Fantasia / Fantasia 2000

From Erik Schmid
Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 [videorecording]
Fantasia and its sibling movie Fantasia 2000 belong in that category of films which you either love or hate. For those of us who enjoy the music-only soundtrack concept, Fantasia reigns as an example of what animation can be as a creative art form. Others see it as devastatingly boring. It can be helpful to know that Fantasia was Disney’s attempt at merging the art forms of animation and music, where the music can stand alone, with his animators creating storylines or abstract visuals that complement the music. Both of the films were made with this concept in mind; however even though Disney made this film, the entire concept lends itself better to an adult audience. The 2000 version tried to make the concept more viewer friendly by using a greater amount of humorous guest announcers between the shorts; unfortunately the shorts themselves were less memorable than in the classic first film. This edition combines the 2 titles into one welcome package with pristi  ne transfers and expertly produced surround sound. For those who love these movies, this release is a treat.

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The Children of the Stones (7 part miniseries)

From Erik Schmid 
The Children of the Stones (7 part miniseries)
If you can get past the hokey 1970’s special effects this childrens’ drama has much to offer in terms of thrills and plot development. This was one of a few foreign children’s series that were shown on Nickelodeon back in its infancy in 1983 on a show called ‘The Third Eye’. All the shows dealt with children that had E.S.P. or had “visions”. This series deals with a father and son that are invited to do research on a small English town that has a circle strange stones surrounding it, much like Stonehenge.  Upon meeting and investigating the townsfolk, they begin to realize that there is something not right with the town. With slowly building tension and a truly strange soundtrack, ‘Children of the Stones’ can be enjoyed by fans of Goosebumps and other childrens’ horror.

Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice, Book 1)

From Erik Schmid
author: Delaney, Joseph
Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice, Book 1)
Imagine you are a young boy who was indentured to the local “Spook” as an apprentice. A Spook is a lonely, dangerous job, shunned by most, and it deals with opposing evil supernatural forces that threaten the land. Would you be happy to do this? Thought not. Thomas Ward is the boy in this tale, the seventh son of a seventh son, who is apprenticed to the local spook in order to learn how one captures, contains and banishes witches, boggarts, ghosts, ghouls and other malevolent creatures of the dark. This is book one of an ongoing series that really grabs the faithful reader. The horror is dark, but there is nothing in this book that crosses into the terrifying, so children can read this without trepidation. If your kids read Goosebumps, this might actually seem tame at times! All in all, a truly gripping book, that leaves the reader running for the next installment.

The Bartimaeus trilogy. Book one : the Amulet of Samarkand

From Erik Schmid 
author: Stroud, Jonathan
The Bartimaeus trilogy. Book one : the Amulet of Samarkand 
Bartimaeus is a Djinni, one of many demons in the world of this trilogy. He is not evil; he just is what he is. Djinni and their ilk are treated like slaves by the human Magicians in this story, set in a fictional London where Magicians have overthrown the non-magical governments and are the lords above all other people. Bartimaeus’s new master is just a boy with a chip on his shoulder who is out to prove to his aging master that he is special. Along the way in this action packed and well written tale we meet other Djinni.  Bartimaeus knows and uncover a secret resistance while dealing with a mysterious challenger to the prime minister. This is truly a great fantasy series, using Harry Potter as a muse while not stealing from the former series. It also doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the Potter series; not being overlong; not dwelling on minute details as much. This volume is followed by The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

From Erik Schmid
author: D’Agnese, Joseph
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
The life of the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci is simplified with fictionalized narrative in this picture biography for the young reader. From his childhood in 1178 Pisa, where he solved the math problems his teachers gave him in seconds, to introducing Hindu-Arabic Numerals to Europe, to discovering the Fibonacci sequence, the book expands upon what is factually known about the life of this great scholar.
Taking what could be perceived as a dry topic and making it very interesting is the true triumph of this children’s biography.

Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express

From Erik Schmid
author: Spradlin, Michael P.
titl: Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express
This handsomely illustrated picture book for older readers tells the story of the first ride of the Pony Express in 1860. Using a daily journal style approach, the book uses the route that the riders traversed to inform the reader about the local geography, history and conditions of the stops along the way from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The factual accounts of the riders, along with action of the everyday events themselves, make this a history book that will appeal to the non-history reader.

The Edge Chronicles Volume One: Beyond The Deep Woods

From Erik Schmid
author: Stewart, Paul
The Edge Chronicles Volume One: Beyond The Deep Woods
This first volume of the ten-part “Edge Chronicles” introduces the reader
to the main character Twig’s world and gives us the background needed to
enjoy the rest of the series. This very original world is made up of
trolls, goblins, man-eating trees, floating cities and deep forests where
strange creatures look for food and stalk each other.  Twig is a troll
himself, and yearns to get out of his drab existence and live a life of
adventure, preferably as one of the sky pirates. These pirates captain
huge flying sailing ships. Twig is very different from his elders, who
can’t understand why someone would crave adventure. One day on his way to one of his relatives, Twig decides to “step off the path” and journey into
the Deep woods, the forest surrounding his home, which begins a sequence
of events in which we meet the strange inhabitants of the Woods.

The Edge Chronicles is full of imagination and has slightly off kilter
storytelling, making it one of the most original fantasy series to come
along in some time. Paul Stewart recently wrote the final installment of
the series,”The Immortals” so there is no need to wait for upcoming books
with this one. So “step off the path” and read “Beyond the Deep woods”.