Book Review of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story that many of us know as a movie. For a long time I didn’t know that the movie was based on a book. But what is even better is, there are a whole 15 books! The books are all written by L. Frank Baum in the very early 1900s. I remember watching the movie many times as a kid and I absolutely loved it. Now I get to combine my love of the Wizard of Oz and reading.

The book was quite different from the movie. While they share many of the same ideas the book does not focus on the Kansas life as much. The only characters from the farm were Dorothy, Toto, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry. The book really starts quickly with Dorothy and Toto are whisked away in a cyclone over a dangerous desert into the Land of Oz.

After crushing the Wicked Witch of the East when landing in Oz, Dorothy begins on the journey to Emerald City where the Wizard is. Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. She also encounters a species of mice that help her along her journey. When she gets to the Wizard he tasks her with killing the Wicked Witch of the West. The journey to the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West is quite difficult. The group is met with the “evil” flying monkeys sent from the Witch. The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow are both unable to make it to the castle and Dorothy and the Lion are captured. Dorothy becomes a servant to the Witch. By a stroke of luck Dorothy kills the Witch by throwing a bucket of water on her. By killing the witch she also obtains the Golden Cap which gives her power over the Flying Monkeys.

She returns to the Emerald City after collecting the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. The group learns that the Wizard is merely a humbug who is also from Kansas and was blown in a balloon to the Land of Oz. The Wizard grants the wishes of all of the group except Dorothy. Their wishes aren’t truly granted because the wizard is not a real wizard but he makes them seem like they have been granted. As for Dorothy the wizard offers to return to Kansas with Dorothy in a balloon. Somewhere in the chaos Dorothy is unable to get into the balloon and the wizard is whisked away. The group then travels to the south and visits Glinda the Good to try to help Dorothy get home. Glinda tells Dorothy that all she needs to do is click her silver slipper together three times and think of where she wants to go.

Of course the story ends happily with the Scarecrow returning the Emerald City to rule, Tin Woodman to rule the Winkies, and the Lion to rule the Forest. Dorothy returns home to her farm in Kansas safely.

I personally preferred the book to the movie. The movie was a bit more childish compared the book. The language used was a bit different from many of the books I read because it was from over a hundred years ago. The book also goes very quickly. It doesn’t give too much detail on events but the book did give excellent lengthy descriptions. I hope to read the next 14 books!

The Captain Loves Fresh Maple Syrup (And Other Such Random Facts)

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I had quite a bit of fun writing all my vocabulary sentences last month, so here I am again to plague you with ridiculous tidbits about the beloved crew of Captain Timberwolf. (Note: He has had multiple crews, as I may have mentioned in another post – a crew of squirrels some amount of years ago, and currently, a human crew.)

Root Word: ag             Meaning: to do

Though Captain Timberwolf had nothing on his agenda except “gloat among glittery hordes of stolen booty”, he claimed he was busy in order to avoid seeing his rival, Captain Kincade.

No one is sure what exactly Captain Timberwolf did to agitate the lovely Captain Kincade quite so much; but then again, knowing Timberwolf, he was likely just being himself.

Terrified that agents of rival pirate captains would attack him in his sleep, Captain Timberwolf made sure that there were squirrel guards patrolling the ship every night.

Captain Timberwolf had very little agricultural experience, having spent 39 of his 45 years on the sea, but his crew of squirrels had plenty of knowledge in that area (especially on the farming of nuts.)

Root Word: sat            Meaning: enough

Even after copious raids on mansions and palaces bordering the sea, Captain Timberwolf’s lust for fresh Canadian maple syrup was not satisfied.

One pirate’s insatiable desire to pet one of the squirrels from Captain Timberwolf’s crew led to his contraction of squirrelvy, the rodent counterpart of the better known scurvy.

Unfortunately, there were not enough squirrels for Captain Timberwolf to sate his desire for a crew composed entirely of the cuddly little buggers.

The squirrels may have looked scrawny, saturated in salt water as they were, but they were more than capable of taking pirates down with their sick squirrel-fu skills.

Root Word: chron     Meaning: time

Timberwolf’s present crew, in chronological order of when he acquired them, is composed of the following eight characters: Red, Algreve, the brothers Silas and Danny, Gunnar, Angel, Maldir, and finally, the newbie, Theo.

It was a tragedy when the pirate with several chronic illnesses was abandoned on the deserted island.

Theo was the one chosen to chronicle the events surrounding Captain Timberwolf’s disappearance, as the only others who wanted to do so – Gunnar and Danny – were denied the honor on account of Gunnar being illiterate and Danny tending to throw in his own made up words.

There was synchronized screaming from the crew when Captain Timberwolf announced that they would be doing team bonding activities.

Root Word: mal        Meaning: bad or evil

Red felt that he was being watched, and he turned around to find a baby crocodile, newly hatched from its egg, staring at him maliciously.

The rest of the crew happened to fall ill to a vicious malady on the day of Silas’ ship-wide shopping spree.

Algreve hadn’t gotten sick in ages, so when he finally caught a cold, he claimed it was a malignant disease slowly sapping the life out of him.

Silas gave his younger brother a malevolent glare when Danny tracked mud onto the Persian rug in the captain’s cabin.

Root Word: para       Meaning: alongside or beside

Theo told stories of many strange creatures, but his favorite was the shapeshifter – it was a paradox, something that could always be counted on to change.

Algreve’s attempt to steer the dinghy parallel to the main vessel resulted in a gaping hole in the cargo hold.

To dissuade pirates from abandoning ship, every captain made sure to tell parables about carnivorous snakes who would devour disloyal sailors.

Theo, as the ship’s storyteller, told tales of paranormal events that left several of his crewmates shivering, though it was quite hot outside.

 

Reflections

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I’m not posting art today. Instead, here’s a poem! I’m not that good at writing poems, and this one is way too fake-deep, but I’m working to become better.

My friends, I know,

Are the only ones I

Need.

 

Then, why do I

Always feel so

Lonely?

 

But at home, I have “friends”

Who can never

Leave.

 

And they’ll stay,

Guarding my

Insecurities.

 

The saddest thing

About all of this must

Be,

 

The only way to escape

Twisted

Reality

 

Is to hold “those friends”

Who mean the world to

Me.

 

Though, they are just

Reflections on a

Screen.

Hannah, 9th grade

 

 

MuseScore

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MuseScore is a sheet music application available for most computers. It is free to use and download. With MuseScore, you can write sheet music, transpose, and download sheet music from other users. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in writing music or just simply playing it.

I have used MuseScore to get sheet music of popular songs that I want to play. The program is very easy to use for people who don’t know much about musical elements, such as myself, and simplifies it so that anyone can transpose. Through this program, you can easily transpose, or move music from one key to another, with the click of a button. This allows you to put any music you can find into a format for any instrument you may know how to play. I was able to transpose music from a singing part to saxophone music so that I could play it using this app, even though I had no idea how to do it in real life.

If you play an instrument and want to get popular songs to play, MuseScore allows you to get the songs for free and automatically put it into the key of your instrument. You can get this app from the internet easily on their website, here. Overall, I recommend this app to anyone who plays an instrument, sings, or wants to write music.

2001: A Space Odyssey

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So, I’ve been going on a classic literature binge, and I found this book. 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C. Clarke.

Two astronauts, three hibernating passengers, and an AI named HAL are headed for Saturn on an exploratory mission.  Strange discoveries on the moon change the mission plan a little. And if being the only three sentient beings awake for millions of miles wasn’t enough danger, something is systematically sabotaging their ship.

The plot has probably been copied by about a thousand people because it’s just. that. good. The suspense grows with every chapter until you can’t look away.

Clarke’s word choice is absolutely stellar. (Yes, I meant to do that.) The images he conjures are loaded with detail and stick with you for hours.

Clarke even (spoiler, highlight to read) and I wasn’t even a little mad. That in itself should tell you this author is fantastic.

My only major problem was with the exposition. A full third of the book is irrelevant to the plot. The first fourth or so could have been compressed into a few pages. Some of the descriptions later on in the exposition section are gorgeous and give the reader a much better idea of society and technological advancement on Earth, but the rest of it… nah.

Blocks of indigestible scientific gibberish are randomly shoehorned throughout the main plot-relevant section. I could understand it, and the reasoning behind the technology was pretty cool, but it was  jammed into the middle of a perfectly good plot-driven chapter.  Scientific information only propels a plot when there’s real in-universe importance attached to that information.

Another pet peeve of mine was the characters. Actually, the non-characters. They were pretty flat. Granted, 2001 is a short book and there isn’t much room for character development in the middle of the plot. Clarke did make an effort in several spots to paint his main characters’ lives, but they’re still cardboard with a bit of throwaway character development to make them look 3-D. This book is all about the story, so the characters are pretty much window dressing anyway, but I was slightly annoyed by the lack of backstory.

Okay, it’s fair to say this isn’t the 2001 I was born into.  In the words of someone else: “God bless you, old sci-fi, you had such high hopes for us.” We obviously aren’t sending manned missions to Saturn, or putting humans in cryosleep until we need them. But no matter what year it is set in, (2001, 2023, 2323…) this book is timeless.

Yes, I know a full two-thirds of this review so far was my quibbles with this book. Well, READ THE BOOK ANYWAY. Even if you don’t like the ‘drops exposition on you like a ton of bricks’ aspect, this book is well worth reading despite that. It brings up deep questions logically, within the boundaries of the story. The suspense is masterfully written. The settings are vivid, and the plot is amazingly original (keeping in mind the publication date of 1968, it’s likely that anything written later with a similar plot drew at least some inspiration from 2001). There’s an ending that hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you thinking about it days later. Basically, all the ingredients of a book that lingers. 2001 stays in your mind. You remember HAL every time you hear the letters AI. You hear the words “My God, it’s full of stars!” in the back of your mind, and stare blankly at the nearest wall as you struggle to comprehend the vastness and implacability of the universe.

(Well, 2001 might not do that to you, but that’s what it did to me.)

This book fully deserves its place as a classic of science fiction. I have no regrets about reading it, and the problems with the writing are vastly outweighed by its good points. 4 and 1/2 stars.

Dangerous by Michael Jackson

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You have probably heard of Michael Jackson, and you’ve probably heard the songs  “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It”. He’s released tons of albums, but my favorite album by him was called Dangerous, realeased in 1991 . The first song on the album is called “Jam”, and its a good way to start the album. I love the trumpet parts and the killer beat. The next song is “Why You Wanna Trip On Me” and it’s good but I feel he could have done better with the melody. The third song is called “In The Closet”, which has a weird feel to it. The fourth song is called “She Drives Me Wild”. This song has a hip hop feel that makes it incredible. The fifth song is called “Remember The Time” and the melody sounds weird but the vocals are incredible. Track six is called “Can’t Let Her Get Away” which also has a hip hop feel to it. Seventh is “Heal The World”, which features the voices of little kids and is very peaceful, with the message that the world can be a better place. Eighth song is “Black Or White”, which goes for an amazing heavy metal feel with the guitar. Ninth is “Who Is It”. This song is sad, but catchy, and the synth sounds are incredible, along with the drums. Tenth song is “Give Into Me”, which is sad but more catchy then the previous track. Next we have “Will You Be There”, which is my least favorite on the album because of its slow beginning, and I tend to fall asleep throughout the song. After that we have “Keep The Faith”, which is also not my favorite. After that is “Gone Too Soon”, which is soothing but also boring. The album closes with “Dangerous”. I love the rap and the beat. The album starts and ends amazingly, but some songs are not my favorite, so I give it an 8/10. Thanks for reading and I hope you give this album a listen.

Selection Series: Happily Ever After

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This book is a part of the Selection series by Kiera Cass. This book is different from the other books in the series because this book is comprised of multiple stories told in the point of view of someone other than America for once. In this book you can read in Maxon’s point of view, you can see what queen Amberly was like when she went through the Selection, you can see more into Aspen and Lucy’s relationship, and more.

         Although this book does provide insight on some of the lives and relationships that readers really wanted to learn about, some of the stories are not what I was hoping they would be like. For instance, Queen Amberly is very different in her story, and I found the story with Aspen and Lucy not as satisfying as I wanted it to be. Unfortunately I cannot be much more specific than that without spoiling it, but perhaps if you read the book you will understand what I mean.

           Even though the stories were not what I was hoping they would be like, that is not entirely a bad thing. For one it means her stories were a little unpredictable, which is good because if the reader already knows exactly what is going to happen before reading the book, then the reader is going to be bored. Also, even though a lot of us want everything to work out perfectly for our favorite characters, lets face it, a story with a perfect life, a perfect relationship, and a perfect ending, can be boring at times. Queen Amberly not having the perfect life of confidence was slightly upsetting, but also very interesting.

              Overall, I did find it nice to be able to read about the lives of the other characters in their perspective, and I liked how you get to see scenes or events that you never got to before. Also, I found it to be a very good closing to the first half of the Selection Series.