Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, it may seem unrealistic and what first comes to mind is that this type of technology is only used on futuristic sci-fi films like Star Trek and Star Wars.  To ordinary people, it is bizarre.  So I wondered and even asked few acquaintances of their knowledge of virtual reality; some know the word but weren’t even sure or cannot explain how it works, some showed curiosity and asked me back on how it really works and others heard of it but never bothered to know about it. Let’s start with it’s definition. In reference with the Merriam-Webster dictionary, virtual reality is an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.  I first took interest in virtual reality when I was watching the anime Sword Art Online. It featured an epic piece of technology known as the Nerve Gear. The Nerve Gear is used as a device that can simulate vast worlds and environments using virtual reality. It can also read the the signals or brainwaves made by the user’s mind. Knowing the possibility that this might happen in the future, I took my time and dug deep inside the core to find out the truth behind this technology.

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The main character wearing the nerve gear

This is what I found out:

As different as it seems, virtual reality can trace its roots in 1860s, when 360-degree art through panoramic murals began to appear. After some time, in 1920s, vehicle simulators were introduced which helped prevent countless automobile accidents. On 1966, the visual flight stimulator was introduced. On 1968, Ivan Sutherland, along with his student, created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality; But it was too primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the HMD that is worn by the user was so heavy it had to be suspended from the ceiling. On 1991, Antonio Medina, a MIT graduate and NASA scientist designed a virtual reality system to “drive” Mars rovers from Earth in apparent real time. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Ivan Sutherland’s Sword of Damocles

To make a futuristic version of virtual reality work, the concept remains the same — using computer technology to create a simulated, three dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were a part of it. It may seem simple but it is really complex. Countless scientists and engineers have designed dozens of devices and applications to achieve this goal. Opinions differ on what people think a true VR experience is since many of us have different perspectives; but in general it should include:

-The ability to track a user’s motions and adjust the digital data to its respective form.

-Three-dimensional images that appear to be life-sized from the perspective of the user.

Even if it seems to be mostly advantageous, it still possesses a great threat. Like in the anime, if the inventors make it possible to read the brain waves of the user, they will also have the option to make it possible so that it can make changes in the brain waves of the user; thus, it would be possible to alter the memories and even change the emotions of the user. If this kind of technology advances, many people would also lack socio-interactive skills since they could do pretty much anything in their own virtual world.

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Devices that we should be expecting

Conclusion:

Virtual reality is a form of technology that should not be underestimated. Without it, our perspectives in life would not be the same. It is a form of technology with limitless potential, but we should always be careful, since not all people will use this for good — some people might take advantage of this gift and use it for their own advantages. True VR experiences would soon be achieved and it would change the way we live; we would be able to live in our own ideal worlds, choose the way we want to live, and have the freedom to do anything we want. Virtual Reality has evolved throughout history and it advances with us as we step further into the future, a future filled with magnificent inventions and jaw breaking innovations.

Flores, Zeke

Blink of an Eye

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Blink of an Eye is a novel written by Ted Dekker, one of the greatest thriller author. It was released in 2003 and was released in 2007. It was his sixth novel coming after Heaven’s Wager his first novel and before its sequel When Heaven Weeps. Blink of an Eye was awarded Ten Christy Book Award as “Best Mystery Thriller .“ It was a Christian Fiction with crossovers of Islam culture and American Culture in the modern era.

The story is about the unexpected meeting of a Saudi princess and a genius who eventually fall in love with each other. Seth, the genius, was just a normal kid until someone asked him to solve a complex equation in a high school class when he was nine. It was after his surf sessions when this happened and the reason he is surfing was becasue of his father. He was beaten by his father during his childhood His high IQ was unknown to all people including him because of his unloving father. Scientists said that his IQ is almost 191 and is much higher than Einstein. Many institutions wanted to take him but he is now taking his doctorate in high-energy physics in Berkeley. After sometime he developed a clairvoyant which lets him see the future. With this gift he met Miriam the princess by envisioning her death, Miriam was forced to marriage someone she didn’t love because of a coup that will enthrone the current king of Saudi Arabia and she also discovered that her real father was a sheik and she was adopted for their loyalty. Before that, she was also forced to see her friend being drowned by her own father because of an old Arabian belief. She ran away to United States in California with her friend, Sultana’s advise. The story is just simple and it was a classic where a hero and a heroine gets away from the bad guys. In the end both of them fell madly in love with each other and they lived a happier life after that.

The reason why I read this book is because of the different storyline. Even if it is a classic and we almost know what will happen next I still get the feeling of having goose bumps. The story was full of mystery and suspense making it a little better than the other classics. I also learned something from the Islam culture on this novel that surprised me and some of them are disturbing. It was the law about a girl refusing her husband, a on old law of the Arabian. The punishment for that law is drowning by their own father. But all in all it is fun reading Blink of An Eye and I didn’t get bored.

 

Garcia, Julius

Retreat

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Tagaytay City is a well-known place for its cold weather, a perfect place to unwind, find yourself and to conduct class retreats, and ours was one of it. On the fifteenth and sixteenth of November last year was the day all of us have been waiting and preparing for. It was our class retreat and everyone had to wake early and be at school before 5 o’clock in the morning and luckily I wasn’t late. We had to check if no one’s left behind and into my surprise our adviser, Mrs. Bernardo is still not there yet. How ironic that she came late though she’s been reminding us not to. Now that she’s here we’re now off to Tagaytay City. We started our journey with a prayer and right after that some started sleeping, some chatted with their friends, others ate snacks, listened to music and some are texting we basically resumed doing our own businesses. It was a long journey from Quezon City and finally we arrived in the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary retreat house. It was newly renovated and we were the first fourth year batch that will be using it. I feel so special. The place was very beautiful even just from the outside. The interior was very modern and looks a bit more like a hotel rather than a retreat house. A scenic view of Taal Lake can be clearly seen from the terrace. A warm welcome from Sr. Adelaida made us more comfortable and she oriented us with the few house rules. Soon enough we were given the keys to our room. It is complete with two beds, side tables, closet, fan and bathroom. We’ve arrive an hour earlier than the other class so we had to wait for them before we could have our breakfast. We’ve maximize our time by resting instead. Besides, it’ll be a long day for all of us. I woke up in my room hearing noises from the corridor and that I know that 4D has already arrived. We had our breakfast and right after that proceeded to session room. The facilitators gave us first an energizer and it was so much fun seeing the boys did it. It didn’t look like a retreat for us but rather a vacation with friends. First session’s over but before having our lunch I was tasked to read something in front. A letter sealed in an envelope which was probably from my teacher. Although I can guess who’s it from I do not have the slightest idea what is it about. As I go through the words and sentences of it I learned that it was a palanca letter. Our hearts were deeply touched by its message. She called herself our mommy for the first time and the only thing that came out from our mouth is uhhh. We started calling her that way since then. The breakfast was good and so was the lunch I can’t wait for the next meal. It’s now time for our next session. We shared stories, drew symbols that more likely to represent us, gave our letters to the people dear to us and played Modern Trip to Jerusalem that made us all laugh to death. I’ll never forget those smiling faces. After we ate our dinner we took a bath and wore our sleeping attires for the last session of the day. I remember Geane, me, Kelly and Gaetha were the sweater girls because we all wore sweaters and leggings. If a while ago the room was filled with an incomparable joy, now it’s the total opposite. Our session is now all about our parents. Misunderstandings often occur between parents and children but what’s important is that we learn from our mistakes and no matter what we still have to give respect to them. Without them, we are not where we are today. Our session ended by writing a letter to your parents. We are suppose to give it to them but I remember I haven’t given mine until now. The day is over I still don’t feel sleepy. I asked my adviser’s permission if we could stay in the terrace awake all night. We were so delighted when she granted our request. We spend a few hours playing the guitar, singing, talking, stargazing and basically just having fun and enjoying the night with the presence of the most wonderful group of people I’ve ever met. My night was filled with moments I’ll forever treasure for the rest of my life. How I wish that time would stop and that it’ll stay like that. However, 4D’s adviser, Ms. Alcantara already asked us to go to bed. Even with our adviser’s permission, she still won’t allow us. The following day we woke early and visited a cemetery exclusive only for sisters of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM). It didn’t look like a cemetery at all perhaps like a bit more like a park. We took a lot of pictures that will serve as our remembrance and went back again to the retreat house to take our breakfast. It was the first time that I’ve eaten so fast because we still need to go outside of the retreat house to look for a computer shop and have the liturgy printed. Mr. Binalla, one of our teachers and facilitators accompanied me and Geane to look for a computer shop. Until to the last row of stores in the street I found nothing. They told me to go back but I kept on looking until I found one. All my worries are gone now! I can already breathe. Do you know how much printing costs there? It’s so cheap and costs only one peso per page. I asked if they have a change for five-hundred bill and they said yes. I told them that they should’ve said no so my teacher will be the one to pay for it. Then we all laugh. On our way back, it’s very windy and I got some sands in my eyes and mouth and all they did was to laugh. Well, I’m overjoyed so I can’t help but to smile. We got back and to my surprise they told me that the priest wasn’t coming. I don’t really know what to feel, It’s like everything have been wasted. We just had a short paraliturgy. On our way back to Manila, everyone fell asleep and while some felt the need to go to the bathroom after a long period of jamming inside the bus. Although I’m tired and i fell asleep into my bed as soon as I got home, I’m still glad to have experienced it. It was so much fun and hopefully we can do it again next time.

Flores, Maristela

Cheerleading

Cheerleading is an intense physical activity based upon a routine which is composed of tumbling’s, dance, stunts, jumps, and cheers. It usually ranges from 2-5 minutes. The athletes who performed such things are called a cheerleader. It was originated from America which has over a million people who are participating in cheerleading competitions inside and outside of the country.

                               cheer1College cheerleaders performing a pyramid stunt.

It all started out as an all-male cheerleading group by Princeton University as early as 1877. It was not until 1898 that a student, Johnny Campbell  directed a crowd to cheer for their football team, thus making him the very first cheerleader and in November 12, 1898, the official birth of organized cheerleading. In 1907, women joined cheerleading because of of few men were involved in organized sports. Gymnastics, tumbling and megaphones were all that was used before. The 1980’s saw the beginning of modern cheerleading with more difficult stunt sequences and dangerous tumblings incorporated into their own routines. Today many corporations have organized cheerleading competitions. It includes the Cheerleading World Championships (CWC), ICU World Championships, National Cheerleading Competition (NCC) and etc.

                                    cheer2Logo of National Cheerleading Championship (NCC).

Most sports are deemed as risky because of the accidents that can come during training/performances. Cheerleading is considered as one of the most dangerous sports that have been created in the early 2000’s because it might cause your life in doing such dangerous stunts. A study has been occurred in 1982 to 2007 there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries that recorded among female high school athletes. A female cheerleader suffered a fractured vertebra when she hit her head after she lost her balance during a stunt. In 2001 in the US, study says that over a 25,000 hospital visits were reported due to cheerleading injuries dealing with the shoulder, ankle, neck and head.

I was a cheerleader back when I was in high school. For me, it was one of a kind experience not because of having fun but to let me inspire other people in the brink of losing on a particular event on not giving up.

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A photo of me doing a one man full extension stunt.

 

We competed in the Milo Little Olympics held at the Marikina Sports Park, where other high school teams competed for the championship. We had so much fun on doing our routine and we hit every single stunt that we made but in the end, we ended up in 1st runner-up place. But it is still too early to be depressed because of the National Cheerleading Competition is still ongoing. We trained almost everyday, we prepare every piece of our routine and so the National Cheerleading Competition Elimination begins. We qualified and placed 2nd runner-up after our tremendous routine and even got the best pyramid amongst the other high school teams. After the eliminations, we think of ourselves on how much do we still need in order to bring back the the title of being a champion. We had little less than a month to prepare for the finals where the best schools all over the Philippines to take the spot as the champions. We tried to do trainings everyday but sadly because of events like the National Achievement Test, we had to lessen our trainings so that we could pass the exams. We only have a total of a week to prepare for the finals. Even though we practiced a lot and perform to our greatest, we didn’t grasp the title back to our hands and we are filled with depression. Still we know that we had some problems that occurred during the past month. After we graduated, we encourage the next batch of the team to train harder so when we come back, the title is within ours.

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The photo of my team competing on the National Cheerleading Competition.

 

Capanas, Paolo Mikkael M.

                                                                 

Singapore a fine city…Indeed

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Have you ever experience the thrill of travelling? I did. Travelling to another place that is unfamiliar to someone would bring out new discoveries and journeys to them. Travelling is widely viewed as another example of recreational activities; People also tend to relate travelling as part of a certain occasion or even vacation. Though travelling can be fun and refreshing to one’s mind; Travelling are considered expensive in modern times today, mainly because of the expenses the individual has to go through, with example as lodgings, food, souvenirs, and travelling expenses. But even though travelling may cost you a lot, it has a lot of benefits, and besides there are places you can travel cheaply instead of travelling to a far place like abroad. So on behalf of the people who can’t afford to travel or to some who want to read this just for fun; I am going to tell you my experience of travelling to the fine city that is Singapore.

It all started on summer vacation of 2012 or after I just finished my 9th grade in high school, and to be honest the preparation for my upcoming flight for my summer vacation in Singapore was too much of a hassle to do, I needed to go to the DFA or the Department of Foreign Affairs just to renew my expired passport, and believe me it was tiresome. After a few months of waiting–Wham! The passport had already been finished and ready for use. So after that we went to NAIA or the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for my departure towards Singapore, and as the plane had already set off towards the vast skies, I looked down at the ground to see the skyline of the busy nights of Metro Manila, and it was amazing for my own country. The arrival of the night came after an hour, and I could see the lights blinking at the nightly sky of vast open sea as I looked out from my window, to see stars floating at the night sky and the waving ocean wherein boats fish, it was a beautiful sight indeed. I fell asleep from the 3 hour trip to Singapore, and it really took a lot from me.

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When I left the Changi Airport, the name of Singapore’s national airport, I was amazed to the city of Singapore, it was a well-developed and well-organized country compared to my country the Philippines. We took a cab to my father’s home, and when we finally arrived at the home my father was staying, there I took my rest waiting for the journey that lies ahead of tomorrow. The following day I experienced the public transportation of the people of Singapore; the method of transportation in Singapore is much more advance compared to our country, for it uses a card that stores in virtual money that could be used universally throughout all the public transportation utilities in Singapore, unlike in the Philippines wherein you would manually pay hard money for the fee of transportation. I also noticed the huge number of Indians or maybe Pakistanis at Singapore, maybe because they are also working overseas, and I don’t want to sound like a racist, but man! They sure smell like they bathe themselves with curry and goat excretions, I mean they sure smell terrible! As in its smell would reach into your eyes, but I digress. So we went through a lot of places like Orchard, Universal Studio, A Singaporean zoo, local malls, restaurants, etc. But putting those beautiful places aside, the Singaporeans and even tourists has to abide to a lot of community rules of Singapore, or else you would either pay a fine or get arrested. You really can’t escape the eyes of the government there, as you would be able to find cctvs everywhere you go. Here are the following are the rules that I can still clearly remember: Do not eat gum anywhere, no littering, no smoking unless you are in the designated smoking area, no jaywalking, no staying way past curfew hours if underage, etc. And so that is why they call Singapore–a fine city.

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I did not only travelled to Singapore just so you know, I also travelled to Malaysia during that time for just 3 days, but unlike Singapore, the streets of Malaysia can be compared to that of the streets of Metro Manila, but slightly much more developed. At Malaysia you can find there the so called “The Twin Towers” or simply the Petronas towers, and to my surprise it was actually a mall, and I originally thought it was owned by a private company, and I also noticed during my vacation on Singapore and Malaysia that their mall are just moderately attractive unlike our malls in the Philippines, maybe because we Pilipinos like to go shopping. And so after 1 month of vacation in abroad, I finally went home to my motherland, time sure flies so fast, because my vacation was already over. I would surely miss that good vacation I had.

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But those were the memories from the past year, I experienced a lot of exciting things during my travel. So if it happens that you are disheartened to travel because it’s expensive, as I just said a while ago, you could travel to local places in the Philippines for cheap prices. I mean surely places don’t have legs that just move from one place to another, they remain constant and would be there waiting for you to stop by. So go out there and book yourself a trip anywhere, may it be the local province beach or a long trip to abroad. I wish you a Happy Trip! Or as the French say Bon Voyage!

Driz, Zird Triztan

10th of December, year 2011

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I still have my script and ticket with me!

5:30 A.M., Saturday, December 10,2011— The moment I heard my annoying alarm clock, I got up and told myself “It’s play day” with a smirk. *Yawn* I jumped out of the bed, readied my clothes and rushed to the bathroom. It’s going to be a big day. It had to be.

The play’s about finding the ‘real’ Joey (portrayed by me), as the picture of the ticket above suggests. Joey is a skeptic, cold-hearted man who doesn’t believe in Christmas and despises it. His hatred for it was brought forth by his noisy and violent childhood. He’s very much like Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol.

6:30 A.M.— On my way to the venue of the christmas-themed school play, I thought of the things that might happen. What if I screw up? What if I forget my lines? What if I stumble on the stage? What if–“Okay! Dito na tayo!” (Okay! We’re here!) said my aunt who was kind enough to drive me to my destination. I said “Thank you po! Bye” as I brought her hand to my forehead. (Saying po and bringing someone’s hand to your forehead is, in the Philippines, a sign of respect to your elders).

7:00 A.M.— Walking around the cinema, I was kind of relieved that it wasn’t as big as I expected. *Phew* I ran my lines on the stage, trying to emulate what I had to do on the actual play. Walking around, getting myself familiar with the stage, testing the mics, etc. It was fun! I got excited!

9:00 A.M.— Most of the cast are already in the venue, practicing their lines and dance routines. As game time approaches, everybody’s getting their clothes and makeups done and the cinema was already half-full. The staff were setting the stage, testing the sound systems, and readying the props. 2 months of preparation is about to come to fruition.

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10:00 A.M.– And we’re live! Everyone’s lined-up according to appearance and I can hear people telling others how nervous they are. Before the play started, everyone, including the audience were asked to pray and then sing the National Anthem, as per usual. The props were set up, and the first batch of students to perform went to their places. After the first performance, my first solo part came. The spotlight was on me, and all that I can see is the, err, spotlight. I felt cold and alone. Until my co-star started her lines.

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As the play progressed, Joey became more acquainted with Christmas, and found himself believing in it. Sometimes. He participated in Christmas activities because of his love of interest, Erica. A cheerful girl who helps Joey throughout the play find his inner Christmas soul, and successfully doing so in the latter part of the play. And also because of his friend, Addie. Another girl who is very enthusiastic about Christmas, and helps Erica make Joey a ‘believer’.

I went backstage after my first scene and talked to some people. Until I noticed that I forgot to turn off my lapel mic. Fail. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Scene after scene, students (by grade level) performed their assigned routines, and some specific students, sang solo. And alas, my batch’s turn (3rd year highschool students) was up. We danced to Justin Bieber‘s version of Jingle Bell Rock. We wore Christmas tree-printed polo shirts, white pants, and a Santa Claus hat to complete the look. I forgot to wear mine, so I was the only one without a Santa hat!  Strike 2. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Come scene ten of eleven, I was kind of mental blocked for 2 seconds. I forgot my lines! Woohoo! It was an emotional scene, with I, Joey, almost finally believing in Christmas and thanking Erica for her guidance. To not make it obvious, I scanned the whole cinema and looked at people’s eyes (so they can feel me, oh yeah), took a deep breath to show them that I was having an emotional moment, and continued my lines. Yes! Clever huh? Kidding.

After that I-almost-screwed-up!-scene, we got up and went backstage to give way to the next performers. For the next and final scene, I got dressed up in a Santa Claus costume, which means I became a believer, and then I accompanied pre-school students in their performance. So I basically played Santa Claus then after Scrooge. What?!

We concluded the school play with a performance where all the cast/students participated. We clapped, danced, and sang to the song Star Ng Pasko. The audience got up from their seats and clapped with us. It was phenomenal. So I was all smiles, proud of myself and my co-stars. We did it! It was over!

While everyone was taking pictures of their children on-stage, the main cast were called to go backstage. We were so happy that we didn’t encounter major hiccups. Everything was just on cue. Our director was in tears as she shared her happy thoughts with us. And after congratulating us, she started a prayer thanking Him for a successful event. We chanted, thanked, and hugged each other goodbye. My grandmother was so fast she’s already backstage to catch up on me and pull me out! Anyways, it was all good. My first acting stint was a success. The pain and tears I got from someone putting that stupid guy-liner on was worth it. Advanced Merry Christmas!

Balagtas, Carlos Joshua R.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an English author, but he is more than just any simple English author, he is also a graphic novelist, screenwriter, and even a Doctor Who episode writer. Like most people, he can be best understood and appreciated from his works, which include: Coraline, the Sandman Chronicles, the Graveyard Book, Stardust, American Gods, Smokes and Mirrors, and many more. And that’s what I’ll try to do here, understand and appreciate him through his works, using my 3 favorite works of Neil Gaiman to be exact.

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(Neil Gaiman Trivia: Neil appeared in an episode of the “Simpsons: The Book Job”)

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Coraline

This is probably familiar to most people since a film adaptation was made in 2009, but just in case there are people who don’t watch movies here, I’ll give a quick summary.

Coraline Jones and her family move into an old house which was split into 3 separate apartments. While exploring the house, she finds that there is a little door in one of the room that opened into a brick wall. While visiting the other tenants, she received warnings about that small door. When she tried the door again, instead of a brick wall, a tunnel welcomed her leading to a similar house. In the house were her “Other Mother” and “Other Father”, who gave her delicious food, great toys, and other stuff she liked. Is the other world a dream come true? Or is it a nightmare in the making?

Usually, the book is better than the movie, but in this case, I have to agree that both the movie and the book are worth checking out. Gaiman was able to both thrill and intrigue us with a book that was made for a younger audience. I guess it goes to show that all his works are entertaining for any audience.

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The Sandman

The Sandman is one of the most famous graphic novels out there. It is about Morpheus, the lord of dreams, and his adventures. The story starts when a cult tries to summon and capture Death, but instead captures Dream. After waiting a few decades, Dream escapes and punishes his captors then returns to his realm, but he discovers that his realm is in ruins and his symbols of power are scattered in the human realm.

What I like about the Sandman is it mixes mythology, legends, and familiar characters to make a story that is familiar yet strangely different. It is interesting and simply fun to read, there are always a few surprises in every chapter.

(The Sandman trivia: There are lots of familiar faces in the sandman chronicles including: John Constantine, the Martian Man Hunter, Lucifer, Cain and Abel, Shakespeare, the Scarecrow, and even Batman.)

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The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book is about an orphan boy named Nobody “Bod” Owens. But Bod isn’t like any normal orphan, his family was killed by a mysterious man simply called Jack, he was brought up by a ghost couple, was taught reading and education by a woman who can turn into a wolf, and his other caretaker is another mysterious man named Silas who has very mysterious powers, and finally, he lives in a graveyard. The book is simply about Bods life as he grows up.

Gaiman once again was able to make a book with characters and creatures, who we think we know well, and redefining them into something that is strangely familiar and weirdly interesting.

(Neil Gaiman trivia: He is the first author to win both the Newberry and the Carnegie medals for the same work. The Graveyard Book)

Mapanao, Paolo