January 6th, 2014

Escaping the Cold

underIt’s time to get away. From it all. From the cold, from the snow, from everyone’s constant social media updates about the cold and snow…  And there are more ways to escape than yet another episode of House Hunters International.  So pack up your imaginary suitcase and click “play” on your remote to savor a feast of escape movie treats. It’s time to escape the winter cold snap blues with some magical films (all available at the library!)

A personal favorite is Under the Tuscan Sun, the film version of Frances Mayes’ successful book of the same name.  When Frances is talked into going to Italy to help her get over her recent divorce,  she finds herself so in love with the sun-drenched, laid-back lifestyle that she abandons her tour group and recklessly buys a near-ruin of a villa in Tuscany.  How she renovates it and finds love, friendship, and a new life there results in a captivating story that will warm your winter heart.

a_good_year-dvdBask in some Provencal sunshine with A Year in Provence,  starring John Thaw—of Inspector Morse fame—loosely based on the bestselling books by Peter Mayle.  Here an ad executive chucks it all—as the author really did—to live in the south of France, slow down and write of the local food, wine, and eccentric villagers.  In A Good Year, also based on a book by Mayle, a high-pressure executive (played by Russell Crowe) travels to France to sort out the vineyard he inherits. Of course, it proves to be a life changer for him.

Back to Italy again to serve up Bread and Tulips, a delightful story of a housewife, who, after her family forgets her at an auto rest stop, decides to hitchhike to Venice.  The life she finds there what she has always wanted, but when her mother-in-law tracks her down and tells her she must return to her family, will she give up her new-found happiness?

breadIn Enchanted April,  two English ladies escape dreary London for a stay at a magical Italian villa.

Do you sense a theme here—France, Italy—sun-kissed locales—escape?

Then, if you haven’t had enough, there are travel videos such as Rick Steves’ Europe. Check out the one titled Italy’s Countryside for an unforgettable hike around the Cinque Terre—Italian hill towns—and Brava Italia, a four hour feast that tracks the whole of Italy, indulging in the food, wine, villages and famous sights, all set to the most evocative music that will have you reaching for a glass of wine yourself.

Il Postino (The Postman) is the story of a postman who delivers mail to the famous poet, Pablo Neruda, and looks to him to help him write poetic and convincing missives to the waitress he is in love with. Set along the scenic Sicilian coast, it is a quiet and mesmerizing testament to the power of poetry.

chocolatChocolat, starring Juliet Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench, is about a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French village.  Their sensuous approach to chocolate is unique and shakes up the rigid morality of the townspeople, showing them how to love, laugh and live.

Finally, a little gem of an escape movie that for so many people has become an all-time favorite: Local Hero.   An oil company sends a rep to Scotland to buy up an entire village to build a refinery, and although the townspeople are receptive to the idea, it is the rep who has a change of heart. The lives of the colorful inhabitants are played out against the haunting beauty of the seacoast town, where the Northern Lights are visible on any given night.

So pack up your imaginary suitcase and escape to sunny lands and remote villages. Best of all, these titles are available for free through Cecil County Public Library.

What’s your favorite movie escape?


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September 19th, 2013

Summer Reading Cup Challenge Winners

SR cup challenge winners 2013Though the leaves are beginning to change and the chill of fall is most definitely in the air, summer, and more specifically, summer reading, was on the minds of students and faculty members at Kenmore Elementary and Conowingo Elementary who were recently presented with one of this year’s two APGFCU Summer Reading Cup Challenge trophies.

2,160 elementary school students from the Cecil County Public Schools registered for this year’s Dig Into Reading summer reading program at the Cecil County Public Library, and 28% of them finished the program by reading for at least 4 hours over the summer.  The students at Kenmore Elementary, however, went above and beyond with 35.6% of their students finishing this year’s program, making them the 2013 Winner of the APGFCU Summer Reading Cup Challenge, an award that recognizes the school with the highest percentage of students who complete the summer reading program at the Cecil County Public Library.  As the winner of this year’s award, the school received a $500 check from APGFCU for their media center, a trophy, and Mister Softee ice cream.

The students from Kenmore Elementary weren’t the only ones celebrating, as Conowingo Elementary, with a 33.9% completion rate, won this year’s Most Improved Award for increasing their rate of completion from 17.05% last year – the largest increase for all county elementary schools.  For their hard work and dedication to reading over the summer, they received a $250 check, also from APGFCU, for their media center, a trophy, and a snack bag of cookies following their Good News Assembly.

Cecil County Public Library and APGFCU are proud of the accomplishments of the students and faculty at Kenmore Elementary and Conowingo Elementary and are eagerly looking forward to next summer’s Fizz, Boom, Read! program when we will crown another Summer Reading Cup Challenge winner.

Will it be your school?


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