Halloween Escape Room at the Mission Viejo Library

The escape room was on a Saturday afternoon in the Mission Viejo Library’s Heritage Room. The people overseeing the event had set up random images all over the place, some of which were clues that we could use in the escape room. It had an eerie feel to the air, there was haunting music playing in the background and the lights were dimmed to a point where it felt like evening in the middle of the day.

Soon after our group of four people (including myself) had walked in, a man with a British accent started talking, laying down what we were supposed to do: open a box with four locks on it–and we had to do it within the time limit of about thirty minutes. Immediately after he’d stopped talking, everyone began searching for clues. The first thing I ran for was the box with locks. One needed a direction code, one needed a letter code, one needed a number code, and the last required a key. For the lock with a key, there was another box that we had to unlock before we could access the key, so that was one of the trickier parts of the escape room. But then after we figured out the combination, the key didn’t fit in the lock on the box. We had to use the key to unlock a safe that led us to the right key.

The hard part about this escape room was that there were random things scattered all over the place, but we couldn’t tell which ones were clues, or which ones were red herrings, which is a “clue” that’s meant to distract you from what’s actually important. Also, when we asked for hints, they gave their help in terms of rhyming poems, so we sometimes couldn’t figure out what they meant. (And we couldn’t always tell which direction the lock was supposed to go or what order to put the letters or directions in.)

In the end, we unlocked all four locks with two minutes to spare and what was inside the locked box was kind of ridiculous. In the beginning, they said a talisman was supposed to be in the box, so nobody had any idea what to expect. I was just glad that we had managed to open the box at all within the time limit, because I’d never really done an escape room with a time limit before.

Overall, it was a great experience and the clues were very creative. It’s an awesome event for anyone who enjoys puzzles, games, and just a little bit of trickery.

Event Recap: Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones Author Visit

ellen_hopkins_sonya_sonesLast month, Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones visited the Mission Viejo Library. They are two of my favorite authors so I was extremely excited to get to meet them. The event was held in the library’s Heritage Room and was very cozy. Several comfortable chairs were arranged around the room in a circle with Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones seated in the front. The night began with Sonya doing a spin to show off her skirt and then brief introductions.

Once introductions were taken care of, both authors read the beginnings of their new novels, Smoke and To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story, respectively. Both did an excellent job reading and really created an engaging experience. I had already read Smoke at the time of the event but hearing Ellen Hopkins read it out loud made me want to read it again. Sonya Sones really drew me into her story as well and I am looking forward to reading it.

Once the readings were done they spoke about book banning and also why they write. Both of them emphasized that while they never set out to write a book that would get challenged or even banned. However, they take the fact that they did get challenged as a bit of a compliment. Sonya Sones had an interesting viewpoint on the whole matter when she brought up that her books are on lists that include books by authors like John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway; when else is that going to happen? They view the banning of their books as something that shows that people are thinking about issues which they may not want to face, which is something they view positively. Both of the authors shared stories about getting letters from people who had read their books and really been touched by what they read.

The first portion of the night ended with a question and answer session. Some topics discussed were: the fact that the Crank trilogy was based on true experiences of Ellen Hopkins’s daughter; some memorable encounters with fans, Sonya once saw a kid reading one of her books in a store and had to prove to them she really wrote it, Ellen one sat next to a girl on a plane reading one of her books; and their view on book bannings.

The night ended with a chance to get books singed, buy books, and take pictures with them. They were both extremely kind and Ellen Hopkins even put up with signing seven of my books.  Overall it was a great experience to get to meet two of my favorite authors and even get some books signed, not to mention getting my picture taken with them!

-Angela J., 12th grade

Mark Your Calendar for Mission Viejo’s Arts Alive Festival

arts_alive_logoMission Viejo’s upcoming Arts Alive Festival, scheduled for May 4 and 5, is an amazing event that is worth looking forward to every year.

It is a family-friendly art festival that features chalk art, local vendors, different types of entertainment, and a variety of food booths. The chalk art, drawn by both amateurs and professionals alike on the blacktop in the parking lot of Norman P. Murray Center, is awe-inspiring and is an example of how great art can bring a picture to life. But don’t worry if your drawing skills aren’t up to the main artists on the street– you can practice your skills on little open space tiles available for purchase with a pack of multi-colored chalk. Your art might turn out better than you think!

The theme of the event varies every year and influences the subject of the art. This year it is the 1960s. In addition to the wonderful art, there are booths from local vendors that feature unique goods that you aren’t able to buy everywhere else. There are is also different types of featured entertainment, including dance and music. Lastly, an event wouldn’t be complete without lots of good food and there is always a great variety of food options available. The Arts Alive festival is an awesome event that makes art accessible and introduces it to a whole new generation. It isn’t to be missed!

The Arts Alive Festival happens May 4 from 12pm – 8pm and May 5 from 12pm – 5pm at the Norman P. Murray Community Center at 24931 Veterans Way in Mission Viejo. A shuttle runs from the Civic Center on both days. Visit the official Arts Alive website for more information and to get a look at the Festival’s previous years.

-Kiera C., 12th grade