Going Solo (Roald Dahl’s Autobiography #2) by Roald Dahl: A Book Review

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“I was already beginning to realize that the only way to conduct oneself in a situation where bombs rained down and bullets whizzed past, was to accept the dangers and all the consequences as calmly as possible. Fretting and sweating about it all was not going to help.”

I liken Roald Dahl to ‘Lola Basyang “  (literally  Grandmother Basyang) in Philippine literature, a legendary grandma who has become a symbol for someone who has many short stories to tell, and the nom de plume of  Severino Reyes, the “Father of Tagalog Plays”.

His books are interesting and engrossing to read, so I never get sick and tired of them. They even make me feel like going back to my childhood when I was totally absorbed in children stories. Of course, he can also bear a striking resemblance to Hans Christian Andersen, best remembered for his fairy tales. However, a childish-adult-like reader like me can still prefer stories which can no longer sound superannuated, old-fashioned, or ancient. I am now in a modern era when literature is no longer what you see is what you believe.

Going Solo is another one I felt that how I was listening to a story teller or, formally speaking, a raconteur. I enjoyed most of the stories, notably his African adventures, despite that I could not relate to what a war freak is blabbering about.

Going Solo is said to be the sequel to Dahl’s autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood. The latter one is far funnier but more heat-breaking than the former one, something a reader should be sympathetic to. The former one is more on his adventurous and breath-gasping blow-by-blow account. It tells his perilous adventures in Africa where he survived the wild animals especially leopards and mambas. The account is new to me since I have read a great deal of wild African life. However, some of his stories seem to be hyperbolic and exaggerated. His anecdotes seem to be fictitious. I don’t know if Dahl intended to twist his real stories to not lose his readers’ interest. Probably, it could be a half-fiction and half-autobiography the same with his Boy: Tales of Childhood.

When I was drawn into his flying and war experience, at that moment, I lost my interest because most of the words are technical which I did not want to grasp any longer.  Perhaps, I was not interested in stories related to military service. Had I not read it deeply, I would have put it aside aligned with the other unread books. Nevertheless, Dahl has the talent to turn stories others may find irrelevant, inappropriate into interesting ones. His telegraphs to his mother, meeting with a beautiful nurse, and encounter with the Germans and bandits caught my attention. I told you so, he is a raconteur, indeed.

Finally, what I liked most of the parts of the book is the ending. I felt how a soldier misses his family so badly. In other words, I was not left clinging. I was very satisfied with it. It may be simple but this is one of the best endings I really finished in awe. Sooooo, I want another Dahl’s books!!!!

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

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The BFG by Roald Dahl:A Book Review

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Oompa-loompa, everlasting gobstopper, snozzberry, whangdoodles, hornswogglers, snozzwangers, vermicious knids, scrumdiddlyyumptious, eggdicator: These are some of the examples of the wonderful words  in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that Google helped me jog my memory about, my first experience in  discovering Roald Dahl’s leanings for inventing new nonsensical words. At that time, I had to turn to a stack of different dictionaries in my house , or to the internet as the last straw to grasp their meanings. I wonder if native speakers who have read it have the same cognitive trepidation.

 The BFG , short for The Best Friendly Giant , is  another one  I was boggled at.  It is definitely   more rabid than the former one in that I almost wanted to toss it up in the air. It is riddled with many, many  nonsensical  words Dahl coined himself. My student and I since   it was part of our reading class called it TGL short for The Giant Language. Thus, the biggest challenge for us was how to understand it   because we are not native speakers . Our knowledge of English   vocabulary is limited.  In this case, we just try to guess with the context  clues  hidden  not anything but near the other sentences,  or as usual  with  my  comrade in time of   nasal hemorrhage  or  with a dictionary app  installed in our android phones.  However, most of the time, we just skipped them , for in doing so was a waste of time.

For  the newbie, to understand what I have been blabbering about, try to guess the meanings of the  following words  and  sentences.

Buckswashling

“Upgoing bubbles is a catasterous disastrophe!”

“Delumptious fizzy frobscottle…”

Gruncious

Hopscotchy

Propsposterous

Rotsome

Sqiubbling

“I cannot be squibbling the whole gropefluncking dream on a titchy bit of paper.”

You will be coming to an ucky-mucky end if any of them should ever be getting his gogglers upon you.”

“How whoopsey-splunkers! How absolutely squiffling! l is all of a stutter.”

To  the  readers who have read it, you may be pleasantly  squinting at the words  until now.  For me,  my favorite words  that my student and I made fun of were “ I watch telly telly bumkin box”, and “ scrumdiddylicious” which was also spoken in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. ^^

If you are such a logophile, maniac for  patting  down  all the words  in the book, you could  serve as  an interpreter  for  TGL.

Apparently, the   nonsensical words are the mainspring of having a hard time enjoying it to bits as to what I went through in Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Such literary device   may deaden or spice up   the excitement of the story depending on the   taste of the reader. In a metaphorical situation, I was like a stranger, lost in a lost world, fear-stricken of the thought that I would not be able to get back to where I came from because of the strange things, needless to say TGL , I had to be inured to until I was part of this “disgusterous, sickable, and rotsome” world of the giants.  But the truth is I don’t want to enter this story anymore, especially during witching hour: I am scared to have met the giants and talked to them in their language anymore; it would just put me in a nose bleeding and bone-crunching position.

Despite that the world I entered is creepily “disgusterous”, I found it amusing because of The BFG. He is such a naive but amusing character. I was like Sophia, the main character , enjoying his company because of  his funny hobbies and stories. I would hate but try eating his favorite food “snozzcumbers” which taste is beyond recognition. I would for sure enjoy his ejaculatory whizzpopper, a drink resembling a soda drink, but equivalent to farting reaction in our world.  I would not get tired of his thousand jars of dream collections. I would be fascinated by his elongated ears which have the ability to listen to sounds  a million times  far  away, and could serve as a hideout for  a small human bean  from human-bean eaters. Indeed, The BFG is not a giant everyone should be intimated by.

If I survived the world of the giants in that I was neither crunched nor gorged on , I would not just bear in mind the memories I spent with the BFG but also his sophisticated character. You might not realize that the BFG   has a literary symbol. For me, he is the anathema of the desire to change the old ways. Little did I realize that Dahl may have suggested that his story is about civilization and barbarism.Only the BFG has the willingness to be weaned on the currently revolutionary life , keeping behind the   old ways of the other giants. He exerts a lot of effort to educate himself by reading books, especially Charles Dickens’ works. Likewise, he does not want to eat human beans because of his “civilized conscience.” As a matter of fact, the story  indicates  that we can learn break our  uncivilized habits  like what happened to The BFG and other giants who have eventually been taught to lead the life civilized  people do. Now, this could be a question for a social science scholar: Is civilization a learned development?

The BFG is another book to reduce me to awe for Dahl’s mastery in storytelling although I am now at the stage of cognitive development when everything is no longer beyond a child’s understanding. Rather, I can cringe at the juvenile and puerile stories because such things can be deduced with logical explanations. However, I reckoned that we are dictated by society when we should act our age. In other words, there is no limitation to what books a reader should   read.  Thus, Roald Dahl is now my favorite children book writer. 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

 

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl: A Book Review

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I got the chance to finish Matilda by Roald Dahl on a  busy Sunday since all the Filipinos, including my family, were   preparing for the New Year’s Eve. I was just curling up with it at a bamboo chair in our living room, catatonic to the people bustling around. My absorption and enthrallment in it may have been so deafening to them, or they may have been intrigued   by  why I made different facial reactions whenever I turned the next pages. Then, it occurred to me that I had an important appointment with my best friend! But it was still past 2 O clock. Relief flooded over me and I kept at it. When it was already 4 O clock , I was on the verge of the last pages, but I was agitated.  I really had to go. She must have been waiting for me for minutes on end.  I dismissed   this guilty feeling, apathetic to whatever comeuppance I might get. Bahala na si Batman!

When I finished it, I blurted out ,“ I WANNA READ ANOTHER ROALD DAHL’s BOOKS!!!”  My younger sister and her friends who happened to have been playing in front of me gawked at me in surprise. I found myself clasping   my hands and   turning my head up. It was a childish and silly moment.

Although I have read some Roald Dahl’s books, I still was not his big fan. By golly, it has just occurred to me now that the only children book author I look up to and consider as my favorite one is Genaro Gojo Cruz, my countryman writer. Gee! I see. Anyway, I first read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory upon being fascinated by its movie adaptation. I liked the book so much because of the “psychological character” of Mr. Wonka played by award –winning Hollywood actor Johnny Depp. Thereafter, I wanted another one. However, I was disappointed when I read Charlie and the Glass Elevator because of its only-elementary-students-would-appreciate impact.  After all, I was anything but childish. Nevertheless, I still hung in there. I read and enjoyed Boy: Tales of Childhood . It’s not a fantasy, but a memoir of his childhood. The laconic  account of his miserable  but mischievous  childhood’s education  drove me nuts, reminding me of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. However, I was not falling in love with Dahl yet. In fact, I gave one of his  short story  The   Landlady a very low rating . I was no longer  interested  in his other stories given that I had planned to have Roald-Dahl-stories marathon, except my hidden desire for  Matilda and The BFG. As you know, I could not afford such books yet.

In light of Matilda, I now consider Roald Dahl as one of my favorite   children books writers. I enjoyed it a whole a lot. First, I loved her character as a precocious child. I am pretty sure that even book worms out there would be exhilarated by her early interest in reading books, especially that she even read the adults ones which are supposed to be heavy for  a young reader whose  IQ  is still underdeveloped. Thus, I am ashamed to say that I did not have the chance to read the books at early age  such as The Secret GardenGreat ExpectationsNicholas NicklebyOliver TwistJane EyrePride and PrejudiceTess of the d’UrbervillesGone to EarthKimThe Invisible ManThe Old Man and the SeaThe Sound and the FuryThe Grapes of WrathThe Good CompanionsBrighton RockAnimal FarmMoby DickIvanhoeThe Red Pony and Peter and Wendy.

The most exciting part about the book is Matilda’s tricks. Since she is a brilliant child, I  can’t wait to know the next situation on how she will play tricks on her apathetic dad, on  how she will engage in an argument with Mrs.  Trunchball, and on how she will help Ms. Jenny to get her house and money back by scaring  the living daylights out of her. It is a whodunit scene.

The book is worth reading because it is replete with moral lessons.For instance,  Matilda embodies intellectual humility granted that she is still innocent. It is our perception that a gifted child is supposed to have la di da attitude.

One of the things I have observed since I read Roald Dahl’s books is that most of his stories’ theme is about parents’ negligence   and wrong educational system. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Wonka psychologically paints a picture of being an orphan, his hidden desire to get a paternal attention. In Boy: The Tales of Childhood, Dahl recollects his school life when he went through his teachers’ ill-treatment. In Matilda, Matilda’s parents are not responsible for their kids, depicted as apathetic and lazy parents. They are not even aware of Matilda’s brilliance mind. Furthermore, they don’t teach them good values. Rather, they inculcate their kids in the essence of business competition. Matilda’s father is a crooked businessman whereas her mother prefers pulchritude to intelligence.  Fortunately, despite her young age, Matilda is smart and mature enough to understand what is good or bad. Also, she is sensible and sensitive to the people around her.   On the other hand, the book   describes the rotten education system   represented by Ms. Trunchball. In this case, Roald Dahl appears to have used the same rhetoric patterns. It seems that he deeply drew  most of his stories from poverty, some kind of Charles Dickens style.

Supposedly, Matilda was part of my reading class with my Korean student.  My student was so generous to fault that she bought   me my own copy. In fact, we came to terms that I should not read it on weekends,except in our class. However, I could not hold back the temptation. (laughs) Whoa! I still have this tinge of Roald-Dahlic excitement. (laughs)

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( I really liked it.)

 

Makinang Makina by Genaro Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

When I see an antique sewing machine, the only idea  that reminds me of is late great-grandmother,  Lilang Tisay .She used to be our neighbor when  we still lived  in a countryside. Every afternoon, I  would  always visit her in their palatial leaning-to watching her sew some cloth.(I didn’t know what  she was doing then. She may have  made some rags.) But I was mesmerized  by her adeptness at  operating that noisy machine. I even wondered whether she could be impaled with the needle or not  if she didn’t focus on it.As a matter of fact, that machine became more historical  when she made me a doll out of the cloth leavings  because my mother could not bring herself to buy me one. That was the first doll I had ever played,  unaware of my sexual orientation. I tend to smile to myself whenever I remember this. I wonder  how I lost that doll and whether her  family still keeps that machine.

Recently,  Genaro Gojo Cruz, the author of this book, won PBBY-Salanga Prize for this Filipino children story, Makinang Makina ( Brilliant Machine). The story is about a boy  who enjoys watching his mother sew with the sewing machine she has inherited from her mother’s  mother. He tends to be transfixed  by its antiquity . He also enjoys helping his mother by catching up with the thread spool  rolling off the floor  and sucking its edge to pass it through the eye of the needle. He  is even riveted on riding the machine’s floor like a horse. He is  sooo cute. 🙂

The most touching part of the story is when he asks his mother if he can be like her because he thinks of that  sewing is supposed to be for women’s job. His mother explains that a man who sews clothes is a sastre in Filipino. He can be! Sewing  does not bear on your sexuality.

The funny thing  is that  I had negative stereotype about the boy.While  reading it, I mistook him for  belonging to the confederation, an archaic expression used in the Philippines referring to homosexuals. In other words, I thought he was bakla ( gay) because he seems to be malamya ( clumsy)  in Genaro’s descriptions. In the Philippines, when  a boy is observed to be in that behavior , he is judged or predicted to be a queer  at his later age. So, usually, his father’s kumpare  advises  his father that he should be straightened up to prevent that homosexual tendency. Poo-bah! A form of ignorance some parents are still shrouded in.  But I was all wrong. I may have just been subjective. Hahaha  In the context of child psychology, he is at the stage of  exploring the world he finds magical. I bear witness to that 🙂

It’s now my 11th Genaro Gojo Cruz ‘s  children story  books. As usual, I am like a  rabid wolf , hot on Gojo Cruz’s heels. Hahaha I have been after :

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw
  13. May Pamilya na ring Mag-aaruga sa Akin
  14. Ang Sulatan
  15. Mga Laruang Papel
  16. May Sampung Pulang Langgam

So far,  I ‘m  glad to have  read his :

  1. Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay ( YA)
  2. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  3. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  4. Ang Aking Photo Album
  5. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  6. Bunsoy
  7. Saling Pusa
  8. Anluwagi
  9. Tolits

I am not sure if the book is now available in book stores. I just happened to see this on the author’s FB post. I  was excited  then to search in the internet if it has free PDF. Fortunately, it does, but nothing beats  buying the book as one of your Genaro Gojo Cruz collections, and I will. 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

 

 

 

 

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables #1) by L.M. Montgomery: A Book Review

12959529_10206307364744801_1558231329_oI was just a plain simple-minded student, ignorant of the things existed around me; I did not understand why I was in school . Day by day, I began to understand that I was there to study because someone was teaching us how to count 1, 2, 3 and how to read A,B,C . But still I sat there with my mouth agape, wondering why I had to study, staring at my other classmates how come they were so good at answering the questions traded by our teachers, why they were at the top of the class and  lauded by a faculty of teachers and a circle of unknown friends. I even thought then that my presence with my classmates inside the classroom was enough to complete the day. Eventually, I realized that I had to read , memorize, and partake in the class. Otherwise, I would have been ridiculed by the haughty students and abominated by the self-proclaimed highly educated teachers who ostentatiously displayed their credentials. In the end, I had  discovered what I really was in the eyes of the society:  I was an average student or less than that after all. Overtime, laced with the concept of the educational system, I tried to explore the uncharted territory of  how to develop myself intellectually. I tried to read, but it happened that way. I just wanted to read whatever reads at my disposal. When I got tired of the same books, I would borrow my friends’ or visit anyone I was acquainted with whose house was furnished with bookshelves. I would stay in their houses the whole afternoon after my school, rain or shine. However, despite my full effort, I still did not know then how to study nor write an essay efficiently. Fortunately, at that time, some Philippine TV stations capitalized on broadcasting Japanese animations. One of them was the adaptation for Anne of Green Gables. You know what happened? You might call me shallow or puerile then, but I don’t mind. In light of this animation, I decided to help myself on how I should be a good student. I tried to do the tricks as what Anne Shirley does, and which my bright classmates may have done scrupulously. I had to read the books in advance and commit their contents to my memory. Consequently, I could keep up with my classmates after all. I could answer my teachers’ questions because I had studied them. Thanks to the sympathetic character of Anne Shirley. My study tactic then was Anne-of-the-Green-Gables Approach.(laughs)

Anne of Green of Gables is a beautiful story. Through the character of Anne Shirley, the loquacious orphan who happened to be adopted by Mr.and Ms.Cuthbert, either young or adult  readers  can learn a great deal of things about life. Not that you will become as talkative as she is. Not that you will become as exaggerated and hyperbolic as she is , for she always imagines  everything around in different perspectives. As you know her favorite philosophy is, “ There is scope  for imagination.”  And not that you will learn not to be content with your physical appearances ,for she hates herself like her name  being spelled Ann without e,  her sharp elbows, freckled face , and  “carrot hair” as  her future husband Gilbert Blythe puts it. Not that you will be as clumsy as she is, for she has done many mistakes. Not that you will be as cowardly and pessimistic as she is, for she cannot face the reality of life.

Instead, Anne Shirley , during my feminine teenage,  taught me how to break the old tradition when children had to hold their tongues. There is nothing wrong if you reason out as long as you do it politely. However, applying it directly to my parents did not work; they were sticks-in-the-mud and the avatars of old traditions.  (laughs) In addition, Anne Shirley taught me to appreciate all the beautiful things in the world. When I look at a tree, it is not just the idea of the fact that it is a tree, but its state of being a tree. When I see a lake with its sparkling reflection, I don’t just describe it beautiful, but in its degree of beauty. When I wake up in the morning, I do not just think of its real existence as it usually happens every day; instead, I feel its connection to my existence. Can I just call her Monet-ian? ( giggles) However, it is sad to say that we are now living in a revolutionary era when the old patterns of beauty are overlapping with the beauty of technology. We can no longer distinguish what is beautiful in our environment.

Anne Shirley was one of the   influential   literary characters in my teenage life. Her character as an eager and enthusiastic learner proves that everyone, no matter how average your IQ is , can be a bright student if you are motivated to teach yourself. So, it has been my philosophy in education that all students have the potential to excel in any academic subjects. Everyone is special. It is just a matter of perseverance. However, in the context of psychology, it cannot happen without the ensuing moral support of the significant others.

As a matter of fact, Anne Shirley taught me to be no slouch when it comes to writing an essay in English. I was not confident enough about it yet. I tried to write and write in my own style despite my limited English vocabulary. I was even weaned on her quixotic style of poetry.

Another thing that I will not forget about this animation is its sentimental  theme. Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert, both sister and brother who  have been stuck in a time warp, will be emotionally transmogrified by Anne’s  delightful presence at the Green Gables. Ms. Cuthbert is known for being a stickler for her lifestyle while Mathew,a shy old man who seems to have never been used to socialization. Anne Shirley is the iconoclast in an idyllic  place that has left behind the modern era.

Finally, as what we teenagers who watched its Japanese adaptation  in the 1990’s, all the rage to the story is the intimate friendship between Anne and Diana  Barry and the suppressed but irresistible promising  romance  between Anne and Gilbert Blight.

Aside from its themes, what I liked about the book more is its well-written prose. All the sentences of how the author describes, narrates the story  are  perfectly matched with Anne Shirley’s exaggerated characters. I tend to cringe at the author’s intention, but it makes sense. Probably, L.M Montgomery   represents Anne Shirley because , apparently, she based this novel on her said rural life experience.

Whenever my college friend and I dropped into a second-hand bookstore before, the first thing she would ask the cashier about was  its sequels. She would not buy anything except this because she wanted to finish all the series first. So, after reading it, I understand now why she is so fond of it.  Now, it is my turn to do the same way. In fact, I have still been looking for them:Anne of Avonlea #2, Anne of the Island #3, Anne of Windy Poplars #4, Anne’s House of Dreams #5, Anne of Ingleside #6, Rainbow Valley #7, Rilla of Ingleside #8

When I have finished them all, for sure, I could join The Anne of the Green Gables Club out there. Could you let me in? 🙂

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

Tolits by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

tolitsI am a poor book detective, but I have a mission: to read all Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am afflicted by his “childhood-drama effect” after reading his YA, Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay. However, I  do not buy his children’s books; I just have my own copy of his YA. As you know, I scrimp on books I want to treasure for the posterity since I dream of building my very own private library as big as half of my house. Besides, I regret spending 75 pesos because I can spend this amount on two or three books at Book Sale, the famous second-hand book store in the Philippines. I will just  get a book if I can no longer resist myself from it, a best-seller  hyped up by my friends on Goodreads.

Although Gojo Cruz is now one of my favorite children’s books writers, I still put him into a pigeonhole, on the list of the books I want to hoard and display in my library someday. So, what I am trying to rationalize  is that I drop into National Book Store branches   to check upon   some of his works and read them privately. (One time, I was even caught by a clerk burying myself in a book I held for  more than 30 minutes, so I was blocked by the guard at the exit area  to check my bag for SOP. Come on, guard, I was not born yesterday. SOP stands  for Security Operation Procedure. What an acronym! ) Luckily,  I have read seven of them  at different NBS branches such as:

  1. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  2. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  3. Ang Aking Photo Album
  4. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  5. Bunsoy
  6. Saling Pusa
  7. Anluwagi

Why do I appear so addicted to  reading Genaro Gojo Cruz’s  children’s  books?  You can understand me if you start reading his  first YA I mentioned above.  I noticed that   same reaction from another fan on Goodreads. In his YA, Genaro told  a story about  a boy, himself , who cried  deep inside for the poverty and being “incomplete”  in his life. So, through reading his children’s books, you can penetrate the depth of the story as if they have been drawn from deep experiences. You may not burst into tears , but you can feel  the burning  sensation  smarting in the deepest part of your heart that  you cannot even  pour it out. It just moves there around  without cease until they appease for goods.

The   only problem is his books are always out of stock. They may be best-sellers. If so, I am happy for Mr. Gojo Cruz.  His books are indeed worth reading. Thus, I have a hard time finding his other books. I drop into from one book store to another since there are three malls adjacent to another near  our place. Gee, you may now find  me idiosyncratic. Yes, I am a walking dead -bookworm zombie moving from one mall to another clockwise. I have no compunction for this. 🙂

After a fairly long time, tadaaa!!! I  have found one of his books, TOLITS. I found it at another NBS branch nearer our place where I had never thought of  dropping by , for  I do not like its ambiance.

Little did I  know that TOLITS is a match stick. I thought that it was a character of a young boy because we moniker   someone like that here in the Philippines. Besides, I have understood that  a young boy is also called TOLITS because he is scrawny. So, the story turns out to be about a scrawny   young boy match stick who is curious about why his parents and other relatives try to hide him underneath them once the window is opened by   big fingers.

The story is a little bit disturbing. Perhaps, I detached myself from the reality, or I am   more used to reading Gojo Cruz’s   books which reflect in the real mirror of life and  permeate  through my heart.  Besides, I have still been confounded   at how I can relate his story to other situation and even squeeze its  moral lesson out of me. Nevertheless, Gojo Cruz has proved his skills in being a   children’s raconteur  in this story once again. A match, full of sticks,  is enough to materialize his   imagination. Besides, I liked the fact that reading it did not give me any clues of what the story is all about.   As usual, his common trademark   at the end of the story is a tear-jerker although it is not that as emotionally penetrating as his Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay.  .

It is now my 8th Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am now  more  driven to hunt his other books. I am going to gallivant like  a madman  at another  National Book Store outlets if the need arises. So, my next missions are:

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw

 And his  newest  ones: Pwede Na Ba Akong Mag-alaga ng Kuting?  which was published last year and Gaano Ba Kalayo ang Paaralan? which he launched last Saturday at SM North EDSA. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend  his launching and book signing  because it was too late when I found it out on his Facebook status. Besides, my copy of his YA was not with me.

I admit that after reading TOLITS, I have now this desire to buy all Gojo Cruz’s books I have read already. I should not just  read them. I want to share them with my younger sister and young nephews and nieces and keep them for the posterity. (sighs) I wish I did not have to   scrimp and save for  books that make my mouth water whenever I see and touch them at NBS.

Book Title: TOLITS:  

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

The Giver by Lois Lowry: A Book Review

thegiverI am a realistic person. Maybe if American philosopher, William James, were still alive, he could describe me as pragmatic. I believe that that is the way everything in the world is. I do not believe in Elysium as in the movie played by oomph daddy, Matt Damon or in Utopia , the superannuated idea of Thomas Moore. I do not even believe in the geographical places   such as Paradise and Hell as in what the Christians believe, let alone the Purgatory described in Divine Comedy which is totally feared by deeply religious readers unless we can figuratively describe them on Earth.  Just I am staunch. Maybe I have been weaned on my background in social sciences. Maybe I am still ignorant less than people who believe in seven virgins as does the ISIS. So, with this perception, there is no wonder I did not appreciate this book, The Giver. I cannot bear with the conspicuous inconsistencies of the story. There are some parts I do not find fascinating.

Readers may   understand that dystopian   and/or utopian stories could be fictional. They are the pigment to the authors’ imagination. In other words, they do not happen in real life as what readers put it. However, for me, fictions could be drawn from personal experiences since writing  is an art, an expression of oneself. So, suffice to say  that  we are all in harmony that when you read such stories, they are   fictitious. Enough said! … But for me, I appreciate dystopian and/or utopian stories more  if they  still cling  to the real world. Sort of oxymoron. I wish the late scientist Stephen Hawking could help me expound what I am trying to drive at here. ( Bleary-eyed)

Ok. Take it easy, Joey. Don’t mind the sea of bright readers, notably those friends of yours who gave it more than four stars lying in waiting, here on Goodreads. (Taking a deep breath)

The first understanding is that the setting is Utopian. Everyone  just in that you-know-what place mentioned in the book is equal, has kind of socialistic and communistic life. You know as in what   life in North Korea   or in Russia before thought to be  like; everyone  has comfortable life; everyone does not need to be capitalistic  to one another; everyone is given whatever job can be assigned to them according to their personality or life styles while growing up. What a superb concept! However, as you reach the core of the story, you realize that you-know-what place turns out to be dystopian. Aha, Moore’s concept is a trash!  Jonas, the main protagonist, in the end, has found out that everything  turns out to be the greatest show on earth, mimicking Richard Dawkins’s book title.

I believe that dystopian and/or utopian stories  are more appreciated   if :

  • people can relate to the dystopian and/or utopian situations; they may happen in their daily life. For instance, if authors write something which concept is about a paradise where people  thought to be living without suffering  from pains someday, as in life is peaceful and physically comfortable, it could be imaginably understood  because people may interpret the existence of such geographical place, for there are many religions in the world.
  • the story could be beyond belief, logic, and scientific  explanation. Why not make it interesting, something that readers may be ignorant of since   they may have no background in the branches of science? For instance, magic witchcraft in Harry Potter series , but  young readers are enchanted by it. Besides, it is a common superstition elsewhere.

In comparison to the The Giver, there are some parts considered an insult to someone’s intelligence (Don’t take the expression literally.) such as:

  1. In the story, The Giver said to Jonas that love does not exist .

My comment: I believe in this   proposition, but wait, all along , all the characters express love as does The Giver.

  1. Superficial settings like some people keep an eye on   everyone in the you-know-what  place, so don’t ever hide anything such as food  or your acts or talks about something excluded from the rules.

My comment:  I wonder about this imaginary  place. Is it a colossal machine? There is an instance that Jonas and The Giver can talk tête-à-tête  when turning something  off which can record their voices. I think I should watch its movie adaptation.

If you argue that it is the voice of the Highest Person which symbolizes God in that you-know-what place, how about the One in Elsewhere? I am sure you may argue that it is the same voice of the Highest Person. Aha, that you-know-who is omnipresent after all, a lame excuse for the famous atheist writer, George H. Smith.

  1. Cringing symbols  like a bicycle   for a rite of passage.

My comment: Of no taste

  1. Releasing babies that are found to be useless or people who give up on their responsibilities by  means of injection or whatever euthanasiac  paraphernalia mentioned in the story.

My comment: The story may suggest that life could  be taken away by the hands of humans, but it appears that humans are like robots dumped when they are no longer useful.

  1. The age when a child finishes her/ his childhood

My comment: This is what I have been blubbering about. This concept could   make someone cringe. We know that this is unacceptable to the law of human development. We all   universally know that we never stop growing as a child at the age of 12. This is the fact that the writer cannot distort. We can justify this fact. So can young readers.  Do you know what I mean to say, buddy?

I wish I could ask Lois Lowry about my points in question, but I forgot that she wrote it in the 1990’s. Besides, this is supposed to be for young adults. May be readers at that early age  are not mentally mature enough to understand the story. Just they are fascinated at it.  I wonder how a  young smart Alec muses it over.

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I didn’t like it.)