Hatchet 20th Anniversery Addition


I loved this book when I read it as an adolescent, and after reading it again as an adult, I fell in love again. As a child, I loved the story, the suspense and the struggle to survive, but as an adult, I noticed elements like Paulsen’s voice and literary techniques such as repetition and the rich lesson it provides on the human condition in terms of its environment. I also admire the way the book navigates through the main character, Brian’s, mind. He becomes a different person because his environment demands it. One of my favorite moments in the book, especially as a life-skills teaching tool, is when Brain observes, “the second most important thing about nature, what drives nature. Food was first, but the work for the food went on and on. Nothing in nature was lazy.”

The version of Hatchet that I have attached is especially prolific because there are notes from the author spread throughout the book. Paulsen often chooses a theme or an action that Brain preforms in given chapters and writes a personal connection, or non-fiction information as compliments. For example, he gives information about how to detect and respond to a heart attack,  how to rid yourself of skunk odor, facts about bears, shares his experience with making a mistake and learning from it in chapter 14 when Brian realizes how crucial they are. Students will thoroughly enjoy this novel and it ignites rich discussion and debate.


*P.O* Walk two Moons by Sharon Creech

*P.O*-  Walk two Moons is realistic, magical and honest. Many coming of age stories connect with adolescent behavior and ideas. I felt that creating a mini poem on Sal name would help other’s understand the character better.

S–  Spunk- Sal has spunk! She was the first one to doubt Phobe, however, she never let her suspicion’s get in the way of their friendship. One must have spunk in order to not let the hardships of reality get in the way of her goals.

A–    Adventurous – Sal role in the novel is very adventurous, she tries really hard to understand why life has dealt her the cards it has. Her drive for adventure allows her to escape her reality, not until the end does she realize that her escape was always her answer to the big void in her life.

L– Loving- Sal is a loving character, who tries to hold on dearly to the small love she feels she receives from others.

The Giver Being Turned into A Movie

The Giver Being Turned into A Movie

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a book that is widely read among adolescents in various school settings. This particular book was out during my period of adolescence, and there is a copy of the book that is still sitting in my personal library. The text is primarily based upon the themes of whether it is better to have a safe world where there essentially aren’t any emotions; or is it more beneficial to have a complicated environment where people can express their true feelings/opinions. This movie is expected to come out in August 2014 and talented actors such as Meryl Streep participated in the film. Ultimately, showing this featured presentation along with the book, will be a good lesson for adolescents to learn in a classroom setting, as it is always great to provide a thematic visual to a text. -JC

Here is a link to the Official Trailer Teaser as well:


I loved this book! Why did it have to end this way? Oh, I know, nothing neat will do, but I so wanted Brian to continue figuring out how to survive in the Canadian wilderness. He was learning so much and maturing so beautifully.  Comparing life in the wilderness with life in the Big Apple is probably unfair, but we have it so easy and yet so hard here.  I wouldn’t want to deal with those mosquitoes, or eat without my seasonings, but I wish I could become as lean and self sufficient as Brian did in that natural setting.  And I would hate not to have human company for such a long time (50 plus days?), yet while I no longer  feel overwhelmed by the crowds in New York, the  noise pollution does get to me at times, in fact more times than I care to count. I love the comfort of paved streets, but Brian learns to thread lightly and his senses become heightened by the need to eat and to survive generally. Have we given up too  much in our quest for “development”? This is a great book to teach youngsters and the young-at-heart about so many things: responsibility, thrift, patience, humility, respect for nature,…and the list goes on.


I Juan de Pareja possible movie characters— by OM

 I Juan de Pareja possible movie characters---  by OM

In honor of the 86th Academy Awards I couldn’t help but to think about the movie 12 Years a Slave. Then, it occurred to me that there are two characters that my mind drifted upon especially when to comes to playing roles for a possible “I Juan de Pareja” move. I thought Chiwetel Ejiofor would make a good Juan character and Lupita Nyong’o would make a good Lolis.

Island of the Blue Dolphins


OM—Scott O’Dell’s novel  “Island of Blue Dolphin” seem to have a central theme of loneliness.  Throughout the novel the character Karana seem to always end up being alone.  It seems as if Karana first felt a sense of loneliness when the Aleuts attacked her people/killed the mend of her tribe.  Loneliness plays a role in the sense that even  thought the tribe fought back they   were alone to fight their battle with whatever weapons they had.  Loneliness can also  be seen throughout other parts of the novel especially on pg 45 when Ramo was killed by  wild dogs.  O’Dell’s demonstrated real  feeling of  being alone  through his character.  Karana was forced to continue on without anyone but herself especially when it comes to fight the many odds.  On pg 152 Rontu’s death also represents loneliness.   Rontu had been a great company to Karana and now he is gone, therefore, leaving Karana to be by herself without a friendly being.  Page 168 too represents loneliness because Karana missed her chance of being save by the “white men.”  Finally, in respect to loneliness, page 173 represented the most horrific/important loneliness of the novel.  Karana  found out that the ship that her people took  was destroyed in a shipwreck.  Now, her people/family/cultural partners are all gone and she is the only one left.  “Not until I came to Mission Santa Barbara and met Father Gonzalez did I learn from him that the ship had sunk in a great storm.”

Gender role also was an important highlight in O’Dell’s novel. Society has always been involved in social roles of genders; men are supposed to… and females should not … In “Island of the Blue Dolphin” women and men had  different roles according to their gender.  Men were responsible for hunting, protecting the people and creating weapons.  Unlike men, women were responsible for cooking and farming/gathering.  Page 11 stated ” the women were cooking supper  but all of them stopped and gathered around her waiting for her to speak.”  Page 25 also supported gender roles ” the women were never asked to do more than stay home , cook food, and make clothing.”  The novel also tells of the one woman the Aleuts brought with them possibly for cooking and performing “women’s work” while they hunted.   Gender roles can also be supported by pg 49. “The laws of Ghalas-at forbade the making of weapons by women of the tribe.”

Nonetheless, I also could not not help but to think of the historical allusion that this story brought.  The events of the story simply reminded me of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.   Like the earlier event in history “white men” came in ships to the land of the natives and caused the destruction of the Native Americans and their culture.   One might agree that Karana wanted to hold on to her traditions and keep her culture alive even though the ” white men” seem to be a force that rip the Natives and their culture apart.  It also seemed as if O’Dell was trying to  tell his audience how culturally strong Karana was and would do anything to hold on to her traditions.  Even thought Ramo was on the island, I feel that Karana went back to him and not for him because they belong together as a tribe in their home.  Even  though many people tried to keep her from going overboard she managed to break free and return home; that was true determination.  There were many y other events that demonstrated white men trying to rob Karana of her cultural riches/trying to rip her from her tradition.   However, one of the most touching of these events occurred on page 171-172.  Karana was told to strip  herself of her traditional clothing and replace them with clothes that did not belong to her people/culture.  She was alone and couldn’t fight to keep her cultural riches.

*The enclosed picture is a present day Google Earth shot of the San Nicholas Island*

95 YA Books for Summer Reading

Here’s a list  that really appeals to readers of all genres. Lovers of historical fiction, coming of age, fantasy, utopia/dystopia or even the classics  can find a list of books that will satisfy their taste. With each book is a brief description of the text.

Some of my favorite YA books are on the list:





*PO* Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Karana journey shows us strength, courage and the effects of human nature on our environment. Karana lost everything but her strength to stay positive and see things for what they were. The love she demonstrated for her brother was enough to return to him when he would have been left alone to fend for himself. I think that if I was put in Karana position I would have done the same thing in a heart beat. Trading my life for my sibling is not something I would ever question. Nature has a way of repaying Karana for her courageous act, she learns to survive this notion of solitude and loneliness she experiences in the island by making long lasting friendships with local animals.

I Think that the way the author demonstrates her connection with her animal friends is amazing. People all over the world consider their pets for instance, their dogs to be “mans best friend”, however, I don’t think a lot of people have had to really demonstrate their loyalty to their pets. Karana showed her loyalty to her animal friends the same way she demonstrated it to her brother. Who can say they have had an experience where they have not thought twice to give up their lives for someone else or even their pets?

Image  Definitely not Pocahontas!