by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane

5 Stars

Spies in Disguise, directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, is a movie full of comedy and action that every family member can enjoy together. It is a movie that I enjoyed and would recommend others to watch. It has many exciting and “weird” moments that cause suspense and bring laughter.  

Spies in Disguise - Wikipedia

The movie is about a super-spy named Lance Sterling, voiced by Will Smith, and a scientist named Walter Beckett, voiced by Tom Holland. This duo is complete opposites who have to work together. Lance Sterling is a smooth, independent spy whose goal is to protect the world from evil. Walter Beckett is a smart, inventive scientist who lacks social skills. These two characters have to work together because Lance turns into a pigeon when accidentally drinking one of Walter’s inventions. The question throughout the movie is, will Lance Sterling return to human form? Will he be able to defeat evil as a pigeon? Lance was always used to working alone but, as a pigeon, he had to depend on someone else. He had to learn to work with Walter.  

The movie focuses on the idea that it is okay to be weird or different, and that people can work as a team even if they are different from each other. In the part of the movie where Lance Sterling says, “Let’s get weird”, this is associated with Walter always being considered the “weird kid” in school. It showed that all the work Walter did on his inventions was not just something weird but actually ended up helping Lance fight evil. When they worked together, they both became better versions of themselves. The movie also has a lot of action. There is a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat moment where a viewer would fear what was going to happen next. There are a lot of close-calls, and some events happen that you would not expect to happen in the movie. The movie showed Walter’s inventions in creative ways, and some of the things that happened to him and Lance throughout the plot were interesting and creative. The characters in the movie are funny, and the choices that they make cause them to seem silly and careless. The movie will grab the attention of everyone and give everyone a chance to stay on their toes and laugh. Overall, I would recommend this movie for all ages, and it is a good movie for a whole family to watch together. I would rate this movie 5 stars. It is funny, exciting, and would be enjoyable for everyone in the family to see. 

Liza P.

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by Lulu Wang

5 Stars

THE FAREWELL (Le mariage d'adieu) (Bilingual): Amazon.ca: Awkwafina, Tzi  Ma, VVS FILMS, Lulu Wang: DVD

The film, The Farewell follows a Chinese-American family as they discover that their beloved grandmother’s life is coming to an end. Billi is an aspiring writer who is very close to her Grandmother, Nai Nai. Billi discovers from her parents that her grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and may only live for another couple months. Billi and her family decide not to inform Nai Nai about her diagnosis to prevent her from living her remaining days in fear. Instead of breaking the saddening news, the family chooses to plan an extravagant wedding as an excuse to reunite the entire family one last time. Doing so, the family must control and do everything they can to cope with their emotions to protect their grandmother. 

I personally really enjoyed this film as it was deeply moving and extremely emotional. The storyline was very creative and intriguing, definitely not like anything I have seen before. The film showcases spectacular acting from the entire cast, especially Awkafina, who plays the main character, Billi. The music throughout the film was quite subtle, which was paired perfectly with all of the beautiful shots. There are references made to Asian culture; however, anyone will be able to relate to the movie with the themes about family and love. Even though this movie does not include crazy and dramatic scenes, the film resonates with the viewers and leaves you with deep emotions that will definitely linger on. I would highly recommend The Farewell to anyone who is willing to watch it.

Emily K.

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by Tom McGrath

4.5 Stars

The Boss Baby - Wikipedia

Imaginative Tim Templeton is a happy seven-year-old boy who has been receiving all the love and attention from his loving parents, Ted and Janice, for years. Tim is surprised one day when an infant wearing a black business suit and tie, carrying a briefcase arrives at his home in a taxi. Tim’s parents inform Tim that the infant is his new baby brother. With the new baby around, Tim realizes that he is no longer the center of attention anymore and is envious. One day, Tim discovers that the baby can talk and refers to himself as “The Boss”. The Boss Baby reveals that he has been sent out as a spy on a top-secret mission to destroy and end an organization working to launch forever puppies that will replace babies, Puppy Co. Though Tim is not too fond of the Boss Baby, he agrees to help him on his mission, solely to get rid of him faster. The two boys team up to create an epic battle between puppies and babies. 

I personally enjoyed this film as it was action-packed and included hilarious bits of comedy. The storyline was quite interesting and was entertaining to watch. The movie reminded me of my own childhood with the original take on sibling rivalries and bonding. I thought the animations were very colourful and vibrant, which were very pleasing to look at. In conclusion, Boss Baby is a cute and charming film that is great for the whole family to enjoy. 

Emily K.

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by Jen Wang

5 Stars

The Prince and the Dressmaker: Wang, Jen: 9781626723634: Books - Amazon.ca

In her 2018 award-winning graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker, Jen Wang takes us back to Paris at ‘the dawn of a new age’. We meet Frances, an aspiring seamstress hoping to be noticed and work under her idol, Madame Aurelia, and Sebastian, the Crown Prince of Belgium and the heir to the Belgium throne. Sebastian and his family had come to Paris to meet some of Sebastian’s potential suitors for when he ascended to the throne. Frances, on the other hand, had lived in Paris for most of her life and no longer wanted to work as a minimum-wage seamstress. 

In a strange twist of fate, Frances finds herself within the royal castle working for an unknown client, but, she quickly finds out that she is working for the Crown Prince of Belgium, Prince Sebastian. Sebastian asks Frances to keep his secret and she agrees. Frances realizes that working for the Prince would lead her a few steps closer to fulfilling her lifelong dream of working with Madame Aurelia. Sebastian realizes that with a seamstress at hand who knows his secret it would be easier to fulfill his deepest desires. In the daytime, he is Prince Sebastian, and Frances doubles as his best friend and his personal seamstress, but when the sun fades to black and the moon appears, he is known as Lady Crystallia and Frances is her friend. Together, these two friends engaged in scandalous adventures, heated arguments, romantic endeavors, and drawbacks that may change the whole course of both of their lives, forever. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a great book for anyone who wants a Cinderellaesque story. It teaches a lesson about not giving up on your dreams and on the people you care about.

Timi O.

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by Raina Telgemeier

5 Stars

Ghosts: Telgemeier, Raina, Telgemeier, Raina: 9780545540629: Books -  Amazon.ca

Ghosts, written by Raina Telgemeier was written very well. Like many people in the world, Cat, who is also known as Catrina, faced a new struggle. The task was moving to a foreign place where you know absolutely no one except the family that travelled with you. On top of knowing not many people, she had to make a good situation out of something that she would not have ideally chosen. The family moved to find better doctors to treat Maya, Cat’s little sister who has cystic fibrosis. Although the family did not move out of the state they previously lived in, it was still far from the place they called home for a very long period of time. 

The illness that caused the family to relocate is cystic fibrosis. It is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. The illness has no cure, and people don’t generally survive and live ‘till the normal life expectancy. People with cystic fibrosis have a general life expectancy of living to their mid-forties if they have a generally healthy lifestyle. 

Many people have a fear and that is perfectly normal. The fear that Cat faces throughout the story goes undetected for most of the story. It is not until she becomes close friends with their neighbour Carlos’s cousin, that she finds what her true fear is. Fears are perfectly normal and this story can help young readers understand that. Sometimes you need the right people in your life to help you get through your problems. From having a sibling, like Cat or Maya in the story, or even a neighbour, someone is always there to help. 

After an incident with Cat’s ghost loving sister, Cat shut herself off from her friends. “No! Leave me alone!” (Telgemeier 107) she shouted as she began to avoid one of the only friends she had made. Cat seems very protective of her little sister like many older siblings in the world are. Even though she may not always want to be around her sister, she is always very loving with and to her. 

This book teaches us, as readers, that everyone has their own sort of struggles. Even though Maya has a severe illness, she does not let that get to her. When they first got to the new house she was doing her treatment for cystic fibrosis where “the vest helps loosen the mucus in her lungs.” (Telegemeier 15) But, according to Maya’s family, “Maya’s soul doesn’t need any loosening” (Telgemeier 15) as she is always happy and is the light of her family. Like Maya, we should not allow things in our lives to stop us from getting what we truly desire in life. We can learn that even though life may be rough, you can always be happy.

Mackenzie M.

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by Mark Waid Illustrator: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish

4 Stars

Archie, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid

The Graphic novel, Archie, written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish, is a very alluring and engaging book. It is about a freckled-faced teenager named Archie who introduces himself right at the beginning as, “I’m not the most interesting guy in town.” This causes actual interest in who Archie really is. The story is about how Archie meets a rich new girl at Riverdale High and how that affects him and everyone around him. He experiences many changes in his friendships and love life. The story’s genre is based on drama, comedy, and romance. As a person who has been reading many Archie Comics over the years, this graphic novel is a very accurate representation of what the comics would be like in modern times. The graphic novel has effective graphics and dialogue. There is no inappropriate language and actions in this graphic novel. 

I would recommend this book for ages 10 and up. This graphic novel has a lot of romance and drama that might be difficult for children under 10 years old to understand the situations and events. The plot of the story is thrilling to read. The story introduces interesting dilemmas where the reader wonders what would happen next. There are also parts of the story that pique the reader’s curiosity. This happens in the part of the novel where Archie says, “We’ve been a couple since kindergarten. Until last week. Until the Lipstick Incident.” This causes the reader to question what had happened. The big downside to this graphic novel is that the way it ends, it might be dissatisfying to a reader. This graphic novel would be great for people that love books or series with cliffhangers at the end. Overall, I would rate this graphic novel 4 stars. It’s a very good story to read, and would be especially interesting for people that have read Archie comics.

Liza P.

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by Nicola Yoon

5 Stars

The Sun is also a Star: NICOLA YOON: 9780552574242: Books - Amazon.ca

Natasha believes in science, facts, and things that can be proven with evidence. She doesn’t care for fate, and she most certainly doesn’t care for love. Not that she has time to worry about either of those things. She and her family are being deported to Jamaica in twelve hours, and she is going to do everything in her power to stop that from happening.

Daniel wants to be a poet. In fact, he is a strong believer in fate and the way of the universe. But that’s not the path his parents have planned for him, and rather than following his dreams he plans on meeting his parent’s high expectations. This changes when he meets Natasha. He knows something greater is at play—it’s destiny, decided by the universe, and he can’t let Natasha go.

The Sun is Also a Star explores themes of fate and destiny, and how they compare and connect to science and reasoning. Both main characters are people of colour, and I really enjoyed the chapters that explain the history behind elements of their cultures as they are mentioned. I also like Yoon’s style of storytelling, which includes the main storyline, the cultural history parts, pieces of the characters’ pasts, and side characters who only appear in a few scenes but are crucial to the story.

This book is perfect for those who are just getting into reading, and people want a quick or fast-paced read that will hold your attention, because the entire story takes place over twelve hours. I think this is a five-star read, and I really enjoyed reading it!

Michelle G.

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by Rick Riordan

5 Stars

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1) | The lost hero, Heroes book,  Heroes of olympus

Jason has amnesia. He wakes up on a bus full of kids he doesn’t recognize, and a girlfriend and best friend he’s sure he’s never met. His friends inform him they go to the Wilderness School for “troubled youth,” but he has no idea what he’s done, or why he’s even there, but he can tell that something is terribly wrong.

Piper has a way with words. She’s been sent to the wilderness school for stealing a BMW, except she didn’t really. She simply asked the car dealer for it, and he obliged. But Piper’s dad is missing, her boyfriend Jason doesn’t recognize her, and she’s having awful nightmares that may lead her down a horrible path. 

Leo is good with tools, he’s known for his expert ability with them. He spent his childhood running from foster home to foster home but finally feels comfortable with his friends Jason and Piper. Of course, with his luck, things take a turn for the worse. 

Monsters attack the three on a field trip, and Jason can somehow fight them off using wind powers. However, it’s not Jason who saves them, but some teenagers calling themselves demigods, flying down from a chariot. The trio is taken to a place called Camp Half-Blood, where they learn they are children of the Ancient Greek gods. But Jason, Piper, and Leo are special even amongst demigods and must embark upon a quest that could determine the fate of the mortal world. 

This is the first book in the series after the Percy Jackson books, and I think fans of those books will love it. The Lost Hero has lovable characters, an excellent plot, and like all of Riordan’s books, plenty of humour. I’d recommend it to younger audiences or anyone who read the Percy Jackson books!

Michelle G.

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You’re Next

by Kylie Schachte

You're Next by Kylie Schachte

Flora Calhoun has a history of finding dead bodies. First, it was Lucy, a classmate whose body she discovered while out for a jog. Now, years later, Flora is still resentful toward the polices inability to arrest the killer.

At school, Flora now has a reputation for sticking her nose in other people’s business and getting into trouble. One night, Flora receives an unexpected phone call from Ava McQueen, a girl who captured her heart, then stopped talking to her.

When Flora arrives to help Ava, she finds her bleeding on the pavement, and Flora is launched back into her memories of finding Lucy. Now, after finding not one, but two bodies, Flora sets herself out to find the murderer, no matter the cost.

Kylie Schachte has written a gripping thriller! An intense story with a flawed main character, You’re Next is bound to be your next favourite read.

by Karen M. McManus

4 Stars

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus: 9781524714680 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

At Bayview High, everyone has secrets. Thanks to Simon Kelleher, runner of the school’s notorious gossip app, About That, those secrets are displayed for everyone to see. In one week, Simon is planning his juiciest reveal yet, but unfortunately, the plan is interrupted. The day before the reveal, five students enter detention–Bronwyn (the brain), Cooper (the athlete), Addy (the beauty), Nate (the criminal), and Simon himself. Only four of them make it out alive, the same four students whose deepest secrets were scheduled to be released the next day. But Simon is dead, and the four are now the prime suspects in his murder. 

Everyone has secrets, but who would go this far to prevent them from getting out?

This book is perfect for fans of The Breakfast Club, Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and Love, Simon, since it feels like a crossover between all of them. This book is fast-paced, exciting, and the plot twists will continue to shock you and keep you guessing. It also has a bit of everything, from drama to mystery to coming of age, friendship and romance. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy teen dramas, people looking to get into mysteries, or anyone who may have gotten bored of reading and needs something that moves along quickly to keep them interested. I’d also recommend listening to the audiobook if you like that format because it’s read by a full cast! I’d rate this book 4 out of 5 stars and suggest reading the sequel, One of Us is Next, or Karen McManus’ other book Two Can Keep A Secret if you want more.

Michelle G.

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