The Starlight Barking

Spoiler alert you dummies! Don’t spoil it for yourselves – but since so few people read this book, let it be a guilty pleasure.

This world is entirely different from the first book. Only dogs are awake (other than the two cats and Tommy). Perhaps this is the world that some dogs dream of at night and in their thoughts, a world where humans are non-existing, where dogs are the almighty. Here, dogs have human abilities and even more such as “metaphysical” powers. This term was applied by Cadpig and used by Missus who though may not be good with directions is quite capable of understanding more abstract concepts, in which Pongo is not so good – of course, he has his areas of expertise as well! In this special world, dogs can open doors just by thinking about doing so, they do not need to bark out loud, but instead, all they need to do is send thoughts by thought waves which can travel to different continents. Dogs can swoosh (going incredibly fast and barely touching the ground) and reach places in a couple of hours where normally it could’ve taken days. On this day, dogs can feel like a racehorse galloping across the pasture, even like cars! But this isn’t the dream world for most dogs, Pongo and Missus included.

This is the little-read sequel

They feel too strongly a pull to their beloved humans to leave earth and go off to a far away star with Siruis who will give them a life similar to the one these dogs have experienced for a day. And perhaps, this one unique day of metaphysical powers was a good thing. It helped dogs such as Pongo satisfy their lure to adventure such as the one he experienced at Hell Hall years ago, without leaving their pets forever. In the beginning of the book, Pongo’s desire to have adventure and the way he feels guilty about it as well is shown. How could he think of leaving his humans? Yet, his emotions couldn’t be helped. As it said in Starlight Barking, “Surely he had everything he wanted? Why, then, was he sometimes just a little bit discontented?” And then you will see Pongo admitting to himself that he had been a bit wistful as he watched dogs leave Heaven Hall to their new owners/pets, where new and exciting adventures would occur. So, one could look at this special day with the Dog Star as a good event that would be beneficial for both us and dogs. We should be thankful that though our owners needed a special day for themselves, they are not yet ready to leave us forever and hopefully they never will, for us humans treasure our owners/pets and hopefully they treasure us too.


I think that Memorial Day is a day that we get to remember the people that fought in war for us. They put their life on the line just to protect us from other countries. To veterans that are still alive, I want to ask you: how was it during the war? When did you not feel scared, nervous or anxious? Imagine going to war face to face with bullets flying all over the place. I would never risk my life because my biggest fear is dying. And going to war has lots of deaths. War is probably the one thing I’m most scared of. I’m also here to say thank you for putting your body on the line just to save random strangers in the U.S.A such as myself. I’ve also learned that oaths are a very serious thing to deal with. If you don’t do it and you were trying out for being a soldier, I think bad stuff will happen. I have learned a lot about Memorial Day and knowing what it takes to enter military service, and to thank all soldiers for protecting us.


The Roald Dahl novel-plus-sequel on Charlie and Willy Wonka, which are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, are hilarious, fun novels. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features 6 kids who enter the factory, and have lots of adventures, but only Charlie ends up coming out. The Great Glass Elevator, which is occurs immediately following the action in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has intense scenes, such as a space battle with Vermicious Knids, and back at the Chocolate Factory with the Wonka’s new creation: Vita-Wonk and Wonka-Vite.

Charlie grows throughout the books: he learns to trust Mr. Wonka, and is liberated to see all the amazing things in the world, such as his factory, and not his other limited, poverty-stricken life. Why Mr. Wonka chooses Charlie, is because he notices that all of the other kids have flaws in their personalities – they’re either greedy, disruptive, dumb, or arrogant. Also, I think he knew that they would get into some sort of trouble, so when Charlie was the last one left, he gave the factory to him. 

         I thought that the Knids in the Great Glass elevator were very creative, and I have literally no idea how Roald Dahl came up with them: “The greenish-brown skin and a shiny wettish appearance and there were wrinkles in it. About three quarters of the way up, in the widest part, there were two large round eyes as big as tea-cups… There were no other features, no nose or mouth or ears, but the entire egg-shaped body was itself moving very very slightly, pulsing and bulging gently here and there as though the skin were filled with some thick fluid.” Although these alien creatures are incredible, I don’t believe in them, and how could Roald Dahl have ever seen one?

Also, about the US presidency, I thought it was funny and cool how Roald Dahl included the president in the book. It was funny because clearly the president was dumb, and there was so much chaos between everyone; from the chief wanting to shoot everyone, to the astronauts getting almost eaten, to the falling of the elevator through the factory, this book is replete with exciting twists and turns.

One of my favorite chapters is in the Great Glass Elevator, when Grandma Georgina is 352 years old because of Vita-Wonk, and the only thing she remembers about her childhood is the Mayflower. “Charlie, who had been sitting on the edge of the bed, suddenly jumped up. His face was shining with excitement. ‘If I said the name, Grandma, would you remember it then?’ ‘I might, Charlie. Yes. I think I might: The Mayflower!’” Then she remembers the boat and they are able to figure out how old she is. 

What I think of Charlie’s future is that he will be much better when he is living in the chocolate factory, eating lots of chocolate every day instead of cabbage. The Great Glass Elevator was an amazing book that has limitless creativity, from humor to adventure, to literally running away from egg shaped aliens.  


Roald Dahl’s double edged sword: forged out of pure fiction and realism

by Jason Qin

Roald Dahl liked to use realism and surrealism as techniques to help deliver the story. Dahl is known to use realism to create empathy in his children’s books and unrealistic ideas in his adult short stories to keep his audience thinking. 

One example of this is the scenes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before Charlie Bucket takes the tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The level of poverty Charlie’s family is going through is realistic, even though it may have some hyperbole involved. One reason why I think that Dahl does this is to have the children that are reading this root for Charlie and not the other kids who are depicted as disgusting and undeserving. 

An example of Dahl’s surrealism in his adult short stories is “The Swan.” In the story, “The Swan,” the recklessness of Ernie and Raymond towards Peter is unrealistic. First, they throw him onto a train track because he might have been on* them, as the text says

“‘What’s this?’ he snapped. ‘Who you spyin’ on?’


‘Don’t lie, Watson. Them things is used for spyin’! I’ll bet you was spyin’on us! That’s right, ain’t it? Confess it!’”

Since he didn’t die, they made him fetch their catch after they illegally hunted in a bird sanctuary. Then they shoot him in the leg. No one would do that to make someone jump off a tree and try to fly. One quote in the story says, “Blimey! You got a ruddy nerve, ain’t you? I’m telling you for the last time, if you don’t stick ‘em up I’ll pull the trigger!” This quote shows the extremism of Ernie. One reason why I think that Dahl does this is to address a message to the adult readers. Even though this seems nearly impossible, Dahl wanted to tell the world that bullying can go very far One connection I can make between Dahl’s children’s books and his adult short stories is that he likes to use hyperbole to help deliver the story. Another example of Dahl’s surrealism in his adult short stories was the skill of the hitchhiker. It is nearly impossible to find someone who can be that great of a pickpocket, or “fingersmith” as the hitchhiker likes to call himself. That skill would only come with supernatural abilities. Like when he stole the belt, the shoelace, the ring, the books that the policeman had, and a bunch of other possessions of the driver: these examples of the hitchhiker’s skill show that unbelievable things still can be possible (maybe). They are called supernatural because they are out of the normal understanding of the world. Dahl used a made-up character to help the protagonist avoid getting fined for speeding, and that creates an anti-police aura. Dahl made this story to convey the idea that power can be abused.

However, the opposite may be true as well. In the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there are many unrealistic concepts, like the Oompa Loompas. The Oompa Loompas are tinier than dwarves, and come from this fictional place, Loompa Land, where they live on caterpillars and starve, and they had a craving for cocoa beans even though they have never tasted one. Then, Willy Wonka found them to work at his chocolate factory. This contrasts with the stark realism of the beginning of the book, where Charlie and his family subsist on cabbage soup, and where Mr. Bucket is the only breadwinner, working tirelessly in the realistic, if almost absurd job of screwing on toothpaste caps onto toothpaste tubes.

In the story “Parson’s Pleasure,” Mr. Boggis is an antique furniture expert. Mr. Boggis finds a Chippendale commode inside of the house of Bert and Claud, and their nosy neighbor, Rummins. The Chippendale commodes are these antique drawers, but they’re worth a lot of money. “He knew, as does every other dealer in Europe and America, that among the most celebrated and coveted examples of eighteenth‑century English furniture in existence are the three Chippendale commodes”. At the end of the story, Bert, Claud, and Rummins saw the legs off because Mr. Boggis said that he needed the legs, even though he wanted the whole thing. “Parson’s Pleasure” is a realistic fiction story, as the Chippendale commodes are real.

Dahl has figured out how to combine these two techniques: realistic ideas and surrealism, and have them blend instead of clashing. This ability allows him to create the stories he has created within his lifetime. 

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he used realism to brew empathy between the reader and Charlie, and used the opposite to describe the other children. Augustus Gloop, a rich, gluttonous slob who only cares about eating, his taste buds, and filling that tummy. Veruca Salt, a spoiled rich snob who has conned her parents into an endless loop of giving her what she wants, leading her to her loss of possibly inheriting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee live lives that revolve around an inanimate object, which they practically worship: gum and TV respectively. Then you have Charlie, a kid living in extreme poverty, and yet he is the closest one of them to a normal person. As Grampa Joe said, “I can’t wait to hear about which undeserving kid is going to be picked next.” Augustus, Veruca, Violet, and Mike all have the same fatal flaw: their greed. Everyone in the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory seems to be greedy, except for Charlie and his family, Willy Wonka, and the shopkeeper, who sold Charlie the chocolate bar with a golden ticket. 

In the story “The Hitchhiker,” Dahl uses surrealism to create the character, the hitchhiker. The hitchhiker’s supernatural ability is the main focus of the story, as he saved the narrator from a hefty fine, as a quote says, “‘That’s impossible,’ I said. ‘You’d have had to undo the buckle and slide the whole thing out through the loops all the way round. I’d have seen you doing it.’” The realism in this story is the cop. Thuggish and mean, the idea behind the cop’s traits is very realistic, as some people easily view cops as power-hungry and power-abusing men who have no problem with bullying and terrifying people. “Like an executioner approaching his victim, the cop came strolling slowly toward us,” as the narrator puts it. Dahl also uses the cop to symbolize a lot of other people with the same traits. This story puts surrealism vs. realism to create a worthwhile conflict. Dahl took a surreal concept to battle against a real problem. Through this analysis, I have realized that Dahl likes to stretch these boundaries. This surrealism vs. realism technique has also appeared in Matilda, which is about a girl with telekinesis struggling against her unaccepting parents and her bully of a principal aptly named Mrs. Trunchbull.

I can conclude that Roald Dahl knows how to use realism and surrealism. In his children’s books, realism gives a foundation to the wackiness; for his adult stories, surrealism conveys how wild our experience can be and what a variety of extremes there are to find. 


Spoiler Alerts, kids!

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas was not what I was expecting. Firstly, I did not think that it was going to be like a musical with a lot of singing and dancing. The title fits the plot very well. If you haven’t watched the movie, skip this because I am going to spoil it: Jack, the skeleton, discovers Christmas Town and wants to take over Christmas. He works and works his butt off preparing for the big day. Having the other people, the Halloween characters (who all live in Halloween Town), help by making presents (filled with scary toys), making a Santa costume, and capturing Santa. Sally tries to warn Jack that this day will go horribly wrong, but he doesn’t listen. On the big day, he delivers scary toys to children and then gets attacked by artillery until it hits his reindeers and his sleigh explodes. He feels very sorry for what he did and did not mean for it to hurt others. From this, he goes back and saves the real Santa, along with Sally who is captured by Oogie Boogie. When Santa is saved, he goes and saves the day delivering good presents to the kids. 

My favorite character was honestly, the Mayor. Although he was not shown all that much, the parts where he was there were super funny. For example, in the beginning when he goes to Jack’s house but Jack is not there and he has a meltdown. I also really like how when his emotion changes, his head turns the other way showing that he is either happy, excited and joyful or mad, angry or sad. Another character is Sally, who is a big part in the movie. She has a vision that this day will go wrong and tries everything that she can do to stop it. First she just tries to talk Jack out of it but he doesn’t listen, then she creates the fog so that the reindeer can’t see the path, and then when all that fails, she tries to go save the real Santa who is captured but then Oogie Boogie captures Sally. 

Henry Selick, the animation director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, was born on November 30, 1952. He is a major stop motion producer and famous for his productions, James and the Giant Peach, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, and his next upcoming production, Wendall and Wild. Stop motion is an animated film where puppets are moved slightly so they appear to be moving in the film. In one second of film, there are 24 frames, which means the animators have to move the puppets just a tiny bit so that they are one fluid motion in the film. 2 seconds of film takes producers about an entire workday to film. Imagine an entire day of hard work for 2 seconds of film! In The Nightmare Before Christmas, there are a lot of singing and dancing parts as I said before. That means that they would have to move the puppets’ mouth and body parts to get it to look real. In my opinion and I think for most other people, that would be very difficult because of how tiny a bit of detail they would have to move and the time it would take to produce a dancing puppet.

I think that The Nightmare Before Christmas was a pretty good movie. It was not my favorite movie but it was still pretty interesting to watch. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95% which is fantastic. Along with Common Sense media giving it a 5/5! Wow! Looks like a lot of people really like it. IMDb gave it a 8/10 which isn’t as good of a review but still incredible!

Compared to his other movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas was his best film. According to Rotten Tomatoes, a trusted review for movies and films, gave Coraline a 90%. James and the Giant Peach got a 91%. The Nightmare Before Christmas got a 95%. I am excited to see his new film, Wendall and Wind, to see what Rotten Tomatoes gives that film.

Overall, I enjoyed this film and appreciate the time it took to make as well as the hard work Henry Selick and his other producers took to make this film. It was entertaining with all the singing and fun dances. I would give it a 8/10 because I am not that big a fan of musicals but I know that they people who are would definitely enjoy it. I would recommend this to anyone whose favorite holidays are Halloween and Christmas and who like musicals. 

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