Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wow!

The Top Tiger Book Award Titles have been flying off the shelf (or um, cart).  Keep checking back in the media center for the book you want to read next!  I've just ordered additional titles at Barnes and Noble so we can provide more available books for everyone to read.  Don't forget to complete a blog post, book test/form, or take a Reading Counts test on the four books you are reading.  All books should be read and requirements completed by February 6th in order to attend our pizza party and to vote for your favorite.I'm looking forward to having a very large group attend!

Mrs. S

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Twilight Review

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer was given to me by Mr. Barnett. It was also recommended by Mrs. Cantrell. At first, I was not eager to read this book because I knew it was a Vampire story and thought it was probably more for high school students versus middle school pre-teens. I was actually wrong on both accounts.

The more I read of this novel, the more I wanted to know. I have not read many horror books or vampire stories. When I was in high school I was a Christopher Pike addict, but now I tend to prefer less gruesome, violent reading. I have read Darren Shan’s Vampire Mountain. This book is nothing like the Cirque du Freak series. Much less gore - much more emotion. Much better written.

This book includes mystery, action, suspense, romance, and all the conflicts involved with teen angst. The reader will identify with Bella. Bella never feels she belongs. She is accident-prone - terrible at all sports and often trips over her own feet. Her parents are divorced, and she finds herself pushed into a situation where she has to live with a father that she really does not know.
Surprisingly, Bella actually does fit in at her new school. Boys like her. She is suddenly popular - the new girl that everyone wants to know. Everything seems to slowly fall into place. That is, until Bella meets Edward.



Edward Cullen and his family are the most beautiful people that Bella has ever seen. Edward, in particular, catches Bella’s eye. Not because he seemed to like her so much. Bella cannot understand why he glares angrily at her with such hatred in his eyes.
Bella soon finds herself drawn into a romantic relationship with Edward. Though he tries to push her away, even Edward cannot resist the connection and attraction he has to Bella.


Edward is willing to sacrifice his life, put his own family at risk, anything to be with the one he loves. Though he feels that he has waited his whole life to meet someone like Ella, Edward also must fight a horrific temptation….the never ending desire to end Bella’s life.

This book will appeal to sophisticated readers who enjoy fantasy, suspense, and romance.
I admit I may have to buy the sequel, Eclipse. You will fall in love with this story - and will never want it to end.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Games by Carol Gorman

 

games1.jpg  

rainbowstar.jpg  rainbowstar.jpgrainbowstar.jpgrainbowstar.jpg 4 Stars

 

Funny, touching, a book that will surprise you in the end

Mick Sullivan likes reading thrillers, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and teasing his archenemy, Boot Quinn. Boot likes playing his guitar, daydreaming about Tabitha Slater, and punching Mick Sullivan.  Their constant fighting forces the principal to place  both in ISS an hour and a half each day.  They also must play board games together. Two enemies, one small room, and no adult supervision--battle lines are bound to be crossed.  

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

 

bella.jpg

 5blackstars1.jpg Five stars - Fell in love with this book!

 Using your headphones, listen to the summary of Bella at Midnight from http://www.scasl.net.  Then do your own book review under the comments section!

[display_podcast]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks

scratch.jpg

   goldstar.jpggoldstar.jpggoldstar.jpg   3.5 Stars - A book that needed to be written

Jamie's life has been turned upside down.  His father left his family with barely a word goodbye.  He left the home he loved to live in a run-down, singlewide trailer with an aunt whom needs constant supervision due to a head injury.  To make matters worse, he was liked and accepted at his last school.  Now he's the target of the school bully.  Jamie wants nothing more than to forget his life, his past, and even his current situation at home and school.  The last person on earth he ever expected to help him was Audrey Krouch.  Audrey - a girl who wears weird clothes and  glasses on her face with no lens.  What Audrey uncovers is a deeply hidden, dark secret- one that Jamie has kept to himself for over a year.   Only until the secret is revealed,  is Jamie finally able to move forward. I like the author of this novel - Sarah Weeks.  The novel she wrote on last year's SCJBA list, So B. It was not one of my favorites.  Jumping the Scratch is also not one of my favorite novels on this list, either.  So, what do I like about her?  Her novels often center on conflicts that are uncommon, and ones that teens deal with BUT NOONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT.    She handles it in a sensitive manner - but also does not downplay the impact these problems have on a young person's life.  Sarah Weeks makes you want to turn the pages and keep reading.  Another bonus about her writing is that it gets to the point.  The plot moves along quickly, and   she   does   not   drag   things   out.  So, if you find that long novels lose your interest, and/or you are in a place in your life that's not so great (as everyone is at times), give Jumping the Scratch a try.

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks





  3.5 Stars - A book that needed to be written

Jamie's life has been turned upside down.  His father left his family with barely a word goodbye.  He left the home he loved to live in a run-down, singlewide trailer with an aunt whom needs constant supervision due to a head injury.  To make matters worse, he was liked and accepted at his last school.  Now he's the target of the school bully. 

Jamie wants nothing more than to forget his life, his past, and even his current situation at home and school.  The last person on earth he ever expected to help him was Audrey Krouch.  Audrey - a girl who wears weird clothes and  glasses on her face with no lens.  What Audrey uncovers is a deeply hidden, dark secret- one that Jamie has kept to himself for over a year.   Only until the secret is revealed,  is Jamie finally able to move forward.

I like the author of this novel - Sarah Weeks.  The novel she wrote on last year's SCJBA list, So B. It was not one of my favorites.  Jumping the Scratch is also not one of my favorite novels on this list, either.  So, what do I like about her?  Her novels often center on conflicts that are uncommon, and ones that teens deal with BUT NOONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT.    She handles it in a sensitive manner - but also does not downplay the impact these problems have on a young person's life.  Sarah Weeks makes you want to turn the pages and keep reading.  Another bonus about her writing is that it gets to the point.  The plot moves along quickly, and   she   does   not   drag   things   out.  So, if you find that long novels lose your interest, and/or you are in a place in your life that's not so great (as everyone is at times), give Jumping the Scratch a try.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones

sanddollar.jpg 

3.5 Stars

Lise’s world is turned upside down when her mother is seriously injured in a car accident.  Unable to afford their home or return to work, Lise’s mother decides to move the family back to her childhood home in Maine.  Living on the beach for the summer doesn’t seem so bad at first, but the reality that Lise faces is nothing like what she imagines.  Her mother used to be happy, energetic, and fun.  Now Lise feels as if she has become the parent.  Her mother is quiet and withdrawn - often daydreaming about another time and another world that Lise is not a part of.  The beach house is a worn down tiny shack that doesn’t even have a TV, and the crystal blue ocean is actually bone-piercing cold and impossible to swim in, even in the hottest weather.  Lise has left her best friends behind and finds that none of the popular, cool kids her age live anywhere close to where they’re staying. Lise has a hard time accepting her situation but does her best to take care of her little brother, Free (who does not speak) and her injured mother despite her unhappiness.  Just when she begins to feel there is no hope, a stranger enters their lives.  Michael dated her mother in high school and clearly still cares for her.  Will Lise’s mother let him back into their lives - and back into her heart?  Will Lise find the inner happiness she needs to survive her new world? Sand Dollar Summer shows that even in the face of conflict and hardships, family can pull together and emerge happier and stronger than ever before.

Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones



 

3.5 Stars

Lise's world is turned upside down when her mother is seriously injured in a car accident.  Unable to afford their home or return to work, Lise's mother decides to move the family back to her childhood home in Maine.  Living on the beach for the summer doesn't seem so bad at first, but the reality that Lise faces is nothing like what she imagines.  Her mother used to be happy, energetic, and fun.  Now Lise feels as if she has become the parent.  Her mother is quiet and withdrawn - often daydreaming about another time and another world that Lise is not a part of. 

The beach house is a worn down tiny shack that doesn't even have a TV, and the crystal blue ocean is actually bone-piercing cold and impossible to swim in, even in the hottest weather.  Lise has left her best friends behind and finds that none of the popular, cool kids her age live anywhere close to where they're staying.

Lise has a hard time accepting her situation but does her best to take care of her little brother, Free (who does not speak) and her injured mother despite her unhappiness.  Just when she begins to feel there is no hope, a stranger enters their lives.  Michael dated her mother in high school and clearly still cares for her.  Will Lise's mother let him back into their lives - and back into her heart?  Will Lise find the inner happiness she needs to survive her new world?

Sand Dollar Summer shows that even in the face of conflict and hardships, family can pull together and emerge happier and stronger than ever before.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Science and Technology Video

Video was created using Animoto - very cool free tool available for educators!

Science and Technology Day Video

Teachers may register at Animoto and create their own accounts.  Educators are also given a promo code to use that will enable them to use Animoto with full access rights for a year, AND they can let their students create their own accounts for free (after one year, free accounts are still available but with limited picture uploads and video lengths).  Please see me for a generic educator's code if interested.

Can animoto videos be used for instruction?  Absolutely!  This can be utilized to promote events and highlight student achievement, but they also can be created to review key concepts or to introduce essential information in a unique, appealing visual format. 

You can create powerpoint slides, open them with Microsoft paint, and resave them as jpg files.  These can also be uploaded and created into a video. 

Imagine students creating their own videos for vocabulary review! 

The site is very user-friendly and has a music library ready for users to select the song they want.

Here are a few teachers' examples from other subject content areas:

Students Created Science Flash Cards 

Student Artwork

Space and Planets

Magnets and Magnetism

Free at Last - Civil Rights

Recycling

Bill of Rights

Simple Machines

Intro to the Roman Empire

Plants

 Plants Too!

Student created video on Hungary

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone

bloodonriver.jpg

 

 

fourstars6.jpg 4 stars - Great book 

I discovered Blood on the River: James Town 1607  by Elisa Carbone two years ago and loved reading this book.  I was very happy to see it on the South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee list for this year.  Though this book is classified as fiction, it contains many true events that occurred during the Jamestown settlement. 

The story focuses on eleven- year- old Samuel Collier, a page to Captain John Smith, who decided to travel to the New World.  An orphan who likes to use his fists, Samuel felt like he had nothing to lose by embarking on this journey.  The adventure he encountered, however, was beyond anything he ever could imagine.  You may be thinking…”Oh great…another book about Jamestown.”  This book is very different, however.  The details give the reader insight into other people who were key to the Jamestown settlement, beyond Captain John Smith.  To me, the best part of this book is the view of  Native American culture and daily life.  The book is suspenseful, interesting, and historically accurate. 

Blood on the River: James Town 1607

 


cover_bloodontheriver_1501.jpg


4redstars.jpg  4 stars - Great book 


I discovered Blood on the River: James Town 1607  by Elisa Carbone two years ago and loved reading this book.  I was very happy to see it on the South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee list for this year.  Though this book is classified as fiction, it contains many true events that occurred during the Jamestown settlement. 


The story focuses on eleven- year- old Samuel Collier, a page to Captain John Smith, who decided to travel to the New World.  An orphan who likes to use his fists, Samuel felt like he had nothing to lose by embarking on this journey.  The adventure he encountered, however, was beyond anything he ever could imagine.  You may be thinking…”Oh great…another book about Jamestown.”  This book is very different, however.  The details give the reader insight into other people who were key to the Jamestown settlement, beyond Captain John Smith.  To me, the best part of this book is the view of  Native American culture and daily life.  The book is suspenseful, interesting, and historically accurate. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Masters!

goodmasters.jpg


4.5 stars 

Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village

by Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrations by Robert Byrd

I rarely use words like “quaint” or “delightful” in book reviews, but both terms seem to apply in this book review.  Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! contains poems written from the point-of-view of various townspeople of very different statures living in the same medieval village.  The poems often connect in plot - giving the reader an insight into how the life and background of the villagers lends them a different perspective on events occurring in their town.

The author often incorporates humor into the poems - Lowdy, the Varlet’s child (Varlet refers to a man who looks after animals) paints a portrait of living in a home full of fleas.  He states:

I love the dogs, but God’s bones!

The house is full of fleas!

….Fleas in the bread,

Bloodsucking fleas

In the blankets of our beds,

Nibbling our buttocks,

And the back of our knees,

Biting and delighting

Through the night - those fleas!

(page 60)

The book contains interesting footnotes explaining unknown terms the reader will find in the poems.  The notes also explain various occupations of the townspeople.  The book provides a collective view of what life was like during the Middle Ages. 

Here are a few examples of the “voices” you will hear in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! read by DR Hill students.  The poems include copyright free music  representing the Middle Ages -

Mariot and Maud are the Glassblower’s daughters.  They discuss Piers, their father’s apprentice, who has been promised the family business if he selects on of them to marry.  Maud clearly finds the idea of marrying Piers repulsive.  Though Mariot claims she feels the same as her sister - her words indicate the contrary:

audio-mp3.png-  Kas Streater and Charrion Morgan

Mogg is the Villein’s daughter.  A villein is a peasant who could be bought and sold like a slave.  His belongings were considered to be the property of the lord who resided over the manor.  Mogg’s father died recently.  She must come up with a plan to save the few resources her family has before they are taken by the greedy landowner.

audio-mp3.png- Charrion Morgan

Thomas is the doctor's son.  He provides a glimpse into medieval medicine.

audio-mp3.png- John Gillespie

Isobel is The Lord’s Daughter.  In this poem, she expresses her frustration after someone in town threw a dung clod at her dress.  Isabel is upset because she knows that she lives a privileged life as a nobleman’s daughter but her social status was according to God’s will.  Furthermore, Isobel resents this treatment because she has always been charitable and helpful to others less fortunate.

audio-mp3.png- Kas Streater

Highly recommended

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

goodmasters.jpg

 

 4redstars3.jpg 4.5 stars 

Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, Illustrations by Robert Byrd I rarely use words like “quaint” or “delightful” in book reviews, but both terms seem to apply in this book review.  Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! contains poems written from the point-of-view of various townspeople of very different statures living in the same medieval village.  The poems often connect in plot - giving the reader an insight into how the life and background of the villagers lends them a different perspective on events occurring in their town. The author often incorporates humor into the poems - Lowdy, the Varlet’s child (Varlet refers to a man who looks after animals) paints a portrait of living in a home full of fleas.  He states: I love the dogs, but God’s bones! The house is full of fleas! ….Fleas in the bread, Bloodsucking fleas In the blankets of our beds, Nibbling our buttocks, And the back of our knees, Biting and delighting Through the night - those fleas! (page 60) The book contains interesting footnotes explaining unknown terms the reader will find in the poems.  The notes also explain various occupations of the townspeople.  The book provides a collective view of what life was like during the Middle Ages.  Here are a few examples of the “voices” you will hear in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! read by DR Hill students.  The poems include copyright free music  representing the Middle Ages - Mariot and Maud are the Glassblower’s daughters.  They discuss Piers, their father’s apprentice, who has been promised the family business if he selects on of them to marry.  Maud clearly finds the idea of marrying Piers repulsive.  Though Mariot claims she feels the same as her sister - her words indicate the contrary:  -  Kas Streater and Charrion Morgan Mogg is the Villein’s daughter.  A villein is a peasant who could be bought and sold like a slave.  His belongings were considered to be the property of the lord who resided over the manor.  Mogg’s father died recently.  She must come up with a plan to save the few resources her family has before they are taken by the greedy landowner. - Charrion Morgan Thomas is the doctor's son.  He provides a glimpse into medieval medicine. - John Gillespie Isobel is The Lord’s Daughter.  In this poem, she expresses her frustration after someone in town threw a dung clod at her dress.  Isabel is upset because she knows that she lives a privileged life as a nobleman’s daughter but her social status was according to God’s will.  Furthermore, Isobel resents this treatment because she has always been charitable and helpful to others less fortunate. - Kas Streater Highly recommended

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

alabama.jpg

       fivegold.jpg  Five well-deserved stars

      10-year-old Moon lived a life very different from other people.  He and his father lived in an isolated shelter that was covered with dirt and trees -  virtually impossible for anyone to detect - purposely hidden deep in a seemingly abandoned forest.  They had few traces of modern life - no electricity or running water, no store bought food, medicine, etc.  They survived by living off the land.  Moon never really questioned why they lived this way - he never knew anything different.  He did know that his father said they should never trust the government. 

Moon’s father taught him how to survive on his own, and said Moon should live in Alaska (far away from civilization) if anything ever happened to him.  He wanted him to find a place where other people distrusted the government also and were self-reliant.

Moon’s father held to his beliefs until he died.  His death from a broken leg could have easily been prevented with modern medicine or surgery, but he refused to re-enter society to seek treatment.  Suddenly Moon is all alone and unprepared to function in the modern world.

After Moon buries his father, he’s discovered by a man who has built a home on the same property as Moon and his father’s cave.  Life for Moon is turned upside down when he is sent to a group boy’s home.  

Unable to cope with all the changes and forced rules, Moon decides to escape.  His survival skills enable him to outrun and “whip” up on anybody - no matter their age or size.  Though he has what it takes to live on his own, Moon finds out being alone can actually be very lonely.  And though Moon does not need anyone else to help him live, he wants love, affection, and friendship.

Moon realizes that maybe, just maybe, his Pa was wrong all along.

I could write pages and pages about this incredible story.  Moon is very rough around the edges, but you can’t help but cheer him on throughout the story.  You want him to find happiness and your heart aches for the struggles he has to face when he must live in a world vastly different from his own.  The ending of this book is perfect, and (get ready) may make you shed a tear or two. 

I admire the creativity of this book and the original plot.  This book is the best novel I have read in a long time - truly amazing.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key


alabama.thumbnail




   Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans   Five well-deserved stars

 

 

10-year-old Moon lived a life very different from other people.  He and his father lived in an isolated shelter that was covered with dirt and trees -  virtually impossible for anyone to detect - purposely hidden deep in a seemingly abandoned forest.  They had few traces of modern life - no electricity or running water, no store bought food, medicine, etc.  They survived by living off the land.  Moon never really questioned why they lived this way - he never knew anything different.  He did know that his father said they should never trust the government.  Moon's father taught him how to survive on his own, and said Moon should live in Alaska (far away from civilization) if anything ever happened to him.  He wanted him to find a place where other people distrusted the government also and were self-reliant. Moon's father held to his beliefs until he died.  His death from a broken leg could have easily been prevented with modern medicine or surgery, but he refused to re-enter society to seek treatment.  Suddenly Moon is all alone and unprepared to function in modern society. After Moon buries his father, he's discovered by a man who has built a home on the same property as Moon and his father's cave.  Life for Moon is turned upside down when he is sent to a group boy's home.   Unable to cope with all the changes and forced rules, Moon decides to escape.

His survival skills enable him to outrun and "whip" up on anybody - no matter their age or size.  Though he has what it takes to live on his own, Moon finds out being alone can actually be very lonely.  And though Moon does not need anyone else to help him live, he wants love, affection, and friendship. Moon realizes that maybe, just maybe,his Pa was wrong all along. I could write pages and pages about this incredible story.  Moon is very rough around the edges, but you can't help but cheer him on throughout the story.  You want him to find happiness and your heart aches for the struggles he has to face when he must live in a world vastly different from his own.  The ending of this book is perfect, and (get ready) may make you shed a tear or two.  I admire the creativity of this book and the original plot.  This book is the best novel I have read in a long time - truly amazing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

crossingthewire.gif


fourstars1.jpg 4 stars - Grabbed my attention start to finish

Author Will Hobbs visited DR Hill in 2004. He is such a down-to-earth, nice guy who clearly has a passion for writing. I read several of his books in preparation of the author visit. My favorite was Jackie's Wild Seattle. Now my favorite is Crossing the Wire.

Hobbs is an adventurer and a lover of nature - both of these personality traits are reflected in his novels. Some of his books contain lengthy descriptions of the setting - personally I find that tough to follow as a reader. Crossing the Wire, however, is more action-packed and suspenseful.

Victor is only 15 years old. Despite being young, he must grow up quickly and become a man. Now that Victor's father is deceased, his family depends on him for their survival. In Mexico, there are limited opportunities for children born to poor families. Victor tries to save the family's corn crop, their sole source of income, but falling prices and outside competitors leave his family penniless and facing starvation.

Victor must do the impossible - "Cross the wire" from Mexico to the United States in order to find work. This is his family's last hope. Victor is determined to come to America - even at the risk of his own life.

Readers will be amazed at the hardship Victor faces on his journey. Hobbs spares no punches on how difficult the voyage is - near starvation, physical exhaustion, failed attempts resulting in deportation, extreme heat/cold, dodging bullets, betrayals, poisonous snakebites (and these are only a few events in the story). What impresses me most about this novel is that it makes the reader think. This is a reminder of how fortunate Americans are - and also gives you a different perspective of why people enter our country illegally.

Highly recommended

baboquivaripeak.jpg

Baboquivari Peak - a landmark in the story. The author's hiking expedition here inspired him to select this location as one of the novel's settings

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

 

 wire.jpg

 

 3-floaty-stars.jpg   3.5 stars - Grabbed my attention start to finish

Author Will Hobbs visited DR Hill in 2004.  He is such a down-to-earth, nice guy who clearly has a passion for writing.  I read several of his books in preparation of the author visit.  My favorite was Jackie's Wild Seattle.  Now my favorite is Crossing the Wire. Hobbs is an adventurer and a lover of nature - both of these personality traits are reflected in his novels.  Some of his books contain lengthy descriptions of the setting - personally I find that tough to follow as a reader.  Crossing the Wire, however, is more action-packed and suspenseful. Victor is only 15 years old.  Despite being young, he must grow up quickly and become a man.  Now that Victor's father is deceased, his family depends on him for their survival.  In Mexico, there are limited opportunities for children born to poor families.  Victor tries to save the family's corn crop, their sole source of income, but falling prices and outside competitors leave his family penniless and facing starvation. Victor must do the impossible - "Cross the wire" from Mexico to the United States in order to find work.  This is his family's last hope.  Victor is determined to come to America - even at the risk of his own life. Readers will be amazed at the hardship Victor faces on his journey.  Hobbs spares no punches on how difficult the voyage is - near starvation, physical exhaustion, failed attempts resulting in deportation, extreme heat/cold, dodging bullets, betrayals, poisonous snakebites (and these are only a few events in the story).  What impresses me most about this novel is that it makes the reader think.  This is a reminder of how fortunate Americans are - and also gives you a different perspective of why people enter our country illegally. Highly recommended 

  

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Science and Technology Day Video

Video was created using Animoto - very cool free tool available for educators!

[display_podcast]

Teachers may register at Animoto and create their own accounts.  Educators are also given a promo code to use that will enable them to use Animoto with full access rights for a year, AND they can let their students create their own accounts for free (after one year, free accounts are still available but with limited picture uploads and video lengths).  Please see me for a generic educator's code if interested.

Can animoto videos be used for instruction?  Absolutely!  This can be utilized to promote events and highlight student achievement, but they also can be created to review key concepts or to introduce essential information in a unique, appealing visual format. 

You can create powerpoint slides, open them with Microsoft paint, and resave them as jpg files.  These can also be uploaded and created into a video. 

Imagine students creating their own videos for vocabulary review! 

The site is very user-friendly and has a music library ready for users to select the song they want.

Here are a few teachers' examples from other subject content areas:

Students Created Science Flash Cards 

Student Artwork

Space and Planets

Magnets and Magnetism

Free at Last - Civil Rights

Recycling

Bill of Rights

Simple Machines

Intro to the Roman Empire

Plants

 Plants Too!

Student created video on Hungary

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Brothers' War: Civil War in Verse

brothers-war.jpg


The Brothers' War: Civil War in Verse by J. Patrick Lewis



    This book of poems is truly amazing.  J. Patrick Lewis writes eloquently, using emotionally loaded words and imagery, to speak in the voices of various Civl War participants - both real and imagined.  What I found ironic about this text is the juxtaposition of the flowing, beautiful language and the subsequent horror it was detailing.  Some examples of Lewis's powerful imagery included in The Brothers' War are the "sickle moon" revealed during the bloody aftermath of the Battle of Seven Pines,  the voice of a hospitalized Confederate soldier - "giving up the ghost To welcome Mr. Death," a runaway slave describing his "bullwhip-long odds" of making it to freedom - "a land as alien as space." 

The Brothers' War also includes Civil War photographs, adding visual interest to the events of the Civil War and the text.  This book is a useful resource in both Language Arts and Social Studies classes.

Podcasts of letters - written from the point of view of a concerned father and a son.  The son is a Confederate Prisoner of War.  He writes his letter home on his way to a Union prison.

Letter from Home - Father to Son

Recording - Charles Barnett, Language Arts teacher

barnettecivilwar.mp3

Letter Home - Son to Father

Recording by Cody Eldridge, 8th grade student at DR Hill

civiwarcody.mp3

Google Earth Lit Trip - View the event locations included in this book - along with supplementary information about the Civil War:





 google_earth_link1.gif  Select icon

*You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view this file.

Viewing - Unzip folder contents AND extract all files.  Then select the .kml document.  This should open automatically in Google Earth.  Under My Places, Temporary Files, you can select the Civil War Lit Trip .kmz file to view the tour.  In order to read the content saved under each location and to view and hear media files, pause the tour and manually click on each underlined placemark.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen


runaway.jpg 


fourstars.jpg 4 stars

 Holly’s entire life was filled with conflict and tragedy.  After her dad died, Holly and her mom moved from one ratty apartment to another.  When Holly’s mom got fired for stealing from her workplace, they soon became homeless.  Holly never really cared about that.  Even the old van was home as long as her mother was there with her arms wrapped tightly around her.  That was before her mom met Eddie.

Holly’s mom started staying out late  - often leaving Holly alone all night in the van.  She also started acting funny, and her eyes were always shiny.  Holly soon learned that she would have to take care of herself to survive.  Not long after meeting Eddie, Holly’s mom died from a drug overdose in her arms.  Now Holly truly was all alone.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Holly’s life would become better after her mom was gone.  At least her mom loved her - though she loved heroin more than she ever loved Holly. 

Holly is bounced from one foster home to another.  She doesn’t want to trust another adult.  She feels like she can’t let her guard down again.

Holly reaches her breaking point when she is sent to live with The Benders.  Her foster father wants to be “closer” to Holly.  Holly can tell by the way he stares at her that his thoughts aren’t fatherly.  Her foster mother steals money from her husband, and then blames it on Holly.  Holly spends her nights cold, alone, and hungry - locked in a dark, damp, dirty laundry room with only a journal to keep her company.  At first Holly is angry that her teacher was forcing her to write in a stupid journal.  Soon, however, Holly finds comfort in the journal pages as she begins telling her story. 

The story will haunt you.  The pain Holly feels is achingly evident, and you will find yourself wondering how she continues to survive.

Holly decides to run away - this time for good.  Life on the streets cannot be any worse than the abusive home she lives in now…

All the pain she’s been through… nothing can shock her.  Life alone has to be better than this.

Unfortunately for Holly, she’s wrong.  Things can get much worse.

 Reading this book may make the problems you have in your life seem very small in comparison to Holly’s.  Despite the sadness the reader feels while reading about Holly’s experiences, the ending will bring you comfort.  Holly will at last find peace and happiness. 

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen

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  smallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gif   4 stars

 Holly's entire life was filled with conflict and tragedy.  After her dad died, Holly and her mom moved from one ratty apartment to another.  When Holly's mom got fired for stealing from her workplace, they soon became homeless.  Holly never really cared about that.  Even the old van was home as long as her mother was there with her arms wrapped tightly around her.  That was before her mom met Eddie. Holly's mom started staying out late  - often leaving Holly alone all night in the van.  She also started acting funny, and her eyes were always shiny.  Holly soon learned that she would have to take care of herself to survive.  Not long after meeting Eddie, Holly's mom died from a drug overdose in her arms.  Now Holly truly was all alone. Don't be fooled into thinking Holly's life would become better after her mom was gone.  At least her mom loved her - though she loved heroin more than she ever loved Holly.  Holly is bounced from one foster home to another.  She doesn't want to trust another adult.  She feels like she can't let her guard down again. Holly reaches her breaking point when she is sent to live with The Benders.  Her foster father wants to be "closer" to Holly.  Holly can tell by the way he stares at her that his thoughts aren't fatherly.  Her foster mother steals money from her husband, and then blames it on Holly.  Holly spends her nights cold, alone, and hungry - locked in a dark, damp, dirty laundry room with only a journal to keep her company.  At first Holly is angry that her teacher was forcing her to write in a stupid journal.  Soon, however, Holly finds comfort in the journal pages as she begins telling her story.  The story will haunt you.  The pain Holly feels is achingly evident, and you will find yourself wondering how she continues to survive. Holly decides to run away - this time for good.  Life on the streets cannot be any worse than the abusive home she lives in now... All the pain she's been through... nothing can shock her.  Life alone has to be better than this. Unfortunately for Holly, she's wrong.  Things can get much worse.  Reading this book may make the problems you have in your life seem very small in comparison to Holly's.  Despite the sadness the reader feels while reading about Holly's experiences, the ending will bring you comfort.  Holly will at last find peace and happiness.   

Monday, April 28, 2008

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

4.5 stars -  fourstars1.jpg

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This fast-paced, funny book will hold the reader's interest from start to end. 

Kirsten hates her life.  Her best friend Rory is suddenly popular and hangs out with the beautiful, but mean, Brianna.  Kirsten knows she will never be popular - she's overweight and feels like an outcast.  Her mom and dad are always fighting now.  It seems like nothing will ever get better for her.

Suddenly there's a new student named Walk who transfers to Kirsten's school. 

Kirsten's life is about to become much more interesting.  

She discovers who her true friends are - and finds out the shocking secret her parents have been keeping - one that brings Kirsten closer to Walk than she ever could have imagined.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

4.5 stars -  fourstars1.jpg

tree.jpg


by Gennifer Choldenko

This fast-paced, funny book will hold the reader's interest from start to end. 

Kirsten hates her life.  Her best friend Rory is suddenly popular and hangs out with the beautiful, but mean, Brianna.  Kirsten knows she will never be popular - she's overweight and feels like an outcast.  Her mom and dad are always fighting now.  It seems like nothing will ever get better for her.

Suddenly there's a new student named Walk who transfers to Kirsten's school. 

Kirsten's life is about to become much more interesting.  

She discovers who her true friends are - and finds out the shocking secret her parents have been keeping - one that brings Kirsten closer to Walk than she ever could have imagined.