Madagascar (2005) PG
From the creators of Shrek, Madagascar is a fun movie for all ages to enjoy. You will laugh out loud as you follow four animals who escaped from their comfortable digs at the New York Central Zoo. Led by their friends, aided by a wacky group of penguins, they set forth to return to their roots in Africa. After their ship wrecks, the animals find themselves on Madagascar and are befriended by a fun filled group of lemurs. The movie has laughs, incredible animation, and is a nice story of friendship.

Featuring the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (2008)
If you haven’t discovered our downloadable audio books, check out this collection! I spent a Saturday laughing my way through house cleaning while listening to this David Sedaris title on my MP3 player. I enjoyed this book so much that I found myself looking for house work so I could continue listening to his funny stories. The language may put off some listeners.

Listen to Sedaris read his commentaries and visit his website.

The Bucket List

The Bucket List (2007) PG-13
Self-made tycoon Edward Coles (Jack Nicholson) finds himself sharing a hospital room with auto mechanic and family man Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). During chemo treatments they form a bond which intensifies when they both learn that their treatments have failed. With Cole's cash, the two men work their way through a combined list of things they want to do before they "kick the bucket." Funny and uplifting, The Bucket List is a story about friendship and redemption.

The City of Thieves by David Benioff

The City of Thieves by David Benioff (2008)
Leningrad is under siege, its inhabitants starving, and two unlikely companions find themselves imprisoned. Kolya the eternally optimistic, brave, and full of life young Cossack is unjustly accused of desertion. Lev Beniov a cynical, intellectual Jewish teenager is falsely accused of stealing. The colonel in charge of their execution offers them a reprieve: bring him a dozen eggs for his daughter s wedding cake within a week and he will release them. In a city where the glue from book bindings passes for food, Kolya and Lev set off on an impossible and dangerous task. As Kolya’s and Lev’s adventure takes them through the treacherous streets of Leningrad to behind enemy lines, their friendship grows.

Read the L.A. Times review and a brief bio of the author at

Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third (2007) PG
Fans of Shrek won’t be disappointed in the third movie in the series. Shrek and Fiona assume the royal duties of Far, Far Away when Fiona’s father King Harold becomes ill. Shrek soon discovers that an ogre is not suited for all of the pomp surrounding a King’s duties. He sets out with Donkey and Puss to find Arthur, another heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Prince Charming is up to his usual nasty tricks trying to assume the throne.

Featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, and John Krasinski. Catch up on the whole series by checking out Shrek, Shrek 2, and the TV special Shrek the Halls. And get ready for Shrek Goes Fourth, due out in May 2010.


Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (2008)
In Stalin's Russia there is no crime--at least none that the State will publicly acknowledge. What does Leo Deminov, WWII war hero turned state investigator, do when he uncovers a series of children who were murdered? To admit that the crimes and perpetrator exist is certain death to Deminov and his wife Raisa. This atmospheric page turner grabs you from the start.

Watch the author's video clip and read a Newsweek article about the book.

You Can’t Take It With You

You Can’t Take It With You (1938)
Do your 401(k) statements make you cringe? Watch this Academy Award-winning Frank Capra film as a lighthearted reminder that money isn’t everything. When Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the dilettante son of a wealthy banker, falls in love with his not so well to do secretary (Jean Arthur), he also must embrace her loving, but eccentric family. The Sycamores are a free-spirited lot who spend time nurturing their creative pursuits, rather than making lots of money. The whole neighborhood loves the patriarch of the family Martin Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore). Vanderhof is the last hold out in a twelve block area being purchased by Tony’s greedy father. When the two families meet, their lifestyles and values collide!

Visit Turner Classic Movies for more on the movie, including a video clip and publicity shot.

Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith

Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith (2004)
Inspector Arkady Renko, first introduced to readers in Gorky Park, investigates the alleged suicide of billionaire Pasha Ivanov. While Renko navigates the waters of the “new” Russia, his investigation takes him to Chernobyl and its evacuated zone. Smith has delivered another outstanding thriller filled with wonderful characters and insights into life in contemporary Russia.

Read an excerpt and reviews of the book and watch a video of the author at Simon & Schuster's website.


The Fall of Berlin, 1945 by Antony Beevor

The Fall of Berlin, 1945 by Antony Beevor (2002)
With new information obtained from the Soviet archives, Antony Beevor reconstructs the dramatic race between the Soviets and the Americans to reach Berlin at the end of World War II. A gripping read that is made more intense as the reader knows the terrible devastation that awaited the residents of Berlin.

Read the reviews at and learn more about the fall of Berlin at Eyewitness to History.

The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie (2007) PG-13
After eighteen years as an animated TV series, the Simpsons make it to the big screen. Series fans won't be disappointed in this laugh out loud film filled with “Homeresque” moments.

Can't get enough of the Simpsons? We have the first 11 seasons on DVD plus books and graphic novels.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (2008)
The uncommon reader is the elderly Queen Elizabeth II. While chasing after her corgis, the Queen stumbles upon a bookmobile that regularly stops at Windsor Castle. Other than the librarian, the bookmobile’s only occupant is Norman, who works in the Windsor Castle kitchen. Under the tutelage of Norman, the Queen slowly discovers the world of books and the joy of reading. As her enjoyment of reading grows, the Queen’s tolerance for state functions decreases, much to the chagrin of her staff. This quick read is recommended for those who just let the dishes pile up as they read one more chapter.

Read The New York Times book review and discover more about this award-winning dramatist and author.

The Marriage of True Minds by Stephen Evans

The Marriage of True Minds by Stephen Evans (2008)
This humorous, touching novel about former marriage and law partners Nick and Lena Graves is a quick read. Lena is a crackerjack attorney who is saddled with supervising her eccentric ex-husband Nick until his competency hearing. Nick’s recent antics with his ever present sidekick Sancho, a sheepdog hand puppet, landed him in trouble again. The dialogue is fast paced and funny, the relationship between Nick and Lena is poignant and loving. This book truly stands out for its originality and sympathetic characters. Together Nick and Lena realize that their relationship is not only one of mutual annoyances but is also endearing and enduring.

Read a summary of the book, some reviews and a brief bio of the author at Unbridled Books. Discover additional reviews at

Desk Set

Desk Set (1957) G
This sleeper starring Hepburn and Tracy is one of my favorite romantic comedies. The Christmas office party scene will put any Scrooge in the holiday spirit! Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) spends a month observing the crackerjack reference department of a big TV network. Told to keep his intent secret, Sumner is planning on computerizing the department. His creation Emerac (the electric brain) meets its match in Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn), who heads the reference department. Bunny has a brilliant intellect, but isn’t so bright when it comes to her longstanding relationship with her supervisor. Sumner shakes up the department and Bunny’s love life.

Three Coins in the Fountain

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
Wonderful scenes of 1950s Rome, Italy, glamorous fashion and a light romantic story make this a fun, albeit somewhat dated, chick flick. Three single women (Jean Peters, Dorothy Maguire, Maggie McNamara) work as secretaries in Rome and share an apartment as well as dreams of finding love. After tossing coins in the lucky Trevi Fountain, the woman experience the ups and downs of relationships with their suitors (Clifton Webb, Rossano Brazzi, Louis Jourdan).

Awarded Oscars for Best Original Song ("Three Coins in the Fountain," music by Jule Styne; lyrics by Sammy Cahn) and Cinematography; nominated for Best Picture.

To Sleep with the Angels by David Cowan

To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire by David Cowan (1996)
This page turning account of the December 1, 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels parochial school that killed 92 students and three sisters is a testimonial to the victims and survivors. The book is also an indictment of the system that permitted children to attend schools that were fire traps.

Read reviews of the book, learn more about the fire, and check out the Emmy award-winning documentary Angels Too Soon (produced by WTTW). Also look at the front page story that appeared in yesterday's Tribune.