Surviving High School: khorror

I just finished watching a movie called Black Rat, in which six high school students get a text that appears to come from their dead classmate Asuka. She committed suicide, but now she apparently wants them to meet her at night in their classroom. TOTALLY A GREAT PLAN. Except the characters all show up, I guess for the same reason that in western horror movies they always go into the basement.

black rat

As events unfold, it turns out that Asuka wanted them to create a lasting shared memory by doing a special modern version of the rat dance for their cultural festival. She planned the choreography and made a large rat head (I spent half the movie wondering was that just a prototype and she was planning to make six more, or was just one of them going to be in rat costume). None of the others really wanted to except her best friend, so Asuka killed herself and now someone pretending to be her ghost is murdering the others one by one (in the school, at night, where they have so conveniently assembled).

I have watched so many movies with a similar plot (suicide because of bullying or just not fitting in) that I half believe Korea’s high schools must have a fantastic kill rate. I mean, deep down I know that can’t be true, but the movies have left me expecting Asian high schools to have hordes of ghosts.

These “I was unpopular so now you must die” plots rely heavily on the viewer being able to take the bullying seriously, but in this case, I felt more annoyed with Asuka for trying to guilt everyone into doing the dance. They had to be coaxed into agreeing; most of them made it perfectly clear they didn’t want to dance; killing them for non-participation just didn’t make me feel any sympathy for the whole “revenge” thing. The tacked-on additional motivation of a couple of breakups didn’t help, since none of the relationships ever came across as particularly serious or passionate.



reading: Bride of Slug Man

Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man. After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

bride of slug man

This is what I’m reading right now. Not out loud to the children, just for my own personal entertainment, which is something I really need to make more time for…

I just recently finished reading Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. I can’t say enough good things about that book (although I tried over in my Goodreads review of it). I’ll admit buying that book was a title-and-cover based decision, but it really paid off. It was fundamentally satisfying to watch the heroine respond to perceived bullying by trying to get her own back, and even more deeply satisfying to see her gain the perspective to understand how wrong her revenge plot was, and how the hurtful behaviour of her best friend had been less malicious than she’d thought.

night of the zombie chickens

The world really, truly doesn’t divide up neatly into bullies vs. bullied. Many of us have unintentionally been mean, and almost everyone has been on the receiving end. It’s rare to see a book handle the issue so deftly that you walk away re-examining how your behaviour affects other people, instead of just smugly concluding “bullies are bad” without wondering if you’ve ever accidentally been one…


January: What We’re Reading

Obviously we’re reading a lot of things that AREN’T on the list. The adults on the list are reading adult books; the beginning readers are working steadily at their Guided Reading books and library books and the basket of currently-seasonal books that sits on their table.

But here are the read-out-loud chapter books that we’re sharing:0-590-44477-8

Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors: The Bailey Elementary third graders are at it again, and the janitor has had it. His replacement, Mr. Jolly, keeps the school magically clean and as cold as the North Pole. Now the kids are beginning to suspect Mr. Jolly may be…Santa Claus! We should have tackled this last month, but we’re still enjoying it. Besides, it’s hard to let go of Christmas all at once. We like to ease down gradually.


january joker January Joker: In the first book of the Calendar Mysteries — an early chapter book mystery series featuring the younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives — Green Lawn has a problem! When Bradley Pinto wakes up in the night to strange lights in his backyard, he wonders if there are aliens in town. When he sees three-toed tracks in the snow, he’s sure of it. His twin, Brian, and friends Lucy and Nate aren’t so certain. But then Lucy’s cousin Dink, the twins’ brother Josh, and Nate’s sister Ruth Rose all disappear. Are there “really “aliens in Green Lawn? And where could they be taking Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose? This is the first book by Ron Roy we’ve tried. For once we are actually starting a series WITH THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES. This is a huge achievement for us.

21840315 The Snow Day from the Black Lagoon: When a blizzard hits, Hubie knows that doesn’t mean a snow day, it means a “no” day — nothing moves, nothing happens. After spending all afternoon zipping zippers, snapping snaps, and buckling buckles, he’s finally ready to explore the winter wonderland. Can Hubie plow through his snow-venture or will he be left out in the cold? Some of the humour in these books is a little over my kids’ heads, but they love the illustrations and they “get” the contrast between Hubie’s worst fears and what’s really happening, so I’m content to keep them on the roster.

elizabeth's valentineElizabeth’s Valentine: Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield can’t wait until Eva, the new girl in their second-grade class, arrives from Jamaica. When Elizabeth is picked to show Eva around school, the two become friends, and Jessica begins to feel left out. After all, she and Elizabeth are supposed to be best friends. To get back at her twin, Jessica ignores Elizabeth and pretends to keep secrets from her. She even pretends she has a new best friend. Elizabeth can’t understand why Jessica is being so mean. Everything’s a mess, and it’s up to Eva to help Elizabeth and Jessica become friends again! My daughter found this on my shelf of vintage paperbacks, and I agreed to read it to her. She’s riveted. I have mixed feelings about Sweet Valley, but the twins are only seven in this and there’s no overt body-image-policing, so I’m cautiously agreeing to this for now. (The next series up–Sweet Valley Twins–is going to have to wait for a time when my children are old enough to have a serious talk about Why We Don’t Treat People the Way Jessica Treats Them. Although actually, I’m hoping they ALREADY know how mean her behaviour would be in real life, and that it’s not okay to hate people for being fat or whatever else Jessica thinks is a flaw.)