Flip through this Caldecott Medal-winning book and you can see why it became a movie. As the fly leaf says, "[w]ith 284 pages of original drawings, anFlip through this Caldecott Medal-winning book and you can see why it became a movie. As the fly leaf says, "[w]ith 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience." You read that page count for graphics correctly - when the story begins, you won't see a title card until page 46. In addition to the drawings, there are movie stills, especially from the films of Georges Méliès (guess why).
The story focuses on Hugo, an orphan who lives in a Paris train station with his Drunkle Claude, the man charged with maintaining the station's twenty-seven clocks. Hugo takes up this task when Claude disappears, along with continued work on an automaton his father found stashed in a museum attic. In his search for spare robot parts, Hugo crosses paths with a cross old man and his goddaughter, Isabelle. I won't say more about the plot beyond this so as not to ruin the book nor the movie.
As for the movie, which Hubby and I saw after I'd started the book, there were some changes. The character Etienne was dropped, other characters (including the dreaded station inspector) were built up, love stories were added and much, MUCH more was said about movies and how they effect people. I predict "Hugo" will be nominated for - and possibly win - a "Best Movie" Oscar because it was directed by Martin Scorsese (and who DOESN'T like him?) and the film deals with movie magic, which Hollywood would eat up. ...more
I got the audiobook because I haven't seen the movie yet but would like to. Yes, I'm a huge nerd - I got back to the source material before watching tI got the audiobook because I haven't seen the movie yet but would like to. Yes, I'm a huge nerd - I got back to the source material before watching the movie it's based on. This collection actually had a few short stories.
1. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - What a drag it is getting old. Growing young must be worse - everyone thinks you're a freak who can somehow control what's happening to you and cannot take you seriously. Five stars out of five.
2. "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" - John T. Unger befriends an odd and wealthy boy at prep school and is let in on his family's big secret. He also learns how they managed to keep it for so many years. Three stars.
3. "Tarquin of Cheapside" - A medieval-ish tale of a rouge's night out. Four stars.
4. "'O Russet Witch!'" - Merlin Grainger can't get a woman out of mind and still cannot seize the day. Four stars.
I was really enjoying this book, the movie version of which is to start filming in my hometown soon, until I got to the end. I won't reveal too much hI was really enjoying this book, the movie version of which is to start filming in my hometown soon, until I got to the end. I won't reveal too much here, but the story was great until I got to the end which left me with two questions:
1). Why would a murder victim have an ID card anywhere near her remains considering the circumstances of her death? Her only form of identification should've been her teeth.
2). The "who" in "whodunnit" comes out of nowhere. Not "comes out of nowhere" in the good, "Wow, I didn't see that coming" way or even the meh deus ex machina way, but in a "Gee, the author must've pulled that one out of his tuchus at the last minute" way.
Everything up to that point was still quite good, so go read the book, but pick up a copy from the library rather than pay for it, m'kay?...more
On page 217 (footnote #1) of "The Help," Minny Jackson is speaking with her best friend, Aibileen Clark, about Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan's project thatOn page 217 (footnote #1) of "The Help," Minny Jackson is speaking with her best friend, Aibileen Clark, about Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan's project that involves interviewing black maids to tell the world about their lives, especially the hardships. Minny says:
"I just...I want things to be better for the kids," I say. "But it's a sorry fact that it's a white woman doing this."
I wrote this line in my notes and followed it with, "No shit," because the same could probably be said about "The Help."
Here's a run down of the plot and characters I copied and pasted from Wikipedia because I want to get to writing my review:
The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. It is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s.
The novel is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children, and who has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs, exacerbating her desperate need for work as well as her family's struggle with money; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid that helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared and her attempts to find her have come to naught. The stories of the three women intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help", with complex relations of power, money, emotion, and intimacy tying together the white and black families of Jackson.
Skeeter, who wants to be a professional writer, gets the idea (with some prompting from a New York editor) to interview about a dozen maids who (she hopes) will speak frankly about their experiences. There's some nice stories in here, but to no one's surprise there are some ugly stories as well. While I like the general story overall - a group of women sticking it to the power structure, albeit anonymously - I feel like the ugliness black maids living in 1960s Mississippi went through was glossed over, that Skeeter was just a little TOO clueless about what was going on around her and that Aibileen was just a little too accommodating to be believable.
Whenever I read a passage in "The Help" where a black maid just loves the white children she's paid to raise, I couldn't help thinking about "The Color Purple," a novel that includes a scene where a black maid lets the white woman she raised know that, no, she wasn't loved so much as tolerated for the sake of a paycheck. Stockett is white and, per a biography I found on line, was raised by a black maid in the 1970s and 1980s, so I'm wondering if she has bought into the "Mammy" stereotype because it's less painful to believe the adult who spent the most time with you during your formative years actually adored you, or at least gave a crap for a child beyond doing whatever pleased the employer.
And there's only the slightest hint of the abuses black maids had to put up with. Maybe Stockett knew what she was doing by having the maids work when their male employers weren't around, maybe she just didn't want to touch the subject of sexual abuse. There is one scene in the novel where rape by a white man seemed remotely likely, and it didn't come across as threatening as it should've been. A crazy naked man shows up and starts harassing one of the maids and her employer, presenting his penis "like he's offering us a po'boy sandwich.(p.305) Because he is naked and because the two women have each other, the scene isn't as threatening as it could be - it's actually a bit silly at times.(#2) I saw an interview with Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry where she retells watching the movie version of "The Help" and how the lone scene involving a sexual threat was treated as something funny. As of this writing, I've yet to see the movie and I was only three or four CDs into the fifteen CD audiobook when I saw the interview, but I'd bet a paycheck Harris-Perry was referring to the crazy naked guy. Had he been less vulnerable himself (i.e. wearing pants instead of being completely starkers) and had the maid been completely alone, the scene would've been far more threatening. Again, is Stockett trying to skirt the sexual assault issue or is she unaware how bad it really was?
Speaking of obtuse white women, Skeeter really bugged me at times. More than once, I found myself thinking the only way her cluelessness would've been believable was if she were either 12-years-old (she's about 24 when the book begins) or she lived a secluded life north of the Mason-Dixon line. For example, Skeeter often goes to Aibileen (rhymes with "Maybelline," as in the cosmetics line) for help writing something completely different from the maid's story project, so much so that I had to stop and ask on Facebook if Skeeter ever bothered to give Aibileen a cut of the profits. I was told "Yes" and kept listening, only to find out that Skeeter 1). held onto the money and let it accumulate until there was a significant amount there and 2). she wanted to use this partly as a bribe to get Aibileen's help on the stories. This bothered me because 1). no one living hand-to-mouth should have to wait for one penny that's owed to them and 2). to use what Aibileen earned as a bribe is mean and manipulative.
This brings me to Aibileen being more accommodating than she realistically should've been. Skeeter acts as though everything will be hunky and dorey so long as names are changed or left out of her book of interviews completely, that no one in Jackson, Mississippi will guess who has been talking nor who is being talked about. On the other hand, Aibileen is rightfully scared because of how they could be gotten to should they be found out, whether through a whisper campaign by a white woman feeling wronged or by their white husbands just itching to "avenge" them for even the remotest slight, real or imagined.
While I enjoyed the bonding scenes in "The Help," my knowledge of American history and how life really works won't let me ignore the rest.
#1. I actually listened to the audiobook version, so props to Amazon.com for allowing me to search for Minny's line I wrote in my notes so I could cite it properly. If you haven't read this book yet, I recommend getting the audiobook version from your library, which features four voice actors - one for each of the three main characters and one for a chapter told from none of their POVs.
#2. Question - with all of the guns they had in the house, why didn't occur to either woman to just shoot the guy rather than go after him with a knife, a broomstick and a fireplace poker? Granted, at least one of those guns was from the Civil War, but if it was cared for properly it still could've worked. ...more
Finally got around to reading a book a creepy movie is based on. HOW creepy are the book and the movie? By the time they both start, the title charactFinally got around to reading a book a creepy movie is based on. HOW creepy are the book and the movie? By the time they both start, the title character has been dead for at least a year and the film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
This Gothic novel is narrated by the otherwise unnamed woman who would become Mrs. de Winter #2, Rebecca being the late Mrs. de Winter #1. The contrast between the two women is striking - even though Rebecca is no longer around to speak for herself, she was such a larger-than-life character that the other characters almost constantly talk about her, while the narrator is such a flat and two-dimensional Plain Jane that she doesn't even have a name until she marries. It's Rebecca's world and she's just living in it.
Just when Rebecca's world pushes Mrs. de Winter #2 to the edge (almost literally), it becomes even more treacherous. I don't want to spoil anything for the reader, so I'll just say something emerges that forces Mrs. de Winter #2 grow a spine right quick and Mr. de Winter to further regret past decisions except for marrying Wife #2.
Two thoughts regarding what "emerges"...
First, there's a painfully inappropriate place where Mrs. de Winter #2 realizes - and even says - that her husband didn't really love his previous wife the way everyone else claims. Again, I can't say much without giving something major away, but suffice it to say both the book and the movie made me want to scream, "Really? THAT'S your first thought concerning what you've just been told? REALLY!?!?!!"
Second, Hitchcock made the lead male character, Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter, a bit more sympathetic. Or sure, he's still a prickly jerk who doesn't sugar coat his opinions of people and things, but at least something major done by the character is clearly an accident in the film while it was deliberate in the book. Again, ain't saying nothing more.
I would read the book before seeing the movie so you can better appreciate what Hitchcock and the actors he directs can do with simple gestures, looks and almost mystical movements (if Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca's maid and confidant, doesn't make your flesh crawl in the novel, she sure as heck will in the film). ...more