Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Why the Prince Bites It

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Mind-Rain

Why the Prince Bites It

by Gail Sidonie Sobat

And gazing down at her, handsome Prince Charming bent to kiss her lips. Then he swooped her into his strong arms and up onto his shining white steed. They galloped toward his stalwart castle, towers gleaming in the orange rays of the sunset. And she lived happily ever after.

Puke.

As if.

Yes, it is a fairy tale. But honestly. Such endings are the wistful wish-fulfillment fantasies of erstwhile dreamy peasant girls–nowadays dreamy new-millennium girls raised on Disney pap and false promises. All that’s missing are the dancing, singing mice and teapot.

Think of the fairy tales you know. The popular gooey ones. And look at the vapid girls who inhabit these tales. Girls without much backbone. Girls who mainly sit pretty, and let the men do the saving and liberating.

Cinderella, who has no more gumption than to be sweet and dress prettily and be home on time. She is rescued by the prince.

Cindy’s …

Available Until Friday, June 12th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Stealing Fire From the Gods

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Demigods and Monsters

Stealing Fire From the Gods

by Paul Collins

Growing up is dangerous. Being yourself is dangerous.

In the classic Australian film, Strictly Ballroom, the chief character, Scott, wants to dance his own steps and wants to do it his way. And all Hades breaks loose!

Scott’s attempts at becoming an individual, at becoming himself, are seen as a crime, an act of rebellion, against the social “group” of which he is a member because Scott is not fitting in; he’s not conforming.

Well, neither is Percy Jackson.

Percy is dyslexic, has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and is always getting into trouble. In most school systems, and society at large, that pretty much makes Percy a loser, the kid least likely to succeed, the kind of kid who’ll never amount to anything and isn’t worth the effort anyway. Ever heard that one before?

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, turns these so-called flaws on their heads.

Like many kids in his position–labeled a misfit, …

Available Until Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Case Notes: Salvatore, Stefan and Salvatore, Damon

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A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Case Notes: Salvatore, Stefan and Salvatore, Damon

by Heidi R. Kling

Note: Since the subjects are fictional characters, rather than sit down
with them separately or together, the therapist viewed twenty-two
hours of tape footage (one “season”) depicting their interactions with
one another and with others.

 

Stefan Salvatore

Observations

Appearance

Stefan Salvatore is male, Caucasian, appearing to be about
seventeen years old (younger than his stated age of 162).
Stefan stands approximately 5’10”. With a coif of stiff “James
Dean” hair, a black leather jacket, and expensive designer
pants, he resembles a rebellious–albeit wealthy and wellgroomed–
teenager from the 1950s. Other than an ornate
ring he wears no jewelry. His build is athletic, with an
emphasis on weightlifting; the thin black T-shirt he wears
reveals clearly defined pectorals. Though Stefan is officially
undead, he appears healthy.

Available Until Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Sharper Than a Seraph Blade

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Shadowhunters and Downworlders

Sharper Than a Seraph Blade

by Diana Peterfreund

The Shadowhunters of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series have a variety of weapons at their disposal, and most possess particular favorites. Isabelle Lightwood is fond of her golden electrum whip, Luke Garroway (when not wolfy) is very attached to the kindjal blade Valentine gave him to off himself with, and Clary Fray probably gets the most mileage out of her Angel-given gift of rune making–that is, when she can manage to hang on to her stele. (Honestly, she drops that thing more often than Stephanie Plum forgets her gun.)

But Jace Wayland Morgenstern Herondale Lightwood–who, thanks to his angel blood, is one of the most powerful of all Shadowhunters, and who has more names for seraph blades than can be found in your average baby-naming book–has one weapon that trumps them all.

Humor.

Seraph blades and daggers and steles are all well and good (and for Jace, they’re very good indeed), but the …

Available Until Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Smoke and Mirrors

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The Girl Who Was on Fire

Smoke and Mirrors

by Elizabeth M. Rees

smoke and mirrors: cover-up; something that is intended to draw attention away from something else that somebody would prefer remain unnoticed

–Encarta World English Dictionary

smoke and mirrors: irrelevant or misleading information serving to obscure the truth of a situation

–Collins English Dictionary

When I was a kid my favorite game was “Let’s Pretend.” Every child plays one version or another. You create a world for a day, or an afternoon, complete with rules, with adventures, with tragedies and silly happenings, everything from tea parties to out-and-out galactic warfare. But then your mom calls you in for dinner, or to do chores or homework, and game time ends. Poof! The pretend world evaporates into thin air, never to exist in exactly the same way again.

But what if it never vanished? What if all that pretense, that make-believe, wasn’t imaginary at all? What if your whole world, day-in and day-out, was made up of pretense, lies, and deceit? What if your life or your death …

Available Until Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Show Me, Don't Tell Me

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Navigating the Golden Compass

Show Me, Don't Tell Me

by Daniel P. Moloney

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is obviously indebted to the Christian story and derives much of its form from it. But rather than trying to write a modern Christian allegory in the fashion of C. S. Lewis, Pullman attempted to write an anti-Christian allegory based on a revisionist interpretation of Paradise Lost in which Satan is the hero. Pullman has made no secret that he intends his story to be offensive to Christians, and in this he succeeds (after all, to offend, it is sufficient to communicate one’s desire to offend). But, his scorn for the Church aside, the religion to which Pullman’s novel is opposed is such a caricature of real Christianity that most Christians would join him in rejecting it. At his best, his storytelling even advances Christian themes and values.

Pullman’s best is very good, and not offensive to Christians. It’s when he tries to propose anti-Christian …

Available Until Friday, May 15th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: To Bite, or Not to Bite; That is the Question

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A New Dawn

To Bite, or Not to Bite; That is the Question

by Janette Rallison

What’s your definition of a bad day? A fight with a friend? A speeding ticket? How about being attacked by a vampire and painfully turned into the undead, then realizing you must wander for eternity fighting off a craving to kill people? Yeah, that would pretty much be a bad day.

Carlisle, the leader of the Cullen clan of vampires had this bad day and (we can assume) many other bad days that followed. Stephenie Meyer doesn’t skimp when dishing out problems for her characters. Seriously, if you were Cinderella and could choose someone to be your fairy godmother, you wouldn’t want it to be Stephenie Meyer. Sure, she could come up with the ultimate Prince Charming to take you to the ball, but he might kill you afterward.

Anyway, this particular bad day of Carlisle’s, when he was attacked and transformed into a vampire, started the ball rolling for the Twilight …

Available Until Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Language of the Heart

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Demigods and Monsters

The Language of the Heart

by Sophie Masson

When I was about nine, I had a horrible recurring dream. It was pretty simple. All I could see was a face, which at first was small and in the distance, but then got bigger and bigger till it seemed to be right on top of me. I couldn’t see a body, just a face. It was a monstrous face: very, very pale, almost gray-skinned, with big staring eyes so pale they seemed almost white and a thin pale mouth that opened on to long yellow teeth tipped with red. Straggly hair that seemed to move and lift in an invisible wind blew out aroundthe face as if there was an electric current running through it, or as if each hair was alive and wriggling horribly. I always woke up just as the mouth opened wide on a terrible scream, and I’d be screaming myself, yelling my head off.

My mother …

Available Until Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A Very Dangerous Boy

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A New Dawn

A Very Dangerous Boy

by Susan Vaught

[NOTE: Please read entire essay before pressingon the hate-mail!]

I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in–my voice, my face, even my smell.

–EDWARD CULLEN, TWILIGHT

Edward Cullen. Yes, I know, every fangirl in the Twilight universe just squealed at the mere mention of his name. And what’s not to love?

He’s powerful. He’s rich. He’s romantic. And, as he notes in the quote
above, he’s thoroughly enticing in every possible way.

He’s also a predator, just like he says.

For the first three books in the Twilight series, Edward Cullen is a dangerous, bloodthirsty predator at constant risk of murdering the girl he loves. In the fourth book, after he spends several days conspiring to kill his unborn child, he finally does take Bella’s life. More specifically, he rams a needle full of vampire venom into her heart, then uses his teeth to keep filling her with venom …

Available Until Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Gods Among Us

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Demigods and Monsters

The Gods Among Us

by Elizabeth M. Rees

What You Can’t See Might Harm You

Living in New York City, just under two miles from what became Ground Zero, I witnessed the events of 9/11 all too close to home. It was a scene to gladden the war-mongering heart of Ares, the Greek god of war. The smoky, fiery image of the Twin Towers was surely one lifted straight from Hades’ wildest dreams.

Although I am old enough to know Superman is make-believe and that James Bond is just a character in books and film, I actually found myself wondering, “Where are they?” Why didn’t Superman soar onto the scene and snatch a plane in each fist a second before they struck? Why had James Bond’s trademark derring-do failed when his valiant deeds were most crucial?

What a foolish part of me expected was larger-than-life action taken by one of our own pop culture demigods (Clark Kent) or heroes (Bond). What …

Available Until Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

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