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message 1: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Dear Youngsters & Young-at-Hearts,

What do you think of this excerpt?


While Ari was with the delegation, his ten-year-old daughter, Lola, was with a classmate on the new obstacle course, a hundred meters south of where the sumptuous buffet breakfast was laid out for the early morning celebrations.

“Let’s try! Let’s do it.” Lola successfully hurdled the difficult obstacle course. She urged her classmate to do the same. “It’s your turn.”

“I’m ashamed.”

“There is no reason to be.”

“Okay, I’ll try. Don’t laugh at me.”

“I laugh when I am happy. I don’t laugh to embarrass people.”

“What if I fail?”

“Lessons learned, and then try again.”

Lola’s classmate focused. She exerted her very best effort. “I did it! I did it so well! Oh… I should be humble.”


“It’s good to be humble.”


“Everybody says so.”

“I am not humble,” Lola declared. “I respect and love myself. I always do my best because I don’t ever want to feel low and small.”

Lola’s classmate realized that self-love was the hallmark of a good person.

Afterward, Lola joined her best friend, ten-year-old Toni Connor. Toni brought their latest science project, a transmitter-receiver device successfully tested the day before. They enjoyed playing with it while recording their observations on static interference and the distance factor. The girls also practiced communicating in a private code.

Another classmate observed the two girls enjoying each other’s company. The recent tests where Toni had the highest scores, particularly in science and math, came to mind as Grandmother Connor summoned Toni. The classmate joined Lola and asked, “Don’t you want to be better than Toni?”

Lola replied, “I don’t compare myself to anyone. I want to be good – period. I want to be the best I can be. I also admire intelligent people, like Toni.”

Meanwhile, Grandmother Connor gently admonished, “Toni, the Holy Book warns of punishment for proud, ambitious people. Study the Holy Teachings and pray more often, instead of performing experiments. Read the Holy Book more faithfully, rather than science books.”

“Grandmother, God does not punish,” Toni smiled confidently. “I enjoy finding out about God’s creations. The mind and body are wonderful gifts from God. Surely, He wants us to use them.”


message 2: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Solve these Reason Reigns puzzles:

* * *

“Have you seen Red Season?”

“Yes. I don’t think it was meant to entertain kids.”

“I thought so, too. If it were, the chamber builder would have included the alphabet. But I couldn’t figure out its purpose. Let’s sit by Red Season.”

The floor by the corner wall below the airway had ten slabs of marble, nine of them with engraved letters: R-E-D, an un-engraved slab, and S-E-A-S-O-N. Below the marble slabs were matching ten slabs of smooth red stone. Each slab was five-by-ten inches. Each marble slab could be moved down on top of the red slab, revealing another slab of red stone underneath. Each marble slab could only be moved up or down.

“I tried moving the red slabs but they wouldn’t budge,” Lola related. “I tried different combinations, like aligning all the engraved marble slabs up with the un-engraved down, and vice versa.”

“This should have a purpose; everything in this chamber has a purpose.” Alisa observed.

With the R-E-D slabs up and the S-E-A-S-O-N slabs down, they pushed against the slabs and the floor, but nothing happened. They tried different combinations.

“Let’s think about this while searching the whole place including the tunnel’s floor, ceiling, and walls,” Alisa suggested.

The girls scrutinized the floor and the walls, but found no clue to a way out of the chamber.

“Lola, let’s try the Red Season again. I just thought of something.”

All the marble slabs were aligned in the upper portion of the fifty-by-twenty-inch rectangle. Alisa moved four slabs down: the slab with the letter D and the next three slabs.

Nothing happened. Lola looked at the letters and understood what Alisa thought of.

“Good thinking, Alisa.” Lola saluted Alisa and the slabs of marble. “Let’s leave them this way.”

Alisa smiled at the young girl. She, too, saluted the slabs of marble.

“Click.” The sound came from the lower portion of the rectangle. The whole set of ten red slabs that had four marble slabs on top sunk an inch. Lola pushed the set downwards and sideways; it slid to the right like a sliding door, revealing a concrete box with six compartments.

“Wow!” Lola exclaimed. “The trigger has a delayed mechanism. Lessons learned for us. Next time we press something, we should wait awhile before easing the pressure.”

One compartment occupied half of the box. It contained twenty-five smooth stones of different sizes, each engraved with an integer. Fifteen were crystal stones and ten were plain hard rocks. The integers were:

353, 49, 1258, 22, 4,
22, 479, 22, 9, 22,
4, 25, 22, 1, 8,
22, 79, 99, 64, 99,
6, 99, 2, 404, and 99.

Five empty compartments of the same size constituted the rest of the box. Each had an integer etched at its bottom: the first had 1337, the second had 43, the third had 862, the fourth had 25, and the fifth had 11.

The girls inspected the stones and the bottom of each compartment. “The key-implement is not here. But this is very interesting - a math puzzle.” Alisa’s eyes twinkled at the challenge.

“I solved the first one. These two stones, 1258 plus 79, equals 1337.” Lola put the two stones in the compartment that had 1337 etched at its bottom.

“The four 99 stones total 396, minus 353 is 43.” Alisa put five stones in the second empty compartment.

“Two stones for the last compartment: 22 divided by 2 is 11. One stone for the fourth: 25. This is too easy. I think the puzzle is more challenging.” Lola looked at the remaining stones.

Alisa assembled five stones. “479 plus 404, minus 9, 8, and 4 equals 862.” She put the stones in the third empty compartment.

There were ten stones left in the biggest compartment. Silence…

“Let’s wait. This puzzle may also have a delayed mechanism,” Lola hoped. Many minutes passed, but nothing happened.

“I think we need to use all the stones.” Lola replaced the 22 and 2 stones in the last compartment with 6, 1, and 4. She took all the remaining stones from the big compartment. “64 plus 49 is 113, minus the sum of five 22s is 3, plus 22 is 25. I used eight stones in the fourth, and three in the fifth compartment, but we have two stones left, 2 and 25.”

Two minds thought hard to unlock the secrets of the chamber.

 ☠☼Serena☼☠ | 1 comments THIS IS REALLY GOOD!

i like i!

message 4: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Thank you, Serena.

Why did Lola and Alisa salute the slabs of marble? What is the answer to the word puzzle?

What would the two girls find if/when they solve the math puzzle? This is included in the first 88 pages posted under My Writing.

Have you solved the math puzzle? Hope you would ask your friends to solve it, too.

A review of Reason Reigns states:

"Ilyn Ross provokes her reader to think along with her heroes until the end. Extremely satisfying, brainy adventure. Reason Reigns beautifully demonstrates the power of the mind and the strength of reason."

* * *

Have fun "thinking along with the heroes".

Warmest regards.

message 5: by Allie (new)

Allie | 1 comments I like this excerpt; it makes me thoughtful. However, what ten-year-old knows of concepts like "goodness" and how to properly use them to compare oneself to another? I liked reading this, but it seems unrealistic.

message 6: by Ilyn (last edited Nov 01, 2008 04:19PM) (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Hello Allie. Welcome to Happy & Brainy. Thanks for joining us.

By the time Thomas Jefferson was six, he had read most of the books in his father’s library. Thomas Edison was great, as a child and as a man. From early childhood, José Rizal was advancing unheard-of political ideas of freedom and individual rights which infuriated the Spanish authorities.

At age six, Ayn Rand taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision which sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine, she decided to make fiction writing her career.

Ralph Teetor, a prolific inventor, invented cruise control. Teetor, BLIND since the age of five, built his first car, a one-cylinder, by the age of 12.

At age 13, Bill Gates was writing computer programs.

William Pitt the Younger, one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers, became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at age 24.

message 7: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Aristotle: Fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because history represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them “as they might be and ought to be.”

My Goodreads review of my book: "I am very proud of Reason Reigns. It is a novel I wish I had read when I was a youngster; it depicts philosophy in a way that kids could grasp and enjoy."

Kids are very eager to learn. They grasp ideas quickly. To introduce reason and logic to a youngster is a great gift .

message 8: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Posted under Journalism & Literature:

From the Introduction by Ayn Rand to Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo [The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand (page 153):]

Have you ever wondered what they felt, those first men of the Renaissance, when – emerging from the long nightmare of the Middle Ages, having seen nothing but the deformed monstrosities and gargoyles of medieval arts as the only reflections of man’s soul – they took a new, free, unobstructed look at the world and rediscovered the statues of Greek gods, forgotten under piles of rubble?

If you have, that unrepeatable emotional experience is yours when you rediscover the novels of Victor Hugo.

The distance between his world and ours is astonishingly short – he died in 1885 – but the distance between his universe and ours has to be measured in esthetic light-years. He is virtually unknown to the American public but for some vandalized remnants on our movie screens. His works are seldom discussed in the literary courses of our universities. He is buried under the esthetic rubble of our day -

… Yet Victor Hugo is the greatest novelist in world literature…

… a first encounter with Hugo might be shocking …

Do not say that these giants are “unreal” because you have never seen them before – check your eyesight, not Hugo’s, and your premises, not his; it was not his purpose to show you what you had seen a thousand times before.

Do not say that the actions of these giants are “impossible” because they are heroic, noble, intelligent, beautiful – remember that the cowardly, the depraved, the mindless, the ugly are not all that is possible to man.

Do not say that this glowing new universe is an “escape” – you will witness harder, more demanding, more tragic battles than any you have seen on poolroom street corners; the difference is only this: these battles are not fought for penny ante.

Do not say that “life is not like that” – ask yourself: WHOSE life? …

Ninety-Three is Hugo’s last novel and one of his best. It is an excellent introduction to his works: it presents – in story, style, and spirit – the condensed essence of that which is uniquely “Hugo-esque”.

The novel’s background is the French Revolution - “Ninety-Three” stands for 1793, the year of the terror, the Revolution’s climax. …

The fact is that Ninety-Three is not a novel about the French Revolution.

To a Romanticist, a background is a background, not a theme. His vision is always focused on man – on the fundamentals of man’s nature, on those problems and those aspects of his character which apply to any age and any country.

The theme of Ninety-Three – which is played in brilliantly unexpected variations in all the key incidents of the story, and which is the motive power of all the characters and events, integrating them into an inevitable progression toward a magnificent climax – is: man’s loyalty to values. …

The emphasis he projects is not: “What great values men are fighting for!” but: “ What greatness men are capable of, when they fight for their values!”

Hugo’s inexhaustible imagination is at its virtuoso best in an extremely difficult aspect of a novelist’s task: the integration of an abstract theme to the plot of a story. …

“Grandeur” is the one word that names the leitmotif of Ninety-Three and all of Hugo’s novels – and of his sense of life.

And perhaps the most tragic conflict is not in his novels but in their author. With so magnificent a view of man and of existence, Hugo never discovered how to implement it in reality. …

I discovered Victor Hugo when I was thirteen, in the stifling, sordid ugliness of Soviet Russia. One would have to have lived on some pestilent planet in order to fully understand what his novels – and his radiant universe – meant to me then, and mean now. And that I am writing an introduction to one of his novels – in order to present it to the American public – has, for me, the sense of the kind of drama that he would have approved and understood.

He helped to make it possible for me to be here and to be a writer. If I can help another young reader to find what I found in his work, if I can bring to the novels of Victor Hugo some part of the kind of audience he deserves, I shall regard it as a payment on an incalculable debt that can never be computed or repaid.

message 9: by Nina (new)

Nina | 58 comments I wish you had been my Lit teacher. I love reading the classics. I was thrilled to visit the home of Baudelaire in Paris and suprised that Voltaire lived right next door. You are right young people are not exposed to these literary giants. nina

message 10: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Hello Nina. Wow! Voltaire is so witty.

Voltaire quotes:

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."

"Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause."

"The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

"To hold a pen is to be at war."

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."

"Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare."

"Prejudices are what fools use for reason."

"It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere."

"It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one."

"Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?"

"Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game."

"Never argue at the dinner table, for the one who is not hungry always gets the best of the argument."

"Ice-cream is exquisite - what a pity it isn't illegal."

"It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge."

"I have only ever made one prayer to God, a very short one: O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."

When asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan: "This is no time to make new enemies."

message 11: by Ilyn (last edited Nov 08, 2008 02:47PM) (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Another funny deathbed quote:

Henry David Thoreau, when asked by his aunt if he had made his peace with God: "Why, I did not know we had quarreled."

message 12: by Nina (new)

Nina | 58 comments I love tha last one! Here's one for you:
"The proper study of mankind is books."

Aldous Huxley

Have a nice week. I love Mondays! nina

message 13: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Very nice quote, Nina - thank you. Have a great week.

message 14: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Shown on tv last weekend: The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

A golf drama based on the true story of the 1913 US Open, where 20-year-old Francis Ouimet defeated his idol, 1900 US Open champion, Englishman, Harry Vardon.

Plot summary written by Jim Beaver:

"Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from "gentlemanly" English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father's disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol -- Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills."

message 15: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
From Lorianne's favorite quotes:

"Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well."

— Aristotle

message 16: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
The Star Spangled Banner like you've never heard it!
by Kyle Volovsek http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/vi...

message 17: by Imren (new)

Imren Aloba | 2 comments I am your new member from Turkey....Unfortunately we do not have the book yet...I have to wait until I go to NYC to visit my daughter and then I splurge myself in Barnes and Noble....Thank you for all these feedbacks ....

message 18: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Hi Imren,

My pleasure. Thank you for joining us. Let us know when you arrive in NYC.

Have a wonderful day. Warmest regards.

message 19: by Nina (new)

Nina | 58 comments Hi Irmen,

Welcome aboard our good ship goodreads. It's fun, entertaining and educational too, at times. Can't beat it for book recommendations. nina

message 20: by Ilyn (new)

Ilyn Ross (ilyn_ross) | 1071 comments Mod
Youngsters: Join! $85,000 in Prize Money


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