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Book RecommendationThe Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller 


January 15, 2021

Diverse Book Recommendations by Grade 9 Students


December 16, 2020


A Review of Punching The Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi

November 18, 2020


I Wish You All The Best Book Review

September 25, 2020


January 15, 2021

By Madeleine Bhamjee

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller, is a gorgeous and heartfelt retelling of an ancient Greek classic, the Iliad which tells the story of the Trojan War. When I chose to delve into this novel, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t even bother to read a summary of the novel since I wanted to be surprised by Miller’s skillful storytelling. In case you didn’t know, Miller also wrote Circe, an acclaimed novel written from the perspective of Circe, the Greek goddess of magic. Since I had already read Circe back in March, I figured I’d give The Song of Achilles a chance. I wasn’t disappointed to say the least. This novel was poetic, romantic and heartbreaking and from the first chapter I was hooked, I seriously could not put this book down! The novel is written from the perspective of Patroclus, a young exiled prince who harbours intense feelings of love for Achilles, an insanely powerful, yet sensitive hero destined to fight in the Trojan War. Throughout the novel, their love for one another matures and strengthens into something unbreakable despite all the challenges they face along the way. For those who are as interested in history as I am, the novel does not stray away much from the Iliad, it instead builds on its characters more and provides the reader with more insight into their personal lives and mentalities. Lastly what I found fascinating about this novel was that it did not shy away from the homosexual relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as their relationship was always written to be homosexual (as seen in many pieces of ancient Greek literature) yet many modern storytellers chose to omit this from their own version of the story for various reasons which essentially eradicates the beauty of Achille’s story. I deeply admire Miller for incorporating it into her novel and keeping their story alive. 


I would highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for new things to read over the winter!


Diverse Book Recommendations by Grade 9 Students


December 16, 2020

By Various Grade 9 Students (names provided in reviews)

*Below is the first page of the article, click link to read all*

Title: Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker



This book talks about many important things that are very relevant in today’s world. It gave me insight into a world I have never seen before and showed me that I am very fortunate to have the things that I have. In this book Anthony Jones, the main character goes from east Cleveland to Belton Academy, a school with the uber-rich due to his financial situation he gets financial aid so that he can attend the school. - Xander Colquhoun


Anthony Jones or “Ant” for short has never been outside his rough East Cleveland neighborhood, until when he’s given a scholarship to Belton Academy, an elite prep school in Maine. But at Belton things are far from perfect. Everyone calls him “Tony,” assumes he’s from Brooklyn, expects him to play basketball, and yet acts shocked when he fights back. As Anthony tries to adapt to a world that will never fully accept him, he’s in for a rude awakening, home is becoming a place where he no longer belongs. - Matthew Legault



I think this book really showed me that there is more to the world than you think. This book shines light on how much we have and how little people have, and how hard done they are.

- Matthew Legault


Title: Laughing At My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw



Laughing At My Nightmare is a wonderful book and goes over the life and struggles in someone's life who suffers from Muscular dystrophy. - Andrew Devoe


The book Laughing at My Nightmare tells the unique story of a young thoughtful boy named Shane diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, whose life takes an interesting path.  Shane was diagnosed with SMA at birth, and although it can be difficult at times, Shane has learned to live with the unfathomable disease and everything that comes with it.  In the story Shane shares all of his experiences and adventures, he shares the sad times and the happy times.  Despite his diagnosis, Shane shares a positive and enthusiastic outlook on life, always ready for the next adventure. - William Haslett



November 18, 2020

By Knightwatch Editors

Punching The Air is a novel by Ibi Zoboi, a young-adult fiction author, and Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five (also known as the Exonerated 5), a group of five teenagers of colour wrongfully accused of the rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park in 1989. 


Here is what Mrs. White’s grade 9 English class had to say about the book, and its importance. 


The story follows Amal Shahid, a Black sixteen year old, in present day United States. Amal gets into a playground fight, which ends in a tragic accident, and is wrongfully accused of a crime, which lands him in prison. Members of law enforcement blame and sentence Amal, even though they have little to no evidence that Amal is guilty. The story is certainly a reference to what Yusef Salaam and the rest of the Central Park Five experienced in 1989. 


This book explores the topics of racism, poverty, legal injustice, the US prison system, and coded language. Out of all the boys in the playground, Amal is the one taken in - while the White boys walk free. Racial profiling and prejudice are apparent in this novel, leading to important discussions in the classroom. Students also learned that in the United States, private, corporate prisons make more money when they have more inmates, so prisons and law enforcement work side by side to get more people convicted and sentenced. Another important topic, expressed by Jennifer, is the coded language put on display in the book. For example, the White teenagers in the park are referred to as “boys”, giving them a pure and innocent sentiment, whereas Amal, a Black teenager, is called “man” or “young man”, which makes him seem more capable and accountable in the eyes of law enforcement. This language shows the adultification of Black children and teenagers, which we see often in the real world. 


Jennifer explained that the book is told using poetry, and different ways of speech, which they had never seen in a book before. “Every page is a bit different,” she said. Punching The Air also includes illustrations, and unique, artistic line spacing, which Jennifer appreciated. She said it helped her to, “See everything going on in my head”. 


When asked to go into detail about a character, a student described how the main character, Amal, is an artist, as demonstrated through the way the story is written in poetry. Amal uses his art to stay resilient, and to express himself, in a situation where he was extremely limited in doing so. The student said Amal uses his art as “a key strength”. 


Diana spoke about the character of Umi, Amal’s grandmother, who she described as a very kind and wise woman, always telling Amal to be kind. 


When asked how this book made her feel, Diana said Punching The Air “pleases my ears, but hurts my heart”, as it is well written, but also very emotional. She was disturbed to learn how unjust the American criminal “justice” system is, and how, in the case of the Exonerated 5, nobody had real answers, and they imprisoned five teenagers to get more money for corporate prisons. 


A student said that the book was a challenging read, emotionally. “The situation is quite heartbreaking. It’s been messing with my emotions for weeks.” Although difficult, they believe it is extremely important that students learn about these stories in school, as they had never learned about anything close to the topic of racist criminal injustice in school before. “It is so important that we [learn about] alternate perspectives [...], all different stories, and sides of these stories.” 


Diana said the book was very insightful, showing readers how some people live and are treated differently than others. It allows the reader to “build a stronger relationship with another person”. 


The students absolutely recommended this book, and voted, in a Google Meet poll, for Ms. MacKechnie to buy it for the library. We encourage people to read it, and to do research on the stories of the Exonerated 5, to learn more about the topics addressed in the book, and in this review.


September 25, 2020

By Lucy Rolleston, Grade 10

An inspirational novel about hope, perseverance and self acceptance. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver isn’t an easy read but certainly worth it. 


After being kicked out by their parents for coming out as non-binary, Ben De Backer has no other choice but to move schools and move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, whom they haven’t seen or spoken with in ten years. Ben then meets the energetic, always smiling chatterbox and future friend, Nathan. From struggling to fit in and constantly being misgendered, the emotional and eye-opening novel follows Ben’s journey through love, family, friendship and identity. 


I Wish You All the Best is by far, one of my favourite books. It has a great message and It was amazing to see Ben evolve throughout the story and accept who they are. You get to see Ben explore their gender identity and face their fears. 


I highly recommend this book to the students (and teachers) of Nepean. It gives you a chance to see what many non-binary people experience on a daily basis. It is an incredible learning opportunity for allies, and relatable for many LGBTQ+ students. 

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