Comparing Love in Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), directed by Guillermo del Toro, and Life is Beautiful (1997), directed by Roberto Benigni, are fantastic films in their own regard which, at first glance, appear to have nothing in common. Pan’s Labyrinth is a film about a young, innocent girl named Ofelia. Along with her pregnant mother, Carmen, she moves in with her stepfather, Vidal, who is a ruthless captain of the Spanish army in fascist Spain. Little does she know, but Ofelia is the princess of a mystical fantasy world, and is instructed by a faun to complete three harrowing tasks in order to return to her father, the king of the underworld, who has been searching for her for thousands of years. Life is Beautiful, on the other hand, revolves around the life of a flamboyant Italian man named Guido who marries the love of his life, Dora, with the help of his sparkling, witty personality. When his family is later interned in a Nazi concentration camp, he uses these same characteristics to protect his naïve son, Joshua, from the horrors of the Holocaust. On first viewing, the darkly sinister Pan’s Labyrinth and the uproariously comedic Life is Beautiful seem to be worlds away from each other. However, one thing that pulls these intriguing films together is how love plays a vital role in their stories. In both films, love causes characters to go through adversity for loved ones and plays a role in uniting family. In contrast, love in Pan’s Labyrinth interestingly causes one of its main characters to also lack concern for most of his family members, whereas in Life is Beautiful, its main character exhibits unconditional love to everyone in his family.

The strong affection that characters feel for those who are dear to them motivates them to face challenges for these loved ones. When circumstances are not in favour of characters, others who care about them will often do whatever is necessary to improve their situations, especially in Pan’s Labyrinth. For example, Vidal’s motive for fighting in the war and being an activist for fascism is so that his son will be born in a “new, clean Spain” (Pan’s Labyrinth). Vidal loves his son so much that he is willing to put his life on the line to fight for what he believes in to make life better for him.  Additional evidence that emphasizes how love causes characters to go through adversity for loved ones is how the king of the underworld never gives up trying to find his daughter. He truly believes that his daughter, Princess Moanna, will return some day and spends thousands of years searching for her.  Upon meeting Ofelia, the faun tells her how the king opened portals all over the world to allow her return and that “the king will wait for her until he draws his last breath and the world stops turning” (Pan’s Labyrinth). The king’s willpower to search thousands of years for his long lost daughter is very amazing. Another instance that displays how a character goes through difficulties for a loved one is when Ofelia refuses to harm her brother for the faun’s final task. The last task requires that the blood of an innocent be spilled so Ofelia will be able to return to her father in the underworld. Despite learning how the king of the underworld has been searching for her for thousands of years, and knowing that she will be able to return to her father and reclaim her position as princess of the mystical underworld, without hesitation, Ofelia absolutely refuses to hurt her brother. Her love for her little brother prevents her from doing the unthinkable. The will of characters to take on difficult circumstances with others in mind is very admirable.

Likewise, the characters in Life is Beautiful also go through adversity for loved ones. After Guido meets Dora for the first time, he finds clever ways, which can possibly get him in trouble, to meet with her again and again. He poses as a school inspector at the school where Dora teaches, deceives her into thinking that he is her chauffer, and steals her away from her fiancée. Guido’s love for Dora causes him to do these crazy things without being concerned with the negative consequences that may follow. Later, when Guido and Joshua board the train to the concentration camp, Dora begs to board the train as well, even though she is not a Jew, in order to be with her family. This is quite a bold move by Dora and shows the extent of hardship she is willing to endure for her family. Subsequently, when the family arrives in the concentration camp, Guido faces the great challenge of hiding the truth of regarding prejudice against Jews and the Holocaust from Joshua in order to protect his son’s innocence. Guido’s love for Joshua allows him to remain positive and optimistic all the while guarding Joshua from the horrible reality of the Second World War. Without a doubt, it is clear that the characters of both Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful are driven by love to improve the lives of the ones they cherish.

In addition to inspiring characters to better the lives of their loved ones, love also has an effect on bringing family together. When characters miss their loved ones, they will often think of them and take action in order to be with them. For example, despite the risk of being caught by Vidal or his men, Mercedes, Vidal’s servant-cum-undercover spy, frequently meets with her brother Pedro, who is part of the guerrilla forces fighting against the fascist army. Mercedes must fulfill her job of staying undercover within Vidal’s compound, but her love for her brother makes her see him regularly because of the bond they share. More evidence that clearly illustrates how love brings family together is when Ofelia reunites with the king and queen of the underworld. Her firm unwillingness to allow her brother to be hurt, due to her love for him, ultimately results in her sacrificing her own blood to open the portal to the underworld that the king had created. The king’s love for his daughter motivated him to create the portal, and Ofelia’s love for her brother essentially allows her to open it and return to her family in the underworld, who has been searching for her for millennia. Certainly, it is quite evident that love brings family together.

Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, love also plays a role in uniting family in Life is Beautiful. For example, there is an interesting scene where Joshua and his grandmother meet for the first time. She requests that Joshua give Dora a letter that she had written for her and tell her that it is from his grandmother. Joshua replies that he had never met his grandmother before and would like to meet her. Though they had never met before, the fact that they are family makes Joshua love his grandmother and motivates him to want to meet her, which he is luckily able to do. The grandmother’s love for Dora causes her to write a letter for her daughter, which, in turn, plays a role in allowing the grandmother to meet with Joshua when she delivers it. The unity of family is further exemplified in the scene where Guido plays a song through a record player in the concentration camp. The song that he plays is the exact same song that plays during the opera, when Guido first pursues Dora. At the opera, Guido and Dora make eye contact and chemistry arises. It is one of the first times when Guido and Dora share a connection. Several years later, when she hears the song in the concentration camp, she thinks about Guido, while he simultaneously thinks about her. At this time, they are not physically united, but they are definitely mentally united through love as they are both in each other’s thoughts. In essence, love certainly has an influence on bringing kin together in any situation, both physically and in spirit.

Although love has a similar effect on both films with regard to how characters go through adversity for the sake of love, and how love brings family together, one cannot deny how love causes Vidal and Guido to each treat their families differently if you realize how Vidal loves his son exclusively, whereas Guido deeply cares about his entire family. Vidal disregards his wife, Carmen, and his step-daughter, Ofelia, in favour of his unborn son. He loves his son more than anyone else. At the beginning of Pan’s Labyrinth, Carmen, whose health is in a fragile state due to the pregnancy, must move in with her new husband on the front lines of war, because he strongly believes that “a son should be born wherever his father is” (Pan’s Labyrinth). This brash decision by Vidal causes Carmen’s condition to worsen considerably. However, Vidal shows no concern for his wife and only cares about the well-being of his unborn son. After the doctor examines Carmen, Vidal has a discussion with him and states that if need be, “he should save the baby over Carmen” (Pan’s Labyrinth). Carmen ultimately dies giving birth to Vidal’s son. Another instance that evidently illustrates Vidal’s negligence of his family in favour of his son is when Vidal murders Ofelia. To complete her final task to return to the underworld, Ofelia kidnaps her little brother from her malevolent step-father. Eventually, Vidal catches Ofelia and retrieves his son. Afterwards, he does not hesitate to shoot a bullet through his step-daughter’s chest for the offense Pan’s Labyrinth. Clearly, Vidal is a cold-hearted man to everyone in his family except his beloved son.

Contrastingly, Guido, who is truly benevolent and loving of his entire family, is the exact opposite of Vidal. When Guido performs acts of love for his wife or son, he is always mindful of both of them. At one point during the family’s imprisonment in the concentration camp, Guido pushes a wheelbarrow, appearing to do work, but in reality, is keeping a watchful eye on his son, who is hiding in the wheelbarrow. As Guido pretends to be working, he notices that the room containing the public announcement system is empty. Guido sees this as an opportunity for him and Joshua to send a message to Dora, who they have not seen since their arrival at the concentration camp. In this way, Guido demonstrates love for his son and wife by keeping Joshua safe and sending Dora a warm message to show that he and Joshua miss her. Another scene in that perfectly exemplifies Guido’s unconditional love for both his wife and son happens shortly before the Nazis surrender. When Guido learns that the Jews are being rounded up to be killed before the war ends, he decides to take action and search for Dora in the concentration camp, at the risk of being caught and killed by Nazis. However, before he begins his search for Dora, Guido makes certain that Joshua will be hidden from everyone until he returns, and carefully explains to Joshua what he must do in order to ensure his safety. Without a doubt, Guido is exceptionally thoughtful and affectionate of his entire family, unlike Vidal, who is conversely careless and discourteous to everyone in his family, with the exception his son.

After watching Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful, it may be difficult to recognize similarities between them because their stories are very unalike. Pan’s Labyrinth is dark and mysterious, whereas Life is Beautiful is charming and whimsical. Although, when paying close attention to the presence of love in both films, it is apparent that love plays a major role in their plots. Essentially, love motivates characters to face difficulties for those who are dear to them and has an influence on bringing family together. However, there is a clear distinction between the sharing of love in both films. Vidal’s love is solely aimed at his son, whereas Guido’s love, on the other hand, is shared with all of his family members.  Overall, Pan’s Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful are two films that demonstrate the powerful influence that love can have.

Works Cited

Albedo-ukr. Family 3. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 10 May 2010. Web. 24 May 2012. <;.

Dilmen, Nevit. Heartbeat. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 12 Sept. 2006. Web. 24 May 2012. <;.

LateAmerican. Ofelia and Faun. Digital image. TheSkyKid. TheSkyKid, Feb. 2010. Web. 24 May 2012. <;.

Life Is Beautiful. Dir. Roberto Benigni. Perf. Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, and Giorgio Cantarini. Miramax Films, 1997. DVD.

Nancy0206. Life is Beautiful Family. Digital image. Global Times. Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd, 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 May 2012. <;.

Pan’s Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo Del Toro. Perf. Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, and Sergi López. Picturehouse, 2006. DVD.


Life is Beautiful Review: The Pursuit of Love and the Will to Protect is Admirable

Life is Beautiful is a film set in Arezzo, Italy in 1939 directed by and featuring Roberto Benigni. As I watched this film, I questioned whether life is in fact beautiful? The name of this film is somewhat ironic. Initially, the film begins as a playful romantic comedy that revolves around an Italian Jew, named Guido (played by Roberto Benigni), and his pursuit of a beautiful school teacher named Dora (played by Nicoletta Braschi, who happens to be Benigni’s wife in real life). But later as the film progresses, the story makes an unexpected turn that will leave you overwhelmed with feelings of sympathy and admiration for the story’s characters, especially Guido.
While watching the first half of Life is Beautiful, it is easy to forget that Guido is a Jew living during the time of World War II. Guido’s charm and enthusiasm distracts viewers from the fact that Jews experience discrimination and prejudice, which is hinted throughout the first half of the film. Years pass and Guido marries the love of his life, Dora, has a little boy named Joshua, and has his dream job of being the owner of a bookstore. Guido has a great life and looks like he will live happily ever after. However, World War II is not over and animosity against Jews is strong as ever. Because Guido is a Jew, he and his family are forced to work and live in a Nazi concentration camp. To protect his son, Joshua, from the horrible reality of how Jews are despised and why their family is away from home, Guido pretends that all the people at the concentration camp are playing a game. The winner of the game will receive the grand prize, a full-sized tank.
I thought the plot of Life is Beautiful was absolutely fantastic because it seems very predictable, but in reality, I would have never been able to foretell the unfortunate events to come. The movie starts out playfully and appears to be a comedic romance of two Italian lovers. After serendipitously meeting Dora for the first time, Guido finds several ways to “accidentally” meet with his love interest again and again. Guido’s quest for love is cute and his encounters with Dora are always spectacular. After Guido wins over the woman of his dreams and settles down to start a family, the viewers of the film are hit with an unforeseen plot twist that you would not expect from a romantic comedy. Guido’s family is interned in a Nazi concentration camp. When this happens, I was taken by surprise. The plot shifts from Guido’s charming pursuit of romance to his loving effort to protect his young son’s innocence in concentration camp through his optimism and cunning. Although the plot shift is sudden and unexpected, the transition is actually smooth. The first and second half of Life is Beautiful feel like they belong in two different films, but share something in common that keeps them together. In both halves of the movie, Guido’s actions are for the sake of love. For this reason, the plot is able to make a shocking transition without diverging from the essence of the movie, that love conquers all.

In addition to the fascinating plot, I also greatly enjoyed the music in Life is Beautiful, which accompanies the film seamlessly. All emotions felt by viewers are enhanced by the perfect kind of music that accurately conveys the feeling and atmosphere of the film at any given time. During the first half of the film, innocent, gleeful melodies are used to help illustrate how the circumstances at the time are pleasant and there is nothing to worry about. When Guido sees Dora, cheery and joyful music plays to accentuate Guido’s pleasure in seeing her. Later in the film, as Guido and his family board the train to concentration camp, the tone of the music is bleak and gloomy to give rise to feelings of depression and decreased morale. Essentially, the music playing in the background perfectly fits the scenes of the film by strengthening the emotions associated with each scene.
I mentioned how I really love the plot of Life is Beautiful, but a minor issue that I have with the plot is how it lacks realism. For instance, one of Guido’s clever plans to “accidentally” cross paths with his crush, Dora, involves posing as a school inspector at Dora’s school. As cunning as Guido may be, I don’t think he would be able to pass under the radar and deceive the teaching staff with such ease. His eccentricity and goofiness would surely cause the teaching staff to be suspicious of him, but no one questions his legitimacy. Something even more unbelievable is the fact that Guido’s son, Joshua, is completely unaware of the hostility and prejudice against Jews. Up until when Joshua and his family are interned in concentration camp, Joshua’s entire life is lived during the era of World War II. Yet, he is blind to the animosity against Jews. At the time, propaganda against Jews would be everywhere and harsh treatment of Jews would be evident. Even when he is confined in concentration camp, he is still clueless to what is going on, which I think should be very unlikely. The way how some parts of the plot are not realistically written somewhat bothers me.
Speaking of lack of realism, in my opinion, the setting of the concentration camp in the film did not convey a sense of danger and fear that I would have expected from a Nazi concentration camp. From what I’ve learned about Nazi concentration camps, I thought they were very cruel, harrowing places to say the least. But, the concentration camp illustrated in Life is Beautiful is missing the perils and tribulations that I imagined. Nobody is starving or dying, there is no excessively dangerous or back-breaking work, and there is not a great amount of oppression from the Nazis. In Life is Beautiful, the condition of the concentration camp is that bedrooms are overcrowded, Jews held in confinement are dirty, and Jews have to carry heavy anvils every now and then. I simply expected a concentration camp to be much more horrendous than the concentration camp portrayed in this film.

As for the characters of Life is Beautiful, my favourite character is definitely Guido, played by Roberto Benigni. I was very impressed by Benigni’s acting. Even though he is the director of the film, it is obvious that he did not neglect directing himself while he directed the rest of the cast. Benigni played Guido’s character outstandingly well. His charisma, which is magnetically charming and appealing, is clearly visible throughout the film. I liked how Guido’s character is full of vitality and lives life enthusiastically. I was also amused by Guido’s hilarious antics, like when he helps a Nazi soldier explain the “rules” of concentration camp. But, most of all, I respect Guido’s will to protect his son, Joshua. I truly admired Guido’s positivity and optimism despite being in such a horrific and frightening place. Protecting Joshua is Guido’s top priority and he does everything he can to prevent Joshua from harm and learning the realities of Nazi concentration camp. People who wish to protect precious people in their lives can relate to Guido. Anybody, but especially mothers and fathers, will be able to make connections to how Guido protects his loved ones no matter what.

Not only did I did enjoy Roberto Benigni’s character, but I also quite enjoyed Giorgio Cantarini’s character, Joshua. For such a young actor, Cantarini played Joshua’s character extremely well. As I watched Cantarini, it did not feel like he was just acting the role, but rather, it felt like he was living the role. His portrayal of a sincere, innocent little boy, who is unsuspecting of what is really going on, seems real. Before his family is sent to concentration camp, he questions why Jews are not allowed in certain shops in town, which does not seem fake. Cantarini’s excellent acting made Joshua appear to be genuinely naïve and innocent. Furthermore, in the concentration camp, Joshua’s strong connection with Guido, as well as his desire to be with his mother and go home also felt genuinely authentic. I think that people who have grown out of their childhood can relate to Joshua. As a young child, you are naïve and do not have wisdom that adults have and you do not know what is really going on in the world.
All things considered, Life is Beautiful is a phenomenal film that everyone should watch. The compelling plot will move you. Although I have pet peeves about the film’s realism and how the concentration camp is poorly portrayed, this movie is not about the Holocaust, Nazis, or World War II. This movie is about a man trying his best to protect his son’s innocence in the midst of bleak and adverse circumstances and about how love conquers all. If you are looking for a film that will make you laugh, cry, and become inspired to do whatever it takes protect the ones you love, Life is Beautiful is a film that you should definitely watch. I give Life is Beautiful four and a half out of five stars.

Works Cited
BoyActors. Giorgio Cantarini. Digital image. BoyActors. BoyActors, 20 May 2003. Web. 23 May 2012. <;.
Coby. Life Is Beautiful. Digital image. Listal. Listal, 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 23 May 2012. <;.
NoMan. Four and a half stars. Digital image. Clker. Rolera LLC, 13 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 May 2012. <;.
Sakarie. Musical Notes. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 May 2012. <;.
Vanjagenije. Vitaebella. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 27 Sept. 2009. Web. 23 May 2012. <;.

How to Write Different Kinds of Letters

Today, there are a variety of different letters for different purposes. Depending on the purpose of the letter and the recipient, I think that a letter should be written a certain way. I will show you how to write a friendly letter to a friend or family member, a memo for someone within a company, a medical report, a diary entry, and a magazine article.

Friendly Letter

Here is a template for a friendly letter:


[First Name Last Name]
[Street Address]
[City, Province, Postal Code]


Dear [Recipient’s name],

In the opening of your friendly letter, you should ask the recipient how they are doing and what they have been up to.

In the middle of your letter, you should tell the recipient how you yourself are doing and what you have been doing lately. The real purpose for writing the letter will also be stated. This can be about a situation that has occurred that has affected you or the recipient of the letter, news, or anything that you would like the person to know.

At the end of your letter, say a goodbye statement and state whether you expect the person to send a letter back to you.


[Your name]

Here is an example of a letter:

Jane Parabola
4200 Lakeshore Drive
Ostagar, BC, V5L 3T4

March 13, 2012

Dear Alistair:

How are you doing, brother? I hope you and your wife, Anora, are doing well in Fereldan. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and miss you very much. How is little David doing? Did you enjoy your trip to Orlais this summer? I would love to hear from you.

Over here in Ostagar, life has not been very easy for me. Joe has been acting very odd lately.  We don’t have that chemistry and connection that we used to have 10 years ago. When I talk to him, it’s like I’m talking to a complete stranger. Maybe he is having an affair! I have a feeling that he is sleeping with one of maids behind my back. Who knows? And on top that, I caught Jimmy smoking cigarettes with the Bacon Brothers last week! If he keeps hanging around those criminals, I fear that he is going to turn into a hoodlum.

I feel like you are the only person I can talk to. I’ve just been so depressed lately. Please tell me what I should do about Joe and Jimmy. I’m concerned for the both of them. I hope you and your family are doing well. Please send my regards to them and reply to me soon.


Jane Parabola


Here is a template for a memo:

[Company name]


To: [First and last name] (email address)

From: [First and last name] (email address)

CC: [First and last name] (email address)


Re: [Title]

The contents of the memo are short, concise, and tell the recipient information.

Here is an example of a memo:

Parabola Inc.


To: George Carver (

From: King Joseph Parabola (

CC: James Shepherd (j.shepherd

Date: March 13, 2012

Re: Bethany Carver Incident

Bethany Carver was attacked by a bird on March 12, 2012. Unfortunately, she lost her nose in the incident. She was sent to Ostagar General Hospital shortly after and emergency surgery took place to repair her nose. Due to the need for immediate surgery, Parabola Inc. paid for the expenses. You now owe Parabola Inc. $10000.

Medical Report

Here is a template for a medical report:


Patient Name: [First and last name]

Reporting Physician’s Name: Dr. [First and last name]


This is a brief summary that tells the reader what the report is about. The most important features are stated, as well as the main conclusion.


This introduces the subject and explains the reason for the report. The who, what, when, where, and why should be included.


This section presents the findings of the physician in and organized and logical fashion.


Major points that can be drawn from the discussion are briefly stated. If there is more than one conclusion, state the main conclusion first, and the remaining conclusions in decreasing order of importance.

Here is an example of a medical report:

Date: March 13, 2012

Patient Name: Bethany Carver

Reporting Physician’s Name: Dr. James Shepherd


Bethany Carver is a young woman whose nose was removed by a bird. Her nose has been replaced through surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.


Bethany Carver was attacked by a bird on March 12, 2012 at 10:38 AM, which resulted in the mutilation of her nose. Carver’s nose was bitten off completely, which created a large wound that bled heavily. When paramedics arrived at the scene at 12:04 PM, Carver was administered Tylenol by mouth to temporarily stop the bleeding. Upon arrival at Ostagar General Hospital at 12:20 PM, Carver was immediately taken to the operating room, where emergency nose replacement surgery took place to replace her nose. Surgery was successfully completed at 5:30 PM.


Before the surgical procedure, initial inspection showed that the wound was located on the middle of the patient’s face; the nose was gone completely. In order to repair the patient’s nose, 500 mL of Robitussin was poured onto the wound. Robitussin promotes the growth and regeneration of body cells, which was perfect for this situation. Instant regeneration occurred after the administration of Robitussin and the patient was fully healed.


Bethany Carver’s surgery was successful. Her nose is fully healed and intact. However, she may feel pain in her nose in the first month after surgery. To relieve the pain, she may take Aspirin up to 4 times a day. If the pain persists after one month, she must see a doctor for an examination.

Diary Entry

Diaries are personal reflections that are kept private and only the writer may read them. Entries are usually informal. The way that diary entries are written is entirely up to the writer, but the date should always be noted to easily remember when you wrote an entry. They can be long or short, be used to reflect on situations, and include photos or mementos.

Here is an example of a diary entry:

March 12, 2012

Dear Diary,

The strangest thing happened at work today! While I was watering the daffodils for King Joseph, Bethany got her nose bit off by bird. You don’t see things like that every day, that’s for sure. Serves that girl right! She has been way too touchy with the King. I always see her coming out of the King’s quarters late at night. I’m shocked that the Queen hasn’t noticed that her husband has been having an affair for nine years now. What a blind lady!

Other than Bethany’s incident, nothing special happened today. It was just another day today. After work, I felt pretty pooped, so I went home and watched Jersey Shore for four hours. Jersey Shore is great! Well, that’s it for now. Talk to you later, Diary.

Magazine Article

Magazine articles are written in an inverted pyramid form from most to least important information. The lead paragraph tells the reader the who, what, when, where, and why of the article. After the lead paragraph, the writer must anticipate what other information regarding the article that the reader will want to know and answer any questions that readers may have. In addition, include quotes from witnesses or bystanders after the lead paragraph. In the conclusion of the article, the information is the least important. You may include information about a similar event or challenge, a salutation, or speculations.

Here is a template of a magazine article:



By [Author’s first and last name]● [Leading paragraph]

[Explanation of article from most to least important information]


Here is an example of a magazine article:

Killer Bird Mutilates Woman


By Leon Lai ● On March 12, 2012, Bethany Carver was doing her regular morning routine of doing laundry for the King of Ostagar. As she was hanging the King’s garments to dry, seemingly out of thin air, a rabid blackbird came swooping down on her. This ferocious animal dived down from the sky and assaulted Carver, leaving the scene with her nose in its mouth.

Carver was in agonizing pain during this horrific encounter. Blood was gushing everywhere from the area where her nose used to be. Luckily, Tom Flower, one of the King’s gardeners, was nearby when the catastrophe occurred and called for an ambulance. Carver was taken to Ostagar General Hospital, shortly after, where emergency nose replacement surgery took place. Carver is still in hospital recovering from her trauma and is going to make a full recovery.

“[The procedure] went very smoothly,” stated Dr. James Shepherd, Carver’s surgeon, “A full recovery is expected.”

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Tom Flower, “It all just happened in an instant!”

The vicious bird is still yet to be found. A rumour has arisen, stating that the bird escaped from the Ostagar Asylum for Animals. We went to the facility to ask some questions, but they refused to comment on the matter.

Thank you for reading my long post on how to write different kinds of letters. I hope that after reading this, you will be able to write better friendly letters, diary entries, memos, and maybe even better medical reports and magazine articles.

Works Cited

Emilio, Juan. A Common Blackbird in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Foundation Inc., 12 Feb. 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <,_Canary_Islands,_Spain-8_(2).jpg>.

My First Team

            As I change into a t-shirt and shorts in the boys’ changing room, I feel a mixture of excitement and sleepiness. Right now, it is 7:00 AM. Today is the first day of tryouts for the Bantam Boys Volleyball team. It’s the first time that I’ve ever been to a tryout for a high school sports team. Basketball, soccer, and badminton are sports that are really popular among many students here at Britannia Secondary School. I was never interested in those sports. However, the one sport that I love is volleyball. Volleyball has always been my favourite sport. Back at Seymour Elementary School, I was a strong volleyball player on the Senior Boys Volleyball team during my grade seven year. I was never good at playing most sports, but I was decent at volleyball.

            After I change into my gym strip, I go to the gym and sit on the bench with the rest of the guys who are trying out for the team. A young man stands in front of us with a stern look on his face and his arms crossed. He looks like he is in his early thirties. “My name is David Ng,” says the intimidating looking man. “I am going to be your volleyball coach this season. I’d like to get you boys started right away. Everybody grab a partner and a ball to share between the two of you. Then, start underhand passing to each other.”

            I get up from the bench and look at my friend, Jian, who is sitting on the end of the bench. “Hey,” I say. “Want to be partners, Jian?” Jian sits next to me in my math and science classes. He is my partner for many projects in the classes that we share, so we work well together. And since I don’t know anybody else, Jian is an ideal partner.

            “Sure,” Jian replies. “I’ll go get a ball.” Jian goes to the basket of volleyballs in the corner of the gym, picks one up, and returns with a ball. Jian points to an area across the gym. “Let’s go over there,” Jian says. “There’s more room there.”

            “Alright,” I say. We go to the area that Jian suggests and stand about three metres away from each other. Jian tosses the ball to me and we begin underhand passing to each other. Whenever I attempt to pass the ball to him, Jian has to work hard to receive it because the ball always goes in different directions. But whenever Jian passes to me, the ball goes straight to me and I hardly have to move. I begin to feel frustrated because of my poor passing. I look around the gym and see that everybody is passing to each other really well. I seem to be the only one who is struggling.

            Without me realizing it, Jian passes the ball to me and the ball drops to the floor right in front of me. “Come on, Leon,” Jian says. “Focus!”

            Before I could pick the ball up from the ground, David blows his whistle. “Alright boys,” says David, in a loud, assertive voice. “Time for the next drill. With the same partner, I want you to set the ball to each other.”

            I pick up the volleyball, toss it to Jian, and we begin setting the ball to each other. He sets the ball into the air and the volleyball is beautifully placed right in front of me. I attempt to set the ball to Jian, but he has to hustle for it because I’m not able to push the ball far enough for it to reach him. “Come on, Leon. Focus!” Jian says, for the second time.

            “I’m trying!” I respond. I really am trying. Every time I try to set the ball, no matter how hard I try, the ball does not reach my partner. This is terrible. I look around the gym once again and realize that I’m the only one who is struggling again. I feel like a fish out of water.  Maybe I don’t belong on the volleyball team. How can I expect to get on the team if I can’t even pass or set the ball?  I have to step my game up.

            The sound of a whistle signals us to stop what we’re doing. “Alright, boys,” shouts David. “Let’s do some spiking. Give me all the balls and line up single-file behind the attack line. When I toss the ball, I want you to spike it over the net. Then, fetch the ball, put it on the ground beside me, and go back in line.”

            I line up behind the attack line with the other boys. I don’t feel very eager to spike after executing such poor sets and passes, so I stand at the very back of the line, behind Jian. David tosses the ball up in the air. The first boy approaches the net, jumps up two feet in the air and savagely pounds the ball over the net. The ball lands in the corner of the court with incredible force.

            “Holy cow,” I say to Jian. “That spike was nuts!” I am in total awe. The ball went down so fast that I thought that a trail of smoke was behind it. “Who is that guy?” I ask Jian.

            “His name is Jake.” Jian responds. “He was the captain of the volleyball team at my elementary school in grade seven.”

            David tosses another ball in the air and the next boy spikes the volleyball. The ball goes over the net, but it is nowhere near as impressive as Jake’s hit. As the other boys in front of me in the line-up get their turn to spike, I continue thinking about Jake’s amazing spike. I think about how the ball was hit with such unbelievable force and killer accuracy. If I’m going to be on this team, I’m going to have to perform a massive spike. My passes and sets earlier were absolutely awful, so this is my last opportunity to impress David.

            When it is finally my turn to spike, I position myself on the attack line. “Come on, Leon,” I say to myself under my breath. “Focus! You can do this!” David tosses the ball in the air. While keeping my eyes on the ball, I approach the net, and jump up as high as I can. I use my left hand to point at the target and pull back my right hand beside my ear, like an archer readying his bow. Then, I ferociously strike the ball over the net as hard as I can. The ball lands on the centre of the other side of the court with great force.

            As I run to the other side of the court to fetch the ball, I am full of joy. I can’t believe that I spiked the ball so well. I place the ball on the ground beside David, and run back to the line-up.

            “Nice spike, Leon,” Jian says. “I wasn’t expecting that from you!”

            “Yeah,” says Jake, as he lines up behind me. “That was pretty sick, man!”

            I feel flattered. “Thanks, guys,” I reply. “It was probably just a fluke.”

            When it is my turn to spike again, I’m able to spike the volleyball just as impressively and with as much force as I did previously. I’m ecstatic. “Maybe it wasn’t a fluke after all.” I say to myself, as I fetch the ball. We do a few more rounds of spiking and I continue to spike the ball well.

            “Alright, boys,” David says. “Since this is only the first day of tryouts, I think that’s enough for today. Hit the showers, and I will see you all tomorrow morning for day two of tryouts.” David points his finger to me. “Hey, I want to talk to you for a second.”

            I nervously walk over to David and wonder what he wants to say to me. Everybody else is in the change room, so only David and I are in the gym.

            “I was watching you a lot today,” David says. “You need to work on your passing and setting skills, but you can do some killer spikes! I was really impressed. I think that you can be a great offensive player on the team.”

“Thanks a lot, coach!”

“Now, hit the showers. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

            I turn around and walk towards the change room. I begin to feel really good about myself. Maybe I do belong here after all.

How to Make a Friendship Bracelet

           A fine friendship bracelet should look elaborately woven with a beautiful array of colours that complement each other and unite to form a wonderful bracelet. I learned how to make friendship bracelets at a summer camp called Camp Goodtimes when I was twelve years old. At this camp, all the campers and camp counsellors made cool friendship bracelets for each other. As a newcomer to Camp Goodtimes, I was intrigued by how popular friendship bracelets were, so I asked my camp counsellor, Greg, to teach me how to make friendship bracelets. After being a counsellor at the camp for five summers, Greg was a master at making friendship bracelets and was happy to teach me. Now, after attending Camp Goodtimes for four summers in a row and making hundreds of delicate friendship bracelets, I have also become an expert at making friendship bracelets.

            Before you make a friendship bracelet, you must think of someone to give it to. This person can be someone you’ve just recently met, someone that you want to become friends with, or even a long-time buddy. The first time I wanted to make a friendship, I wanted to give it to a close friend of mine at Camp Goodtimes, named Michael. For me, Michael was somebody that I thought deserved a friendship bracelet because he was he was a kind and funny guy and was one of the first friends that I made at Camp Goodtimes.  Once you determine who you want to give a friendship bracelet to, you are ready to begin crafting a marvellous friendship bracelet.

            To make a friendship bracelet, first you must choose three different coloured embroidery threads. When choosing colours, choose colours that go well together, such as contrasting colours or complementary colours. This will make the friendship bracelet more attractive. One time when I did this, I coincidentally chose all of the favourite colours of the person that I gave the bracelet to. If you know the person’s favourite colours, making a friendship bracelet out of those colours may be a good idea. Once you have chosen three colours, get a single thread that is 80 cm long for each colour. Hold all the strings together by one end, making sure that all the strings line up with each other, there are no strings that are twisted with other strings, and there are no knots in the strings. Then, while holding one end of the strings with one hand, grab the other end of the string, bring the two ends together, and tie a very small, tight knot using these ends. After that, get a safety pin and pierce through the centre of the knot with the needle of the safety pin. It is important that you pierce the centre of the knot, not the sides of the knot, because in a later step, the strings will be pulled and there could be a risk that the knot will be undone in the process. I remember one time near the end of the camp; I wanted to make friendship bracelets as quickly as I could for everybody that I met before the camp was over. All the people were so awesome that I thought that everyone deserved a friendship bracelet. I was so rushed that I accidentally pierced the knot one of the strings incorrectly, which later became undone and forced me to start over again.

            The next step to making a friendship bracelet is to pinch a small section of the fabric on your pants at a point three inches above your knee on the front side of your leg. With the needle of the safety pin still in the knot, pierce through the fabric of your pants that you just pinched, and fasten the safety pin to secure it. Now, you should have three large loops of strings. Hook the loops of each individual string with your fingers and your palm facing down so that there is one loop on your left middle finger, one loop on your right index finger, and one loop on your right middle finger, making sure that none of the strings are twisted or tangled. The next two steps describe the weaving process and are the most crucial steps of making the friendship bracelet. While pulling the strings with enough force so that there is no slack, put your unoccupied index finger through the top of the loop that is being hooked by your opposite index finger, hook your unoccupied index finger on the loop that is being held by the middle finger of the opposite hand, release the hook that was held by the middle finger, and pull your hands apart so that there is no longer slack, while maintaining your hold on the strings. With the hand that has only one loop of string, transfer the loop to the middle finger so that the middle finger is hooked onto the string, instead of the index finger. Repeat the last two steps until your fingers can no longer easily fit through the loops. Lastly, release your fingers from the loops of string. The friendship bracelet is finally complete. The next you meet the person that you want to give the friendship bracelet to, tie it around their wrist with a knot.

            To this day, I still remember the look on Michael’s face when I gave him the first friendship bracelet that I ever made. His face lit up like a bright shining star. Soon after receiving the friendship bracelet, Michael made a friendship bracelet for me as well. Many years have passed since the bracelet broke and fell of my wrist, but my friendship with Michael lives on.

            I like to make friendship bracelets because by giving someone a friendship bracelet, you show that you are the person’s friend. The friendship bracelet symbolizes the friendship that you have with the person and lets the person know that they mean something to you. When people receive my friendship bracelets, they feel special. In my opinion, making others feel special is the most rewarding part of making friendship bracelets.

The Lesson

            As I play with my red Tonka truck on the coffee table in the living room, I hear Mom coming through the front door. “Hi Leon,” Mom says. “I’m home from the grocery store!” Mom puts her grocery bags on the kitchen table, reaches into one of the bags to grab something, and walks towards me. “Here,” Mom says. She gives me a small, thin pink brick. “This is gum. You put it in your mouth and chew it.” I excitedly take the pink brick from her hand. “What do you say, Leon?”

            “Thank you, Mom.” I say. Mom always wants me to say thank you when people give things to me. She smiles, and goes back to the kitchen to put away the groceries. I examine the label on the bright pink brick which says, “Hubba Bubba: Sassy Strawberry and Luscious Lemon”. I tear off the paper from one end of the pink brick, which reveals several small cubes of pink and yellow gum. I take one of the pink cubes, remove the wrapper surrounding it, and put the fluorescent pink cube into my mouth.

“Mmmm,” I say to myself. “This is so good!” As soon as I bite into the gum, bursts of sweet strawberry flavour are exploding in my mouth. The gum is more flavourful than any strawberry that I’ve ever eaten. I had never tasted candy like this before. At first, the gum is stiff and hard. But the longer I chew it, the softer it becomes. After a few moments, the gum finally becomes soft enough for me to swallow it.

I look at my pink brick, and count the remaining pieces of gum. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.” Since, there are so many pieces left; I decide to have another piece of the tantalizing gum. This time, I try the yellow cube instead. “If the other one was Sassy Strawberry, this must be Luscious Lemon!” I say to myself. I remove the yellow wrapper from the gum, and pop the vibrant yellow cube into my mouth. Unlike the Sassy Strawberry flavoured gum, which was exceptionally sweet, the Luscious Lemon flavoured gum has a pleasant sour flavour that is not overpowering. I chew the delectable gum for a few moments, and swallow it.

“Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like if I ate both flavours at the same time!” I say. I eagerly remove the wrapping from a radiant pink cube and a bright yellow cube and put both pieces of gum in my mouth. The flavours are even more powerful when they are put together. My mouth is bombarded by a surge of incredible flavours. It’s like there’s party in my mouth and everyone’s invited. As soon as the gum become soft enough, I swallow them.

Mom comes into the living room, with a glass of orange juice in her hand, and puts the glass in on the coffee table in front of me. “I squeezed you some orange juice,” Mom says. “Have a drink.” I take the glass and drink the orange juice. “What do you say?” Mom says.

“Thank you, Mom.” I say politely.

Mom looks at the gum wrappers on the table. “Wow, you’ve chewed so much gum already! That was quick!”

“Yes, they were so good. I love them so much that I can’t stop eating them. Can you buy me more?” I ask.

“Sure. I’m glad that you like them.” Suddenly, Mom looks at me in disbelief. “Wait,” Mom says. “You ate them?”

I nod.

“Leon, you’re not supposed to eat gum. I told you that you were supposed to chew them. No more gum for you, mister!” She takes the remaining pieces of gum, and walks towards her bedroom.

I am shocked when she takes my gum. “Mom, what are you doing?!”

“I’m taking the gum away from you so that you don’t eat any more.” Mom responds, as she walks away. After a couple minutes, she returns from her room.

“I want my gum!” I yell.

“You are not allowed to have any more gum, and that’s that, mister!” Mom replies. Mom goes to the kitchen to start cooking dinner.

I sit in the living room, frustrated, and play with my red Tonka truck. As I push the toy truck back and forth, I can’t help but think about the delicious gum. I imagine the wonderful taste of strawberries and lemons in my mouth. I imagine the wonderful sensation that I felt when the amazing gum was in my mouth. After a few moments, my mouth begins to water. I must have more gum.

As quietly as I can, I sneak into Mom’s bedroom. Immediately, as I walk through the door, I can see the pack of gum sitting on top of one of her drawers. The drawer is too high for me to reach, so I push a chair against the drawer and climb up the chair to reach the gum. “Yes,” I say to myself. “I’ve got it!” I take one piece of Sassy Strawberry gum, one piece of Luscious Lemon gum, remove the wrappers, and put the pieces of gum in my mouth. I’m in heaven again. As quickly as I can, I finish the rest of the gum, dispose of the wrappers in the garbage, and return to my red Tonka truck in the living room. Mom is still busy in the kitchen and does not have a clue what just happened.

After a few minutes of playing with my Tonka truck, my stomach begins to hurt. It gets more and more painful as time goes on. I’ve never had a stomach ache this bad before. My stomach feels like it is being assaulted by an army. I go to the kitchen to talk to Mom. “Mom, my stomach hurts really badly.”

“It probably hurts because you swallowed that gum, Leon.” Mom replies.

Then, I realize what I’ve just done. “Mom, I went into your room and ate the rest of the gum. I’m sorry.” I say.

“Oh my goodness!” Mom is shocked. “I told you not to eat the gum! Let me take you to your room. You should lie down and relax to make your stomach feel better.” Mom walks me to my bedroom and puts me in bed. “After you get better, you’re going to be in big trouble, mister!”

I lie in my bed, trying to endure the pain as well as I can. I hate gum.

The Elements of Fiction

Fiction is a form of literature that comprises of novels and short stories which describe imaginary events. All good fiction should have certain elements. These elements are: a setting, characters, a problem, a plot, suspense, a point of view, and a theme.


The setting is when and where the story takes place. When determining the setting of a story, one should be mindful of the place, time, date, season, weather, and the character’s state of mind.


There are a few different kinds of characters. The protagonist is the main character of the story and is usually “the good guy.” The character who opposes the protagonist is known as the antagonist and is usually “the bad guy.” There can be several antagonists in a story, but there is usually one major antagonist, while the others are minor antagonists.

Dynamic characters are characters that change, especially their personalities, the way they think, or their status, during the course of the story. Usually, the protagonist is a dynamic character. On the other hand, static characters are characters that always remain the same. Minor characters in stories are often static characters.

Round characters are characters that are fully developed. Readers will know information about round characters, such as their background and their motivation. Flat characters are characters that readers know very little about and are usually stereotypical representations (for example, a loving and caring mother).


The problem is an internal or external problem that the protagonist faces in the story. An internal problem is a problem that the character has with oneself. An external problem is a problem that the character has that is not internal. A few examples of different kinds of problems are: character vs. nature, character vs. society, character vs. self, and character vs. character.


The plot is what happens in the story. A plot is comprised of an introduction, rising action, a climax, falling action, and a conclusion. The introduction introduces the setting, most major characters, and the problem. Next, the rising action is when the protagonist tries to solve the problem or the problem grows. Following the rising action is the climax, which is the height of action or intensity in the story. After that, the falling action is when the story is wrapping up and the problem is either solved or remains unsolved. Finally, the conclusion is when the story ends.


Suspense foments uncertainty about what happens next in a story. Things that generate suspense are cliffhangers, foreshadowing, flashbacks, flash-forwards, and red herrings. Cliffhangers are parts in the story that leave the reader hanging and don’t immediately tell you what happens next. Foreshadowing makes the reader predict what is going to happen. A flashback returns the reader to a time earlier than the current point in the story. A flash-forward is similar to a flashback, except future events are seen instead of past events. A red herring is something that keeps the reader wondering, but actually doesn’t mean anything.

Point of View

There are four different kinds of point of view that the narrator can have. The first-person point of view is a point of view from a person in the story and uses the word “I” to refer to his or herself. The second-person point of view has a narrator that never refers to his or herself and uses the word “you” to refer to the protagonist. The third-person omniscient point of view is a point of view from an all-knowing person who is not in the story. This narrator knows where characters are, what they are doing, how they are feeling and what they are thinking. The limited omniscient third-person point of view is similar to the third-person omniscient point of view, except the narrator doesn’t know what characters are thinking or feeling. Only things that can be seen are known by the limited omniscient third-person narrator.


The theme of a fictional work is a central idea that often teaches a lesson or a moral that is drawn from the events in the story. Short stories and novels can have multiple themes.


Welcome to Wingardium Leviosa, a blog that will teach you what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. This blog will demonstrate my grade 11 understanding of poetry, fictional text, writing, informational text, and drama, as well as media literacy. Posts will be published on a regular basis starting at the end of January until June 2012.

Join me on this journey to find out what it means to be literate!