Movie Review: The Karate Kid directed by Harald Zwart

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Karate Kid
Director: Harald Zwart
Run Time: 140 minutes
Rated: PG

Summary: Dre Parker and his mom move to China because of her work. The first day they get there he gets beat up by a kid name Cheng because he’s caught flirting with Meiying (Cheng’s friend that he likes). Cheng continues to bully him until Dre decides that he needs to learn karate and gets a teacher aka the maintenance man for his and his mom’s apartment that they’re staying in. Mr. Han sets up a showdown with Cheng at a very quickly upcoming tournament. Dre is scared for his life!

Why I watched this movie:

This movie looked really good and I love Jayden Smith!


  • I love Sherry Parker (Dre’s Mom). Especially when She’s all like ‘DRE! PICK UP YOU’RE JACKET!’ And he looked so miserable when Mr. Han made him put on, take off, drop, and hang up his jacket.
  • I liked the scene when Meiying and Dre were at the puppet theater and they kissed! It was so cute and funny how everyone else could see it because they were in front of the projector.
  • In that scene I also thought that when Dre and Meiying were pinky promising was cute!
  • The friendship between Dre and Mr. Han is really sweet. It’s like a father son relationship. Loved!


  • Why is Dre’s teacher named Mr. Han? Why not Mr. Miyagi? :(
  • I thought that Meiying looked a little too old for Dre in the movie. They’re about 2 years apart which isn’t much when you’re older, but it’s funny when you’re younger. Though it could be just the height difference.

Last minute thoughts: I have to admit, I was a little disappointed not to see Jayden waxing cars or painting fences. But I still liked watching him pick up his jacket!!!

Buy: The Karate Kid

Movie Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

See the originals: The Karate Kid Collection (Four Film Set)

Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

prisoner of azkaban

Reviewed by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Format: Hardback
# of pages: 435
Grade Reading Level: 5.9; Ages 11+

Summary: School hasn’t even started and there’s and escapee from a high security wizarding prison out to kill Harry Potter. He has been warned not to be looking for Sirius Black by Arthur Weasley, but as Harry said to Arthur, “Why would I go looking for someone I know wants to kill me?” At school the Ministry of Magic has put a guard in place made up entirely of Dementors. The Dementors are only suppose to be in charge of the wizard prison, but Cornelius Fudge seems to think their presence will inspire confidence in the populace. Though how we do not know as Sirius Black has escaped the guards once already! Harry’s life is in danger in more ways than one this year.

Why I Started the Book:

I read this book because I’m continuing to reread the Harry Potter series.


  • I liked it when Malfoy got his “just desserts” for insulting Buckbeak the hippogriff.
  • Rowling came up with a really fun artifact– the time turner. I especially enjoyed its use and the turn of events at the end of the story. I thought Dumbledore’s omniscient handling of the predicament to save Buckbeak and Sirius Black was excellent.
  • The Marauders Map was awesome! I liked how it showed where everyone was and where they were going. Now if only it showed the difference between a person in Animagus form and the normal human form.
  • The Dementors were scary, but awesome, and I loved reading the parts where they were mentioned.
  • Remus Lupin is a fantastic character! He was helpful, knowledgeable, and patient. The best Defense Against the Dark Arts teach to date in the books!


  • I greatly disliked Draco Malfoy and his father. Yes, they’re characters to love to hate, but it really is unfair what they can get away with because they’re Malfoys. For instance when they got Hadgrid in trouble after his first Care of Magical Creature lesson. It clearly wasn’t his fault.
  • I didn’t like Hermoine deceiving and depriving Harry of his new Firebolt. She could have handled her concerns better instead of going above Harry to a teacher.

Last Minute Thoughts: This book is where the series takes off and fleshes out.

Buy: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Paperback), Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-7), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Audio Book), Harry Potter 1- 7 Audio Book Collection

Book Rating: I give this book 5 treasure chests for cleverness, creativity, and creepy creatures!

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Review: The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Dark Side of Nowhere
Author: Neal Shusterman
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 192
Grade Reading Level: Grades 6-9

Summary: Jason has always lived in the same town his whole life and thinks it’s so boring. But when Jason’s friend, Ethan dies from a burst appendicitis everything changes. Not only is everyone sad that he’s gone but something really weird happens. Grant, the janitor tells Jason that Ethan isn’t dead. Is he right? How is that possible? Then Jason is given a robotic-like glove by Grant and finds out that his whole life has been a lie. Everybody he knows, including himself, are aliens!

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because it was a book we were reading in class before school got out for the year. We didn’t get to finish it so I decided to cheek it out of the library.


  • The writing in this book was phenomenal! I was at the end of my seat after every chapter. I could understand how the characters felt and their whole experience. It was like I was there in the same situation.
  • I liked how his parents never lied. He told Jason the truth about them through a bedtime story, he just didn’t know it was true.
  • The cover of this book is way awesome and fits the suspenseful  haunting quality of the story.
  • The book’s main point is what it means to be human.

Last minute thoughts: I wouldn’t suggest anyone under sixth grade read this book. It’s very dark and I don’t know if they would understand everything or just be completely creeped out.

Neal Shusterman is my favorite author at the moment! I look forward to reading more of his books!

Buy: The Dark Side of Nowhere

Book Rating: I give this book 5 treasure chests!

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5 Reasons to Read Books before Seeing the Movie


by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Before we start I think I should let readers know that I’ve done both: seen the movie before reading the book and reading the book before watching the movie.  Below are some of the reasons why I am now a firm believer in doing the latter.

  1. Explanations. You always get more information by reading the book. Most book to movie conversions leave things out. Going into the theater armed with this information you can make connections and keep up very readily.
  2. Imagination. When you read a book you’re visualizing what is happening. In a movie the visualization is done for you. Don’t get me wrong I usually love both, but by reading the book first you get to create it first instead of the other way around.
  3. Sense of Accomplishment. Finishing a book is awesome. Making the deadline of reading the book before the premiere is even better. Why deny yourself this? Read it and be smarter than your friends.
  4. Rewards. I don’t know about you, but my family rewards me for reading books before it comes out in theaters. I’ve gone to the Harry Potter and Twilight midnight premieres because I read the books. I even got popcorn and soda. How’s that for an incentive?
  5. Book is Better??? This one has question marks after it because it’s really up to the individual if the book or movie is better. Generally most people agree that the book is better, but I have to say I love watching the books come to the big screen. It just might be a toss up!

When it comes to books and movies, which do you do?

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Review: Bunnicula by Deborah Howe and James Howe


by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Bunnicula
Authors: Deborah Howe, James Howe
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Chester the cat and Harold the dog are curious about the new family pet. The Monroes found the bunny at a Dracula movie in a box of dirt. Chester tries to get rid of the bunny, now named Bunnicula by the Monroes, because he’s convinced the bunny is a vampire. He comes to this conclusion based on a book called The Mark of a Vampire. Bunnicula has all the signs – the black and white coloring, the pointy fangs, the ability to turn vegetables white and to escape his cage through miraculous means. It’s a matter of family safety! The bunny has to go!

Why I Started the Book:

Bunnicula was a class assignment in the month of October for a Halloween read. The book was broken into sections. We started by reading one chapter a week and then our teacher read aloud to finish the novel.


  • The pictures in the book were cool. I wish there were more of them because the illustrator did a phenomenal job. The bunny is so cute!
  • It’s a very humorous story. There are a lot of laughs from silly to clever shenanigans. (e.g. Chester mixes up “stake” and “steak” and attempts to pummel Bunnicula with a steak.)


  • (This is not a book dislike.) Don’t watch the twenty minute movie companion to this story! It’s soooo bad! It’s really just awful and the book is so much better!

Last Minute Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot and plan to read the sequel, Bunnicula Strikes Again! I think other classes and kids would enjoy this seasonal book a lot!

Buy: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery (Paperback)

Book Rating: I give this book 4.5 treasure chests!

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Movie Review: The Last Song directed by Julie Anne Robinson

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Last Song
Director: Julie Anne Robinson
Run Time: 107 minutes
Rated: PG

Summary: Ronnie and Jonah are staying with their dad for the summer. Which is fun for Jonah because he likes hanging out with his dad, but Ronnie could care less about coming, or about anything. Before all this Ronnie used to be a good girl. She wouldn’t get in trouble, steal things, get bad grades, and she used to play the piano. Amazingly. So amazingly that she got accepted into Julliard! Until something happened to change all that. At her dad’s Ronnie walks around the beach and gets her smoothie spilled on her by a cute stranger who later becomes her new boyfriend. She couldn’t be happier and starts finding her love for music again, but not everything is as perfect for her father who becomes sick and is blamed for something he didn’t do.

Why I watched this movie:

It looked interesting and it we got to watch it on Netflix.


  • Liam Hemsworth (Will Blakelee) is so HOT!
  • I liked when Ronnie was trying to save the sea turtles and she had to sleep outside with the racoons and such and she looked like trash the next day.


  • Ronnie really annoyed me in the beginning (and sometimes in the middle). She was all ‘I’m too cool for you.’ I can’t stand that. When she found out that Will “went on the same date with different girls” Ronnie flipped out. She was like ‘OH MY GOODNESS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! I HATE YOU!’ She didn’t even ask him about it or anything. Galadriel could have been lying or stretching the truth and instead of acting like a sane person and going to the source to get the facts she relies on hearsay. Grr. You can’t trust things like that from anyone, not even your BFF until you confirm it with the party/ies involved. Some people are just out to make you as miserable as they are and you have to protect yourself.
  • I hate it when Miley Cyrus talks and then her voice squeaks! It’s so annoying and it gives me chills. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Buy: The Last Song

Movie Rating: 3 Treasure Chests!

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