Tangled

Tangled. Greno, Nathan and Byron Howard. Disney. 2010.

Disney returns to the production of “princess movies” with Tangled, a 3D-animated movie about Rapunzel.  the princess Rapunzel was kidnapped as an infant by the witch Gothel so that she could use the magic in the baby’s hair to eternally restore her youth. As Rapunzel grows up, she wishes to leave the tower where she is imprisoned in order to see the world and the source of the yearly display of floating lanterns. Though Gothel will not allow her to leave, Rapunzel finds her chance when the thief Flynn Rider finds his way into her tower. She convinces him to help her leave the tower and seek the source of the lights. In true Disney fashion, Rapunzel and Flynn experience lighthearted adventures, grave perils, and catchy song numbers over the course of their quest.

Although Tangled utilizes a 3D style of animation, in many ways it is a return to the older style of Disney “princess movies” and musicals that they produced for a long time. There is a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, a formidable villain, animal companions, and original songs. Flynn Rider takes a more central part in Tangled than was the case in many Disney films; his involvement is more along the lines of John Smith from Pocahontas than of Prince Charming in Cinderella. This may have been an attempt to attract more boys, who may not always be as interested in the princesses who take the lead roles in most Disney movies. Whatever the motives, Flynn is a likable and sympathetic character – even if he is a thief. Rapunzel is a pluckier sort of heroine than some, either. Though she spends the greater part of her life in captivity, she takes advantage of her opportunities to realize her dreams, and she is rewarded for it, though not without significant hardship.

Both girls and boys (and even parents and older siblings!) are sure to enjoy this fun new take on a traditional fairy tale.

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Around the World by Matt Phelan

Phelan, Matt. Around the World. Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2011.

ISBN: 0763636193

Age Range: 9-12

Matt Phelan’s graphic novel Around the World tells the stories of three intrepid travelers who took up the challenge set forth by Jules Verne when his novel Around the World in Eighty Days captured the imaginations of readers everywhere.

Thomas Stevens was the first of the three to make the journey all the way around the world, learning to ride the newfangled bicycle and decided to change his fate from the dark one of a coal miner to the golden glow of celebrity. Next, “girl reporter” Nellie Bly sought to complete the eighty-day challenge, racing around the world and writing stories about her travels for her newspaper. Joshua Slocum was a retired sea captain who decided to come back to complete the first solo around-the-world ocean voyage.

Phelan captures the spirit of each character through their words and appearances, as well as by using a different dominant color for each story (sort of like filters on Instagram) which relay the undertones of each story. For example, Nellie Bly’s story is illustrated using warm colors that indicate the heat of her feisty personality. The soft watercolors used in the images add to the vintage feel and the air of dreaminess that surrounds these people attempting the around-the-world voyage.

This book offers a glimpse into a time during which the around-the-world fad was raging at full force, and gives readers access to history in a different format that may prove more accessible to many readers than a standard history text.

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