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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I came across this whole situation when I was checking out John Green's website/blog. He not only creates amazing stories, but he raises some great points on his videos that he submits. Anyways, he has responded to the criticism of his books being used in schools. After viewing his video I went out and read some of the blogs and websites that have raised the issue.
I think I still stand by my disclaimer that I use for all my book talks - There are so many outstanding books, books that are created for every type of person in the world. The books I suggest are just that - suggestions - and in the end it is up to the parents to decide what they want their children to read.
One parent or a group of parents should not have the power to change the power of choice for everyone when it comes to reading. Every family and person is different and unique. One set of parents may not agree with a book and that is fine, schools can find something else. Another set of parents may not care what their child is reading as long as they are reading. Others are very comfortable with their children reading any kind of book because it generates great family discussions. In the end, don't knock a book unless you have read the book and fully understand the contents and the message. Additionally, kids are exposed to more things everyday and to have them read about it might be a good thing if you as a parent take the time to sit down and discuss. I have said my piece.
1. This video compilation is from several 1993 AT&T commercial ads about things that could happen in the future. This threw me for a loop because it is crazy to think that 16 years ago these were mere ideas and many of them are a routine part of life in our everyday lives. Also, the fact that 1993 was 16 years ago is another sign that I am getting old. It seems like yesterday that I was singing, "Whoomp, There It Is".
2. Exquisite Corpse Adventure - Come on people! Don't be shy. Get in there and post me a line or two for the story. I don't care where you are from or what you want to write about. I know the comment box is blocked at BMS so just send me a line in my dropbox or via email. You know you want to.......
3. I have read a couple books now and the reviews will be coming shortly. Until then they are
a. Stitches by David Small
b. After by Amy Efaw
c. Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins
4. And last I leave you with a little quiz on Human Endurance. Limits of Human Endurance Quiz
Monday, September 28, 2009
After reading episode 1 of the Exquisite Corspe Adventure that I blogged about taking place at LOC I thought it would be interesting to create our very own. I think it will be very easy to do using my blog as the platform. I have created the first part. No, I will not show you what I wrote as that is not the how the game proceeds. Here are the rules to the game modified to a blog.
Decide who is going to start. The first person to start (Author #1) writes a line (or several) of poetry/story as the first comment to this post(in this case it is me). There are no guidelines regarding content.
• Author #1 submits the sentence(s) as a comment making sure that no one can read what has been written the comment will not be published.
• Author #2 writes another line unaware of what Author #1 has written. Author #2 submits their work as a comment, but it will not be posted.
• Each participant takes a turn writing, and then posting as a comment to this post.
The posts are time stamped so I will know the order that they have been submitted. This will continue until October 9th. On the 10th I will gather all the posts and share the contents here on the blog. Get your thinking caps on and use your creativity to see where our own Exquisite Corpse Adventure will take us. You may submit more than one, but hopefully you will tell your friends to post and they will tell their friends and we will have one huge massive story of madness! Let the writing begin.
Get out there and read some books. It is Banned Book Week and you might be surprised at how many books have been challenged and banned. Why does this happen? There are many factors that come to mind, but why is it that we are much more protective about what we read than what we watch on TV and listen to on our iPods? If reading a book fuels questions, emotions, self-discovery, causes us to stop and think about our actions, then is that a bad thing? I will stop there before I get too involved in this post.
Ever heard of an Exquisite Corpse? It's not what you might think. An Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud.
Go now and begin reading Episode 1
Sunday, September 27, 2009
"Come with me," she said and he followed her out to the castle garden.
She held up a small bag. "Into this bag my servant will put two stones, a black one and white one. You will draw from the bag one stone. If it is black you will work for me, if it is white you will go home."
The young man agreed, bu not fully trusting the queen he watched the servant closely. To his horror his keen eyes saw the servant place two black stones in the bag.
"Draw," commanded the queen.
The young man was able to go home.
If you cannot solve it, I promise to tell you the answer by the end of the week.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Alright, this book by David Levithan is very hard to describe. The reason it is hard to describe is not because the plot is complex and hard to understand because in essence the point of the story is quite simple. However, this book deals with 9/11. It was not too long ago that it was the anniversary of this event. As I read this book I was more overcome with emotion than with any other element of 9/11. I think it put everything into perspective and the three characters that make up this story have many thoughts about life before and after as I had, but did not really have anyone to share them with. David Levithan does a great job with the distinct voices of these three characters and how their lives intertwine as life unfolds. If you search online you will find a lot of reviews with people posting their favorite quotes or passages. I think this makes this book unique because this does not happen with every book. I wrote down three passages, but none of my favorite passages were posted online which further proves how everyone takes something new and unique from books when read. That is when you know the book is a MUST READ.
Here are my favorite passages that I cannot stop re-reading and thinking about.
Page 102 -
"There's the drown of things and the swim of things, I guess. I've been going back and forth, back and forth. I feel the weight of it. And this bewilderment - how can something that doesn't have a form, doesn't have a definition, doesn't have words - how can it have such weight? And yet, there's the need to swim.
"Life goes on," I offered.
"Yeah, but you see, Life goes on is a redundancy. Life is defined by its going on."
Page 104 -
"I don't mean that God made this happen to teach us something. Or to teach me something. How monstrously selfish would that be? I just mean that if we go through this thing and it changes us so much, you have to hope that it changes us for the better, right? If goodness can't come from bad things, it makes bad things unbearable."
"And the worst thing," she continued, "is that there are moments when I look around at everybody, at the way we've been acting since that day, and I wonder if maybe we needed to be hurt. I don't mean that I wanted it to happen, or that it should have happened. But I think we were walking around like we were invincible. And maybe that's a bad way to live your life. Because you're not invincible. Nobody is. Andy maybe now that we've learned that, we'll be better."
In closing, read this book. I would also suggest watching the documentary "102 Minutes That Changed America" I watched this on the History Channel, but can be found on Google Video. Watch this video to grasp the event and then read the book. You will be moved in your own way that only you can understand and put into your own words. I feel like I will look at life in a different way for a few days before I move on like we all have done.
by Diana Peterfreund
This is a book about unicorns. Now, before you do a double take and ask yourself if I actually read a book about unicorns, let me tell you that these unicorns are different. They are killer unicorns who eat humans and animals, they have fangs, they have a horn that is full of poison that can kill. To make them even more powerful is the fact that only virgin women from the family line of Alexander the Great can kill them.
This book does not contain the happy white horses with the rainbow in the backdrop and pink and purple hair flowing through the wind. This is not some cute little story. And that is the reason I liked this book. I also liked the book because there is a very strong female protagonist in the novel. She stands her ground while trying to figure out this life with unicorns. Her name is Astrid. Without giving too much away Astrid finds herself in Rome training to be a hunter. As she trains she learns about herself, the other girls in training, and the world around her.
There is a lot of action and gore in this story. It is not inappropriate, but really helps engage the reader. There is a love story involved, but it helps move the plot along and therefore I could tolerate the storyline. I think this is a perfect book for 7th grade and up to those who like the thought of killer unicorns and romance.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
CREATE YOUR DEBUT YA COVER
1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or click http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/
The name that appears is your author name.
2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or click http://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml
The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.
3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php
Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.
4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.
5 – Email me your finished product and I will post to the blog if you wish. firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a fascination with writers from the UK. It started last year as I was in search of some new authors to share with my 6H3 students. I began to look outside the country and I fell in love with the authors from the UK. Their style and sense of humor(humour) was something new and fresh for me. I continue to seek authors from over seas and recently I came across an author who has a great writing style that I must share with my audience. Her name is F.E. Higgins (her website is very cool) and I recently read her latest novel, The Eyeball Collector.
The following description comes from an UK website http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/f-e-higgins/eyeball-collector.htm
When his butterfly-collector father is swindled to within an inch of his life, a vengeful Hector leaves the city of Urbs Umida in pursuit of a fiendish villain with a glass eye. The trail leads to Withypitts Hall, a forbidding Gothic mansion as warped as its inhabitants and their secret schemes. Soon Hector finds himself embroiled in mysterious deeds more poisonous than his worst imaginings, but every twist and turn brings him closer to his revenge ...The third dark and diabolical book from a devilishly talented author.
I highly recommend this novel. I have now ordered her other two books and look forward to more books from her in the future. Once again, she has helped me to fall in love with another author from the UK. UK authors have not let me down yet.
How about a little problem to solve to begin your week?
The following quotation, from a famous author born on this January 27, 1832, has had all its vowels removed and has been broken into groups of three letters. (There's one null letter at the end.) Put back the vowels to read the quotation.
THT MHS CMT HWL RSS DTT LKF MNY THN GSF SHS NDS HPS NDS LNG WXF CBB GSN DKN GSX.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Just in case you didn't know it is Book Blogger Appreciation week. I read and follow about 20-25 blogs a day and many of them have been asking each other questions to celebrate the week. Being that I am not quite popular enough yet to be contacted by anyone(yet, give it time) I have gathered some of the questions being passed around. I will provide my answers and if you would like to comment with your own answers, then more power to you. We can never have too much knowledge floating around in cyberspace.
1. Does a book's cover influence your decision to read it or like it? What are some of your favorite book covers?
I wish I could say "No, covers mean nothing and it is based purely on the words." However, that would be a major lie. I pick up books based on the cover all the time and in many cases start reading without even reading the back. I am a sucker for covers that are not typical. Some of my favorites........
1. Ice Shock because of the cool plastic neon color sleeve
2. The Night Angel Trilogy(paperback). This is an adult series, but the simple design with the main character always forces me to pick them up in the book store even though I own them and have read them.
3. Any book by Kurt Vonnegut. I can pick his books out instantly. There is nothing too amazing about them, but I recognize the layout and color scheme more than any other book(s).
2. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, fairies, or other?
I am sick and tired of vampires. I fought my way through the Twilight series( I was hooked on book one, hated book two, book three was up and down, loved the first 400 pages of the book four, but hated the rest). I love werewolves(as long as they are not in love with vampires) and zombies. I have a hard time with fairies unless they are cannibals or something deranged. Any other monster is fair game in my book. Give me something shocking and crazy and I am hooked.
3. If you could pick only one book you've read this year (2009) to recommend above all others, which would it be, and why?
This is a tough question because I have read so many great books. The key element is deciding on one that you would be able to read again and again without it losing value. I cannot pick just one so I will break it up into young adult and adult.
1. Young Adult: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I used this book as a book club last year and I just could not put it down. The girl has some real identity issues and deals with life through not eating. This author is amazing and I have yet to read anything by her I do not like.
2. Adult: Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
Besides the fact that it was 800 pages and I honestly was never bored reading it is a no brainer. I love sci-fi/fantasy realm. This book has everything that I could ask for and more. The series is forever long and I will probably never read them all, but it is my goal to tackle a few a year. I have not been so entertained with the written word in a long time. Not suitable for middle school, but one day when they grow up they will be able to experience this awesome book. Book 2 in the series sits in my TBR pile after all these young adult books.
4. Imagine some captors locked you in a room and forced you to watch just one movie for a whole week with no break. What movie would it be?
This is so easy. Wayne's World. How can you go wrong with a movie that is a comedic masterpiece. Party on Wayne, Party on Garth.
Romance. Never is a strong word, but I cannot get into the lovey-dovey stuff. I don't mind if it helps create a conflict of interest in the storyline, but no Fabio cover novels are going to be read by me. I would rather read this same old book about bugs to my son 10,000 times more than read a romance novel about love. However, I just realized I probably jinxed myself and will find myself reading one in the near future. Karma always finds a way. Aghhhh!
6. What are two books you'd insist that every 11-12 year-old you meet should read?
Such a tough question because two is so small. However, if I were to recomend two novels that I think are worth the time of every student, then I will go with....
1. Hunger Games - the best book that I have read in the last 2-3 years.
2. Unwind - this is a tie with Hunger Games. This one forces you to think about life and future. This one could lead to a great conversation about many social topics and other books like Compound.
7. What is the best thing that's happened to you since blogging?
The fact that teachers actually read this. Well, they used to anyway. I let them know that I was creating this blog and the hits have been increasing everyday. I hope that more and more students find this to be a resource and my aspirations would be to make this a vehicle for me to communicate with students about books and the randomness of life. I would also like to be like the other cool bloggers out there who get to review books and interview authors. I am still learning about the proper channels to do this, but it is in my goals for this school year.
8. What is the meaning of life?
I have no idea. I still cannot figure out the simple things like why my children have 1,000 toys and they never touch them, but will be entertained for 2 hours with a paperclip, a piece of paper, and the Tupperware drawer. I do believe that the journey to find the meaning of life is a constant cycle of seeking answers to questions. When we lose our curiosity on life then we lose the greatest gifts....thought/reason, wonder, and love. Party on Wayne!
9. What is my six word memoir?(I added this after reading the book)
Everyday is different yet so perfect
My whole world is 100% ADHD
What are you staring at swan?
I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens
Anyways, some of these are so powerful that I just had to stop and think about what was being said. It was a great reminder about what is important to teenagers. It is very easy for us adults to lose sight of their perspective among all the details of life with our jobs, spouse/significant other, leisure, homework, children, family, bills, zits on our face, etc.
The creators of this book have a website called www.smithteens.com if you would like more information. Additionally, there are other books in the series from famous people to regular Joe. A great addition to any book collection and a perfect book for when you need a reminder about life. READ THIS NOW!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I leave this short post with a quote from Pablo Picasso. This was used at the end of a children's book I was reading to my children tonight. This quote holds so much truth that I think it is very important that we try to keep our inner child.
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Thursday, September 10, 2009
This post comes from this blog. I could not read this without including it here. It made me laugh out loud. Plus, it has some good questions for a Friday if anyone would ever leave comments(yes, I am daring you to comment)
Why is John Ritter on the cover of this romance novel?
Was John Ritter a Symbol of Romance in 1995?
Why did he bleach his hair?
John Ritter is going by the name Dante Nichellini? Really?
Is he in love with popcorn girl, or afraid of her?
Is the book actually more romantic than the cover suggests?
What's wrong with Popcorn Girl's sleeve?
Where is John Ritter's other hand?
Why are they playing Scrabble in the basement?
How is that lamp providing so much light?
How could the former owner of this book discard it, knowing that it was autographed by the author (who has very nice penmanship)?
I'm open for more questions.
I will be honest in that I have hit a lull in my reading. Not because I have lost motivation because I have a TBR pile that is about 60 deep in my office. I have hit a lull as I try to expand my reading horizons. By now everyone knows that I like those weird, twisted, disturbing books that just make you feel weird when you are done reading. I have tried to switch gears. I am trying to immerse myself in graphic novels and lower level reading(grades 4,5,6). I must remember that not everyone reads at that high level nor do they like that crazy content. So, I have fought my way through two books this week when I should be working on my Drake homework.
First up is Into the Volcano by Dan Woods. This is a graphic novel about two boys Sumo and Duffy. They are taken out of school by their dad and sent to live with their weird aunt on an island that just so happens to be by an erupting volcano. Sumo is portrayed as a baby because he is scared of everything. However, I would too if flowing lava and almost drowning while being under a volcano in tunnels. I will be honest the story did not quite grab. I will say that this may be the perfect book for someone who likes action and great images on every page. I think it is a solid choice for that boy or girl who does not like to read or struggles with reading. It took the author five years to create and with that in mind I was hoping for much more. Don't disregard it because I am not a fan. I for one don't really dig graphic novels, but this could be something just right for students.
The second book I just finished was Eleven.
Age Range: 9-12
Time Spent Reading: 1 hour, 30 minutes
It was a quick read. It is a good story. As mentioned before not my twisted crazy type of novel so it took me a few pages to absorb the storyline. I think this is one book that many people could connect with quite easily. The main character is Sam and it is his 11th birthday. He is searching up in the attic where is not supposed to be looking for his presents when he comes across a newspaper article about a boy who has gone missing. Well that boy is Sam and it has a picture of him from when he was 3. The reader begins to realize that Sam may have had a different life from the one he knows now. You read these flashbacks through little snippets.
Sam begins to think he was kidnapped. The problem is that he loves his life and everyone who cares for him. He lives with Mack in a building with three shops below who are run by people who make up his makeshift family. Onji, who runs a deli, and Anima, who owns an Indian restaurant. Sam loves Mack and is trying to figure why he would kidnap him.
The reader also learns that Mack cannot reader and has to go to resource room for help. He also needs someone to read him the clues and things he finds in the attic. He calls upon help from a new girl in school who he thinks will not make fun of him. This friendship begins to unfold despite her trying to avoid the relationship for personal reasons.
There are great characters in this book. Good, positive teachers(Yeah!), a great mystery, Sam and his insecurities that students can relate to on a honest level. Every character is believable and the family of various people is very real for many students. I will admit that I did like the story and think it is perfect for middle school.
Now back to my deranged fiction to keep me sane. Good night all.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
2. Now your saying/thinking that's a stupid fact.
4. You didn't notice that I skipped 3.
5. Your checking it now.
6. Your smiling.
7. Your still reading my comment.
8. You know all you have read is true.
10. You didn't notice that I skipped 9.
11. Your checking it now.
12. You didn't notice there are only 10 facts
This is how my week has felt. Friday is almost here.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I know that there are those of you out there who read this blog. I know you have to have thoughts going through your brain when you read my posts as you are a human being(I hope anyways). Please feel free to leave a comment if you have them. All I ask is that you don't sign without some sort of name. Please don't give your first and last name, but use some other name so as you continue to comment I have an idea of who I am responding too. I think the previous posts give you something to start with. Don't be scared, share your thoughts. It gives the blog more personality. I know people are reading as my hit counter continues to rise. Don't hide behind the monitor. Post and be merry.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Enough of the excuses and on to the insights. I must start off by telling everyone about a book I just finished by an excellent author. This book has really put my mind in a whirlwind. The book has once again opened up the discussion of young adult literature. The genre as a whole contains such a wide range of audience. The book I read is not suitable for middle school in my opinion, but it is one of the best books I have read due to the range of emotions I went through. This author is also one who I pre-order every book she writes and when I finish one of her books it stays with me for a very long time. What I am saying is that here I have a young adult book that is worth every star I could give it, but I won't suggest it to any student and middle school because of what all happens. Is this censorship which I am against? In a way it is, but I also look at it from an educator and parent perspective and realize there is no reason for anyone under the age of 15 to read the book. So this brings up my question that has not left my head all day and that is,
"Should there be two categories for young adult?"
I think it is question that has been brought up before and one that needs to be raised again. I am stuck in a rock and a hard place. On one side I want to give the book all the publicity that I can because I love the author and the novel. On the other side I know who my audience is of this blog and I don't want them going out to read the book because they are not ready for the content on a maturity level to grasp what the author is trying to convey(by the way if you want to know the book, just ask me in the hallways or email and I will tell you if you are an adult). I debate the situation all day and choose to keep the book silent.
Well, I am off to get ready for tomorrow and move on to another book that I know will not do for me anything like the one I just read. This is the negative side to reading a book that stops you in your tracks.
On to better things and don't forget about Reading Rainbow.....
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg tells that story of Matt Pin who was flown out of Vietnam during the Vietnam war and adopted and raised by an American family. The story follows Matt journey into trying to deal with the horrors he witnessed as a small child and also dealing with the prejudice of the time period where it was not always a good deal to be Vietnamese during the time of the Vietnam War.
The novel is written in free verse form so it is a quick read. However, if you choose to read it quickly, then you will miss the power of the words on the page. Two phrases from the novel stand out in my mind for probably personal reasons of my own, but I read this book two times to make sure I really grasped the emotional wreckage of this boy trying to make sense of life as a seventh grader with the baggage of being a war victim.
"Words are messy,
words are all you've got
to show what matters most."
"You're good, he says,
but music is not simply
You have to play
the silence too."
This is not my usual type of book, but it was so well written that I actually cared about Matt at baseball and piano practice. This one just makes you appreciate the lives we have and makes you stop for a moment to think about the families who have loved ones in battle right now. I promise you that this book will win some awards before this year is over.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Once again as I was wasting time on the computer this morning trying to motivate myself to run when I came across two more websites to waste time. The one website will make you feel stupid. At least it made me feel stupid. Have fun!
Make your own Sand Picture
Leap Frog Test