Tuesday, 31 July 2012

John BOYNE (2006) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
By Vanesa Porras Arbeláez, 2º E.S.O. A
Bruno was the youngest son in a wealthy family from Berlin. Due to his father’s work in the army he has to move Auschwiz. Bruno is not happy with the move as all his friends are in Berlin. When they arrived, he didn’t know what to do. He was bored all the time as he didn’t know anybody and his sister did not want to play with him.
One day he left the house alone and went to see the fence he had been watching for days through his window and met a boy named Samuel, who lived on the other side, and became friends with him. Samuel has cropped hair and is always wearing the same pyjamas.
Bruno does not know what life is like behind the fence. He is very naive and believes it’s some sort of a game and, as any curious boy, he wants to go inside. The day Bruno's mother decides to go back to Berlin he goes to say goodbye to his friend. Through a hole in the fence, Samuel gives Bruno a pair of pyjamas similar to the one he is always wearing, and Bruno follows him in. When he doesn’t return home his parents are worried. His father sends soldiers to look for him and when they only find his clothes lying next to the fence of the concentration camp his father realizes the horrible truth. From that moment on he stops caring about everything.
I think the main theme in this book is the innocence of childhood. Bruno and Samuel share a great deal in common but perhaps what is most obvious is the childhood innocence which characterizes both boys. Bruno is unaware that his father is a Nazi commandant and that his home is in the outskirts of Auschwitz. Samuel, imprisoned in the camp, doesn’t seem to understand the severity of his situation. When his father goes missing, Samuel does not understand that he has gone to the gas chamber. Both boys are very naive and do not understand their current situations, which puts them in danger later on in the book when Bruno crosses the fence and goes into the concentration camp.
War and discrimination are the other themes present in the book, the situation in which Bruno and his family are living, next to a concentration camp and yet denying what is happening in front of their eyes. They discriminate Jews and use them as servants. They are taken into concentration camps, where they are tortured and forced to work and are killed in gas chambers. Bruno and Samuel live surrounded by this world. Yet, they are completely unaware of the gravity of the situation, which makes them the only two characters in the book that do not judge anyone by their race and simply become friends because they like each other.
I would not recommend this book to young children, as it can be tough, but I would recommend it to teenagers and adults as they may find it a bit more interesting and less hard. I think it’s a book that deals with a very delicate topic, such as the Nazi times, and sensitive people may find it harsh.

This book has been recommended before. See 27/07/, 20/01/ & 21/01/2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Suzanne COLLINS (2009), The Hunger Games, Scholastic.
By Benjamin Simon, 2º E.S.O. A
The story is about a game called The Hunger Games. It is a celebration by 12 districts, they have to choose a boy and a girl from each district and then they are sent to a field to kill each other. When the people arrive at district 12, Katniss’s sister was selected but Katniss shouted out that she would volunteer for her sister. So, she and Peter (the boy selected from district 12) went together to the Hunger Games. Throughout the games they pretended to be in love. At the end of the games Peter and Katniss won the Hunger Games and then they were actually in love.
I recommend this book to ages ten and higher because it has some difficult words and there is strong violence throughout.

This book has been recommended before. See 23rd April (two posts)

Friday, 27 July 2012

John BOYNE (2006), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Definitions
By Paula Antelo, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL

Bruno is an eight year old boy. He and his family move to the countryside after his father is promoted to commandant of a Nazi concentration camp. His wife and offspring do not know too much about his job. Bruno is only allowed to play in the garden of their house.
But one day he disobeys his parents, treks through the woods, and finds an isolated field, which he believes to be a farm. There, he meets Shamuel. Throughout the story, they become really good friends, and Shamuel tells him that some time ago, he and his familiy were forced to go there and wear a striped pyjamas, but he doesn´t know why.
Another day, Shamuel tells Bruno that his father is missing, and as Bruno always dreamt of being an explorer, decides to help his friend. But they do not realize how this adventure would end.
The part I liked the best is when Bruno’s mother discovers her husband’s job, and decides to leave the house. But then, she realizes that her son is missing. Bruno is in the Nazi concentration camp helping Shamuel to find his father. They are both wearing a striped pyjamas…
This is the part I really liked the most because, just before the story finishes, they both say that they are best friends, and that they can always count on each other.
This is absolutely one of my favourite books. I love the way the writer tells the story, every moment, every feeling. I also find it so easy to read and understand. You can learn many things from the story as well, because it is something which happened in the past.
People of all ages could read this book, in my opinion. It is worth it. Absolutely. It is definitely not a waste of money or time.
If you also want to see the film, go to:

Thursday, 26 July 2012

MCCULLEY (1919), The Mark of Zorro, Macmillan Readers, A2 1300 Headwords
By Patricia Maldonado, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL
It tells the story of Don Diego Vega, the outwatdly foppish son of a wealthy "ranchero", Don Alejandro, in the old Spanish California. Seeing the oppression of the Governor, he decides to take justice into his own hands and becomes “the Zorro”, protecting people in need, from the Governor's men. That's why people such as Captain Ramón, want to catch him.
But then Zorro meets Señorita Lolita, and they fall in love. However, her father, Don Carlos Pulido, wants her to get married to another man. At the same time, Sergeant Gonzales finds out the friendship between the Zorro and Fray Felipe, and later Captain Ramón discovers that the Zorro's father is Don Alejandro Vega, and blackmails him. Finally, Zorro and Captain Ramón fight and Zorro wins (obviously) and he gets the girl and freedom for all California.
The part I liked the best was when Zorro meets Señorita Lolita, talks with her and disappears riding his horse in the middle of the night. It was quite awesome the way he tried to impress her. I also like the parts when Captain Ramón gets bananas when he has news of Zorro, when Zorro actually mocks him or when his plans go wrong. Those are very funny moments.
I recommend this book to all ages. It's very easy to read and you can learn some history, too. It has a little bit of each genre (romance, action, humour...) and I think that's a good point as well.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

L.J SMITH (1991), The Vampire Diaries (The Awakening), Harper Paperbacks
By Patricia Bonelo, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL
The story is basically about a girl called Elena Gilbert who falls in love with Stefan Salvatore, who is the new citizen of Fells Church, the town where the story takes place. At first she doesn’t know who Stefan actually is, but finally she discovers he is a vampire. While their love-story develops, Stefan’s brother appears in the town to make Stefan’s life harder than it already is, but he also falls in love with Elena and a fight for Elena’s love starts between the two brothers. Meanwhile, Elena discovers that she looks exactly alike another vampire called Katherine. Katherine existed hundreds of years before, and she was the one who turned the two brothers into vampires. The two brothers also fought for Katherine’s love.
The main theme is the unconditional and the dangerous love between a vampire and a human.
The part I liked the best is when Elena discovers she looks exactly like Katherine, a vampire who was the old love of the two brothers and turned them into vampires to make their love fight endless. Then, she tries to convince Damon she is not Katherine, and she is in love with Stefan. I liked this part the most because I couldn’t stop reading until it ended.
I would recommend this book to teenagers who like horror stories, because the characters are also teenagers, and it is a fiction book based on vampires
Winston GROOM (1994) Forrest Gump, Penguin Readers (2008), A2, 1700 Headwords
By Lucía Marín, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL
The book is about Forrest Gump. He tells his life while he is sitting, waiting for the bus. He is a little mentally retarded. He comes from Greenbow, Alabama. He met Jenny in his first day of class and since that moment they were good friends. Forrest fell in love with Jenny but she was always with other boys. Jenny had a son by Forrest, but he didn't know anything about his son until the end of the book.
My favourite part is the end when he is reunited with Jenny and he meets his son, and then ...
I recommend the book to all age groups because it is an interesting story.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Victor HUGO, Les Misérables; Penguin Readers (2008), B2, 2300 Headwords
By Javier García Navarro, 1º Bachillerato A, EFL
The story begins with Jean Valjean who is released from prison and, thanks to an act of kindness made by a bishop, becomes a new man. He gets a new name, Monsieur Madeleine and builds a successful life and career in Montreuil.
Fantine, who is fired from her job, has to pay the Thénardiers for them to take care of her daughter, Cosette; but actually they spend all the money on themselves. Valjean tries to help Fatine to get her daughter back but she dies. Later M. Javert, who is a police inspector, catches Jean and sends him back to prison, but he escapes and leaves the city. Valjean finds Fantine’s daughter, Cosette, at the Thénardiers’ inn and he adopts her, after paying a huge amount of money to the Thénardiers. Then they move to Paris.
They live more adventures, but you’ll have to read the book to find out.
The part I found most interesting was when the Thénardiers told the truth to Marius and Cosette, but when they were going to apologize to Valjean, he had already died. That shows, in my opinion, that we should not leave anything for tomorrow when we can to it today, as it happened to Marius: if he had talked with Jean before, he could have made up with him and thanked him for having saved him.
I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults, because this is a story which deals with poverty and war, not suitable for younger children.

Maya ANGELOU I know why the caged birds sings, Penguin Readers
By Carlos Anguera 1ºBachillerato B, EFL
Marguerite Angelou, called Maya by her friends, was a black woman who lived in the thirties. In those times, black people were considered inferior. Maya, who´s the narrator, tells how the unfair society treated black people, and the problems she had to face, in order to survive.
Although it is the writer's biography, it is an entertaining book because her life is really interesting (normally biographies they are boring but this one is not). I give it a seven out of ten.
I recommend it to people from 10 to 18 years of age because it is interesting to know what life was like for black people years ago.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Charles DICKENS (1837 to 1839), Oliver Twist, Oxford Bookworms (1998), B2, 2500 Headwords
By Paloma Vela, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL
When Oliver Twist is born, his mother dies; that’s why he is sent to a workhouse where he is mistreated and exploited. Therefore, Oliver escapes from the workhouse to London. On his way he bumps into “the Artful Dodger”, who welcomes him to his gang (Fagin’s gang). Once there, Oliver realises that he is hosted by a gang of criminals. Fagin aims to educate him in order to turn Oliver into a criminal, too. One day, while Fagin and company are trying to rob - a gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, Oliver runs away and after some misunderstandings he is welcomed by this man in his house. But Oliver is kidnapped by Nancy, Fagin’s friend.
One day, Oliver is forced to enter a house in order to steal for them, but the next morning he decides to go there again and, fortunately, he is well received by Mrs.Maylie and Rose, who decide to protect him. After some discoveries, Oliver gets to know the truth about his life...
I liked the book because it is exciting and intriguing. Also, because it is about poverty, a very common theme in our world. The story is a bit cruel but at least it ends happily.
The parts of the book that I liked the best are those in which Oliver discovers the truth about his birth.

Friday, 20 July 2012

CURTIS Richard, [2008] Four Weddings and a Funeral, Penguin Readers
By Luis Cabrero García, 1º Bachillerato A, EFL
The book talks about a group of friends (Charles, Tom, …), all of them single, in an age range when all their other friends are becoming married. In one wedding, Charles met Carrie, a girl whom he fell in love with. After spending the night together, Carrie had to go back to the USA. Charles waited for the next wedding to see her again, but when she arrived, she was with a man to whom she was engaged to be married. -
I liked the parts in the first wedding because I thought it was very funny and the situations are really incredible. Then, when Charles met Carrie, the book became more boring. It’s better at the beginning.
I would recommend the book to anyone in our age group more or less or older people because it contains some comedy that is not easy to grasp by all ages.

This book has been recommended before. See March, May and July 2011
Susan HILL, The Woman in Black, Macmillan Readers (2008), A2, 1300 Headwords,
By Lucia Marin 1º Bachillerato B, EFL
Arthur Kipps attended Alice Drablow’s funeral to sort out some matters in her house. At the funeral, Arthur saw a woman dressed in black. When he asked his guide, Samuel Daly, about her, he said he had not seen her. Arthur saw the woman in black again in a graveyard, but again she disappeared. He looked at Mrs Drablow’s old letters to a woman called Jennet Humprey, who had given her illegitimate son to Drablow to be looked after for her. He found out that Drablow had forbidden Jennet to see her son again, and that her son drowned in the mash while returning home. After this, Samuel told Arthur that the woman in black is Jennet Humprey’s ghost, who is seeking revenge, and that she will kill the child of anyone who sees her.
The best part for me is when Arthur discovers the letters, because I didn’t understand the story before this moment and when I read this part I started to think that it is a really interesting book.
I would recommend The Woman in Black to teenagers who like mystery and fiction and to people who have seen the film, because the book is a little bit different. I saw the film and I didn’t like it, but I like the book.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Doris LESSING, THE GRASS IS SINGING, Penguin Readers, B2, 2300 Headwords
By Ana García, 1º Bachillerato EFL
The Grass is singing tells the story of a white woman in a society divided by colour and dominated by injustice. Mary Turner, daughter of poor farmers born in Africa, becomes a hardworking and independent girl until the day she hears some friends say that she would never marry. She looks for a husband because to be like the rest of the circle. She marries a poor African farmer and has to move to his little house in the veldt. She penetrates into a life completely different from anything she had ever imagined. She hates the little house, the natives that work in the farm and she also hates Dick at times. But especially she hates the loneliness. She is a victim of despair, who misses her life in town. Little by little Mary’s feelings change from disappointment to madness until tragedy comes to her life.
          The part I liked the best was when, after one attempt to return to her life in town, she stayed on the farm, looking at the horizon and fighting against the idea that happiness, which she needed so desperately, would never come. I have chosen this part because from this moment in the story, she shows her feelings and mood changes and the book becomes more intriguing.
          I would recommend this book to those people who are interested in learning about society during the 30’s and 40’s in Rhodesia, that was dominated by the White and their attitudes and habits, and where the native Africans were second-class citizens. 

This book was recommended in 2011

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Victor HUGO, Les Miserables, Penguin Readers, B2  2300 Headwords
By Andrea Sanjurjo, 1º Bachillerato B, EFL

This book tells the story of Jean Valjean, who was jailed when he was young because he had stolen a loaf of bread. He spends some years in prison and when he is freed he meets a bishop. His life changes when he buys a factory in the town and starts to get money. He falls in love with Cossette, Fantine´s daughter, and he decides to protect her from everybody while her mum is looking for a job in Paris (Cossette and Fantine are poor) . Jean thinks that since he is helping people to improve their lives he is much happier than when he was young. Jean gets into trouble for worrying about the life of his friends 
My favourite part is when Fantine dies. I'm not sadistic but I think that the effort that she was making to improve Cossette´s life and her own is really beautiful,
This is my last book report this year but I must say that it has been my favourite. The age that I recommend it is between fourteen and seventeen,  because there are parts in the book that are difficult to understand. After reading this book I have decided that I m going to see the musical and I expect it to be amazing

This book was recommended in 2011

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Carl HIAASEN (2002) Hoot, Alfred A. Knopf
By Alicia Pliego, 2º Bachillerato EFL

Roy Eberhardt´s family moved a lot. He didn´t want to go to Florida but soon got used to it. After all, bullies are pretty much the same everywhere. However, if Dana, the new school bully, hadn’t smashed Roy’s face into the school bus window, he might never have seen the running boy, the first interesting thing Roy saw in Florida. The boy was about Roy’s age, but he was running away from the school bus, he had no books and... no shoes!!! Feeling that there was a mystery, Roy tried to trail the runner. Where was the boy going? Who were the people he met? Suddenly, life in Florida was beginning to turn interesting.

There are many themes in this book. Firstly, growing up: life is all about change and how we adapt to it and becoming responsible. The second theme is corruption: this is especially seen in how Mother Paula’s Pancake House company is willing to make illegal payments to the local officials to keep on building in the protected lands of an endangered species. Thirdly comes parental love: Mullet Fingers will never be normal because his mother has rejected him, while Roy will grow up to be a responsible man because his parents not only love him, but also allow him to make decisions from which he will learn and grow. Another important theme is integrity, about living with the consequences, no matter what they turn out to be. Another theme is the protection and conservation of the natural environment and wildlife, which is shown most clearly in the children's attempts to save the burrowing owls at the Mother Paula's construction site.

This book is one of my favorites of all time! It is a great adventure! It is very original the way the author uses silly names like Chuck Muckle, Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers and Napoleon Bridger.
It is a children´s book, so it is easy to read although the vocabulary is very rich. I figure it’s a good read for anyone from eight up. It’s a fun book with a message, but it never gets preachy. If you like mysteries, nature and something different, you’ll love it!!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Edgar Allan POE, “The Cask of Amontillado”, in Selected Stories, Oxford World´s Classics
By Pablo Manning Sánchez 2º ESO A
The story I found most interesting and intriguing was “The Cask of Amontillado”, which tells of a man who devises a sophisticated, ingenious and complex plan to get revenge on a character who has offended him in some way. Montressor, the main character, who has a knack for creating and executing his challenging and ambitious plans, uses this unique attribute to conjure up a plan of revenge on Fortunato, the unsuspecting victim.
The language is difficult (e.g., “surmounted”, “parti-striped”, “nitre”...), as in most of Poe’s writings, but the style is interesting and intriguing. He uses suspense to keep the reader intrigued and wanting to read on and on until they discover what happens.
I would recommend this short story and the whole book to students and people who master the English language and can understand its vocabulary and structures. 14 and above, and higher if English is your second language. Also, I would recommend this book because it has one-of- a-kind stories and because Poe is a good writer and a pioneer of the detective genre.
H.G. WELLS, (1898) The War of the Worlds, Penguin Classics (2005)
By Carlos Hervas, 2º Bachillerato EFL 2011

One day something strange occurs: a weird thing lands near London. This thing starts moving, it is an alien. The main character tells us the events. He turns on the radio and hears that these aliens are in the whole world. One of them goes to his house. We read how the main character managed to escape from the invasion while he explains to us the war between Martians and humans and its incredible end.
In my opinion this is a very recommendable book, it is very easy to read and you enjoy the awesome main character´s journey. On the other hand, you will see many characters and how the war affects them. Finally, it is also very disturbing to see the possibility of a war between Martians and humans. However, as I said before, it is a very good book. Perhaps its worst feature is that it is a little slow.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Edgar Allan POE, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, in Selected Tales, Oxford World's Classics
By Lara Lema, 2º E.S.O. A

Usher is a young but ill man. He has this illness that makes you sensible to the light, touch… He thinks he’s going to die soon, so he contacts the narrator, his friend, to go and visit him. And so he does: the narrator visits Usher and his sister Madeline.
One day Usher’s sister starts to have convulsions and seems to have died, so Usher asks the narrator if he can help him to go and bury Madeline. Later in the night, they are reading horror stories and Usher feels they have buried her alive. Suddenly she opens the door and Usher, in shock, falls to the floor. And to know what happens until the narrator goes home, you´ll have to read the story.
I recommend it to people who like horror stories.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Morris GLEITZMAN (2005), Once, Penguin, Puffin Books
By Paula Otero, 1º Bachillerato EFL
Felix, a Jewish child, lives in an orphanage because his parents decided to leave him there until they resolved some problems with the Nazis. He thinks that his parents are alive, so he escapes from the orphanage and he starts looking for them. He goes to the town where he used to live before, but no one is there. All the Jews had left it. During his journey, he finds a burning house where he rescues a little girl called Zelda. Together, they begin a new adventure.

Felix lives at the peak of the German Holocaust, and he tells us how everything goes for Jewish people while Hitler rules the country. Also, you can find a bit of love between Felix and Zelda and a bit of fear when they are followed by the Nazis. Even though it is a real story, Felix uses a lot of imagination. He thinks that his parents are trying to save him through some clues, like the carrot in the soup at the beginning of the book.

The part I liked the best was the end because everything is so exciting. The Nazis find their cellar and they bring them out pointing at them with guns. Later, he says that his first train journey was not very funny, referring to when he was brought to Poland and he didn't know if he was alive or dreaming.

I really recommend this book, even if you don't like historical novels, because it's based on the German Holocaust, it's very accurate with how everything worked for the Jewish people at that time. Also, Felix's imagination makes it more enjoyable and easier to read. There are a lot of moments, such as the burning house when you can't stop reading.

I truly enjoyed it. It is not too long, so I think everyone can read it, even though they may not like reading.