Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review #3- The House Of The Scorpion

File:Emperor scorpion or Imperial scorpion (Pandinus imperator).jpg

     The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, is about Matteo "Matt" Alacran, the clone of El Patron, the ruler of a country called Opium. Matt was grown inside a cow from a skin sample from El Patron. He originally lived in a house in a poppy field with Celia, who cooked for the Alacran family, but when he was six, he was discovered by some children who were visiting the Alacrans. They took him to the Alacran house after he cut himself badly on some glass, and the household staff discovered that he was a clone. He was then locked up in a room full of sawdust for six months until Celia found him with the help of Maria, one of the children who found him in the fields, and he was freed. After this, Matt went to live with Celia in an apartment in the Alacrans' house and he was assigned Tam Lin, one of El Patron's bodyguards, to watch over him. Matt lived in the Alacran household for years, feared and hated by everyone except for Maria, Celia, Tam Lin, and El Patron. He thought he was there so that El Patron could be reminded of himself when he was younger, but he later learned that El Patron just wanted him to be used for organ transplants, just like all the other clones. However, when El Patron finally called him to the hospital so that he could take Matt's heart to replace his, Celia revealed that she had fed Matt poison for years so that his heart would be weakened enough so that El Patron would die if he took it. Matt then ran away, escaped into Aztlan, and worked at a plankton factory, where he befriended boys named Chacho, Fidelito, and  Ton-Ton. With the help of Ton-Ton, Matt and his friends escaped from the factory and went to the Convent of Santa Clara, where Maria was living. When he got there, Matt reunited with Maria and learned from her mother,Esperanza, that since El Patron had died, Matt was now considered human. Matt then went back to Opium and learned that at El Patron's funeral, everyone there except a bodyguard who had been warned away by Tam Lin drank from a bottle of wine that El Patron wanted drunk at his funeral. The wine turned out to be poisoned, because El Patron wanted them all with him in the afterlife. Matt then resolved to break down the empire of Opium.

A theme in The House of the Scorpion is, "The truth must be revealed." I saw this theme in the quote, "Matt's education and accomplishments were a sham. It didn't matter how intelligent he was. In the end, the only thing that mattered was how strong his heart was. (p. 216)" This quote shows that Matt had previously thought that El Patron cared for him and wanted him to help run Opium when he grew up, but when he learned that he was just meant to be a heart donor for El Patron, he was able to escape and survive. This theme was also apparent in the quote "'Felicia poisoned Furball,' Maria said. (p. 164)" Maria had believed that Matt poisoned her dog, Furball, but when it was revealed that Felicia had done it, she forgave Matt and thought of him as more humane. Finally, this theme was evident in the quote "But then she said, 'The warehouse full of laudanum is also a myth, I suppose?' (p. 361)" Esperanza, Maria's mother, had wondered how drugs were being distributed in Aztlan, but when she learned that the Keepers were distributing the drugs, she was able to stop them from doing it. These quotes demonstrate that a theme in The House of the Scorpion is, "The truth must be revealed."
     I would recommend The House of the Scorpion to other seventh-grade readers because it is full of excitement. It has a wide variety of believable characters. Also, it contains many motivational messages. All of these things combined make The House of the Scorpion an excellent book. That is why I would recommend it to other seventh-grade readers.

     My favorite character from The House of the Scorpion was Maria Mendoza, daughter of a US senator and a Nobel Peace Prize-winning, anti-slavery mother, and Matt's best friend and eventual love interest. I like Maria because she is a very realistic character. She has many virtues, but she also has many flaws, which can at times be irritating, but also make her extremely believable. Also, she is very enthusiastic and finds beauty in everything. This is why Maria is my favorite character from The House of the Scorpion.

Other books by Nancy Farmer are The Lord of Opium (the sequel to The House of the Scorpion), The Sea of TrollsThe Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, and A Girl Named Disaster.

I got the picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_scorpion

More about The House of the Scorpion

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Debate Script

Proposition: Everyone should have to play a sport.

Position: Negative

     I'm Abigail FitzGibbon and I'm debating the negative of the proposition: Everyone should have to play a sport. First, many people dislike playing sports. Second, sports uniforms can be horrible. Third, there are other, better ways to exercise besides playing sports. Fourth, playing a sport often requires that you go on sports trips, which can be unpleasant and unaffordable. This is why everyone should not have to play a sport.

     To start with, there are lots of people who find playing sports loathsome. Some consider sports pointless. Others think that it encourages an unhealthily competitive mindset. Many are not very strong or fast or have little stamina and find the physical exertion needed to ploay a sport unwelcome. There are many sports in which you have to play on a team, and more antisocial people would dislike the interaction with others that being on a team would necessitate. These are all reasons why people hate playing sports.

     Next, many sports require you to wear uniforms, and these uniforms can be appalling for a variety of reasons. Sports uniforms can be in gaudy colors or made out of uncomfortable material. They can be too big, too small, or too revealing. Also, these uniforms can be overly hot or cold, and some are very impractical. If they possess these or other flaws, sports uniforms can be simply awful.

     Also, the main purpose of sports is to help you exercise, but there are better ways to exercise that do not involve playing sports. For example, you could walk, run, hike, bike, or do a variety of other things. Such methods of exercise would not require you to pay money, wear uniforms, do things with a team, or suffer through several other common disadvantages of playing sports. Also, these exercises can be done at any time, but playing a sport can usually only be done at regularly scheduled times. For these reasons, there are much better ways to exercise than by playing sports.

     Finally, playing sports frequently means that you have to go on sports trips, which can be both terrible and impractical. Sports trips usually need you to pay money to go on them, and many families cannot afford to pay this money. However, they may feel obliged to pay if you are on a team, and this could cause a budget crisis. Also, sports trips may be repugnant to those who go on them. You might have to stay in a vile hotel, become sunburned or contract hypothermia due to severe climates, lose precious possessions due to a mishap with luggage, or experience various other nightmarish travesties. As you can see, a sports trip can be a living hell due to many things.

     Everyone should certainly not have to play a sport! If all people had to participate in sports, this could result in mass depression and ennui from those who dislike sports, a veritable plague of irritating uniforms, less use of the many superior ways to exercise, and many terrible sports trips. For the sake of our population's health, wealth and happiness, let playing a sport never be mandatory!