Annotations! Bullet points!
Chapter Twenty-Two: Demanding Snow. ACT I of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• With MERRY CHRISTMAS! I wanted to do a an eight parter that would not only take me past the halfway point of Passport, but be an epic tale where upon ILONA and her parents would deal with several of the issues plaguing them. And all comes back to one pivotal event, a tragedy, that still haunts the family.
• I also wanted to still have a humor storyline topping off all eight chapters, so having Madison demanding snow from the sky, and eventually reveling in it, fit the bill. Surprisingly, coming up with the nooks and crannies of these story points was fairly easy. Maybe because it is Madison and going crazily over the top for her is so natural.
• Placing bets on Madison’s sanity? That could be a full time career.
• ILONA joining in with Madison was always part of the plan. She has come along way, our heroine, but still has some ways to go.
• Collette and Susan are doing supplemental tutoring of ILONA. Which means that her marks have really really improved.
• Had to have ILONA at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for this storyline. And to stall a bit as she has her crisis.
• Collette talks very openly to ILONA about being poor, a situation that Collette shares. ILONA really is touchy about this.
• Turns out Collette makes artsy gifts for family and friends at Christmas in art class, and has for several years.
• Mrs. Shuster is mentioned. Named after Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman.
• Song For This Chapter: Little Drummer Boy by Katherine Kennicott Davis. Every song for these chapters is a Christmas Carol. And Little Drummer Boy is an old favourite.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Art Therapy. ACT II of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison mentions the Loonie, which is the Canadian dollar coin. So for the first time in Passport, I have established that the story takes place in Canada. This was always my intention, but I had trouble figuring out how to naturally introduce it into the narrative. Fits here, since Madison and money has already been set-up.
• No judgment from the friends that ILONA and Collette are off to the art class.
• ILONA is surprised how many kids are in the art class, meaning they are poor as well. When I was ILONA’s age, this never would have worked, because being poor was a social stigma back then.
• Art has no rules. Christmas art even more so. Love Collette’s philosophy here. And of course Collette would have detailed notebooks for everything.
• Collette knows ILONA wants to know, how come she is poor. Because to kids, their is always a reason.
• And being poor is the reason Collette has no smartphone. How many grade five kids these days don’t have a smartphone. I know some don’t on parental principle, but those are rarer and rarer.
• An all to typical work story causing trouble for Collette’s dad.
• And the reveal to the reader that Collette is half black, half white. Dad fired by racist boss. But while unemployment sucks, the stress of the harassment is at least gone.
• Readers have gotten this far not knowing that Collette is mulatto, so they can like or dislike her based on her. Which is how it should be. And yes, this was all a part of the plan.
• All this hits ILONA hard, triggering her Christmas depression, and the worry of evil in the world.
• Song For This Chapter: Good King Wenceslas by John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore. A bouncy song for a non bouncy chapter.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Seeking Help. ACT III of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison is offering up her Ipod for snow. This is getting serious.
• Taylor Swift mention. And the fact that Clara snuck a Taylor Swift song onto Madison’s Ipod. I have no feelings pro or con on Taylor Swift, just knew she was slightly polarizing. And I thought the joke was funny.
• Susan has a cat named Copernicus. Collette has a dog named Doyle. Love those pet names.
• Timothy mentioned. And now the mystery of you this is…
• This Can’t Be Happening At MacDonald Hall, Gordon Korman’s first book, is read by Clara. I first devoured this one when I was in grade four. Still a classic.
• ILONA seeking someone to talk to was a logical course of action. Picking Clara will become obvious soon.
• Of course Collette told the other girls about her conversation with ILONA.
• The reveal that Clara is overweight. Again, like with Collette, wanted readers to like or dislike her based on her. All part of the plan as well.
• The history of Clara being overweight, being picked on, even by her Aunt. And how Madison became her defender. Wanted a sense of so much having already happened with these friends, long before ILONA showed up.
• Cynthia approved of Madison’s violence against Clara’s bullies. Again bringing up the issue of violence and revenge. Which brings up Mr. Micheals car tires.
• Character point with Clara remembering ILONA being in grade three with her. And ILONA’s reaction just makes things worse.
• Song For This Chapter: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. ILONA should take the songs advice and relax a bit.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Prayers To The Past. ACT IV of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison promises school arson for snow. Because she is Madison.
• I hadn’t prominently featured ILONA’s parents in quite awhile, but I knew the resolution to these issues had to involve them, not only for ILONA, but for themselves.
• Cynthia called the parents. Because she is Cynthia. And of course her friends noticed. All good friends would.
• ILONA accidentally lets out to her parents that Susan is a lesbian.
• Arlene is mentioned. And cue the difficulties for everyone.
• Arlene is ILONA’s younger sister, who passed away at two months old. A child’s death is a terrible thing that causes enormous damages to families. In ILONA’s case, it made the financial situation worse for all, caused stress, and school problems. Hence the repeating of grade three.
• Parents telling ILONA how they made the adult decision for the family. An important point about how parents have to sometimes let kids be kids, but how in ILONA’s case they should have realized she was now old enough to now deal with the passing. When do parents consider kids old enough to tackle bad things?
• Her parents don’t like Mr. Micheals either.
• Her parents telling ILONA they notice how much better she is these days, all because of her new friends.
• Healing by talking to Arlene in the sky. Because they really need to do this and begin the process of moving on.
• The three snowflakes. The only time Passport ever delves into the spiritual supernatural. But I thought it would be a good sign from above, so I went with it.
• Song For This Chapter: Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr. A hymn full of sadness and hope.
Chapter Twenty-Six: A Christmas Parade. ACT V of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison still screaming bargains at the sky.
• Love how the friends all trust the weather app.
• ILONA prays to Arlene for snow. Shows how the healing for her has progressed overnight.
• And it snows.
• Which causes Madison to explode with happiness. And I love Madison exploding with happiness.
• I had great fun thinking up the chaos that would happen at SummerFall when the snow finally fell.
• The chanting of Maddie! just struck me as crazy and absurd and celebratory enough, all to help change the tone for the rest of the MERRY CHRISTMAS story arc.
• Song For This Chapter: Walking In A Winter Wonderland by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith. Snow finally comes and this song totally captures that.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Nineteen Years Later. ACT VI of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• And now Madison has switched. Now she demands more snow, all to break a worlds record.
• SummerFall has become a snow paradise.
• ILONA is catching up with her Harry Potter.
• Of course Harry Potter would produce the greatest group high five ever.
• ILONA has one chapter left, the Nineteen Years Later epilogue, hence the Passport chapter title.
• Susan holding the umbrella over ILONA made me happy.
• Completing Harry Potter always makes the world perfect.
• ILONA is handed Doctor Who dvd’s and A Christmas Carol book.
• To cap off the Arlene healing starting, ILONA has to tell her friends about her baby sister.
• Song For This Chapter: White Christmas by Irving Berlin. An upbeat song for the season.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Gathering Gifts. ACT VII of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison asking/demanding ten more centimeters of snow. Will she get it?
• Clara mentions a girl in her class last year who was always trying to break world records. This refers to Cara from The Long Drive To Nowhere.
• How many times have the friends googled something Madison has said. And this butterfly line is from Muhammad Ali as we soon see.
• Operation Cobra is a Once Upon A Time season one reference.
• ILONA and Collette give them first Christmas card to Mrs. Shuster. Because they are good caring kids.
• Collette’s dad makes some spare money by refurbishing and repairing and retooling computer equipment.
• Sarah from The Chat pops in for a surprise cameo. With a mysterious envelope.
• Cynthia’s brother is driving the van carrying Sarah. I almost named him Tino in this scene, in honour of the character from My-So-Called-Life.
• Song For This Chapter: Deck The Halls. A nice, joyous tune!
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Christmas Wishes Come True. ACT VIII of MERRY CHRISTMAS!
• Madison just needs a tiny bit more snow, just to break that pesky world s record.
• And a worlds record is achieved, verified by the internet.
• Already placed Passport in Canada, now the next step to further zero it in on the city of Toronto.
• Smile mentioned.
• Deciding what each girl would give each other as Christmas gifts was a long, arduous painful process.
• The most expensive gifts is from Cynthia, with Harry Potter wands for everyone.
• Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume is mentioned. Praise Be Her Name!
• This is the first time we find out that Clara and Madison are mega huge Judy Blume fans. From now one in Passport, whenever anyone in Passport says Judy Blume’s name, Clara and Madison will chant “Praise be her name!” I got this idea from various comics podcasts I listen to, who, when the hosts mention legendary Superman artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, they will say “Praise be his name.” My Judy Blume fandom is huge as well, having only discovered her in the last few years by reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret, and Blubber. So yes, Praise Be Her Name!
• Susan and Collette mentally argue. Because they are Susan and Collette.
• Dr Horrible Sing-Along Blog mention.
• Callback to Collette’s birthday party.
• Scrunchies, Wonder Woman action figure, Detective Comics issue 572 which features Sherlock Holmes and Batman, and the book Footprints by Margaret Fishback Powers are all mentioned. Susan gives individualized gifts.
• Collette makes everyone personalized buttons and hand puppets. Loved the hand puppets idea.
• ILONA gives away personalized picture frames, all bearing the group shot from Halloween!
• ILONA namedrops Sarah’s name as the person who helped get the pictures printed. And how she did it behind everyone’s back is her secret.
• Googliebear thought it was cheesy that the friends sing We Wish You A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year. I thought it was kinda cute and touching.
• Song For This Chapter: We Wish You A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year. The song title says it all.
Another dispatch done! Hope you enjoyed again!
Till next time!
…is currently reading Men From Earth by Buzz Aldrin and Malcolm McConnell