Dead End in Norvelt

Our family continues to progress through Newbery Medal Award Winners.  Just tonight we wrapped up Dead End in Norvelt.

We have now completed enough books (thirteen), as a family, that I thought we should begin ranking them.  The following list does not include the works that were not award winners (but that we might have greatly enjoyed) – such as the seven books from The Chronicles of NarniaHatchet (an honor recipient – and truly the family favorite), or The Hobbit.  

Here is the list to date (we now have a new title at the top spot): 

  1. Dead End in Norvelt
  2. Shiloh
  3. Holes
  4. A Wrinkle in Time
My favorite quote from Jack Gantos‘ work was when he warned to “Be suspicious of history that is written by the conquerors.”  

The victors rarely reveal the entire history.  The focus is far too often on the celebration rather then on reflection.  Is winning a war ever worth celebrating?  Or is it in the act of ending the war?  The winner is not always right.  And just because a side is right does not mean that they did everything right.  Could they have done something to prevent the war?  Could they have fought the battles differently?  What might have they done following the conflict that would have brought stabilization and structure?

Regardless, this book was by the funniest so far.  A pretty good mystery in it’s own right.  An interesting snapshot in the Cold War era.  I highly recommend it. 

Our next selection is The One and Only Ivan.  Has anyone read it?  Feedback?  

Dead End in Norvelt


I just finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.  This is the fourth book in his Robert Langdon Series (best known for part two which was titled The Da Vinci Code).

Honestly, I don’t know why I continue to read Brown.  The author consistently and unapologetically betrays the reader’s trust.  One of the most important principles for historical fiction is that the author may take liberty concerning the characters in question but still maintain accuracy as it relates to the events in question.  In Inferno, as in all of his previous works, Brown approaches his work with an undercurrent of skepticism towards the Catholic Church (so much so that he is ready and willing to mislead his audience in the matter of their motives and methods).

To be fair, Brown is usually so gifted in bringing about suspenseful and surprising turns and twists that keep his readers engaged.  This work was a bit different in that the first half was a bit predictable and problematic. But there is a reason for that.  Everything changes soon enough – finally making sense of why events unfolded the way they did.

That being said, the author’s agenda in this book was just too much to overlook.  Population control.   Genetic and biological research.  The villains are not only glamorized but actually justified?

The author writes (speaking of an accomplice to a terrorist attack), “You are a member of a new breed of thinkers.  You provide counterpoint. You can help them understand the mind-set of visionaries like Bertrand – brilliant individuals whose convictions are so strong that they take matters into their own hands.”

Dangerous territory to tread.  We must value life – womb to the tomb.


The Greatest Superhero Flicks of All Time…

I love superheros.  And I love movies.  So in honor of this weekend’s release of Man of Steel, I thought I would share my top ten comic-movies of all time:
  1. The Dark Knight.  Possibly the best villian in the history of cinema (3:10 to Yuma is right up there – but not a superhero movie).  
  2. Man of Steel.  The origin story we were waiting for.  We need to wait for the entire trilogy to be completed before this interpretation can truly be judged (especially in comparison to Nolan’s Batman). 
  3. Batman Begins.  The greatest story ever told about a superhero. 
  4. Superman II.  For the era there was none better.  
  5. The Avengers.  Until I saw the film for myself, I did not believe that it would be possible to juggle so many egos and actors.  Well done.  The most fun on the list. 
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger.  The most underrated superhero of them all.  
  7. Spiderman 2.  Transformed special effects for superhero movies.  They should have stopped here. 
  8. Batman   There would probably have not been a Nolan-take on the Dark Knight had Burton not revived the Caped Crusader (and recaptured the darkness behind the mask). 
  9. Superman.  Truly the beginning of the modern-day genre.  
  10. X-Men.  Marvel entering the fray.  
Honorable mentions:  The Dark Knight Rises (a fitting conclusion to the best superhero saga to date), Superman Returns (not done right – but an ode to the ’80s franchise), Iron Man (the best film on a previously lesser known superhero), X-Men: First Class (probably a better interpretation than the one listed above but less meaningful overall), and Spiderman (eye-catching at the time – just too predictable). 
You can see that I am a bit partial to Superman (and I make no apologies for that), Batman and Captain American (my favorite Marvel comic hero of all-time).  
I am really excited about this Superman reboot (far better than the last – which was underrated).  Let’s hope this is the beautiful beginning to a trilogy. 
What makes your list? 
The Greatest Superhero Flicks of All Time…