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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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Two Short Book Reviews by Sho Sho H. ’19

After a certain amount of nudging from Ms. Gomez, I finally put an end to my procrastination and sat down to write a series of book recommendations the day after Thanksgiving, in a food-induced coma. With winter stealthily approaching, (some are of the opinion that it has arrived, but I am still clinging to pumpkin pie), an afternoon well-spent surely consists of a good book and a mug of hot cocoa.

gravemercyMy first recommendation is the His Fair Assassin trilogy, novels written by a very talented Robin LaFevers and firmly set in the historical fiction genre. Her style of writing is eloquent, elegant, and peppered with words that will surely expand one’s vocabulary as one turns through the pages of a story filled with suspense and uncertainty. It follows the story of three young woman who are Death’s daughters, trained in the art of killing. They are sent out to do his bidding, but when the heart tangles with duty, there is no clean solution. LaFevers’ series will satisfy even the most voracious of readers; the length of the series alone should satiate word-craving needs for a short week. While it does rely on certain romantic aspects, the His Fair Assassin trilogy is, at its core a story of feminism and the power a woman has.*

missperegrineMiss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is another golden pick. The cover itself is a representation of the absurdness of the narrative. It remained #4 on the New York Times’ Bestseller’s list for an impressive amount of consecutive weeks. Originally intended as a picture-based coffee table book of strange vintage photos, Ransom Riggs, an avid photograph collector, soon turned it into a chilling, dark fantasy that flirts with the idea of time travel, children with “peculiar” talents who are under the safekeeping of a shape-shifter, and hollowgasts, the monsters who live by devouring the souls of these children. I normally don’t like that sort of book, as it gives me nightmares (this book did too), but the beautiful photographs and the lyrical writing made up for nights cocooned in my blankets so milky-eyed wights would not come and eat me up too. Not for the fainthearted!

Enjoy, happy reading, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I give thanks to wonderful authors who keep my imagination alive.

by Sho Sho H. ’19

*Librarian’s note: the books, in order, are Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, and Mortal Heart.

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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:

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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Alexandra Fuller Visits Campus

Alexandra Fuller Visits Campus

During Flex, the eighth grade class had the privilege of meeting Alexandra Fuller and being able to experience and relive the life of an aspiring writer growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through her moving stories.

Fuller was not what I expected. She was dressed in a plum cashmere sweater and sturdy grey jeans, but despite her muted outerwear, she exuded such energy and life that our whole class was soon mesmerized with her lively facial expressions and animated hand gestures. Her accent was soft, but angular in places, and her voice had a captivating cadence. As Ms. Terkeltaub read questions, Fuller would suddenly leap up, face alight with a story on the verge of being told, take three long strides to the center of the room, and start providing us with half an answer, before going on about a tangent; sometimes it was about the time when she rode across the desert on horseback without water or food for days, or the time she almost drowned while being stuck in a coffin with a drunk ship captain. My favorite story was when she recounted the time her eight-year-old daughter and she had to face a bear in the wilderness. The audience was still; everyone bit their fingernails with baited breath until we all breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the end.


Alexandra Fuller

Particularly, I think what made Fuller’s memoir so poignant was the fact that it came straight from her heart. Fuller encouraged us to write stories that mattered to us, not to write for other people. When question time started, aspiring writers in the audience (including myself), bombarded her with one question after another: “Did you always know you were going to be a writer?”, followed by a more personal question, “Tell us about your kids,” to which she merrily proceeded to describe her lacrosse-loving son, and her horseback-almost-died-in-the-forest-with-a-bear daughter.

By the time our session with Ms. Fuller was over, there were many groans of sadness, and as we shuffled out the choral room legs numb from sitting and tensing up during the climaxes of her anecdotes, several students separated to go talk to Ms. Fuller, while murmurs of the transfixing session followed them out. Not everyone lives a life as brimming with harrowing life or death stories, nor lived a life in the midst of a revolution, bit I think there is a story within each and everyone one of us that can be brought out. If I had to narrow it down to one thing that I learned from Fuller, it is to “Carpe diem,” the English translation being “seize the day.” While Fuller acknowledges that she has regrets, my personal opinion is that she is a lady who lives with no regrets.

by Sho Sho H. ’19

We have three of Fuller’s books in the library! -Librarian

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Books on the Brain? Brain On Books? Books? Brain!

Ever wanted to know why you are the way you are? Ever wanted to know what is going on inside your brain? Why your personality is the way it is? Why everyone is different from one another? The answer to all of these questions lies in the study of the human mind and its functions, or psychology.

With the recently added psych class taught by Mr. Mitchell added to our course options, the excitement and interest surrounding the subject has been appreciable, evident in the fact that the class filled up so quickly that only seniors got spots in it. While only some people are able to take the course this year, there are still so many more people interested in the subject, and of course, many ways to still learn about it.

In the Castilleja Library we have a sizable psychology and neuroscience section, with most of the books found in the 150s on the dewy decimal system, or by the reserved tables and the white board in the back of the library. In addition, we currently have a featured psychology display near the front door to the library, with many interesting books to pique people’s interest in many facets of the subject. If you are interested in psychology, it is highly recommended that you check out some of those books as a good place to start.

The library is also about to start allowing magazines to be checked out. We have a subscription to “Scientific American: Mind,” a great psychology and cognitive sciences magazine that has great articles and studies published in each issue. Starting very soon, these will be able to be checked out!

If you have already exhausted our collection of psychology books, here are some more that are highly recommended super interesting and fun reads:

subliminalSubliminal: How the Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

This book is by far one of my all-time favorite books. Written by Leonard Mlodinow, it gives a great background on cognitive neuroscience that will interest everyone from a complete beginner to an amateur neuroscientist. Speckled with Mlodinow’s humorous quips and personal stories, it makes reading the book really fun and it doesn’t feel like a super scientific or dense book. Personally, this was one of the books that got me really into psychology, by showing just how amazing the human brain is through the explanation of the results of many studies.

psychPsychology 101

This book by Paul Kleinman gives a great foundation for the absolute beginner in the field of psychology. It touches on many topics typically outlining a beginners’ course in psychology. It gives bios and discusses the influence of many early thinkers and emerging psychologists such as Freud. It also explains subjects such as personality, behavior, and love. This book is a valuable source for basic information in a very wide range of topics that give a great overview of psychology.

femaleThe Female Brain and The Male Brain

The Female Brain and The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine are great books if you want to see how the brains of males and females compare. They delve into the topics of hormones, childhood development, sex, love, and decision-making. These books are highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand their own brain, the brain of the opposite sex, or just to compare the differences. These books are highly readable and perfect for anyone starting from absolute beginners to people well educated in the differences between the male and female brain.

dibsDibs in Search of Self

This book by Virginia Axline follows the story of a young boy named Dibs who attends regular therapy and counseling sessions. Dibs will not play or go outside, nor will he talk, much to the concern of his parents. This book is a narrative based book that follows his progress as he “searches for himself,” in an attempt to escape his mental illness. This is a good book to read if you don’t want to read a purely non-fiction or research based book, but are still interested in psychology, psychiatry, or mental illness.


“Dora” is not a novel but a case study, conducted by Sigmund Freud. It follows and details the case of Ida Bauer, who for her own privacy was given the pseudonym Dora. She was diagnosed with hysteria, which is no longer a recognized illness, but the study is praised for Freud’s method and experimentation. This is an interesting study to read for anyone who is interested specifically in Freud or his methods.

Hopefully one of these books has got you interested, and you can either buy them online, in a bookstore, or check them out from your local library that has them!

by McKenna B. ’16

The Castilleja Library has even more fantastic books on aspects of psychology, by authors such as Jonah Lerer, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jean Piaget. We’re looking forward to the expansion of our very own library’s ever-growing psychology collection, and so should you! -Librarian

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