A stellar new edition of ''A Wrinkle In Time''
Madeleine L'Engle's classic sci-fi work,''A Wrinkle in Time,'' celebrates 45 years in print with this new special edition. Plus: Barney Saltzberg's ''Crazy Hair Day,'' ''Lassie'' gets restored on DVD, and more!
A stellar new edition of ”A Wrinkle In Time”
REISSUE OF THE WEEK
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
Does a book count as a reissue if it’s never been out of print? I don’t know. But I do know that I wanted to commemorate this edition, which celebrates 45 years in print for this beloved classic. I wasn’t the first 10-year-old to hunch over it in bed, enrapt, long after my light should have been turned out — and I won’t be the last. (Science fiction wasn’t my thing, either.) Here’s hoping the tale of gawky Meg Murry — who, with her little brother Charles Wallace, goes on a gallant adventure to save their dad, and the universe, too — never goes out of print. A+ —Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 9 and up
Crazy Hair Day
(Craig ‘N Co.)
The title track of this fantastic 13-song collection is based on Barney Saltzberg’s 2003 book of the same name, which tells the story of a hamster who goes to school with gooped-up hair every color of the rainbow to celebrate Crazy Hair Day. Just one tiny problem though: It’s not Crazy Hair Day, but Picture Day, and mortified little Stanley Birdbaum hides out in the bathroom until a friend persuades him to re-enter the classroom — where every kid has funked out his or her hair to make Stanley feel all right. (The book was inspired by a boy who was reluctant to return to school after undergoing chemotherapy, and whose classmates shaved their own heads in a show of solidarity.)
But perhaps even more touching than ”Crazy Hair” is a song that will quietly hit home for today’s incredibly busy moms and dads. ”Be With Me” paints a picture of a parent yapping on a cell phone while a little one is watching a DVD in the car, thinking, ”I wish you were talking to me.” Two other tracks expound the virtues of four-legged friends (”It isn’t their noses, their tales, or their paws / I love dogs…just because”), while another proclaims a love for certain type of footwear (”It’s really not a secret that my favorite place of all / Is sliding in my socks down a long empty hall”), even offering an explanation for the conundrum of those missing socks (”I pretend they’re dancing at a sock hop up in heaven”).
There’s a nice mixture of silly (a ditty about soggy cereal and a bluegrassy sing-along about trying to sound like a cricket) and serious (”Best Friends,” sung by Jackson Browne and Vonda Shepard — just a couple of the big-name assists on the CD — is a sweet song about a friend who moves away). The icing on the cake, or perhaps the hairspray on the coiffeur, is a lovely reading of Saltzberg’s book by Dustin Hoffman. A- —Eileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 3-9
Lassie: A Mother’s Love
103 mins., 2007
When you view something like Lassie, you realize how kids’ entertainment has changed over the years. Back in 1954, the debut season of Jeff’s Collie (Lassie), there were none of the bells and whistles, silly sight gags, or snappy putdowns that are now such a mainstay of the genre. In the simple stories from these three classic television episodes (all in black and white), we see the famous collie’s maternal instincts kick in as she hides the runt of her litter, helps rescue little Timmy from a tunnel, and takes in a baby mountain lion as her own. A newly discovered episode, restored and in-color (believed to be the pilot for Jeff’s Collie), rounds out the DVD, and kids will get a kick out of a split screen that shows them how film is restored and colorized. B —EC
Recommended ages: 4 and up
Discovery Channel, Premieres May 16 at 9 PM (ET/PT)
Think of this as a less salacious version of When Animals Attack. Predator expert Dave Salmoni takes a look at what makes certain animals, who’d normally steer clear of humans, go purposely on the offensive. In the first episode, ”Grizzlies,” he retells some fascinating stories — of a Canadian woman viciously stalked by a black bear (warning: close-ups of her scarred scalp in the hospital are not for the squeamish) and of another woman, a jogger, who made a fatal mistake climbing a tree to escape (bears, even though they can weigh hundreds of pounds, are excellent climbers). The show does a good job of dispensing some interesting facts about black bears and grizzlies, and children will be amazed to look at a tame grizzly’s set of teeth, but it also unfortunately tries to amp up the drama by creating scenarios in which its host himself might be in danger from the animals he studies. ”Grizzlies” ends with one bear casually glancing over at Salmoni before idling down a beach, a rather anti-climatic end to his I-might-be-in-trouble-here setup. Perhaps he’ll have better luck with the hippos and crocs he’ll later encounter. C+ —EC
Recommended ages: 5 and up
by Cecil Castellucci
Katy’s mom — who’s doing graduate work on an archaeological dig in Peru — ships her to L.A. to spend some time with the dad she hasn’t seen since she was small: the Rat, as he’s known, drummer of the fringe punk band Suck. Katy’s mom, a band groupie, met the Rat when she was 16, and had Katy at 18. But a caldron of heroin and booze wasn’t any place to raise a baby, so she split, and raised Katy on her own in Montreal. None of her mom’s stories have prepared the straight-laced Katy, 14, for the Rat. Nevermind the fact that he’s clean now, and that Suck is poised for a comeback. Katy is repulsed by his grungy, cluttered apartment, his music, his lifestyle — everything. She doesn’t much care for Lake, the 16-year-old daughter of one of his bandmates, who has been delegated to hang out with her (and gets annoyed when Lake starts calling her Beige, implying she’s bland and uncool). Still, there are some bright spots, especially the gorgeous guy living in her dad’s apartment complex, a guy who might just be interested in Katy. As the summer unfolds, so does Katy’s life, in ways she never expected. I loved Castellucci’s characters, not just the Rat and Katy but all the minor ones too, from the shy skateboarding Suck fan to her dad’s ’50’s-clad girlfriend, Trixie. Tweens will love this book, and their parents won’t mind it, either (kissing’s about as far as it goes). As a reviewer, I feel compelled to tell you that I didn’t buy Katy’s transformation at the book’s end: It happened too quickly to be realistic. When I expressed this to my 12-year-old, though, she said, ”Mom! Who cares about that? It’s a really good book!” A- —TJ
Recommended ages: 11-14