Silent Reading Presentation

Kelsey Shuck

Does attitude affect the outcome of a situation?

Helen Keller The Story of My Life

Norman Richards

At 19 months old, Helen Keller was struck with a mystery fever that left her deaf and blind. She became a very frustrated child with zero means of communication. It wasn't until age seven that Helen met Ms. Sullivan. Ms. Sullivan taught Helen how to properly communicate. She learned to read, write, and eventually speak with the help of her teacher. Helen refused to let her disability get the better of her and she later went to an all girl school where she furthered her education.

When Helen was twelve, she faced a rather large internal struggle. Her mind had filled with this wonderful story that she was unable to write down fast enough. She sent her work, The Frost King, to one of her friends, Mr. Anagnos of the Perkins Institution for the Blind. He loved her work and published it in The Perkins Institution reports. Soon after, Helen found herself being questioned in court for her act of plagiarism. Helen's book, The Frost King, was actually a rendition of Margaret Canby's story called The Frost Fairies. Helen had no recollection of ever hearing Ms. Canby's book. Helen was eventually proven innocent, however, the whole ordeal had sent her into a downward spiral. Helen never did write vivid stories ever again for fear that none of her thoughts were actually her own. It wasn't until sometime later that she even agreed to write at all. Helen later went to an all girl's school and was able to show how bright she really was. She was even able to make friends and eventually she was able to help other blind and deaf people learn to communicate as well. Though she was faced with a huge disadvantage in life, her determination helped her overcome the odds that were stacked against her. Without the will power that Helen possessed, she would've never been successful and never would've reached her full potential.

Personal Review

The book captures Helen very well. However, about half way through the text, I quickly lost interest. In the beginning it focuses on how she learns and the methods she was taught to help her communicate. The details quickly become more vague, and her life is poorly depicted. It almost seems like the author ran out of things to say.


“For, after all, every one who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better, I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory. One more effort and I reach the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky, the uplands of my desire.” Though she faced a huge disability, Helen was always eager to learn. Learning has always been important to me as well. Knowledge can take someone far in life. Helen, for example, was expected to be uneducated and let her disability drag her down. Because of her desire for knowledge, Helen was able to become an educated woman who was able to help others with similar disabilities.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Garth Stein

Enzo is a dog, not just any dog, but Denny's dog. Denny is a racecar driver and Enzo has a grasp on life that one wouldn't expect from a dog. He believes that in his next life he will be reborn as a human and will be able to use the knowledge he has gained and be very successful in the human world. Enzo was only a few years old when Denny met Eve, his soon to be wife. Enzo was never fond of Eve, but he was always grateful that she gave him Zoe, Denny and Eve's daughter. A twist of events tears the family apart and leaves Denny and Enzo with no money, a bad reputation, and in a custody battle for the only family Denny has left.

Denny is a very talented man, intellectually and on the racetrack. However, throughout the course of the book he is beat down and kicked around. There are several points when he feels like he can no longer push forth. With the help of Enzo's behavior and the encouraging words of his friends and lawyers, Denny is able to get his head back on his shoulders. The real turning point begins when he says, "That which is around me does not affect my mood; my mood affects that which is around me." Had Denny never changed his attitude toward the situation, he would've been unable to overcome it. He faced two paths in life and his attitude was the sole determination in which one he went down. He could've given up and lost everything, or he could've tried harder and gotten everything he wanted.

Personal Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain was a very well written novel. Garth Stein takes the reader on a journey along with the characters. He has the reader rooting for the underdog and willing him to success. I would highly reccomend this novel. The Art of Racing in the Rain is very easy to get into and quickly becomes a page turner.


If I were to recommend a book, it would definitely be this one. This book has a broad appeal and would satisfy almost any reader. It's a very good tale of the underdog overcoming the odds. I would give this book a rating of four and a half stars out of five. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a unique story with a turn of events that leaves the reader wanting to know more.

Never Let Me Go

Kazou Ishiguro

Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are former Hailsham students. Secluded from the world, they always knew they were different. The students had been created for a specific purpose, to donate all of their vital organs one by one until they could no longer go on. They left Hailsham at the age of sixteen and were spread across the country side to small locations where they would reside until they were ready to be carers, the people who cared for the donors. After they served as carers, they themselves would become donors until they terminated.

After Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy left Hailsham, they were sent to a place they referred to as "the Cottages". It was an old farm where they would reside with other people headed down the same path. During her time at the Cottages, Kathy really struggled to find her place. She was unable to find someone to be a "proper couple" with and often slept around. Turmoil aslo began to form in the trio's friendship. Kathy questioned Ruth's odd behaviors around the other people who weren't from Hailsham, and Ruth reacted in a harsh way. After about a year of living at the Cottages, Kathy finally decided that she had had enough and was ready to begin her training as a carer. She left the Cottages with a better attitude and ended up finding her place. She loved being a carer and she was good at it. Most people quit after the first few years, but Kathy had been at it for over a decade. She wasn't happy at the Cottages, and her decision to leave ended up being best for her because she was no longer miserable, instead she had found something she loved to do.

Personal Review

Never Let Me Go was one of the worst books I have read in a long time. It often leaves the reader confused. Unlike a mystery, where the reader is given clues to what's going on, this novel lacks background information. The ideas are unique, but could have been executed much better.

Half Brother

Kenneth Oppel

Ben Tomlin has been moved half way across Canada so his father, a scientist, can pursue an experiment. Dr. Richard Tomlin has finally found a university that would get him a chimp. Dr. Tomlin thinks that he, his wife, and a team of students, can teach a chimp to speak American Sign Language. The baby chimp was named Zan, and he was to be raised like a human. Though not found of Zan at first, Ben quickly forms a very strong bond with him. Zan is usually well-behaved, but Dr. Tomlin often forgets that he is still an animal and cruely punishes him for his behavior. Dr. Tomlin expects Zan to behave like a human, but he treats him like an animal. Dr. Tomlin gives up on Zan after only a year and a half into the experiment, despite how quickly he learns. Relationships are formed and broken over the course of the year, and some acts just aren't forgivable.

Baby Zan was taken away from his mother at only a few days old. He was to be raised like a human and taught to speak American Sign Language over the course of his life. The Tomlins wanted to make him a part of the family and even taught Zan to refer to themselves as mom and dad. He was treated like Mrs. Tomlin's baby and a human member of their family. Zan forged bonds with Mrs. Tomlin and Ben, but never was fond of Dr. Tomlin. Dr. Tomlin seemed to think that the reason Zan didn't like him was because Zan saw him as alpha male. After only a year and a half of the experiment, Dr. Tomlin decided he was going to give up on the project and send Zan to a sanctuary for chimpanzees. Dr. Tomlin gave up on Zan because he wasn't fond of him and expected him to act like a human one hundred percent of the time. Zan was learning at a very quick rate and was truly learning to communicate, not just imitate. Had Dr. Tomlin changed his attitude towards Zan, the outcome could have been much better. He could have realized that Zan had a lot more potential than he was giving him credit for and could've continued the experiment rather than sending him away to a sanctuary.

Personal Review

I'm not going to lie, this book really ticked me off. It made me wish I could be a character so I could strangle my ignorant counterparts. Don't read it. Half Brother is an awful book.

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