Wednesday, June 5, 2013

By a nose!

I have one other classic that I believe you’ll love. This story is about sword fighting, witty comebacks, inner beauty and romance. I read this one when I was a preteen and it really made an impact on me. As a young man I did not feel very attractive (as many preteens do) and this story gave me hope not just for romance but for the man I could be. The story is called Cyrano De Bergerac. This story is about a brave soldier that is not just a great fighter with the sword but extremely intelligent. One would think that because of his bravery, smarts and fighting skills he would have many romances; however, he didn’t. He had a very large nose and was not very attractive to many. Now here comes another soldier Christian, who is also a brave man and a soldier, however he’s not very smart but extremely good looking. Everyone in town knows of Cyrano, his nose, his wits and his fighting ability so no one would dare challenge him intellectually or physically. Except for Roxanne, who is not only beautiful but very intelligent as well. Both man fall in love with her but Christian dare not talk to her because he knows he’s not very bright. So Cyrano helps him conquered her love by using his poetic voice and intelligence not letting Chris know that he himself is madly in love with her but does not dare confess his love because of his big nose. This story made me feel that it’s ok not too be good looking and that being smart and good hearted is most important. This sure is a great classic that anybody can enjoy so if you’re in a mood for romance and sword fights this is one great book for you.

Lost and alone…or may be not

Think about being in an island, alone, with no provisions and having to survive. This is the premise for an adventure that you won’t forget. Robinson Crusoe an adventure made for every young man. This story talked about a man tested to survive alone in an island castaway from the world and in an adventure unlike any other. His sanity is tested as well as his biases when a native also stranded, joins him in this island.  Aside from the adventure of being stuck in an island all alone, this story is about friendship and how ones point of view can change with time and by getting to know others. So if you’re in a mood to witness firsthand what it would be like to depend on oneself for survival check this book out. It’s sure to be a getaway.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Re-told with a twist

To continue with the talk on comic books let’s take a look at another classic story in the realm of comics, “Superman”! I know many people don’t like DC comics specially Superman (just ask Stan Lee). People think that Superman is too goody two-shoe, and this can be true at times and for this not many follow this character any more (I think). Now Marvel comics is completely different then DC comics. Marvel characters have real problem that a person can relate with. Let’s take Spiderman, he’s actually a teen when he becomes a super hero and as much as he tries to do the right thing most people don’t like him as a hero or as a teenager. Many can relate to that story line and it’s because of characters like this one that Marvel is so popular. Marvel has a tendency to create stories or characters that are flawed even though they are heroes. This makes them very complicated and intriguing protagonists that many love and follow from week to week. About a decade ago marvel did something AWESOME. Marvel created Supreme Power! Let me tell you, this was story telling as its finest. Marvel took the idea of Superman an alien that lands on a farm and is raised by two loving parents which in turn that alien grows up to be Superman; a hero with morals that fights for truth, justice and the American way. In Supreme Power the story begins the same way an alien lands on a farm and two loving people grab the kid and want to raise him as their own. However, before any of this happens the government takes the child and raises him instead. This story line is completely the opposite of what DC did. The alien grows up suspicious and mistrustful of the government and later becomes a threat to the security of the world because of this twist at the beginning of the story. I could not put this novel down and could not wait to get the other comics. The story line is complicated and intriguing and there are other characters that mimic the DC Universe superhero protagonists, and they are all flowed and complicated as the Superman counterpart “Supreme”. So, if you’re in search for a fun comic that resembles many DC comics but the stories are twisted and fun check out “Supreme Power” I’m sure you’ll have a Super of a good time.


I want to clarify something; I love the character of Superman. Some people don’t like those comics but I do. He’s every child’s dream hero, invulnerable and can fly, what kid doesn’t like that (however Batman is still my favorite). I tied a towel around my neck and jumped from couch to couch pretending to fly. Who’s going to tell me they didn’t do that? However, as an adult I have different appreciation for the character. It all started with Quentin Tarantino. He had something different to say about Superman at the end of the movie, “Kill Bill Vol. 2” (I recommend you watch and listen to his analysis of superman through David Carradine’s character). This short conversation about Superman made me look at this well known figure differently. Superman every kid’s dream hero (and very soon another blockbuster movie) as well as an adult’s conversation topic on the human psyche.

Tall, Dark and Disturbed… a Hero?

How to begin this new talk about something that I’m very passionate about? I love classic books they take me back to my childhood and they’ve shared a world of imagination that is incomparable. However, I do have other things that I love to read. There is this other genre that I particularly enjoy very much. I’m talking about a type of writing that I believe every kids reads and loves to imitate with a shower towel tied around one’s neck. Yep, you guessed right…Comic Books! When I started collecting them here in the U.S., they provided adventure and complicated story lines all wrapped up in beautifully drawn and colorful pages. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all these classic books I’ve talked about before and I have to say if it wasn’t for those books I would not enjoy comics as much as I do now. Comic books (or graphic novels as many prefer) are a bit different and they do provide mythology and adventure for millions of people, young or old. They have art and complicated characters with complicated lives fighting for good or even crossing the lines of “good” at times. One of my favorite comics is “The Batman”! Here is a person that watches his own family get murdered in front of him setting the stage for a very complicated character with psychological problems because of what he witnessed. Aside from the psychology of his character what attracts me most about this “Super Hero” is that he’s not a super hero at all. He doesn’t have any super powers. He is strong, agile and smart because he chose to train his body and mind to be the hero he is. Yes, he is rich and because of that he is able to accomplish a lot as Batman. However, many people forget or don’t know that he is actually a detective. He follows clues to solve a crime or to prevent it. This is what I appreciate most about Batman; he is a self made man and he uses his brains. He is strong, fast and smart because he set his mind to it. I appreciate this very much as a teacher, because life is about hard work and commitment to ones ultimate goals. Batman is the self made “person” that any of us can be if we work hard and have a goal. I love comics just as much as classics; they provide entertainment and mythology through pop-culture. At the same time comics may give the idea to a young person (as it did me) that if one works hard and sets a goal one can make that goal or dream a reality. So if you’re in the mood for some good art, good story lines and a very complicated protagonist pick up “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight”, I guarantee it will be a “Holy of a good time” (as Robin would say).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revenge is best served in words…

I have been talking a lot of adventure and fantasy, but what about those two things with a bit of revenge on the side? Yes I know, revenge is a bad thing. It doesn’t help anybody, most certainly oneself. However, how about getting your revenge without any guilt or anybody actually suffering? Now that would be good. Of course I’m talking about the classic book from Alexander Dumas, “The Count of Monte Cristo”. Talk about a dish best serve though classic literature. This story tells about a couple of friends that don’t really know each other. Dante is trusting and seems to have everything together and Fernand is jealous and conniving and takes everything (even his wife, snap!) from Dante. This is one of those books that teaches you that what goes around comes around. I won’t lie to you; this book is intense and long but captivating and suspenseful at the same time. I’ve recently taken on the endeavor to re-read it (in Spanish), and it’s waiting patiently for me to finish my quarter classes to take me on an adventure of revenge. “The Count of Monte Cristo” a true classic that everyone can enjoy without repercussions. So pick it up and take vengeance on those hot summer days coming up by forgetting the heat and enjoying the cold dish of revenge this book provides.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A treasure awaits…

Let me tell you about one other classic that I also used to love to read. Before Disney ever thought of Pirates of the Caribbean; there was this other pirate adventure that touched many young ones imaginations. “Treasure Island” a true treasure of a book for anyone. I would read this book off and on when I had already made my rounds through the other books in my small but precious library. This story was about a boy and a one legged pirate on search of this mysterious island with an unbelievable treasure. Yeah I know the title says it all, but as it's often said, "It's not the destination but the journey that matters"! This book had it all, adventure in the high seas, sword fights, PIRATES and a map that many would die for (and many did). Once again this book would take me places I've never been or even thought of visiting. It provided escape and many afternoons of sword fighting with my brother on the branches of our mango tree in the back yard; which played the perfect role of a pirate ship if I may add. So if you can't afford a cruise this summer on the warm but turbulent waters of the Caribbean Sea pick up “Treasure Island”, it'll sure provide escape and adventure at an affordable price (rum not included).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A new take

Continuing with the idea of new classics, I was introduced to a new genre that may be is not so new. Let me explain what I mean. As a young boy and an avid fantasy reader I also spent countless hours reading Greek mythology. I love reading about Medusa, the Minotaur, the Kraken, Titans and powerful gods that took the form of humans to have children that they in turn would have god like powers. It was fascinating to imagine the son of Zeus fighting monsters or brave men going to the underworld and taking on Hades the God of the underworld (made for great and sometimes scary dreams, but so much fun). Greek mythology would embrace and nurtured my imagination like no other. Greek mythology is its own genre and one that we are all familiar with; however, a brilliant person thought to introduce this well established genre with a modern take. I’m talking about this fairly new series out in the young readers’ section called "Percy Jackson". This series is about a teenage boy who is the son of Poseidon God of the oceans, who is send to save the Gods from someone who has stolen the lighting rod of Zeus. First of all, great idea! A modern take on classic mythology for a whole new generation of young (and adult) readers to enjoy every day and twice on Sunday. I became aware of this series of books while ordering books through Scholastic Book club for kids when I taught elementary school. I found this premise absolutely wonderful and so did my students. I ended up ordering the whole series of books for my students and I to enjoy. So if you're in the mood to read about mythology with a modern twist, pick up the first book of the series, “Percy Jackson & the Lighting Thief” (or any other would do as well). Sure, it's in the young reader section; just pretend you’re buying it for your nephew. Hope you enjoy this new take on mythology, like my class and I did.