fiction

Review of “A Horse to Love” by Marsha Hubler

I haven’t read this book in years. However, I do remember enough to review it. I must also admit that I loved horses as a child and still do. In fact, I used to ride regularly from ages 8 to about 14.

Anyway, let me get to the review.

Thirteen-year-old Skye Nicholson is in court for something. She is assigned to a foster mother named Mrs. Chambers, who makes Skye do farm work, go to church, and has many rules about her home facilities. On the bright side, Skye develops a passion for this horse called Champ.

This book has a lot of memorable moments. Aside from the strong and engaging writing, many scenes stand out to me, such as when Mrs. Chambers comforts Skye and when Skye and Morgan, a physically disabled girl, ride horses together. Another moment that I have strong feelings about is when Skye hurt another girl at school, ran away, and got punished by her foster parents, where she couldn’t use any of the facilities or see Champ the horse. This was obviously wrong for Skye to do.

There are also some parts that I felt were flawed. One is how Mrs. Chambers only allows Christian music and makes Skye go to church. What if Skye were another religion? I considered that insensitive of Mrs. Chambers. It would have been better if the music allowed was something else, such as clean music with no explicit lyrics. 

Another moment that stood out to me was when when Mrs. Chambers first met Skye and said, “You can call me Mrs. Chambers or Mrs. C, but never Eileen.” The third part felt unnecessary to me, especially when an adult talks to a thirteen-year-old. 

Speaking of which, Skye won’t join a teen club Morgan offers her since she still thinks she’s only a kid. But thirteen is a teenager. Plus, most thirteen-year-olds are excited to finally be teens and not younger children anymore.

Other than those issues, I really enjoyed the story and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. 

movie

I’m Spelling Out This Evaluation of “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Warning: contains spoilers***

There are so many aspects of this film that stand out to me. It begins where a boy named Thackary is looking for his younger sister, Emily. He finds her being cursed by three witches, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. They turn Thackary into an immortal black cat, but are then executed by the community shortly after. Three hundred years have passed (which surprised me) and the focus is now on a teenage boy, named Max, in his history class at school. The Halloween adventure begins.

I found Max to be very believable, especially since he moved to a new town from Los Angeles and really missed his old home. The bullies who picked on him made me feel even more sorry for him. However, at some point, the bullies were in danger, and Max wouldn’t save them, which was irresponsible. Just because someone is not nice to you, that doesn’t mean you can leave them in peril.

That being said, Max was a good guy. Although he resisted taking his eight-year-old sister, Dani, out to trick-or-treat at first, and she even screamed about it at some point (which was also irresponsible and could have misled her parents into thinking she was getting hurt), he did it and showed loving care with her as the movie progressed. He also dressed as a “rapper.”

Speaking of loving care, it was so sweet how Dani developed strong feelings for Thackary in his cat form. She even held him while sleeping and fed him cat food. During the part where the curse got broken and the witches perished, unfortunately, Thackary passed on, too, and his last sound was a meow. However, he returned to Dani in his human form as a ghost and comforted her until he was reunited with his sister, who also came back as a spirit. This happened at the very end, and I was expecting Max, Dani, and Max’s love interest, Allison, to get in trouble with their parents eventually. Instead, the adults are partying somewhere, unaware of what the kids did to save the day.

Earlier, though, after the witches have been revived and are performing at the Halloween bash Max and Dani’s parents attend, Max, Allison, and Dani try to tell them that the witches have been resurrected and are dangerous. But the mom and dad won’t believe them, which I didn’t expect. In fact, everybody found the children crazy when they attempted to warn them about the witches. Even a bus driver acted casually with the sorceresses when encountering them.

Even though this is just a movie, I found it odd that the witches were able to function okay in modern times after being dead for centuries. They should have been confused like crazy. Another flaw is how they broke into Max’s school and no one caught them. Yes, it was 1993, when school security was likely more relaxed. But shouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras or even a guard?

When Max, Allison, and Dani celebrated the witches’ “deaths”, I figured that it was the midpoint and knew that they hadn’t really been defeated. This was based on how I studied story structure for years and past movie-viewing experiences.

A couple of moments that also shocked me were when Max was willing to sacrifice himself for Dani when the witches tried to jinx her with a potion and a clueless zombie who had no idea what to do. I have to admit, the zombie who didn’t know much felt more credible to me. It also satisfied me since it was a way to stray away from the traditional approach for zombies, where they’re scary and try to eat peoples’ brains.

I would rate “Hocus Pocus” 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Today is Where My First Book Review Begins: And it’s Called “Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Up until this point, despite being a writer, I haven’t read a lot. However, I am reading more these days and am trying to get myself back into it. So, now I am going to post book reviews here. Let the thoughts come out.

“Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie longs to know about her life before living in the real, typical world. She and her mom left it when Gracie was a baby. However, her mother refuses to share information about it. And she strictly forbids her to see the author, Gertrude Winters. Regardless of her mom’s demand, Gracie sneaks out to the bookstore. She not only meets Gertrude Winters, but also tries to receive more information about the book she wrote where Gracie came from. Gertrude Winters disappears, and it makes it to the news. From then on, things don’t go well.

I enjoyed this book as well as the characters. I didn’t like when Gracie’s mom was unfair to her in the beginning, though, as I don’t like adults treating children that way. But the writing kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened next.

That being said, there were some passive writing moments at times. But that didn’t keep me from giving up. I still would recommend this book.

I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Has Not One Muggle Felt Sorry for Harry When Growing Up with Abuse from The Dursleys?

For 10 years, from right after his parents’ deaths and until his 11th birthday, apparently nobody was nice to Harry, not even outside his home. His abuse was looked over at school and he was always bullied. Even the teachers didn’t seem to do a thing about it. I know Harry was born in 1980, so much of his childhood before Hogwarts was in the 80’s. Still, I have trouble finding something like this believable.

Yet, there were no new students or staff at Harry’s primary school who were horrified. No teacher wanted to help him with his stress or stand up for him when others bullied him. No student wanted to do the same.

Also, most people, especially in an area where Harry lived, don’t see the same people every single day. There would have been lots of visitors, new residents, deliverers, vendors, and many other people not native to Little Whinging or Privet Drive. And it seems that nobody has been appalled by how the Dursleys treated Harry. Not one individual has reacted with, “Oh, that’s terrible! Aw, that poor kid. I wish I could help him. I feel so bad for him.”

Unless there are charms that keep muggles from feeling sorry for Harry, I don’t find something like this too credible. There has to be kinder, empathetic, and even highly-sensitive people in the “Harry Potter” universe. Many muggles would have been upset to hear about how the Dursleys mistreated Harry. They would have felt sorry for him and even disgusted with how Dudley got spoiled. Even if that type of treatment wouldn’t have gotten the Dursleys in trouble with authorities at the time (not just because Dumbledore might have used magic to prevent that since Harry needed to be with a blood relative to stay safe from Voldemort, but also that the laws about child safety were different then, according to my research), Harry would have encountered at least a few muggles who said that they felt terrible for him and showed their sympathy to him. More would have said how sorry they felt for Harry in front of him, whether directly at him or to somebody else. A lot more would have said it out loud, but either not in Harry’s sight or would have thought it in their heads. At least a couple of muggles would have gone to the Dursleys and asked if everything was okay, and if they found out the truth, they would have felt horrible for Harry and showed it.

Lots and lots of people would have also ruminated and obsessed over how Harry got treated by his relatives, day in and day out. They might have even been down about it to others, talked about it a lot, and tried to do something about it, even if they couldn’t.

If the series were truly believable, Harry would have met or heard countless amounts of people who didn’t like how his relatives treated him and said how terrible it must’ve been for him, and how bad they felt for him. Maybe Harry would have even had a kind mentor nearby who wanted to check on him and be nice to him. Even in the 1980’s, before the Internet, the fact that Harry was abused would have made it to others, and a good number of them would have been horrified.

TV show

Holy Magic Mackerel! I’ve Noticed These Details in “The Fairly OddParents”

As a childhood favorite, I not only learned a lot about “The Fairly OddParents”, but I also picked up many details, both as a kid and now as an adult.

You probably know the premise: a young boy named Timmy Turner is miserable and has two fairies that grant him wishes. But he has to keep them secret, or else he’ll lose them forever.

Anyway, if you’ve watched a lot of the show, you might follow this better. So, without further ado, here are some insane and interesting details from the show.

1: A lot of deus ex machina moments

If you don’t know what it is, deus ex machina is a term for when something in a story happens merely for plot convenience. It is often frowned upon in creating any form of fiction, written or visual.

But one detail I found that constantly happens throughout the series are characters saying, “It’s not like this (whatever it is) will happen.” And then it does. Or when somebody watches TV, the hosts or reporters will say things to the viewers as if they knew who was watching and when they were. Even as a child, I found this a little annoying, although I didn’t know the term, deus ex machina. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the show.

I must also mention the convenient use of tomato-throwing when people are mad at something or somebody.

2: Characters seem to be “stupid” and not notice anything, just for plot convenience

In the episode, “Chin Up!”, Cosmo and Wanda appear as their normal fairy forms, in front of a bunch of people. Timmy freaks out loudly, and reveals that if anyone finds out they’re his fairy godparents, they’ll have to go away forever. But Wanda tells Timmy that the others will think they’re big kids in costumes, and somebody walks by and compliments on their “costumes.” This is very unbelievable. Timmy would have lost his fairies from there, even though they kind of are at fault. Moments like this occurred several times throughout later episodes, too. Characters would speak their thoughts out loud and nobody would pay attention or even seem to hear. Another aspect that’s not believable. But I guess that is enough with the criticism.

3: There are a lot of similarities to “The Simpsons”

I noticed this in recent years. Some details include how Mr. Crocker sounds like Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons”, although they’re not voiced by the same actor. Vicky’s head changing to something related to one of the episodes about to show is also similar to how the couch gag changes for different stories of “The Simpsons.”

4: Wand magic doesn’t always work fully

I assume this based of the events in the episodes, “Babyface” and “Teacher’s Pet” (no relation to the Toon Disney cartoon or movie). In the first one listed, Timmy accidentally runs into a daycare away from Francis and a bunch of other big, mean kids. So, he wishes to be a baby in order to hide from Francis. However, not long after, he realizes that he can’t talk. Therefore, he can’t wish himself back to being age 10 normally. That being said, he can still read, spell, and think like a 10-year-old. He points to the blocks and Wanda agrees with the idea to spell out his wish. But if the magic worked fully, not only would Timmy have lost his ability to speak, he also would have forgotten to know how to spell, read, or even think and solve problems like an older kid. In fact, he would have put the blocks in his mouth as that’s how babies explore their world. Yet, then there wouldn’t really be a story.

In the episode, “Teacher’s Pet”, Timmy wishes to be teacher’s pet, and Cosmo and Wanda’s infant son, Poof, grants him the wish and turns him into a guinea pig. He can still talk, though. Once again, if the wish worked completely, Timmy would only be able to squeak and function like a real guinea pig, and not a human.

There you have it. I hope you find this list helpful.

movie

Oh, I Just Can’t Wait to Compare and Contrast “The Lion King” Adaptations (1994 and 2019)

Pretty much everyone I’ve met has enjoyed 1994’s “The Lion King”. Many consider it their favorite movie. Only one person I’ve met has said that she wasn’t really into “The Lion King.”

Obviously, I’ve seen the cartoon of it and enjoyed it. In fact, as a high school senior, I enjoyed the film so much that I performed the end credit version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at a school spotlight night (like a talent show).

Anyway, the cartoon depicted and released a lot of emotional experiences to the audience. The songs are great, the characters are well-developed, and the mood is powerful.

That being said, someone pointed out that there might be some damsel-in-distress moments. The person said that rather than resolving Scar’s abuse of power on their own, the female lions wait for Simba to return. He was assumed dead, though. Yet, when Nala found him and he refused to come back since he thought he was responsible for his father, Mufasa’s death, Nala didn’t seem to take a lot of action on her own.

Another moment that stands out to me is the line Mufasa says to Simba after he goes to the elephant graveyard, “You deliberately disobeyed me.” Yes, they were different tones, but I consider that kind of lazy, unless there’s a purpose (i.e. “My boy, my little Hercules,” from 1997’s “Hercules”). It was as if the writers copied and pasted that same line, whether or not Microsoft Word existed.

Nevertheless, the animated version of “The Lion King” pleased me very much. Sadly, when the live-action remake came out, it didn’t cause any emotional reactions or anything nearly as much the way the cartoon did. In fact, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the 1994 adaptation. Most scenes were the same shots, but in a “live-action” way. It was mostly realistic CGI, except for one scene, and obviously, because getting those types of animals to act is too dangerous. Despite that, animators need to draw from live models of those creatures, and who knows how those animals stay calm and not maul or hurt anyone?

While the remake did reduce the “You deliberately disobeyed me” line to one use, the facial expressions were quite limited, and I couldn’t get into it nearly as much as the animated movie.

I would rate the cartoon 5 out of 5 stars, but the reboot 2.5 out of 5 stars. Even my friends didn’t enjoy it too much, either.

TV show

Beware! It’s My Top Memorable Moments from “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy”

A skeleton is friends with two children. There is Mandy, who has a dark attitude and hardly ever smiles, despite her blonde hair and pink top. Then there is Billy, who is enthusiastic and silly.

This show aired on Cartoon Network for a while in the 2000’s. It was a great show.

Now here are the top memorable moments from the show.

7: When Grim wore a bra

Okay, okay, I can guess what you’re probably thinking. But it’s true. There was one episode where his cloak was removed and he had a bra on. Really.

6: When Billy’s friend, Irwin, turned into a dog

Billy found a dog with glasses, not realizing that it was his friend, Irwin. He asked his parents if he could keep him. His mom said no, but his dad said yes. Then, at some point, Irwin turns back into a human in a stadium, naked in front of everybody.

5: When Grim and Billy switch personalities

Grim acts silly like Billy and Billy behaves like Grim. Eventually, their physical appearances switch, too.

4: When Billy loses his sight from a video game

Billy presses his eyes against the TV monitor while playing a video game, which could have ruined his eyes, according to Mandy. And it did. At some point later, Billy even thought Mandy held up 74 fingers.

3: When Billy and Mandy told stories

Mandy’s story was so inconsiderate and lazy. It went, “Once upon a time, the end.” Then she told a story about Humpty Dumpty where it ended where everybody had eggs for all three of their meals. However, Billy’s involved a villain who couldn’t defeat anyone because they were so happy. Even he became joyous, himself.

2: When Billy and Grim celebrated Mandy’s “birthday”

Billy has Grim help him plan a birthday bash for Mandy. When Mandy arrives, Grim and Billy go, “Happy birthday, happy birthday, it’s your happy day.” But Mandy reveals that her birthday isn’t for another 5 months.

1: The song, “Under the Ocean”

Ah, a parody of “Under the Sea” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. This was a great moment.

So, there you have it.

TV show

Now Calling, Kids Next Door Mysteries

Since lockdown began in March in my area (although things reopened with restrictions), I have been visiting old childhood TV shows. Not only did I read synopses of my favorite episodes, but I also watched some. One of them included “Codename: Kids Next Door”.

I saw a few episodes recently. A couple of them breezed by, but the other two were a bit slow and less engaging.

Anyway, while I researched the program, I came up with a few unanswered questions that I wonder.

1: Why do the kids next door have to steal the delightful children’s birthday cake every time they have birthday bashes?

I’ve only seen the first episode, known as C.A.K.E.D, which I believe is the pilot that set the show up. There, the KND try to take the delightful children’s cake, and then the delightful children trap them in their home and have them play party games. But what is wrong with the delightful children’s cakes?

2: Why aren’t the KND’s parents’ faces shown in the early episodes?

This practice has been going on since the beginning of animation. Sometimes there are reasons for hiding certain characters’ faces, and other times there aren’t. That used to really bug me, and maybe others, too.

However, for some reason, the creators seemed to have changed their minds later and decided to show the KND’s parents faces. But I read that they kept Numbuh 5’s mom and dads’ faces unseen.

3: Why do the creators like Numbuh 5’s braid exposed, but not Numbuh 3’s hair?

In the L.I.C.E episode, all the KND’s hair has been eaten (although lice don’t feast on hair in real life), but Numbuh 5’s braid remained. Also, Numbuh 3 wears swim caps when going in the water. And the KND’s logo originally had Numbuh 3’s ear hidden, but then made it exposed. This pattern has happened many other times. Not just in the show, but also in some computer games.

If that’s so frequent, then couldn’t the creators have just chopped off Numbuh 3’s hair from the start? Who says she needs to have long hair?

And those are the three mysteries I wonder about “Codename: Kids Next Door.”

fiction

7 is a Magic Number in “Harry Potter” and I Have 7 Unique Questions About it

I am not making up the fact that the number 7 plays an important part in the “Harry Potter” series. People have said it many times. There are 7 books in the main series, 7 Weasley siblings, 7 years at Hogwarts, 7 players per Quidditch team, and 7 horcruxes.

Anyway, here are 7 unique questions I have about the franchise.

1: Do Ilvermorny Students learn French and Spanish?

It was great to learn that there is an American wizard school. Everyone even got to learn about it in the 2016 film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.” However, it serves not only wizard children in the US, but also all of North America. That means Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

I did research on this school on a Wikia site and saw that they learn the same subjects British and Irish children learn at Hogwarts, like transfiguration, potions, and so forth. But if it’s all of North America, where some people speak Spanish or French, how do students and staff communicate with everybody?

2: Why aren’t national anthems sung before Quidditch games?

In real life, the country’s national anthem is always sung at sporting events before the games start. But in “Harry Potter”, no national anthem has been sung before Quidditch games. Obviously, muggle-borns know their country’s national anthems, but do kids who grew up in the wizarding world know them? Could the International Statue of Secrecy have gotten in the way?

3: Does Dumbledore know Harry’s handwriting?

When Harry’s name comes out of the goblet of fire in the fourth installment, everyone accuses him of cheating. But he didn’t enter. Someone else entered for him.

Although Dumbledore has a ton of responsibilities, and can’t keep track of every student’s information (such as their dates of birth), he seems to think Harry put his name in the goblet of fire right after it comes out.

I don’t remember if Harry’s handwriting was described. But does it really mimic or resemble similarities to the actual person who entered Harry into the Triwizard Tournament? At the very least, Harry would have recognized his own handwriting and may have convinced Dumbledore and everybody else that he didn’t recognize the handwriting on the parchment if it differed from the person who entered him.

4: Could Harry have forged Uncle Vernon’s handwriting for his Hogsmeade Permission Slip?

In “Prisoner of Azkaban”, Harry has his third year at Hogwarts. Third year students can visit the local village, Hogsmeade, as long as they have a parent or guardian’s permission. Harry convinces Uncle Vernon to sign his permission form, but he refuses unless Harry behaves. But Harry gets angry at Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge, and he unintentionally causes her to blow up like a balloon and fly away. So, there went his chance of getting his form signed.

However, what if Harry forged Uncle Vernon’s signature? Yes, it’s dishonest. Maybe magic has a way of detecting forgery, but I could be wrong. While the trace detects underage wizardry, I can’t imagine that it or any other magic that monitors wizards tracks every action a magician takes.

5: Why is the age of consent 17 in the wizarding world?

Authors usually have reasons behind details in their stories, especially J.K. Rowling. She chooses names and other elements carefully and with meanings. But it seems to be a mystery to why wizards are legally adults when they turn 17.

6: Who takes care of the students’ animals when they’re in classes?

For some odd reason, students are allowed to bring animals. They have owls for delivering mail. They can also bring a cat or a toad (and a rat in Ron’s case until something about that changes). But where do the animals go when students can’t be with them? How do they act? When do they get their food, relieving breaks, and so forth?

While Hagrid is the gamekeeper, he can’t possibly take care of every single animal, especially cats since they make him sneeze. Hmmm…

7: What happens if a wizard child moves to another country?

When a wizard kid is born, his or her name is added to the respected wizarding school list of their nation. Obviously, they have to grow up and be 11 by September 1st before they can attend. But schools, like Hogwarts, are only available to children in the UK and Ireland.

So, my guess is that if a magician kid moves to another country, his or her name is crossed off the old school’s list and added to the new one. For instance, if a child moves from England to France, maybe their name is removed from the Hogwarts’ list and added to the Beaubaxtons list.

That’s it for all the questions I have about “Harry Potter” that I can’t find elsewhere.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Why Hasn’t Anyone Been Nice to Harry Before His 11th Birthday?

Poor Harry is forced to live with abusive relatives for his own safety from Voldemort and death-eaters. Like many, I have wondered why no one has reported the Dursleys to authorities and why Harry hasn’t been taken away from them. Some say that the way the Dursleys treat Harry, especially making him sleep in a dirty cupboard under the staircase, would get social services involved. Others say it wasn’t bad enough for that. After doing extensive research, I found out the sad truth, besides that Dumbledore would block any muggle from taking Harry away from his relatives.

I came across an article that discussed child protection laws in the 1980’s, when Harry grew up (he was born in 1980). There were few cases reported and they involved deaths. It wasn’t until the 90’s that child protections laws became stricter and added more unacceptable ways of treating children. But if “Harry Potter” were set today, in recent years, or even the early 2000’s, I am pretty sure the way the Dursleys treated Harry would have gotten him involved with authorities long before Harry turned 11.

I also find it odd that Dumbledore gets to have a say in where Harry lives. Yes, Harry is placed there because of his mother’s protection and it’ll only work if he is with a blood relative of his mom. It remains there until Harry comes of age as long as he calls that place home.

But honestly, no child would call an abusive household “home.” I also don’t think any kid would really be safe in a home where they’re mistreated the way the Dursleys mistreat Harry. Frankly, I don’t think Harry is safe either way. I’ve read that a child who is abused can be in danger both physically and psychologically. That type of treatment can impact brain development.

Not only do I think it’s inhumane to force a kid to live with harmful people, like the Dursleys, but I also find it hard to believe that nobody would have felt sorry for someone like Harry. People have said that they found it bizarre that Harry’s abuse signs were overlooked when he went to muggle school. Some have said they weren’t surprised.

Since Little Winging was (probably) not a small town in the middle of nowhere, there had to be a lot of non-residents or new residents, whether they moved to the area, visited people they knew, worked there, and so forth. I am pretty certain that somebody would have noticed how horribly Harry was treated and wanted to take action. At least one or more people (excluding Hagrid) would have been kind to him and would have tried to help him. Or they would have wanted to.