Sunday, April 17th, 2016

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Spoiler Alert*

Nowadays, teenagers love a book that they can relate to, because we feel that no one understands us! We like a book that’s told from a teenager’s perspective so that we can relate, right?

Most teenagers would gravitate towards John Green books. Green’s books are both hilarious enough to give you stomach cramps, and sad enough to make dropping your phone actually seem alright. One of John Green’s most popular novels is called The Fault in Our Stars. This novel portrays an 17 year-old teenager named Hazel Grace Lancaster who is dying because she has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, and has to carry a portable oxygen tank to help her breathe properly. As a person with cancer, Hazel is very vocal on how cancer doesn’t define who she is, and is very straight forward when it comes to explaining the side effects: “Whenever you read a booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.” (Green, 2) She often talks about her diagnosis with dry humor added to it like this: “I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came in three months after I got my period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman! Now die.”(Green, 27) This is Hazel’s story on how she copes with her disease, and how she slowly falls in love with a boy named Augustus Waters (Gus) . Throughout this book, you can really see the changes in Hazel’s relationships and Hazel as a person overall.

Not all teenagers can relate to this kind of character, but cancel out the fact that she has lung cancer, and take a moment to analyze her personality, what problems she faces and how she deals with them while being a normal teenager. Although she’s three years older than me, believe it or not, I can connect to Hazel.

Have you ever done something that was a decision made purely by your parents? I’m sure you have. In the story, Hazel starts off the book with comments about how her mother thinks she’s depressed, and how her parents make Hazel attend a weekly Support Group that she is strongly against. Hazel copes with this by making very mean and sarcastic comments about everything they do in it, like this; “I went to support group for the same reason that I’d once allowed nurses with a mere eighteen months of graduate education to poison me with exotically named chemicals: I just wanted to make my parents happy.” (Green, 11) I forgot to mention that we sometimes make these decisions in order to make the people who brought us into this world happy. I can relate to Hazel for sure on this one. For example, my mother enrolled me in grade 8 Futures Academy last year, and I hated the idea of it, and I was grumpy just thinking of the fact for a long time. I hated talking about it with friends and I would make mean comments about it, too.  Turns out, Future’s Academy has helped me so much. If anyone, our parents are usually the ones who know what’s best for us. We should just smile and nod and know that it’s for the greater good.

Even though they can sometimes be a big pain in the butt, parents can be the greatest comfort, too. When Hazel and Gus were together in the book, their relationship develops into something one would call very special and rare. Near the end of the story, Gus dies because his G-tube was malfunctioning and got infected. Hazel nearly died from grief, and the only people who could truly comfort her were her parents. “I just kind of crawled across the couch into her lap and my dad came over and held my legs really tight and I wrapped my arms all the way around my mom’s middle and they held onto me for hours while the tide rolled in.” (Green, 290) This quote shows how much Hazel’s parents felt pitiful for her and how they tried to comfort her as best as they could. I remember when someone who was very close to my family got very sick. When I heard that he died, I was devastated. I was so sad and started crying and my parents tried to comfort me as best as they could. Grief can really pull a family together.

Regardless of the major differences between Hazel Grace Lancaster and I, I can still connect with this character on what problems we encounter daily and how we deal with them. I learned that this is a small example on how regardless of some circumstances, some things are universal.

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Shmoop Editorial Team. “Hazel Grace Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars.”Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

“Bing.” The+fault+in+our+stars+book+cover. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Shay’s Lessons

Every book teaches us a lesson. Whether its a good lesson that’s going to help us in the future, or a lesson that doesn’t help you all that much. Long or short term, we all need these lessons to help us in life, and a good way to find some interesting ones is by reading books…

In Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, the main character, Tally, meets another ugly named Shay. I think that Shay is a really big part of the book’s theme. One of the big themes that really show in this book is to love yourself. When Shay was introduced in the book, I found it really interesting that she thought that the surgery wasn’t something on her bucket list because in a normal ugly’s perpective, who doesn’t want to turn pretty?  While everyone who’s still an ugly want to be a pretty, Shay is perfectly happy with the way she looks, and one of the things she says to Tally while they are designing their new “pretty face” proves it: “Maybe just being ugly is why uglies always fight and pick on one another, because they aren’t happy with who they are. Well, I want to be happy, and looking like a real person is the first step.” (Westerfeld, 80).

Shay tells Tally that being a pretty makes you so perfect, it takes away your all of your characteristics, and those are what makes you look like a “real person”. After all, don’t those characteristics make you you? She is a character who doesn’t follow the conventions, and doesn’t believe in becoming pretty, while Tally feels that becoming pretty is the one purpose in life. A big problem in becoming a pretty in this world is that you lose your identity too. Shay knows this from the start as she tells Tally, “That’s not me. It’s some committee’s idea of me.” (Westerfeld, 73) while they look at what their faces are supposed to be after the surgery. This quote shows how Shay values her unique traits, such as her bold and stubborn personality, as well as how she dares to be different from everyone else.

Although being different is good, it made Shay’s life harder. Because turning pretty is something that is mandatory once you turn 15, Shay ran away to the Smoke, where others shared the same opinions about pretties as her. This caused Tally (being the only one knowing the location of the Smoke) to get blackmailed into bringing Shay back from where she was happy to get the surgery against her will, betraying her trust: “‘You did this!’ Her whole body was writhed like a snake in its death throes. ‘Stealing my boyfriend wasn’t enough? You had to betray the whole Smoke!’” (Westerfeld, 258).

So one of the big messages that this book shows is obviously to love yourself. On a scale of 1 being I could forget this in a day to 10 being I’m going to tell my future grandchildren this, the message in Uglie’s theme is pretty much a 10. We need to have a true sense of self and not be afraid to stand up for our values.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Tally Youngblood’s Twitter Account

What if your favorite character from a book had a social media account? Considering the fact that most of us spend all of our time on our smartphones, it’d be pretty cool, huh? I recently made a Twitter account for a character from one of my favourite books, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I tweeted the things that I felt that she would have said if Tally had had a twitter account throughout her story. Here are some of the tweets I published in her perspective.

 

  1. The first tweet that I posted was this one, and it expressed Tally’s excitement to join her already-pretty-friend, Peris. You’ll notice that a lot of these tweets are about her excitement over becoming pretty.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.30.37 AM

  1. This next tweet would have been tweeted after one of Tally’s school trips to a place called the Rusty Ruins.

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  1. In Uglies, once you turn pretty, your only job is to “…act stupid and have fun”(Westerfeld, 57).                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.32.10 AM
  2. To become pretty, you have to get a surgery. This surgery is very effective and changes all of your physical appearances.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.33.17 AM
  3. In Tally’s world, there is a program that you can use so that you can design your new pretty face. This tweet expresses Tally’s struggle in finding the better eye color.                                                                                                                                     Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.33.58 AM

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Uglies and Givers Actually Have a lot in Common!

Imagine a world where everyone normal is ugly…

and then they’re not.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is a dystopian scientific/realistic-fiction novel. It portrays a young teenager named Tally Youngblood who is just about to turn 16 and can’t wait. Why can’t she wait? you might ask. Each time someone in this world turns sixteen, they get surgery to become a “pretty”. The surgery gives you flawless skin, “perfect” figure and a very pretty face. In this world, everyone is born into a world where they have to be pretty in order to matter. Pretties are like urban citizens in China while the uglies are like the migrant workers. Pretties get to live in a place called “New Pretty Town” where their only job is to have fun and do stupid things. Now that’s the dream life.

Who knew ‘uglies’ and ‘givers’ could have something in common? I think that Uglies is similar to another scientific-fiction novel called The Giver by Louis Lowry. Both books portray teenagers who believe that there is nothing wrong with their world. They both follow the rules and obey given commands – their world is simple, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Tally thinks that her world filled with pretty people is perfect, until she finds out the ugly truth; “Your personality – the real you inside – was the price of beauty” (Westerfeld, 252). Same with the main character in the Giver, Jonas. He finds out that everyone’s memories of the previous world are wiped, and tries to bring them back “The worst part of holding memories is not the main.It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” (Lowry, 102). Both books seem to have a dystopian/mysterious mood or setting, because in each of the novel’s worlds, the main characters perceive it as a perfect one, making the reader question their views. Also, both novels’ characters all act the same way or all believe in the same thing, because that’s what the leaders of their world make them believe in order to keep a secret well hidden.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

A Poem for Paper Towns

A Mystery

We talked and laughed and had a fun time,

Oh, how much I loved her.

       She had always loved solving mysteries, always wanting to know what had been done.

I was thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much she became one

Once a shining star that could not be missed,

She was gone, disappearing from all of this

Little bread-crumb clues that she left,

That wasn’t enough, I needed to know what was going to happen next.

This is a short poem that I wrote that is based on the book, Paper towns. This poem talks about how the main character, Q, wants to find his friend Margo. Margo had disappeared, leaving everyone thinking about what she was up to. A Mystery also talks about how much Q loses when he finds out that Margo had vanished. This poem is written super short, almost like it needs to be finished on purpose. I wrote this piece the way it is to emphasize the mysteriousness of the disappearance of Margo, as well as Q’s thoughts and how he has flipped through so many pages of a book of clues, yet never seems to reach the resolution.

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Paper Towns Rising Action and Climax

*Spoiler Alert!*

After a great night of endless pranks and fun with his life-long crush, Margo Roth Speigelman, Q feels like he could finally become good friends with the girl, but the day after that, Margo didn’t show up at school. Or the day after that, or the day after that…

The second day that Margo didn’t show up at school, Q just figured that she had gotten sick from the night before, because it had gotten quite cold, but 3 days sick? That seemed a bit extreme (well, it wouldn’t be such a big surprise if Margo had disappeared, because when she was little, stories went around that on one of her runaway adventures, she joined a traveling circus).  That day, when Q had gotten home, there were detectives at his house, interrogating the mysterious disappearance of Margo.

Earlier in my other Paper Towns post, I had talked about how Margo had always left “someone worthy” little breadcrumb clues leading to her. Q was in his room when he spotted one of these clues that led to the next. Soon enough, Q finds himself vowing to find Margo no matter what it takes. Then, he ends up skipping school without anyone knowing except for his friends, Radar, Ben, and Lacy (who by the way, go with him on his road trip) to go on a road trip down to an abandoned building where they find the remains of an old shop, and a map, with a mark, on a place. That’s where she was.

After a tiresome but adventurous journey in a minivan with his best friends, Q finally finds a shocked, and lonely Margo. He stays with Margo and listens to what she had been doing all this time, and then is asked to stay with her and never go back to where they lived. All Q wanted to do was to bring Margo back to where they both lived, to live a normal life together as good friends, but when Margo asked him to never go back to his family, to his home, and to live an adventure filled life where he could do anything he wanted, he refused. He wanted to graduate from college, get a job, and have a family. Margo on the other hand, did not go back with Q.

Green, John. Paper Towns. New York: Dutton, 2008. Print.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green is an adventure filled novel about a young teenager named Quentin Jacobsen (Q) who has spent his whole life loving the adventurous, and beautiful girl named Margo Roth Speigelman, who is quite frankly, the complete opposite of Q. While Margo has a rather bold and courageous personality, Q is rather cautious and quiet. If you’re looking for adventure, romance, mystery and a touch of comedy in a book, make sure to get your hands on Paper towns.

The main characters are Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Speigelman, as well as their friends, Lacy, Ben, and Radar.

Although Q and Margo never really did make any sign of communication to each other throughout high school, Q’s love still remained strong for Margo. On one fateful night, the silence was broken between the two. While Q was sleeping peacefully in his bed, Margo breaks into his room through his window dressed like a ninja, asking for help on a devious revenge plot – he doesn’t argue.

After a night of running around and becoming mysterious ninja friends, the day after that was a mystery.”I could never stop thinking that maybe Margo loved mysteries so much that she became one.” – John Green, Paper Towns.

The quote above is from a scene from the day after Q and Margo’s night of never-ending pranks, when Q finds out that Margo is missing. When Q goes back to Margo’s room, he finds little breadcrumb clues that he thinks may lead him to her. Just when he thinks he gets to go  find her alone, his friends insist on going on his journey with him, making the trip a bit more interesting.

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Green, John. Paper Towns. New York: Dutton, 2008. Print.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Bad Decisions

Time is a very fragile thing, because it is something that can’t be repeated or deleted. It’s what makes memorable moments go away in a snap. But what if in the future, time travel was possible…..

As I read the short story called A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, which explains the huge impact of the butterfly effect in all, I noticed that the main character, Eckles and I have something in common. This story takes place in the future, where time travel is possible. In this futuristic time-traveling world, there is a place called Time Safari, which allows you to choose an animal from any time in the past to hunt. Now isn’t that a smart idea!!!

One of the most important life messages is brought out by this story – ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RULES. I’m constantly told this because I do a lot of sports, and to play a sport, you have to learn to follow the rules! Time Safari has very strict rules, and if you don’t obey them, there are big consequences, *spoiler alert* and by big consequences, I mean that Eckles gets shot in the end because he broke the number one rule. Before he dies, Travis, a Time Safari hunter tells Eckles that the path that they walk on in the time machine must not be stepped out of. Here is a snippet of what he said:

“Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon across Eternity. Queen Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross Delaware, there might never be a United States at all. So be careful. Stay on the path. Never step off!” ~ Bradbury, pg. 277

Having heard all of these warnings, Eckels has a very clear understanding of what might happen if he steps off the path, yet decides anyway to step off. He didn’t make a very good decision, like me. Sometimes I make bad decisions, and when I do, its usually too late to fix. The same goes for our protagonist. When he stepped off of the path, he stepped on a butterfly, so when he came back to the present, things were drastically changed. Eckles couldn’t change what he had done, and as a consequence he got shot by Travis and died. I’m not saying that whenever you don’t follow the rules, you’re going to die. I am pointing out that there are major consequences for bad decisions that you cannot change.

So, from reading A Sound of Thunder, what have I learned? Ah, yes. Always follow the rules, even if you think that the consequences are going to be minor. Everyone makes bad decisions, and although the outcome of these choices may be horrible, they teach us not to do them again.

 

 

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

The Brits – The Great and Powerful

Whats the most powerful, greatest, and largest empire in all the history of the world’s empires? Let me give you a hint; strong, elegant accents, they stereotypically drink tea with butter and jam on their perfectly toasted bread, men wear black hats while the ladies wear pretty gloves as an accessory for their dress to wear to tea parties. Have you guessed it yet (its not really hard)? You guessed it! Its the British Empire. I had to use this empire for my project for an infographic, because, HELLO?? Its the biggest Empire man kind has ever seen! I thought it would be so cool to look into that –  so I did. Something mind blowing that I found out about the Britts was that they conquered about 1/5 of the worlds population at its peak.


I learned the features of an infographic and what it needs to be amazing. Something that stumped me for a while was finding enough information and icons to fill out my infographic.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

“Transforming” a Poem

The other day, my friend, Jessica and I had “transformed” a poem called “My Doggie Ate My Homework” by Dave Crawley. This funny, happy poem is basically narrated through a boy’s point of view as he tries to convince his teacher that his dog ate his homework (cliché, I know) by using creative and not-so-effective techniques. I’m pretty sure that the only real-life lesson that this piece teaches you is to not forget your homework and then make up a ridiculously unconvincing story about how your pet stir-fried it and seasoned and baked and then ate your homework and said it tasted good…

 

My friend and I had a lot of choices in how we could transform this poem; Podcast, Movie, Live, etc. We decided to do this the old-fashioned way and perform live. The only way that we could prepare for this spectacular performance was to read it… Out loud. Over, over, and over again until it was stuck in our heads for the rest of the week. After we finally memorized the poem word for word, we then had to create hand gestures, and mark down volume changes in our voice. We had to score the poem.

 

So, as a result, the performance was a pretty tune to be heard. Both Jessica and I had done the pauses and hand gestures perfectly, just as we had practiced, and our voices were loud, clear, and well…flawless (hair flip). We actually wanted to add props along with the performance to make it even more interesting, but what’s a better way to perform a poem than the most original, simple way? Something that I would probably change about the performance (which was just in front of my classmates and teacher) is Jess and I’s giggle at the very beginning of the act – it was just a really pointless and hilarious poem, ya know? So kids, remember, never tell your teacher that your dog wore a doggy apron and chef hat while he cooked a notebook stew, because chances are, you’re going to end up in the office – and that’s where you’re gonna sit.

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