ANNA QIN

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. 



AARON HUR

The author John D. Fitzgerald had an interesting life that connected to the book that he wrote, The Great Brain. Here are some similarities that Fitzgerald had in his childhood with The Great Brain’s (Tom’s) childhood. Tom is the name of John D. Fitzgerald’s father. Also, Tom is the middle son in the book, also known as the Great Brain. John’s family lived in eastern Utah, like in the book, and had a farm with three horses. One horse was actually named Brownie, but in the book, John Fitzgerald replaced the horse with a dog named Brownie. Fitzgerald was also busy doing his chores along with his brothers like in The Great Brain, and they had their fair share of chores. After they did their share of chores, they could play or do what they wanted. The kids always went to school, like in the book, until they got the measles which meant that they had to stay quarantined until they got well. I am assuming that Fitzgerald wrote this book to tell fun stories based on his life. John D. Fitzgerald’s life didn’t always feel animated for him, so he wrote books to make his life more sparky.  



OLIVIA XU

First off, to put it out there, Miss Bianca is a very special mouse, physically and socially.

The resourceful and independent Miss Bianca

She has ermine white fur, which is unusual, and something even more special is that she has big brown eyes, while other white mice have pink or black eyes.

I am surprised that she is not snotty and self-entitled: instead, Miss Bianca is a polite little lady, and very empathetic. Most people or mice, after living in a fancy pagoda (especially the Porcelain Pagoda) without any worries except to help their master with his arithmetic problems (the boy), would get at least a little bit spoiled! Miss Bianca though, is as deferential and courteous than the other mice, and definitely even more!

Even so, shifting from the Porcelain Pagoda to the Mouse Prisoners’ Aid Society is tremendous. It’s similar to royalty mixing with common people, from riches to rags. However, Miss Bianca handled this change a lot better than a queen would handle it. I can just imagine the queen staring in disbelief at the servants mooching around the unwashed dishes in the sink and throwing a furious tantrum.

After reading the beginning of The Turret, I think that this point in life is probably very confusing and crushing for Miss Bianca.

First, she didn’t really want to resign, so she was hesitant to sign the resignation letter, but after thinking about helping the boy and writing her volume of poetry, she decided that she was obligated to stay in private life. Following this, at her retirement party she discovers someone who is being held prisoner in the old turret. Because of her nature, of course Miss Bianca wants to rescue this prisoner. After that, she realizes that this prisoner is Mandrake, an evil man who was cruel and pitiless to the poor Patience, so Miss Bianca is conflicted about whether to rescue him or not. Finally, she decides that it is her duty to rescue prisoners, even if they are vile, even though she knows that Mandrake was “completely odious.” So she announces it to the Society, but everybody hates Mandrake, so not a single mouse wants to rescue him and some hissed at Miss Bianca. This probably humiliated her and damaged her ego, because there is no doubt that she had never had this type of social problem in her life.

Miss Bianca might also be annoyed at Bernard. They have been great friends with each other for a length of time already, but when Miss Bianca wants to rescue a prisoner, Bernard turns his back on her, leaving her to do everything by herself.

She is getting her character tested differently now, in working alone. In the first two books, she had to be brave, quick, and cunning, working with other mice to rescue the prisoners. Now, she hasn’t gotten to rescue the prisoner, but is trying to be able to rescue him. Miss Bianca has already gotten put down horribly. Her determination to rescue is tested, and so is her inner strength. Also her independence. Miss Bianca must think to herself: Well, since they won’t help me, then I won’t use their help. I can do this!

And as we all know, she can.



CHLOE ZOU

The picture takes place in the Porcelain Pagoda, and more accurately in Miss Bianca’s bed with its pink silk sheets. She is worrying over her plan of rescuing Mandrake, which is the reason she is sitting up with a look of worry on her face, with her sheets crumpling down to the ground, to which she is taking no notice.

The Turret is the third book in the Rescuers series, but it is a little different than the two books before it. For one thing, this time the prisoner, unfortunately, is not innocent: in fact he is far from innocent. Also, Miss Bianca is acting by herself, unlike before, when she always acted with the Prisoners Aid Society. And to make it worse, she is not supported by anyone, including her very close friend Bernard.  Although she does get help from the Boy Scouts who are very eager, even they do not know her full plan (at least in the beginning), so it is impossible to say that the Boy Scouts really do support her. This book kind of twists everything up a little bit. But it is still based around the same idea (rescuing a prisoner) even if this prisoner might not deserve to be rescued.

Even though Miss Bianca is kind of on her own island where only the Boy Scouts help her (and they don’t know the whole plan either) she has that determination to do it and doesn’t give up. All the other mice are against her, including Bernard, who means the most to her out of all mice. Though I think that if Bernard was on her side, it wouldn’t really matter what all the other mice think. Unfortunately right now Bernard is against her, so maybe a little part of her still hurts to think that her very close friend is not on her side. All the other mice think that “setting Mandrake at liberty would be to loose a monster on the world.”

Despite what they think, she thinks differently; she believes that there is a chance for Mandrake to reform if she rescues him from the Turret, which is what makes her keep going. Before, in the previous two books, you only get a glimpse at her determined personality, but now you can see it really coming through, when her drive is what makes her continue her plan to rescue Mandrake, because if she didn’t believe Mandrake had the chance to reform in the first place, I doubt she would have kept going, or even started at all. Not everything that happens is all serious and about her determination.

It is quite funny when she asks Bernard,  “Do you perform easy rhythmic movements too, Bernard?” and he then replies with a growl, “No, I don’t.” Miss Bianca is definitely a unique mouse, and not just in the way she looks (with her white ermine fur and her sparkling silver chain), but her determined personality. But even with her great personality she is stumped about how to rescue Mandrake from the Turret – it only has one small barred window, and a staircase guarded by George and Jack. Fortunately Shuan, the Boy Scouts leader, already has a plan in the works, and Miss Bianca’s plan to rescue Mandrake is hatched. But what I think is most exciting is the sudden change near the end of the book, having to do with romance, keeping you in suspense. Margery Sharp is able to include romance, while still making this series a delightful read for children, and it is not the type that is too sappy and makes children want to throw it in the trash. In fact I think the romance adds a nice second plot that is quite enjoyable to read. 



JASON YANG

Spoiler Alert – if you have not read “An African Story” do not read the below.

Roald Dahl was not only an author but also a pilot for the Royal Air Force. His short story, “An African Story”, is profound. Dahl writes this story as if it is a manuscript that he found, as if it was not written by him. Though the story has all the trademark Dahlian wit and pacing, it is presented as having been written by a different pilot, who died three weeks after he wrote it. Additionally, it is narrated in third-person omniscient, which lends the story further proof of Dahl’s own authorship. The story is about a man named Judson who was mentally unstable and had misophonia, which is the hatred of certain sounds. In the story, we are shown a series of events that eventually end with Judson’s death. 

            After Judson is killed by the black mamba, the Old Man says “You can have his share… We don’t mind you having his share” to the snake. The reader can infer that he was grateful to the snake for ending Judson’s life as, if he continued to live, Judson would only lose more of his sanity and pose an even larger threat to the Old Man. The Old Man felt that the cow’s milk was a small price to pay for Judson’s removal and showed his gratitude by allowing the mamba to drink the milk.

            As the snake drank the cow’s milk, one can interpret that the Old Man sees its appetite as a replacement for Judson’s, for even if the snake could not be told what to do, it still is able to defend itself, and, as the cow doesn’t seem to mind, that was enough for the Old Man. However, it can also be said that the Old Man simply saw a necessity to remove Judson. Judson killed the Old Man’s dog without a legitimate reason other than it was making a repetitive sound, making comments on not only the cow’s sounds but the Old Man’s sucking of his tea as well which could foreshadow Judson attempting to kill him. The Old Man set up a trap, therefore, leading to Judson’s death.

            Another reason could be the Old Man simply feared for his own life and decided the “slobbering madman” needed to go, as it was evidently shown he was not in the right state of mind and would eventually take even wilder actions.

            The Old Man’s story teaches the moral of, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” by portraying Judson as an imminent threat towards his safety and that of his animals. Though the black mamba was dangerous, for “when one is bitten by a Black Mamba, and almost at once the poison began to work,” the Old Man treated the snake with gratitude and said; “Yes… We don’t mind your having his share” and allowed it to drink the cow’s milk.

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