The History of Food: The Best of the Best: ICE CREAM!

The earliest known form of ice cream was in the Persian Empire when grape juice concentrate was poured on top of snow for a treat when it was hot outside. People have been doing this for centuries. Sorbet is said … Continue reading

The History of Food: Escargot

Ewwwww… escargot. These creatures are a treat for the French, but we think of it as being disgusting. These are snails that have gone through heliculture and have been stuffed back into their shells with garnishes. Years ago, in ancient … Continue reading

How to make a world from words: Characters

If you plan on writing a story, you know that to support a plot line you need a cast of characters. Here is my process of creating characters, in a seven step tutorial.

Character. A small word with a HUGE meaning. When writing a story, I tend to use the following method when creating a character.

Step one: Take out a piece of paper and pen or a word document on your computer.

Step two: Determine the gender and general age of your character.

Step three: Jot down any characteristics that come to mind, such as blonde hair, or slim.

Step four: Once you have the main characteristics of your character, write a short paragraph giving the history of your character. I always include: Where does my character come from? What do they look like? Where do they live? How old are they? Who are their parents?

Step five: Get extremely specific in detail using bullet points. My details get as specific as the color of their eyes or an estimate of how much they weigh. This may sound strange, but trust me, the more details you give the character the more depth they have and the more interesting and appealing they are to the reader.

Step six: If you have a name, write it down. Be careful with what names you use and make sure they are true to the time period of the story. For example, if you are writing a story based on the 1800’s, don’t name your character Tiffany. instead, google names from the 1800’s such as Mary, or Ann.

Step seven: If you like to draw, do a character sketch. These really help during the writing process to review any physical features.

The Chocolate War Review

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, was a great story about corruption and rebellion.  Every year, Trinity High School has a chocolate sale to make some additional money for the school.  This year’s sale is extra important though, because it could be the difference between one of the main antagonists, Brother Leon, getting a promotion and losing his job.  The general consensus is that you just sell your chocolates and don’t make trouble.  There is extra motivation to follow the rules this year because the school’s evil secret society, The Vigils, are helping Brother Leon to sell the chocolates.  The main character, Jerry, a student at Trinity, is a freshman with very few friends.  He doesn’t like the way that things are working at Trinity with The Vigils and Leon being very powerful.  With that in mind, he decides not to sell his chocolates.  Normally, this would not be a very big deal, but Leon needs to sell every chocolate he can because he paid out of his own pocket for half of the chocolates.  After Jerry begins to rebel, other students begin to rebel as well.  With a massive decline in sales, Leon and The Vigils have to go to incredible lengths to sell their chocolates.  The results of their actions are disturbing, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what really happens.

Photo Credit: NPR

Photo Credit: NPR

Overall, I thought that The Chocolate War was very well written.  I enjoyed the story and thought that the characters were very interesting and that they truly grabbed my attention.  Also, I think that the book had a very good lesson on corruption and learning where to fight the power and where to follow the unwritten rules.  The ending of the story was satisfying to me, and I think that it fit the rest of the book.  I would recommend this book to all young adult readers, and to many adults, especially teachers.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

A Long Way Gone is an autobiography about the life of Ishmael Beah and his experience in the Sierra Leone Civil War. At the start of the war, he is separated from his family and determined to find them. When Ishmael finally reaches the village where his family settled, he witnesses the rebel army attack and his family perish in the battle. The twelve-year-old boy is forced to become a child soldier and fight the rebels to stay alive and to get revenge on the people who killed his family. The government steps in, in an effort to rehabilitate as many of the children soldiers as possible. Ishmael struggles through the rehabilitation process, but ends up becoming a representative and public speaker for the program due to his great success in it. They help reunite him with his uncle and his uncle’s family. Soon after, he is recommended to attend a convention held in New York about how to improve the lives of children living in Sierra Leone. This trip changes Ishmael’s life forever.

I enjoyed this book for the most part, however, I think it would have helped to have more knowledge about wars than I have. There were parts and terms that I did not completely understand, which made it hard for me to fully follow the plot. I would highly recommend this book to people who know much about wars and are interested in them. I believe the author could have used more suitable words for my age group, as opposed to such specific war terms. Also, the book started off too slow and ended rather rushed and abrupt, I thought. Overall though, the book was entertaining, just a little more complicated and hard to follow than I thought was necessary.

This book made me realize just how bad some of the wars are in the world and how kids are forced to be a part of them. I knew about wars like the Sierra Leone Civil War, but never understood just how much they could affect a country and the citizens of the country. I never thought much about how wars could affect kids’ mental states so severely and sometimes permanently either. Ishmael Beah was one of the lucky ones after rehabilitation to be able to live a fairly normal life. I learned a lot about wars from this book, both the fighting and the affects of them.

The Chocolate War, a Controversial but Fantastic Novel

Photo credit; utchick89

Photo credit; utchick89

Before you read this, I would like to let you know that The Chocolate War is a very controversial book and that these are my opinions.

I recently finished a very outstanding novel, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

The main character of The Chocolate War is a teenager named Jerry who has recently lost his mom. One day on the way home from school, Jerry encounters a strange person who calls him a square boy. That really upsets Jerry. He begins thinking about his dad, who runs the pharmacy, and how boring he is.

The school that Jerry goes to is named Trinity. Trinity is secretly led by a group called the Vigils, which all the teachers pretend not to know about. The Vigils are led by a very smart and cunning person named Archie, who was asked by a teacher named Brother Leon, to have the Vigils help with the school’s chocolate sale. (You learn later why Brother Leon needs the Vigil’s help.)

Every day, Brother Leon has a roll call for how many chocolates people have sold, but when he calls Jerry’s name Jerry says no in an effort to “disturb his universe”

I will keep the rest a secret, but let me tell you, the ending is very interesting.  Continue reading

Backpacks in School?

Backpack by pixzain - Backpack

Photo Credit: Pixzain

I can’t understand why every kid wants the rule changed so badly. In the past couple of years, students in the Worcester Academy Middle School were not allowed to use backpacks during school. This year, there is a new Middle School Director and everyone wants to know if backpacks will be allowed now. When I saw how students swarmed the new Middle School Director about rules they wanted changed, especially the backpack rule, I was just disappointed in my classmates and their decisions. I think we still shouldn’t be allowed to wear backpacks around. There is no clear problem being solved by using backpacks yet there are numerous problems such as space and safety caused by it.  Continue reading

The Social Network: The Topsy-Turvy Adventures of Facebook

The Social Network is without a doubt, a fantastic movie.  While the creation of Facebook does have a great story, the actual movie is even better.  I had read a book called The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick prior to watching the movie, so I knew the real story, unaltered by Hollywood.  Surprisingly, the movie was quite accurate in terms of the legitimate story of the upbringing of Facebook.  I was surprised by this because based on the various trailers and TV spots I had seen two years ago when the movie came out, it made it look like Mark Zuckerberg and his many “business” partners spent most of their time drunk and surrounded by girls.  Of course, that was nowhere near the actual movie.  The Social Network is actually a great movie, deserving all of it’s accolades and praise.

Photo Credit:

I liked that the movie thought outside the box in the way that it presented the story.  One thing it did that I thought was very interesting was jumping between lawsuits with the Winklevoss twins (Fellow Harvard students who think that Mark stole their idea for a social network) and his ex-best friend Eduardo Saverin.  The Winklevoss twins were suing because they thought that Zuckerberg stole their idea for a social network and Saverin was suing because Zuckerberg lowered his equity in Facebook massively and raised Sean Parker’s, who did no where near as much work as Eduardo.  If a character says something to a lawyer, the movie might jump back to 2004 and show if the character is telling the whole truth.  It also might just delve deeper into the story or show further information and backstory.  Also, the movie doesn’t ignore the fact that the founders of Facebook had to do a lot of work to lead Facebook to where it is today.  Finally, while the movie isn’t super dramatic, it still manages to convey the emotions of all the actors to the point where you can almost feel their pain, or how ecstatic they are, whatever the case may be.  One moment that I thought was very interesting was when Eduardo stormed into the Facebook headquarters when he found out what Mark was doing to his ownership in the company and slammed his laptop on the table.  Continue reading

Go Book to Movie and Everything’s Groovy!

Once you read a book, it’s nice to see it recreated into a motion picture. Giving a new perspective and adding an original spin to the story, the movie form of a book can help the audience take away more from and understand it better. However, watching a movie based on a book without reading the actual book is not the best way to absorb as much as possible from the volume. While viewers can get the general plot and know what the story is about, a film can have flaws or enough altercations from the book to change the style in which the tale is told.
The main problem with the conversion of a book into a movie is the fact that multiple details included in books are often left out of the movie. If every specific aspect of the book was put into the movie, it would be too long for the audience’s liking. It would not be a successful project, as they would quickly lose interest. Keeping this in mind, directors keep their productions long enough to leave a lasting impression, but short enough to remain entertaining. This is done with the watcher’s best interests in mind, although it can subtract from their experience. While the removal of small details proves an adequate solution for some stories, others lose a lot of their positive qualities.
The best way to enjoy a book and movie combination is to read the book first! This way, you will not be confused by the events taking place, nor will you miss out on seeing the tale told from different perspectives. For oftentimes, the author of a publication adds their own flair and personality to it that you cannot find anywhere else.

The Hunger Games Review

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was a wonderful book. I personally loved this book. This book takes place in the future in the ruins of North America. There is one capital with 12 surrounding districts. Also known as Panem. Every year there is one boy and one girl chosen to compete in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a competition where 24 kids fight to the death and whoever wins will get fame and fortune. On the back of the hardcover book it says “Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun…” That quote I think shows the intensity of the book, and the quote is very powerful.

The main character is named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a tough 16 year old girl, and she is very good with a bow and arrow. She volunteers as a tribute when her younger sister Prim Rose gets chosen as a tribute of the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss goes into the Hunger Games with Peeta Mellark who was chosen as the male tribute from district 12. They travel to the capital and go into the games. I won’t tell you the ending because I don’t want to give it away.

Overall I thought that this was a very good book, and if you have not read it you should go and get it.  I thought that Suzanne Collins wrote the book very well. I also enjoy the other two books as well. I thought the second book was almost as good if not better then The Hunger Games. Also they made a movie of the book. I would recommend this book.