V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer

Final Harry Potter book review, day of release

Published in Sun Media publications, July, 2007.

This story is not for the faint of heart.

Nor is it for the weak of mind, or those who don’t want to be sullied by spoilers.

Enter at your own risk. Seriously.

There. You’ve been sufficiently warned.

Deaths come fast and furious in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final instalment of J.K. Rowling’s epic series about the most famous boy wizard in literary history.

The pace is dizzying, with white-knuckle duels being fought almost every other chapter.

Potter considered a literary gem

Published in The Toronto Sun and Sun Media publications, July 2007.

Someone should have told Lord Voldemort he needn't have gone on murderous rampages and splintered his black soul to achieve immortality.

He and all the Harry Potter characters will live on in the halls of literary fame, alongside author J.K. Rowling -- who can bank on her works being studied, archived, dissected and enjoying critical acclaim long after she's gone.

As the arrival in bookstores Saturday of the seventh and final chronicle of Harry Potter's adventures, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, draws nearer, experts widely agree that Rowling leaves an indelible print on the landscape of both children's and adult literature.

Fans under Potter's spell

Published in Sun Media papers, July 2007.

In Kelvin's Hui's imagination, Harry Potter was thinner and taller than the actor who portrays him in the movies, Daniel Radcliffe.

Literary Harry had hair cropped closer to his head and grew to be a lanky, bespectacled teen.

A quick scan of Hui reveals, perhaps, a subconscious desire to have been that magical boy wizard at one time: he has a slight, boyish build, wears black, wire-framed glasses and wears his hair short and neat.

But come tomorrow morning, when the 21-year-old cracks open the final book in the series -- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- the wizarding world that helped lead him to adulthood will begin to close.

"It's the end of an era," Hui laments.

Rowling defends outing Dumbledore

Published in Sun Media papers, October, 2007.

When the author of the Harry Potter series dropped the bombshell at New York's Carnegie Hall last Friday that the Hogwarts headmaster was gay, collective gasps of surprise and triumphant I-told-you-sos erupted the world over, causing a stir that continued to reverberate yesterday in Toronto, where Rowling made her only Canadian stop on a book tour.

Pshaw to Canadian Experience

Published in The Toronto Star, February, 2010.

MARKHAM — Having “Canadian experience” on the resumé means squat to managers at Samtack. And it shows.

As one of the largest computer-and-parts distributing companies in Canada, the Markham-based company has been using a hiring formula that taps into the skills of international immigrants, instead of dismissing their native work experience as irrelevant, as many companies might.

The Art of the Interview

Published in The Toronto Star, February, 2010.

During her first Canadian job interview, Dianna Jiang stumbled on the employer’s opening question.

It was the standard, Tell-me-about-yourself” invitation that most job interviews start with which threw her off.

Jiang, 33, chuckles as she recalls how she began to recount mechanically her vital statistics and her life biography: “My name is Dianna Jiang and I come from Shanghai...”

It would take time for Jiang to reconcile her traditional Chinese beliefs, which place value in modesty and humility, with the North American work ethos.

Typical work weak: Interns are pushing themselves to the limit

Published in The Toronto Sun and Sun  Media papers, September, 2007.

They are apprentices of perhaps the world's most noble of professions.

They are the cream of Canada's crop, brilliant minds that are able to decode the complexities of the human body. They work to cheat death and buy the dying more time.

But in order to be deemed worthy, medical residents themselves are expected to defy the needs of the human body and save others on 24-hour call shifts.

While other industries understand that fatigue poses a safety risk to both themselves and those they serve, doctor trainees manning emergency rooms and intensive care units must make life and death decisions often with little to no sleep.

Are children growing up too fast?

Part 1 in a 3-part series on premature puberty

Published in Sun Media, March, 2008.

Nicole began to notice the physical changes in her five-year-old daughter in quiet disbelief.  Alexa’s breasts were almost fully developed, big enough to fill a girl’s training bra.

Her little girl’s scent — discernable to a mother’s senses — was noticeably changed.  She was moody and socially mature for her age, preferring the conversation of adults to the giggle of kids her own age.

At a time when there’s a heightened consciousness of hormone-mimicking chemicals, and when children are increasingly sexualized by images of young, pantyless Hollywood starlets, parents and professionals alike are debating the age-old question with renewed fervour: Are children growing up too fast?

Is the media responsible?

Part 2 of a 3-part series

Published in Sun Media, March, 2008.

Studies suggest the age of puberty among girls is declining — a topic of controversy that divides the medical community.

Could scandalously sex-laden images that are so ubiquitous in Western society trigger a biological response in children and explain earlier breast development in girls? Could we be complicit in bringing up a sexually precocious generation of children?

Premature puberty and womanhood

Final in a 3-part series.

Published in Sun Media papers, March, 2008.

Throughout her adolescence, Kathy led the life of a tomboy.  She wore baggy sweats to conceal the volume of her chest, hiding behind clothes that suppressed her sexuality.

But after school, in the privacy of her own room, she would play dress up and experiment with makeup by herself.

In retrospect, Kathy (not her real name) acknowledges it was a subconscious decision to play the role of the overly gregarious, asexual teen.

It was her way of deflecting unwanted sexual attention that had plagued her since she was nine years old.

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