Authors We Love: Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness at arrivals for A MONSTER CALLS Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2016, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, ON September 10, 2016. Photo By: James Atoa

Twice Carnegie Medal Winner Patrick Ness was born in the United States, currently holding dual citizenship status while living in London. He attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in English Literature. While having written books for all age groups and genres, he is most known for his young adult fiction novels, most notably A Monster Calls.

After working as a corporate writer for a cable company, Ness published his first novel in 2003, titled The Crash of Hennington. He also published his pivotal short story collection Topics About Which I Know Nothing the same year. His career took off with the publishing of The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in a young adult trilogy about a society where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. He was awarded the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for this novel. He continued headstrong with the Chaos Walking trilogy, publishing the next two books and a series of short stories in the same literary universe. He is currently working on a film adaptation of the trilogy alongside screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

A Monster Calls originates from the mind of Siobhan Dowd, and Ness was hired to write the story after her passing in 2007. With illustrations by Jim Kay, the novel’s tale of a boy struggling to come to terms with his mothers illness earned Ness the Carnegie Medal after its 2011 publication.

Patrick Ness has written numerous novels about defining the teen experience from non-stereotypical perspectives. The Rest of Us Just Live Here presents an ironic spin on the classic YA fantasy novel, instead focusing on the ordinary side characters while the powerful “protagonists” fight monsters in the background. He has also touched on science fiction with his book More Than This, showing a teenage boy’s journey through a strange world in which he somehow wakes up after drowning in the ocean. The novel is one of my favorites from the author, describing themes of life’s meaning, trauma, and the difficulties of growing up in a place where you don’t feel welcomed. Ness wonderfully defines his diverse character set, and is an expert of including representation of POC and LGBTQ characters without making those identities their defining traits. Instead, he writes diverse characters not for the sake of diversity, but for the sake of telling an important story that everyone can relate to. Other books by Ness include his adult novel The Crane Wife, and his new young adult story titled Burn. As one of my favorite authors, Patrick Ness has astounded me in the  diversity of his literary prowess. I have enjoyed reading all of his works, and would recommend them to anyone that has a love for reading. My personal favorite has been More Than This for several years, and I am currently rereading the Chaos Walking trilogy before the movie makes an appearance.

-Bailey L.

The works of Patrick Ness are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty

grammargirl_mignonfogartyAre you a grammar fanatic? Are you annoyed when people, including adults, mix up their grammar? Well, Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty, a book exploring the surfaces and depths of grammar and writing, is much more than a grammar book.  And more than likely, it is right for you.  It offers easy-to-understand rules of conduct to live by as a writer, or in your case, a blogger.  Throughout this book, easy lessons are explained through quick and dirty tips.  I learned everything from gerunds to objective versus subjective pronouns to complicated conjugations.

The basic definition of a gerund is a noun made from an action verb plus an ‘ing’ at the end.  Every gerund, without exception, ends in ‘ing’.  Gerunds are not, however, that easy to locate.  For example, a name of a profession counts.  Like, ‘Acting isn’t as easy as it looks.’  In this case acting is the gerund and is functioning like a noun, yet it sounds like a verb.  Here’s another one: ‘Her singing almost deafened me.’  Singing is the gerund because it is referring to the act of her singing as an object or an idea.  But, we’re not done yet. In most cases, gerunds need a possessive or objective pronoun much like some words need linking verbs. It can be pretty easy to make the mistake of saying ‘We didn’t know that was his singing.’ This sentence could mean we couldn’t tell if what he was doing was singing or if he was making some other noise.  That was a possessive pronoun, but to clarify the true meaning of these types of sentences, sometimes you need to use a possessive pronoun.  This is the correct sentence: ‘We didn’t know this was him singing.’

In sixth grade, your English teacher probably taught you about basic conjugation.  In addition to these, there are progressive and perfect progressive. Learning these are essential to speaking correctly and formally.  Progressive means that the action is ongoing, progressing, or will be progressing.  (You can see chart below for the progressive and the perfect progressive.)  Then, perfect progressive is when the action has progressed for a while before it ended or it will end.  Perfect progressive uses the words like ‘has been’ or ‘had been’.

I would definitely rate this book a 10/10 for its complete guide on grammar and tips to keep your writing in shape.  In addition to Grammar Girl, I also would recommend checking out some of Mignon Fogarty’s online resources as well.  She has a podcast, a website (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl), and several books for you to explore and love just as I did with this one.

– Maya S., 7th grade

Grammar Girl is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

PROGRESSIVE(also called incomplete and continuous) EXAMPLE MEANING OF SENTENCE
Past progressive Jack was walking. At some point in the past, Jack was in the middle of a walk, but we don’t know when he stopped or if he did.
Present progressive Jack is walking. Jack is in the middle of a walk.
Future progressive Jack will be walking. Jack will walk in the future– and walk and walk.  Who knows when it will end?
PERFECT PROGRESSIVE (also called perfect continuous) EXAMPLE MEANING OF SENTENCE
Past perfect progressive Jack had been walking. At some point in the past, Jack started walking and did so for a while, but now it’s over.
Present perfect progressive Jack has been walking. Jack started walking sometime in the past, and he is still walking.
Future perfect progressive Jack will have been walking. Jack will walk until a specific point in the future, and then he will stop.