Unwanteds

Unwanteds

Why are children so creative? So imaginative? So observant? Children, especially the younger ones, have little knowledge of the world and how it works, so their minds are open and their ideas are amazing. Not usually logical, but super crazy and creative.

As I was thinking about how jealous I am of children and their imaginations, I, being the book-loving maniac I am, thought of a book called Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. Before I get into why I thought of this book, I’ll give you a general summary.

This story takes place in the future in a dystopian society called Quill that highly discourages any creativity of any kind. When children turn thirteen, they are sorted into three categories: Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. The Wanteds are the most intelligent children, the Necessaries are average, and the Unwanteds are children who have disobeyed the law and done something artistic like telling stories or drawing. The Unwanteds are sent off in a bus to be killed in the lake of fire. Or so everyone thinks. While Aaron Stowe becomes a Wanted, his twin brother Alex Stowe becomes an Unwanted condemned to death because he broke the law and drew a picture. At the end of the bus ride, instead of being thrown into a lake of fire, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are welcomed into a magical world called Artime, which was created by Mr. Today. Here, citizens are free to express themselves and practice their artistic abilities. In Artime, strange creatures and talking statues abound and the Unwanteds learn to use their creativity as weapons…literally.

Quick fangirl moment: Amazing series! It’s not over yet either. The next book come out in the fall. Is this series for ages 8-12? Yep. And do I care? Nope, not really. I think I like these books for younger children because then I don’t have to deal with ridiculous teenage drama/romance/angst blah blah blah. *cough cough*…Oh, I’m not even going to say it! You probably know what series I’m thinking of. Of course, not all teenage books are like this, I’m just complaining about a lot of them. With middle school books, I can focus on the amazingness of the story itself! Alright, fangirl moment over. Back to the topic at hand.

So why did I think of this book? Probably because I admire the creativity of this story. In this story, art is magic. You can fold an origami dragon and bring it to life or draw a door that can take you anywhere. Basically, its my dream come true. It reminds me of when I was a child and I played make-believe with my friends. I would always pretend that I had a magic pencil that would make anything I drew come to life.

I think that children’s ability to notice and admire the most mundane objects also contributes to their imagination. They see and marvel at little details that older people often fail to notice. Like the swirling of colors on a bubble, the fine pattern of veins on a leaf, even the fascinating map work of cracks on an old sidewalk. I mean, sure, we see a rainbow and we think “Wow, look a rainbow! It’s so beautiful! We hardly ever see those!” I’m not saying anything bad about rainbows; I love them, but I think we often overlook the little beautiful details we see everyday, like the sparkle of dew in the grass in the early morning. Believe me when I say that little kids notice these things; I know. I have LOTS of little siblings. Too many in fact (Just kidding guys, I love you!) Anyway, their fascinating ideas and observations never fail to amuse me. I followed their example; now, when I go for walks or have to ride my bike somewhere, I try to spot interesting details in my surroundings. I found that when I slowed down a bit when I rode my bike and paid close attention to details around me, the ride was much less boring. When I did this, I also began to reflect on things I usually don’t even think about. This activity opened my mind. I know you’re probably all very busy, and that’s probably why older people don’t notice little things as much, but next time you go somewhere, pay close attention to details. It’ll make the journey more interesting!

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Harry Potter vs. Mom

Harry Potter vs. Mom

Hey guys. Most of you have probably read the Harry Potter series. For those of you who haven’t, you should. They are amazing books. Even if you don’t like reading, I believe you will enjoy Harry Potter. Here’s why.

One of my earliest memories is of me, my mom, and my sister at our elementary school book fair. I remember seeing many huge tables piled high with books. Perhaps it just looked that way because I was so small. One table in particular seemed to stand out. It was obviously the most popular. Children crowded around the table, clutching the books and their merchandise excitedly to their chests, looking up hopefully at their parents with pleading eyes. I certainly did not understand how they could get so excited over such huge, thick books; especially when they could read fun, colorful books like Curious George or Green Eggs and Ham instead. Nevertheless, I was curious. I asked my mom what all those books were called that everyone seemed so excited about. “Harry Potter,” she told me with a look of disgust on her face. She also told me that I could never, ever read them because they were evil books full of dark magic and sorcery. I did what all five-year old do: nod and agree. From then on, Harry Potter became the “forbidden book”.

Years went by, and rebellious thoughts about reading Harry Potter hadn’t crossed my mind. Until sixth grade. By this time, I absolutely loved reading. I found books about magic and supernatural worlds especially fascinating. I knew some of my friends loved the Harry Potter series. One of my friends was a particularly huge fan. She had posters, merchandise, and the books, which she had read many times. When the last movie came out, she waited hours in line for the midnight showing. At a school show when we had to chose to be a character from a book, she immediately decided to become Hermione.

By eighth grade, I was dying of curiosity. One week, I ran out of books to read. I was bored. The temptation was too great. I borrowed the series from my friends next door and I finished all seven books within the week. I instantly fell in love with the series.

In ninth grade, the subject came up and I told my mom that I had read the books and that I loved them. To my surprise, instead of getting angry and giving me a stern lecture about how evil Harry Potter is, she merely shook her head, laughed a little, and sounding exasperated, she sighed, “Oh, Adrianna…” I could tell she was disappointed in me, but she seemed too tired to reproach me about my reading choices. I was relieved.

After that, I passionately defended the Harry Potter books whenever the subject came up and my mom spoke badly of it. One day, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I went to the library with my mom to help her pick out some books for my younger brother. She disapproved when she saw that one of the books was called Magyk. She told me that she certainly did not want my brother Daniel’s mind to become infected with books about evil magic and sorcery. I asked her, “What’s so bad about magic?” She replied, “Magic is raising demons and using dark evil magic…” I almost laughed. Clearly, we had very different opinions on the definition of “magic”. My definition is more like Cinderella’s fairy godmother and Tinker Bell. I grew up watching Disney. I was offended that she had such a low opinion of a book she had never read. So I insisted she read it. For the next week, I persisted in asking her. Every time she refused. Since I am very stubborn, I checked the book out of the library and began to read it to her during her small pockets of free time: while she was doing laundry, while she was eating, etc. At first she did not share her thoughts on the book. One day while I was doing homework, she randomly turned to me and told me she actually liked the story. I smiled, feeling triumphant, and tried to resist the urge to say “I told you so.”

So there has been an interesting development in this story recently. I finished reading the first three books to my mom, but then I got too busy with school. Over winter break, I noticed that she was more tired and more irritable than usual. About a week after break, I realized I still had four book left to read so I asked my mom if she wanted to finish. She turned to me with a look of guilt on her face and told me that she had a confession to make: she had secretly finished the series over break. I laughed so hard; this is like a repeat of eighth grade but in reverse.

That’s why I love Harry Potter. It’s written at a lower reading level, but it is a great story for people of all ages. If your nine or ninety-nine, you can read it. If my magic-hating mother likes Harry Potter so much that she will stay up late secretly reading them behind her daughter’s back, then I am sure you will too.