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How To Read a Book: Neopets Style


by onlyonejc

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Reading in Neopia has long been regarded as a hassle. Each night Neopians go to bed with the same familiar phrases: “Not that book, we read that yesterday!” “Tell me a [insert exciting adjective or noun] story!” and “Read faster! This is the good part!” Sooner or later a neopet owner is guaranteed to go out of his or her mind trying to keep up with the book tastes of all those in the Neohome. Especially when opinions can be as varied as Chia colors! Reading will and has become something of a habit, instead of the exciting adventure it should be. Fortunately, there are ways to help reverse this decline and bring reading in Neopia back into every family’s life.

The first rule to beginning any reading adventure is to buy the right books. Don’t just assume that because you have an Eyrie, they’re going to enjoy “Eyrie Style”; make sure you know who you’re buying for. Go buy books with your pet, that way you get just what they want. If you can’t go as a group, ask your pet and see what sort of books they would like to read, instead of just what you want. Your pet will know best what sort of books they enjoy, from adventure to mystery, and reading their favorite genres will make the whole home happier. Also, buy new books instead of reading the same ones over and over again. There’s nothing more uninspiring than a book you know inside and out (except maybe listening to a Mortog teach History) And while it may be good for nostalgia, shake things up with something unexpected and exciting. And you don’t need to spend a whole lot. Quality over cost will get you far!

Another general rule of thumb I use is to buy books that will be good for the mood you’re trying to set. Bedtime books and horror books are not equal! If you want to read before sleeping it’s best to get an interesting yet relaxing book, such as “A Tale of Three Bruces” or “Confident Kyrii”. If you prefer to read to your pet in the daytime or afternoon as a recreation, you may want “Curses from the Deep” or “Gelert Rock and Roll”. And, unless you’re enrolled in Neoschool or trying to raise a Lenny, you shouldn’t be getting books like “Trigonometry Hyperbolics” at all!

If you’re absolutely puzzled, try to use books as a way to start new hobbies and pastimes. Reading to your pet is a great way to teach things or learn crafts. Through flat text you can begin 3-dimensional adventures. Try buying manuals to read and see how much more fun daytime activities become. Eylist and Murlu (my pets) and I bought “Wocky Cookies” and since then we haven’t stopped eating delicious homemade snacks and desserts.

Buying the right book is like taking the first step on a journey, it’s important to get things off on a good foot! So talk to your pet, go shopping with them, and overall make sure you’re buying things the whole Neohome will enjoy.

Alright, now that most of you have gone out and wiped the book store clean, you’ll come to the point where you actually have to read the book. (Get all your groans and whining done now) Usually if you start a new book with the mindset that you’re going to enjoy it then you’re going to have a good time. Make your pets excited too! Lines like “Hey, let’s read about Pirates, and maybe tomorrow we’ll go and visit Krawk Island.” are almost guaranteed to get a positive reaction. Even something as simple as “I hear [book title] is a great book, let’s read it tonight!” with the right tone and voice will help.

Speaking of tone and voice, let’s go a little deeper. I know we’re all not actors, but reading as if you were actually in the story keeps the reader interested. A bland reader is just as boring as a Pet Rock Convention, and at least the Pet Rocks are quiet! Get into the book when reading and every pet in the home will begin to enjoy reading too.

The first step to becoming a skilled out-loud book reader is to know how to speak. For non-fiction books these rules are key, and for fiction you should use these tips for narrators and everything that’s not a quotation by a character. These are three basic pointers and I’ll go through them fast:

1. Speak at a moderate speed, clear and loud with good enunciation. If people are listening to you, they want to know what you’re saying!

2. Emphasize descriptions and important passages by raising and lowering your voice. (Adjectives pertaining to “tiny Kadoaties” can be spoken with a higher pitched voice, and “deep, mysterious Maraqua” can be stretched out and deepened)

3. Pay attention to what you’re reading and be interested as well! If you like what you’re reading it will certainly show in your voice and all your listeners will be more caught up than an Elephante in a Borovan mug.

For fiction books there are more secrets of the trade, but one of the main ones is to talk like the characters when you speak for them. As most books begin they’ll introduce you to the hero and all the other members of the literary cast. For a reader, the moment you learn about these new people, you should pick how to voice their words. A secret for actors is to put themselves in the shoes of the person they are portraying; a speaker can do this too. Take, for example, our beloved Doctor Sloth. If a book you are reading out loud describes him as a “green, wicked, evil ne’er-do-well with a passion for enslaving and zapping Neopets” you should go into analyze mode.

Step one is to pick your pitch. Generally heroes are deep and full, females are higher pitched, and wicked characters are mid-tone and breathy. This is not always the case, but if you’re just starting you can go by these rules. Now back to dear Dr. Sloth. This book has identified him as the antagonist, or evil person, so you could go with a low or midrange voice.

Secondly is pick special aspects to add to your voice. Quirks such as stutters, nasal whines, lisps, and accents are (I think) vital to keeping your listeners interested. Our boy Sloth is a scientist, one can guess, by the “zapping” part and the “Doctor” part of his name. Scientists can stereotypically have a nerdy, nasal sound to their voice. If you feel its right for Sloth then just try adding it in! You really can’t go wrong, especially when having fun is your main reason for doing something! As a reader you have almost unlimited ultimate power over the universe of the book (even more power than a Zoomik on a tricycle!) so the choice is yours as to what spices you want to add to the stock. Traits can even change as the book progresses. For example, if Frodin in “Cybunny Down” gets caught in a rainstorm and must run far to find shelter, his breath will become rapid and his voice will be hoarse. If you pay attention and add the right touch when it’s called for, then the book will become more realistic than a Flosset in your pajamas. (And more fun and comfortable, too)

Finally, out-louders should know when to add sound effects. The voice is an amazing thing so put that baby to work! This is a pretty straightforward tip but many people forget it. If the book says “the rasping of the branch on the window awoke him” then sound like a branch, be the branch! If this sounds far to complicated for you, or too much work, then just add the simple words “with a” or “sounding like” before your “swwwshhhh swisshhh” noises so that it makes more sense. I don’t think the author would mind you adding two words to your reading when it really can make a world of difference to what it sounds like. It not only helps your pets feel like they are really in the world of the book, but it helps you remember what happened in that scene too! (This is called a mnemonic device, new-mahn-ick)

Now you’re ready to have a fun-filled and interesting time with the books you’ve bought. There’s one more tip I have to share with you, though, and this is to know when to end a book. This may sound easy and you may be going “You’re silly JC! You end a book when it’s over!” but there are more subtle differences that add just the right touch. If you have a short book that will be over in less than a day, or a craft book etc., then you shouldn’t have any problem with this part and can skip to the end. But for those of you ready to embark or currently working on thick novels, knowing the right spots to pause for the night is just as important as finding that Asparagus Pie slice from between the cushions of your couch before you sit. My own secret is to stop at the end of a chapter (which is a given). But which chapter? I say: one with a cliffhanger. It will be hard, and everyone will struggle because you want to know what happens next, but that’s why it’s best to stop there! It leaves you wanting more the next night, and the next night, and promotes a sustained period of interest. Not only that, but as you wait for the next session to read your Neopets will be busy discussing what they think will happen next, which is healthy for that grey matter called a brain.

So, to summarize (for all of you who skipped right to the end): 1. Pick books everyone will want to read. 2. Read with enthusiasm and creativity in your voice. 3. End in a spot that will leave you wanting more. And most importantly have fun! I hope this article as already aroused a want to buy new books that is stronger than the stench of a Dung Smoothie. So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Author’s Note: Onlyonejc is an avid reader with a passion for fiction. She firmly believes in the value of books for people of all ages, races, genders, and species. While JC does not think you should go out and buy books to read to your computer screen, she strongly recommends starting to read at home, in the car, and to others around you. These tips can be translated to the real world easily and thus make for great reads all around. Onlyonejc also apologizes for the corny similes, which are more profuse than Volcanic Rocks from the Tombola, and worse than a Maraquan Lupe at eating Tropical Noodle Surprise.

 
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