Wednesday, 1 February 2012

What have I learnt from my blog work?

Well - I'll just answer the questions one by one:

Has it given me ideas for what I will write in my analysis? Is this a productive way of working with a book?
Yes, it certainly is. I'm usually bad at structuring my work so that I don't have to do it all in one go, and blogging about the process worked out well. Being given tasks once or twice in one week makes me focus more knowing that i have to do it with a deadline the next day. That way I evened out the work, and now I just have to put the posts together into an analysis - I've already done the basics.

Has it made me think critically about what I read? Has it made me a more observant reader?
Yes, at least for this particular book. I read it more thoroughly because I knew I had to point out things in the analysis once I had finished the book. I've actually got a piece of paper inside the book, with notes about things that I noticed while reading. Like; who's telling the story, dialect words, and the general language in the book. I don't think I'll make a habit of reading books as thoroughly though, because it takes longer to finish the book, and I can risk not getting the storyline because of my ongoing scrutiny. 

Have I gained more insight into what the rest of my class are doing?
Yes, in a way, but I have to admit that I didn't really read everyone's blogs. I have way to many classmates to be able to read every single one of their blogs, but I followed a few. Reading other posts was a great inspiration which I will use in my analysis, and it has also forced me to be critical to what I'm reading - since we had to write constructive comments.

Have I had fun with it?
I won't say I've had great fun with it, but it's nice to do something different once in a while. Still, it has been put in the category homework, which automatically lowers the fun-level. I am not that much of a fan towards blogging, and I'm not that happy with posting personal thoughts online, but I just had to get used to it. But - like I have written further up, it was a great way of structuring my work, depending on a teacher posting new tasks of course.

Have I received constructive comments from others in class?
I expected to get more comments than I have gotten, both constructive and non-constructive. It started out okay, with 7 comments on the first post, but the last posts have only gotten about 1 or 2 comments. Still, to the few people who have written constructive comments (you know who you are): Thank you!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The author?

Who should I call the actual author of "Billy Elliot"? After all, there are a few worthy of the title.
Let's begin from the beginning.

1999: "Billy Elliot" was first written by Lee Hall, a british playwright, in 1999. The screenplay was made into a film directed by Stephen Daldry, which resulted in an Acadamy Award nomination.
2001: In 2001, Melvin Burgess was given the task of writing the novalisation of the film based on Lee Hall's screenplay.
2005: Later, the film became a stage musical, with music by Sir Elton John and lyrics by Hall. This musical opened in the West End in 2005 as "Billy Elliot the Musical", on Broadway in 2008, and it has earned Hall the 2009 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.


The question about who the author really is depends of course on what "kind" of "Billy Elliot" you're talking about. Is it the film? The book? Or the musical?
In my case it's the book, so I guess the author would have to be Melvin Burgess. The one actually writing it down on paper ready to read. (Even so, I don't want to take the pride from Lee Hall - after all, he was the one who came up with the idea and the storyline...).

Melvin Burgess                                                               Lee Hall

Melvin Burgess (25 April 1954) is a British author of Children's Fiction. The Cry of the Wolf, his first book, was published in 1990. Junk was published in 1996, and gained recognition because it dealt with heroin-addicted teenagers. Junk soon became, at least in Britain, one of the best-known young adult books of the decade. Amongst other books with Burgess' name on it, there are Doing It, Bloodtide, and The Ghost behind the Wall.

I would rather read another one of Melvin Burgess' books than drinking paint (ugh...), but I'm not sure his way of writing is what I'd enjoy. I'm a huge fan of crime novels, and getting me interested in another genre won't be easy...


Monday, 23 January 2012

The 80's.

The book (and the musical) "Billy Elliot" is set in north-England during the 1984-85 UK miners' strike. This is evident because, as I have told you before, both Billy's dad and his brother are involved in the strike. As a result of them being involved in the strike, they are not making any money, and this affects Billy and his nan. They don't have enough money for coal, so their house is freezing, and they barely have enough money for food. When it comes to Billy's audition and the probability of getting in, the issue is even clearer. Billy's dad and brother talk to the boxing coach about getting together a fundraising event so that they can pay for the audition and the trip to London. Billy's dad even abandons the strike and goes to work in a weak moment just to get enough money to send Billy to London. He doesn't get far, though, before Billy's brother stops him.


The division between the lower and middle class is also made clear in the book about Billy Elliot. His ballet teacher comes from a middle class society, and it is described how Billy felt walking around in her neighbourhood, and his expectations of her living conditions. But her middle class "stamp" is not much to brag about. Billy's expectiations were way to high, and he finds out that there actually isn't much of a division. It's not far from the life he lives. The book describes the way the divisions between lower, middle and upper classes were in the 80's - quite different from the Norway I know today.

I feel that the book also refers to the prejudices people had (and some people still have) against homosexuals. It becomes clear towards the end of the book that Michael, Billy's best friend, is homosexual, and throughout the book, there are different situations which support this. For example, one time when Billy goes to his friend's house, Michael opens the door fully dressed in his mother's clothes and makeup. Also, when the story is told through Michael's eyes, he actually states that he fancies Billy.
The word "poof" is used as an abusive word throughout the book, a word which is slang for homosexual. The prejudices against homosexuals also become clear when Billy's dad and brother discover that Billy takes ballet lessons, and they're frightened he might be a "poof".


This is my contribution to the post about the setting/social environment of the book. It will be edited before I use it in my analysis, and please bombard me with all the constructive comments you can think of! (I won't get offended.., don't worry).


Friday, 13 January 2012

Book report or book analysis?

I have chosen to write a book analysis because I simply want to (try to) aim high. The book report might be a little to easy, so in order to pick something more at my level, analysis it is. Now I just have to try and see how it goes.

This is one of my favourite sayings, don't know where it comes from, but it also suits this book report/analysis-project. It suits my aim for a good grade on the analysis, and it suits Billy Elliot's aim to become a professional ballet dancer and to do what he loves the most.

"Aim for the moon, but if you miss it - grab a star."

Billy dreaming about ballet: Billy Elliot in front, Billy as a grown-up behind.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Billy Elliot.

The main character in the book is rather obvious - Billy Elliot, also the title of the book. Billy Elliot is a boy at the age of around 12, who lives in Northern England with his dad Jackie, his elder brother Tony and his grandma who he calls "nan". His mum died when he was around 10, and it is very obvious that he is still grieving over their loss. His dad and brother are both involved in the mining strike in the 1980's, and they all live in a lower class society.

Billy's dad forces Billy to take boxing classes, just like he did, and his dad did before him, but Billy doesn't want to. He gets fascinated by the ballet class rehearsing next to the boxing ring, and he starts to take ballet lessons instead of boxing classes without telling his dad. I'm only half way into the book, but his dad has already discovered Billy's secret, and he bans Billy from rehearsing ballet. From now on, he is banned from both boxing and ballet.

I can't identify myself with Billy, because I've always had the support from my family to do the activities that I want to do. Billy's dad and brother are not supportive of his choices, only his nan. This saddens Billy, but in the end, he follows his heart instead of his family's wishes.

Well, this sounds more like a summery of the book, but since the book is called Billy Elliot, and the whole book evolves around him, I couldn't really do it in another way.

Here's two trailers for Billy Elliot, the first one from the musical, and the second from the movie:

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Choice of book.

After a trip to the library on Thursday, my choice fell on the book Billy Elliot by the author Melvin Burgess. One of the reasons for my choice is that I've been to the Billy Elliot Musical in London, and I want to read the book to see how different it is from the musical. Another reason for my choice is that I didn't really find any books that stood out to me. I'm usually a fan of crime novels, but I realised that this might not be a good choice for a book analysis. Also, I need to vary my selection of books. Soo, I ended up with Billy Elliot.
Here's the summary written on the back of the book:

Billy's mother is dead, and his father and brother are fiercely involved in the bitter miners' strike. Billy's father wants his son to learn to box, like he did and his father before him, but Billy becomes fascinated by the grace and magic of ballet. This is Billy's gritty and determined struggle, at first in secret, but then with the wholehearted backing of his family, to dance his way to a different future.