‘the cat and the mouse’ – my first story (probably)

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Mom went through some of her old papers this morning.  In her yearly planner from 2005, she found what appears to be the first story I ever wrote (I would’ve been six or seven).  To preserve this historic document, I thought I’d share pictures (yes, there were illustrations because what little kid writes a story without illustrations?) and an easy-to-read transcript of the story itself. (I preserved all my delightful spelling and grammatical errors for the world to see.)

Oh, and in her 2004 planner she discovered a list of books I’d read that year.  They included the All of a Kind Family series, the Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), and the Sadie Rose series.  Which is *cough* impressive for a six or five year old.  But what really made my day was the note Mom put after the list…“Too many books to count”.  YASSSSS.

But anyway.  To get back to The First Piece of Fiction that Eva Ever Wrote.

The cat and the mouse.

By Eva-Joy

The cat was with a shoe….. [I put the first line on the front cover.  AUTHORS SHOULD ACTUALLY DO THIS, Y’ALL.]

And it saw a mouse. It ran after it almost had it when it went into a hole. the cat was sad but it could not git in [repeat: all mistakes have been carefully preserved]

The cat angry that the mouse have gottin away. It thoute I will get it next time so it sat at the hole and wiated, and wiated, and wiated. [I am so proud of Little Eva using the Oxford Comma before she even knew what it was.] But it did not come out. Why dos’ent it come out. The mouse was smart. [The mouse is my favorite character in this story.  He was smart.]

[The End]

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You guys.  Despite its obvious juvenile failings, this little story makes me so happy.  Even back then, I was a writer!  From that story I graduated to co-authored ‘novels’ with my oldest brother. (The oldest siblings in our stories always had to be twins – a boy and a girl – so that there would be gender equality.  Very important to nine and eleven year olds.)  Then I wrote horrible Regency fiction. (Inspired by Jane Austen.)  Then medieval stuff.  Then a dystopian trilogy.  And so on, until I’m here, twenty years old, actively working toward traditional publication.

*sniffles*

It’s a good feeling.

And just for the record, here’s a snippet of my current WIP, The Darkness is Past.  It’ll make the comparison between my old and new writing complete.

“You’re bleeding,” Lukas said and shoved the twisted life jacket away from Sol’s shoulder. His long fingers probed the wound.

“One of the guards…he’s worse,” Sol said.

“Keep some snow on it,” Lukas said, bending down and pressing a handful of the stuff into his hands.

Sol brought it to his shoulder, gasping when the fiery cold seeped into his wound. His heart pounded from the pain. The cold.

Lukas came out of the hovercraft, supporting the bloody, unconscious guard.

Julius followed a few steps behind, carrying two bundles of supplies in his hand.

Blood water ran between Sol’s fingers. -Chapter Sixteen

So tell me: have you ever discovered pieces of your old writing?  Were they good or bad?  And isn’t it awesome, being able to see how far we’ve come?

Eva

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gort in ‘the day the earth stood still’ (1951)

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check out the others posts in the blogathon here.

“Gort!  Klaatu barada nikto!”

Some of the most iconic words in science fiction history.  But the movie they come from isn’t as well known, which is a shame.  It might be slightly cheesy at times, but ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ is a first-rate sci-fi film that can still resonate with audiences today (I know that because it resonates with me, lol).  And one reason for its greatness is the robot, Gort.

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Aside from the obvious fact that Gort is portrayed by a man in a rubbery robot suit, he’s a pretty chilling…antagonist? (He’s definitely not a villain.)

Yes, the special effects might be a bit, um, lacking, but when the spaceship lands in the ever familiar Washington D.C. area, Gort steps out, and Bernard Hermann’s chilling score plays, it’s pretty much impossible not to feel a little tingle of fear. 

Gort is able to destroy guns, tanks, and people with little to no effort.  Once he’s effectively cowed the crowd, he stands still.  No one can move him, no one can dent his ‘body’.  So they end up putting him in a case made of special plastic.  Nothing can break that – or so they think.  Gort does eventually end up breaking out, though, and the results are…interesting.  I won’t spoil anything in case you haven’t seen the movie yet!

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what is that random guy doing there?

But I do want to talk about three ways in which Gort is unique from most robots in the movies. (The third reason is kind of a spoiler, just so you know.)

He was given unlimited power over his creators.  Yep.  Unlike other stories where the robots/AI are either completely subservient to their creators or have destructively taken over (usually leaving a dystopian world in their wake), Gort and his ‘brothers’ have been given control over their alien masters.  Why?  Well, the next point will address that.

He has a sense of morality.  Apparently, Klaatu’s countrymen were able to create robots with a sense of right and wrong.  They then set those robots to police their countries and cities and destroy anyone who transgressed.  So yeah.  I mean, most filmic robots do have a sense of right and wrong (though, in real life, they wouldn’t) so maybe this point isn’t as unique.  But Gort was literally created to have a moral code (that’s his purpose) so…still interesting.

He can bring people back from the dead.  Whether it’s something that Gort himself (itself?) does or only his knowledge of alien technology that allows him to operate a life-giving machine, he still brings a certain character back from the dead.  (Obviously, this movie has some intriguing/problematic theological implications.)  And again, that makes Gort a very interesting robot.

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So, have you seen ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’?  What are your thoughts on Gort and his powers?

Eva

give every book a chance (#GEBAC)

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Recently, I’ve found myself trying to pay more attention to what I read.  And that mostly takes the form of saying to myself (right before I dive into a new book) “This book could be bad.  Or it could be one of those astounding, five-million-stars-on-Goodreads books that will literally change your life.  Or something solid and good and in-between.” (Of course, I’m not that poetic in my head.  It’s more like “book could be good, pay attention”.)

I used to rant about books I hated – without mercy.  Granted, I still do some of that but since getting more serious about my own writing, I like to give every book a chance.  And even if I don’t love it (or even like it), chances are that that book has been worked on and cried over (and maybe even prayed over) for years.

Years, people.

Most of the books on your shelf, on your library’s shelves, on the bookstores’ shelves, are the product of at least a year of work.  Usually more.  They’ve gone through revisions and late nights and endless cups of coffee.  The author (nine times out of ten) has given their everything to the book you hold in your hands.

So…let’s give every book a chance.  Of course, we won’t like each one.  Some of them will make us furious.  Some will evoke such a sense of ‘meh’ that we’ll never fulfill the perky ‘RTC!’ on Goodreads.  But every once in a while, we’ll find a book that makes our soul soar.  A book that inspires us in every way.  A book that will leave us on a literary high for days or even weeks.  Or simply a book that we thoroughly, completely enjoy.

(And I’m not saying that we can’t write rant reviews on our blogs or Goodreads.  ‘Cause then I’d be a hypocrite.  Just…let’s not be so quick to do so.)

(By the way, this principle applies to pretty much anything.  People.  New foods.  Music genres.  Movies.  TV shows.)

So yeah.  That’s about it. 🙂

What books have surprised you with their awesomeness?

Eva

P.S. This is the LAST DAY you can get Sarah Addison-Fox’s Allegiance series for FREE on Kindle.  I highly, highly recommend you do so!  Here’s the link to her Amazon author page where you can find each book in the series (beginning with Disowned).

‘the hunchback of notre dame’ live action dream cast

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by Katie @ I’m Charles Baker Harris (And I Can Read) (blue) and Eva (purple)

A few days ago Katie and I were chatting on Facebook and I mentioned that Disney is planning to do a live-action remake of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (are we even surprised anymore?).  We chatted a bit about who Disney would cast and then had the idea of collabing on a blog post talking about our dream cast.

IT’S GONNA BE EPIC.

Epic is the word  😀 I haven’t seen too many Disney animated films, but ‘Hunchback’ is very, very special to me, as it is to Disney fans around the world . . . and deservedly so.  It’s a beautiful story and it deserves the very best live-action version Disney can produce. So if they could just, y’know, take note of our dream cast, that’d be great.  😉

The Narrator/Clopin – Lin-Manuel Miranda

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aka most powerful line in the musical.

Because in what universe is this not perfect????  Seriously though, I feel like this dream casting is actually possible and I would loooove to see it.  Lin is hugely talented; he’d fit the role of the mysterious and dramatic Clopin incredibly well. (I think Disney would beef up the role if they cast him because who doesn’t need more Lin-Manuel Miranda in their movie?)

Quasimodo – Andrew Keenan-Bolger

"Quasi, take it from an old spectator. Life's not a spectator sport. If watchin' is all you're gonna do, then you're gonna watch your life go by without ya." - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Ahhhhhhhhh, Andrew Keenan-Bolger . . . if you’ve seen him in Newsies or Tuck Everlasting, you know why we adore him so, the precious bean.  (The smile alone is worth a million bucks.) More importantly, you know the man can SING.  And you know he can play physically disabled characters with a convincing mixture of vulnerability & spirit (Crutchie!!!)  We think he’d be a perfect Quasimodo.

Frollo – Peter Capaldi

For the people who have never read Kingdom Keepers: Power Play, this is the man how tried to kill Willa. He is from The Hunchback of Noter Dame, and he is an OT. Just thought you should know.

Tell me you don’t want to see Peter Capaldi’s face twisted with rage and agony and desperate desire in a firelit room with crazy shadows morphing into demons and pitchforks and what not.  GO ON AND TELL ME. ‘Cause I won’t believe you. 😛 This guy was born to play Frollo. Eva and Katie have spoken, and it must and shall be so.

Esmeralda – Zendaya

Esmeralda #esmeralda #disney

No, Zendaya isn’t Romani.  And I respect the opinion that this fact could disqualify her.  But, as a person of color, I believe she could bring the requisite personal experience of racial oppression to the role of Esmeralda–and, guys, I’m just really really really in love with her singing okay.  I mean???  Greatest Showman???  A little movie y’all may or may not have heard of???  If I could hear that soft, husky voice of hers do the high note at the end of “God Help the Outcasts” I would die happy and never ask for anything more in this world.  

[I’m kidding.  Kind of.]

Phoebus – Tom Felton

Day 9 Favorite Couple: Esmeralda and Phoebus. I just love their sarcastic attitude towards each other. They're absolutely adorable without being lovey dovey. They fight with each other mentally and physically but in a playful way. It's just wonderful to watch!

Yes, I admit that this casting was based on my not-so-secret liking for Tom Felton.  But you’ve got to admit it’s a good idea! He’s blond, for one thing, and for another I could see him playing up the jerk side of Phoebus a little (which is more accurate to the book) while still being super sweet in the end. ❤

Victor, Hugo, and Laverne (aka the gargoyles) – (respectively) Alan Tudyk, Hank Azaria, and Angela Lansbury

1884. "better to beg forgiveness than ask permission."

I’m actually hoping that Disney excises the gargoyles in favor of some toned-down, mood-appropriate comic relief (maybe Lin’s Clopin) but if they decide not to…I have the perfect voice cast. *smirks*  Alan Tudyk, Hank Azaria, and Angela Lansbury are all seasoned voice actors and Tudyk and Lansbury have already voiced characters in Disney movies.

But I really hope there’s no need for them. *winks*

The Archdeacon – Leslie Odom Jr.

Now you would add this child's blood to your guilt on the steps of Notre Dame!

This may seem weird because Leslie Odom Jr. is a person of color and the Archdeacon is very much French/“white,” but, fellas, I just can’t think of another actor I’d rather see in this role.  I love everything about him. I love his calming, yet imposing, presence and his soothing voice. I think he’d make an incredibly memorable Archdeacon; and I would die to see him confront Peter Capaldi as Frollo:  “You never can run or hide what you’ve done from the eyes of Notre Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame…”  

Quasimodo’s mother – Gal Gadot

No role is too small to escape the scrutiny of Eva and Katie!  Muahahaha. We both think that Gal Gadot is perfect to play Quasimodo’s mother.  With her accent and dark hair, she could be a believable Gypsy. And her natural charm and warmth would make her death all the more tragic.

Plus, we just really, really like Gal Gadot. 😉

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So, do you agree with our casting choices?  Who do you hope to see in Disney’s live-action ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’?

Eva (& Katie)

i watched season 4 of TURN and i have so many thoughts

Warning: this post is looooong.  I think the reason for that is because I watched TURN by myself and none of my family knows much about it.  So hopefully someone who does know the show will read this post and appreciate it.  Maybe.  Anyway, I want to get all this stuff out of me.

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i’m weirded out by the face paint.

In the last blog post I wrote about TURN, I said that I probably wouldn’t watch the fourth season because of John Andre’s death.  Since he was one of the main reasons I’d stuck with the show for three seasons, I was pretty sure season four would be awful.

So I basically forgot about it.

But then I had a TURN-themed dream and since I needed something to reward myself with for work/writing stuff, I decided to give season four a chance.  And you know what?  It’s the best season of the show.

Before I get into all the details of why season four is the best season of TURN, let me just say that although Andre’s absence was keenly felt (both by me and by several characters in the show), the writers did right by him.  If you must kill off a good character, have them be remembered and mourned by other characters.  And I almost felt sorry for Benedict Arnold (except that he’s awful, so I didn’t really) because it was obvious that pretty much everyone wished he’d died instead of Andre.

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Anyway.  Here’s the reason why season four was the best: it focused on the war and, you know, actual SPYING instead of cringy relationship drama.  Each season of TURN has had a lot of spying and action (obviously) but it’s also been full of Woodhull family drama and icky stuff between Abe and Anna that’s always rubbed me the wrong way.  It got so bad that I literally rolled my eyes whenever a scene came up involving Abe.  I’m not even kidding.

But season four?  There was no drama between Abe and Anna!  Abe actually, finally loved and appreciated his wife!  There were tons of thrilling, nerve-wracking, nail-biting action sequences!  And it made the show ten times better.

Also, it was like Abe’s character did a one-eighty between the last episode of season three and the first episode of season four.  When season four came around, he was smiling.  Happy.  Relaxed.  Warm and friendly.  It wasn’t quite enough to redeem him, but his scenes were so much easier to watch. (Then he became all vengeful after a certain character’s death and that wasn’t fun, but it was better than him being wimpy.)  My liking for him fell a little when he was so rude about getting paid in the last episode, but then he broke down in front of Washington and, well, it doesn’t really make sense unless you’ve watched the show.  But it was good.

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don’t ask why he’s wearing a British uniform – it’s complicated.

One thing that did annoy me about season four (and the entire show) were alllll the plots to kill Simcoe.  There was a new plot every other episode, it felt like, and I’d always be screaming in my head “HE’S GOING TO SURVIVE THE WAR AND GO TO CANADA SO JUST GIVE UP ALREADY!”  It was very stressful because I knew he wasn’t going to die…but maybe someone else would in the attempt.  And the same with the plots to capture Benedict Arnold. *sigh*

Oh, seeing Ben run into battle and set fire to hay and take British cannons and all that literally made me feel like this:

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HE’S JUST SO HANDSOME AND PERFECT AND AWESOME.  And he’s grown so much.  Gracefully handing over his position as Head of Intelligence to Alexander Hamilton (yes, that Alexander Hamilton).  Advancing to Congress when he used to be kind of naive.  Respecting Washington even when it was hard.  He’s all growns up now. *sniffles quietly*

I felt so bad for Peggy.  Married to Benedict Arnold, fighting for her safety and the safety of her child and the memory of Andre.

I’m glad Selah and Anna settled their differences.  I don’t know if they love each other anymore, but they respect each other and I’m glad Anna has three children at the end of the show.

Major Hewlett has had his better moments, unfortunately.

Abigail and Akinbode and Cicero’s subplot was sweet and heartwarming.  Loved it.

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Abe’s letter to Thomas at the end made me bawl, even though I don’t particularly care about the Woodhulls.  It’s just…TV show finales tend to get me because, even if you don’t love the show, you’ve struggled and lived and died with the characters for several seasons and now it’s all ending and it’s poignant and bittersweet.  And it doesn’t take much to make me cry.

Overall, TURN is a show that I don’t wholeheartedly love.  It’s problematic in some ways, boring in others.  There are many characters I don’t care about.  But there’s enough good in it to grip me. (And maybe entice me into a rewatch some day.)  I do love Ben and Andre. 

So I’m not sorry I watched the fourth season.

Not at all.

Eva

my favorite composers #5 – James Newton Howard

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James Newton Howard is the composer with whom I have the longest ‘history’.  I think he’s the first composer who I actually noticed, the one whose name I remembered instead of simply enjoying his music.  It was 2012 or 2013 and I was determined to write the next big dystopian series.  I hadn’t read or watched The Hunger Games yet but I listened to the first movie’s soundtrack approximately one million times while writing that series.  And the soundtrack for ‘Catching Fire’ once it came out.  Those two soundtracks informed my dystopian series and, since I hadn’t actually watched the movies, I came up with all kinds of weird ideas about them based on the track titles.

Anyway, I think James Newton Howard is pretty close to a genius.  He wasn’t the original composer for The Hunger Games series and had to create the score for the first movie on very short notice, but he delivered.  And continued to deliver throughout all four movies. (Personally, I think the soundtrack for ‘Catching Fire’ is the best, though the last three soundtracks rely heavily on the same themes and musical cues.)

Howard also composed music for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  He scored all the parts with Bruce Wayne (Hans Zimmer scored Batman’s scenes) and I adore the melancholy, poignant atmosphere he brings to Bruce’s scenes.  My favorite cue in the soundtrack for ‘Batman Begins’ is the bit that plays as young Bruce and his parents ride the train to the opera.  (It can be found in the track “Macrotus” and begins around 1:07.)

I also dig Howard’s scores for ‘The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep’ (sooooo much) and ‘Treasure Planet’ (ASOIOIWIEFWJOLSID). 

While not prolific as some of the other composers covered in this series so far, James Newton Howard is my second favorite movie composer (after Michael Giacchino).  Have you listened to any of his scores?  Which is your favorite?

Eva

P.S. While I was proofreading this post and researching Howard, I discovered that he replaced Danny Elfman as composer for ‘The Hunger Games’.  And now I’m intrigued because Elfman does great work – it would have been interesting to see how he handled scoring the Games.

ranking every Dreamworks Animation film I’ve seen

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A while back I did this with Pixar movies and it was really fun.  So today I’m here to rank every Dreamworks Animation film I’ve had the pleasure (or pain) of watching.  I was surprised, actually, by how many I’ve seen.  There are some excellent films on this list…and some not so excellent ones.  So join me as I scientifically rank each one from least- to most-liked.

(After I carefully ranked this list, I realized that I forgot about ‘Road to El Dorado’ (2000).  And I’m NOT going to go mess up my rankings for it.  Let’s just say it’s in the bottom half because of mehness.)

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18. ‘Antz’ (1998) – I have nothing good to say about this movie.  It was boring, had several instances of profanity (I tolerate profanity in adult movies, but when it’s something supposedly meant for little kids…no thank you), and it’s something I’ll never watch again.

17. ‘Shark Tale’ (2004) – Forgettable.  I hardly remember a thing about it, except that I didn’t enjoy watching it.

16. ‘Bee Movie’ (2007) – Okay, so I’ll admit that this was a mostly entertaining one-time watch.  But not much more than that.

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15. ‘Monsters Vs. Aliens’ (2009) – There wasn’t much that stood out to me in this movie, but the voice cast was fun and I did enjoy seeing the various monsters. (Reminded me a little of Monsters Inc.)

14. ‘Mr. Peabody and Sherman’ (2014) – The problem with a lot of the movies in the bottom half of this list is that they’re entertaining one time…and pretty boring all the others.  A good movie (animated or not) should have a story and characters that hold up to multiple viewings.  And this movie doesn’t. (But some of the jokes are pretty on point.)

13. ‘Turbo’ (2013) – The first time I watched ‘Turbo’ I’m not even sure I watched it all the way through.  And I don’t think I’ve watched it all the way through since.  But I want to!  It looks like a fun riff on ‘Cars’ with some great supporting characters.  It isn’t higher on the list simply because I don’t know it very well.

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12. ‘Home’ (2015) – While this movie has gotten a little old, that’s because I’ve seen it so many times.  There are many heartwarming moments sprinkled among the action scenes and Oh is the best.

11. ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ (2016) – Every single Kung Fu Panda movie has a place in my heart.  But I don’t remember much about this one, unfortunately.  It was great to see how Po has grown throughout the trilogy.  Even though he might seem like the same big, silly panda, he has matured.

10. ‘Puss in Boots’ (2011) – This one is sort of a nostalgic favorite for me.  I watched it a bunch of times when I was younger and it’s still fun.  A little inappropriate at times, but fun.

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9. ‘Shrek’ (2001) – Before I watched ‘Shrek’, if you had told me that it would be in the top half of this list, I would have laughed.  The Shrek franchise has always been one of those things I was sure I’d hate – if I ever experienced it for myself.  But I’ve now seen the first movie three times and want to watch the others.  It’s not perfect or anything, but there are some genuinely funny and poignant moments.  And I adore the soundtrack.

8. ‘Rise of the Guardians’ (2012) – Every time I watch this movie, I wish I liked it better than I do.  It’s a great premise with truly likable characters and a creepy villain.  But there are too many instances of deus ex machina for me to believe the plot or become emotionally invested.

7. ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ (2011) – While not as good as the first movie, ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ is a great sequel.  I personally prefer Shen to Tai Lung (as a villain) and, let’s be real, any excuse to spend time in this franchise’s universe is AWESOME.

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6. ‘Megamind’ (2010) – THIS IS WHEN IT GETS IMPOSSIBLE.  Because the top six are, well, my top six.  And I love them all dearly.  HOW CAN I CHOOSE.  I put ‘Megamind’ here just because it feels a liiiiittle more formulaic than the other five, though it’s still fresh, funny, and surprisingly deep at times.  I’d watch ‘Megamind’ any day of the week.

5. ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010) – I have seen it a lot, you guys.  It’s gotten a little boring.  But it’s still a fantastic movie that I feel is hugely original and well-done.  Dreamworks got soooo close to the quality of a Pixar hit with this one.

4. ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ (2014) – Basically, they took the first movie and piled on a million more feels, dragons, and stunning locales.  So, pretty much the perfect movie?

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3. ‘The Croods’ (2013) – Literally can’t even.  First of all, this movie is gorgeous.  Secondly, Nicholas Cage BRINGS IT with the voice acting.  Thirdly, “…and she flew”.  And lastly, IT MADE ME CRY SO HARD MY HEART STILL HURTS.

2. ‘The Prince of Egypt’ (1998) – What is this perfection I see???  The songs!  The fact that it’s super respectful of the Bible!  Moses and Tzipporah!  THE SONGSSSSS.  I almost can’t believe I’m not putting it at first place.  But that honor is reserved for…

1. ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (2008) – I feel like this movie isn’t the best that Dreamworks has put out, but it’s my favorite.  Where to begin?  Oh, maybe with the soundtrack (beautiful and thrilling in turn).  Or Tai Lung’s escape.  Or how Shifu is the absolute BOSS.  Or the story, which may be a little overdone (basic hero’s journey), but it still touches your heart.  ‘Kung Fu Panda’ has it all.  It deserves top spot.

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Do you agree with my rankings?  What’s your favorite Dreamworks Animation movie?

Eva