What effects do the children’s perspectives have on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

**This post assumes that you have already read the novel**

Children are often considered inferior to adults, yet they have so many positive and beneficial qualities that adults have unfortunately lost, resulting in the development of many negative aspects in society. The realistic fiction novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee narrates the trial of Tom Robinson. The speaker, Scout Finch, recounts the events preceding the trial, the trial itself, as well as what happens after the trial. Although the central event is the trial of Tom Robinson and the injustice faced by colored people in America, Harper Lee cleverly implements the themes of courage, coming of age, and perspective. Specifically, the voice of young Scout Finch and the actions and dialogue of the rest of the children provide perspectives of innocence and impartiality, as well as a strong moral compass to portray societal aspects in a unique way.

Scout’s naive mindset allows readers to understand the events of the novel as they are, without the influence of prior biases. This genuinity enables readers to have a clear understanding of the unjust actions in Maycomb’s society. One such example is provided when Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham in the group of people who arrive at the jail where Tom Robinson is being kept. Although she provides some background facts on Mr. Cunningham, Scout does not state her specific opinions or thoughts about him. She does not describe the group’s intentions, nor does she explicitly say that they are a mob–she simply describes what is happening. Harper Lee created the character of Scout as an honest young girl. With Scout’s unbiased account of events, readers are able to use their prior knowledge and develop their own opinions and understandings on the intentions and morals of the group. Many works addressing the topic of stereotypes and prejudice have authors writing with an argumentative tone, so the open-mindedness of Scout’s narration provides a sincere perspective, allowing readers to evaluate the negatively segregating aspect of society in a new way.

In addition to Scout, the rest of the children’s actions are highly notable. They place strong emphasis on morals and ethical behavior. Arguably, one of the most momentous examples of children displaying ethical behavior in the novel is woven in Dill’s disappointed and angry reaction with the way Mr. Gilmer is talking during the trial. Dill is not quite as young and naive as Scout, nor is he as understanding and observant as Jem, so his behavior during the trial is very significant to the theme of justice. On the other hand, Jem is a character whose growth and increasing comprehension is a major part of the novel, yet he is still young enough to not have caught “Maycomb’s usual disease”: the racial prejudice in Maycomb. His earnestness is seen in his reaction to Tom Robinson’s verdict: he starts to cry, and says that it is very wrong. With his comparatively higher level of maturity and understanding, Jem’s behavior again depicts the immorality of Tom Robinson’s case. In turn, it depicts the immorality of many aspects of society, especially the aspect of racism, stereotypes, and assumptions. 

Children are considered the epitome of innocence, kindness, morality, and ethics. The use of children in To Kill A Mockingbird unveils an aspect of society otherwise obscured by prior judgements, influence, stereotypes, expectations, prejudice, and much more. A youthful voice allows for readers to evaluate multiple aspects of society in a new way, and it also ensures a strong sense of morality throughout the novel. The use of children’s perspectives in Harper Lee’s work help to emphasize the just and unjust aspects of society, and readers also acquire significant insight into these aspects. Memories and qualities may fade away, but insight is never lost, and people will be able to adopt habits to improve their ways. After all, if children’s qualities are so admired, it only makes sense to make an effort to eradicate the negative effects the absence of these qualities have on society.

-Ayati M.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Odysseus: An Honorable Hero

This is an argument of if Odysseus is a hero worthy of praise.

Many believe that the character of Odysseus in the famous epic The Odyssey is not worthy of praise. From foolishly taunting a cyclops, leaving a beloved comrade behind and killing a crowd of young men, it is argued that Odysseus’s actions are far from commendable. As narrated in Book 11 of The Odyssey by Homer, “One shade came first Elpenor, of our company, / who lay unburied still on the wide earth / as we had left him dead in Circe’s hall, / untouched, unmourned, when other cares compelled us” (lines 24-27, 388). Leaving a man behind has incongruity with the expectations of an epic hero. It implies a selfish side of Odysseus unfitting of praise. Although it is true these actions do not seem to be classified as heroic or admirable, the opposition fails to recognize the motive behind Odysseus’s decisions as well as the magnitude of Odysseus’s many meritorious deeds.

Odysseus is an epic hero who employs his wit more than his weapons; although killing a crowd of young men may appear to be antagonistic, one must remember that these men were trying to win Penelope’s hand in marriage in dishonorable ways. Book 1 of The Odyssey clearly explains how the suitors disrespect Odysseus and his family. If a hero cannot battle for family honor and respect, then what can he fight for?

Another prime example of Odysseus’s brilliance can be seen when Odysseus refrains from slaying the Cyclops at the first opportunity; instead, he ties his men under Polyphemus’s rams so they could secretly elude the Cyclops (Book 9, lines 336-346, 381). The profound self control Odysseus exhibits is a quality identified as a classic characteristic of an epic hero. It shows his ability to make rational decisions in circumstances under which a common person may panic and act spontaneously. Additionally, Odysseus’s care for his men and loyalty to his comrades is depicted.

Throughout the epic, Odysseus’s choices and deeds characterize him as an epic hero well deserving of praise.

-Ayati M.

Authors We Love: JK Rowling

Arguably one of the best writers of modern times, Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in Bristol, England on July 31, 1965. Better known as JK Rowling, she is the author of the famed Harry Potter series. Harry Potter is definitely in my top five favorite book series, but the story of JK Rowling is just as captivating.

Growing up in Gloucestershire with her younger sister, JK Rowling loved books. In fact, she wrote her very first book about a rabbit when she was just 6 years old. She went to school at Wyedean Comprehensive School, and later attended the University of Exeter where she studied French and Classics.

The idea of Harry Potter first occurred to Rowling on a delayed train to London in 1990. Throughout the next couple of years, Rowling planned the next few books of the series.

After many rejections, Bloomsbury Publishing House finally accepted Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The novel became a bestseller, and its movie was made in 2001. 

In 2012, the digital platform “Pottermore” was released, which sparked a new craze of Harry Potter in the digital world. (Seriously, who hasn’t taken the House Sorting Quiz on there?)

As for her personal life, JK Rowling married Jorge Arantes in 1992 and had a daughter, Jessica, in 1993. J.K. Rowling has been married to Dr Neil Murray since 2001, and they currently live in Edinburgh with their son and daughter.

The impact of the Harry Potter series is one of  high importance. Before Harry Potter, children’s literature sales were dropping, due to the fact that children were not reading very much. With the publications of the Harry Potter books, children became very interested and excited to read! 

Plus, in the midst of a global pandemic, JK Rowling launched “Harry Potter at Home” in March 2020, which allowed more people around the world to enjoy Harry Potter while they stayed at home through videos of celebrities reading the books out loud as well as the ebook and audiobook becoming free.

If you are reading this post, I’m sure that you are aware of the wonderful possibilities and opportunities that open up to children every time they flip the pages of a new book.

Of course, we cannot forget some of JK Rowling’s other works, which include Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as a crime fiction series called Cormoran Strike, which Rowling wrote under the pen name of Robert Galbraith.

As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, I believe that JK Rowling’s work is truly magical. The details of her books are so vivid; I can easily visualize myself walking through the Great Hall and watching first-years get sorted into their house. I have seen dragons and mermaids; I have heard the chugging of the Hogwarts train and the voice of Headmaster Dumbledore addressing the school. In my opinion, the most admirable quality of the books is that readers of all ages can enjoy them, as new generations continue to discover the magic of JK Rowling’s works. 

-Ayati M.

The works of J. K. Rowling, including biographies, are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The novel Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is a story about a young girl named Aru Shah’s adventure through Indian mythology. Aru is a somewhat mischievous girl. All of Aru’s classmates from her private school go vacationing at exotic locations, while Aru is stuck at the museum in her Spiderman pajamas. As a result, Aru also has a bad habit of lying. 

The story begins at the Museum of Ancient Art and Culture which Aru’s mom curates. One day, three of Aru’s classmates show up at the Museum’s front doorstep, not believing that the Lamp of Bharata is cursed. Aru makes the poor decision of lighting the lamp, and turns her classmates into frozen statues. 

With the help of an annoying talking bird, Aru discovers who her biological father and her soul’s father is. Both are quite astonishing! The talking bird also introduces her to a girl named Mini (short for Yamini) who is just like her. With Mini’s help, Aru fights off demons, collects the items needed to reverse the spell of the cursed lamp, and even buys some Oreos from a Costco in another dimension. 

What I enjoyed about reading this book were the consistent references and allusions to Hindu mythology. Similar to how the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan is based on Greek mythology, this novel and its succeeding books are adventures based on Hindu mythology. I believe that both fictional and nonfiction books can teach readers something, and this novel is a wonderful example. With both humor, adventure, and an interesting plot line, I would recommend this novel to both children and adults!

-Ayati M.

Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a well-known classic, and it narrates the story of two migrant workers named George and Lennie. George and Lennie are best friends, and readers quickly realize that Lennie has a slight mental disability. Nevertheless, George and Lennie’s bond is one of the strongest of the literary world, and their story helps readers understand the lives of migrant workers during the Great Depression as well as the Dust Bowl.

Before reading this novel, I highly recommend doing some research on the Great Depression, for so many influential literary works have references or settings relating to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, etcetera.

In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck cleverly implements many literary devices to convey the story of these two best friends into readers’ hearts. Some of the most prevalent themes in the book include friendship, loneliness, dreams, and more. This book also has a multitude of significant symbols, as well as meaningful characterizations, clever allusions, foreshadowing and quotes.

Personally, I think that the best part of reading this book was the remarkable theme of loneliness. Almost every single character in the story contributes to the development of this theme. 

As I mentioned before, this story takes place during the Great Depression and allows readers to visualize life for migrant workers. These workers mostly travelled alone from place to place (hence the “migrant”). Through the dialogue and actions of other characters, readers understand that George and Lennie’s bond is remarkable, but very unusual, and the theme of loneliness is further emphasized.

The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a phenomenal piece, and I would recommend this book to avid readers in high school and above.

-Ayati M.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The dystopian fiction novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins serves as a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy, and it narrates the story of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. It is set in Panem, the same setting as the Hunger Games trilogy and most events take place in the Capitol or District 12. Readers of the trilogy know that Coriolanus will go on to become President Snow, the main antagonist of the Hunger Games. I think that it was an extremely smart idea to write this book after the Hunger Games trilogy because it gives readers an extra interest and pulls to the book, especially with the very beginning.

The introduction of Coriolanus Snow is completely contradictory to readers’ views of President Snow, since he is shown as extremely rich and lofty in the trilogy, but he is introduced in the prequel as extremely poor; in addition, readers can clearly understand how important Coriolanus’s family is to him. As a big fan of the Hunger Games series, I do not recall any emphasis on Coriolanus’s family, except for his famous motto, “Snow lands on top!” (which is reiterated multiple times in this novel). The implication of Coriolanus’s love for his family (consisting of his grandmother known as Grandma’am and his cousin Tigris) is only strengthened throughout the book, and the pure irony of this description and portrayal of Coriolanus is extremely captivating to readers. 

I must mention that Coriolanus’s grandma insists on taking care of roses in a roof garden, and these roses make multiple appearances throughout the book. In the trilogy, roses also have significance in symbolizing the evil of Coriolanus Snow.

Moving on, Coriolanus is one of the 24 students selected to mentor tributes in the 10th annual Hunger Games, and he is matched with the District 12 girl named Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray is a singer from the Covey in District 12. She seems extremely strange, with her optimistic outlook, her behavior at her reaping, and many other unusual qualities. The mentor of the winning tribute will receive a scholarship to attend the University, which Coriolanus needs, but he is highly doubtful of Lucy Gray’s capability to win. However, the two seem to acquire an extremely strong bond. 

In my opinion, the ingrained animal instincts in human nature is the most well established theme in the novel. Although the prime example of this theme is in the ending (and I believe that endings should never be disclosed in book reviews), it can be seen throughout the book, especially in the arena of the Games. The significance of 24 people locked into an arena and told to fight to their deaths is self explanatory in the theme of animal instincts in human nature. 

Another theme in this novel is the theme of morals. Again, the Hunger Games are completely immoral, and to readers’ surprise, the rest of the Capitol feels the same way.

This novel has an invigorating plot line, multiple twists, and amazing literary devices, and it is easily one of my favorite books I have ever read.

-Ayati M

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The fictional novel The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann begins on the day of the Purge, which is when all 13-year-olds get sorted into Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. In the land of Quill, any form of art or creativity is a grave crime and is strictly prohibited. If someone were to violate this rule, they would be proclaimed Unwanted and would be killed. 

On the yearly Purge, Aaron Stowe is pronounced a Wanted, but his twin brother Alex is declared an Unwanted. When Alex is taken to his expected execution in a bus filled with other teenagers, he finds out that the Unwanteds have been hiding in the magical place of Artime. So, while Aaron earns himself a high government position, Alex enjoys this enchanted land where creativity is encouraged instead of punished. Plus, Artime has magic, so all the Unwanteds take delight in learning how to turn invisible and create origami dragons that fly. 

Although they are far apart, being twins, Alex and Aaron Stowe still share a link with each other. Soon, the dry land of Quill learns about the secret Unwanteds paradise, and launches into war. 

The battle between Artime and Quill is captivating, and although this book ends on a cliffhanger, it is easily one of my favorite novels. In my opinion, the best aspect of this book is the unique storyline, because it is unlike anything I have previously read. As a reader who prefers adventurous novels, I definitely think this book reaches my expectations, and manages to hold my attention cover-to-cover. The Unwanteds is part of a larger series with even more thrilling events, new characters, and unpredictable plot lines–perfect for your next reading spree.

-Ayati M.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.