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Award-Winning Author NoViolet Bulawayo Visits the Junior Class

Award-Winning Author NoViolet Bulawayo Visits the Junior Class

weneedAll the junior backpacks piled around the outside library during long period 1 on Tuesday morning, November 11. Inside the library, NoViolet Bulawayo was ready to speak.

Bulawayo is the author of We Need New Names, a novel read by the eleventh grade class for summer reading. We Need New Names tells the story of a young girl named Darling and the tension that arises when she moves from Zimbabwe to Michigan and is forced to reevaluate home and what it means to her. The book deals with both the personal and the political with rawness and sincerity, all with the voice of an adolescent narrator.

NoViolet reading from her book.

NoViolet reading from her book.

Bulawayo began by reading excerpts from her book. The novel read like poetry as she read it aloud; her words sunk into the ground and grew as the period went by, filling the library with a forest of sound and words. Later during the Q&A session Bulawayo explained that she has a huge love and appreciation of language, and how certain portions of the novel were a way for her to explore her love of language through poetry. Not only is she passionate about poetry, NoViolet Bulawayo also expressed the power of fiction in telling stories and telling the truth. Nayanika K. ’16 asked her why she chose to write a fictional novel as opposed to a memoir, to which Bulawayo began responding to simply by saying, “Fiction is fun! You’re able to invent.” She went on that “stories are stories; they can do the work of non-fiction. You can tell the truth better through fiction sometimes.”

Kiana with NoViolet

Kiana with NoViolet

A main theme that emerges in her novel We Need New Names is home; what we are able to call home, if home is something out of our hands or something we can name for ourselves. Protagonist Darling leaves Zimbabwe and is confronted with the fact that although she may still feel homesickness and a connection to her mother country, the people she left behind when she came to the United States do not feel the same way. Questions about what home truly means are left unanswered in the book — it is complicated issue that is very real and impacts many: something so multifaceted cannot be easily summarized in one novel. When Maddy M. ’16 asked, “Do you agree that [Zimbabwe] is not [Darling’s] country?”, Bulawayo was sure to note the nuanced nature of this issue. But she summarized strongly: “Your country is your country as long you claim it.”

Sophie P. ’16 voiced a question on many students’ minds during class discussions: Why did the last scene go the way it did? Why did Bulawayo choose to end the novel on this bizarre, upsetting flashback? Bulawayo responded that she wanted the novel to come full circle in a way. She also meditated on the idea that for some, going back to their home or country is only possible through memory.

In addition to her reading and Q&A session, NoViolet Bulawayo led a workshop on writing dialogue. Throughout her reading, Q&A session, and workshop, NoViolet displayed a love of language and writing that was inspiring. Fiction and writing and language, she reminded the junior class, are fun and something to be celebrated. We left the library with our eyes brighter and pencils ready to work.

by Kiana B. ’16

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Four to Read More — Wait. What Happened?

Four to Read More — Wait. What Happened?

And now we present Four to Read More, mini-collections of four books that share some common theme, whether it’s the name of a character, a cover design quirk, or something else. Inspired by Kelly Jensen’s “Three on a YA Theme” series at Book Riot (take a lookwe’ll wait!), this series will highlight some books you may have missed on the shelves.

Thanks in part to the movie adaptation, the book If I Stay and its sequel have been very popular in the library this semester. You’ve been asking us for more books about girls waking up from comas, having amnesia, or experiencing near-death experiences, and we love to deliver! Here are some more books like If I Stay.

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards
six
Chloe just meant to take a quick catnap in study hall, but when she opened her eyes, it was six months later. And she had no idea how she had earned perfect SAT scores, garnered a hot boyfriend, or alienated her best friend.
(available in print and on Overdrive ebooks)
Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
loud
Ember totaled her car in the accident, but that’s all she remembers. If only she could recall the six weeks leading up to her crash, she might be able to figure out why her family and friends won’t talk to her about it or give her any information.
(available in print)
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
amnesiac
Naomi hits her head and wakes up with amnesia, but instead of trying to piece together the bits of her life that were lost, she decides to hold on to the one thing she remembers – a strange boy named James.
(available in print)
Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
mall
Tessa’s body is unconscious in the hospital after a dodgeball accident, but she’s also going through past life events, reliving them and analyzing them. A novel in verse.
(available on Overdrive ebooks)

Do you have an idea for a Four to Read More theme? Email us and let us know!

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Catch Up on 2014’s Book-to-Movie Adaptations!

Catch Up on 2014’s Book-to-Movie Adaptations!

2014 seems to have been the year for hit books to be converted to the big screen and released as hot new releases in theaters! There are over 36 movies that have been or will be in theaters this year that are based on popular books such as Mockingjay, If I Stay, The Best of Me, Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, The Giver, The Hobbit, and so many more. A complete list can be found on this site: http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/2014-Movies-Based-Books-30889382#photo-31863468

Here are some of the most popular books that have been or soon will be coming to a theater near you!

If_I_Stay_(2014)_CUSTOM-label-efxIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
This book is about a 17-year-old girl that is involved in a traumatic accident and can’t remember what happened. She has to piece together what happened and slowly put the parts together to figure out what she has left, what she lost, and what she must do now. In the film adaptation of this book, released August 22, rising star Chloe Moretz plays the protagonist, Mia. The DVD released November 18.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up on the floor of an elevator with many children peering down at him from above, all he can remember is his name. He is thrown into a world where the only way out is to escape through a maze full of unknowns and monsters, the gates of which close every night. Will he be able to break out? To find out, go see the Maze Runner, released September 19th in theaters, with the teen heartthrob Dylan O’Brien playing the handsome hero Thomas. The DVD comes out December 19.

jennifer-lawrence-katniss-everdeenMockingjay by Suzanne Collins
In the third and last book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss takes a final stand against the corrupt and overpowering Capitol, fighting for her own and people’s freedoms from within District 13. See the first part of two of this third installment in the saga in theaters November 21st. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hucherson, and Liam Hemsworth will reprise their headlining roles once again.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Tris lives in a world where society is divided into 5 factions based on core values, and at age 16 you are allocated to one of them with no personal say in the decision other than a subjective test. When Tris finds out that she is “divergent” or could fall into more than one faction, she chooses Dauntless, the brave ones. When she realizes the enemy is trying to brainwash people and control the government, it is up to Tris, the divergent, to save the day. The film adaptation of this novel premiered March 21st, staring Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four.

faultinourstarsbestThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
When Hazel, a teenage cancer patient joins a new youth support group, she meets Augustus Waters, who she quickly falls for. Augustus is also fighting the battle with cancer, and the heartwarmingly romantic but heartbreakingly tragic story follows their relationship and struggles with the disease, as one of them falls deathly ill. This hit movie came out June 6th in theaters with Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters. The DVD is out now.

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
The story of The Hobbit is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga, as it follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins and all of his mystical adventures through Middle Earth. The long-awaited third installment of the film adaptation of the book is set for release on December 17th, 2014, with Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, and Martin Freeman reprising their main roles, as in the first two installments (which are out on DVD).

Hopefully you will have some time this year to check out one or more of these awesome movie adaptations of popular books! 2014 is clearly the year of big books to hit the big screen, and we hope that you get a chance to experience them for yourself!

By McKenna B. ’16

Librarian’s note: Come into the library now to view McKenna’s display of books to movies! All of the books mentioned in this article are in the library’s collection, too.

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Cartoonist Liza Donnelly Visits Campus

Cartoonist Liza Donnelly Visits Campus

Liza Donnelly

Liza Donnelly

On November 5, Liza Donnelly visited as the Arrillaga-Morris Family Speaker and spoke to Castilleja about her journey to becoming a famous comics artist. Donnelly is known for her cultural and political comics that are published in the New Yorker. Her work has also appeared in many other publications, and she is the author of multiple books.

Donnelly spent much of speech talking about her journey to becoming a comics artist. As a child, drawing and putting on a smile or making a person laugh with her comics were activities she loved. She said drawing and comics had always been a part of her life but were never something she thought she could make a career out of. When she headed off to college, Donnelly majored in biology. After college Donnelly worked at the new York History Museum. While she enjoyed the experience of working at the museum, she regularly sent her work to newspapers and magazines. It took some time, but Donnelly’s work gradually was published. One of her big breaks was when her first comic was published in the New Yorker magazine. She then became a staff artist at the New Yorker, where she has worked ever since.

funnyladiesThrough Donnelly’s speech, she taught me about the power of taking risks and not letting setbacks stop you from trying to reach your dreams. She spoke about how each week, she would send in her comics and normally they would not be chosen. Even today, not every comic she creates is published. She never lets this stop her from doing what she loves. Unlike past Castilleja speakers, Donnelly was more soft-spoken and quiet. At first I thought she did not have much to say, but I quickly realized her true voice was found in her comics. What Donnelly did not say could be seen and understood through the characters and voices of her comics. Her humor and ideas a simply illustrated through her drawings.

From this experience, I learned that not everyone’s point of view has to come from his or her literal words but instead come through in many forms of expression. It is important for each of us to realize and look for these expressions to really get to know and understand a person.

By Molly L. ’16

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