Monday, December 21, 2009

Second Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick. Scholastic, 2004. Genre: Realistic Fiction

In Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, Steven Alper is a 14-year old who's having a life like any other teenager would. Everything changes instantly once his younger brother Jeffrey (who he can't stand) gets diagnosed with leukemia. One by one things start to drastically fall apart as Jeffery gets sick; Jeffrey and his mom are constantly traveling to the Philadelphia Hospital, leaving Steven home alone with his dad who's not taking it well. His mom quits her job, the bills start piling up and Steven has to deal with everything including school as his life all of a sudden becomes extremely hard and complicated.

"A brave book....Sonnenblick carries it off with such charm and elan, you forget for a moment your heart is breaking."-Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and'Tis.

The story is told in first person, by Steven's perspective which is the most effective as he is practically the center of everything going on. Since it's told in a teenager's perspective, teenagers such as myself can easily relate to what's going on and can connect to the issues he has to deal with. You believe it's a teenager talking to you due to the realism and the vocabulary the author uses. The story is told with dark humor as Steven makes jokes and sarcastic remarks (as teenagers do) and the reader laughs along but also keeps in mind the seriousness of the issue. The book reminds me of the book Small Steps by Louis Sachar as that featured a teen who tries to turn his life around but everything spirals out of control.

"And this was the absolute worst thing about last October 7th, the one moment I'll never forgive myself for. When my mother began to tell me tht my baby brother had leukemia, my first feeling was relief." (36)

The book taught me to always stick with what or who is important to you. When Steven met a friend named Samantha who was a cancer-patient at the hospital who was his age, they had a normal teenager conversation. They talked about clothes, music, school etc. Then she told him how her sister never visits her anymore as her sister went off to college. Samantha told Steven to promise her that he would stay by his brother no matter what. I don't want to spoil anything, but it's a good thing he kept that promise. I liked this book as it was honest about life and had the perfect amount of humor and emotion. I will try to check out more books by this author.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2 Forms of Entertainment

Value is how much something is worth. So if something has value it is worth something. But how do you determine what has more value than another thing? You can determine it by price for expensive items like iPods, jewelry and cell phones. What about the things that you value, that mean something to you? The things that don’t have a price tag like family gatherings, the moment when you enter bed after a long day or the start of a weekend. Those things mean a lot just as expensive items do. But the question is what is worth more? Do you determine that by price or how much something means to you?

Nothing beats seeing a movie at the movie theater. I love movies and I am a huge movie person. I have been to the movies seventeen times this year. One of the best priceless moments is when a movie is about to begin at the movie theater. I have gotten to the movie early with my snacks in hand whether it is popcorn, soda, candy or nachos and what not. I get there early so I have a good seat. I want to have a good view of the movie. I just sat through the commercials which are before the movie previews and I get annoyed if there is too much commercials because don't you already see enough of those on TV?! Then the movie preview starts which I actually do not mind by the way because I love to see the upcoming attractions and to see what’s coming soon so I can plan to when to see the must see movies. After all that the movie starts. It’s about time.

You see the opening credits. You obviously know what movie you are seeing and most likely what it is about unless you were dragged to see a movie that you did not want to see. You can’t wait to be brought into another world and experience it with the whole entire audience. It is starting to tell you a story that you will hopefully be engaged in, be entertained with or have a great time watching. It is especially a great experience if you have been anticipating the movie for a while or it is a huge summer blockbuster. If you are watching an adventure film, you are going to go on an adventure with the characters, you might be thrilled with a car chase or another fast paced scene in and action film or you might be cracking up with a comedy film. Sometimes in the midst of everything, stress, school, homework, and a busy schedule you just need to escape from the real world and be brought into anew world and seeing a movie at the movie theater satisfies those requirements.

One of my favorite items that is valuable to me is my iPod. During the winter of 2007 around Christmastime I wanted one present more than anything else: an iPod. I would keep pestering and reminding my parents that I wanted one and I’m pretty sure they got the idea. Even though when Christmas came around, I didn’t get one I had enough money to go and buy one. So, in early January my dad and I went up to Target at the Holyoke Mall and he let me pick one out. I got a square silver four gigabyte iPod nano that was the new iPod at the time because it was the first nano that could hold videos. I still have that iPod to this day which is loaded with all of my favorite tunes whenever I want. I can bring it to long car rides, when I go for a walk or just when I’m in my room and I want to relax.

So, as you can see both of the things that I mentioned are both very valuable to me. Both things let me escape from the real world whether it is being brought to a new world on the big screen or hearing nothing but my favorite lyrics and beats as I close my eyes. Though not necessarily my favorite priceless moment as I love the things I stated above; family gatherings, going to bed, the start of a weekend etc I still love seeing movies at the big screen and I feel that those “priceless” moments are more valuable than the expensive ones because they can’t be brought back and will have a better memory locked in your head and those “priceless” moments you will probably enjoy forever and won’t be replaced as new gadgets come along.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic,1999. Genre:Fantasy

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the first book, a boy named Harry Potter finds out that he is a wizard and is eligible to attend Hogwarts, a school for wizards. In Hogwarts he meets new friends, learns about his past and has some amazing adventures. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry is off to his second year at Hogwarts after he is warned not to go. Attacks begin happening and warning messages are left now that the chamber of secrets have been opened again. Harry's friend Hermione gets turned to stone and Harry's friend Ron's sister Ginny is captured into the chamber Harry saves her after a confrontation with Tom Riddle or Voldermort.

"Life at Hogwarts is chock-full of surprises. Rowling is clever and witty and fills each chapter with mystery, suspense (and on occasion terror), as well as humor."; a quote from St. Louis Post-Dispatch from the front of the book says.

The book brings you to another world. To a world with Quidditch, magic and dragons. It shows a young boy having the time of his life when only two years ago he was living with his awful aunt and uncle and had no idea that any of this stuff exsisted. J.K. Rowling uses some of the best writing techniques I have ever seen. She has the right amount of emotion and feeling and uses the best details and adjectives to describe her well-thought out settings and characters. The book is on par with the first as both are probably some of the best books I have ever read and have kept me interested to go on to read the further adventures of Harry and his friends.

"Ink spurted out of the diary in torrents, screaming over Harry's hands, flooding the floor." (322)

This book has affected me in many ways. It taught me to go and explore and to go on my own adventures and have the time of my life. It taught me how to have great friendships with friends who will go throught everything with you and remain loyal until the end. Also it taught me about the concept of good and evil. The good guy usually prevails and the bad guy will get not. That is how the book affected me and I hope everyone will give the Harry Potter series a chance because I never liked fantasy books before but this book has changed my mind about things.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Brandyn's Blog

This essay is going to have a character from The Contender by Robert Lipstye and a character from A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer. Those two characters are going to be Dave Pelzer and Alfred Brooks. This essay takes place after the events in The Contender and in the middle of A Child Called “It”.
It was a bright, sunny beautiful day. Alfred Brooks was running. He had been running all day. He was running because he had the day off from the grocery store and he was training for his upcoming boxing matches. He didn’t quite know where he was but he just kept on running.
Meanwhile, Dave Pelzer had been receiving the awful bathtub and backyard treatment. The treatment consisted of Dave being pit in a freezing bathtub and putting his head underwater for hours (he left a tiny part of his nostrils up so he could breathe and he lifted his head when no one was around) and then he had to either put on his soaking wet clothes or go outside with no clothes at all and sit under a tree in his backyard in the shade. It was awful and it was Dave’s own mother that made him do this. It was an extremely rare occasion because no one was home at his house. His mom and his brothers went out to a movie and then out to dinner. Dave wouldn’t get up and move because he was too scared of what his mother would do if she caught him not there.
Dave heard something and looked. He saw a tall, skinny black kid running down his street. Alfred was running down Dave’s street and Dave caught his eye. Dave turned around and started shivering. Alfred stopped.
“Oh my gosh, what are you doing?” Dave didn’t answer. “Hey kid! Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Kid?” Dave turned and looked at Alfred. “Hello.”
Alfred said a quick hello and then said “What on earth are you thinking? You could get pneumonia or something. Why would you do this to yourself?”
Dave sat for about two minutes without saying anything and then said “I had to do it.”
“What do you mean you had to do it?”
Dave sat and thought again. He gulped and then said “My mom made me do it.” Dave immediately regretted it and he didn’t know why he said that. What if she found out he told. What if she came home right now? He looked like he was about to faint.
“Your mom made you do this?!” Alfred was shocked, confused and doubtful. “Why don’t you get up and dry off and then get some help.”
“I don’t need any help. I…uh…like doing this. Dave gulped. “I ate dinner and finished my homework and this is my reward. I like watching different people walk by especially ones that are walking dogs and I hate the heat.”
Alfred gave him a doubtful look and said “Okayyyy. Are you sure you’re all right?”
Dave nodded.
“Then why did you lie?”
“I was embarrassed.”
“Oh. Okay then, bye.”
“Bye.” Alfred ran way.
Dave said “phew” but he couldn’t really feel any relief because at that very moment Dave’s mom pulled into the driveway.