Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paula & Simon #02-02: Delegation

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Paula & Simon #02-01- Homecoming

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

5 Reasons Why Books are Better than Movies

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first movie that really disappointed my wife. It wasn't that the acting was bad, or the cinematography, or the special effects. But it was the first time that she had read the book before seeing the movie, and it ruined everything! Her expectations for which scenes she thought should be in the film, the way she thought the characters should look or behave, it was all wrong.

Why is that? Why is the book always better?

I have come up with the following five reasons why I believe that the book will almost always be better than the movie:

1- We get inside the main character's head

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, however a thousand words may not be enough to communicate what is happening inside a character's head. When we read a book we get exactly what each character is thinking and what their thought processes are. I can't tell you how many times I have watched a movie and asked "Why did they choose to do that? Why didn't they do this instead?" Movies cannot show us what a character is thinking as well as a book can because it is really hard to put a camera inside someone's head.

The time when this is most obvious to me is when a blockbuster movie is adapted into a book. All of the meat from the character's thought process is missing and the book comes across as very hollow. The reason this happens is because the author is trying to describe what they saw on the screen, rather than giving us additional depth by showing us what the character is thinking. They also don't have the freedom that filmmakers have in taking "artistic licence" to adapt the story better for their medium.

A recent example of this is the book adaptation of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I didn't see the movie before reading the book and it was scary how empty the book felt as I read it. Descriptions where you would normally get right inside the character's head were kept to mere facial gestures, it was disappointing to say the least. With the stunning visual effects missing, there wasn't a whole lot there to keep me engaged.

2- Authors are not limited to 2-3 hours

In the original telling of a story authors are limited by their word count, not the hours that it takes to read the book. Because of this difference in limitations they can fully develop their characters over the course of several thousand words, where in a movie, the character had better be well developed by the end of their first scene or the audience is lost.

3- We get the original story and not a retelling

The closer we are to the original story teller, the better the story is. I will take for my example the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone we get a book and movie that are extremely similar. There is little variation between the two, most likely because of how closely J. K. Rowling was kept in the production process. Fast forward a decade to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, and the story told in the movie compared to the story told in the book is drastically different. The fact that there wasn't a book part II speaks volumes in and of itself, and the battle of Hogwarts was completely unrecognizable from page to screen. Very disappointing, and really unnecessary in the context of the story.

4- The only visual limits are the bounds of our imagination as readers

There are still very real limits to what Hollywood can produce visually. Budget, camera, and wardrobe restraints all play a role in what is or is not shown on screen. While in our imaginations the sky is the limit! If you see a Frodo, the Hobbit, as even shorter and hairier than Elijah Wood portrayed him, go for it! Jadis, the Witch not nearly scary enough in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Do as you will. Darcy not charming enough, or Elizabeth not fair enough? Ender not shrewd enough? When you read the book, you can make them exactly what you want!

5- Books are written to tell a story, movies are made to make money

Authors do not begin their careers thinking, “I'm going to make a million dollars.” They start writing because they have a story to tell, and they are confident that they can tell it well.

Movies, on the other hand are made to make money.

For example, when you hear about an awesome book in the media, it is almost never accompanied by the amount of money the author made in sales, but almost always about how well the story was written, or how it has impacted lives. When you hear about a really great movie in the media, it is almost always accompanied by how much they spent to make it and how well it did in the box office. Whether or not the story was told well... not so much. I guess that's what award shows are for.

But really the main reason movies are made is to make money. They reach to the world of books because they are competent fakes. They can retell a story really well, but to write and produce a new story from scratch and do it in such a way that it impacts the world... that is another art form entirely.

There are obviously exceptions to these observations, but they are few and far between. So if it comes down to watching the movie or reading the book, for me the answer is obvious, the book is almost always better!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

FREE E-book !!

For a limited time, FREE E-book !! As a special offer, download my new children's e-book: Soft Rhymes between Friday Jan 26th and Tuesday Jan 30th, 2018. Don't miss out, this is a $4.00 savings ! Click the link below :

Thursday, January 18, 2018

He Reads What I Read

The following is a true story and may affect how you approach your child’s reading, as well as your own:

I had an interesting experience with my son, Kendall, when he was 12 years old.  Yes, 12. When each boy and girl takes their brain out of their head and puts it on a shelf for 18 months to 2 years.

My wife sent ME to parent teacher conference because she didn’t want to deal with the report Kendall’s teachers were going to give us.

So, I talked to the first six teachers and they appeared to be speaking from a pre-written script. It went like this:

Me: Hi, …  Kendall Purser.

Teacher: Kendall (sigh) what are we going to do with Kendall.

Me: ”Uh,”

Teacher: ”I don’t even know how to explain it. Well, let me just show you his grades.”

99 out of 100
103 out of 100
96 out of 100
104 out of 100
90 out of 95

”You see, he is understanding the class just fine, I just can’t get him to turn in his homework. He’s not even turning it in late. He’s not turning it in at all.”

Me: ”Well, I can work with him on that.  Let’s see if we can get more follow through from him.”

Teacher: ”I think he is actually doing the work, but he is only turning in 1 out of 5 assignments.”

Me: ”Yeah, that’s definitely a problem.”

Teacher: ”I can’t imagine doing all that work and not turning it in.”

Me: (after talking with 5 other teachers) ”Alright, let me see what I can do.”

Teacher: ”Thanks, it’s nice to meet you.”

Me: ”uh, yeah, you … too.”

THEN I went to the reading teacher.  This is how it went:

Me: (with dread and apprehension)   ”…  Kendall Purser.”

Teacher: (comes awake, sits upright, big smile on her face) ”KENDALL,  KENDALL, PURSER ?!?”

Me: ”uh, yeah,”

Teacher: ”You’re Kendall’s Father?”

Me: ”Yes.” (Where’s she going with this..)

Teacher: ”I just LOVE Kendall.  He’s my favorite student in the entire 7th grade.”

(I thought, wait, you’re not reading from the script that all the other 6 teachers were reading from..?)

Teacher: ”How do you get him to read what he does?”

Me: “Well, he reads what I read.”

Teacher: “That’s amazing!!”

Me: ”It is?”

Teacher: ”Yes, He has the most breadth in his reading of any student, his age, that I have ever met.”

Me: ”I don’t understand?”

Teacher: ”Let me explain.. Every 9 weeks my students turn in a book report.  Do you know how many Goose Bumps book reports one teacher can choke down?”

Me: ”Uh... ”

Teacher: ”This year is unique. I get 84 Goose Bumps book reports, and then I get Kendall’s.”

Me: ”Just the one?”

Teacher: ”Yeah, and I never know what he’s going to give me.  
One time it’s a Louis L’Amour western
The next time it’s Jack Higgins with a World War II historical fiction novel.
Maybe next it will be a Middle Earth fantasy by J.R.R Tolkien
And then it will be Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a science fiction book.

Kids his age don’t read like that. It’s a stark contrast to 84 Goose Bumps books, all year long.”

Me: ”Well, okay, that I can explain. I read a book and give it to him and say, ‘Here’s a good book.’ Occasionally, because he’s only 12, he’ll give me a good book he found. We just read each other’s books.”

Teacher: ”That’s amazing!”

Me: ”Really?”

Teacher: ”See, I actually pace myself with Kendall’s book report…. I think, Maybe if I read 64 of the Goose Bumps book reports, THEN I read Kendall’s, it will lift my spirits enough to plow through the rest.”

Me: ”Wow, I had no idea.”

Teacher: ”Yes, I don’t think I could have survived this year without Kendall.”

Me: ”Well, I’m glad to hear it.”

Teacher: ”Not only that, he has a great sense of humor.”

Me: ”Heh, heh, well, we share that too.”

Teacher: ”His sense of humor is at least 2 grades above his age. He’ll tell a joke, and I crack up, but all the other students just stare. It went right over their heads.”

Me: ”Well, good.” (there’s an implied assumption that I, a grown man, have a 9th grade sense of humor, in case you missed that)

Teacher: ”Well, Mr. Purser, it was nice to meet you.  Thank you again, and keep doing what you are doing with Kendall and his reading. It has made a difference in MY life, at least.”

Me: ”It was nice to meet you, thanks for your kind words and not repeating what the other teachers just told me.”

So anyway, that was a long story to say what?

You, as parents, can make a difference in your child’s reading experience and skills by:

· Encouraging them to read,
· Taking an interest in what books they are actually reading,
· Sharing a good book with your child,
· Reading with them,
· And talking about the books you read.

You can help them find out that there is a lot more to read than, say, the Magic Tree House Books, American Girl stories, or (shudder) Goose Bumps.