Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pooh fans?

It all started with the poem below (courtesy of poetry  Click here to listen to A.A. Milne reading from Winnie-the-Pooh in 1929.

Teddy Bear

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.
Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge me exercise and air.”
For many weeks he pressed in vain
His nose against the window-pane,
And envied those who walked about
Reducing their unwanted stout.
None of the people he could see
“Is quite” (he said) “as fat as me!”
Then, with a still more moving sigh,
“I mean” (he said) “as fat as I!”
Now Teddy, as was only right,
Slept in the ottoman at night,
And with him crowded in as well
More animals than I can tell;
Not only these, but books and things,
Such as a kind relation brings—
Old tales of “Once upon a time,”
And history retold in rhyme.
One night it happened that he took
A peep at an old picture-book,
Wherein he came across by chance
The picture of a King of France
(A stoutish man) and, down below,
These words: “King Louis So and So,
Nicknamed ʻThe Handsome’”! There he sat,
And (think of it!) the man was fat!
Our bear rejoiced like anything
To read about this famous King,
Nicknamed “The Handsome.” There he sat,
And certainly the man was fat.
Nicknamed “The Handsome.” Not a doubt
The man was definitely stout.
Why then, a bear (for all his tub)
Might yet be named “The Handsome Cub!”
“Might yet be named.” Or did he mean
That years ago he “might have been”?
For now he felt a slight misgiving:
“Is Louis So and So still living?
Fashions in beauty have a way
Of altering from day to day.
Is ʻHandsome Louis’ with us yet?
Unfortunately I forget.”
Next morning (nose to window-pane)
The doubt occurred to him again.
One question hammered in his head:
“Is he alive or is he dead?”
Thus, nose to pane, he pondered; but
The lattice window, loosely shut,
Swung open. With one startled “Oh!”
Our Teddy disappeared below.
There happened to be passing by
A plump man with a twinkling eye,
Who, seeing Teddy in the street,
Raised him politely to his feet,
And murmured kindly in his ear
Soft words of comfort and of cheer:
“Well, well!” “Allow me!” “Not at all.”
“Tut tut! A very nasty fall.”
Our teddy answered not a word;
It’s doubtful if he even heard.
Our bear could only look and look:
The stout man in the picture-book!
That “handsome” King—could this be he,
This man of adiposity?
“Impossible,” he thought. “But still,
No harm in asking. Yes I will!”

“Are you,” he said, “by any chance
His Majesty the King of France?”
The other answered, “I am that,”
Bowed stiffly, and removed his hat;
Then said, “Excuse me,” with an air,
“But is it Mr. Edward Bear?”
And Teddy, bending very low,
Replied politely, “Even so!”
They stood beneath the window there,
The King and Mr. Edward Bear,
And, handsome, if a trifle fat,
Talked carelessly of this and that. . . .
Then said His Majesty, “Well, well,
I must get on,” and rang the bell.
“Your bear, I think,” he smiled. “Good-day!”
And turned, and went upon his way.
A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at.
But do you think it worries him
To know that he is far from slim?
No, just the other way about—
He’s proud of being short and stout.
A. A. Milne, “Teddy Bear” from The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh. Copyright © The Trustees of the Pooh Properties reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Limited, London.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tolog Review: Lock and Key

Lock and Key
by Sarah Dessen
reviewed by Sarah Vail, class of 2015

This is a very entertaining story between a mother and daughter both named Ruby. When Ruby's single mom (Ruby) leaves for a few months before Ruby's 18th birthday. Ruby lives alone in her and her mother's poorly conditioned house without running water, hoping to stay under the radar until she's a legal adult. Instead, a social worker tells her she has to live with Cora, her older sister she hasn't seen for 10 years, now a lawyer married to a rich Internet entrepreneur. Despite her new surroundings, Ruby always wears the key to her old house on a chain around her neck as a reminder of her difficult yet more familiar old life. She slowly starts to lower her deep emotional defenses, reconnecting with her sister, making friends with another girl who doesn't fit in at school, and crushing on Nate, the cute, popular boy next door who seems to have a perfect life. It's only when she gets to know Nate that she realizes he might have secrets of his own to unlock. Overall, this book belongs in its own category of literature, it is unlike any other book I have ever read before. It was a very good book in the end though.I have actually never read a book similar to this one, this book to me is actually one of a kind. Teens will respond to Ruby's first-person voice as she struggles with all the changes in her life, even positive ones. Handed $200 by surprise and then sent to the mall, Ruby is completely anxious with what we as teenagers would seem to be as the greatest time. The child abuse isn't sensationalized; Ruby's mother, Ruby, focuses on the psychological damage, not the physical violence. This may seem crazy at first, but because of this, Ruby is able to accomplish so much in her life that she never thought would be possible. If you are entertained by the certain aspects of the book said above, you will then love this book!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tolog Review: Witch and Wizard

Witch and Wizard
by James Patterson
reviewed by Emily Gray, class of 2017

In the novel Witch & Wizard, by James Patterson, you meet Wisty and Whit Allgood; a sister and brother who also happen to be a witch and a wizard. Late one night they are abducted from their homes and sent straight to prisons and laboratories for testing. And they weren’t the only ones being abducted. Thousands of people were getting abducted just like Wisty and Whit.
The brother and sister duo had long known about their powers, but never felt like they were that special. Soon after their kidnapping though, they realize that not only does the fate of their family rest in their hands, but the fate of the entire world does as well. They must learn to work together and to except that their powers are a gift, which they must use to save the world.
In this novel, the narration goes back and forth between Whit and Wisty giving the book an interesting appeal and giving the reader different perspectives throughout the story. While switching in between the minds of the two characters you definitely get a sense of what they are feeling. In a way, you feel more connected with the characters and you can sense the changes in emotion as the action progresses.
Throughout the novel you also see a powerful character development. When Whit and Wisty first get kidnapped they are scared out of their minds and they don’t know how to control their magic. As the plot develops though, so do they. Wisty realizes that she needs to step up and be a leader. She knows that she needs to grow out of her little girl stage and saving the world is definitely the way to do that. Whit also realizes that he needs to be there for his sister through thick and thin and with whatever their journey throws at them. He learns how to be a loving brother and a protector, but at the same he learns how to work with Wisty.
By working together Whit and Wisty are able to harness their powers for the forces of good and use their power to stand up to the biggest tyrant the world has ever faced. While reading this book you will be taken on a roller coaster ride of an adventure that you won’t regret taking. If you love the Maximum Ride series (like I do!) then you will love this book!! It is even written by the same author!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tolog Review: Outliers

by Malcolm Gladwell

reviewed by Lindan Pham, class of 2015

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent read. For those that don’t know this author, he is an amazing journalist and (may be) researcher. He searches for many counterintuitive in what we take to be ordinary. His works usually talks about and uncovers the truths that are hidden behind his strange data. One of his famous works that consists of these strange data is Outliers.
Often we are told about extremely successful people and how they achieved it through intelligence and ambition. However, Gladwell thought otherwise. He thinks that hard work is critical to success, but then successful people were often just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. He also thinks that work is important but working for 10,000 hours on skills seems to be the rule of thumb.
The funny thing about Malcolm Gladwell’s books is that: 1) it won’t require you any analytical thinking, 2) it won’t tell you something you don’t already know, and 3) it won’t make a statement that you might disagree with. I found out about this after every chapter. I also find this book a little “depressing” because it shows that hard work alone just doesn’t cut it. You need to be “chosen” to be successful. You can’t just walk in saying that you worked hard and get that spot. But then if I ever find myself deep in thought about my future, or if I ever lose sight of my goal, I believe that Malcolm’s words can help me just when it matters most. He shows me a (small) ray of hope to lead me back to my right path, my goal.  I think that everyone should read this book at least once. Or may be read his other works if they have the chance to because his books can change your whole perspective on things. It's interesting how he does it!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Research Tip: Writing a Thesis Statement

For many of us, drafting a thesis statement is stressful.  You may find yourself thinking - What do I want to say?  What point am I trying to make?  Is this good enough?  Never fear! Below are some things to consider as you draft your thesis statement.  Follow these guidelines, and I guarantee you'll get through the thesis-drafting process painlessly.

This content is borrowed from this very useful site.  It is probably my favorite of all the university writing center sites.  I highly recommend you bookmark it or whatever it is you do to keep track of great websites.

I'd also like to share this excellent draft of a thesis statement one of our very own juniors wrote just this week for the JRP.  While it's not a final draft, I think it's a great example of what you can do with a strong, well-researched point of view:

The secularization of american society has created friction among conservative religious sects or groups (i.e: orthodox jews, muslims, amish, later day saints) by arguing that it is oppressive to the women  in those religious groups.  I plan to argue the contrary*, as american society takes off its clothes more and more women who belong to certain religious groups are actually empowered by their choice of religious dress thus liberating them from societal norms.   

*NOTE: This is a first draft.  A final draft of a thesis statement (and the entire paper) should be written in third person.

LOVE IT!  And away we go...


A thesis statement:
  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • may directly answer a question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. 


A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis,” a basic or main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may need adjustment along the way.


If there’s time, run it by your instructor to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following:
    • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
    • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
    • Is my thesis statement specific enough?
Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s o.k. to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.


Suppose your teacher hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:
Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.
Why is this thesis weak? Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: you will most likely provide a general, appreciative summary of Twain’s novel. The question did not ask you to summarize; it asked you to analyze. Your professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; instead, she wants you to think about why it’s such a great novel—what do Huck’s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race relations, etc.? First, the question asks you to pick an aspect of the novel that you think is important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
Here’s a working thesis with potential: you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation; however, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. Your reader is intrigued, but is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?” Perhaps you are not sure yet, either. That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Tolog Review: Where There is Love, There is God

Where There is Love, There is God
by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, PhD
reviewed by Alexandra Tighe, class of 2017

Where There Is Love, There Is God is a collection of excerpts from the writings of Mother Teresa. Although originally intended for other sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa's order, this book is filled with advice and guidance for all of us to become not only better Catholics but better people in general. The book and each chapter open with an introduction by Brian Kolodiejchuk that explain what Mother Teresa did as a Missionary of Charity working in the slums of Calcutta and what the chapter’s focus will be. The chapter’s aren’t chapters in the traditional sense, though. They are just groups of Mother Teresa’s excerpts and advice that address similar issues. Mother Teresa speaks about a lot of things including what things keep us from loving God and how we can get closer to Jesus. Mother Teresa often repeats the idea that Jesus is present in all of us, his children, especially the neglected and suffering. She also says that poverty isn’t the worst thing that the people she tries to help suffer from. The worst part, she says, is the feeling of neglect and being unloved. Her mission in life was to make these people feel like they were wanted and loved and therefore make them aware of God in their lives as well. Mother Teresa’s mission in this book is to help the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity bring love to others in the best way they can. She teaches of the liberation that confession and lack of worldly possessions bring and how important forgiveness and selflessness are. She also speaks of the importance of humility which doesn’t mean saying that you aren’t good at anything but instead means that you tell the truth and have a meek heart. I have really enjoyed reading Where There is Love, There is God because it is truly relaxing. It’s straightforward and the short excerpts from Mother Teresa's writings allow for you to refocus your faith a lot in a short period of time. You could read just one or two of the little excerpts a day and get yourself thinking again. Just five minutes worth of reading can make you want to change your entire life. But you don't have to be religious to get a lot out of this book because it teaches how to be a better person in every aspect of life. In this book we get a unique and rare look at the way Mother Teresa thought and taught. Normally I don't like non-fiction books but I really enjoyed this one and would happily read it again soon!  If you like books that will get you thinking, you'll love this book!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tolog Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
by Gabrielle Zevin
reviewed by Hannah Scott, class of 2017

Gabrielle Zevin’s Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac was a light yet eye-opening read. The challenges Naomi Porter faces in this novel reminded me that I needed to take a step back and view the difficulties of my life from a wider perspective. It also demonstrates how such small things can have tremendous impacts on our lives. Zevin manages to add on the stress of amnesia to her character’s life while still allowing her to gain a lesson out of her challenges.
Naomi Porter’s life has always had rough patches- she was left in a typewriter case by her Russian parents, was adopted by two strange Americans, and has no idea who her parents are or why they abandoned her. These unfortunate events only foreshadow later difficulties Naomi has yet to face. In the middle of her junior year of high school, Naomi’s life was great, even though she didn’t know it. She had a spot varsity tennis team, a tennis playing boyfriend named Ace, and a caring best friend named Will Landsman, her fellow editor of the school yearbook. However, all this changed because of one fateful coin toss. She accidentally fell down a flight of stairs while going back to school to pick up the yearbook camera, causing her to loose all memories she made after the age of twelve. While trying to regain her memory, she isn’t too fond of what she discovers.
Over the course of a few weeks, Naomi is forced to create a new personality due to her lack of memory, and realizes that even though she would have loved to have the chance to start over before amnesia affected her, losing all your memories is actually very difficult. However, starting from scratch allowed Naomi to evaluate the problems that plagued her life before the accident with an unclouded mindset. The book kept me wondering if Naomi would ever get her memory back and whether that would change her new view on life.
Zevin keeps readers engaged with plot twists and her expert ways of taking what could be your quintessential teenage romance novel and transforming it into a book in which the lessons Naomi learn can resonate with the readers as well. If you like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (but not the parts about dying), then you'll love this book!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tolog Review: Coming Through Slaughter

Coming Through Slaughter
by Coming Through Slaughter
reviewed by Mia Babcock, class of 2015

Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter is a fictional novel that follows the famous cornet player Buddy Bolden in the last few years of his life, from sanity to insanity. Ondaatje introduces Buddy Bolden as a barber and family man in the Storyville district of New Orleans, setting the scene for a story based upon insanity, music, crime and passion. Leaving his wife, children, and friends behind Buddy loses himself at Shell Beach, a town where he and his band were playing at. Buddy has disappeared and it is up to his best friend and detective Webb to find him. Back to Buddy’s point of view and he is staying with his friends Jaelin and Robin Brewitt. Although betraying not only his wife Nora Bass, but also his friend and pianist Jaelin, Buddy and Robin accommodate a sexual relationship of which Buddy exclaims that he, “loved Robin Brewitt, I think” ( 99). Buddy Bolden eventually goes crazy while playing in a town called Slaughter with Henry Allen’s Brass Band. He is then admitted to an insane asylum under the pretenses of being diagnosed with dementia praecox (an old term for schizophrenia) as well as being paranoid. He later dies in the asylum in 1931. The passionate, enticing, and manipulating music of which Buddy was creating slowly creates riffs in his sanity. Ironically the one thing that kept him alive all these years (jazz), is the thing that kills him in the end, by stealing away his sanity. Attempting to analyze the book for modern meaning I had to ask myself, “How can we, as a human race, apply music to our lives?” In Buddy Bolden’s case the music he applied to his life killed him, because although the music was ready for change concurrent with the turn of the century in which this book is based, Buddy’s mind wasn’t. The music he produced in turn took away his mind, and his life.  If you like historical fiction, jazz, or novels based on New Orleans and the corrupt dimensions of the city, you'll love this book!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tolog Review: Girls on Film

Girls on Film
by Zoey Dean
reviewed by Hannah Zika, class of 2015

The second book in the series, The A- List, is where Anna gets even more unexpected news throughout the novel. This sequel “Girls on Film” is very interesting and surprising. In this book, Anna goes behind the Hollywood scenes more and develops new friendships and relationships. Anna has a cloud over her head, thinking about Ben’s intentions on leaving her the night on the boat. Ben gives her a reason that she doesn’t know if she can believe. Anna tries every possible way to find out and leaves him a lone for a while. This frustrates Ben and he decides to take time off of Princeton, but she doesn’t want him to miss that opportunity because of her! Sam, who is secretly in love with Ben, bonds with Anna when they make a short film together and have relaxing girl time. Who would suspect that they would bond by gossiping about Ben? Sam starts getting a little to close with Anna, and tries to figure out what is happening. She thinks it is because she never has had such a good friend before; it’s different for Sam. Dee tells unexpected news that shocks everyone and gets Anna thinking about her relationships. But there is a dilemma. Anna sees that she can like another guy! And it is Ben’s best friend. This obviously causes tension in the novel between everyone. Luckily Anna gets Ben off to Princeton, single. And this leaves her single with Adam. This novel has a lot of unexpected romances that are page turning. Read more to find out!  This book would appeal to a younger teen crowd. If you love Pretty Little Liars the series, then you would love this series also!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tolog Review: The Clockwork Angel

The Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare
reviewed by Sarah Perret, class of 2017

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is first book of the Infernal Devices series. There is a lot of dark vs. light, and evil vs. good contrasts in this book. A few people even turn from good to evil. This book address the typical good always winning evil, but will good win over evil this time? You will like this book if you like fantasy, romance and adventure. It is packed with adventure and it will keep you wondering what is coming next. There is a love story involved that is exciting and unusual. The characters in this book also constantly question who they are and who they want to be. Finding your identity has a big role in the book. It focuses on a young girl named Tessa Gray who is sixteen and has an odd talent. Her ability is that she is able to turn into someone else while she holds a personal item and can access his or her thoughts. Her talent is rare and almost unheard of. She feels lost and lonely, but she comes to realize her identity. A lot of people are trying to track and hunt her down. While on her way to see her loving brother she is brutally kidnapped by the Dark Sisters, who are demons. Luckily young Will breaks in and rescues her. But she wonders who is this guy? Will is part of the Shadowhunter world. Shadowhunter’s purpose is to kill the demons that live in the world. Tessa goes on with Will to the Institute, where young Shadowhunters train. She lives there for a long time, and along the way comes to look at the Shadowhunters as her family. As the book continues is describes Tessa’s past and shows her journey to realize who she is. Tessa has a gift, a gift that is constantly hunted, the most dangerous man known as the Magister is trying to kidnap and marry her. As creepy and weird as that sounds, what is even worse is that someone who seemed to always have her back is in on his plan. Not only does he plan to take Tessa, but also he wants to take over the entire world! Read Clockwork Angel to figure out if Tessa survives and if the Magister really does take over the world.