The Danger Box: Blue Balliett’s Latest Adventure/Mystery

Zoomy was dropped off at his Grandparents’ house when he was three days old.  He had lived there ever since, in Three Oaks, a small town in Michigan.  Zoomy Chamberlain Lived in peace, until his severely alcoholic father showed up at the Chamberlain house.  He gave the Chamberlain family a box to sell in their store, and that’s where the story truly begins…

The Danger box is a suspenseful mystery novel.  The main hero of the book, Zoomy, is a twelve year old boy who has long, messy hair, is a fairly good detective, and is legaly blind.  Despite only being able to see a few inches from his nose with clarity, He sees the world much, much differently than the other kids in his neighborhood  and is very smart.  In fact, when he meets a girl named Lorrol, she nicknames him “Brain Boy”.  Although the mystery Zoomy and Lorrol solve takes center stage, the book is really about Charles Darwin’s life, secrets and how some people see the world differently than others.

When Zoomy’s s father left, Zoomy decided to go to the library to conduct some research into his father “Buckeye”, who he was, and whether he had done anything noteworthy.  What he had done was not exactly honorable.  He had stolen a truck from an antique dealer, and the box was in the truck at the time.  But after reading the book that was inside the box and discovering that it had something to do with Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle, Zoomy decided not to tell the police.

When Zoomy and Lorrol start to write a newspaper  about Darwin’s life called the Gas Gazette, you won’t be able to stop turning pages.  The suspenseful endings of each chapter will keep you reading.  Over all, The Danger Box is an immersive, interesting, And sometimes humorous story.

My Youngzine Article

I wrote an article on youngzine about how kids can share big ideas with the world through a platform called TEDxYouth.  TEDxYouth is an annual conference where kids, no matter how old, can share their ideas and help create the big picture.  

Oliver Twist

“Please, sir, I want some more.”, says poor young Oliver twist before he is sold for five pounds to work for an undertaker.

“Please, sir, I want some more.”, is a famous quote from a book we’ve all heard of called Oliver twist, by an author we’ve all heard of named Charles Dickens.  This book is about a boy named Oliver Twist, (as the title suggests, )Who Is abducted and used by a band of thieves led by a criminal named Fagin.  It is a very engaging book, filled with mystery, escape, murder, betrayal and other interesting themes.

This book takes place in England, which at that time was a very unjust society.  Many of the themes in the book have to do with injustice committed against the poor, good VS. evil, and mistaken identity.

Some of the main characters are : Oliver : Oliver Twist is an orphan who is particularly mistreated and beaten.  In one scene, he loses his temper and attacks Noah Claypole, who at the time is insulting Oliver’s mother.  The main mystery of the book is who Oliver’s mother is.

Nancy : She is one of Fagin’s gang of young pickpockets, only she still has a sense of morality left in her.  She risks (and eventually loses) her life for young Oliver.

Sikes : Sikes is another criminal in the book.  He is more cunning than Fagin, and even scares him.  When Sikes finds out that Nancy ratted him out to help Oliver, he kills her.  However, in the next chapter, he accidentally hangs himself (ironic, huh?).

The time that Dickens was writing about was an era when something called The Poor Law was in effect.  The poor law was a law that made every parish construct a workhouse (a house where the poor could learn valuable trades).  The only problem was, as demonstrated in the book, the people who ran the workhouses where mean, and they would steal from the poor and starve them (and often, they would horribly abuse them).

This book is a classic novel, and it uses the most beautiful form of language to protest injustice.  Add this to your summer reading list to travel back in time to accompany Oliver on his journey.

Old Tech vs New Tech

Let me tell you a story…

a couple of months ago, I was going yard sale hunting when I came across an old rotary phone.  I immediately got very exited, since I had been wanting one for a long time.  I like old technology like this because it’s unusual.  This leads us to the subject of old tech vs new tech.  

Old tech                                                                 New tech

Large, loud, heavy                                                   Light, quiet, small

Old camera ran on film                                                  Digital camera has a Memory chip

Rotary phone could only call and receive calls          iPhone can do almost anything

Typewriters could only type                                     Computer can type and alot of other things

in other words, new technology has a lot of advantages over old technology, for example, :

The iPhone can go on the internet, watch videos, take pictures and videos and make calls.  a computer can do the same.  Digital cameras can take pictures and video, and the pictures don’t have to be developed.

Old technology had it’s limits, but without old technology, new technology would never exist.  After all, old technology inspired new technology.

The Hacker Space That all the Other Ones Call “Sir”

My first words When I saw the hackerspace at FamiLAB were :  O.  M.  G!  It was in a huge warehouse.  Not only that, it was full of 3D Printers, breadboards, circuit boards digitizers, computers, remote controllers, batteries, cameras, motion detectors, lights, microcontroller, processors, and just about anything else you can think of.  I attended an Arduino class.  An Arduino is a microprocessor that you can program to do just about anything.  A hackerspace is a place where you can take something electronic, and re-program it and maybe even rebuild it!  And a hackerspace is probably the best place to learn about Arduino.  I learned how to program an Arduino, and how to set up a circuit using a breadboard hooked up to the Arduino.  I learned how to controll an LED light to make it flicker on and off, I learned how to controll it’s brightness, and I even learned how to control it with a button!    This is a very inspiring, and amazing place, I can’t wait to go back there.

Lord of the Flies : A Book Review

It is no ordinary book.  It isn’t a book for beginners.  Lord of the Flies is a book about human nature, and the potential for both good, and evil inside us.  The book starts when a group         of english school boys are being evacuated because of a nuclear war and their plane is shot down.  Their plane crashes on a tropical island, a Paradise if you will.  A paradise where there are no grownups, teachers, bullies.  A paradise where they can play without supervision until they are rescued.  But will They be rescued?  That is where an older boy named Ralph is elected leader of the boys.  But when Ralph is elected chief, and starts giving out orders to make a signal fire, another boy named Jack gets more and more jealous of Ralph.  Eventually Jack goes to the opposite end of the island, and forms his own tribe.  This “tribe” of Jack’s however becomes more and more cruel, and they start hunting the wild pigs that live on the island.  eventually two of the kids on the island are killed by Jack’s regime, and they try to kill Ralph.  The book is basically a response to another book called “The Coral Island, by R. M. Ballantyne which is in a similar setting, except in that book the school boys did the right thing.  The book Lord of the Flies is a response saying : no, man is not inherently good, man is inherently evil.  Two other very important characters in the book are Simon and Piggy.  Simon represents goodness, and is in some ways a prophet, and Piggy represents reason, and intellect.  Jack represents the potential for evil inside us, and ralph represents democracy.  Some of the important themes in this book are : good vs evil, betrayal, and loss of innocence.   This book is an allegory, on one side it has a story, but on the other side there is a lesson about human nature.

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles : a Book Review

The underlying themes in this book are important ones.  The themes of the book that are woven through the fabric of the story include jealousy, betrayal, loss of innocence and friendship.  The plot of the book is about a bunch of ordinary kids at a boarding school.  It starts with one of the kids, Gene, coming back to his school, Devon, as an older man.  He comes to the tree he remembers so well from his youth and has a flashback.  It starts with the kids all gathered around the tree.  “You know what I like about this tree?”  is the opening line of the flashback, which is said by Phineas, Gene’s friend.  The relationship between Phineas and Gene changes throughout the story as events unfold, and a kangaroo trial is held for Gene by the other kids in the school.  The story winds in and out of Devon as it goes along.  All of the kids are talking about enlisting in the army (the story takes place during World War II) and an incident between the boys at the school starts out as tiny as an ant and ends up being a very dark misfortune.  The book is like an onion.  There is a story, but there are also layers beneath the main story that are just waiting to be discovered.