into the games.

The second and third books were hard for me. I couldn’t put them down because the authoress is such a talented writer and I had to know how they ended. But I felt scarred after reading them. I don’t care what anyone says…these books do NOT glorify war & voyeurism. If anything they make you HATE war & you’ll look at reality tv shows in a negative light.

I’m not going to give too much more away. There are alot of surprising twists and the books do have a good ending. But it’s hard to enjoy the good ending because the people are so scarred by war. These books are told from first person pov and you get to go inside Katniss’ mind. Her mind is a scary place that is twisted by war. She heals some but it’s clear “War is Hell”.  In the third book Katniss becomes the face of the revolution.

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Whether she’s the Capitol’s puppet or she’s helping the rebels….one things clear…Katniss is always a game piece. People use her and you get the feeling that soldiers may feel like players in a game that can be easily discarded. I totally get that. My hubby is a disabled vet. He went to Iraq twice. It was a hard time for our family and though he doesn’t have severe PTSD…he has enough ptsd that it has created challenges for our family. We’ve been married 7 and a half years but we are still dealing with issues from those deployments. I am thankful for our VA benefits but there are times it seems the military just chewed and spit out my hubby. For those of you who have never dealt with a crummy military hospital or receiving pay way too late to get the bills paid in time, then I’m happy for you. It’s good you have good experiences but my family has seen the other side I guess. Still, the military pays better than the civilian world….only problem is ptsd, shoulder injuries, relationship issues, missing your child’s firsts etc…. We wouldn’t go back if we could.

Anywho, I’ve yet to see The Hunger Games movie. Part of me doesn’t want to see it because the books really hurt my heart. But curiosity will probably get the best of me and I’ll give you guys another review. There are mixed reviews about the movie. Some say it is too violent and glorifies child sacrifice. I agree that young children shouldn’t read or watch these. I’m not sure about older children. I’d say read them first then decide if your kids should read them. I do NOT believe it glorifies war & death. I haven’t seen the movie but if it’s anything like the first book it’s clear the Hunger Games are evil & voyeurism is bad. The author is trying to teach us a lesson about the evils of war & how society can become desensitized by violence. I do know that the movie had to have scenes cut out and changed for the rating. I think blood was digitally taken off swords etc. There are some beautiful scenes in the first book where Katniss shows she will not throw away her humanity & she will preserve the sanctity of life. Alot of it has to do with Rue, a 12 yr old girl tribute that Katniss befriends.

I’m rather conservative but I’ll admit that some conservative reviews can be extremely biased (as can Liberal I’m sure). Read the books for yourselves before judging their purpose. Like I said in my last review, these books remind me of The Giver. There is a moral to be learned. Alot of people are critical of kids reading “The Giver”. I read it in school as a kid and yes it dealt with some hard issues: like euthanasia and socialism etc. It also deals with a dystopian society. But I am SO glad I was “exposed” to it as a child. I came away from that book with a respect for human life and appreciation for individualism and creativity. Yeah, I am not a socialist. If anything I follow the rule of a King, Jesus Christ.

#3 The Mistmantle Chronicles by M.I. McAllister

http://www.amazon.com/Urchin-Riding-Stars-Mistmantle-Chronicles/dp/0786854863

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The last review is usually the shortest lol. I have not read the whole series but I read books one through four I think? Okay, usually I hate squirrels…..I really do. They scare me and I’m afraid of being attacked. Squirrels are evil. This David Crowder video shows how I see squirrels:

The Mistmantle Chronicles starts with “Urchin of the Riding Stars”. These books feature talking squirrels and I LOVED them! Now you know they have to be good for ME to like squirrels. I’m including the Amazon reviews. I don’t completely agree with them. I thought the first couple books kept me intrigued and their were some interesting plot twists. There’s a good ending and alot of emphasis on faith (An Anglican wrote this). The book doesn’t reinvent the wheel but who does reinvent the wheel? Seriously, this kind of fantasy has been done over and over…surprises are rare in any book of this kind. These books are kid friendly (middle school and up) and they teach morals. I give the first couple 5 stars. I haven’t read the rest of the series…after 3 or 4 books I have a hard time staying with a series. I just get bored. Anywho, if your kid likes Narnia they will like these. It’s a good alternative to Harry Potter etc. Enjoy the reviews:

Amazon.com Review

A young squirrel determines his true destiny in this Redwall read-alike by British author M.I. McAllister. A foundling discovered on the rocky shore of Mistmantle Island, Urchin has been raised by the peaceful order of rodents and otters that live and work on the magical isle. Now almost grown, the young squirrel wants nothing more than to serve as page to one of the dashing Captains that make up King Brushen’s personal guard. He gets his chance when Captain Crispin appoints Urchin his “right-paw squirrel.” But on Urchin’s very first morning in the Tower, the King’s only son is found murdered and Crispin is accused of the crime! Urchin can only look on helplessly while his mentor is banished from court. Meanwhile, power hungry Captain Husk and Lady Aspen continue to fill the devastated royal couple’s ears with treachery, and their cups with sleeping draughts. Urchin is desperate to prove Crispin’s innocence, but who will believe an orphan of questionable origins? Born under a sky of shooting stars, Urchin is destined to do great deeds, perhaps even save all of Mistmantle. But first, he must believe… Entertaining but predictable, this simply told medieval fable brings nothing new to the growing body of children’s animal fantasies. However, it will serve as a steppingstone for those young readers not quite ready for the detailed descriptions and hearty brogues of Brian Jacques’s ever popular and endlessly replicating Redwall series.–Jennifer Hubert

 
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From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Urchin the squirrel believes he is destined for greatness. Dropped from the sky by a gull onto the island of Mistmantle, he is rescued by Crispin, captain to hedgehog King Brushen. He becomes Crispin’s page and is quickly embroiled in the murder of the King’s young son. When Crispin is framed for the crime and banished, Urchin remains on Mistmantle, working for another captain, Padra the otter. Eyewitness to a power struggle for the throne, he helps fight against cruel new laws and reveals the true murderer. This story will appeal to fans of Brian Jacques’s Redwall series (Philomel) as well as to readers who enjoy court intrigue and battle scenes with tons of tails and fur. While the action contains too many coincidences to be believed (someone is always perfectly placed to overhear just the thing needed for the next chapter), the characters are memorable and likable, and the writing is smooth and evenly paced. Urchin rises above other animal stories with flashes of humor as well as weighty issues like murder and cruelty to the weak. Although the plot devices and characterization are fairly stereotypical, the book is worth purchasing, especially given the popularity of this genre. Young readers will be pleased to see this new series hit the shelves.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Well, God bless and remember The High King Lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: I am so excited about where my book is going. I’ve got the outline done for the first two books and there’s alot of action & character building. I’ve picked back up with my writing and at this rate I may finish the first book by summer. I can’t wait to share the world of Emeth with you. Oh if only the ideas would jump from my mind and onto the book by themselves…

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