Happy Birthday Children’s Author Kate DiCamillo

Today, March 25, in 1964, Kate DiCamillo was introduced to the world in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the age of 51, Kate is the author of various children’s novels, picture books, and early chapter books. Quite a few of her works have earned literary awards, as well.

Children's Literature

Photo Credit: Candlewick Press

Because of Winn-Dixie

DiCamillo’s children’s novel Because of Winn-Dixie has blossomed since its publication in 2000. It received the 2001 Newberry Honor and was later made into a film for the big screen that was released in 2005.

The film stars AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terabithia) as ten-year-old Opal and actor Jeff Daniels as her father who is also a preacher. Although I have never read the book, I did see the film a few years back and can say with confidence that it is quite a heartwarming tale of a young girl adapting to new surroundings and trying to rebuild a dwindling relationship with her father.

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux was published in 2003 and then received the Newberry Award in 2004. DiCamillo’s novel was transformed into a film adaptation in 2008.

The film adaptation features various famous voices. Matthew Broderick plays the voice of Despereaux, while Dustin Hoffman assumes the role of Roscuro. Other voices include Harry Potter cast members Emma Watson as Princess Pea and Robbie Coltrane as Gregory. The man who plays everybody’s favorite scientist in Back to the Future, Christopher Lloyd, voices the character Hovis in The Tale of Despereaux.

View all of DiCamillo’s children’s novels and their accompanying awards here.

Early Chapter Books

Kate DiCamillo’s early chapter books include the Mercy Watson series, featuring the 2007 Giesel Honor book Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, and the Bink and Gollie series. Currently, there are six Mercy Watson books and three Bink and Gollie books.

Her newest addition to the collection of early chapter books was published in August 2014 and is titled, Leroy Ninker Saddles Up.

Kate DiCamillo is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by the Library of Congress.

Congratulations on your astounding achievements thus far, Kate. We look forward to your next great literary adventure!

*Information obtained from Kate DiCamillo’s official website. and Internet Movie Database.


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Insurgent Film: A Weak Attempt At An Adaptation


Veronica Roth | Divergent series

Amity Faction Symbol

As I reported not long ago, I had stumbled upon an article that suggested the content of the film adaptation of Insurgent is somewhat different and that those changes may affect the production of Allegiant. No truer statement can be made about this movie. The main plot is generally the same, but they tweak it slightly. Of course if the film were to contain everything in the book, as with most book-to-film situations it would be significantly longer than one hour and 58 minutes. But to cut out certain subplots and switch characters’ points of view…that’s just wrong.

And perhaps it’s just me, but I would think an opening weekend 3D showing would have more than ten viewers. Granted, I did attend the 3:25 p.m. showing on Sunday. But ten people, including myself and two friends, in an entire theater of cushy recliners? That’s rather sad.

This post is dedicated to revealing many of the the differences between Veronica Roth’s novel Insurgent and the film adaptation she co-produced that was released Friday, March 20, 2015. Again, this post is packed with spoilers. Turn away now or proceed at your own risk.

Time Lapse

If the producers and directors included everything that occurred in the book within each specified time period, the movie would be too long for its own good. However, events happen so quickly, the viewer is likely to miss them if he/she reaches for a sip of soda.

In the beginning, the spat between Tris and Peter that happens at Amity headquarters happens within the blink of an eye, and in the next scene, Caleb is also in Johanna’s office in addition to Tobias, Tris, and Peter. And the part I was most looking forward to seeing–Tris in the office and around Tobias after she’s injected with too much peace serum–doesn’t happen. In just a few minutes, the Dauntless Traitors arrive and…well…things happen.

All the time the group spends in Candor in the book (at least it feels like a long time)…Tris and Tobias are there for maybe two days in the film.

Jeanine’s Purpose

Jeanine Matthews. In the book, she spent her time trying to determine how the Divergent were able to resist serums and testing the strength of serums on them. However, in the movie, she has a different goal.

In the book, Tris has the disk that holds information people believed to be hidden, information that Abnegation plan to release. In the film adaptation of Insurgent, this “hidden” information is contained in a box that can only be opened by a Divergent who can pass five individual simulations–one for each faction. Jeanine gets hold of this box, and her sole goal becomes discovering its contents.

The book version and film version of Jeanine are similar, however, in that they both are engulfed by a burning curiosity, a true Erudite trait.

(During one scene in particular, Kate Winslet‘s portrayal of Jeanine greatly reminded me of her role in Titanic and I couldn’t help but suppress a smile.)

The Factionless

In both the book and movie adaptation of Insurgent, Evelyn Johnson is head of the factionless. In the movie, there is no community fire, no sitting in circles on the ground passing cans of food to one another. Evelyn has her own home where she feeds her guests a decent meal at a well-set table. Although he says it bitterly, multiple occasions arise during which Tobias calls Evelyn “Mother.” It would be a stronger display of defiance for him to call her by name as opposed to using her biological relation to him as a tag of recognition.

Evelyn and Tobias do not have a private conversation about creating an alliance; it happens at the supper table. Tris watches this conversation unfold, seemingly intrigued by Evelyn’s idea of creating an alliance between the factionless and Dauntless. This is far from the case in Roth’s book. See Tris’s written thoughts below.

I don’t want to admit that I was eavesdropping, but I want to tell him I don’t trust Evelyn, or the factionless, or anyone who speaks casually about demolishing an entire faction (Insurgent, p. 111).

After one of the major events at Candor, they return to the factionless with the rest of the Dauntless who have not betrayed their faction.

The Truth Serum

I believe Shailene Woodley delivers an impeccable performance as Tris Prior during her trial at Candor headquarters. It’s quite possibly her best throughout the entire film. It feels so real, as if the viewer is in the giant room with everyone watching her struggle to fight back the truth that was sure to destroy a friendship. It is a well-done, very emotional scene.

Veronica Roth | Insurgent

(Photo obtained from www.divergentfans.com)

Missing Subplots

Many personal relationship and self-discovery developments within in the book are not included in the film adaptation of Insurgent. Below are just a few examples.

Tris Prior and Tobias Eaton

The lack of proper portrayal of the relationship between Tris and Tobias in the movie is discouraging. Their relationship struggles drastically in the book, because they each keep secrets from one another. Their relationship is crumbling because of lie after lie. Tris is scared to tell Tobias certain things, and Tobias does not include Tris in his situations. This is not an uncommon struggle among couples, and its inclusion in the book is Roth’s way of showing her readers that relationships are not perfect.

In the movie, the two suffer little to no struggles between themselves. Perhaps their hardships were cut not just to save time but to limit distractions from the main plot. Either way, this inevitably destroys the possibility for the existence of the next omitted subplot.

Marcus Eaton

In the film adaptation of Insurgent, Marcus remains at Amity after the events that force Tris and the others to leave; therefore, all subplots involving him are destroyed. How do the filmmakers address this conflict?

  • No conflict of interest is discussed between Marcus and Johanna (p. 23).
  • Evelyn does not suggest Tobias to “become important” (p. 111) and there is no tension between him and the Dauntless that leads to his encounter with Marcus at Candor (p. 240).
  • Tris and Tobias are not destructively divided in their beliefs on how to handle the situation with Jeanine, so there is no need for Tris and Christina to form an alliance with Marcus.

Marcus’s absence contributes to the change of the movie’s ending.

Guns and Self-Sacrifice

Insurgent book to movie comparison

Insurgent Book Cover Back

Throughout the book, Tris struggles with her ability to use any sort of firearm due to the death of her friend in Divergent. In the movie, this struggle is nonexistent, making her appear stronger and more determined.

In addition, self-sacrifice is a recurring theme throughout the Divergent series. She and Tobias argue over the true definition and Tris’s interpretation, but not in the film adaptation of Insurgent. It goes along with the very few disagreements Tris and Tobias have in the movie.

Out of good conscience, I can’t reveal the ending. I believe I’ve already typed too much, yet not enough, and for those who haven’t seen the movie just yet, I don’t want to destroy the entire experience for you. But yes, it is much different from the book. The 3D experience was fantastic, but after returning home and coming across the trailer for Insurgent on IMDb.com, I realized that the color on the big screen seemed rather dull in comparison.


Would I recommend seeing Insurgent? Honestly, I’d say it’s worth the wait for it to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray. And even then, I’d suggest buying it used, because it’s not worth the $14.00 I paid to see it in 3D. (Sellers on Amazon.com have great deals on used movies, and I’ve only ever had scratch issues once.)
Did this film do the book justice? Not at all. The acting is well done, but it lacks multiple subplots that build character development and contain life lessons themselves within the book.

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Book Review: Allegiant


As you may know from my previous post, my goal toward the end of last week was to read Allegiant, third and final installment of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, before going to see the film adaptation of Insurgent this coming Sunday. Somehow, I managed to achieve said goal, though I’m not sure I’m satisfied with the results.

Divergent series | dystopian fiction | teen fiction


Edith Prior’s video in Insurgent instructs the city to send out its Divergent population to help the outsiders, so Tris, Tobias, and a group of others head out on a mission in Allegiant to not only discover what this entails but to get help for their own city, as it is crumbling in the hands of Evelyn Johnson. When they reach the government compound, however, they discover a problem within its walls.

Individuals who are not Divergent are referred to as “genetically damaged” or “GDs,” and the Bureau of Genetic Welfare is preventing the equality of GDs and GPs (Genetically Pure individuals). It seems quite similar to the original concept of inequality between the factionless and factions, so Allegiant essentially possesses two of the same plots, only in different atmospheres. There may not be as many subplots in life at the compound as there are in the city of factions, though; but the thought of having such similar plot lines annoyed me. The characters leave to find a solution to their original issue only to get stuck in what appears to be a more simplified issue of their own somewhere else.

However, the way the characters handle the issue at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare differs from the way in which they tackle the city issue.

Predictable, Yet Unbelievable

When I read a book, being the analytical person I am, I occasionally come up with potential ways to solve the main problem. And I’m always wrong. To be honest, after reading the first failed attempt, it isn’t difficult to guess how the situation at the Bureau needs to be handled, which I found quite disappointing.

However, though I was able to pinpoint the solution early on, the twist that Roth throws at the reader is baffling. I’m furious with the ending and I’m not sure it’s the greatest way to deal with that situation (hence my three-star rating on Goodreads.com), yet at the same time I’m incredibly impressed that Roth does what she does with certain characters.

Also, the history of Tris’s mother…wow.

Perspective Shifts

Normally, perspective shifts within books are huge turnoffs for me, and when I first noticed that pattern in Allegiant, I admit I was a bit skeptical about proceeding. Still, as the last in a series, I couldn’t not read the book. As it turns out, the shifting is very well done. Of course, it’s only natural for readers to be curious of what’s occurring with another character in addition to the protagonist, but the plot line of Allegiant makes these shifts absolutely necessary. I was grateful for Roth’s shifts, because I caught myself a few times imagining how frustrated I would have been not knowing how events unfold for Tobias during crucial moments he is not with Tris.

Character Development

The character development in Allegiant is very well done. Roth does a fantastic job developing her characters by using their friends and their factions (or lack thereof).

Tris Prior

Thank you, Veronica Roth, for putting a stop to Tris’s whiny internal monologues constantly doused in self-pity. This makes Allegiant a bit easier to handle. In Allegiant, Tris and Tobias make a pact to no longer keep secrets from one another so they can rebuild their relationship with honesty rather than destroying it with lie after lie as they did throughout Insurgent.

“But I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they’re already looking for, that’s all.”
-Tris (Allegiant 256).

Throughout Allegiant, Tris struggles with the concept of forgiveness, something that many of us face and will face in the aftermath of countless situations throughout our lives. Is it possible to forgive someone–your own brother–who practically delivered you to your death bed? After all, they are taught “faction before blood” at such a young age. In the beginning of this book, Tris finds it impossible to even look at her brother, let alone speak to him; but their relationship also progresses as the plot moves forward.

Tobias Eaton

Roth works wonders with Tobias Eaton, son of former Abnegation leader, Marcus. The reader watches him struggle in the first two books through his four fear landscapes, the insecurity and defiance toward his father, and the alliance with his mother; but the character of Tobias fully blossoms in Allegiant.

Tobias is a wonderfully flawed character. Upon finishing the book, I thought it somewhat foolish that it takes two young girls to help form him into who he is meant to be, but then I realized that we don’t become our own person by hardening ourselves against others or living in seclusion; we become our own person by experiencing life with those around us. It is impossible to learn how to lead lives of love if we live in solitude or surround ourselves with wrongdoers. The impact a single person can have in our lives is incredible, and I think Roth captures that perfectly in the development of Tobias Eaton. I’m quite interested to see what else she gives readers in Four: A Divergent Collection.


Perhaps I’m too generous, but I gave Allegiant a three-star rating on Goodreads.com. I’ve always found “rating” things to be rather complicated, and maybe I should have given it two stars. Certainly not one, though. One-star ratings are reserved for books like Gone Girl (can you even rate a book you couldn’t finish?) and Fahrenheit 451.

One Final Note: Acknowledgements

I’m one of those people who read every single page of a book, including the acknowledgements. Until tonight, I had never found any worthy of a comment. Roth’s acknowledgements are quite possibly the best I’ve ever read. I love how she incorporates her writing style rather than just listing name after name after name. Truly unique.

Would I read this book over? Based on my reaction right after reading the very last page, no; after taking close to four hours to write this review, yes.
Would I go see the two-part film adaptation? Probably not. If anything, I’d wait until I could get it used on Amazon, my go-to online shopping center for books and movies (and printer ink).

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The Picture of Dorain Gray: Change of Plans

It has come to my attention that the movie adaptation of Insurgent strays from the book. I’m already slightly disappointed, as I was so looking forward to another awesome adaptation.

Wait a minute!

You may be thinking, How is this remotely relevant to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? Well, friends, I shall tell you how.

Whilst scrolling through my news feed on Facebook this evening, I came across this article* on the movie adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Insurgent. (WARNING: Article may contain spoilers for current and future productions.) The title itself triggered a red flag: “‘Insurgent’ is dramatically different from the book.” Not cool. The brief summary informed readers that parts have been changed to such an extreme that it will conflict with some issues in the final book, Allegiant.

So, what about The Picture of Dorian Gray?

Yes, yes. About Mr. Gray….

Since I’m planning to see Insurgent in theaters opening weekend and with the reports of differences and how they may affect the production/screenplay of the final two installments of the Divergent film series (by the way, they’re splitting Allegiant into two movies…more on that later; that will have its own special rant), I feel as though Allegiant should take precedent over The Picture of Dorain Gray.

Yes, I myself am slightly conflicted with this change, as I despise reading more than one book at a time (college was a killer), but I think it will be for the better. At least, I hope it will.


*Please note that I can neither confirm nor disprove the validity of this article.

(Also, I’m not quite sure why the Goodreads widget to the right of the screen has not updated to include Insurgent. Anybody have any ideas on that?)

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New Year’s Resolution: Read, Read, READ

Hey, there! It’s been some time since I’ve posted. Actually, this is the first post of the new year. I’m totally slacking. Anyway, you may have noticed that the title of this post is singular–“Resolution.” That’s because I made multiple resolutions late last year for 2015 but it appears I’ll only be sticking with one of them.

This year, my resolution is to read at least 26 books. I’m a slow reader, so this is a more than reasonable, maybe even slightly stretched (like my favorite pair of jeans), goal [hopefully]. As you’ll see by the image below, my list doesn’t yet include a full 26 titles. That’s where you come in.

new years resolutions | reading list

2015 Reading List



My latest kill is Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I read Divergent last year; it started off slow, but when the action finally kicked in, I couldn’t put it down. I had high hopes for the second book after that, of course.

Even though I have enjoyed both Divergent and Insurgent, it’s still irritating when Tris shows her age through her ridiculous thoughts on relationships and secrecy. I wanted so bad to slap some sense into that 16-year-old’s brain throughout Insurgent, but the enthralling suspense and plot twists made tolerating her stupidity well worth the read. This dystopian teen fiction series is quite addicting.

I can’t wait until Insurgent is released in theaters on March 20, 2015. I plan to attend one of the showings that Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a review of the book-to-movie transition shortly thereafter. I think they did nice work with Divergent, and the trailer for the upcoming release looks pretty awesome, so I’m willing to bet it’ll be worth the money to see in 3D. Here’s hoping!

I’ve often found myself comparing how I’d react in their situations to how each of the factions handle what they’re going through, and after considering my potential reactions, I have decided that I too am Divergent.

Have you read the books? What faction do you feel you fit in, if any?

Cheating with The Silkworm

So, I’m not sure if this constitutes cheating, so to speak, but I started The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling) last year and finished earlier this year and I’ve decided to count it as my first book tackled in 2015. It took forever mostly because I had a lot going on last year and I actually lost interest in reading for a bit. It has come back, thank goodness, as has my desire to write.

The Silkworm is well written, but this mystery is somewhat hard to follow. Maybe it’s just me, because it took me months to read it; but there are so many characters that at times I felt it difficult to discern which character was which. The author does take the reader for a wild goose chase, for lack of a better comparison, throwing him/her bits of evidence that point to various characters throughout the book, which makes for a crazy ending. I can’t wait to see what Galbraith throws at us next.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I spent too much time away from my bookshelves due to personal reasons lately. I wasn’t home for two weeks, so when I finished Insurgent, I was going stir crazy. I was snowed in a good hour away from home (crazy weather!), so I didn’t have access to Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series. My craving for words was at a level unlike any other, so I finally let myself go. I can’t believe I did it, but it’s official. I own two ebooks, courtesy of the iBooks app on my iPod.

In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. -Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The app has a section of free books, and I found The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’ve been wanting to read that book for a few years now; and since I didn’t own a hard copy, I figured I’d search the iBooks app and there it was! I’m in chapter two at the moment, and I’m so glad I downloaded it. It’s so good! Quote-worthy, even. (But ebooks are still a last resort for me, a display of my desperation.)

So, back to you. Take a second look at my list, and feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion or two!


(PS: Trello is an excellent web tool to keep track of lists and assignments and such. Hence, the image of my reading list.)


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