Monday, 30 April 2012

The Teenager's Survival Kit

Jay Writes -
I'm taking over the blog for a post about celebrating Luke's 13th birthday. He becomes a teenager, with all the baggage that involves. He's written what he knows about it on the previous blog post, but how he truly feels has been pretty negative.
Luke explained that he hated the perception of teenagers society has. He resented that people of his age are characterised as rude, thuggish, aggressive, untrustworthy and antisocial.  Between that, spots and exams he was struggling to find a positive way to view the years ahead.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I set out to find a positive approach to offer him.  I'm fortunate in having a fantastic cohort of friends in real life and online, so I appealed the them for help.  I asked everyone to text, email, tweet or comment on Facebook sharing something good about their own teen experience. Here are a selection of replies -

  • Being taken more seriously than before
  • dressing like Goth/punk/indie kid and heading to a club
  • Everyone else is finally growing up too, so the immature ones will catch up to Luke and friendships become easier
  • being able to travel on your own, on buses or trains mostly, but also self-propelling to friends' houses that are further afield
  • discovering a huge world of music
  • straddling childhood and adulthood - being more confident, responsible and individual but still being able to play and be ridiculous
  • making your own mind up on issues, being able to think critically
  • learning things your parents don't know
  • experimenting with different personas and styles while you find what suits you
  • getting first jobs like paper rounds and babysitting, and spending the money however you like
And from very nearly everyone - having more freedom without the responsibility adulthood brings

I decided to make Luke a Teenager's Survival Kit, with things to get him past the tricky things opportunities to sample new things and styles, and to meet some of his changing needs. He opened it this morning and was very pleased.

To sidestep the bad bits - 

 No need to be rude

No need to be smelly or spotty

To experiment with different styles - 









Also a black eyeliner for Goth but I forgot to photograph that

Freedom to go places and try new stuff

New music, new film downloads

trying a new genre of books

Bus pass

Celebrating his awesomeness

Baggy T ideal for our home educated dude

Still having fun being a kid

a case I sewed for his new Kindle

A lockable box for private stuff

A decent pen to express himself with

Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman
Always be Batman

So there we are  - a big box of presents to make being a teenager ace.  Which works out nicely, because Luke IS ace.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Becoming a teen

Becoming a teen is something that all people go through during their lives. It starts when a child is about 14-16 years old. Then a lot of hormones are released. This causes huge physical and mental changes in the teen.On the physical side of things the teen will experience huge growth spurts. His height will increase, his hair will become greasier because of the increased amount of sweating his armpit hair will grow as will his pubic hair. His penis will become bigger and his face may become covered in spots. These are just a few of the many physical changes that will happen to a teen when the hormones are released and start working.Then there is the mental side of things. While they don’t go insane teens will begin thinking about things like how a girl looks and would he want to have sex with her and lots of other things that. These can also appear in dreams causing what is known as a wet dream. As well as this, all experiences that teenagers have are enhanced. This part of being a teenager is a double bladed knife. So when a teen has something bad happen to him it feels awful and when something good happens it feels amazing. As well as this teenagers are known to try being different people. So one week Jimmy might be a Goth and the next week he might be a cheerful go-getter.
All in all I think that being a teenager is going to a very VERY bumpy ride. I’m not yet sure what sort of opinion I should have towards it so I think I will stay neutral on this particular debate. Being a teen is something that brings in a lot of freedom and responsibility.   

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Luke's Reads: Behind the Scenes

I have recently finished a challenge in which I read 50 books that Michael Grove;s comments prompted three authors and two reporters to choose. The article is here. This challenge has broadened my reading knowledge and nearly put me in an early grave. I found some new favourite books (The London Eye mystery!) and wanted to burn others (How to be topp!). 

The challenge was a very hard project and took a lot of time and hard work from me and my mum Jay who has supported me throughout the challenge and provided most of the books. She was actually the one who suggested that I did the challenge. One day while I was playing video games she got me pause (A feat in itself) and said “I bet you a tenner that you can’t read 50 books in one year!” 
I replied“No problem, prepare to lose your money, Mum” And so the challenge began.   I hope you are ready to experience Luke’s Reads (Behind the scenes).

Pros of the challenge
 I discovered many new books to my liking: things like Ender’s game, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and the London Eye mystery. Because of the challenge I was pushed into new unfamiliar territory and didn’t know what to expect while I was there. It was an interesting experience full of books that it turns out are really good. The most surprising reaction was when I read Swallows and Amazons and found it not that bad. Read the review 

Cons of the challenge
While I did discover some new favourite books the challenge was full of books that I wanted to burn like How to be Topp, the Old Man and the Sea and After the First Death. I HATED these books. The other thing that I hated was when I did not reach my intended target by Christmas. I was incredibly angry and upset when this happened and I felt that getting an extension was like cheating. But in the end I swallowed my pride and took the extension.

My list of 20 books for 11-12 year olds
  • Silver Tounge by Charlie Fletcher
  • Artemis Fowl  by Eoin Colfer
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
  • Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
  • The River of Adventure by Enid Blyton
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • How to be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell
  • Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • Time Riders: Day of the Predator  by Alex Scarrow
  • H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden
  • C.H.E.R.U.B. :The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • Heroes of Olympus: the Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien
  • The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
  • Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett
  • Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett
  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
  • Enders Game by Orson Scott Card.
  • The Magic Scales by Sam Wilding

In Conclusion…
While the challenge was full of obstacles and required lots of time, work and attention it was also educational, interesting and really helped my reading ability. I feel very privileged to be able to do this challenge in the year. I would like to thank my mum Jay and:
Mark Tranter for The Owl Service and A Christmas Carol.
Sarah who sent us When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Immi Howson  for Mistress Mashem's Repose and People Might Hear You.
I am very grateful to all of these people that helped me and I hope that they say you’re welcome. So to finish off I hope to make those who read my blog laugh by saying I give this challenge 1000/100.   

Jay Writes - 
Thanks also to our friends and well-wishers who left comments on Luke's blog over the year. They have really encouraged him. I think Luke's done a super job with this challenge and I'm proud of him for persevering. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading most of the books along with him (although I was less keen on having to nag him to write the reviews!)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wild Card 3

The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Now a lot of people have said this book is amazing; that it is the book of the century and everyone should love it unless the book comes to life and ruins everything you love. If that happens then you have a reasonable excuse to dislike it. But apart from that then you must love it, love it, love it. Everyone I know has said this, including my parents. But to be perfectly honest I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Now don’t get me wrong OK, I liked the book. But it just isn’t as amazing as everyone was saying it was. It had some good positives and some annoying negatives (I will go over these in a minute). So while the book didn’t live up to what it was built up to, it did have its moments.
Let’s start with the positives: First I want to say that the idea that the story had was simply fantastic. Coming to a new world to find that it has a chemical that broadcasts your thoughts to everyone? Genius! And the characters in it are so well written I was jealous that I would have to wait 10 years to get close to that sort of writing.

However. The book did do a few things that I hated. The first is how stupid the people were when it came to plans. I mean the settler plan. Come on. 20 odd villages and not one mechanic that can fix a spaceship. Not ONE?! No way of contacting them when the purpose of these people was to check it out and then CONTACT THEM! That was a bit of a design flaw don’t you think?

Also the book did what How To Be Topp did: deliberately misspell words. I HATE that.  SHAME ON YOU STORY! But apart from those rather large cons the book does alright on my scale. I will give the book 71/100 for excellent story writing and good execution of an idea.
This is the last challenge review I am doing so when I next post something I hope to be £10 richer.

Jay Writes
Look guys - it's the last review of the 50! 
It came as no surprise to us that Luke used his final Wild Card to avoid reading Little Women. That's the one I'd pegged from the start as the least likely to appeal to him. Instead, we chose the start of an award-winning trilogy of modern YA fiction. 
I hope Luke is immensely proud of himself for finishing this challenge. We're all chuffed to bits!

Wild Card 2

Ender's Game

This book has recently become one of my all-time favourite sci-fi books. A really positive review. 
For a big book (and it is big) it doesn’t over explain things or leave loads of plot holes for me to fill in and gets the story across to the reader at a good steady rate. The gist of the book is that in the far future the race of humans are preparing to go to war with the insect race of the buggers (clever). For the best results they get people to help them genetically engineer amazing super generals to lead their armies to victory. 
Ender Wiggin is one of these kids and after he is pulled away from his home and placed in battle school only then does he unlock his true power as a leader of the human space fleet. TO WAR. At least that is what everyone tells him. But he doesn’t want that to be true. He just wants to go home. 
A fantastic book for all people with two digits in their age. I hope the public enjoys it as much as I do. For the amazing piece of art that is this book 99/100.   

Jay Writes - Luke cashed in his second Wild Card to replace Mistress Masham's Repose.  Our lovely friend Immi loaned it to us and he just didn't fancy it. (I enjoyed it!) We chose Ender's Game as a classic science fiction story that had an awful lot to say. I'm so glad he embraced it with such enthusiasm

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Animal Farm

I have to start this review by saying “I want a book not a history lesson!”

I admit that this was a good story that got the emotion that the animals had across as well as telling an excellent story. But I thought that this was going to be little story about the animals standing up for themselves and proving that the humans ought to pay more attention to them. I mean come on listen to the name “Animal Farm” if that doesn’t sound like the name of a book for five year olds then I am a bottlenose dolphin (which I’m not of course) 

It was so confusing with all the stuff happening at the same time and how somehow the animals can talk to humans and stand on two feet and build windmills and have whips and believe in candy land and well you get the Idea. But to its credit it explains the Russian revolution a lot better than I could plus at SOME times in the book you feel like you really know these animals and you want to help them out of their terrible predicament. 

But the fact remains that is a lesson. A very good lesson with a fantastic way of teaching in fact the only history lesson that was better than this one was when my mum made the Tudor family tree out of ginger bread men and woman. That was awesome. But still a lesson. Kids don’t want history lessons they want fictional stories.
You see?

But the book still had a good setup, well designed characters and was well written. For all those positives 61/100.  

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Greek Myths

Well this review is gonna take me a while because I have to write 300 words before my mum and dad can finish their work so here we go:
The Ancient Greeks is my favourite point in history after the Egyptians. Their mythology is fascinating. It is filled with everything from arrogant kings who challenge the gods to noble heroes who simply ask for the gods blessing on their quest to save the damsel in distress. And there are plenty of damsels who are in distress. Many of these situations are caused by Hera queen of the gods. She deals with most problems by turning into an old woman and planting seeds of doubt in people’s minds.
My favourite story is the story of Melampus, the man who could understand animals big and small. One day he was walking along the road when he found a dead mother snake. Instead of just kicking it of the road like most people would he gave the snake a proper funeral and took care of the babies. When the snakes grew older they licked his ears so clean that he could understand what all creatures were saying. He used this ability to learn the secrets of nature and to help people with their problems. Like when he put out a large hunk of meat and two vultures came down and discussed how to heal a very sick prince who was watching.
 The Greek myths have lots of stories like this except in the others the blessed man usually gets cocky and angers the gods who make him spend the rest of his life as some kind of wild animal. As well as having many good stories the Greek myths also make good reading material for all ages. Little ones will marvel at the great tasks of Hercules while older readers can enjoy the tale of Oedipus.
Great stories for the whole family 89/100        

Jay Writes
Luke reviewed D'Aulaire's Book Of Greek Myths.  It's the book I grew up with too. I highly recommend it for readers age 7 and up. Its family trees and memorable illustrations are a great introduction to the myths. As Luke says, these stories are great for everyone.