RABIA MAHMOOD

“The Mildenhall Treasure” is a great story. It uses something called creative nonfiction. This is when a writer takes a real historical fact or story and uses nonfictional characters and techniques to recreate it differently. For instance, one can read a newspaper account of an event and have the same set of facts playing out in your mind, but then you can read a short story version of the same events and something happens: fictional elements adorn the nonfictional facts, and even dialogue can occur, which causes you to completely recreate the story in the theatre of your mind.

            There was a lot of creative nonfiction in “The Mildenhall Treasure”. There were times when you could definitely tell were true and others when it wasn’t. One way to tell if a part is true is to ask yourself whether or not you think it would be true. For example, when it says “This was January and it was still dark, but he could tell there hadn’t been any snow in the night.” This is most likely true because when Dahl went to interview Gordan Butcher (the main character in this story), he probably mentioned the weather and that it hadn’t snowed during that night. Another example could be the time at which Mr. Butcher woke up. In the story, it says that he woke up at around 7:00 am. This is a detail that he might have mentioned to Dahl. For the untrue or made-up parts of the story, you can also guess these. Adjectives that you wouldn’t normally tell someone if you were telling a story. “As he moved through the half-daylight over the yard to the shed where his bicycle stood”: this is an example of something that he most likely was not told at the interview, and instead made it up so the story had a flow. He was probably told this along the lines of “I went outside to the shed and hopped onto my bike.” This very well could have been what Dahl had heard and he made all of that come from a short comment from Butcher. There are plenty more examples of this throughout the story. It can be very hard to tell which parts of the story are real and which parts of the story are made up. This is because if the storyteller (Butcher) loved the detail and mentioned every little thing then it would be very hard to find little things that were not real. But the fact is, we don’t know if Butcher talk extensively to Dahl – we do know they spoke for only a few hours.

             Creative nonfiction can be used to furnish the mind, and even can use motif to touch upon theme. In this story, one motif would be “the grey sheet of metal”. This is because the story is about someone who finds Roman silver, although in the contents of the sentence it is used as a metaphor to describe the sky unfolding over Butcher’s head. Also, this phrase is used more than once in this story. Another motif could be the use of the place name, “Thistley Green”. While it is a real place near the setting of the story, perhaps Dahl uses it here because when Gordon first sees the silver below the dirt Dahl describes the color of it to be a sort of greenish color around the brim of the silver plate.

            There are plenty more spread out across the story. It can be a little difficult at first to find a motif and that is because Dahl wove in little motifs throughout the story. He took a real story which he interviewed the witness himself and transformed the cold facts into something other people could enjoy. Dahl used his creative nonfiction skill to share and make timeless the story of Gordon Butcher and how he found the Mildenhall Treasure. Dahl is an amazing writer and has shown the technique of creative nonfiction in his writing. I absolutely loved reading this thrilling story. It had lots of detail and emphasis. I had to keep thinking back on what was real and what was not. It really messed with my mind.  



ROEN SCOTT

Chapter 7
A Wind in the Door

Madeline L’Engle

Before I go deep into my writing, I want to say one of the most important things I took away from Chapter Seven. There are a LOT of big words. Mitochondria, farandole, Proginoskes, Echthroi, etc. Echthroi means enemies in Latin, by the way. So many that I had to re-read some pages A FEW times because I didn’t understand what they were saying. So, quickly I am going to relate something about mitochondria that I learned in science class. Mitochondria makes ATP or energy for the cell. Mitochondria make ATP from sugar and oxygen. Without mitochondria/energy, we cannot live. This relates to chapter seven because the Echthroi are attacking Charles Wallace’s mitochondrion and, as a result, killing them. As they kill the mitochondrion, they kill Charles Wallace. The reason why Meg, Calvin, Mr. Jenkins, Proginoskes, and Blajeny go to Metron Ariston is to fight the Echthroi. They are fighting the Echthroi to save the mitochondrion, to save Charles Wallace. Meg doesn’t know yet, but she will have to do something to overcome the Echthroi. The Echthroi are in Charles Wallace’s mitochondria, so they (Meg, Calvin, Progo, Blajeny, and Mr. Jenkins) have to go into Charles Wallace to save him. When they arrive at Metron Ariston, Meg is then able to kythe with Charles Wallace and sees that he is very sick. She sees their mother carrying his limp, weak body to his bedroom. She sees her mother putting him in bed and asking the twins to get more blankets and light the fire. She sees and hears her mother telling Charles that Meg (herself) will be back from school soon and that she will come straight up and read to him. But then, she sees Charles mumble with all the energy he has left that Meg isn’t in school… but his mother doesn’t pay attention and just brushes it off. After that, a soft fog drapes over her vision and she suddenly can’t see Charles or her mother anymore. In Metron Ariston they see another Echthroi  impersonating Mr. Jenkins and it sends a shiver down his spine. Imagine how weird it would be to see another you. I would probably react the same way I do when I see a squirrel. Scream for five seconds, run away and hide in a bush until the coast is clear. 



AARON HUR

Memorial Day is on the last Monday of every May. After the Civil War, General John A. Logan made a holiday called Decoration Day, to honor those who died in the Civil War. Then, in 1890, many cities adopted Memorial Day instead of Decoration Day as a holiday, honoring not just those who died in the Civil War, but all people who gave their lives to protect their country.

Aaron interviewed Mrs. Hur:

“Memorial Day Is a day where we remember those that gave their life, and they sacrificed everything for their country. It gives us the opportunity to be grateful for all of our military and the freedom they provide us with. It makes us stop and remember why Memorial Day was started in the first place, and helps me remember that it started after the Civil War where our nation was divided, and we fought for the principle that all men and women are equal. Every day we take for granted the sacrifices our military faced, and we would not be here today without it.”

Aaron interviewed Mr. Hur:

“Memorial Day is a day for remembering people who have passed away, for both those one knows intimately and those who made broader sacrifices for the greater good – these men and women are remembered. People celebrate people who died in military action, for great causes like civil rights, and military family who are no longer with us. Overall, it is a day to remember people who died serving the Constitution of our country.”

Here’s an example from the United States Air Force:



CAROLINE CHANG

John Bellairs uses the verb ‘worm’ to show that Lewis’s intentions are less than noble. He uses it to show that Lewis thinks that Tarby is like a god, and that he is just a minion that has to earn the favor of his master. Lewis thinks that in order to earn Tarby’s favor he has to do something that will impress Tarby. Lewis thinks that if he learns to ice skate, he will impress Tarby, and win favor with Tarby. ‘If he got good enough he might be able to worm his way back into Tarby’s favor.’ When Jonathan and Lewis finally found the skate, Bellairs makes it seem that Lewis encounters it as ‘a short aluminum ski for a midget.’ Is finding one skate a symbol here? Was it purposefully placed here to represent how Lewis is midgeting himself by pursuing Tarby (a false friend?).

A week before Christmas Lewis encounters his thought-to-be-dead Aunt Mattie at midnight. She is wearing a wrinkled black dress, and heavy shoes with thick heels. There was ‘a shaking blue light’ that filled the air around Aunt Mattie. This made the encounter so much more terrifying. ‘Lewis even thought he smelled kerosene – her house, her furniture, and her clothing had always reeked of it.’ Lewis remembered so much, and I think that this could have been his memory turned into a vision. The scene gives me the creeps with the blue light, and the aunt who has risen from the dead. All of this is supposed to give the reader a creepy midnight feeling. 

I think this might have happened to try and show Lewis that if he needed to worm his way back into someone’s favor, then he shouldn’t be friends with that person. I think that when Aunt Mattie said, ‘“Well, Lewis? Aren’t you glad to see me?”’ it is to show Lewis that Tarby would treat Lewis like garbage even if he could get back. Who should Lewis be happy to see?

A week after this experience Lewis has a magical Christmas, where he is given a Christmas egg. The Christmas egg throws light on the grown-up life of Lewis, and who he becomes. When John Bellairs writes ‘But it was not until he was a grown-up man, working as an astronomer at Mount Palomar, that he was able to discover the magic property of the magic egg’ it makes me think that Lewis just puts the magic egg away in his closet or toy box and then later discovers it when he is all grown-up. This could lead to a whole story about how he rediscovers the egg, and the different magical properties of the egg. Also, if the egg can show different planets, and Lewis works as an astronaut, then that could lead to him making some alien discovery, or other groundbreaking space discovery. Some of the other Uncle Jonathan magic during that Christmas might play a role in the other books too, las in our expectations for variations of the decor for future Christmases. The Fuse Box Dwarf could be used again in a different holiday like April Fools in order to show how the Barnavelts’ celebrate different holidays. This could lead to a whole book about different holidays. There could also be a reason to all the decorating when John Bellairs wrote ‘Jonathan did a lot of other things that Christmas,’ implying that Jonathan didn’t usually do a lot during Christmas, but because it was Lewis’ first Christmas at 100 High Street Jonathan wanted to make it the best.

Although there are only two obviously magical items in this chapter, some of the non-magical descriptions create a really wonderful visual like ‘he put strong lamps behind the stained-glass windows, so that they threw marvelous patterns of red and blue and gold and purple on the dark sparkling snow outside.’ But how can we forget the other magic item: the Fuse Box Dwarf. Lewis was not at all surprised by this dwarf. He actually felt that this little man should be pitied rather than censured. I imagine that the little man jumps out with his arms raised up. I also imagine this dwarf to wear an elf suit and have a red beard. When he yells “Dreeb” it’s more of a screech at the top of his lungs like “skreeee”.

In the days that followed Christmas Lewis tried to enjoy himself. ‘He kept thinking that Jonathan’s magic show was meant to cover up what was happening to the house.’ Lewis encountered a ‘shimmering’ which he thought was like the house was going to disappear. I think that it means that there might be an overuse of magic, or that something big is about to happen. Lewis thought he was losing his mind, and there is a sort of clear indication when John Bellairs wrote, ‘Lewis forgot what day it was, what he was after, and at times almost forgot who he was.’ The lights that flicked on his bedroom walls in his dreams were not leaf-lights, ‘but rags and patches of orange light.’ This might be some more indication that Lewis is going crazy. Maybe he is magic drunk. When spring finally comes around, Lewis looks outside his house and discovers that the Hanchett house was overgrown with spiraea hedge. He also noticed that the only visitor his new neighbor got was Mr. Hammerhandle. He literally bumped into Mr. Hammerhandle once or twice. On one occasion Mr Hammerhandle calls Lewis a little snip. ‘“You little snip! You’re looking to have your throat cut out, aren’t you?”’



ROEN SCOTT

To me, the poem “The Dong with the Luminous Nose” by Edward Lear, is a rather intriguing story. It’s not one of those stories when the prince (the Dong) finds his princess (the Jumbly girl), gets married and lives happily-ever-after. The Dong has lost his Jumbly Girl when she went back to sea in the sieve with the other Jumblies, and still goes out overland in search for his Jumbly Girl and… is still out there, always looking for her. This ending was a nice change from the usual, but it also makes me curious why it ended like that. Why didn’t the author make it so that the Dong finally finds his true love and they sail off together in the moonlight and live harmoniously together? Was he just sick of the ending in every story (like I can be), or did this sort of experience happen to him?

Part of me wonders if he found his true love, but it somehow got away, and he didn’t get his happily-ever-after, maybe like he had dreamed about. This ending made me very curious – it made me hope that the author (when he was still alive) had made a sequel, and there was more to the story than it seemed. I want to know if the Dong ever found her, if they ever fell in love again, if all he did to try to find her paid off. I was also wondering why he chose to make the nose the part of his body that became luminous. Was it just random, or was there a meaning to it, one that I hadn’t noticed? All in all, I enjoyed this poem: it made me ask questions, be curious, and I liked that. I liked that I didn’t know everything there was to know about it, and that the story didn’t need to be like every other one to be amazing and unique.

Alison Bizzaro adds to the conversation:

This poem is extremely odd in an intriguing way. There is not a thing in this poem that makes sense, but it makes me curious to find out why such a strange poem was written. This poem is most likely famous for the same reason I am intrigued by it. It’s so odd, almost surreal, but it makes you curious. This poem also uses very colorful visual descriptions, such as “a lonely spark with silvery rays/ piercing the coal-black night” and “Slowly it wanders,–pauses,–creeeps,–/Anon it sparkles,–flashes and leaps;” which keep any readers of this poem interested in the poem. The illustrations give a clear idea of what these clearly made up beings look like. It would be quite difficult to imagine what such specific characters could possibly look like, and the illustrations help to paint a picture and set a tone for the poem.

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