Books

A Book Review of School of Fear

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the stories ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari

Type: Contemporary, Fear, School

Basic Plot: Four children have fears that are so great that they are unable to live happy lives without using obsessive measures to prevent their fears. The desperate parents send these kids all to the School of Fear, hoping that the summer will end with the children being brave.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The plot was very original. It was comparable to A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Name of This Book is Secret in creativity of plot. All of the characters are as unique. The story also had a surprise ending that was not very obvious, though an adult or teenager might predict. Overall the plot was well done.

Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: The writing style was descriptive but not extravagant. You know the characters and scenery very well, but there is no long-windedness about it. There is also a lot of humor done in a natural way, not sounding forced or awkward. The setup of the book was chronological except for at the beginning where there was a chapter devoted to each person.

Graphics: 2/5 Below Average: The only negative thing about the book quality wise was the graphics. They looked homemade and a bit unprofessional. They were not horrible drawings, but they did look like they were drawn by an amateur.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The moral to not let your fears control you in an outrageous and extreme way, because if they do you will not be able to enjoy yourself. The Bible does say we should not be afraid as we have God to trust in. Though the latter idea is not emphasized in the books, this can be a great thing to talk to with your children as they read it.

It should be mentioned that the children in this book are sometimes disrespectful to authority, but the authority is not shown to be stupid. In fact at the end the children admit that though they thought their teacher was insane she actually had helped them and wasn’t that bad. Because the adults were not shown in an either stupid or evil light, this book does not qualify as a “Your Parents Are Dumb and Your Neighbor’s Evil” book. (See Dangerous Ideas for explanation.)

Overall:  3½5 Above Average: The book was a very good children’s book and I recommend it. The only thing that was disappointing was the graphics, but they were not something that would ruin the whole book. It is good for either gender, and I believe children nine or ten and older would like it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 0/5 None

Violence: 1/5 A Lot of Mentioned Violence: It mentions a man plucking out all of his son’s eyebrow hair. A boy throughout imagines many possible ways people he knows can die. It mentions a woman getting kicked by a horse. A boy wonders if a lady killed horses and people. She says she hasn’t. A girl is provoked to the point of being willing to hit a boy, though she doesn’t. A woman talks about throwing chairs at people, though it never shows her doing it. A boy thinks a bee stung him. A woman describes how a girl will be injured if she jumps out the window. A girl tells a boy she will give him a black eye when she is annoyed. She doesn’t.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1/5 One or Two Light Utterances and Crude Speech: A form of God’s name is taken in vain once and “bull” and “freaking are each used once. It mentions an angry man refusing to speak because he will swear if he does.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Slightly Disturbing Content: A boy has a fear of dieing and his obsession can be slightly morbid. He also goes through emotional distraught after his grandma dies, wanting to save all of her things in her room so they won’t forget her. A girl wonders what body parts she would trade if she could keep her bug repellant.  It is said how some men’s bones were found in a forest, and some ways they could have died are mentioned. A woman is assumed dead. There is the stuffed head of a dog found that scares the children.

Religious Issues: 2/5 Suggestive: A boy compares School of Fear to a cult. A boy’s parents try to reassure him about dieing by telling him many religious ideas about death, though they are not mentioned. His only response is that it is a bit odd that there are so many options about life after death. A boy claims at two different points to have psychic powers in an attempt to change the situation. He doesn’t have any. It mentions parents trying a hypnotist to chase away their child’s fear. Phasmophobia (the fear of ghost) is mentioned. The Cretaceous period is mentioned. A lady refers to her students once as “disciples.” A girl calls something “blasphemy” when it really isn’t blasphemous.

Magic: ½/5 Slightly Mentioned: A girl wonders if she committed witchcraft when she hasn’t.

Others: A man is obsessed with gambling and horse betting. A casino is mentioned once (but in the light you shouldn’t go to one). “Rock concert” is used for descriptive purposes. It is mentioned a man has long hair, but it is not shown in any pictures and is mentioned to be worn in a comb over style through most of the book.

Overall: 1½/5 Slightly Suggestive Material: The book was pretty clean. Most things are lightly suggested or are mentioned in passing, though not shown or do not happen. I recommend this book in moral content to children nine or ten and older.

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Movies

A Movie Review of Into the Woods

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the stories ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Into the Woods by Walt Disney Pictures and Lucamar Productions

Type: Fairy Tale, Musical,

Basic Plot: A couple wants a child very badly and to have one must go search for four different items by going “into the woods.” As they do several other fairy tale characters do the same so that there wishes will also be granted.

Quality

Plot and Story Organization: 3/5 Average: The plot was the same as the onstage musical, but there were some changes. Some songs were cut out and some more minor events. Rapunzel does not die in this version, nor do both of the princes go off in search of other woman and die with them. As far as we know the royal family does not die either. The pace of the story felt faster than the onstage version had and slightly rushed, perhaps because of time, but this may also be because movies are now more rushed and action centered than before. Also a very important character was left out of the movie the whole time until the end that constantly appeared in the musical. This made the scene he did appear in a little awkward, as it seemed more random.

Acting: 3/5 Average: The acting was realistic and done well, but the characters seemed a bit over dramatized at times, giving the movie a different feel than the musical. It seemed that the movie was aiming for a more dark and dramatic feel. The onstage musical had a lot of dark things, but it there was a lot of humor and sarcasm added so that it didn’t feel so depressing or dark. The characters in the movie though, (possibly on the director’s instructions) were more dramatic and deep. Several character personalities were made to be overall just more depressing or even slightly nasty; therefore the movie had a much different feel than the onstage musical.

Music: 4/5 Well Done: The music was an amazing quality. All of the actors and actresses sang very well. It was clear, on tune, and strong, making nearly all of the voices enjoyable to listen to. Then again this could be because they used technology to make the voices sound better, but it did not have a very electric or fake sound.

Scenery 5/5 Excellent Quality: The scenes had a good atmosphere, the special affects were anything but cheap, and the costumes were amazing. Quality scenery wise only gets better as the years go by, and this movie is solid proof of that.

Moral: 2½/5 Slightly Hard to Read Moral: The moral was not as easy to or as emphasized in the movie as in the musical. The moral was again to be responsible for your choices as if you refuse to be your life will be sad. The characters either make bad choices or refuse to be responsible, causing bad things to happen until in the end they choose to make the right choice.

Overall: I was slightly disappointed with the movie, as the spirit of the movie was changed and things were removed. The latter is understandable to a degree, as this was probably done for time’s sake, but the former irritated me. There is nothing wrong with delivering a play or musical differently, but the movie seemed to entirely change the spirit to the point where I felt I wasn’t really watching Into the Woods even though the plot was the same. Otherwise the movie was not a bad one. The singing and scene quality were both amazing.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Slightly Suggestive: A witch uses “raping” to describe a man stealing from her. There are a lot of low dresses and there is once or twice a girl that shows her wearing tights up to her thighs. Once or twice it shows on men shirts that show part of their chest. There is non marital kissing and kissing between people married to someone else than the one their kissing. Some people find the song Hello Little Girl by the wolf to sound slightly pedophilic and that the song I Know Things Now by Red Riding Hood is her telling about the experience. I’ll leave that to you to decide if it is or not. Lyrics to both songs being here:

Hello Little Girl: http://www.metrolyrics.com/hello-little-girl-lyrics-into-the-woods.html

I Know Things Now: http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-know-things-now-lyrics-into-the-woods.html

Violence: 2/5 Light Violence: A woman smacks another one. A woman hits her son three times and once pulls his ear. She pinches him once. A woman is pushed to the ground and dies. A giant falls off a beanstalk, but it is not shown. People want to and do kill a giantess. Her eyes are pecked out by birds and she collapses. A boy wants to kill a man for killing his mother. A man is thrown into thorns. A man rescues a girl and her grandma that are in a wolf by cutting it open. A person is hit on the back. A girl threatens a boy to not get to close. A woman chops off parts of her daughters’ feet, though it is not shown. Some birds peck out their eyes.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name: 1/5 One or Two Light Utterances: God’s name is misused once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Slightly Disturbing Content: A woman chops off parts of her daughters’ feet, though it is not shown. Several people die, though usually not violently. A wolf eats a girl, though it isn’t shown.

Religious Issues: 1/5 Suggestive: A woman talks to the spirit of her mom in a tree. A man talks to his son after he is dead. (Though his death is only implied, so he could technically still be alive.) A woman talks to her husband after she dies.

Magic: 2/5 Fairy Tale Magic: There is a witch and she magically disappears and appears. She cursed a man’s family once and talks about what she could have done. She also brings a cow back to life, that scene being the only one that was a little weird magic wise. There are magic items like magic beans and a potion. A tree has a dress and shoes magically appear.

Other: None

Overall: 1½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: There are a lot less deaths in the movie in then in the stage play, and is overall more family friendly. Things that may be considered more controversial were removed, the worst thing probably being the women’s clothes. I recommend the musical age wise to children of any age, but with a bit of warning, as there one or two slightly disturbing scenes.

Books

A Book Review of A Class Divided Then and Now

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the stories ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

A Class Divided, Then and Now by William Peters

Type: Races, School

Basic Plot: A teacher decides to teach her all white class about being discriminated by race by having the class divided by eye color for two days. After this she is able to do it with other classes she has and even adults.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The story was unique, the main interest being the experiment and the results of it. It was a lot like a science experiment; only instead of experimenting on tangible materials, the experiment was done on the emotions and spirits of people. There were just enough examples of the experiment to keep interest and not become repetitious.

Writing Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: The author wrote in a very factual and plain manner, and mainly focused on describing facts. There was opinion and emotion, but these usually seemed secondary to the facts. The order of the book was chronological from the time Ms. Elliot first started the experiment until she decided to do the experiment as a full time job. Both the style of writing and pace of the book were comfortable to read, but were nothing unique.

Moral: 2½/5 Potentially Good or Bad Moral: The moral had some things that were and were not biblical. The Bible says many times that we should not be a “respecter of persons.” Race is one thing that we should not discriminate on. I personally think that racism is not as big of a problem as it once was in the USA, though it is still there. Racism isn’t just against black people anymore, but white, Asian, and Latino people too, so no matter what race you are, if you feel hostility against a race (not a culture, but a race) than the main moral will be good for you. There were some smaller morals that I did not are for as much though, such as it is OK to outright deny authority if you believe it is wrong. True, God says we are not to obey authority when told to sin, but He never says to be outright rebellious about it. Also we should notice discriminating has been taken to a much further level than before. Discriminating in the sense that someone is a better person than another because of something they can’t change like their skin or hair color is wrong, but discriminating because of something they can change or control is not wrong. God discriminates who He lets in heaven: if you accept Him as Savior you go to heaven and if you reject Him hell, but you can control whether you accept Him or not. He will not discriminate based on things you can’t control though, like whether you are Jewish or Gentile. Sadly people today have taken “don’t discriminate” to an outrageous and radical level and say people have absolutely no control over their actions or who they are. There is slight beginning traces of that in here, but not as much as there is today. Because of the modern idea of discrimination, be careful when you read this book to not take the moral too far.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The thing that makes this book most recommendable is the unique experiment that is done. It is recommended for either gender and is recommended either for adults or teenagers. Children may not find it as interesting, though teenagers probably will. I do recommend that the teenager have a godly perspective of discrimination and racism before reading though or that they discuss the book with their parents, so that way the moral does not affect them in a negative way.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 An Improper Description: A boy’s embarrassment is compared to being found “swimming naked.”

Violence: 2/5 Moderate Light or Mentioned Violence: People trip twice in the book. It is mentioned that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The children in a class believe black people are more violent than white people. Boys in the book wrestle usually for fun though once out of anger and a boy says he wrestles with his little sister. His teacher later exaggerates it against him as hitting his sister. In high school he does wrestling. A girl lets another girl get hit with her arm. It mentions a boy was kicked by his dad. A boy punches another one. A boy is beat up by a gang because his mom isn’t racist. His sister also gets punched and kicked. Several children have violent thoughts toward the other students and teacher while the experiment is going on, one of them even being killing their teacher. A boy suggests that his teacher use a pointer to punish children of the bad eye color. A boy gets hit in the back. It mentions someone dieing in a car accident and another person being greatly injured.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2½/5 Some Offensive Racial Terms and Light Language Misuse: Offensive words to refer to people of other races are used at least fourteen times, the “n” word being used twelve times. Not all of these terms are necessarily swearing, but are still offensive and rude. The alternate term for donkey is used once. God’s name is misused once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 0/5 None

Religious Issues: 1/5 Slightly Suggestive: A Sioux prayer was mentioned once. When a boy draws a picture of himself on the day he has the bad eye color, part of the picture includes a devil.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Ms. Elliot is also against sexism to the point where she believes that being called a “lady” is an insult. There is mention of punk hairstyles. There is a mention of ashtrays and smoking.

Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: The book is raised for teenagers because of the swearing. The racial terms are the worst moral things about the book, besides some issues with the moral. The moral does push some of the modern day ideas of discrimination, but they are not as pushed or harsh as what can be seen on a daily basis.

Apps

App Review of Vlogger Go Viral

Vloggers Go Viral-Clicker by Tapps- Top Apps and Games

Type: Clicker, Simulation

Basic Game Setup and Plot: You are a vlogger and make videos on different subjects. The goal is to get in first place and then start a new vlog.

Quality

Game Play: 3½/5 Above Average: You are a vlogger that wants to become famous on the internet. You make vlogs by picking a subject and let a time bar fill up. This can be filled up by waiting, clicking the screen, or paying with diamonds. After making money from vlogging you can buy different things to make your vlog videos more attractive and gain publicity. You can also reach goals and buy different characters to play as well as specific clothing or hair from characters. After you become the most famous vlogger you can delete your old game and start all over to get different rewards. While the game sometimes gets a little repetitive, it is a lot of fun.

Graphics: 3/5 Average: The graphics are in a cartoon style and do not have much detail. Most things are brightly colored and cheerful. There are also pictures of real people and things in the vlogs you make. The photos are well taken.

Music: 3/5 Average: There are two songs played depending whether you are making a vlog at the moment or not. They are both cheerful and upbeat, but nothing extraordinary.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The game is best to play on long car rides (well, not when you’re driving of course) or when you are waiting for a service that usually takes some time like the dentist. The game can be enjoyed by both genders and is enjoyable for any age as long as they can understand how it works. Overall it is more fun than the average clicker game and is recommended.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Three people in pictures are hinted or shown to have no shirt in as it shows their bare shoulders, one being a woman. One of the three is a shirtless man. One character you can play has her midriff showing. Another character you can play is a Mayan character that has almost no clothes. The characters in the game are in a cartoon style and are not shown shown with bodies that are realistic.

Violence: 1/5 Slight Violence: There is a picture of an explosion and a picture of a man falling off a horse.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1/5 Frequent Suggested Misuse: “OMG” is used in at least six comments. Several bad comments include symbols to represent swearing.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 0/5 None

Religious Issues: 1/5 Slightly Sugegstive: “Karma” is part of one person’s username. Some of the comments toward the character are compliments that can be considered idol worship, such as “(Username) is my new religion.”

Magic: 1/5 Slight Reference: An “internet fairy” explains how the game works when you start it. Some of the characters you can play as are an alien, elf, gypsy, witch, and zombie. “Magic” is compared to science in one comment. One of the rewards is “Tech Wizard.” A poster has alien ships on it and aliens are mentioned to have visited you when you become famous. No magic is done in the game. “Zombie” is in a username

Others: Two characters you can play are boys with long hair. Beyonce is mentioned in one comment. There is a picture that has a character that is probably Slenderman. (A character from an urban legend ghost story.) One of the pictures has people at a rock concert in it. The back round music has drums. Some characters that can be unlocked are the punk and skeleton. One female character has half her head shaved. One of the things you can unlock in “studio equipment” is “Xio the Skull.”

Overall: 1/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: The game is family friendly and is recommend it to children six or seven and older. The problem that is probably the biggest is the suggested language and some of the character selections, though a person may object to something else in the game as well such as the music with drums. Overall the game is mostly recommendable.

Last Updated: October 15, 2016