ELA in the middle

Middle School English, Language Arts

Eleanor & Park Author Rainbow Rowell Talks Fifty Shades and Franzen

To read full article here: http://time.com/3714753/rainbow-rowell-interview/

Did you see Jonathan Franzen’s comments last week about young-adult fiction being “moral simplicity”? What did you think?
I didn’t see his quote, so I hate to respond to a quote that I didn’t see, but it’s a common thing to say. If he said that, he’s not alone in saying that. I don’t think people would be saying that if YA wasn’t popular right now. A lot of people look at something popular, and they’re dismissive of it because they don’t understand it. If you think YA is simple, you probably haven’t read a lot of it. But YA is not a genre. It’s just this really loosely defined category of books. If YA had always been this popular category, a lot of books we think of as classics would be YA. The Catcher in the Rye? Without question. Also, I don’t know that people just read YA. So I don’t know what he says, but I’m familiar with the argument.

How is writing the screenplay for Eleanor & Park?
I have finished a first draft, and DreamWorks is talking to a possible director.

Does adapting your own book feel like doing surgery on your own children, as I’ve heard one author describe it?
It felt more like trying to like transmogrify a dog into a cat and keeping it alive. I think it would be easier to adapt someone else’s novel or write a screenplay from scratch. It was difficult, and I’m sure it will continue to change. It’s just like learning how to do it on the job. Eleanor and Park is a tricky book because almost everything happens internally. There’s a lot unsaid. I had to figure out how to show it in the screenplay, but whoever directs the film will ultimately make those decisions. A movie belongs to a director much more to a screenwriter.

Will you be on set and involved in casting in the way John Green is with the movie versions of his books?
That really depends on the movie company and the director and how involved they want me to be. It’s someone else’s party. There are some directors who find the author really helpful, and there are others who are like, “I need to stay fresh and do my own thing.” Which I would understand because the director of the film has a completely different job. So I’m for it, I’d love to be involved. What I want is a director who really can make it happen. I want that more than I want to be involved.

Use for Persuasive/Argument

Watch Mark Hamill warn moviegoers not to talk or text during show — exclusive


Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has enlisted Mark Hamill to employ his Jedi mind tricks to sway moviegoers not to talk or text during a show.

In the video above, the Star Wars actor joins the ranks of Hollywood talent to make a PSA for the popular Texas-based Alamo chain, which has famously led the charage against disruptive moviegoers with its strict No Talking, No Texting, No Late Seating policy.

Hamill’s entry was made during his promotional rounds for the upcoming spy film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which opens Feb. 13, and of course The Force Awakens continues the Star Warsfranchise this December. Check out his video – the admonishing is strong with this one!

And I can’t let this opportunity pass without also embedding Alamo’s most famous no-talking PSA ever, below. If you’ve never seen it, this is a work of genius, both accidential (the caller) and intentional (the PSA editor). When this plays in Austin theaters, veteran theatergoers will recite it aloud. Warning: The language is NSFW.


Harper Lee: Mockingbird sequel on the way (July 2015)

Big book news!

A new (old) Harper Lee novel is coming this summer. It will be the author’s first new work in more than 50 years.

Publisher Harper announced Tuesday that Go Set a Watchman, a novel the Pulitzer Prize-winning author completed in the 1950s and put aside, will be released July 14.

It’s essentially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, although it was finished before that classic, reports AP.


Fans overjoyed that Harper Lee is publishing a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ sequel

The publisher plans a first printing of 2 million copies.

“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ ” the 88-year-old Lee said in a statement issued by Harper.

“It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) from the point of view of the young Scout.

“I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

According to the publisher, Carter came upon the manuscript at a “secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The new book is set in Lee’s Maycomb, Ala., during the mid-1950s, 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus,” says the publisher’s announcement. “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.”

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is among the most beloved novels

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is among the most beloved novels in history, with sales topping 40 million copies. (Photo: USA


The 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2015

By Gabe Habash |

The 2015 book/movie relationship has already started off on the right foot with news that Jennifer Lopez’s character in The Boy Next Door (an English teacher) is given a “first edition” of The Iliad by the boy next door. Let’s see if any of these book to movie adaptations can top that.

10. Fifty Shades of Grey (February 13)

Some pertinent facts about Fifty Shades of Grey:

-It’s been rated R for “some unusual behavior.” I’m serious.

-One of the book’s raunchiest moments has been cut, and it wasn’t even considered to make the film, because, says the director, it “served no purpose in furthering the plot”

-For research, Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey, sat in a dungeon and watched a BDSM scene play out, and had this to say: “I think plane spotting is far weirder than S&M. That I really don’t get. I can understand why people are into S&M, but standing outside Heathrow Terminal 5 waiting for Ryanair to come in?”

-It’s 122 minutes long

9. The End of the Tour (TBA 2015)

This adaptation of David Lipsky’s 2010 book about the road trip he took with David Foster Wallace has already ruffled some feathers–most importantly, Wallace’s family has objected, saying: “David would never have agreed that those saved transcripts could later be repurposed as the basis of a movie.” But early reviews out of Sundance are very positive, so who knows. The film follows Wallace (Jason Segal) and Rolling Stone reporter Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) on the last leg of Wallace’s Infinite Jest tour.

8. Carol (TBA 2015)

This book-to-film adaptation has been at least 11 years in the making, but is finally hitting post-production. It’s based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel (also known as The Price of Salt, which she first published under the name Claire Morgan), which was initially banned because 1950s readers couldn’t handle the story of a married woman (played by Cate Blanchett) falling in love with a young girl (played by Rooney Mara). Highsmith books lend themselves particularly well to the big screen (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train), so hopes are high for this one.

7. Beasts of No Nation (TBA 2015)

Beasts of No Nation is based on the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala, a must-read about a boy who gets swept up in his country’s civil war and joins a mercenary unit. The film stars Idris Elba and is directed by Cary Fukunaga–who also directed the 2011 Jane Eyre, but is perhaps most famous for that True Detective shot.

6. The Martian (November 25)

Andy Weir’s novel The Martian came out just last year, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by PW. The story follows an astronaut stuck on Mars with dwindling supplies. Matt Damon will play protagonist Mark Watney, and Ridley Scott will direct.

5. Dark Places (TBA 2015)

For the second straight year audiences will get a Gillian Flynn adaptation–and this one looks just as devious as Gone Girl. Charlize Theron plays a woman who as a child survived the killing of her family, for which her brother was convicted. Decades later, the truth of the incident is explored by a group of amateur investigators, who believe the brother is innocent. Back in our 2009 review of Flynn’s novel, we said, “When the truth emerges, it’s so twisted that even the most astute readers won’t have predicted it.”

4. Paper Towns (June 5)

John Green’s 2008 novel goes to the big screen with the same writers who adapted The Fault in Our Stars. In Paper Towns, Quentin (Nat Wolff, who played Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars) goes on a road trip to find the girl next door, who’s gone missing.

3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (November 20)

For the fourth year in a row, we get to watch Katniss battle evil, in the final installment of Suzanne Collins’s series. Hopefully, Part 2 won’t suffer Peter Jackson Syndrome (defined as “the incessant need to stretch source material to its [unnecessary] limit in order to make more profit”) like Part 1did.

2. In the Heart of the Sea (December 11)

Um…have you seen that trailer? In the Heart of the Sea, directed by Ron Howard, is based on the book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick, which is an account of the whaleship Essex‘s journey, a disaster that included being targeted by a vengeful whale, the real-life inspiration forMoby-Dick. This version promises to include 100% less Gregory Peck screaming and 100% moretortoise eating. The film has already been pushed back from March to December, presumably to position it for awards.

1. The Revenant (December 25)

If you’re going by sheer pedigree, the case for The Revenant (based on Michael Punke’s 2003 novel) sells itself: it stars Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio and it’s directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (fresh off Birdman). But perhaps most intriguing is that it’s being shot only in natural light in the Alberta wilderness, which gives only a few workable hours per day for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki–one of the best in the business: he shot The Tree of Life,Gravity, Birdman, Children of Men (remember those long takes?), and a whole bunch of other films crammed with frameable shots like this, and this, and this.

The Revenant is about a fur trapper (DiCaprio) in the 19th century left for dead after being mauled by a grizzly bear–who then survives and battles the elements to exact vengeance on his traitorous former team member (Hardy). Said Inarritu: “It’s a very experimental thing that we’re doing here…I’m now addicted to doing things that can fail horribly or maybe that can give us a surprise. We are all into it.”


Examining Mortality

The Flat Rabbit: A Minimalist Scandinavian Children’s Book about Making Sense of Death and the Mysteries of Life


A gentle and assuring reminder that we don’t have all the answers.

Neil Gaiman, in discussing his gorgeous new adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, asserted that we shouldn’t protect ourselves and children from the dark. But when the thickest darkness comes, in childhood as much as in adulthood, it brings with it not the monsters and witches of fairy tales but the tragedies of life itself — nowhere more acutely than in confronting death and its ghouls of grief. And when it does come, as Joan Didion memorably put it, it’s “nothing like we expect it to be.” What we need isn’t so much protection as the shaky comfort of understanding — a sensemaking mechanism for the messiness of loss.

That’s precisely what Faroese children’s book author and artist Bárður Oskarsson does in The Flat Rabbit (public library | IndieBound) — a masterwork of minimalist storytelling that speaks volumes about our eternal tussle with our own impermanence.

The book, translated by Faroese language-lover Marita Thomsen, comes from a long tradition of Scandinavian children’s books with singular sensitivity to such difficult subjects — from Tove Jansson’s vintage parables of uncertainty to Stein Erik Lunde’s Norwegian tale of grief to Øyvind Torseter’s existential meditation on the meaning of something and nothing.

The story, full of quiet wit and wistful wonder, begins with a carefree dog walking down the street. Suddenly, he comes upon a rabbit, lying silently flattened on the road. As the dog, saddened by the sight, wonders what to do, his friend the rat comes by.

“She is totally flat,” said the rat. For a while they just stood there looking at her.

“Do you know her?”

“Well,” said the dog, “I think she’s from number 34. I’ve never talked to her, but I peed on the gate a couple of times, so we’ve definitely met.”

The two agree that “lying there can’t be any fun” and decide to move her, but don’t know where to take her and head to the park to think.

The dog was now so deep in thought that, had you put your ear to his skull, you would have actually heard him racking his brain.

Embedded in the story is a subtle reminder that ideas don’t come to us by force of will but by the power of incubation as everything we’ve unconsciously absorbed clicks together into new combinations in our minds. As the dog sits straining his neurons, we see someone flying a kite behind him — a seeming aside noted only in the visual narrative, but one that becomes the seed for the rabbit solution.

Exclaiming that he has a plan, the dog returns to the scene with the rat. They take the rabbit from the road and work all night on the plan, hammering away in the doghouse.

In the next scene, we see the rabbit lovingly taped to the frame of a kite, which takes the dog and the rat forty-two attempts to fly.

With great simplicity and sensitivity, the story lifts off into a subtle meditation on the spiritual question of an afterlife — there is even the spatial alignment of a proverbial heaven “above.” It suggests — to my mind, at least — that all such notions exist solely for the comfort of the living, for those who survive the dead and who confront their own mortality in that survival, and yet there is peace to be found in such illusory consolations anyway, which alone is reason enough to have them.

Mostly, the story serves as a gentle reminder that we simply don’t have all the answers and that, as John Updike put it, “the mystery of being is a permanent mystery.”

Once the kite was flying, they watched it in silence for a long time.

“Do you think she is having a good time?” the rat finally asked, without looking at the dog.

The dog tried to imagine what the world would look like from up there.

“I don’t know…” he replied slowly. “I don’t know.”

Complement The Flat Rabbit with Love Is Forever, a more literal but no less lovely take on helping young hearts deal with loss, then revisit Meghan O’Rourke’s magnificent grownup memoir of navigating mourning.

Illustrations courtesy of Owlkids Books