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2014 Edible Book Festival was a Resounding Success!

Creations by: Samantha Noeth Lewis ’19, Hannah Knowles ’15, and Katherine Sam ’16

Yesterday, Casti celebrated our inaugural Edible Book Festival. We played literary games, created blackout poetry, and had a cakewalk for fantastical book-themed cupcakes crafted by Jessa M. (‘18).

Without a doubt, however, the highlight of the afternoon was viewing the Edible Book Contest entries and voting for favorites. The more than eighty creations submitted made it difficult to chose, but in the end over 100 people cast ballots.

Congratulations to the five winning entries, selected by popular vote:

Most original

little mermaid

“Little Mermaid”
by Zoe B., Elana R., Grace E., Kaitlin R., Sarah B. ‘18














Most appetizing

looking for baked alaska

“Looking for Baked Alaska”
by Anna ‘15 & Kathryn V.










Best visual presentation

it's catching on fire

“It’s Catching on Fire!!!”
by Alexana D. and Roxana S. ‘20













lays miserables

“Lays Miserables”

by Athena N. ‘19


People’s choice 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
by Jas G., Emi S., Lauren A., Riona Y., Naira M. ‘19













Each winning entry received an engraved Casti Red Spatula Statuette.


Here are more of the wonderful entries that we got to enjoy:


A huge thanks as well to the student committee who helped plan and advertise the event: Lauren B. ‘20, Sarah L. ‘20, Sophie N.L. ‘19, Jessa M. ‘18, Anna Y. ‘15, Megan C. ‘15.

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Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

With all the hype over Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and the release of the new movie based on her book, I was considering what virtues she left out. Roth chose to create Abnegation to represent selflessness and simplicity, Amity to represent peace-keeping and kindness, Candor to represent honesty and justice, Dauntless to represent bravery and protectiveness, and Erudite to represent intelligence and curiosity.

All of these factions were created with the needs of a government in mind. But five virtues seems pretty minimal, whatever you might say about each faction representing a little bit more than just one virtue by extension. Some virtues just aren’t included; most glaringly, creativity.

What would a creativity faction look like? And, perhaps the more interesting question, why would a government not wish to add an “Ingenuity” faction?

In today’s society, Abnegation is the faction of charity workers (and, we would hope, government officials). Amity is the nurses and good-neighbors and maybe even our religious leaders, Dauntless the fireman, police, and military, Candor our justices, lawyers and activists, and Erudite our scholars.

Where are the artists?

Dauntless has tattoo artists, Amity has a few banjo-playing musicians – but what about our inventors? Our politically-charged muralists? Our concert cellists and Alternative song writers? Our great poets and fantasy authors?

The fact is, creativity isn’t in the city-state Roth creates. It’s not too difficult to see why. In a community that values conformity, whose motto is “faction before blood”, and frankly, who wears uniforms – where are the artists, who value individuality and creative expression, to fit in? Artists aren’t, in general, the sort of people who liked to be placed in boxes (the irony of this sentence is not lost on me). In fact, creative people tend to be very disruptive to normative behavior and rigidly organized society.

In today’s society creativity is essential. Our rapidly developing digital age would be entirely impossible without the imaginative foresight that drives this era. But the society Roth describes is largely stagnant. It is too traditional for an Ingenuity faction, too rigid for the out-of-the-box thinkers our age values so highly. In her books, Roth points out that honesty will break the peace, that self-denial will prevent the indulgence of curiosity, that bravery can be both cruel and stupid. Creativity will always clash with tradition. Nobody can value all virtues equally, not even the Divergent. And just as the Divergent are such a threat to the system, so the Ingenuity would be a threat to the conformity and traditionalism of Roth’s society. It’s very difficult to manipulate somebody who values creativity and individuality above all else.

by Maddie D. ’15

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Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!

Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!


This year, four Castilleja high school students – Victoria Pu, Caroline Harris, Hannah Knowles and Margaret Zhang – were recognized for writing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They have shared some of their stories about what inspired them to write and their personal experiences. Get to know your classmates a little better, and be inspired to write something yourself!

Victoria Pu is a junior this year, and though she says she doesn’t “really consider [herself] a serious ‘outside of school writer,’” she recognizes the 3 weeks she spent at the Young Writers Program at Kenyon College over the summer as a great growth in her appreciation of the craft. She also embodies the night-owl side of a great writer, saying the hardest thing about writing is doing it before 8pm, and references the saying her friends at Kenyon College had of “Espresso, more espresso” of both the most difficult and most enjoyable aspect of writing. Her favorite writers are Dave Eggers, J.D. Salinger, and John Updike (come check them out in the library!), as well as her best friend Hayun Cho. Her words of advice? “It sounds tacky, but: there’s always a story to be found somewhere.”

Caroline Harris is also a junior this year, and her interest in writing sprung up the summer after her freshman year. She attended a creative writing program at Interlochen, where she was able to explore here interests in a supportive community of other writers and work on her personal challenge of writer’s block. Caroline finds changing routine and leaving her comfort zone is a major source of her creative inspiration. She loves to hike, travel, and in general, go on adventures, and of course, read. In terms of writing’s impact on her, she has “often heard that reading builds empathy” and thinks “writing has a similar effect.” Indeed, writing well requires recognizing each side to a story, empathizing with different points of view, and readers feel the emotional impact of the writer’s journey. Caroline recalls a time a stranger approached her after a reading and commented on how touched she was by her poetry; in her words, it was “an incredible feeling, particularly since writing is personal and typically a solitary act.”

Hannah Knowles is also in her junior year, and while she’s always liked English class, she started writing outside of school. She began with poetry, then discovered she enjoyed writing short fiction and essays more, often on ideas she drew from a “sort of journal” filled with things and ideas she “found odd or evocative.” The hardest part about writing for her is sharing it. Critiques are one of the most valuable exercises (second only to actually siting down and writing something) for improving, but it’s always hard because “you’re never sure if it’s “good” or not.” She highly recommends Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, a “gorgeous” novel written in 13 interconnected short stories about a town on the coast of Maine, and wisely reminds us, “The first things you write probably won’t be very good…the only way to get better is to stop procrastinating, sit down, and write whatever you can think of.”

Finally, Margaret Zhang is a freshman this year, and she’s been writing stories since 3rd grade. She first started writing down playdates she had with classmates, everything from “super-scout” training with superpowers and nonhuman friends to dashing around the house on secret missions. She writes for moments and ideas from daily life, epiphanies, “moments [that] just cause [her] to freeze in place for a second,” while everyone else continues on, oblivious. Margaret also credits writing with increasing her capacity for empathy. She says, “Ever since I began writing seriously, I haven’t been able to say I completely dislike anyone,” and reflects this in her writing with her enjoyment of “crafting three-dimensional characters for both sides of a conflict,” leaving the reader with questions about “good” and “bad.”

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to congratulate your classmates when you see them! They’re happy to talk to you!

by Clare T. ’15

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

The dystopias don’t stop – check out some Divergent- and Matched-themed events coming your way. Get to know rising stars in literary novels with magical realism. Get a stomachache from laughing with Chelsea Handler, Sarah Mlynowski, and Shakespearean insults. Jump into spring by seeing your favorite authors up close or discovering some new ones!

teslaMarch 1, 3pm, at Kepler’s
Dystopian author Neal Shusterman (Unwind) will appear with his co-author, Eric Elfman, to present their new book, Tesla’s Attic. They will be joined by Steve Hockensmith, whose novel Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab references the same man renowned for his pioneering inventions and advancements in the field of electricity. This literary event will celebrate two fun new books and science itself, so it’s perfect for readers and future scientists.

March 3, 8pm, at Stanford
Nikky Finney’s poetry explores connections between art, history, and activism. The winner of the National Book Award for poetry in 2011, she has published and edited many collections of poetry. She will do a reading of some of her latest work.

March 6, 7pm, at Book Passage
If you like folklore and fantasy, you might want to read Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni, which is inspired by Jewish and Arab mythology. It has been compared to Everything Is Illuminated and The Night Circus. The author, a Bay Area local, will appear to talk about her book and sign copies for fans.

March 7, 7pm, at Books, Inc – Opera Plaza
The beloved Lauren Oliver (Delirium, Liesl & Po) returns to the literary world with her next novel, Panic. At this event, moderated by author Veronica Rossi, she will talk about the book, a standalone novel about a small town and a dangerous game.

March 12, 3:30pm, at Palo Alto Children’s Library
Are you participating in the Silicon Valley Reads program? Whether you are or not, try picking up a copy of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, a book about a group of kids and their crazy overnight stay in a library. The author, Chris Grabenstein, will make an appearance to talk about his book.boysnowbird

March 14, 7:30pm, at Booksmith
Readers of literary fiction who love a touch of folklore or magical realism must get acquainted with Helen Oyeyemi, who published her first book when she was just 19 years old. Her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, a unique retelling of Snow White, will be released in March, and she will appear at the bookstore to promote it.

March 15, 2pm, at Burlingame Library
Are you the biggest Divergent know-it-all? With the movie about to hit theaters, now’s your chance to prove it! Get to the library, where you’ll be able to play Divergent trivia with other teens.

March 19, 7pm, at Books Inc – Palo Alto
For readers who like their YA funny, Sarah Mlynowski may be your answer. The popular author will appear at the bookstore alongside fellow YA author C.J. Omololu to talk about her new book, Don’t Even Think About It, about a group of sophomores who accidentally become telepathic.

March 21, 2pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
Are you a fan of comic and E! television host Chelsea Handler? If you can’t wait to buy her latest book of funny essays, Uganda Be Kidding Me, do so at Books Inc – your receipt gets you in to an exclusive signing with the celebrity.

March 26, 7:30pm, at Kepler’s
Does race produce racism, or is racism the invention of race itself? If you’re a budding sociologist, attend this talk by Karen E. Fields, an independent scholar whose new book, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, explores these ideas.

Pretty-in-InkMarch 27, 6pm, at SFPL Main
Love comics and cartoons? Want to see more girls in them? Author Trina Robbins has uncovered the history – or herstory, rather – of women cartoonists in her new book, Pretty In Ink. She will present the book, talk about it, and do a sale and signing.

March 31, 7pm, at Kepler’s
After a canceled appearance, Jonathan Stroud will finally visit the bookstore to celebrate his latest book, The Screaming Staircase, first in the new Lockwood & Co series.

March 31, 7pm, at Book Passage
Dying to be more creative? Ready to be famous? Austin Kleon has the formula for how you can do it. Watch the author as he presents his new book, Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Show Your Creativity and Get Discovered.

April 4, 2pm, at Dominican University
Famed naturalist Jane Goodall will appear to speak about her new book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. The chimpanzee expert will discuss how and why we are connected with nature. (This will be a ticketed event. $35 includes a signed copy of the book.)

April 4, 3:30pm, at Hicklebee’s
Dystopia fans, rejoice! Ally Condie, author of the Matched trilogy, will appear in person to talk about her books.

April 6, 4pm, at Book Passage
“Screw you” is so yesterday. Go even farther back in time and insult someone the Shakespearean way! There’s even a book to show you how. Author Barry Kraft has the book for you: Shakespeare Insult Generator: Mix and Match More than 150,000 Insults in the Bard’s Own Words.The Here And Now by Ann Brashares

April 10, 7pm, at Kepler’s
Did you love the Hex Hall series? Author Rachel Hawkins is back with a new book. Rebel Belle is about a girl who has a strange experience at a cotillion ball, somewhat like the way Peter Parker has a strange experience at a science lab…

April 11, 7pm, at Kepler’s
If you’re a fan of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or if you just like thrilling stories, you won’t want to miss Ann Brashares’ appearance. She will discuss her latest novel, The Here and Now, about a girl who emigrates to the United States…from the future.

April 14, 7pm, at Kepler’s
At last, we’ll find out what happens to Karou and Akiva! Fans of Laini Taylor will be rushing to the bookstore to get their hands on a signed copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.

April 16, 12:30pm, at Book Passage
Popular YA writer Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere, All These Things I’ve Done) has written a new novel, this time for adults. She will present the book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, at this event.

BotanyofDesire_fullApril 22, 7:30pm, at Mrs. Dalloway’s
In honor of World Book Night on April 23, author and foodie Michael Pollan will appear to talk about reading, food, and his book The Botany of Desire, which is one of the titles that will be handed out for World Book Night.

April 23, everywhere
World Book Night!

Please let your librarians know if you’ve gone to a literary event or if you have one to add to our list!

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