Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Great Gatsby-By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, addresses the events of a summer in the Jazz Age for people in different social classes, who are forced to deal with a clash in life styles and values. The protagonist of the story, Jay Gatsby, tries to achieve high social status but has to deal with the values that come along with it.

Gatsby lives on the poorer of the two islands, but he still tries to be a part of the wealthy society by throwing parties every night. Many of the guests that come to his parties do not understand the reasons for the parties, Gatsby's wealth, or anything about his past. For this reason, Gatsby does not have many close friends accept Nick Carraway, his neighbor. Nick knows his former love and Gatsby befriends him, because he wants nothing more than to see her. While his former love lives across the water, to him she seems unreachable, because they have both changed in the years and haven't spoken. Therefore, Gatsby is living with the false idea that he can have wealth and a former love.

1. Does Gatsby only throw the parties in hopes of seeing his former love?

2. Will Gatsby ever come to the realization that some dreams are unreachable or will he achieve his dreams, of living with his former love and being accepted fully by society?

3. Is Gatsby only using Nick to get closer to his former love?

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is the story of a twelve year old genius named Artemis who makes a brilliant discovery when he finds out fairies exist. Artemis then comes up with a plan to capture a fairy and hold the secret of their existence for ransom so he can replenish his families dwindling fortune. Artemis with the help of his very masculine and large butler named Butler, he proceeds to capture the only girl fairy in the LEPrecon unit. WHich is there equivalent to the FBI. The Faires send in legions of troops to try and recapture their comrade while Artemis uses the captured fairies technology to beat them back. In the end Artemis gets their gold but at a high moral price when his butler almost dies.

1. If you were Artemis would you capture the fairy just so you could be a Billionaire again?

2. Do you think this was right of him?

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobson, just weeks from graduation, has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, throughout his entire life. Everyone knows Margo as an adventurous, unconventional and admired person among all of those who surround her. Quentin, on the other hand, is a good kid, ditched years earlier by his childhood best friend Margo for a cooler crowd. The two reunite when Margo shows up at his window in the middle of the night, and he agrees to follow her on an adventure of brilliant pranks and crazy endeavors. At one point, they end up at the top of a building, looking down on the city, and Margo says, "From here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all the cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm" (57). As the night finally comes to an end, Quentin can't help but wonder if maybe he could be part of the glorious world of Margo Roth Spiegelman.

However, the next morning, he finds that Margo has disappeared. While this is not the first time she has run away, he becomes uncertain she will return, and he and his friends are soon wrapped up in the clues Margo has left for him. He spends his last few weeks of highschool searching for the paper towns he thinks she may have run to. The chase takes Quentin through a series of new experiences during which he learns that Margo is not who he thinks she is, ultimately leading to the revelation that the true mystery is not only to uncover her whereabouts, but to find the real Margo behind the paper girl.

1. One definition of a paper town addressed in the book is a town marked on a map used as a copyright trap. If another cartographer was to produce a map with the town marked, it would be obvious that the map was plagiarized because the town actually does not exist. Why do you think Margo would want to run to a nonexistent town?

2. Margo believes that there must be strings in people, and when the last one breaks, they fall apart. The thought is very real to both her and Quentin, because they know that when people get hurt, they can feel the strings break inside them. However, Quentin says, "The strings make pain seem more fatal than it is, I think. We're not as frail as the strings would make us believe" (302). He decides that maybe people are vessels. Although they crack and it is then inevitable that they will die, there is so much time before the vessel actually breaks, and in that time the cracks actually reveal the people for who they are and allow them to see into one another. Which metaphor do you agree with?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

This novel by Anne Brashares is one centered on a group of friends, who, for the first time ahave to go their separate ways for the summer. Bee, who is going to soccer camp right around the border of Mexico, but still in California, falls hard for one of the coaches. The coach's name is Eric, and little does Bee know that he likes her too, it's just a matter of controlling himself around her because he knows that nothing can go on between them until Bee is 18. Lena, a girl known for her beauty goes off to Greece with her sister Effie for the summer. Little does Lena know that her grandmother has a surprise for her, it's a boy! Lena's grandmother provides Lena with a very cute english speaking boy named Kostos, who has a very big crush on Lena. In the beginning all Lena wants to do is capture the beauty of Greece with her paintings. Later on, and maybe too late, Lena discovers she truly likes Kostos. Carmen, a girl who's father left her and her mother when she was still in her young childhood goes to South Carolina to visit her dad. Little does she know that her dad is getting married. Unforunately Carmen does not know this until she arrives at the house. Carmen is outraged and feels like an alien being there with her dad's new family. Tibby, the moody salesclerk at her local Wallman's gets stuck at home, but she has a new adventure of her own and gets to meet some new people. One of these new people is named Bailey, who is a 12 year old girl and is just as sarcastic and moody and snippy as Tibby is. They develop a beautiful friendship and bond over Tibby's movie documentary where they learn about other people. Unfortunately Bailey's cancer takes over and takes her life. All the while, the girls pass around these magic pants that somehow fit all of them perfectly and give the girls a little extra of boost when they where them. These pants, and their letters help keep the girls close during their summer apart.
1.How would you cope with being away from your friends for the first time all summer?
2.How would you react if you were Tibby when Bailey died?
3.If you were Lena and you wanted to make this relationship with Kostos workout, how would you handle this long term relationship when you were separated from him by an entire ocean?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is a very famous World War I novel told through the eyes of one who, as Americans, we relate to very little: a German Soldier. This soldier, Paul Baumer, signed up along with his classmates to fight in this Great War for their country and the excitement of war. However, the excitement and pride wore off very quickly. Early on in the story one of their classmates die because of battle wounds. Beyond vast casualties and death, the unfortunate young men also face food shortage, disease, pesky rats, poison gas, and shrapnel as they go days at a time stuck in a trench surrounded by gunfire, explosions, and a landscape that resembles the surface of a baron planet. Many of the soldiers also experience insanity as they attempt to survive their day-to-day duties. The men, of course, lose most of their fighting spirit thanks to these conditions and struggle to find justification for fighting against the allied soldiers. At one point, Paul and some of his close friends sneak off their base and spend the night with a few French girls (enemy women). Paul displays his own lack of nationalism when he pledges to send a letter of apology to the family of a French man he killed. As the purpose of the story was to make known the horrors men experience in war and the cruelty of it overall, Remarque tells us in the last paragraph of the book how Paul eventually died in battle with a calmness on his face, as if he was relieved that he had finally died.

1. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul stresses how close he is to his classmate friends that he fights with alongside in the terrible war conditions. He goes as far as to say that they are closer that lovers. Why do you think that is?

2. Remarque wrote this book to unveil the horror that is war and protest against it. Do you think war can ever be eliminated from human interaction?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

The book Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson is a fictional story about six children; Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Angel, and Gasman. Instead of being normal teenagers, they have avian genes mixed in with their human ones. They have wings, can fly, and each have their own special abilities. Despite the fact that they are not blood related, they consider themselves a family and gave themselves the nickname "the flock" with Max as their leader. At the beginning of the story, the flock was escaping from a laboratory called the School. The "whitecoats" of the School, their nickname for the scientists, created them there. They were tortured and locked up in cages. The scientists would also run painful, cruel, and dangerous experiments on them almost daily.

One of the scientists was named Jeb, and he was kind and sympathetic towards the flock. After gaining their trust, he stole them and escaped with them to a deserted cabin in the mountains. They learned how to fight and defend themselves, and were free to be themselves. However, their happiness was short-lived. The School sent out Erasers, which were humans who could morph into wolf-like creatures. Their main purpose was to bring the flock back or destroy them trying. Before they knew it, they were being chased by the Erasers and Jeb disappeared. The youngest member of the flock, Angel, got captured and brought back to the School. Throughout the rest of the book, the children battle evil and try to rescue their younger "sister" Angel, try to find out about their biological parents, and discover why they were created in the first place.


1. During a fight with one of the Erasers, Max gets shot in her wing. A young girl named Ella and her mother take her in and give her aid. If you were Ella or her mother, would you risk helping despite the fact that she might be dangerous?

2. When Angel was captured, the flock knew that she was brought back to the School. If you were a member of the flock, would you try to save her even if it meant returning to the place you fought so hard to get away from?

Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness

The midnighters are five teenagers living in Bixby, Oklahoma who have the privelage, and sometimes punishment, of getting to live an extra hour each day, that happens at the strike of midnight. With this extra hour comes special powers, such as mind reading and flying. But the midnight hour is not all fun and games. Evil creatures, known as Darklings, can only survive in the secret hour. To these teenagers, the Darklings can be deadly.

In the second installment in this trilogy, the reasons for an entire generation of midinghters going missing comes to light. Something that suprises the teens even more, is some of the missing midnighters are not even dead and they know secrets too horrible to share.

Throughout the novel, one of the characters, Rex, goes missing and there is reason to believe he will be used by the darklings in a fate worse than death. His best friend, Melissa, would do anything to save him, even going as far as to break the trust of one of their other friends. By breaking this trust, she puts other people's lives in danger.

1.) If you could have special powers, but they also came with the dangers of monsters constantly trying to kill you, would you still want the powers. Explain.

2.) Melissa was only trying to save Rex's life when she broke the trust of her other friend. Would you be willing to put someone's life at risk if it was to save someone close to you? Explain.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In a heavily guarded mansion in a Virginia suburb, a thief by the name of Luther Whitney starts to burglarize the place. But he is trapped in the vault, with a one-way mirror being the only thing separating him from witnessing the murder of a woman. Not only is it any woman, but it is Christine Sullivan, wife of the famous Walter Sullivan. She and the president went to her house, but she ends up trying to kill him. The Secret Service barely saves the president’s life by shooting her. They clean the place up but don’t realize Luther was there the whole time. They clean the place up, but Luther finds on epiece of evidene that they forgot. When the local police find the body, they are baffled at the circumstances surrounding this mysterious case. The reso f the book involves a dangerous game that Luther plays with the Secret Service, trying to reveal the president for who he really is.

The Secret Service acted quickly in doing their jobs and killing Christine Sullivan to protect the president, even while compromising their own ethics. How do people justify doing their jobs while maintaining their ethics?

If you were in the Secret Service agents position would you do your job and kill the woman, or would your morals take precedence?

Absolute Power by David Baldachi

In a heavily guarded mansion in a Virginia suburb, a thief by the name of Luther Whitney starts to burglarize the place. But he is trapped in the vault, with a one-way mirror being the only thing seperating him from witnessing the murder of a woman. Not only is it any woman, but it is Christine Sullivan, wife of the famous Walter Sullivan. She and the president went to her house, but she ends up trying to kill him. The Secret Service barely saves the president's life by shooting her. They clean the place up but don't realize Luther was their the whole time. They clean the place up well, but Luther finds one piece of evidence that they forgot. When the lo0cal police find the body, they are baffled at the circumstances surrouding this mysterious case. The rest of the book involves a dangerous game that Luther plays with the Secret Service, trying to reveal the president for who he really is.

The Secret Service acted quickly in doing their jobs and killing Christine Sullivan to protect the president, even while compromising their own ethics. How do people justify doing their jobs while maintaing their ethics?
Were you involved in a case like this, would you do your job and kill the woman or stand by and watch the president die?

The Cage Daniella Volpe

The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender

This is the true story of Ruth Minsky Sender, a holocaust survivor. At the beginning of the story Ruth, her mother and her 6 other siblings are betrayed by their long time family friend who were German and they were sent to a ghetto. After a year in the ghetto their mother gets taken away and most like was sent to a death camp. Ruth is then left to take care of her two brothers after already losing her brother Laibele. She develops malnutrition and calcium deficiency when the ghetto is cleared and their family is separated when they are sent to concentration camps. Ruth makes friends in the camp but her health is questioned when she can not use her glasses so is unsafe using the machinery in the factory. Ruth and the camp were then transferred to another camp where Ruth's health conditions worsened. She probably should have been sent to a death camp by this point but instead was taken into town so she could see a professional doctor to take care of her worsening legs. The camp did this because she wrote poetry that she would read to the other girls in the camp and it kept the girls working and pushing forward. After she was treated the camp got sent to yet another camp where they only spent about three to four months. Then one day, when the camp leaders took all of the girls out to the forest where they were going to all be executed. Except, all of the leaders ran away abandoning the camp for hours until allied forces found them and told them the camp had been liberated. Ruth had survived when her luck did not look good.
Ruth never found her brothers that were sent to camps. To this day she still has nightmares about the horrors of the concentration camps. She says she will never forget anyone that she met or knew from the holocaust, especially the ones that she lost.

1. After WWII would the world ever allow a country to commit something like the holocaust ever again??
2. What would everyday life be like in a concentration camp??

She Said Yes by Misty Bernall

This book tells the story of a 17-year-old, average teenage girl named Cassie Bernall. This book is written by her mother and shows everyone the decision Cassie had made on April 20, 1999. Cassie Bernall attended Columbine High School, which is the school that had the largest school shooting ever in history. Her mom tells the story of her daughter and how she was a very passionate girl about her faith in Jesus Christ. On the day of the shooting, Cassie had handed her friend Amanda a note saying that she wanted to live for Christ alone and even though it's scary, she wanted to live life fully for the will of God. When she was in the library working on her English project, the librarian had yelled to everyone that there were kids with guns in the hallway and everyone to get under the desks. Everyone thought it was just a senior prank, but when the shooters, which happened to be her classmates, walked into the library yelling, everyone knew this was no joke. All students in the library got under the tables as soon as possible, just hoping that their lives would be spared.
Among these students was Cassie Bernall. She was praying and praying that the students would just leave and do no harm. As they walked around, shooting kids, Cassie was still praying her life would be spared. Unfortunately, one of the shooters slammed on the desk right above Cassie. He bent down in front of her and said, "Do you believe in God?" Cassie, although nervous as can be, said, "Yes." The shooter just looked at her and said, "Why?" But before Cassie could even explain, the shooter shot and killed her immediately. Cassie was a strong girl and willing to stand up for her beliefs. She trusted God and had so much faith that she was willing to give up her life for the sake of God's will. The story of Cassie Bernall is a very unfortunate story. Although very sad and unfortunate, it amazes me how much faith she had as a seventeen year old girl and how much she was willing to stand up for what she believed in, no matter what the cost.

1) What do you think that Cassie Bernall was thinking as the gunman asked her if she believed in God?

2) To what extent do you think you would be willing to stand up for what you believe in?