Why Kindles? A Guide for J Schoolers

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photo credit: Tina Franklin, mis ebooks

Whenever we visit Thompson with armfuls of books, hordes of candy, and a dash of moxie, we librarians are also often spotted waving around bags of kindles. Why are we so determined to convince J Schoolers of a library kindle’s worth?

It’s simple, really.

Library Kindles: A Story

For their size, kindles pack a punch. They’re basically a portable library. All kindles have access to over 800 (mostly fictional) books. Eight hundred!! Browsing the huge variety of books, J Schoolers will notice duplicates of actual books in the Calarco library, as well as authors and titles exclusive to the kindles. More importantly, we librarians will purchase and download books on-demand. Put plainly – the options are endless!

So, Who Should Use Kindles?

Traveling over the break? If you try to pack multiple books in your suitcase in preparation for vacation (*hangs head in shame while raising hand*), library kindles are perfect for you! Imagine it – over 800 books at your fingertips, all on a small device that fits in your hand. Library kindles are basically a real-life version of Hermione’s undetectable extension charm-enhanced bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Not traveling over the break? Not to worry! You too could still benefit from a library kindle.

  • Do your parents ever get stressed out by the “to read” pile on your nightstand?
  • Do you struggle when deciding what book to pack for a sleepover?
  • Do you ever bring a book to read while waiting for an appointment (doctor? Haircut? dentist?) and finish the book early, leaving you in a vortex of boredom while you wait for your name to be called?
  • Do you simply struggle to see over the armful of books you carry around during your day-to-day life?

If you identify with any of the above scenarios, library kindles might just be your match made in reading heaven.

When you visit the Pop-up Library on Thursday, March 9, consider checking out a kindle. Keep an eye out for the big red “Readbox”, and make sure to let a librarian know if you want a specific book. Happy kindle reading!

New Books News!

With March Break just a few days away, we wanted to draw your attention to some of the new books just waiting to be checked out.

Fantasy

King’s Cage and Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

The third book and prequel novellas in the Red Queen series.

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black

In the woods outside of a town where humans and faeries co-exits, there’s a horned boy asleep in a glass coffin. He’s been there for years. Until, one day, he wakes up.

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has always dreamed of visiting the invitation-only Caraval, a show where the audience is part of the performance. But this year, her sister is kidnapped by the leader of Caraval, and Scarlett will have to find her to before she’s lost forever.

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Ruby Red trilogy, by Kerstin Gier

Time travel! Romance! Fancy dresses!

Steeplejack, by A.J. Hartley

In a fantasy South Africa, a chimney-repairwoman tries to solve the murder of her apprentice.

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Something goes horrible wrong at a home for children who once found their way to other worlds – and desperately wish to find their way there again.

The Weight of Feathers, by Anne-Marie McLemore.

The fates of a son and daughter of magical rival families become intertwined.

 

The Winner’s Curse series, by Marie Rutkowski

Political intrigue and star-crossed lovers.

 

Realistic

Saving Hamlet, by Molly Booth

A stage manager falls through a trapdoor her back in time to Shakespeare’s day, and the first ever production of Hamlet.

Allegedly, by Tiffany Jackson

An imprisoned teen who was convicted of killing a baby when she was 9 tries to prove her innocence to maintain custody of her own child.

Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King

Sarah deals with her brother’s mysterious absence, her parents’ divorce, and her inability to make art as she always has.

History is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera

Griffin deals with the death of his ex-boyfriend.

Beast, by Brie Spangler

Dylan, a boy whose exceedingly large and hairy for his age, falls for a girl in his support group.

Saving Montgomery Sole, by Mariko Tamaki

A girl who love the paranormal worries she will be bullied for having two moms. By the author of This One Summer.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner

The son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee.

American Street, by Ibi Zoboi

Fabiola Toussaint is a Haitian immigrant learning to make her way at a new school in Detroit.

 

Science Fiction

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

A misfit spaceship crew is hired to punch a wormhole gate to a new planet. For those who still miss Firefly.

Dreadnought, by April Daniels

A coming-out story in two parts: as a superhero, and as transgender.

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Ruby Red trilogy, by Kerstin Gier

Time travel! Romance! Fancy dresses!

Carve the Mark, by Veronica Roth

Graceling in space, by the author of Divergent

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Two teens are chosen to become a Scythe – grim reapers who choose who dies. Only one will succeed – the other will be killed.

 

Historical Fiction

Seeds of America series, by Laurie Halse Anderson

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Front Lines, by Michael Grant

An alternate history where American women could be drafted to fight in World War II.

 

Graphic Novels

Trickster: Native American Tales

A collection of 21 trickster stories in cartoon form.

Black Panther, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

T’Challa, the superhero known as Black Panther and the king of Wakanda, tries to unite his nation in the face of a violent uprising.

The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks

Rat and Kai bond over parkour, even though one is a native of a city that keeps changing hands, and the other is a member of the current occupying force.

Wires and Nerveby Marissa Meyer

A Lunar Chronicles story about Iko the android (with appearances from many other characters).

Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson

A group of friends keep getting caught up in the strange happenings at their summer camp, from supernatural wolves and river monsters to raptors and Greek gods.

 

Nicola Yoon Author Event

 

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe

Carl Sagan (via The Sun is Also a Star)

Nicola Yoon visited R.J. Julia, an independent bookstore in Madison, on Thursday, December 1 to promote her latest book The Sun is Also a Star. Yoon gained notoriety when John Green re-tweeted Yoon’s #weneeddiversebooks campagin photo. This exposed her first novel, Everything, Everything, to a wider reading audience. By the time The Sun is Also a Star was named a National Book Award finalist for the Young People’s Literature category, Yoon was already a popular figure in the YA reading community.

All of this, in addition to simply loving her books, led to a very excited librarian walking into R.J. Julia a few minutes before the free event began. I was elated to find the room packed with teens, and Yoon must have felt similar excitement. Instead of a traditional reading, Yoon decided to use a Q&A format, allowing several readers to ask insightful, funny, and interesting questions. Although most audience members had clearly read The Sun is Also a Star, Yoon was careful to refrain from any plot spoilers. Instead, she discussed the inspiration for writing a book about a scientifically-minded Jamaican American girl meeting a poetry-loving Korean American boy and connecting over the course of a single day in New York City. Yoon explained why she used the specific title (Carl Sagan), what inspired the Natasha character’s worldview (Carl Sagan), and some of the “aside” chapters that delve into cultural, scientific, or moral concepts (Carl Sagan).  Finally, Yoon was more than happy to answer any questions about her previous novel, Everything, Everything.

Yoon then held a book signing for which, of course, this librarian stood in line. Overall, Yoon was funny, engaging, and open to all kinds of questions. From a timid question about the cover art to complex questions about being Jamaican-American, Yoon was a hit with all the adults and teens in the room. This librarian gives two thumbs up.

To hear and read more about Yoon and The Sun is Also a Star, watch this reading and read this interview.

Reading for Fun in 2016

Hello readers,

As Winter Break quickly approaches (4 days!), we’re taking a look back at the most popular books of 2016. These are the fiction and graphic novels you grabbed off the shelf over the past year. The numbers are a little unorthodox – no “Top Ten” here – but hey, 16 for 2016 works out pretty well.

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Fantasy continues to be a favorite genre, although sci-fi, historical, and realistic fiction also make appearances. Aristotle and Dante continues to be popular four years after its release; the sweet story of two boys coming of age in Texas is proving to be a lasting favorite. Three Dark Crowns deserves special mention: we got it at the end of September, so it’s only had three months to rack up its five checkouts. As for graphic novels, maybe Saga is cheating by having so many volumes – but each one would have had enough checkouts on its own to make the list.

No matter whether you’ve read most of these books or none of them, thank you for reading and for visiting the library! See you in 2017!

Double Feature: Pages and Popcorn

Photo credit: Lynn Friedman via Flickr

Disclaimer: For this discussion, Mr. Gette and Ms. Nicolelli are limiting themselves to book series adapted to the big screen. This discussion will exclude one-off book-to-film adaptations, such as The Book Thief or Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.

JG: I blame Harry Potter and Frodo.

Sure, YA books and series were turned into movies before 2001. But the runaway success of both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring ushered in an era of studios looking for the next big thing.

JN: Producers can expect a guaranteed audience, either book fans eager to see their beloved stories come to life. Or, book fans eager to disparage the film adaptation. Either way, money goes into pockets.

The money spent on early millennial series adaptations like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter was money well spent, on the part of readers turned moviegoers. However, I would argue that film series adaptation has been in sharp decline ever since.

JG: Film adaptations have been divided into two categories: hot new series like Divergent and The Maze Runner; or backlist favorites like The Dark is Rising (made into the absolutely dreadful movie The Seeker). But series are a two-edged sword: on the one hand, you know what your next few films will be; on the other, no movie really stands alone.

JN: It’s nearly impossible to execute a book-to-film series that is of high quality from start to finish. And this is when the book series is actually complete, not even taking into account the adaptation of book series that are not yet finished. Look at what happened to Divergent! Or Chronicles of Narnia.

JG: Another issue is length. Some books are just too jam-packed to make a regular-length movie without lots of cuts. Which leads making multiple movies from one book. Deathly Hallows Part I & II. Breaking Dawn Part I & II. Although sometimes it’s hard to tell if the decision is being made because of length or potential profit.

JN: And then there is the opposite problem of taking a normal-length book and unnecessarily dividing it into multiple films. Mockingjay I & II and The Hobbit (I can’t even keep track of the ridiculous number of installments). And only the most optimistic, naive book lover would see this as anything other than Hollywood trying to make money.

JG: It’s one book! ONE BOOK. The Hobbit  is shorter than each of the books in the Lord of the Rings series!

JN: Peter Jackson fell from grace quite a bit with The Hobbit adaptation. And seriously, Orlando Bloom?!

JN: But going back to adapting a book series before it is finished. JK Rowling always knew the Wizarding World and Harry’s story inside and out. The filming schedule did not back Rowling into any corners and the books did not suffer for the film adaptations. However, authors like Veronica Roth (Divergent) struggle under the pressure to churn out the finalized story. Just look to Allegiant if you need evidence. Blegh.

JG: It can be ok for a screenwriter to change or cut things. Some parts of books just don’t translate well to a film. Sorry, Tom Bombadil fans. The Lord of the Rings benefited from having hundreds of pages of traveling condensed into montages.

JN: Absolutely! Do you have a favorite book-to-film adaptation moment, Mr. Gette? Perhaps one where the screenwriter(s) changed the author’s version of the scene/event/character/etc.

JG: I honestly believe Jurassic Park is a better movie than book. Maybe because I saw before I read it, so that’s the version I know best. The Hammonds in the book and movie are VERY different, and that does a lot to change the whole feeling of the story.  But the moment when Grant and Sattler see the brachiosauruses for the first time and the theme swells is pretty great (and that, too, is different from the book). You?

JN: I saw the Lord of the Rings films prior to reading the series (I know, I know!), but I remember seeing the movie trailer for Fellowship like it was yesterday (the music and Cate Blanchett/Galadriel voice over!). While I had dabbled in the fantasy genre, Fellowship absolutely hooked me. Another memorable moment was seeing Diagon Alley come to life in Sorcerer’s Stone. It was when I knew the Harry Potter films would be excellent visual adaptations. My favorite single scene of adaptation that is different from the book version is the Order of the Phoenix showdown between Dumbledore and Voldemort. The book version details specific spells, while the film version mostly features the magical manipulation of elements. It seemed so appropriate for these two magical powerhouses.

JN: What is your least favorite book-to-film adaptation moment, Mr. Gette? It can be an entire film, film series, or single scene. Or all three!

JG: When I was 10 there was nothing I loved so much as My Side of The Mountain. In the book, Sam tames a falcon, Frightful, who helps him survive. There are sequels based around Frightful. In the movie, she gets shot by a hunter. Maybe she survives – I don’t know. I shut it off after that, and never finished the movie. What’s yours?

JN: I could say everything about the Divergent or Golden Compass movies, but I was not necessarily in love with those books. Perhaps the biggest adaptation betrayal was The Giver. Just, no.

JG: Just like all movies, ones based off of books can be great or terrible. And while it’s disappointing when a favorite becomes a bad movie, at least you still have the book.

JN: Books > Movies.

JG:jurassic-park-t-rex

2016 Summer Reading Blurbs – Writing Semester, Ms. Davis

Ms. Davis asked her Writing Semester students to pick one summer reading book and write a short blurb in the style of Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, or themselves. Please read their contributions, and enjoy their writing “masks”!

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A Blurb on Melancholy Play, by Sarah Ruhl

Written by Andrew Roberge in the Style of Stephen King

Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl was uniquely beautiful, intensively introspective, and unlike any piece that I had ever read. My reading experience was entirely cerebral, provoked countless life-altering thoughts, and left me with a mix of satisfaction, and a general feeling only expressible by the word “…What?” Melancholy Play follows Tilly, a bank teller; Frank, a tailor; Joan, a nurse; Lorenzo, a shrink; Frances, a hairdresser; and Julian, a talented cellist. The general plot of this play, similar to the waning effects of an acid trip, leaves the reader starstruck as it details the turmoil caused by the divinely attractive melancholy Tilly who suddenly becomes “violently” and “monstrously” happy. Every character in the play falls in love with the melancholy Tilly, and watches their life fall apart as “the result of her great happiness.” Playwright Sarah Ruhl alluringly shows the reader or audience the power and potentially great effects of unbridled emotion, examples of endlessly devoted friendship and lust, the effects of sudden dramatic change, and the powerful symbolism of the solitary almond. You’ll just have to read it to figure that last bit out. Trust me, this modern day theatrical masterpiece is worth a look.

A Blurb On Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose

Written by Gyan Maria in the Style of Stephen King

In this play, Rose lets the story do what I think all authors should do: let the story write itself and the characters do what they want. At the beginning of the play, each of the jurors takes on his own prejudices, his own decision for a verdict, his own life, and his own interest in the whether or not there is a reasonable doubt in the case. Then throughout the play, he lets the jurors influence each other through their personalities, until the original vote of eleven to one in favor of guilty had become twelve to none in favor of not guilty. Most of the influencing happens in two places: the bathroom or at a table in the main room. At the table, the jurors used mostly logic and evidence from the case to convince each other. The table is also where the reader could see the progression of change in vote. But in the bathroom, the jurors used much more personal means to convince each other. They would talk about their own and each other’s lives at home and at work as a way to connect, hoping to sway the verdict to what that juror thought was right.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb On If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

Written by Marion Conklin in the style of Stephen King

I find movies to be unintellectual forms of books. Directors of movies have an idea in their head of what they want you to feel when you watch a certain scene in a film play out on screen. For authors of books, it should be different. I do not expect or want all of the readers of my writing to have the same response from a passage as I do. People should have to think on their own, and ride the wave of uncertainty that is known as fiction, until they have finished the book. Throughout the entire novel they should be constantly thinking about the words that they just read, or about the story that is still to come. This is not the case in If I Stay, however, because the foreshadowing is overdone, and the suspense (or lack thereof) does not require thinking. In fact, just by the title the reader can figure out that Mia, who was in a terrible car accident, was going to survive.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb on Collected Poems, by T.S. Eliot

Written by Clay Wackerman in the Style of Clay Wackerman

Although I’m not quite cultured enough to fully understand all of Eliot’s poems, I sure can enjoy them. Even if I have no clue what he’s trying to get across, just the sound of the words was enough to make me feel something. He has a way with syllables and consonants that makes everything very pleasing to read aloud. His works are brimming with literary devices and historical references, but what really gets me is the imagery. In my head, I create these tiny realms, little spaces for my mind to wander. Each poem inspires a whole different world I can walk around in. Every poem evokes something beautiful, but the feelings were more abstract than simple love and darkness. Eliot combines emotions that are not often put together; some poems are whimsically fearful, and others pensively joyful, or fulfillingly broken. All these things arouse a sort of happy confusion inside the heart.

A Blurb on The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson

Written by Lucas Henderson in My Own Style

I loved reading The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson. In fact it was one of my favorite books of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed how the characters developed, and how gritty and (somewhat) realistic the story was. On top of that, I felt that all the characters were believable and essential to the story, including the supporting cast. One example of this is Lisbeth Salander’s caretaker/ guardian, Nils Bjurman. In the first book, he played an abusive and overpowering character, but in this second installment, Bjurman is finally submissive, for reasons I won’t ruin. How Salander deals with Bjurman’s new position in her life was realistic and it really struck me. Finally, the storytelling in this book is something I can only aspire to in my writing. I could not put this book down with all of the cliffhangers and exciting sequences. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

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A Blurb on Transfer of Power, by Vince Flynn

Written by Nikhil Etikela in the style of Stephen King

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my dad about hypothetical situations on a car ride to school. One thing that popped up was the idea of the White House and President being taken hostage by terrorists. As we were talking, my dad noticed and mentioned an interesting point – we weren’t considering this scenario from a terrorist’s eyes. Vince Flynn’s Transfer of Power entertains the bad-guy perspective while still showing us the rational thinking behind each move that our country made without the president (who was locked up in a vault at the time and couldn’t communicate with the outside world due to a frequency jammer). Seeing the action play out from the terrorist Rafique Aziz’s point of view is very interesting; there is a thirst to get something done that most of us have never even considered, let alone felt. But behind all that drive and motivation is a very powerful mind, which planned to create and maintain a two-step advantage at all times. Everything was planned out so well, that when HRT and SEALs began flooding the White House, our terrorist escaped. It’s very intriguing to see Flynn create an insightful character out of someone who we would all brand an enemy.

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A Blurb On The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Written by Annie Banks in the style of Stephen King

Charlie. An interesting boy, stuck in the dark tunnel that adolescence is. But, I would bet my left hand and then some that if he somehow found a way to skip these years, his situation would be a whole lot worse. Back when I was in the midst of my teenage years, damn I was lost and confused. With all the babysitters outgrown, and no one to screw around with, David and I had nothing to do. All the fun was gone, but I must admit, by the end of this flat out awkward time, I did find the light. Charlie is a great kid. Despite his occasional usage of adverbs, I found myself to grow quite fond of him. In the end, he did gain perspective, but I gotta say, my teenage years were a breeze compared to his. He just about went through hell from witnessing Ponytail Derek physically abusing his older sister to experiencing the suicide of his only friend. The stuff he saw sure as hell messed with the kid; however, they did lead him to realize his aunt, Helen, raped him back when he was a youngster and this realization drove him to get help. If you ask me, his parents should have kept a closer eye on him. It would have saved him a boat load of trouble, but who gives a damn about what I think. All that said and done, Charlie’s therapy did help him, and now that he is feeling better, I think I could make a hell of a writer outta him. Between his letters and his essays for Bill, he must write close to 1000 words a day. That’s the first and most important step. With a little help from my memoir and the obliteration of adverbs, the kid has potential to go places.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb on Room, by Emma Donoghue

Written by Galen Smith in My Own Style

Over the summer I read the novel Room, by Emma Donoghue. What stood out to me among the many themes was the relationship between Joyce and her son,  Jack. The hardships that they endure are beyond what most people could imagine, yet their bond is only strengthened. As most mothers do, Joyce shields Jack from the real world, convincing him that the room they live in is all there is, therefore creating the fantasy that besides their kidnapper,  Jack and Joyce are the only humans living on earth. Instead of questioning this reality, Jack embraces it and uses it as an excuse to grow closer to his mother, finding comfort in their solidarity.  Jack, unlike other children his age, lacks interaction with anyone but his mother. She serves as his playmate, his cook, his doctor, his teacher, and everything in between. She is the only person that Jack has in this world, which forms a bond almost too strong for Joyce to handle. When they finally escape and are thrust back into reality, Jack yearns for the closeness to his mother that he had in ‘room’.  Joyce, however, does not look back and tries to introduce Jack to the other wonders the world has to offer besides her love. At first, Jack doesn’t understand and resents their escape and the independence that ensues, but eventually he accepts his role in the real world and the fact that he can love his mother while also living his own life.

A Blurb on Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich

Written by Jimmy D’Amato in My Own Style

One of the books I read this summer was Bringing Down the house, by Ben Mezrich. This book is about a group of men and women who are able to cheat the Vegas casinos for millions. These individuals are a group of M.I.T. students, supersmart “nerds,” who excel in mathematics. The game in which they “cracked the code” for is blackjack, one of the more simple casino card games. While the profit was huge, and these college students instantly became millionaires with, essentially, all the money they could ever need, the risk was high. Cheating the game is illegal, and if caught the consequences are huge. The students did not only figure out how to cheat the game, but also devised a whole system in which they would act as a team in the casinos. There would be designated “players” who played in the casinos and won all the money, while others had jobs including one to lookout for security and others to indicate certain things to do in game. I found the book very entertaining, and very exciting.

A Blurb on The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

Written by Olivia Conway in the style of Olivia Conway

The Red Tent follows Dinah, a character from the bible who’s story is often glossed over as a small part in the larger, more important portion about her father, Jacob, and her brothers. In the bible the story is that her brothers protected her honor after she was defiled by the prince of Shechem. What actually happened, in Diamant’s version of the story at least, was that they wanted to protect their family’s honor when they felt that the prince did not treat their sister the way they thought she should have been treated, even though he actually had feelings for Dinah and her own for him. This results in the deaths of the prince and all the members of family and staff being murdered in the night by the brothers. From here Dinah leaves home and makes a name for herself as a midwife in Egypt, using the practices taught to her by her mother and aunts from birth within the female sanctuary of the red tent. She eventually finds love again and rebuilds her relationship with her brother Joseph. When returning to her homeland with Joseph she realizes that while the men of Jacob’s tribe had forgotten all about her, her mother and the women of the tribe kept her story alive along with the vibrant practices that took place within the red tent.

A Blurb on Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Written by Helena Lyng-Olsen in the style of Charlotte Brontë

One can at times find lengthy books of knowledge to be rather dry, which is understandable when considering how passion can induce a writer to flood the reader with details piquant to the former but irrelevant to the latter. Nevertheless, in an exception to prior experiences, I came upon a factual book that sparked the mind and enlightened the conscience. I had purchased it a few months before when contemplating the contents of a shelf in back of a dimly lit bookstore; the voice and subject matter of the opening pages had spoken deeply to the events that have taken place in my life thus far. In the volume, the author eloquently weaves together a tale noting the societal preference for a dominant extrovert, an inclination evident in various spheres of professional and even adolescent life. Having thus described the circumstances in which her research, and our lives, takes place, she then explores various qualities, many to be lauded, that introverts possess; she alludes with care to the poignancy of the discrepancy between their role in society and their inherent ability. With the word count I am held to, along with the lengthy nature of my sentences, I am no longer able to continue; I shall now conclude this piece of writing, the scrap of my mind that it is.

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A Blurb on War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Written by Ana Sotelo-Emery in My Own Style

Leo Tolstoy pays great attention to detail in his character’s emotions, physical actions, facial expressions, language, and character development. He describes a character’s complicated emotions in a way in which you can understand their inner turmoil or thought process, and their transition from one emotion to another. He has a clear understanding of their character, and he makes it obvious to you through their thought process, even if their physical actions contradict those thoughts. He can describe the emotion of a character simply in the way they lift their lip, or in which language they speak to others. Through his detailed analysis of his characters’s thoughts and actions, you feel as if you know them, and through whatever hardship they endure and every happy moment they experience, you can see them evolving on the page, growing in character and in spirit.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling (kind of)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

*Note: I rarely crucify prequels, sequels, adaptations, spin-offs, etc. Especially when produced by the original creator, or with their approval and input. If you are interested in a Cursed Child bashing, the Internet shall provide*

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from my local bookstore. I definitely couldn’t get it from my local public library – the waiting list was longer than Snape’s nose. Besides, any Potterhead worth their salt will scrape and fight to own all the HP books in all the lands. So, I Amazon’d Cursed Child to my front door and promptly read the entire script in one sitting on a beautiful summer day.

I read quickly, so sometimes I miss structure and detail. After reading the first few pages of the two-part script, I immediately started over again. Like many, I’m sure, I dove in reading as if Cursed Child is a novel. It’s not. It is the published script of a two-part play (still) running on London’s West End. Once I slowed down, I started catching more of the beats and nuance between old familiars and the new cast of characters. Whenever a play direction didn’t make a ton of sense, I did my best to visualize the production in action, and moved on. Since my reading of Cursed Child, more photos of the production have been released. Many are citing the set designs and special effects as hugely impactful on the story of Albus Severus Potter and his dad, Harry.

Let’s be clear about the question mark in this blog post’s title. Cursed Child was written by playwright Jack Thorne, based on a story created by directory John Tiffany, Thorne, and Rowling. This is causing controversy among Potterheads and critics alike. Some say this is the worst kind of Rowling-approved fan fiction.  I think the purists need a bit more muggle blood in their lives. Without spoiling too much, the play picks up right where the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows epilogue leaves off. When we read the scene as it was originally published and intended, it reads as an (overly) sentimental close to the Harry Potter story. Harry is happy and safe. Ron is happy and safe. Hermoine is happy and safe (and probably taking over the world in a good way). Fast-forward to Cursed Child, and we now hear Harry Potter’s heartfelt, well-intentioned speech as it is received by his prepubescent son, Albus.

Ho boy that is a lot of pressure for an eleven-year-old kid. Not only is his dad the single greatest bad a** in wizarding history, Albus is also named after two of the other greatest bad a**** in wizarding history. And to top it off, Albus’ older brother James is seemingly perfect at everything. Good luck, kid. Hope Hopkins/Hogwarts is fun!

Is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child perfect. Nope. But, Cursed Child gave me an excuse to re-enter my absolutely favorite fictional world. I fell right back into the magic without a hitch. I had fewer complaints than the average critic regarding character development for Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. Harry never had a consistent father figure, so he struggles with fatherhood. Hermoine was a boss, and now she’s the boss. Ron was Ron, and now he’s Ron. As for the new cast, I think Scorpius Malfoy is the best addition to the HP universe since Luna Lovegood. Albus’ emo, adolescent characterization can be exhausting, but so was 15-year-old Harry in Order of the Phoenix. In fact, I would argue this as the most significant marker of excellent continuity.

Finally, the plot. Actually, nevermind. I don’t want to give anything away. Ok, one thing. THANK YOU for revisiting one of the magical elements/artifacts/accessories I had the most questions about when I finished the original seven book series.

Maybe I’m not one to complain about the particulars, and maybe I’m a sentimental sap, but I was thankful to have a few more hours in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Read if you like: Harry Potter the books, Harry Potter the movies, Harry Potter everything

Avoid if you don’t like: Harry Potter