NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:20 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

March Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz'

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:50 am

Our next book club adventure takes us on a journey that is familiar to people across generations: We will be taking a trip down the yellow brick road with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900. It is one of the most beloved stories in popular American culture, but over the decades, the book has taken a back seat to the wildly successful Wizard of Oz film.

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Movie Reviews
5:13 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Jack The Giant Slayer': A Fun, Fractured Fairy Tale

Nicholas Hoult plays the young Jack, who must wage battle against an ancient race of giants in Jack the Giant Slayer.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Great deeds start out as current events, move on to history, and eventually, with some craft and embellishment, become folklore and legend. This process is central to the structure of Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, which merges elements of the familiar folktale of "Jack and the Beanstalk" with the less ubiquitous "Jack the Giant Killer." It sets the story as a kind of midpoint between one "true" story that has become a legend for Jack, just as the events of Jack's "true" story have supposedly passed into the realm of a simple folk story.

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Movie Reviews
5:12 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker'

Evelyn and India Stoker (Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska) slowly descend into icy paranoia after their family patriarch dies through suspicious circumstances in the horror thriller Stoker.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

It's a mark of a great filmmaker when a movie is felt first and understood later, allowing audiences to intuit their way through a fog of mystery and sensuality before finally getting a clear view of the landscape. Best known for an operatic trio of revenge thrillers — the second, Oldboy, won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004 and a fervent cult following — South Korean genre maestro Park Chan-wook expresses florid emotion in cool, impeccable, gothic language.

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Shots - Health News
5:06 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Strategy To Prevent HIV In Newborns Sparks Enthusiasm And Skepticism

By taking antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy, this Tanzanian mother lowered the risk of passing HIV to her daughter.
Siegfried Modola AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 7:52 pm

There's great enthusiasm among some global health leaders about a bold – some say radical — strategy to prevent pregnant women from transmitting HIV to their newborns.

But skeptics worry that the approach, dubbed Option B+, will pit pregnant women with HIV against others infected with the virus, diverting resources from the broader struggle against the pandemic.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Leviathan': Of Fish And Men, Without Chats

The dingy commercial fishing boats that dot the waters off the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and Canada have lives all their own in the new documentary Leviathan.
The Cinema Guild

Undersea things — iridescent creatures, mossy rocks, silky-slimy plants — are just weird. They're fascinating by their very nature, often barely resembling anything we have on land. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's half doc, half art project Leviathan capitalizes on that strangeness while linking it to the more prosaic world of commercial fishermen plying their trade off the coast of New Bedford, Mass.

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Movies
5:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Soviet Ghosts Resurface In Soggy 'Phantom'

Grizzled Soviet submarine captain Demi (Ed Harris) fights crew subversion and personal pain in a losing Cold War struggle against American opponents.
RCR Distribution

Explosions rattle the crew. The air is turning fetid. And the captain has ordered a descent toward "crush depth." Yet everything is on course in Phantom, the newest model of the old submarine-from-hell picture.

But the predictability of writer-director Todd Robinson's film is, well, predictable. There are only so many things that can happen in the close quarters of an imperiled sub. What Robinson purports to do is show those familiar undersea events from a different vantage point. All the characters in Phantom serve in the Soviet navy of the 1960s.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

'Hava Nagila: The Movie' Pays Homage To Unlikely Jewish Touchstone

Young newlyweds are serenaded with the strains of "Hava Nagila." The unlikely origins of the popular Jewish standard are explored in Roberta Grossman's documentary feature Hava Nagila: The Movie.
International Film Circuit

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 8:47 am

I grew up on "Hava Nagila," and I'll admit it's not the catchiest of tunes. The ingenuous Hebrew lyrics ("Come! Let us rejoice and be happy!") don't wear well in our age of knowing irony and ennui.

Hip young Israelis wince at the very mention of the song, and for many Diaspora Jews, a few bars of the tune are all it takes to recall that excruciating moment late in a fancy wedding or bar mitzvah, when the band invites all remaining guests (tipsy uncles included) to kick up their heels — and then go home already.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:02 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'

Courtesy The Audobon Society

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 6:30 pm

Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has just moved to a new town, where he doesn't have any friends, and where his teachers — and the police — think of him as nothing more than a "skinny thug."

So it's easy to understand why Doug, the protagonist of our latest book for NPR's Backseat Book Club, Okay for Now, is anything but a happy-go-lucky kid.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:01 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

A Young Artist Finds Solace In Creatures Of The Sea And Sky

Courtesy James Prosek and Waqas Wajahat, New York

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 1:30 pm

In February, NPR's Backseat Book Club read a novel about a troubled kid who finds both strength and solace in the artwork of the renowned naturalist John James Audubon. The novel, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, takes place in 1968 in a little town in upstate New York where middle-schooler Doug Swietek is drowning in life's complications.

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Asia
4:56 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

At A Pakistani Mobile Library, Kids Can Check Out Books, And Hope

After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 6:30 pm

On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.

This is the weekly visit of the Bright Star Mobile Library.

Volunteer Ameena Khan starts pulling books from shelves on either side of the van.

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