Book vs. Movie: Harry Potter & Lord of the Rings

hp_bookmovie Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are my favorite book series that have been turned into major motion pictures, and I think there can be an argument about which are better: books or movies.

The Harry Potter series is my favorite book series of all time, and I think the books have a lot more to offer than the movies. Movies can’t be too long or else your eyes would explode, so the producers and the directors shorten the actual stories and leave out some scenes, details, and even characters.

For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there’s a very exciting scene from the book when Harry and Hermione are on their quest to find the Sorcerer’s Stone. After making it through the giant Wizard’s Chess set, they come across a table with a variety of potions. With only a riddle for their clue, they have to figure out which potion would allow them to continue safely versus which of the potions would send them back or even kill them!  I was so disappointed this scene was not in the movie because I really like how Hermoine uses her logic to decipher the riddle.

lotr_bookmovieWhen I read these series, I imagine what the characters and settings look like, but when I watch the movies I am seeing what the director visualized. In The Lord of the Rings, I imagined Helm’s Deep is a big, magnificent castle in a big, prosperous kingdom. But, when I saw the movie, it was a long wall with only one tower, one passageway, and only offered the refugees one small cave in the mountain behind the castle.

With The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series, I love the books because I can use my imagination to create pictures of the characters and scenes in my mind. But I also enjoy all the movies because the action scenes are a lot more intense than I would have thought… which is a good thing! Plus, all the cool background music adds to the intensity!

Overall, both the books and the movies have their advantages. Personally, I always read the books first so I can have fun creating the imagery myself– but then I like to watch the movies and see how someone else looks at the books. And all the cool special effects and computer graphics are really awesome!

What do you think?  You can leave a comment below and tell me which you think are better: BOOKS or MOVIES?

-Kyle H., 6th grade

Book Review: The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen

devils_arithmetic_coverThe Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is a wonderful historical fiction novel that takes the reader back in time to the Holocaust. In this story, we follow a modern Jewish girl that goes back in time.

She goes into a concentration camp and you will see all the hardships endured there. You will see betrayal, love, and some misfortunate events throughout the story. You will also learn the true meaning of life: always do what you believe in. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say. It’s what you think is best for you that you should do. Jane Yolen teaches us this helpful message through everything that these Jewish people had to go through.

I would recommend this book to anyone between the ages of 11 to 14. It is truly a very touching book and it will help a lot in understanding their lives. This book was the winner of the National Jewish Book Award in 1989. I highly recommend that you read this book. I know that you won’t regret it. This book will teach you many life lessons. One of these life lessons will teach you how fortunate you really are.

Like Gandhi once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” The Jewish people did win.

-Melika R., 7th grade

Artistic Tribute to The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books. The main character, Susie, tells the story from a unique point of view– she is dead, and tells the story of her dear ones from Heaven above. The concept of Heaven and the usage of flashbacks are the highlights of this book.

What will happen to a family that loses one of its members? What will happen when this girl dies but still has the chance to watch her family while she’s trapped in her perfect heaven?


Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little, my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.” (The Lovely Bones prologue)

-Wenqing Z., 10th grade

Book Review: Starters, by Lissa Price

starters_coverAfter losing her parents in the devastating Spore War that killed everyone amid the ages of twenty and sixty, Callie and her sick little brother, Tyler, are forced to live on the streets as unclaimed minors, scrounging for food and fighting off renegades with the help of their friend, Michael.

After struggling to keep Tyler alive with his rare lung disease for nearly two years, Callie agrees to work for an organization called Prime Destinations, where she is promised a great affluence of money, medication, and a home subsequent to her service. However, she soon learns how corrupt Prime Destinations’ intentions really are; they hire donors, poor Starters with no relations, to rent out their bodies to Enders, who then seize control of their brain and bodily functions and get to enjoy the thrill of being young again. But when something goes wrong at Prime Headquarters, Callie must fiddle with fate and soon discovers who she can trust: absolutely no one.

Starters by Lissa Price is an absolute page-turner that will hold you in suspense until the very end. I was admittedly surprised many times throughout the whole story, especially at the end. Although the war is scarcely described, the history of the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles setting is well explained in a conversation about a quarter through the novel, up until which I was extremely confused. The characters are exemplary, and I felt I could relate to them well. I liked the brother-sister relationship between Callie and Tyler; he is hopeful and believes in her to keep them both alive. Callie does have a potential love interest, but the romance in this book is suppressed and doesn’t overpower the principal storyline.

Starters is a positively sensational and suspenseful novel, and I think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers; I especially recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Divergent by Veronica Roth, due to its futuristic world-building and strong female protagonist.

-Danielle K., 7th grade

Top Ten Rediscovered Classics

I rediscovered these classic books, and really enjoyed all of them! I thought I would share some of my favorites with you and maybe even persuade you to read them. This is my “Top Ten List of Classics,” counting down to my favorite.

pearl_cover1. The Pearl, by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s descriptive writing landed this book on my top ten list! This story is about a man named Kino who lives in poverty with his wife Juana, and his baby son, Coyotito. Kino is a pearl diver and one day he finds a giant pearl that changes his life completely. A story about greed and wealth versus generosity and humble living, this novella should not be missed!

2. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
This novel is written in the perspective of a horse named Black Beauty. Black Beauty tells of his struggles and triumphs, from the time he was born to the time he retires from pulling taxi-cabs. My heart was moved both with Black Beauty’s cruel owners and with his loving ones. The author does a great job of putting everything in a horse’s view. A famous success, this novel is a great read for any animal lover!

3. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Burnett creates the world of Sara Crewe, an orphaned girl who goes to live at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School while her father journeys with his friend to a diamond mine in India. However, unfortunate events leave Sara with no money, and the envious Miss Minchin immediately takes away all of Sara’s possessions and banishes her to be a maid at the boarding school. Truly reflecting the importance of friendship and kindness, this book shows what it takes for a young girl to stand up for what she believes is right. Continue reading

Author Interview: Chad Williams

chadwilliams Author and former Navy SEAL, Chad Williams, visited Mission Viejo in March, and two members of the Mission Viejo Library Teen Voice took the initiative to interview him about his Navy SEAL experiences and the faith journey he shares in his memoir, Seal of God.

Q: Why do you believe that being a Navy SEAL always stood out to you?

A: “Being a Navy SEAL stood out to me because I saw it as the most difficult military training in the world. In my mind, it really was top of the mountain and I see being a Navy SEAL as being a part of the most elite. And that was something I wanted to aim for. I didn’t want to be just mediocre- I wanted to do something really big.”

Q: How did you feel when you were working the gun when your team was ambushed capturing the terrorist in Iraq?

A: “My initial thought was, ‘Wow, this is for real. If I get hit by one of these bullets that are coming at me, it’s not like a training exercise where you are just going to feel a sting from a simulation round. But these bullets are real, and could take an arm off, and in a split second I could be standing before God all of sudden.’ I  do remember thinking about some of the other SEALs that were on the ground, getting shot at, hoping ‘I hope that none of these guys get hit, because I know where I’m going when I die, but for some of them it is kind of uncertain.'”

Q: What are your feelings now toward your team-members of Team 1 who ostracized you?

A: “I have nothing but love for those guys; nothing but forgiveness is what I feel towards them. If  I saw one of them, I’d go running up to them on the street, and just tell them, ‘Hey man, I love you guys and no hard feelings,’ and I would want to share the gospel with them.”

Continue reading

Manga Review: Elemental Gelade, vol. 1, by Mayumi Azuma

elemental_gelade_coverI should start out saying this is my first real manga that I ever read, or at least, entirely to as much as I could. It helped form my current opinions on the style of Japanese comics. It is also the first time in a long time I wanted to skip reading a part in my book.

The main plot of the story is about Eldel Raids, or one of the 7 Glittering Jewels known as Ren. In the Glittering Jewels line, she is the last. She is the only living member now, and this is where the journey begins. After a very good start, I find the middle to be slightly lacking. However, it picks up extremely well when the story takes a sudden twist. Sadly the first issue ends on cliffhanger, but the Mission Viejo Library has all of them available up to issue 9! (Shameless plug.)

Now onto the book itself which is overall very good and done well. The art style isn’t well used outside of the weaponry in my opinion. That being said, when it is used well it is downright fantastic. The weapons all look unique and special giving them all a reason to be remembered. I think the characters could be a bit more fleshed out, but it put them at a great starting point. The story is well crafted in its entirety, and I personally really like it. The next issue is even better, and this one is worth a look.

Overall, I give this volume of Elemental Gelade a 7/10. A great manga. If you think it’s worth a shot I give it a full recommendation.

Book Review: Divergent, by Veronica Roth

divergent_coverAbsent from reality and consumed by the pages, Divergent introduces you to a dystopian world, where society is separated into five Factions. The five Factions are: Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), and lastly, Dauntless (the brave). One on special day of the year, all 16-year olds must choose which faction they will devote the rest of their lives to.

Beatrice Prior, our main character, has grown up in the Abnegation faction. Yet, as the time arrives for her to choose her faction, which she must dedicate her life to, she is torn over her what her final decision may be. Most importantly, Beatrice fears the outcome if she chooses to stay or abandon her faction and how her family will react to her decision. From this point in the novel, the rest is left for the reader to find out.

Book reviewers such as BookPage and Publishers Weekly state “You’ll be up all night with Divergent…” and call it “A memorable, unpredictable journey…” I agree to no end that Divergent is a brilliant novel about making choices that will transform you, defining your beliefs, and determining who your loyalties are. Of course, like any good novel, a secretive romance reveals itself throughout the novel, creating an appeal for the readers who seek a thrill novel along with their hidden passion for some, ah… amour.

Blatantly speaking, Divergent has overthrown The Hunger Games due to its twists, unpredictability, and especially the way the characters are brought out. Props to Veronica Roth for writing an incredible novel, captivating the hearts and minds of all Divergent readers!

-Michaela B., 11th grade

Book Review: As YOU Like It

as_you_like_itShakespeare was great. No contest.

But in my opinion, his best comedy is As You Like It. It is an amazing play, where all the characters end up falling in love and getting married because of one person: a teenage girl named Rosalind. She wants to find out if the guy she likes really loves her, so she dresses up like a guy and offers to give her crush love lessons.

In this play there are two jesters, two shepherds, two peasant girls, two rich cousins, two brothers, and two dukes. It is an amazing play. No one in the play seems to want to do much with court life. Half of them are banished to the forest of Arden (Robin Hood’s supposed forest) and they spend their time having fun. It is thought Shakespeare pretty much wrote this play to show off, because it has no real morals. The entire point of the play is to give people love advice and show them how stupid lovers can be. One of my favorite quotes that Rosalind says is, “Love is merely a madness, and I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish’d and cur’d is, that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.” 3:2

I know a lot of you are probably thinking “Shakespeare… Romeo and Juliet… Olden sounding words like thee and whilst… Dead chicks like Ophelia and Juliet. Not fun.” But if you enjoy rom-coms, this is just an olden day version. You can even look up the SparkNotes summary before you read it, just in case. But please, don’t knock it ’til you try it.

-Becka O., 8th grade

Event Recap: Eoin Colfer Author Visit


Last weekend, a very exciting and rare event took place at the Mission Viejo library.    Mr. Eoin Colfer, the author of Airman, the Artemis Fowl series, and the newly released The Reluctant Assassin, visited the library, and spoke to many eager and excited kids and adults.

Before Mr. Colfer came out to speak, a magician entertained the audience with a few funny card tricks. The magician was quite engaging and had the audience in stitches.  Mr. Colfer was then introduced. He began his presentation by telling an entertaining story about the Irish sport of hurling. One day, he was in America talking about his books, and a little girl asked him what he liked to do for fun.  He responded by saying that he enjoyed hurling. It goes without saying that the little girl thought Mr. Colfer was referring to something besides the Irish sport. The whole conversation between Mr. Colfer and the girl went downhill from there.

eoin_colfer04Once the audience was laughing, Mr. Colfer began talking about the famous Artemis Fowl, and how he got the ideas for the characters. Artemis was based on his little brother, who was always getting into troublesome situations, like the time his little brother got out of art class by drinking water mixed with paint. Then, he told the audience that even though his wife did not want Mr. Colfer to base the character of  Artemis Fowl’s mother on her, he did it anyway. Mr. Colfer would get the character’s traits by asking his wife sneaky questions from time to time. Beckett and Miles, the two little brothers in the end of Artemis Fowl, are characters based upon Mr. Colfer’s sons, Finn and Shawn, even though Finn is now a teenager. However, Mr. Colfer admitted that Butler, Artemis’ butler, is merely a character which was born out of his imagination.

reluctant_assassin_coverMr. Colfer also spoke about the background of his first book in the W.A.R.P. series.  While he tried to make it scary, it did not turn out as scary as he hoped, even though one of the main characters is a psychotic killer magician who makes his apprentice murder people. Mr. Colfer ended his talk by reminiscing about his childhood, and how he was always bullied for reading. Mr. Colfer answered questions, one of them being from this author. I asked him if it was easier to write his Artemis Fowl books after he had written the first one, and he answered yes.

Mr. Colfer’s interview was very exciting, and was one of the most exciting events that I have attended. Mr. Colfer is a very entertaining speaker, and I would definitely recommend going to hear him speak next time he is in town.

-Will R., 8th grade