Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone

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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.

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As a former high school English teacher, then Library Media Specialist, and now Instructional Technology Specialist, I am always on the look...

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