Welcome to the Audio/Visual Blog!

Hello and welcome to the Berwyn Public Library’s Audio Visual Department Blog!

Here you can keep up to date with our programs, new releases, and even get reviews on old favorites! Please feel free to leave a comment below on what you’d like to see us post about. We hope you’ll follow us!



Oscar Nomination Race: Best Picture

Award Season is getting into full swing with the Golden Globes airing tonight. While there are a few frontrunners when it comes to the acting categories, this award season has been more than a little odd when it comes to predicting Best Picture. Usually, one or two films will win at film festivals and then that film will go on to win Best Picture. However, the wins have been all over the place this film season. Not just that, but a number of front runners didn’t get a nomination for Best Ensemble at the Golden Globes, which is statistically a must have for best picture. This makes it fairly difficult to predict a winner.

Despite the oddness of this season, there have been a number of films that stood out, and many more on top of that that were unique and successful in a way that might earn them an Oscars nod, if not an outright award. Here, we have a look at some of the movies that have been thrown around as possible nominations for Best Picture.


Get Out – available at BPL


Considered the closest thing to a front-runner for Best Picture in this award season, Jordan Peele’s first go at directing is already considered to be a modern classic. Despite the fact that Peele has writing and acting credits almost exclusively in comedy, he believed that the genres were similar enough pacing wise that he could do a convincing horror movie – and he was right. The movie by and large refuses to rely on jump-scares, instead forcing the the viewer into the shoes of its main character as an incredibly chilling plot unfolds.

Get Out is not only a box office success, but also hugely popular with critics for it’s satirical base in plot and commentary on racism. This commentary is what seems to be pushing it ahead as a prime candidate for not just a nomination but also a win. Since The Academy added a large amount of younger and more diverse voters to it’s numbers, the movie seems to be resonating more with the voters than it might have in the past.


Dunkirk – available at BPL


Dunkirk, which came out in July of 2016, has managed to carve out a name for itself in film history even before the Oscars. Not only is it considered by and large to be director Christopher Nolan’s best work, but it’s also considered to be one of the best war films ever made. The movie took in $525 million worldwide, which makes it the highest grossing World War II film ever made, and was subsequently nominated for 8 Critics Choice Awards and 3 Golden Globes.

Praise for it’s cinematography, screenplay, and musical score almost guarantees its nomination for Best Picture. What might push it past Get Out for the win will be it’s popularity with techies, as the film is a technical marvel. If it does win Best Picture, it will be the first Oscar Award that Nolan has ever won, a surprising fact considering how well known Nolan is.



The Shape of Water – released in theaters Dec. 1st


Considered Guillermo del Toro’s best film to date, and a labor of love for the monster loving director, The Shape of Water has been winning over critics and winning at film festivals since August. The screenplay, which has been described as touching and “joyously free,” has been an idea in the back of del Toro’s mind since he was a child. The film is thus an ode to Classic Hollywood, while also working as a commentary on bigotry. Chief among the praise is lead actress Sally Hawkins, who seems a likely contender for Best Actress. But this praise is not just for the screenplay or acting, but for the makeup and prosthetic designs in it as well. The Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, has been getting a lot of attention from the makeup artist crowd as well. While it’s not exactly a top contender for winning Best Picture, it seems likely the movie will be getting a nomination nod at the very least.


I, Tonya – released in theaters Dec. 8th


The biopic based off the life of figure skater Tonya Harding has been cast as a bit of a dark horse in the Oscars race. Margot Robbie’s performance as Harding has been getting a decent amount of attention, as well as the performance of Allison Janney. The strong acting, combined with the Winter Olympics coming up and bringing the movie into the spotlight a bit more, means that it is possible that the movie could get nominated. It’s chances are hindered by the fact that many are prediction Margot Robbie for a possible upset for Best Actress with the Golden Globes, and more than one upset for a single movie is not likely. However, it still does merit a mention.


Mudbound – released on Netflix Nov. 17th



A heavy period drama that focuses on two World War II veterans, one white and one black, as they face their PTSD as well as racism in the American South, Mudbound earned itself a standing ovation when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The screenplay and direction have been complimented because of the timeless way the struggles of the characters have been captured. The acting has received much critical acclaim as well, snagging a number of Best Ensemble Awards, and actress Mary J. Blige has received a Golden Globe nomination for her role. Its the sort of serious subject matter that the Academy tends to eat up, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a favorite for Best Picture. Why? Because it released not in theaters, but on Netflix. Despite gaining ground for other awards, there has yet to be a single Netflix produced movie or show nominated for an Oscar. Many seem hopeful that Mudbound will be the movie that finally pushes Netflix into the Academy Awards however.

Wonder Woman – available at BPL



It is true Wonder Woman isn’t exactly a likely candidate for a nomination, much less a win. After all, action and superhero movies aren’t exactly popular with the Academy. Despite that, however, the award for Best Picture was opened up to 10 nominations due to the snub of The Dark Knight back in 2009, and Wonder Woman was not only very popular with the younger crowd, but also broke box office records across genres. So, while it’s not a likely candidate, it is still in the running for a nomination nod.


The Big Sick – available at BPL


Of all the movies being thrown out there for a possible nomination for Best Picture, The Big Sick is probably the least likely to be nominated. Based on the real life story of its writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick follows the young couples story as they battle with cultural differences and medical emergencies. The film is an indie movie and cost only $5 million to make. The reason it keeps being mentioned however, is because of how fantastic it did at the box office, making $55 million worldwide once it closed in theaters. The screenplay has been praised by critics and the film won a number of awards at various film festivals.

So while an indie movie isn’t exactly likely to get nominated, if anyone was going to, it would almost definitely be The Big Sick.

JRR Tolkien, the Father of Fantasy

In the long run, it would be easier to talk about what fantasy media that JRR Tolkien hasn’t inspired. Considered the “Father of Fantasy,” Tolkien redefined what high fantasy looked like. It has gotten to the point where it’s often hard to tell where inspiration form his work is meant and where it’s subconscious.
Still, in honor of his birthday, it would be fun to look at some of the ways he inspired other artists. Some of them are fairly obvious, but many are surprising.
Harry Potter 
Michael Gambon as Dumbledore is pictured on the left. Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey is pictured on the right.
One of the most famous examples of Tolkien’s influence is the Harry Potter series. Some of these influences are more obvious; a wizened old magician helping to guide the protagonist on their journey, an object of power that has dark magic that affects the behavior of those near it, a Dark Lord who seeks power and immortality, and on and on. Some of the similarities seem to be an accident but are still similarities regardless; the protagonist’s best friend being a lower class boy who enjoys food or a secondary villain being a long haired wizard who uses his position of power to do evil. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The similarities are numerous enough that a search for “similarities between lord of the rings and harry potter” gets over 500,000 hits. Whether any of these references are on purpose or not is anybody’s guess – including JKR. While she has stated that he was a bit of an inspiration, she’s a bit fuzzy on whether she purposefully pulled that much inspiration from Tolkien.
Interestingly enough, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Dumbledore after the original actor died. Even more amusing is the fact that Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe have both spoken about how they’re often mixed up by fans.
Led Zeppelin
A number of songs written by the famous rock band include references to Lord of the Rings. The most notable references are in being “The Battle of Evermore” and “Ramble On.” “Ramble On” has the most obvious reference with lyrics like “but Gollum, and the evil one, crept up” and “‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor.” The Battle of Evermore does contain some obvious references as well. It discusses a dark lord, queen of light, dragons of darkness, and “ring wraiths ride in black.” The song also draws influence from Celtic music, and Tolkien based some of his cultures off of the Celts.
These aren’t the only songs that feature references although they are some of the most obvious ones. “Misty Mountain Hop” is a reference to the Misty Mountains that Bilbo travels to. Fans speculate that “Over the Hills and Far Away” references Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor throughout the books.
It’s no surprise to fans that the band draws influence from Tolkien so often. Robert Plant is a fan of Tolkien, even naming his dog after the character Strider. Jimmy Page, who writes most of the band’s lyrics, is a fan of magic and mythology, so many fans believe he has also read Tolkien.
A Song of Ice and Fire
Another obvious example of Tolkien influence is George RR Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. GRRM has stated that Tolkien influenced how he built up his world of magic. As GRRM explained, he ascribes to Tolkien’s feelings on how magic should be used sparingly so it stays magical. In Tolkien’s stories, people don’t use magic as if it is nothing. It happens in moments that make the magic seem amazing, such as Frodo’s healing after he is stabbed by a morgul blade or the rescue by the eagles. In a similar vein, ASoIaF turns into a story where magic is slowly coming back. First this appears as a dragon or direwolf cropping up here and there, to smaller acts of magic happening in isolated instances, all finally flowing into epic scale battles between dragons and wights.
Pictured on the left are the eagles from The Hobbit soaring over mountains. Pictured on the right are Daenerys’ dragons in season 6 of the show, soaring over ships.
Of course, who can forget Sean Bean’s heartfelt performances as both Boromir of Gondor and Lord Eddard Stark? Or his very similar ends in both stories?
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
The fourth installment in the popular video game The Elder Scrolls pulls inspiration and even gives a bit of a shout out to Tolkien fans. The game draws inspiration from Tolkien’s orcs, using much of his original design as inspiration for the Daedra. The other most notable reference is The White-Gold Tower that appears in the game, which bears a striking resemblance to Orthanc, the tower that Saruman sets up in during the series. Additionally, there are a number of Easter Eggs that appear as a nod to fans of both series.
The first and most obvious is a character in the game named Boromir. This is a reference not just to the character, but also to the fact that Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the movies, voices a character in the game. Another reference is a ring the player receives upon completion of a quest which has the the same inscription as the One Ring.
The third and most involved reference is a character mentioned in a manifest the player receives. The character, who was killed by a villain, is mentioned by name. A description of what he had on him when he was killed is given also. The character’s name is Oford Gabings, which is an anagram of Frodo Baggins. The items he was carrying are also a reference to items that Frodo carries throughout the series. They include a travel cloak with a silver and green leaf fastener, an enchanted shortsword with inlaid writing,  a golden ring with an inscription, and a leather bound travel journal. These are references to, in order, the cloak given to Frodo in Llothlorien, Frodo’s sword Sting, the One Ring, and Bilbo’s journal, which Frodo took with him.
The Dark Tower
The epic saga by Stephen King takes its inspiration from many places, including Tolkien. The science fiction western pulls the bulk of its inspiration from a poem by Robert Browning, but there is an important element that Stephen King has said comes from Tolkien: the use of a fictional language. Tolkien had been fascinated by language since he was a teenager and spent much of his past time inventing languages. It was an odd past time to be sure, but one he excelled at.
This invention of language was a skill he demonstrated much of in the writing of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarrillion. Some of the languages he invented included Khuzdul, The Black Speech, Rohirric, Sindaran, Númenórean, Quenya, and dozens of others. In addition to inventing these languages, he also developed cultural backstories for the languages as well. This element of his writing, while not the first to ever exist, was the most involved and detailed example of it. The fascination with his language skills became so entrenched in fantasy that it’s expected for “artlangs” to be in contemporary fantasy. Stephen King, inspired by this, developed his own form of language for the world of Dark Tower called High Speech. He also took inspiration from Tolkien’s naming conventions, with his world being called Mid-World, in a similar fashion to Middle Earth.
written by: kassie

Family Fridays: Strange Magic

I saw Strange Magic for the first time in theaters, along with my then 15, 9, and 7 year old siblings, and our mother. They had come to visit me at college and we all decided to go see a movie. We originally weren’t even going to see Strange Magic – but my youngest sister and I had already seen Annie, Night at the Museum had sold out, and I refused to pay the full price ticket to see Paddington. So we all collectively sighed and went in to see the only other kids movie showing that none of us knew anything about.

And man, was it worth it.

Now in general, I’m a sucker for musicals. I’ve seen both professional and amateur productions of all sorts of musicals and I’m usually first in line to see them when they turn into movies. The beautiful singing – with a leading lady voiced by the criminally underrated Evan Rachel Wood – combined with colorful, beautiful, and unique animating style meant that right off the bat, Strange Magic had my attention. It also immediately snared the attention of my mother because it is a jukebox musical, meaning it uses songs that have already been released. The musical includes music from Dionne Warwick, Mickey and Silvia, Whitney Houston, and a lot more.

strange magic
The two main characters of the story: sisters Dawn and Marianne, voiced by Meredith Anne Bull and Evan Rachel Wood, respectively.

What finally turned it from good to great was the plot itself. The story centers around two fairy princesses. The oldest, Marianne, turns bitter and hardened after her fiance cheats on her, while her younger sister Dawn remains convinced that true love is out there. Dawn’s best friend, an elf named Sunny, gets talked into making a love potion for Marianne’s ex – but of course, the potion goes wrong, and Dawn gets hit and falls in love with the king of the evil fairies, Bog.

It’s silly and ridiculous but hear me out – there is absolutely nothing funnier than a creepy fairy king named Bog who crashes a party, yells at everyone there about how love doesn’t exist, continues yelling about how ridiculous it is that everyone keeps bursting into song for no good reason, but then steals everyone’s instruments and starts singing an Elvis Presley song anyways.

strange magic
The Bog King, voiced by Alan Cummings, and the Sugar Plum Fairy, voiced by Kristen Chenoweth.

And honestly that’s only the beginning of how absolutely ridiculous this movie can get. I’m fairy certain I enjoyed it more than my two younger sisters did; which isn’t to say that they didn’t enjoy it, because once it came on DVD they begged my mom to buy it and then watched nothing but Strange Magic for almost a week straight.

It’s true, it got pretty bad reviews by just about every critic out there but interestingly enough, a lot of moviegoers found it fun. Because, honestly, that’s what it is – fun. Not every movie is going to be a master piece like Moana – although for the record, the animation in Strange Magic was cutting edge for that year. Sometimes you just want to have some fun for an hour or two, and Strange Magic is a good way to do that.

-Kassie Marie

International Day of People with Disabilities

The International Day of People With Disabilities, or Disability Day, has been celebrated every year since 1992. Each year a theme is announced for that year. Each theme touches on ways the international community can continue to push for accessibility for disabled people. The theme for this year is, “transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all.” To put it simply, the theme means that no one should be left behind when it comes to the betterment of society. This includes helping to pull down barriers that exclude disabled people while also encouraging disabled people to be active contributors of society.

To honor that theme, the included items on this list are movies that center not just on a disabled character but on those characters rising to the occasion and on the people around them helping to pull down the barriers that exist in society against disabled people. There is also a focus on actors and musicians who work to be active in the community as well.

Children of a Lesser God

children of a lesser god.jpg
Marlee Matin (right), playing Sarah Norman, signing something to her on screen love interest James, played by Wililam Hurt.

Children of a Lesser God is a special case for many reasons. Much of the criticism when it comes to the way disability is portrayed in the media is two-fold: that the portrayal is incorrect and that disabled characters are being played by able bodied (or non-disabled) people. In this Oscar-winning movie based on a play of the same name, main character Sarah Norman is deaf and is in fact played by a deaf woman, Marlee Matin. It gives the film a bit more realism and ensured that the portrayal was true to the life of an actual deaf person as well. The story, based around new teacher James Leeds attempting to get school janitor Sarah Norman out of her comfort zone, is a touching romance that deals a lot with how isolating it can be to be disabled. Matin, for her part, not only won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, she is also the only deaf woman to ever win that award. She continues to speak for deaf people in the country, using her fame to contribute to the betterment of deaf people in the country.

The Station Agent

True fame didn’t come to actor Peter Dinklage until several years after this movie, when he was cast as the cunning Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.  Yet despite that his role in this small-budget film is one of his most lauded roles. A bit of an ensemble film, the Station Agent focuses on pulling Dinklage’s character, Fin, out of his isolation and into the lives of his neighbors and friends. Also included in the movie is a woman named Olivia, played by Patricia Clarkson, who deals with severe depression after the loss of her young son. The two characters, along with a peppy neighbor played by Bobby Cannavale, form a close bond that makes them realize they cannot continue to isolate themselves from each other and from the world anymore. In his personal time, Dinklage campaigns in a more quiet way that most for those with dwarfism. While he doesn’t necessarily give long interviews, he has in the past used his fame to bring attention to issues – most notably during his speech for his 2012 Golden Glob win, where he casually brought the issue of “dwarf-tossing” into the public eye.

Little Miss Sunshine


Though the focus of this comedy is more on the entire family’s dysfunction than one person, part of that dysfunction involves the disability of Steve Carrel’s character, Frank. Frank has depression and attempts suicide before the events of the movie take place. His sister, Olive, feels unsafe leaving him home alone and so Frank is roped into a road trip for his niece’s beauty pageant. Much of Frank’s story centers around him attempting to deal with his own feelings. His ending is more realistic than happy; by the ending he has built a strong support system with his family. The importance of having a support system and how oftentimes, those without support systems can falter, is emphasized with Frank. He finds himself, if still depressed, then at least looking forward to the rest of his life more than he was before.

Tell Me You Love Me – Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato’s new album cover for Tell Me You Love Me

Demi Lovato, former Disney idol and current pop star, has had a difficult journey to get to where she is. Since her big break in the Disney Channel’s Camp Rock, the star has dealt with eating disorders and severe mood swings. After an infamous confrontation in 2010 that ended in Lovato punching one of her back up dancers, Lovato revealed she had bipolar disorder. She started in therapy and on medication and since then has found herself living a much more stable life. Her new album Tell Me You Love Me, available on hoopla, dropped in late September to positive reviews. In addition to her music career, Lovato has helped with many charities and programs for mental illness. She even started her own, the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program, to help pay costs for mentally-ill patients.

Pacific Rim

Rinko Kikuchu as Mako Mori and Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost.

A science fiction film is not the first place to look for disability representation, and yet Pacific Rim offers a unique look at disability. Most of the named characters suffer from PTSD, and all attempt to move about their lives despite their illness. Also included in the main cast is a physically disabled character and a cancer patient, both of whom play important parts in the movie. Between epic fight scenes the characters build each other up and create important emotional bonds. Sure, the movie isn’t a dramatic look at disability, but it incorporates disabled people into its story seamlessly. Above that, it shows that disabled people can rise to any occasion – even one that involves fighting sea creatures from the deep from the inside of a giant robot.

Fall Season Break Schlump

As winter finally settles in, many TV shows decide to go on break. Usually their slot in programming is taken up by reruns or reality TV shows, and while those can be a good way to pass the time, sometimes you want a show similar to what you used to watch. If what you want is some unwinding time after a day at work, it can be difficult to get into something so different as a reality TV show, if what you’re used to watching is scripted.

Thankfully, unlike when I was a kid and you just re-watched your VHS copy of Kindergarten Cop until it broke, we have DVDs and On Demand and Netflix and hey, you even have your library and all the digital services we offer to pass the time on those cold snow days.

But….what do you watch? Something new definitely, but not something super different either. Well, in my expert opinion as a binge-watcher, here are some suggestions for your Fall Break Schlump.

If you like Outlander, you’ll probably like…. Spartacus

The Starz dramas seem to be very different at first glance, considering they take place in vastly different time periods. Regardless of any cosmetic differences however, the two shows are in fact very similar. Both shows deal with historical rebellions and introduce many historical figures into the cast. Surprisingly, both shows also center around love stories. Many fans of Outlander fell in love with the sweeping romance between Claire and Jamie, but Spartacus has sweeping romances of its own. The story starts with the separation of Spartacus and his wife, and follows his desperate attempts to get back to her. The story introduces two more main love stories between Crixus and Naevia, and Agron and Nasir. If the reason you like Outlander is just because you think Sam Hueghan and Catriona Balfe are nice to look at well, Spartacus has Lucy Lawless and Manu Bennett so you’re set in the eye candy department as well.

If you like Once Upon a Time, you’ll probably like…Pushing Daisies

While ABC’s re-imagining of classic Disney stories had some minor trouble with numbers when it started airing, the series is still going strong seven years later. This, despite losing it’s protagonist, shows it is a truly popular show. Much of the appeal comes from it’s unique blend of a complex story, lovable cast of characters, and extravagant costume designs. Because of it’s uniqueness, it can be a difficult show to replace during the winter schlump. So, instead of finding one exactly the same, try something that is just as unique – Pushing Daisies. Pushing Daisies, which is also a fantasy show that aired on ABC, stars Lee Pace of The Hobbit fame as The Piemaker, an odd man who can bring people back to life with a single touch. Known for it’s colorful palette, odd set design, and quirky characters, Pushing Daisies is the perfect placeholder until Once Upon a Time comes back.

If you like Riverdale, you’ll probably like… The O. C.

Ah Riverdale. So completely different than the Archie comics many know and love and yet still so addicting. It could the actors, the writing, or even that people love melodrama no matter what form it comes in that pulls in such a crowd every Monday night. But of course, like most shows, it goes on hiatus and people are left wondering what to do with their time. The answer is, of course, to fill it with more ridiculous melodrama. Since the Riverdale crowd is on the younger side, they likely won’t remember one of the original teen dramas, The O. C. Dealing with the struggles of four teens in California’s Orange County, it has much of a similar pull as Riverdale does. It has beautiful people doing ridiculous things and romance drama every other episode. They even follow a similar theme; while Riverdale tends to focus on the decaying morality in suburbia, the O. C. likes to focus on the hypocrisy of the upper class. So no matter why you got into Riverdale, you can find just that reason in The O. C., except with some slightly outdated references.

If you like Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll probably like… The Good Wife

Shondaland shows are famous for their snappy writing, heartbreaking plot twists, and steamy relationships. Critically acclaimed and going strong in season 14, Grey’s Anatomy is no exception. So if high stakes drama and heartbreak paired with smart writing is what you’re looking for, The Good Wife has this in spades. Also Emmy award winning, The God Wife is based around the struggles of Alicia Florrick, a politician’s wife who re-enters the work force after her husband’s political scandal. Along the way she finds herself embroiled in the political, personal, and social scandals of her friends and colleagues. The show has a sense of gray morality that often leaves the viewer guessing, much the same as another Shonda show, How to Get Away With Murder.

If you like The Walking Dead, you’ll probably like… Battlestar Galactica

Drawing a comparison between a sci-fi cult classic and apocalyptic zombie show may not be the obvious choice, but in the case, it’s true. It’s not just the bare bones of the shows that are similar – with both centering around a group of ragtag survivors stuck together at the end of the world – but Battlestar Galactica shares similar themes that makes The Walking Dead so addicting. The Walking Dead focuses often on the cost of survival – a common theme in the stories of Rick, Carol, and Michonne. In a similar fashion, Battlestar Galactica delves into the morality of what it means to rebuild after devastating loss. And hey, if you only liked The Walking Dead because of the cool fight scenes, Battlestar Galactica also has those, except in space.

written by: kassie

Great Courses

If you are the sort of person that loves learning but doesn’t love the prices that come with taking expensive college classes, the Berwyn Public Library is here for you!

Here in the Audio Visual Department, we have offered Great Courses for patrons for awhile. These Great Courses are extensive classes in audio and visual format. Each course is designed by professors that are experts in their subjects. The professors chosen to design a course are screened not just for their academic achievement, but also their ability to make a lecture entertaining.

If making the trip to the library isn’t something you can fit in a schedule at the moment, Great Courses are now offered on Hoopla as audio-books. There are hundreds of courses offered through the site on everything from how to write mystery fiction to robotics to the history of Greek and Roman technology. If you prefer to listen to them at home, they can of course be streamed on a desktop but if you would prefer on the go listening, they can be streamed through the Hoopla app as well.

Great Courses audio-books are available for rent for 21 days through Hoopla. This means that from the moment you click the “borrow” button, the book will appear in your “Currently Borrowed” section for the next 21 days. After 21 days, it disappears. If you have not finished it on time, you can always borrow it again. Patrons who have a hoopla account through the Berwyn Public Library are allowed to borrow up to eight titles in a single month.

Simply log onto Hoopla with your account email and password, type “great courses” in the search bar and then get to learning! If there is a specific subject you would like to look into, just type the subject in the bar and look for a Great Courses entry. If this is your first time trying Hoopla and you are a bit confused, try going here first for a step by step on how to sign up with the site.

Grace VanderWaal – Just the Beginning

Vanderwaal_just the beginning

Album Review – By Sandra Neri

I will admit that when the America’s Got Talent contest series first premiered, some 11 years ago, I thought it was a passing trend. I also got tired of watching my favorite contestants lose. In 2016, Grace VanderWaal won that season, she was 12 years old. She won over Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell with her Ukulele playing and her hypnotic voice. That voice, so full of passion and maturity, for such a young girl. I had not heard of VanderWaal until I browsed the list of new album releases on Spotify, as I was looking for something to review.

Immediately following AGT, VanderWaal created the concept for the video for her song ‘Moonlight’. She won ‘Best New Artist’ at the Radio Disney Awards. She was nominated for a Teen Choice Award. In October 2017, Grace performed at the Austin City Limits Fest in Texas. In November, fans lined up around a venue in NYC as she performed her first concert ever. She was also honored at Billboard’s Annual Women in Music dinner and awards ceremony. Did I mention she’s 13 years old?

But what does she sound like you ask. VanderWaal has a folksy, yet angelic harmony in her voice. This is complimented perfectly by her ukulele playing. The song Grace sang on America’s Got Talent, I don’t know my name, is her original song. Shortly after that performance, many regular YouTubers uploaded videos of themselves covering her original. The song I don’t know my name is about a young girl finding her way. Track #5, So Much More Than This, is full of the familiar pre-teen angst of not being accepted…that is until you win something like AGT. Track #11, City Song is probably my favorite so far, this tune is filled with the vigor, optimism, and unwavering hope of someone who is grabbing life by the balls. My second favorite track is #3 Burned, seems to be a warning to a boy who is getting into more than he can handle. But the words she sings, and the way they pour out of her is truly a beautiful thing, and I am an instant fan.

Simon Cowell called VanderWaal “The next Taylor Swift”, but I am someone who has never really connected to Taylor’s music, and yet I am somehow very moved by Grace. I think she has universal appeal, as if she is singing my personal song, with emotions and angst we have all felt at one time or another. The album’s title says it all, ‘Just the Beginning’, yes, indeed it is.


Album Song List:

  1. Moonlight
  2. Sick of Being Told
  3. Burned
  4. Just A Crush
  5. So Much More Than This
  6. Escape My Mind
  7. Talk Good
  8. Florets
  9. Insane Sometimes
  10. A Better Life
  11. City Song
  12. Darkness Keeps Chasing Me



Tom Petty

Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Guitarist

October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017

By: Sandie Neri

You know how you can tell you’re a Rock legend? Almost twenty days after your death, well established musicians, and journalists are still writing lengthy articles praising your creative genius. Fans like myself are still getting weepy just thinking about hits like ‘Free Falling’. Petty’s voice, slightly nasal but very distinct, has always had a very calming effect on me personally. Petty collapsed at his home, was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest and remained on life support. He passed away on October 2, 2017.

On October 7,2017, Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Florida paid tribute during a Gator’s game against LSU, when 88,000 attendees sang ‘I won’t Back Down’ (link below).


On Friday October 20th, Petty fans clad in goth apparel marched up Ventura Boulevard (a nod to a line in a Petty song –“ All the vampires, walking through the Valley/Move west down Ventura Boulevard” – ‘Free Fallin’). Some journalist believe Petty was making a reference to consumerism or record executives. Hash tags popped up all over Twitter;









The music blog austin360 reports that the Austin City Limits Music Festival paid several tributes to Tom Petty on October 6th. Asleep at the Wheel kicked of the fest with Petty’s “I won’t Back Down”. The Revivalists played “Wildflowers”, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real played “American Girl”. On Saturday night of the fest, a large screen showed Petty performing “Free Fallin”, while skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force Skydiving Team fell from the sky. The Killers also covered Petty’s “American Girl”. (Link below)


Twitter Reactions

Immediately after the news of Tom Petty’s death, Twitter was full of tributes from his fellow artists, as well as countless fans.

“Down here on E Street, we’re devastated and heartbroken over the death of Tom Petty…A great songwriter and performer, whenever we saw each other it was like running into a long lost brother. Our world will be a sadder place without him.” – Bruce Springsteen

“God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I’m sure going to miss you Tom”-Ringo Starr

“Shocked & upset 2 hear about #tompetty ‘we got lucky when we found u…’ …RIP twitter.com/billboard/stat… – Billy Idol

“Tom Petty’s music and songs are timeless. He was a wonderful writer, musician and singer. Irreplaceable and unique. #RIPTomPetty” – Elton John

“Tom was a tender southern gent in life, a poet and a music master on stage. He had a rocking chair wisdom that brought everything back down to earth. We will love and miss him for the rest of our days. Our thoughts are with his family…” – George Harrison

The Early Years

Born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950, Tom Petty was the first born to Earl and Kitty Petty. While Petty got along well with his mom and younger brother Bruce, his father was often physically and verbally abusive. Petty turned to music, and idolized artists such as Elvis Presley, and the Beatles as he learned guitar. In fact, Elvis was filming near him, and he saw him up-close, he was 10 years old. This left a big impression. He joined his first band by age 14, and left high school by 17 to perform with a band called Mudcrutch. They amassed a devoted local fan base.

In 1974 Petty married his girlfriend Jane Benyo, and they moved to Los Angeles with their daughter (Kimberly) whom they had before their marriage. Then came their second daughter, Adria. Shelter Records recognized Petty’s talent, and offered him a solo contract, he signed as his former band did not really appreciate his musical genius. Petty got back together with his Mudcrutch members, Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keyboards). The two former band mates had been playing with Ron Blair (bassist) and Stan Lynch (drummer). They formed and became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and signed as such with Shelter Records. They released a self-titled album in November of 1976. In the 80’s, a self-inflicted wound (fist through the wall in anger) almost ended his guitar playing career. The doctor told him he would never play again, he was playing within the following year. Tom battled heroin addiction in the 90’s, a fact he kept quiet about until recently. During his career, Petty collaborated with other rock icons, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Johnny Cash (just to name a few). He also earned three Grammy Awards. In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their 11th album, and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Friday, October 20th would have been Tom’s 67th Birthday.

Tom Petty is survived by his second wife Dana York, his daughters Adria and Kimberly, and a granddaughter. Thankfully, his music forever lives on ….


YouTube link below is for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performance of ‘Free Fallin’ at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show – 2008


Facts and photos gathered from:





Disc Repair Services

Among the many services offered here at the Berwyn Public Library, the Audio Visual Department offers disc repair services.

If you have a disc that is scratched and won’t play, you can bring it into the library and we will fix it. Bring your scratched DVD, CD, or video game disc to our desk on the first floor. There you will be helped as you fill out a simple slip with your name, phone number, and address and drop off the disc. There is a charge of $2 due at the time you pick up your discs. We will call you once the repairs are done.

And that’s it! It’s not a lengthy process for you and beats out having to completely replace a disc that only has a simple scratch on it.

written by: kassie

International Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl is not one of the more well known holidays but it is an important one. Taking place on October 11th, Day of the Girl was started to bring awareness to the trials faced by girls. Yes of course steps have been taken to equal the playing field, but the fact is that many girls still face incredible obstacles and barriers. The day started as a youth lead movement to shed light on things such as underage marriage, inaccessibility of education, and barriers in the job market. The activists that organize the events – all ranging around 17 years old but some are even younger – work to emphasize raising girls in healthy environments and with a supportive community.

So how does that affect the average little girl in Berwyn? Well, it’s important for girls to know they can be heroes, can stand up for themselves, that they can be weird or sporty or heroic or vulnerable or strong. It’s important to show little girls that they can be whatever they want to be, no matter how odd what they want may seem to you. And since it has been studied that movies impact our sense of the world and our sense of self, maybe taking a day to watch a movie about a brave hero who also happens to be a girl could go a long way to helping your own girl believe in herself. When it comes to brave girls and heroes, these movies are fun to pop in and kid friendly – and may even inspire a conversation about what your little girl wants from her life.

Lilo and Stitch

lilo and stitch
The main characters of Lilo and Stitch surfing together.

This classic Disney movie about an alien looking for a family is also an important study in girlhood. The movie hinges around the importance of family, so naturally, when Stitch crash lands on Earth, he is immediately adopted. The movie makes an interesting choice to drop Stitch into a family that is only made up of two orphaned sister: older sister Nani and young Lilo. Lilo, for all her charm and love, is an outcast among the girls her age. She does things like keeping voodoo dolls of her friends in a pickle jar, locking herself in her home and blasting Elvis Presley music to feel better, and coming up with a tragic backstory for a doll. Despite how over-dramatic Lilo’s oddities are Nani never tries to change Lilo and often celebrates her uniqueness. Nani, for her part, is hard working and honest. She puts Lilo before everything and works hard to keep her small family together. When celebrating girlhood, Lilo and Stitch is a fantastic movie to look to, a movie that makes it clear that it’s ok for girls to be silly and odd and strong and to value the bonds of family.

Annie (2015)

The foster girls featured in Annie, with the titular character played by Quvenzhané Wallis front and center.

A modern day retelling of the classic radio show and musical, Annie is just as important now as she was decades ago. This version of Annie, starring trailblazer Quvenzhané Wallis, puts a focus on the impact the foster system has on young girls. At one point in the movie, Annie is prompted to read a speech aloud and storms off. She reveals to a heart broken Mr. Stacks that because of her time in foster care, she fell through the cracks in school and never learned to read. Considering the fact that girls still face barriers to education even today – the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai being the most popular example – it’s an important topic. Mr. Stacks and Miss Grace raise Annie and all the foster girls in her home up, allowing them to flourish and thrive and ultimately find families. On top of that, well – it’s just a really cute movie and Quvenzhané and Jamie Foxx play off each other fantastically.

Bend it Like Beckham

The women’s soccer team in Bend It Like Beckham, with main characters Jess and Jules, played by Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, holding the trophy.

It’s easy to overlook this movie as nothing but a silly sports movie, but Bend It Like Beckham actually focuses on important topics relating to girlhood. Namely, the treatment of girls in sports. It’s true many women have broken into the the sports world but there are still barriers. In this comedy, the focus is put on the struggles of Jess as she navigates playing soccer and her desire to go to college. Jess faces much backlash from a cultural standpoint because of her family’s views on how a woman she act. Added to this are her struggles and the struggle of her father to be accepted in the world of sports because of their race. The movie focuses on the changing landscape and how many conservative views of sports and women were forced to change as women started making a mark for themselves in the world. The ending is, naturally, a happy one, where Jess’s parents start to accept that they must change for the sake of their daughter’s happiness.

Whale Rider

Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, wearing traditional Maori facepaint.

Easily the most serious look at sexism in this list, Whale Rider is a modern day classic and enjoyable movie nonetheless. While it’s not exactly the most obvious pick for a movie night with your young daughter, it is still kid friendly. At the very least, this writer enjoyed it a lot as a girl, if only because of my unhealthy obsession with whales. The movie focuses on a girl named Pai, whose family was killed several years before the movie takes place. Pai is the heir apparent of her people’s clan as she is descended from the whale rider Paikea, but cannot inherit this title because she is a girl. Pai spends much of the movie fighting with her grandfather over what she views as her destiny. Her grandfather blames her for many things including the deaths of her family, being better than the boys around her, and a whole host of things that aren’t actually Pai’s fault. The constant criticism weighs on Pai and she moves out of her grandfather’s home. Despite this, Pai remains determined to prove that she is a capable leader. The movie earned lead actress Keisha Castle-Hughes an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. At age 13, she was the youngest person ever nominated for the award – until Quvenzhane Wallis broke the record a few years later at age 9.

written by: kassie