The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is about two rival groups known as the Greasers and the Socs. The Socs, a group of rich kids with everything they could dream of, commonly pick on and beat up the Greasers. Ponyboy, the main character, learns to live with the Socs always breathing down his neck.
However, one day the Socs take things too far. While Ponyboy is at the park with his friend Johnny, Socs show up and beat them per usual. However this time, they hold Ponyboy’s head under a fountain. Johnny watches helplessly as he tries to figure out what to do. Finally Johnny gets out his switchblade and stabs the Soc that was drowning Ponyboy.
Terrified, the other two Socs flee in their car, and Ponyboy and Johnny go to find someplace to hide. They hide in an abandoned church until Johnny decides to turn himself in. His reasoning for this is that he hasn’t ever gotten in trouble with the law, and it was in self defense, so his sentence couldn’t be that bad. Before they can though, the church catches on fire and Johnny is injured saving kids inside the church. Johnny is sent to the hospital and treated for bad burns on his back. He dies, leaving Ponyboy with three last words as advice, “Stay golden, Ponyboy.”
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.
Willow Chance—a gardener, a once-orphan, an intellectual—is no ordinary twelve-year-old. Some would call her a genius. Willow’s great curiosity and knowledge help her understand aspects of the world, but sometimes keep others from understanding her. Her highly analytical and sharp mind alienate her from the majority of her peers, and Willow’s adoptive parents worry for her social life. When a tragic accident snatches away the two people who loved Willow the most, Willow is forced to adapt to a new life in which she doesn’t understand everything the way she used to.
On her path to find her new place in the world, Willow, once more an orphan, unintentionally brings together a Vietnamese family, an unmotivated counselor, and a taxi driver. She fills in the missing areas in the lives of these people, and they wish to return the favor. Counting by Sevens is a beautiful story of persistence, strength, metamorphosis, and the meaning of a family.
I read Counting by Sevens a few years ago, and recently read it again. This time around, I was able to appreciate and understand the story and its themes on a deeper level. The characters are all so unique and well-developed, and their metamorphoses catalyzed by the arrival of Willow Chance into their world are truly inspiring. Holly Goldberg Sloan exhibits a beautiful, flowing, and poetic narration which captures an incredible gamut of emotions. Her ability to convey such emotions through the complex characters she creates is amazing, and it contributes greatly to the essence of the story.
One thing I enjoyed most about this book were the intriguing metaphors that are sprinkled throughout the story. These perspectives and ideas of life are so clever and pretty, and they augmented the impact of the novel for me. The beautiful narration of Counting by Sevens combined with the strong, funny, unique characters build a touching novel of acceptance and the importance of both individuality and connections.
Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
The book The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict was inundated with adventure from beginning to end. The book had you on your seat’s edge throughout the entire story. This book was witty with great banter between the characters. There is the classic character, of a main bully, with his two friends who make the children’s life miserable. If, you are interested in fairy tales and a more whimsical story, this book is probably not the correct book for you. The story is about an orphan named Nicholas Benedict, who is a very bright boy known for being smarter than most adults. He is going to a new orphanage where he learns that there is a mystery treasure to be found. He sets out on a hunt to find it, along the way he finds new friends. Unfortunately there are also obstacles to the treasure hunt adventure, his condition of narcolepsy, which has him falling asleep at odd times. The other obstacle is the fact that the head of the orphanage is also trying to find the treasure. It turns into a race to see who can find the treasure first. This book is for people who love to solve mysteries and enjoy the unlikely heroes, or the underdogs rising out on top. “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict” is a wonderful read and I would say you are never to old to read it and enjoy what it has to offer.
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead is about Crispin, a poor boy who grows up shunned. Crispin grows up in Stromford, a manor run by Lord Furnival and the steward John Ayecliffe. After Crispin’s mother dies and he is charged with robbery, Crispin leaves Stromford to go to a different town. On the way he comes across a town in ruins. Looking around, Crispin sees a man in a Church. The man asks Crispin what he’s doing there and where he came from. The man soon claims Crispin as his servant after learning that he escaped from Lord Furnival. The two set off with Crispin not entirely trusting the man named Bear. As the two get to know each other more, they become friends. Soon Crispin learns that he has also been charged with the murder of Father Quinel. Then, in Great Wexly, Bear and Crispin find out that Ayecliffe is also in Great Wexly. Soon after, Bear is captured. He is taken to the Lord’s house. Crispin then decides to rescue Bear and leave Great Wexly. At night, Crispin sneaks into the Lord’s house and tries to find Bear. While looking for Bear, Crispin runs into Ayecliffe. Ayecliffe turns to call the guards, but then Crispin tells Ayecliffe something that makes him pale. He tells him that he is Lord Furnival’s son. Ayecliffe knows it’s true, but tries to dismiss it as a lie. Finally, Ayecliffe gives in and admits to knowing. Crispin uses this as leverage to make Ayecliffe set him and Bear free. Ayecliffe agrees to set them free, but right before they leave Great Wexly, Ayecliffe tries to go back on his word. However his attempt is stopped by Bear killing Ayecliffe. All the guards then back away in fear as Bear and Crispin leave Great Wexly free of any kind of obligations.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available as a free download from Overdrive.
The Fog Diver, written by Joel Ross, is a great book full of suspense and twists. It has a wonderful plot and intriguing characters.
What if the whole earth was engulfed in deadly fog? What if a great treasure was said to be hidden beneath the clouds? And what if you were the only one who could survive in that fog? The main character, Chess, finds himself in such a dilemma. An orphan with special power, he is part of a ragtag scrapper crew. They hunt for items from old Earth to sell on the mountaintops while avoiding sky pirates and monsters.
Meanwhile, a tyrant named Kodoc hunts for Chess so he can use him to find the Compass, an ancient artifact said to control the Fog. The team thinks that Port Oro, a legendary mountaintop, will be a safe haven for them, and attempt a journey. Along the way, they team up with pirates and gang kids. This book is full of friendship and action. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a summer read.
-Joshua M, 6th grade
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
If you can visit Oklahoma back in the 1980s, you might have seen the gangs called the Greasers and the Social. Greasers, earn their name from the grease used to style their hair–enough to supply you to cook with for about two days. Life is unfair? No, it’s just too far to the Social, for their parents feed them money every day so that they are too full to stand up, walk to the fridge and grab a piece of bread to eat as lunch.
Ponyboy Curtis, whose parents died when he was little, lives with his two older brothers, Sodapop and Darry. One day, after going through a drastic fight with his brother, he ran away to the park with his friend Johnny. After witnessing the frantic Johnny killing a Social member, a rival gang, Ponyboy realized that life is going to smash him as hard as it can on the face.
I was very intrigued by this book that I couldn’t put it down for a second. But it’s absolutely incredulous to imagine teenagers killing somebody but still survive after all these streaks of dangerous events. But if it’s me, I’d rather behave well and listen to my older brothers because they are my only family members and I know that they love me so much like my parents.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.
I watched the move Lion with my family. It’s about a 5-year-old boy named Saroo who gets lost on the streets of India, put into an orphanage, and is eventually adopted by a family in Australia. As he becomes an adult, he starts to wonder what happened to his biological family and begins to search for his old home. After a long effort, he is eventually reunited with his family. However, this simple story seemed to us much more dramatic as it was based on a true story.
I don’t know how much fiction and storytelling effects were added to this story, but it is a very moving and emotional movie anyways. In the beginning of the movie when the boy Saroo got lost in the streets and was in grave danger of being kidnapped, I almost stopped watching the movie as it was quite terrifying and intense. It felt really realistic, and the terror and loneliness that Saroo experienced could be felt right through the screen.
Both Sunny Pawar (the actor who played young Saroo) and Dev Patel (who played older Saroo) successfully played their part. The emotion Dev Patel was able to portray in his performance really pushed the movie forward and was a wonderful addition. Similarly, the shockingness of Saroo being able to use Google Maps to pinpoint the location of his old home was another great aspect of this movie. The scene where he was flooded with memories of his past and is able to finally pinpoint and track down his old home was a great climax of the movie.
Lastly, the scene where Saroo is reunited with his family was so powerful and moving, and brought me to tears. The joy in the face of him and his mother–though they were actors–felt real and was a great ending to the movie. The revelation that his real name was Sheru was an interesting fact and its meaning that was revealed in the end credits wrapped up the finale of a great movie.
I highly recommend watching this movie. If you do, you will get to learn what the name “Sheru” means as well.
Lion is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.