Category Archives: Library

Kid Cons You Can Love: Keigo Higashino’s Novel Finds Redemption In Crime

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by Kerry Chen ’19

The story, Ties of Shooting Stars, focuses on three siblings, Kouichi, Taisuke, and Shizuna Ariake. They had a happy family until fourteen years ago, when they found their parents lying in blood, murdered. Their life entered a tough track: they were sent to an orphanage and their money was stolen by people they trusted. Suffering from the injustice of their parents’ unsolved murder and the pain of betrayal, the three siblings take their future into their own hands by forming themselves into a ring of con-artists.

They use their intelligence and terrific acting skills to swindle money away from their unsuspecting, and rich, victims to retaliate on society. Although scammers are usually delineated as evil people, I love these sibling-con-artists, not only because of how amazingly they run their fraud team, but also because of how they love and depend on each other.

Starting with a unique perspective and attractive plots, and ending with a meaningful message, the book Ryusei no Kizuna, which means “Ties of Shooting Stars,” is written by a famous Japanese mystery writer, Keigo Higashino. Some of his well-known works include The Devotion of Suspect X, Malice, Journey Under the Midnight Sun, and many other brilliant, sophisticated novels.

Higashino was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1958, where he majored in engineering at Osaka Prefecture University. While he was an engineer, he began to write, and became famous for his first published book, “After School.” He won a number of prizes, such as the Naoki Prize, an Edgar Award nomination, and the Prix Polar International. Many of his works are televised and his books are well-liked by people in both Asia and the United States.

As a small-scale fraud division, the three siblings are so smart that they make huge amounts of money without messing up once. Kouichi Ariake, the eldest brother, does research on their victims and comes up with thoughtful and meticulous plans. The second brother, Taisuke, has the skill of disguising himself: he can dress up like any occupation, and act exactly the same as a real one. Finally, the little sister, Shizuna Ariake, has the beauty and charm that makes almost every man fall in love with her and, therefore, willing to give his money away. I was surprised — and you will be, too — when I saw how they earn their money, and I was impressed by their perfect cooperation and professional techniques.

More importantly, the relationship of the siblings is so precious and priceless that it is what many people are dreaming of. When their life is a mess and they are on the edge of giving up, they still have each other. Just as the eldest brother tells his younger brother and sister when they are lying on the ground watching meteor showers, “we are like the shooting stars, flying across the sky aimlessly, without knowing where our lives will burn to in the end. Yet—three of us are firmly connected, no matter…where we are. So nothing is to be afraid of, because I am here.”

This is one of my favorite quotes, and it also tells why the title of this book is “Ties of Shooting Stars.” The first time they watched the meteor showers was right around the time their parents were murdered. The shooting star hence becomes a bond that “ties” the three siblings together, reminding them that they have each other to rely on after all the dreadful events that happened to them.

Kouichi, Taisuke, and Shizuna are kind people, who deserve a happy life, but the society they live in fails to fulfill their hopes. It is the real world: there are no fairy tales, and there is not always justice. People struggle to decide between right and wrong. The three siblings face a dilemma: should they continue to be innocent and keep being taken advantage of? Or join the frauds and start benefiting themselves by sacrificing others? At first, they choose the latter, as Kouichi points out: “In this society, you either defraud others or you are defrauded by them.” However, as they become more mature, they realize that living lies and hiding from the law does nothing but create more despair.

Among all the fantastic characters in the book, Kouichi is my favorite. He is mature, smart, and responsible. When they found out that their parents were killed fourteen years ago, Kouichi, who was only twelve, hides his tears and proves to be a reliable big brother. He knows that they will be all alone the day after, and he wants to give Taisuke and Shizuna the warmth of a family, just like when their parents were still alive. My heart shakes when I read the ending of the book, where Kouichi goes to Shizuna’s lover and asks him to take care of his sister, after he and Taisuke have decided to go to jail for redemption. When the lover asks him why they do all these things, Kouichi’s reply makes me stop and reflect: “To live in this society, we, with no power or anyone to rely on, have no choice. Now I know that I made an irreversible mistake. I shouldn’t let my brother and sister be criminals no matter what. Stopping this is the responsibility of an elder brother, but I did the opposite thing.”

Moreover, Kouichi is also very intelligent. As the leader of their fraud team, Kouichi is always the one who comes up with a thoughtful plan. He uses his computer to search for information and decides how they will act to gain trust from their victims. In addition, he is the one who figures out the killer of their parents as soon as he sees the scratch patterns on the tip of the umbrella the killer left.

At last, the siblings change their mind and choose the first path: to follow their conscience and do something right. The happy ending tells us that no matter how tough life can be, how many unfair things you have been through, they no longer matter as long as you have someone beside you to support you. Either your family or someone you love can help you carry on and face the challenges in life.

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Best Thing I Read This Summer…

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MDA Library staff favorite picks of the summer:
(Click on linked titles to find MDA Library catalog information.)

Marion – The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens – “Loved it. Dickens always wraps things up and delivers in the end.”

Peggy – Popular: A Memoir by Maya van Wegenen – “Fun.”

Maggie – The Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockhart – a look at how math is taught.

Marge – The Last Algonquin by Theodore L. Kazimiroff

Elena – The Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison – “It spoke to me.”

Diane – Watership Down by Richard Adams – part of her 2015 reading challenge.

Jill – The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan – “Delicious. A vicarious trip to Paris.”

Christine – Sword and Sorceress XXIV by Marion Zimmer Bradley –  “Refreshing to read about strong women who survive in a world of peril and enchantment.”

Anne – Float by Daniel Miyares – “Wordless picture book about adventure, possibility, and perseverance.”

What did you read this summer? Please share in the comments.

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Literati by CREDO Reference

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The Mollie Dodd Anderson Library is pleased to announce we have joined with CREDO Reference to provide the Literati database for the George School Community.

Literati is an online aggregator service that searches all of George School Library’s database subscriptions, as well as the MDA Library collection catalog, to provide quick access to accurate, verifiable, and citable reference materials for research papers and projects. The interface is extremely user friendly and includes an option to create an account to save searches for later use. Additionally, Literati provides a number of online tools for getting started with research projects, topic selection, and brainstorming, as well as an online dictionary, a searchable image database, and citation assistance.

CREDO Literati can be accessed via the Library Gateway under the heading “Databases.”

Library Director Marion Wells will be using Literati as a basis for research instruction throughout the year. The George School community is welcome to come to the MDA Library for a demonstration. Self-guided interactive tutorials are also available on the Literati home page.

 

 

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What’s on Your Shelf? A Reading Interview with Joelle Sanphy

Joelle's shelfie.

Joelle’s “Shelfie”

Please welcome Renaissance-woman, Substitute Teacher, and Library Assistant, Joelle Sanphy ’08 to the blog this week. (Interested in checking out a book Joelle mentions here? Linked titles will take you to the MDA Library Catalog record.) Continue reading

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Notes from the Library: New Books

In celebration of National Poetry Month please check out these new poetic titles available in the MDA Library:

How I Discovered Poetry
by Marilyn Nelson
How I Discovered Poetry

2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
2015 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Marilyn Nelson, a National Book Award Finalist, recipient of the Robert Frost Medal, and Newbery Medal of Honor tells the story of her childhood in the 1950’s through fifty poems about race, the Civil Rights Movement, the beginnings of the feminist movement, and her own personal development as a young woman and artist. (To find this book in the MDA catalog click here.) Continue reading

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Nagini’s Chew Toys Wins at Reading Olympics

Reading Olympics Team 2015

Congratulations to the fourteen members of George School Reading Olympics Team, “Nagini’s Chew Toys,” for their blue ribbon finish at last week’s Buck County Reading Olympics.

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What’s On Your Shelf? A Reading Interview with Pat Renshall

Please welcome GS Science teacher Pat Renshall to the blog. Thank you Pat for sharing your reading habits and interests with our community.

Do you enjoy reading? Why or why not?
Absolutely.  It’s a way of experiencing impossible things, seeing unlikely places, engaging with challenging and unpleasant or delightful people, learning about cultures and points of view – and all without leaving your chair. Continue reading

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What’s On Your Shelf? An Interview with Librarian Marion Wells

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March is National Reading Month and the George School librarians encourage everyone to check out a book during spring break.

Want a little reading inspiration? Here is what George School librarian Marion Wells tells us about her reading interests and habits:

Do you enjoy reading? Why or why not?

I love to read and am so grateful that I have the capability to read. Reading informs me about the world around me and helps me to navigate life. The National Center for Education Statistics conducted a survey in 2003 to assess the literacy rates of adults (anyone over the age of 16 and living in households or prisons) and one of the findings indicated that 30 million people function below a basic literacy level, meaning, among other things, they have difficulties reading the newspaper. This is a significant problem in our country that needs to be changed through education and social welfare advocacy. Reading is a basic right, which should not be seen as a privilege. Continue reading

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Notes from the Library: New Nonfiction

Here are just a few of the exciting new nonfiction titles available at the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library:

The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789
by Edward J. Larson
Return of George Washington
A look at the often over-looked fourteen years between George Washington’s retirement as the Commander of the Continental Army and his return to Washington to lead the Constitutional Convention and eventually serve as the country’s first president. Continue reading

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The Passenger Pigeon Returns

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by Anne McKernan, George School library assistant and Dave Long, George School archivist

The MDA Library Passenger Pigeon has returned home. Fully cleaned and restored, it is now on display in the library.

Dave offers a little background and information about this rare specimen:

Two thousand fourteen marked the centennial of the death of Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), who died in the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914 at the age of about 24 years old.

The Passenger Pigeon displayed at in the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library is the most valuable and unique specimen in the George School Science Department’s small collection of mounted bird specimens. Continue reading

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