Why is ‘The Boxcar Children’ (original book) the best children book

By: Ayane Jarso

Image taken from: Goodreads

‘The Boxcar Children’ is a wonderful book that I think is a must read for children everywhere. It tells a story about four children who recently became orphans; they create a home for themselves in the forest and live in an abandoned boxcar in secret. They fend for themselves, cook, clean, and their eldest brother goes into town for work so they have money to live off of.

You might be wondering why they didn’t try reaching out to any other family after their parents died, and they became orphans. Well, the only family member they ever heard of was their grandfather but they got the impression that he was a cruel man because he never gave them a visit.

I believe that this is one of the best children books out there because of the descriptive imagery. Reading this book I truly felt like I was there with the characters. I felt their nervousness anytime they were close to getting caught.

The author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, gives such good descriptive detail to every part of the book. The children sit down for dinner every single night and go over their days while eating their supper. It feels as if I’m on the sidelines listening to their conversation. That’s something Gertrude did really well, it doesn’t feel like a story when you read it, and as a child I felt like I was a part of the adventure which was incredible for a very imaginative young child.

Most of the book takes place out in nature, and according to Wikipedia, ‘The Boxcar Children’ was published in 1924, meaning there wasn’t much technology in the story. I think it helps remind kids that there is a whole world outside of screens and that it can be really enjoyable.

Review of the ‘Berserk’ manga: “Golden Age Arc”

By: Jalalaisa Geleto

Image taken from:                          https://www.pinterest.com/pin/798896421397535680/

‘Berserk’ is one of the greatest things I have ever read. I’m only halfway through the entire story, but I finished the most iconic and famous ‘Berserk’ arc, the “Golden Age Arc,” last week.

The “Golden Age” is the arc that is most adapted to  other media forms although the story arcs that happen after are much better. This arc is the first real arc in the manga, and it sets you on a reading binge.

I’ll divide my review into three parts: art, story, and characters.

The art in ‘Berserk’ is out of this world. Each manga panel would take me a day to complete, but the author, Miura, made thousands of these. The art in the series has the scale and detail of a renaissance painting but it doesn’t break the flow of the story necessarily. The way he draws things makes you marvel at them but It won’t make you stop for a couple of minutes and stop the flow of reading. His art is completely done with pen and pencil, you can see every mark he makes and it makes his drawings even prettier.

In the great battle scenes of ‘Berserk’ you can feel the speed, intensity, and ferocity of the battles. The line art really does convey the power behind many blows the characters give or take in the manga. The sheer ferocity of some of the character design is quite impressive.

Another thing about the art in this manga is the facial expressions of the characters. Although they can be insane and greatly exaggerated, the expressions are great and sometimes really funny.

The story of the “Golden Age” arc is great overall but it does start relatively slow. “Golden Age” is essentially a backstory for the main character and the main antagonist. Many criticized ‘Berserk’ because the prelude arc (which is two chapters long) spoils the fact that Griffith (Guts, the main character’s best friend) becomes the main villain. Miura does this though, to peak our interest and makes us want to find out more about our mysterious protagonist and antagonist.

The spoiling of it takes out the impact of what happens at the end of the “Golden Age” arc. The arc itself is extremely dark as is everything after it. I wouldn’t recommend ‘Berserk’ to anyone who has a low tolerance for, blood & gore, cursing, horror, and sexual violence.

The ‘Berserk’ story is quite straightforward during the “Golden Age” arc, and nothing of brilliance really happens until the end of the arc. The arc’s purpose is to build you up for the main story of ‘Berserk.’ It’s an arc that familiarizes you with the world. It makes you care for the characters then it finally shatters everything and puts you on an adventure with Guts.

The characters of the “Golden Age” arc is what makes it, not the plot. The plot doesn’t become the greatest of factors till the end of the arc. The characters are really likable and you enjoy all their screen times. Characters get the right amount of time in the story. You get to know and like the side characters without them bogging down the story and becoming annoying.

The main three characters – Guts, Casaka, and Griffith, are all well fleshed out and their actions reflect their character and personality. There aren’t any out of character moments with them; everything makes sense and there’s a reason for it.

Griffith, while a well fleshed out character, is still mysterious. We understand Griffith but we really don’t know much about him. I found this interesting and honestly, I don’t really need to know much of his past; it’s better off a mystery.

Overall, the “Golden Age” arc is a great beginning to an epic story. It has one of the greatest build ups and plot twists of all time. I believe it deserves to be called one of the greatest, if not the greatest, manga ever written. I’ll give the “Golden Age” arc an 8 out of 10.

Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’:  Part one – Inferno

By: Jalalaisa Geleto

‘The Divine Comedy’ is one of the greatest Christian arts ever made. The poem was started in 1308 and was completed in 1320. It was written by Dante Alighieri. It shows what the Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestants believe what the after life is.

‘The Divine Comedy’ is written in three parts. Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven). Dante goes through the multiple levels of these realms to find his love in Heaven.

The first part of the story is Inferno. There are nine levels of Hell:

The first level is Limbo. This isn’t a heavenly place, but it isn’t the worst of Hell. This is where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans go to. In actual theology, there are many areas in limbo unlike in Dante’s where it’s just one realm.

The second circle of Hell is Lust. Those who are lustful and adulterers will suffer the many punishments for the different types of lustful sin they have committed. Famous historical figures in that circle are Cleopatra and Helena of Troy. Also, a lot of adulterous Italian politicians. This will be a theme throughout the entire story. Dante depicts all of his dead political opponents being in the many levels of Hell.

The third level Hell is for the sins of Gluttony. Those who over consume and spend so much on material things instead of God are sentenced to this level. Many politicians and upper class are sent to this level in Dante’s story.

The fourth level Hell is for the sin of Greed. These are for the bankers, greedy, and overly materialistic. One of their punishments is to forever bicker over money doomed to eternal mental anguish and anger.

The fifth level of Hell is for the sin of Wrath. Those who are forever angry and wrathful towards others are sentenced to this level of Hell. One of their many punishments is to forever fight in terrible battles with each other.

The sixth level of Hell is for the sin of Heresy. Any heretical Christians go to this level of Hell. Basically, if it doesn’t line up with what the original Church fathers said, and is against all of the holy text, it is heresy and you’re going to Hell.

The seventh level of Hell is for the sin of Violence. There are three different levels, or parts, to this level for the different types of violence you can commit. The first part is for violence against people and their property. The second part for people who commit violence for themselves (suicide). The third part is for blasphemers and sodomites.

The eighth level of Hell is for the sin of Fraud. This level is obviously occupied by the fraudulent. This level is divided in ten parts and Dante sees all sorts of punishment for the different types of fraudulent things one can do in life.

The ninth level of Hell is for the sin of Treachery. This level is occupied by the first treacherous being, Satan himself, according to Dante. Satan is both being tortured and touring others. This part of Hell is frozen because Satan is always flapping his massive wings. Everyone in this level is frozen except for three people: Brutus (friend who betrayed Caesar for the Republic), Cassius (another friend of Caesar for the same reasons), and the worst of them all, Judas (the man who betrayed Lord Christ). They are forever being chewed and eaten alive by Satan’s three heads. Doomed to be regenerated and eaten forever.

‘Great Gatsby’ review

By: Mohamed Ahmed

‘The Great Gatsby’? Never heard of it. What is it? 

‘The Great Gatsby’ is a book written by a famous author called F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am going to try to determine if this book is for you. 

‘The Great Gatsby’ takes place in the 1920s. The main character/narrator is a young man with dreams of hitting it big in the bond business. After his father put a timer on him Nick rushed to find a new home which ended up being close to a distant cousin and college acquaintance. His house also put him next to the title character.

One of the things I enjoyed most is the theme of the American Dream and the harsh reality of the real world. He delves into all sorts of relationships and how not everyone gets their perfect ending. 

The story starts out very slow however. It takes a long time to set up the main characters and the new environment all while keeping the story mysterious. He slowly builds a world and gives hints to foreshadowing. 

When all the pieces are in place though, the story comes together in an incredible way. The author found a way to word the story so that he keeps the mystery of Gatsby alive, all while keeping the story flowing. 

There are lies, ghosts from the past (not literally), mistakes, and heavy plot twists. 

The most important thing about the story is that it is from an outside perspective. If the narrator was all knowing then there wouldn’t be anything left to the imagination. There are vague scenes. It leaves the story up to interpretation inviting discussion because depending on your education level, life experiences, and knowledge about the author, you will interpret scenes in different ways. 

Due to the number of times that the author rewrote it, you know that the story is carefully crafted and the words that are used are intentional. 

All-in-all, to most people, I would recommend this book, especially if you can pass the first phases when the characters are all being introduced. 

‘One Piece’ review

By: Mohamed Ahmed

What is ‘One Piece’? ‘One Piece’ is the number one best selling manga in the world. ‘One Piece’ started on June 3rd 1999 and is still going on today. During that time ‘One Piece’ broke every sales record for manga sales in manga history. It is one of the big three anime and is by far the number one most popular and best selling manga on earth. 

There is an anime show that is based on the manga ‘One Piece’. There are lots of reasons people have for not watching ‘One Piece’. The number one reason I have heard that makes sense is that it is too long. The manga, ‘One Piece’, is currently at chapter 999 and the anime has 954 episodes out. 

The reason why ‘One Piece’ failed in the west was because of the infamous 4kids dub. 4 kids was given a dubbing license as part of a package deal with some other series. ‘One Piece’ is not a show that can maintain its charm without the dark elements. The corruption of the world government, the main antagonistic force and the brutality of the pirates cannot be conveyed through censorship. 

‘One Piece’ has heart wrenching backstories and when you censor them to the point where it changes the plot, and closure is not given to the characters who found some way into the story, this takes a lot out of the way people view the series. 

The animation is another problem people have. Many ‘One Piece’ fans had that problem before watching the anime. After watching the anime people tend to miss the objectively bad animation and have a sense of nostalgia. That said, some people cannot watch something if it doesn’t suit their standards. 

Overall, I feel that people should give this series a chance, and not just rely on what the internet says about it. 

Manga rating: 10/10 

Anime rating 8/10

The story behind the Utah Monolith

By: Caden Ligman

On November 18th, the Utah Department of Public Safety was conducting a routine count of bighorn sheep when they came across the tall, metallic structure. They had no idea what, or where, this mysterious structure came from. Pilot Bret Hutchings, who was flying the plane that spotted the monolith structure said, “It felt like a scene right out of the Stanley Kubrick ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.'”

With so many questions floating in people’s heads, the biggest one was, why put a structure like this in a place so remote?

As soon as the monolith was reaching its peak of internet fame, it disappeared. The disappearance of the monolith was just as strange as the discovery. The disappearance occurred only nine days after it was discovered leaving civilians and the government questioning where this thing came from.

Not surprisingly, one of the most popular theories for why this monolith came and went so quickly was: aliens.

As strange as the monolith is, the idea of aliens is quite facilitating. This theory circled the internet, becoming a meme among social media users. Even the San Juan County Sheriff’s department poked fun at the ideas, posing on their Twitter a collage of aliens, captioned, “If you recognize anyone from this lineup provided as being in the area of the strange structure on the night of November 27, please let us know!”

While the idea of aliens is entertaining, a more realistic explanation for this monolith is that it was a piece of art. Many people believe the monolith to be the work of the minimalist sculptor, John McCracken. McCracken’s style of art matched the Utah Monolith perfectly.

The majority of people close to McCracken, however, do not believe that he would leave his work in a desert. His son, on the other hand, recalled a conversation he had with his father in an interview with the New York Times. He told reporters, “We were standing outside looking at the stars and he said something to the effect of that he would like to leave his artwork in remote places to be discovered later.”

There are many theories circling the internet of where this mysterious structure came from and why it vanished so quickly.

What was the purpose of this monolith? And why was it placed in the middle of the Utah desert? These questions are what has kept the internet buzzing. What do you think the real story behind the monolith is?

For more information, please visit:

Six reasons to read ‘Six of Crows’

By: Annika Getz

‘Six of Crows’ is a fantasy fiction novel written by Leigh Bardugo, with a sequel called ‘Crooked Kingdom’. It’s an amazing book, and there are a lot of things I love about it.

One thing I adore about this book is the dialogue and banter between the characters. It’s entertaining and interesting to read through their interactions. It also keeps the book a bit more light-hearted and fun. This is not to say that the story is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s deliciously dark, and filled with malice, which is why the witty banter and joking dialogue is so refreshing.

Another great thing about this book is how lovable the characters are. Each one is relatable and easy to connect with. I found myself immediately attached to them, which made the book all the more enjoyable.

Sticking with the topic of characters, I have to say that another thing I loved was the development each character went through throughout the duology. They ended up being well rounded and flawed characters. This made them feel more real, and engulfed me further into the story.

Something else I loved was simply how amazing the plot was. It was entertaining and captivating. Once the story really took off (since the first bit is just set up obviously), I was never bored while reading. It kept me entranced throughout the whole book.

This brings me to my next point, which is that the book really keeps you on the edge of your seat. The suspense is wonderful, it keeps you captivated and really brings you into the story. It’s almost like you’re really there with the characters, going on their adventures with them.

My final point, and perhaps my favorite thing about the book, is that there is so much representation. There are POC characters, LGBTQIA+ characters, characters with disabilities, characters who struggle with addiction, and so much more. But one thing that I loved about the representation was that most of it wasn’t a big deal. The entire characters weren’t based around their sexualities or their disabilities, it was just a part of them. It was refreshing to see characters who faced no invalidation whatsoever.

So there you have it. Six reasons I’d suggest reading the ‘Six of Crows’ duology.

Mental illnesses expressed through art

By: Grace Blummer-Lamotte

There are many different mental illnesses in the world. This can include depression, anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Schizophrenia, ADHD, and many others.

Some choose to show their feelings through journaling, painting, drawing, sketching, charcoal, and other mediums. Usually many different artworks have a bigger meaning behind the actual art: it could be a personal connection or a traumatic experience. 

Around the end of June, in summer 2020, I struggled a lot with my mental health. I went through many different programs and I still am. I like showing my feelings of my mental illnesses through art. I do not like talking about it because I feel like I can’t find the words, but I can draw pictures of it. I currently have a sketchbook full of many of my paintings of my feelings throughout the past 4 months. 

To other people, they just see a simple painting. They don’t see the big picture behind it. One of my paintings has a human head profile that appears to be drowning, with their mouth stitched up. Many people just see an amazing painting and don’t ask about the story behind it. My story behind this specific drawing is when I was at the lowest point in my life I felt like I was drowning. I was drowning but I couldn’t say anything because my mouth was stitched up. The water represented my thoughts and feelings. I just had to sit there in my thoughts and feelings and not say anything about it; drowning silently while having no one notice, no one care, no one supporting me. 

According to the Western Journal of Medicine, the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh had evidence of manic depression and alcohol abuse. Much of his artwork could suggest a bigger story behind them. He uses the color yellow a lot in all of his art; that could be because of his alcohol abuse, as he drank absinthe that contains thujone. “Excessive consumption of this liqueur may cause the consumer to see all objects with a yellow hue.” Another explanation of this theory was Van Gogh using overmedication with digitalis. When people receive large doses of this medication they often see the world with a yellow/green-tint. In his most famous painting, “The Starry Night”, he produces a bit of the color yellow around the painting. Sadly in 1890 he committed suicide.

Read Brave

By: Vivian S

Are you looking for a new book to read, despite the fact that you never get around to reading anything, and your pile of recommendations is growing in the corner of your house, and you can’t motivate yourself to read them? So am I!

The Saint Paul Public Libraries are once again doing their yearly Read Brave program. Read Brave is a city-wide program where everyone is encouraged to read the same one or two books to learn about an issue facing our world.

The issue this year is climate justice. The main book is The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, with a non-fiction option Climate Justice by Mary Robinson.

The Marrow Thieves is a dystopian young-adult novel, taking place in a future in which climate change has destroyed the whole world, and people no longer have the ability to dream. Indigenous people are the only ones still able to dream, and are hunted for it. The story follows Frenchie, who is on the run.

Climate Justice is about the impact climate change has on ordinary people, and their struggles to survive and find sustainable solutions.

I have not read these books, so most of that information came from their summaries (which aren’t always representative of what the book will be about).

At the end of the program, the Read Brave author, who this year is Cherie Dimaline, will visit Saint Paul and talk about the book. Dimaline will be coming March 11th through the 13th.

The book club will be reading The Marrow Thieves for their February meeting, and already have copies, so if you are interested, visit Ms. Rahman. The environmental club will be reading Climate Justice.

Read Brave is one of the biggest programs sponsored by the Saint Paul libraries, and an amazing opportunity to read a new perspective and meet an author. I, for one, will be taking advantage of this program.

Book review on ‘Red Queen’


“I grew up wondering if I’d have enough food for supper; now I’m standing in a palace about to be eaten alive” – Mare Barrow

This quote is from the book: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. 

This is the first book of Victoria Aveyard’s four book series. It is a fantasy novel for young adults. The book has a dystopian type of atmosphere and it contains a lot of action through the entire novel. It has a hint of romance throughout the novel as well. 

The novel is based on the separation of different groups of people. There are those born with red blood and those with silver blood. The Reds (those born with red blood) are born as normal human beings, unlike the Silvers (those born with silver blood) who are born with supernatural powers that allow them to control certain things. 

Mare Barrow, a Red, lives her life in poverty alongside her family and other Reds. She steals in order to try and keep her family stable. One day while she is stealing she meets a mysterious man and the next thing she knew she was working for the King. 

At the King’s palace, she realizes that she has a supernatural power like the Silvers. All Silvers in the different powerful houses witness Mare’s supernatural power. The fact that she is a Red with powers could disrupt the hierarchy that the King rules over, so the King decides to give her a fake identity. 

The rest of the book tells of her journey as a Silver with Red blood.

The book jumps straight into the problems with the society and the harsh conditions that Mare and other Reds must face. The book keeps a consistent pace when revealing information and when placing action throughout the plot. 

The book has a slight touch of humor with Mare’s intriguing and stubborn personality. The book keeps the reader interested, hanging off the edge of their seat to find out what will happen next. 

I would give this book a 5/5.