What We Say, What We Do: A Review of The Thief

Tipping my head back, I licked the last drops of pink lemonade from my cup. I glanced around the table; my cousins and my siblings were still drinking their lemonade.

“Oof,” one cousin said, glancing at a brimming cup. “I don’t think I can drink this. I’m full.”

We made appropriate sounds of sympathy. Sighing, the cousin dumped the lemonade into the pitcher.

Another cousin squawked. “That’s gross! You’ve dumped in your backwash! I’m not drinking any more lemonade.”

“Aw, come on,” I said airily, “There’s nothing wrong with that lemonade. I’d drink it.” I picked up my glass and stared at it for a moment. Then I grimaced. I wanted more lemonade, but somehow, I couldn’t make myself drink from that pitcher.

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A Room Full of Laughter: A Review of The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

My two siblings sat in front of me, holding the script to the monologue in their hands. I stared back and took a deep breath. Then I began the monologue. My younger sibling smiled, and soon my older sibling followed suit. As I continued, speaking the ridiculous words in a ludicrous accent, they laughed outright. I tried desperately to keep my face straight. But the words to the monologue were so absurd that I gave up and succumbed to laughter, sinking down the wall. My companions laughed right along with me, filling the room with our laughter. The script, so painstakingly copied from an exceptional play, was left lying on the bed.

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. It relates the story of John Worthing, an earnest young man seeking to marry Miss Gwendolen Fairfax, a young woman residing in London. Although Miss Fairfax accepts John’s proposal, her mother, Lady Bracknell, opposes the union. When John’s best friend, Algernon, joins the fray, he wreaks havoc on John’s social life in a hilarious game of mixed identities.

The Importance of Being Earnest is more than a comedy: it is a criticism of Victorian society. Through puns and wordplay, Wilde exposes the hypocrisy of Victorian social customs. In one such instance, Algernon and John’s protégé, Cecily, become engaged, but Lady Bracknell once again opposes the marriage. However, Lady Bracknell quickly changes her tone when she discovers that Cecily is heir to a small fortune, although proclaiming that marriages should never be mercenary. With his subtle and hilarious use of dialogue, Wilde creates a satirical, absurd, yet realistic image of Victorian life.

Despite the apparent dryness of this story’s format—after all, plays are without internal narrative or description—The Importance of Being Earnest is extremely vivid. The characters are lifelike, if somewhat farcical. Take Algernon, the quick-witted dandy who adores food, or Lady Bracknell, the brisk matron who says the most ridiculous things. Through only their words, these characters come to life. It is a true delight to read John and Algernon’s nonsensical banter, and even the house butlers Lane and Merriman are unique in their droll gravity.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a stunning work of art. Although almost 125 years old, this story remains fresh and funny—enough to fill a room with laughter.

Ages: 13 and up.

You can buy this book here.

Change: A Review of Meet the Austins

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There are two fundamental responses to change. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is to be annoyed. After all, changes (big or small) disrupt our daily routine. And when our circumstances change, we have to change as well. The second option is to accept change with grace. When I think about the greatest changes in my life, I cannot imagine myself without them. Where would I be if I had never moved to different countries several times?

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Intelligent People: A Review of Dodger

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Intelligence is a strange thing. No one can measure it, no one can make it, no one can see it—yet we all prize it. But intelligence is difficult to define. After all, how do you tell if you are intelligent? Does intelligence mean that you are academically skilled, or does it mean that you know how to navigate the ways of the world? Or perhaps there are different types of intelligence—academic knowledge, and something else entirely: a sort of cunning that few have. A certain Mister Dodger, even though he is a fictional character, is a perfect example of that elusive, cunning kind of intelligence.

The novel Dodger is by Sir Terry Pratchett (an author who received knighthood because of his services to literature), the acclaimed writer of the Discworld series. The main character, Dodger, is a seventeen-year-old street urchin who lives in early Victorian London. When a mysterious young woman tumbles out of a street carriage one night, Dodger rushes to defend her from her pursuers. Of course, he doesn’t know who she is, but she looks important—he might be able to get some money out of returning her. But what seemed like easy money becomes a complex adventure, which might just change Dodger forever.

Dodger is an urchin, more specifically a tosher: someone who looks for valuables in the sewers. As you can imagine, this means that Dodger is generally smelly and wet. He doesn’t mind. Dodger is actually quite content with his life. He is not a thief (or so he says) but he does not work, not really. On good days he will make more than a chimney sweep would in one day! But after his run-in with the golden-haired young woman, Dodger begins to think of life quite differently.

In his adventures with the young woman, Dodger meets Mister Charlie Dickens. Mister Charlie has a rather annoying habit of scribbling everything down, but Dodger knows that he is a unique man—one of those people you can’t trick or steal from. Charlie is intelligent, in both the academic and the street sense, and that makes him exceptional. Mister Charlie would be a dangerous enemy but becomes a valuable ally because he knows how people in certain situations think.

Dodger is a funny, surprising book with lovable (if smelly) characters. But underneath the action and puns is a deep reflection of the world itself, and all the intelligent people who inhabit it.

Middle-grade historical fiction, ages 12–14.

You can buy this book here.

The Cure for Boredom: A Review of The Phantom Tollbooth

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Do you know those long, lazy afternoons? When the sun shines warm and tantalizing through the window, teasing you with faint ideas of big projects and triumph; when you walk restlessly through the house, your gaze falling languidly on books, games, and homework; when the soft breathing of someone sleeping on the couch drifts through your irritated mind, reminding you that time is ticking? When you are disinterested in life in general—in those moments, that is when you need a Tollbooth.

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Just A Few Years: A Review of The Last Unicorn

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I remember my little sister crying by a window. She was crying because I didn’t completely believe something she’d told me. It was a few years ago, (I, of course, completely trust her now) but that scene has stuck with me: her red, wet face; my mother’s voice talking to her patiently; my older sister’s impassive expression. Trust is something which you cannot hold and cannot measure, and yet it is so important that people trust you—how can you earn it?

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