Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Touching Spirit Bear Litspiration Challenge 1

Hello readers! In class, we are currently reading a book called Touching Spirit Bear and we are also learning about the YCJA or Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Throughout his life, Cole was abused by his father and he had no support at home.  As a result, he took his anger out on others around him similar to his father.   Cole had committed crimes before in his life and had used many excuses and lies in order to escape jail.  The victim of Cole’s anger, Peter, suffered from assault and was left with slurred speech and other damages to both his physical and mental state.  He did not deserve this, as he was only standing up for what he thought was the right thing to do.  This crime was an intent to hurt Peter and Cole was basing it off of his anger, his non-supportive parents, and his anger for this game of life.  Later in the book, when the Healing Circle banished him to an island off the coast of Alaska.  The hardships of living on this island and the helplessness that he experienced caused him to think about his fake power making others fear him.  On the verge of death after being attacked by the Spirit Bear, Cole later asks himself if he had a purpose in life and if his existence was just to become fertilizer for the soil or food for the seagulls.  He realized that he did not want to die and from that point he started to turn in a different direction.

If I was apart of Cole’s Justice circle, I would consider the different circumstances that he had dealt with in his past.  When deciding on consequences, YCJA attempts to make it beneficial to the offender so they will not commit this crime again.  They consider the seriousness of the offence, their history, their attitude, and the circumstances of the person.  When Cole returned from the island, his attitude completely changed.  He thought to himself that he would only tell the truth and that would be the only proof that he needed.  Originally hot headed and quick tempered, Cole realizes that his attitude had hurt many people and had taken away their meaning for living.  Since the consequence was considered somewhat successful in changing his direction, this would also be a factor in deciding what would happen after.  Despite what had happened on the island, he still could not change the fact that Peter will be impacted by his actions for the rest of his life.  Assault is considered a fairly serious crime and because of this, it will impact how severe the consequence is.  Based off of the book, Cole’s life has been very difficult.  His abuses him while his mother drinks alcohol to ignore the constant suffering that Cole experiences.  In Cole’s case, the abuse that he faced was the main cause of his anger and the reason he felt the need to control everyone and everything by using fear alone.  When he was attacked by the Spirit Bear, he provoked it by trying to kill it because it did not fear him.  At that moment in time, Cole realized that he was helpless in comparison.  He was like the baby birds in the tree begging for a simple thing like life.  Since he had started to travel in a different direction and became successful in realizing the damages he caused, the consequences should not be as harsh.  Although this does not change what had happened in the past, he should still gain that support and be reintegrated into his community.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Book Review #5: The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Book Review by Alyssa L.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R Tolkien, is a fictional novel that fills your mind with fantasies that you feel could come true at any moment.   I would have to agree when Julia says that the theme is self-discovery and evolving loyalties.  At the start of the book, Bilbo Baggins reminded me of a turtle, as he would rather live the comforting, content life in his hobbit hole. As the book progresses, Bilbo is convinced that he has to take this risk and venture outside of his home past the hills and the sea.  Bilbo discovers and continues to explore a new daring and exciting side of him. Things that Bilbo would have never done before became natural to him. Sometimes, Bilbo reverts back to his “normal” self and frequently wishes for the safety of his hobbit hole. I think that the loyalty and friendship that grows between the dwarves and Bilbo is very prominent, and you could see the differences in their personalities.  This demanding adventure tested their trust in each other and created a stronger bond between them. At times, the dwarves as well as Bilbo could have left each other behind, but none of them did so. 
I thought that The Hobbit was an entertaining adventure book, which had a vast amount of detail that brought the story to life.   I am not a huge fan of the fantasy genre, but The Hobbit brought me into a different world. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist, is a dynamic, round character in The Hobbit.  I could really connect to him, because I am the type of person who would rather stay home in bed than adventure out into the world.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when all of the dwarves are feeling that Bilbo is holding them back and is completely useless on their adventure. But, whenever the dwarves are in danger, he always comes to their aid and helps them out. While I was reading the first chapter of the book, I thought that J.R.R Tolkien introduced too many characters like all of the dwarves, and did not expand on them enough. The dwarves were mainly flat, static characters and the detail about them was very limited. The Hobbit was uneventful at times, and other parts were packed with action. I thought that there could have been more action rather than just back and forth conversations. It is really easy to separate the different parts of the plot into the exposition, climax, and the resolution.  I could see that J.R.R Tolkien added a bit of foreshadowing in The Hobbit alerting the readers about the exciting moments coming up next.  The author successfully lured me into the book and kept me on my toes guessing what was going to happen next.  If I were to rate it, I would give it a 7/10 because it was amusing, but I did not think that it was as engaging nor captivating as previous books that I have read.  I would recommend The Hobbit to anyone who would enjoy a fantasy book and would not mind escaping into another world.

Book Review #4: To Kill A Mockingbird

Book Critique #1:
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Book review by Alyssa L.
Responding review to

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is a masterful book that leaves you on the edge of your seat.  From the beginning to end, the book throws new ideas and deep meaningful passages.  I agree with Kristen’s book review that the first half of the story was uneventful and was not very fulfilling.  It was likely slow because it was the exposition and was meant to show you what it was like to live in Maycomb, a small town in Alabama, a place of discrimination during the 1930’s. Even though the beginning was mundane, I could visualize the characters and understand their thoughts and feelings.  The ages of the children, Scout and Jem, seemed very deliberate because their experiences are so different and Scout could never be at the same knowledge point as Jem.  I thought that the age was impractical because realistically, they are too young to deal with the mature topics and situations explored such as discrimination. The protagonist in the story, Scout Finch, is not the average 7-year-old girl you would see. Scout is a well-described character who develops physically and mentally throughout the story.  She starts to learn of the evil in the world and many things will not go the way she would like. She is a tomboy who is appreciative of her father Atticus Finch and takes on many aspects of his personality and characteristics. Atticus Finch is a lawyer who defends Blacks and is also a very round character. He is a humble, kind man who looks at the world with an optimistic attitude.  He always looks for the good in people and appears to be very forgiving. Since Atticus defends Black people, he does not get paid much.  In the book, Atticus teaches Scout that everyone he defends gives him whatever they can to repay him, which is more than enough.  They might not pay in money, but they pay him back with good deeds or firewood.
There are many messages throughout the book, but the dominant theme was discrimination and inequality between different races is damaging to humanity. This quote from the book "When it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins,” really stood out to me because I thought that it was a powerful statement and fits with this theme.  During the 1930’s, people treated each other differently depending on their race.  A connection that I made as I read the book has to relate to the title, To Kill A Mockingbird.  On the back of the book it mentions, “It is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  The reasoning behind this quote is that mockingbirds do not harm or bother anyone.  I think Harper Lee was trying to portray Tom Robinson as a mockingbird.  He was accused of an atrocious crime even though he was just trying to be helpful. One of my favorite parts in the book is in the courthouse when each witness is sharing their side of the story of the crime against Tom Robinson. I became a part of the story as the conflict unfolded before me, and I could not predict what was going to happen next. To Kill A Mockingbird is a book packed full of description and imagery against a historical setting.  This book delivered a very meaningful message of looking at the good side of people rather than the bad, which I really took to heart.  However, a disappointment was that the plot of the story was very unclear until the middle, which made the book slightly confusing and hard to follow. Overall I really enjoyed this book.  I thought that the ending was very satisfying and met all of my expectations.  I would recommend this book to junior high students and anyone who would appreciate a complex historical fiction book that covers a mature subject.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Book Review #2: The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Book review by Alyssa L.

The Help,
by Kathryn Stockett, is a bestselling historical novel about fate bringing three unlikely friends together during the 1960’s in Mississippi. The beginning of the story is narrated from the perspective of a Black maid, named Aibileen Clark. She fills her days doing chores for a White family from potty training their neglected daughter to polishing silver. Her friend Minny Jackson is also a Black maid who has never held a consistent job due to her sharp tongue, but she gets a fresh start by working for a newcomer who holds shocking secrets.  Unexpected meetings between Skeeter Phelan and Aibileen change the three women’s destinies forever. Skeeter, a White graduate and aspiring author, is determined to include Aibileen and Minny in her pursuit to publish a secretive book about the daily lives of a Black maid. Regardless of the racial intolerance in Mississippi, the maids hesitantly agree to venture into this risky project that could change their lives forever or leave the women in jail cells.
The Help is a powerful and original tale that brings you on an adventure through the lives of three extraordinary women.  Kathryn Stockett wrote the book The Help because of her love for her own Black maid, Demetrie.  As you open the book, the theme of how love and friendships can overlook the appearances of people and overcome racial challenges is evident. Black maids are portrayed as dirty, lazy, and disease ridden creatures.  Despite these distorted views, Skeeter proves that White people and Black people can get along.  As a society, we could learn from this book and live in unity. This book was so intriguing that I could not stop reading until the very last word.  Each word was purposeful and meaningful making it play like a movie inside my head. Although it was interesting how the author narrated the story from each of the three characters’ perspective, it made the book confusing and difficult to follow.  There were also too many minor characters to remember even though they played an important role in the story.  The Help has some coarse language, so I would recommend it to mature young adults, and anyone who would enjoy a novel that takes you on an emotional roller coaster along with the characters.

Book Review #3: Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Book review by Alyssa L.

Lord of the Flies is a classic book that was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature.  After a devastating plane crash, a group of British schoolboys discover themselves on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Worst of all, there are no adults to be found.  Without supervision, the boys create an organized civilization with Ralph, a fair-haired boy, as the chief.  With a blow of the conch shell, the boys are able to maintain order. All of the boys collaborate to build shelters and light a fire to create a smoke signal.  Everything falls apart when one of the boys named Jack, decides to go hunting instead of tending to the fire. To make matters worse, a rescue ship passes by while the fire is extinguished. As a result, a battle for leadership between Jack and Ralph begins.  Jack promotes a more savage-like, violent attitude, while Ralph takes the side of responsibilities. What will happen to the group as they battle to survive?
Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a timeless piece of literature that makes a deep statement about humanity. The author explores the theme of loss of innocence. When the boys first arrive on the island, they are innocent and carefree.  During their struggles for survival, they experience death for the first time.  Life is more than just a game to them now, and they learn they must adapt to the new reality of living in the wilderness.  In the opening chapters, the reader is left questioning what is happening, but the author does leave clues so that the reader can unravel details about where and what is taking place.  Also, there are almost too many characters, and the only thing you know about them is their name and minor details about them. Although there were downsides to the book, Lord of the Flies engaged me throughout and let my imagination to predict what was going to happen next.  The fast moving pace and realistic description was packed into every paragraph leaving vivid images in my head.  Each chapter has good flow and captivated me.  I would recommend this book to an older audience because of the coarse language and the dark, disturbing content.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Book Review 1: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
By Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is an adventure, fantasy book that has won The Man Booker Prize. The story begins by exploring the daily life of a 16 year old religious boy named Piscine Patel.  His mother, father, and brother Rahi accompany him as the family leaves behind his father’s zoo in Pondicherry, India.  They set off to Canada in a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum bringing with them zoo animals to sell in North America.  However, the sturdy boat starts sinking after violent waves crash against the boat during a thunderous storm.  Pi is now floating in the middle of the Pacific with the final survivors, a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger.  As the days progress, the animals slowly die off until Pi is left alone with “Richard Parker” the 450-pound Bengal Tiger.  In order to survive, he resorts to taking desperate measures in order to keep peace between him and the tiger.
The author’s inspiration came from his trip to India where he experienced the many animals and religions found in the story of Pi.  As the adventure unfolds, the underlying theme of survival is shown by how Pi’s strong will to live intensified. Despite being a vegetarian and a religious Hindu, Pi subsisted on meat to subdue his hunger.  Yann Martel shows throughout the book that we think of our necessities differently in certain environments.  If we were stranded at sea, we would not take basic needs for granted.  Life of Pi is an engaging book that captivates your imagination and allows you to experience the pain and worries along side Pi.  The creative and descriptive writing kept me intrigued every time I opened the book.  Although the beginning of the story started out uneventful, it became more suspenseful as the story progressed.   I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an exceptional adventure book and does not mind a bit of gore.