Saturday, October 16, 2010

"To Kill a Mockingbird"-Harper Lee

“To Kill a Mocking Bird”, written by Harper Lee, depicts the story told by a little girl named Scout who grew up in Maycomb County in Alabama with her father Atticus and brother Jem. Scout is an independent minded girl who is pressured throughout the book to be more like a lady. As she grows, Scout’s experiences with school are not pleasant. Once school is out, Jem and Scout make friends with Dill, a kid who comes to live with his aunt in Maycomb in the summer. Dill incites curiosity in Scout and Jem about Boo Radley, a recluse who was supposed to have been locked in the house all these years. The children become fascinated and start provoking Boo to come out by sending letters to him and acting out his life. Atticus confronts them and asks them to put themselves in Boo’s shoes to see life from his perspective. Boo shows indirectly shows up in brief spurts throughout the novel. He gives Scout a blanket when she is outside in the cold witnessing a fire in a neighbor's house. Boo also mends Jem's pants when they get stuck on the fence. He does both of these acts without anyone seeing him.

Later, Atticus tests himself and accepts to defend a black man, who is accused of rape, in court. Atticus is one of the few people not racist in Maycomb County and everyone is angry with him for defending the accused Tom Robinson. Consequently, various people in the town criticize the family starting from the children at school to people within the family. Francis, Scout’s cousin, says to her that Atticus is, “nothin’ but a nigger-lover” (94). When the case arrives to court, Scout and Jem secretly witness Atticus in the courtroom interrogating Mayella, the victim and Bob Ewell, the victim’s father. After the case a newspaper editor stated that killing Tom would be like, “the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children” (275). Additionally, the proceedings in the court made Bob feel that everyone involved made him seem foolish. He made it a personal mission to get revenge. It would cost him but Bob would indirectly get his revenge on Atticus; however, Boo steps in to prevent even more cataclysmic events.

Discussion Questions

1. In the novel two extremes of parenting are represented. Atticus is the lenient parent and lets his kids roam free and learn about the world firsthand; however, it is a mystery how neither of the children encounter any expected danger for a while. On the other side is Boo Radley’s father. He was a strict figure and overpowered Boo. This caused Boo to act out as a child and become involved in mischief; however, Boo proved to turn out kind-hearted and generous. Which style of parenting is better and why?

2. Throughout the novel Scout is pressured into being a proper lady. Scout remains strong to her individuality until she gets dragged by her Aunt Alexandra to a lady’s meeting. She soon realizes that these women are interesting. In your opinion should one excise activities and behavior contradictory to one’s unique personality or should one venture out in the world keeping an open mind and develop interests in new areas? Why?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, is a story written from the first-person perspective of Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen year old boy with Aspergers Syndrome living in Swindon, Wiltshire with his father. He knows all the countries of the world and their capitols and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. He is obsessed with maths, science, and Sherlock Holmes but finds it hard to understand other people. Routine, order, and predictability shelter him from the outside world. But Christopher's carefully constructed universe falls apart when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled by a garden fork, and is initially blamed for the killing. Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer, but the investigation leads him down some unexpexted paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the closure of his parents' mariage.
Discussion Questions:
1. Christopher's father confesses to killing Wellington in a moment of rage at Mrs. Shears, and swears to Christopher that he will not lie to him ever again. Christopher thinks, "I had to get out of the house. Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me, because i couldn't trust him, even though he had said 'trust me,' because he told a lie about a big thing," (122). Why is Christopher's world shattered by this realization? Is it likely that he will ever learn to trust him again?
2. In this novel, some scenes seem comical. Which scenes? And why are they funny? Are these same situations sad, or frustrating?

Blood From Stone by Laura Anne Gilman

Blood From Stone by Laura Anne Gilman is the sixth installment in the adventures of Wren Valere: thief, friend and business partner. The books can be read as a series, in which a single story line is interwoven throughout the novels, as well as the different story lines that separate them, or they can be read alone, and only the novel's specific story is told. This novel is different than the others in the series because it is told through Wren's experiences and Sergei's therapy sessions, as well as brief interruptions in which other characters' thoughts are revealed. The novels previous did not hold transcripts from Sergei's therapy sessions. Blood From Stone is the story that answers questions about P.B.'s past. P.B, another main character, saved the life of Wren Valere on more than one occasion, and now it is her turn. Though she is normally a thief for hire, she decides to take on P.B's case because she believes it will not be too difficult. He wants the papers that hold the secrets of his creation. P.B. is a demon. The good kind, that is, for Blood From Stone is based in a world where demons live amongst people who's magic taps into electricity, like Wren's. The job is not as easy as she first thought. Adding to the stress in her life is her relationship with Sergei (the reason he is in therapy), the revelation that the mentor she thought was dead was actually alive, the aftermath of the battle of the century, in which she almost lost her sanity and her life, and the sudden interest the federal government was taking in her and her not-so-legal occupation.

It used to be that whenever Wren was under stress she would "box" away her anger in her mind, always telling herself that she would deal with it later. But, after almost losing her partner and her friend, she realized she had to face the things that scared her the most. That means taking an interest in and making an effort to help Sergei in his therapy sessions. When P.B.'s life was put on the line, both she and Sergei were forced to re-evaluate the meaning of friendship and their relationship with the demon. Wren and Sergei began to work through their problems and Sergei and P.B. tried to get over their differences.

Discussion Questions

1.) Wren grew up thinking that she was different, because no one was there to teach her about magic. When she finally met her mentor, she felt like she was given a second chance at life. Then, he left her. She grew up to be successful in using her magical powers and possibly saved the magical community. Is it true that someone can grow from the pain of loss, or is that loss crippling? Could she have been more successful if she did not have the hurt of abandonment fueling her every action?

2.) Throughout the series there was always a certain level of prejudice between Sergei and P.B. By the end of the series, they were trying to work through those differences. Is it realistic that once someone has a negative impression of someone else that they can just get over it and, if not become friends, than at least become acquaintances that can tolerate each others company?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why

What do you think Clay's first reaction was when he found out Hannah Baker committed suicide?

What do you think the first thing Clay would do if he could go back in time and stop Hannah from killing herself?

Thirteen Reasons Why

The theme of Thirteen Reasons Why is that "You can't stop the future, You can't rewind the past, The only way to learn the secret is to press play."

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is about a girl name Hannah Baker who committed suicide because people began to start drama and spread rumors about her. She overdosed on pills because she could not take the drama anymore. Before she committed suicide she recorded thirteen tapes about thirteen different reasons why she killed herself. Each reason was a different person that impacted her life in some way. Some people were girls who she thought were her friends or some were close boyfriends.

Hannah mailed the box of tapes to the first person on her list and after that person listened to the tapes, they were instructed to pass them on to the next person on the list. The tapes would be passed on to all thirteen people and after the thirteenth person listened to the tapes, they were instructed to keep the tapes and live with the guilt. Everyone who listened to the tapes knew they were in some way a reason why Hannah killed herself.

Throughout the book Clay Jenson is listening to all thirteen tapes. He is so nervous while listening to the tapes because he knows he is somehow responsible for Hannah's death. He listens to all of the tapes in one night and passes them on to the next person like he was instructed to do. After he listens to all the tapes he knows more about the real Hannah Baker behind all the rumors and drama. Before Hannah died, Clay had the biggest crush on her but never had the courage to have a real conversation with her. He went to school with her and worked with her at the movie theater for a little bit but never really got to know her. He wished he could go back in time and have a better relationship with her.

Before Hannah committed suicide she put a map of the city in the thirteen people's lockers. On each map were thirteen red stars on important places where certain events happened. Throughout the thirteen tapes she mentioned the stared places and told the listeners to visit them while they were listening so they could understand what she is talking about a little better. She said she could not force them to visit the places but she hoped they would.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is about a young teenage girl, Melinda Sordino, who is a new freshman to Merryweather High School. From the first day of school, she knows that she's an outcast. She had ruined an end-of-summer party by calling the police so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. Due to the effects of the party, she had a difficult time speaking with people, seeming mute.

Throughout the book, she talks about her high school life and struggling to make friends. There are also flashbacks going back to the night of the party and the tortures she went through. Because of this trauma, her grades are lower than expected; she used to be a straight-B student. The only thing in school that keeps her somewhat happy is Mr. Freeman's art class and frankly,it's also the only class she can pull an A in.

However, when Melinda has an uncomfortable confrontation she decides that she can't be silent anymore and that she has to speak the truth (hence the title Speak). She has to tell her version of the story, starting with the end-of-summer party. Even if she believes that it will not benefit her, it may save many other naïve peers.

I thought that this book was a very powerful novel. Seeing how depressing her life was and the bullying she faced showed me what many high school students go through today. Yet, no one ever notices because, like Melinda, they don't speak up.

There were many significant parts to the plot line that I couldn't talk about because it would obviously ruin the novel. So if you want to know what happens, you're going to have to read it for yourself.

Discussion Questions

1) Based on the description, what do you think happened at the party? Why do you think Melinda can't openly discuss this with her peers?

2)How do you think Melinda's story relates to reality?


Because of the assembly this morning, many of you from 1-2 were not in class. I just wanted to remind you that you need to complete your details for both parts I and II, which I will collect on Monday. You also need to make up your vocabulary quiz, if you didn't do so.
Have a great long weekend! Happy blogging!
Ms. Frank

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kissed by an Angel

Kissed by an Angel by Eliazabeth Chandler is a mystery that tells a story of a teenage girl, named Ivy Lyons and her boyfriend/ guardian angel Tristan Carruthers, the high school's swimming star, in the small town of Stonehill, Connecticut. Ivy has a deep connection with angels. Her favorite being the water angel because she is terrified of water and believes the angels will be able to save her from harm. Gregory one of the cool kids in school is now her new step-brother. Her mom recently remarried Andrew, Gregory's father, so Ivy, Philip and their mom move in with them. Philip, Ivy's younger brother is not too happy about the remarriage and doesn't like Andrew or Gregory until Andrew showers him with gifts.

One evening when Ivy was on her way home from work, she had to drop off a package. It was raining, but she was able to spot a red motorcycle. As she dropped off the package, she caught a glimpse of something through the window and immediately rushed home.

As Ivy and Tristan get to know each other, their relationship begins to blossom. On the night of Tristan's and Ivy's date, they were driving on a narrow road near the river speeding past the waves of trees, when Ivy spots a deer and it stops in the middle of the road. There is a problem. The brakes in the car are not working and there was no where to veer cause of the trees on both sides of the road.

That night Ivy lost the only person she truly trusted and she completely gave up on angels. As the story develops with Tristan now a guardian angel of Ivy, one theme truly stands out. True love never ends even after life. As an angel, Tristan has to complete a mission to move on as he is the only one that knows why the brakes didn't work. He now has to try and save Ivy's life.

Discussion Questions
1. When Tristan died Ivy completely gave up on Angels. In order for Tristan to communicate with people on Earth they have to believe in Angels. Was Ivy justified for not believing in them anymore after all that she went through?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This is the third and final book of The Hunger Games series. Some of you might know about these books, some of you may not. However their is probably the most basic information I should provide you with before I reveal any of the books plot.

The Hunger Games are a series of games that twelve districts are more or less forced to participate in by the capitol. In these games two children from each of the twelve districts are selected to participate in the games. The games are basically a killing sport for the citizens of the capitol. The children face off against each other taking each one down one by one until their is only one child left who is proclaimed the winner. The books follow the problems of Katniss Everdeen, Peeta, and Gale. I suggest reading the first two books to get a greater understanding of the book and characters.

The book starts out with Katniss who is rescued from her second Hunger Game and transported to district 13. The district was destroyed by nuclear bombing when they rebelled against the capitol. Katniss finds that they have survived however building their city underground.

She is mainly unfocused and vulnerable for most of the book. Supposedly driven crazy by the games, and the fact that the Capitol captured Peeta. Peeta was the only one that survived both of the hunger games with her. She remains a useless until she finds that they are torturing Peeta. She then decides to become the 'Mockingjay' of the rebellion. Becoming President Coin's leader of the rebellion and the key to uniting the 13 districts. She continues to help them as long as they get Peeta back from the empire.

Which they do, but he has been so tortured that he doesn't even recognize Katniss. Mainly from the use of tracker jack poison, which distorts events. He even goes as far to try and kill her when they meet. "My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat." (177) Seriously discouraged she decides to go after the empire. She wants to lose her self in the rebellion, deciding that she has nothing left in district 13.

She leads an attack on district 2. The president decides to blow up the mountain housing most of the weapons of district 2. When the mountain collapses Katniss is reminded of the cave in incident that killed her father. She begs them to help the survivors. She even goes as far to help them. However someone shoots her and she is taken to the infirmary again.

The rebellion has either taken over forcefully or converted most of the districts. The only thing left is the Capitol. Katniss begs to be in the squad that takes down president Snow, the capitols leader. "I throw myself in to training with vengeance."(246) Eventually after a lot of hard work in training she is allowed to go. She goes after the capital with a small group of people.

At this point I don't want to summarize anything else for fear of killing all the suspense and grandness of the ending. However that leads to the discussion question.

1. How do you view these killing games of the empire? Are they just a tool to keep the districts living in fear? Or are they just there for entertainment of the empire?

2.Do you think Katniss will benefit any if she kill's President Snow? Will she be somewhat satisfied having made him pay for all he has done to the districts and the people, like Peeta?