Sean Beaudoin definitely has a unique style that you cannot confuse with anyone else. It is like when you see a movie and you know who the director is - that is how distinct Sean's writing is. And what he does so well is keep his style yet still has characters that have distinct voices that you can distinguish between. He actually reminds me of John Green in that way; however, Sean Beaudoin is more of the underground, quirky, dry twisted humor sort of way. This book also reminded me of the humor you found in Libba Bray's Beauty Queens in that it is very much a parody of qualities of pop culture and primarily emulated at zombie flicks such as Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead.
Once you get used to Beaudoin's style, the story sucks you in. An incomparable cast of characters takes us through a survival guide against those who want to eat you. You lose some you care about, you cheer when some turn and many will dream about one particular female. Between the cast of characters, the humorous plot line and Beaudoin's style, many will eat up this novel.
Mentor text: Voice, Style, Humor, Parody, Allusions, Word Play, Vocabulary
"But Petal Gazes was a whole other universe, a different orbit, a brighter sun. She was a tenth straight espresso, pure feedback, wet-toe-in-socket beautiful. At least to him. Which went directly against Nick's long-standing policy: Never Want Anything. Treeless Christmas? Eggless Easter? Toastless morning? It's hard to be disappointed when you don't give a crap. But now he really, really wanted something. Petal Gazes." (p. 8)
Also, LOVE pg. 35, 160-161, 88, 170, 227, and Ch. 22 title!...more
In my review for Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic novel, I said, "This is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse... his book terrified me; however, this made me not want to put the novel down." Ashfall does what Pfeffer's book did, but Ashfall also intrigued me in a different way because of my fascination with volcanoes- I was filled with a mix of terror and fascination all through the novel. Mike Mullin took a possible future disaster that in all speculations could happen and threw us as readers into the middle of it.
When you start the book, you know that a horrible event is going to happen. Alex, our narrator, tells us how different everything is now, but this slight preface cannot prepare you for all of the destruction, criminal activity, devastation and loss that happens throughout this novel.
Some favorite parts: *Loved that Alex described history books and si-fi books as past & future history. *The analogies throughout the novel to help readers understand what Alex is going through are superb. My favorite was describing explosions as Zeus machine-gunning thunder. *Liked that Mike never felt he needed to explain about the gay couple who lived across the street from Alex, it was just normal.
Now I just have to wait for the sequel :)
(view spoiler)[Questions I have (and Mike Mullin has been kind enough to answer my wonderings!): *Why did Joe wait so long to tell Darren and Alex that it was a volcanic eruption? Mike Mullin's answer: I saw Joe, Darren, and Alex as being shell-shocked and not really in much condition to talk about anything when the noise starts. And they have no idea how long it's going to go on, so Joe is waiting/thinking it's going to end. And they all prefer the relative safety of the tub. It's too loud to talk about it and be heard, of course. By the next morning it's obvious it isn't going to get better quickly, so they leave the shelter of the tub, find a candle and go to the trouble of writing out the information about the volcano. *Is that really how a FEMA camp is run? Or is that speculation about what would happen in this situation? It was at this point that I felt that the novel went from apocalyptic to dystopian. Mike Mullin's answer: FEMA camps are NOT run the way I depict in ASHFALL. That said, FEMA has never had to deal with a situation like this. 55,000 people responded to Katrina, which totally overwhelmed FEMA's organizational capacity. In the far worse disaster portrayed in ASHFALL, FEMA presses subcontractors with little disaster relief training or experience into place, and the priority becomes protecting unaffected states from the hordes of refugees fleeing the ash, rather than taking good care of those refugees. I think panic and a desire to protect one's own is a real possibility in a disaster like that.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
What a fun graphic novel series. I am so glad that I ran across it. I will definitely be getting this for my classroom. I know that many readers will connect with Daniel's feelings of not fitting in, being obnoxious to adults, and needing to find friends that understand him for who he is.
Daniel Boom is an ordinary enough boy, well, except that he is so loud that he can shatter glass when he whispers. He feels like a freak most of his life until he meets 3 other kids who all share a birthday with him and all seem to have powers that get them in trouble. Together, Daniel Boom, his sister and their 3 new friends join together to try and defeat the evil behind KR (kid-rid) industries. ...more
*Summary: Jaden lives in the not too distant future where tornadoes have intensified and are a constant threat. Jaden's father is the head of a corporation that studies tornadoes and that built a StormSafe neighborhood where the storms cannot get in. Jaden's father has not been too active in her life for the last couple of years, but when she is invited to visit him and attend a world-renowned science camp in a neighborhood that doesn't get tornadoes- it is a win-win situation. And everything is going really well. Jaden has been grouped into the meteorology section of the camp, she has made friends and is partnered with a really brilliant, nice boy named Alex. It is great. Except that something really weird is going on with her dad. He isn't himself- he only talks about work, is really intense, and isn't the comforting man that Jaden remembers. The tornadoes, the neighborhood and his company have become his obsession. So Jaden decides to discover the truth behind her father's obsession and the truth is horrible- worse than she could even imagine.
What I Think: Wow! This book jumps right in! Within the first couple of paragraphs you are thrown in the middle of a tornado that is barreling down on Jaden and her father. And the terror never ceases. Even when you start to get comfortable, you are on the edge of your seat because you know that something is going on.
This future in general terrifies me. Tornadoes are the thing that I probably fear the most. I lived in tornado alley until I was 14 and have been too close to tornadoes. I had reoccurring nightmares about them all of my childhood. They were an obsession and a fear. So Jaden's future is fascinating, but also my worst nightmare. And what makes Jaden's world even worse is that with the addition of the intense tornadoes, it seems like most joy was taken from her world- no more museums, ballet, poetry, Disney, pleasure reading, classroom learning. All of the things that make our world a place that I love- gone. My reaction to this aspect of the book reminded me of the same reaction I have with The Giver when I was in middle school. I cannot imagine a world where these joys are sucked away.
Oh, and I haven't even mentioned how well Kate writes. The imagery that she creates, specifically when it comes to the tornadoes, is what makes the book. The ability to visualize what she has created so you feel like you are there with Jaden moves the story to the next level.
"A wall of death-black cloud sits on the horizon. Slow-swirling charcoal fingers reach down from it. They point to the ground, hungry for dust and trees and buildings. The fingers close into thick fists, swirling, churning toward the farms." (p. 215-216)...more
*1. What amazing world building! Moira Young did an amazing job with not only the setting, but the "government" in her debut novel.
2. The cover of this book truly sets the tone for the story. Even when the story isn't taking place in the desert, the setting plays a major role in the story.
3. Sada. Wow. She is a strong woman protagonist. Though I found her hard to like at points, I knew it was from her passion boiling inside that she acted the way she did.
4. The best pet in a book every! Nero, the crow, is the secret star of the book.
5. The relationships in this book are things of beauty. The details in characterization that Young meticulously added to the story made it so that you are emotionally connected to all of the characters although there are many of them.
6. Girl. Cage. Fighting. Wow- it is brutal!
Originally read: April 22, 2012 Reread: July 15, 2012...more
Summary: The Power of Six picks up directly after I am Number Four with 6, John, Sam and the shape-shifting Bernie Kosar on the run from the Mogs, a group of aliens who are trying to kill them. The Power of Six also gives us the point of view of number 7, Marina, as she tries to figure out her legacies. The points of view switch back and forth between the 3 friends on the run and Marina in Spain trying to figure out what she needs to do.
What I Think: I was pleasantly surprised with I am Number Four and found that it was a fun, action-packed, well-paced book, but I feel like this book doesn’t live up to the same expectations. The Power of Six tried too hard to make us understand what was going on and it felt like the story itself was forgotten. By adding Marina’s point of view it took away from the connection you felt with the characters in the first book. I did find her story interesting, but both stories in this book felt skeletal because they were switching back and forth. I will say, though, that many of the questions that I had after I am Number Four were answered in this book, but even more questions were posed leaving the sequel as a must-read to find the answers.
3.5 stars This was my least favorite of the three books, but still good. I did find that this book was less about survival and more just a basic realis3.5 stars This was my least favorite of the three books, but still good. I did find that this book was less about survival and more just a basic realistic fiction story (you'll know what I mean if you read it) and I wish that it'd been more similar to the first two.
I did like how she combined the characters from the first 2 books, but I felt that Alex's voice had changed between #2 and this one... He was headstrong in his story but in this one he seemed not sensible at all. He was frustrating.
I saw on Susan Beth Pfeffer's website that she is thinking about writing a fourth and I could see where there is still a lot of story left to tell.
(view spoiler)[When Miranda killed Julie, I was stunned. I'm still stunned. And I really want a 4th book to find out if Alex forgives/understands. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Summary: John Smith isn't an ordinary guy, he is the 4th in a group of 9 teenage aliens that must survive to save their race; however, there is a group of murderous aliens, the Mogs, after them. Since he is nuumber 4 and the first 3 have been killed, John is next! But John is sick of moving and when Henri, his guardian, picks Paradise, OH as their next home, John wants to stay there. Then, when he finds a best friend and a beautiful girl friend, he is even more gung-ho on remaining in Paradise.
What I Think: Okay, I did not want to read this book. After hearing about James Frey's fiction factory and all the deplorable aspects of what happened to make this novel exists, I had decided I was never going to read it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, ALAN asked me to review the sequel, so I felt that to do so well, I had to read the first book. So, I got it from the library and started reading and even though I did not want to like the book, I did. It was fun, action packed and well paced with characters that I enjoyed reading about. Now, I do not think it was very well written. It was written to be popular and be a movie and you could tell. But, you can't deny good plot development and characterization and I believe the book did have that. So, after reading I am Number Four, I wasn't so upset about reading The Power of Six, but I had different feelings about the sequel.
3.5 stars Although this is not my favorite TenNapel graphic novel (Bad Island and Cardboard are just so spectacular), I still love how clever he is. I also know that this book will FLY off of my shelves in the fall - kids will adore it!
After Ely’s dog Tommy dies from being hit by a car, Ely’s father allows him to take a trip to visit his grandfather’s farm. His father hopes this trip will help him overcome his grief as well as give him some sense of responsibility. However, everything goes awry when Ely accidentally comes across a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ely all of a sudden finds him self with a new goal- cleaning up the T-Rex’s mess and proving he is harmless.
Doug TenNapel is one of the most popular authors in my classroom. All of his graphic novels fly off my shelves and never spend much time back there once they are returned. The biggest draw of his graphic novels are they are so unique, action-packed, funny, smart, colorful, and very well done. Tommysaurus Rex is no different. This story is one that will make so many students want to read it and I know that each reader will be telling a friend about it. Just like his other graphic novels, this one is so much fun!...more
Matt was not born- he was harvested, but as far as he knows, he is a normal little boy. He lives with Celia in a small house in the poppy fields. He cMatt was not born- he was harvested, but as far as he knows, he is a normal little boy. He lives with Celia in a small house in the poppy fields. He can't leave ever, because Celia says it is too dangerous, but Matt is quite content in his little world. That is until some children show up at his window and Matt decides not to hide. The children get Matt to leave his safe haven, and they take him up to "the big house." This is where Matt learns that he is not a normal child. Mr. Alarcon sees his children with Matt and banishes Matt from the house calling him a dirty animal and livestock. After Matt is sent away to a small room to be taken care of by an evil housekeeper, he begins to learn the truth- he is a clone. In Matt's world, a futuristic North America in a country called Opium nestled between Mexico and the United States, clones are considered under the law the same way as livestock and animals. Most clones have their intelligence taken away at "birth", but Matt is different... Where will he fit in? Will he always be locked away? Where will he find an ally to help him?
This is a dark, dystopian novel that deals with our view of people different than us. The clones in this world could easily represent any race that is discriminated against. The House of the Scorpion is truly a book that will make you think. ...more
Ashes, Ashes takes place in the not too distant future after a multitude of disasters have happened. Not only did global warming cause floods, droughts and other drastic weather changes, but a small pox epidemic killed off all of the human race between the ages of 30 and 60 as well as most of everyone else too. But Lucy survived. She is the only one left in her family and is doing her best to make it on her own living off the land in central park. Everything changes, though, when she meets Aidan from a close by camp and finds out that survivors are being hunted. Though Lucy struggles with being able to communicate since she's been alone for so long, Aidan and her find a connection and Lucy finds herself trusting him. From this point on, the action really starts and Lucy's life is truly on the line as well as other survivors.
Ashes, Ashes is a truly realistic post-apocalyptic novel that takes you through a young lady's story of survival against horrible odds. The book will grab readers right away with Lucy's struggles, from finding food that is not contaminated to getting away from wild dogs trying to find their own food, as well as the human instincts that come when trying to survive either alone or with a group. One surprising aspect of the novel is the twist about half way through that takes this post-apocalyptic novel and transforms it into a dystopian one. ...more
his was such an amazing short story anthology. Usually when you read a collection of short stories there are a few winners and a bunch of losers, but with this one there are a tone of winners and a couple runners-up.
Let’s talk about how awesome it is to read a new Ray Bradbury story and a phenomenal story at that. It is an amazing story about survival, life, and love. It is such an interesting concept (a world where you only live 8 days) and is executed so well (you wouldn’t expect any less from Bradbury). And it is just one of the amazing stories. The amazing list of authors in this book would impress anyone: Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, DJ Machale, Tom Angleberger, Neal Shusterman, Rebecca Stead, Shaun Tan, Kenneth Oppel, Eric Nylund, and Ray Bradbury. I also love the variety of stories. There are fantasy and science fiction stories – Percy Jackson right next to a story about aliens – and there are serious and funny stories – Tom Angleberger’s hilarious Rise of the Roboshoes alongside The Klack Bros. Museum by Kenneth Oppel.
Even though I don’t want to pick favorites, I would say if you are going to pick and choose go with the stories by Hale, Angleberger, Shusterman, Tan, Oppel, and Bradbury....more
**spoiler alert** I did not find this book as fun as the first one, but it is also very different. Now that the Emberites are out of Ember, they have**spoiler alert** I did not find this book as fun as the first one, but it is also very different. Now that the Emberites are out of Ember, they have to find somewhere to live and anytime 400+ people join a town all at one time there is going to be some conflict- and BOY! was there.
This book has some of the most mentally unstable characters I've ever seen in a book:
*Tick is a sociopath! And what is with Lizzie always liking the really creepy boys- first Looper now Tick. I think Lizzie may need some help.
*Casper is such a whack-o.
*Torren. He is more than just a whiny boy. It is all his fault that this all started and I think he enjoyed every minute.
*Why didn't the Emberites make someone in charge and have them meet with the leaders? There could have been negotiations and this all could have been avoided.
This made the book pretty frustrating, because any normal group of people would have done just that and the whole book I was waiting for them to do it and even by the end they didn't. ARGH! Maybe in the 3rd book... ...more
How dreary it would be to live in the city of Ember; mostly during Lina's time. I cannot even imagine something like light being sacred, but when youHow dreary it would be to live in the city of Ember; mostly during Lina's time. I cannot even imagine something like light being sacred, but when you live in a city with no natural light, it is.
City of Ember had many themes and messages behind it, almost too many, but I loved that it was two children that decide to save the day. It was quite easy to fall in love with the characters and the book, thus making it a quick, entertaining read. Jeanne DuPrau really puts you in the midst of things and makes it so when the lights go out, I felt the same feelings as the characters. I even caught myself holding my breath once waiting for them to come on. I am looking forward to continuing the series, so I can see what happens next.
I also had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook and found it to be hypnotizing. Although it was not a complete production, sporadically, at important intervals, there would be sound effects which added a whole other layer to the story because it helped you hear what the characters were hearing.
*Summary: Gwyneth's cousin Charlotte has a special gene that means that between the ages of 16 and 17 she'll begin traveling through time. Gwyneth is waiting along with everyone in her family for Charlotte to finally travel through time. But while everyone is focusing on Charlotte and all of her symptoms, Gwen has started having the same symptoms and one day on the way to the store, disappears completely and ends up in the past. This is a totally unexpected turn and truly puts a wrench in everyone's plans. So now Gwen needs to be let in on all of the secrets and some people are not okay with her new involvement with the family secrets. This puts Gwen right in the middle of an adventure that she had not bargained for.
What I think: I was skeptical when I started this book and the prologue actually confused me; however, Gwen and her friend (sidekick) Lesley won me over. They are such a fun duo! Gwen is so snarky and Lesley is the logical one. Gwen is Holmes and Lesley is her Watson. I love that unlike other female protagonists, Gwen and Lesley are strong, funny, stand alone characters who are smart and not push overs. And of course there is a very good looking, charming gentleman character who maybe a bit narcissistic, but wins you over! All of the characters in this novel were well done. They were all well rounded and have full personalities. Even the minor characters stood on their own.
Gier has also given us a very complicated story line that is revealed slowly enough that the reader is not lost but also at a quick enough pace as to hold the reader's attention. And the story that unfolds is so much fun and filled with intriguing twists and turns. Just beware: This book is obviously the exposition to a much bigger story and you will definitely be left hanging when you finish. ...more
Andrew Bean was born with amazing abilities to sense things (hear, see, taste, touch and smell) better than anyone else on the planet. No wonder that he was recruited to be part of H.E.R.O. program at the middle school: an extracurricular “club” to prep students with super-powers to become the city’s superhero’s sidekicks. Andrew, along with five other extraordinary middle schoolers including Andrew’s best friend Jenna, join Mr. Martin three times a week to work on their powers and to prepare to be the best sidekick possible. Andrew’s only problem is that his superhero is MIA not even showing up to save him when he is hanging over a pool of acid. However, Andrew’s problem seems like nothing when supervillains escape from high security prison and begin rampaging their town–throwing the sidekicks right in the middle of a super-big problem.
What a super fun book! I love the concept of H.E.R.O. and how starting in middle school sidekicks are trained to be help to their superhero–talk about career track! This concepts lends to a great story because not only do you have the sidekicks/superhero aspect of the story, but you also are throwing these kids in the middle of middle school- major drama!
Right in the middle of this drama and action is Andrew. What a funny kid! I love his voice and his story. He is a perfect protagonist for this novel (I cannot even imagine the story being told from any of the other sidekick’s POV). He is a bit nerdy, a sweet boy, pretty sarcastic, friends with the the star sidekick, and has some seriously awesome powers (even if they aren’t physical). The nerdy/sweet/sarcastic part gives us a pretty snarky, fun narrator that many people will connect with. Being friends with the star sidekick gives us some insight into her life which is pretty darn exciting and also adds the strong female and a tiny bit of romance. Finally, his type of superpowers lends to the story being told because the whole book is about Andrew figuring out his spot in the mess around him and that includes empowering his superpowers.
OH, and just you wait for the last quarter. Holy plot twist Batman! I was very shocked about part of what transpires at the end and I think you and our students will be as well....more
This book poses many ethical questions since our main characters are in a life or death situation: What is family? What would you do to survive? If a loved one was suffering and asked you to kill them, would you? Is there such a thing as fate? When can you let go of loved ones who have passed?
The first chapter of Ashes pulls you in right away. Alex is a mystery- you know she has a deadly brain tumor and her parents are dead, but there are so many questions. At the beginning, it is her mystery that keeps you reading, but within the first 30 pages, the story expands to so much more. Suddenly, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) wipes out almost everything including most living things and electronics. Alex, who was camping in the woods contemplating life vs. death, falls into the middle of a cataclysmic event. Alex, along with Ellie, an 8 year old who lost her grandfather, and Tom, a young army veteran, decide to make their way to the ranger station to find help. They must survive in the woods of Michigan while not only scavenging for food, avoiding hungry wild life that survived the EMP, but also eluding cannibalistic zombies (the changed) that were somehow transformed by the EMP. The make shift family promises to protect each other and this begins a survival story straight from a horror movie. And a horror movie is just what you will feel like you are in while reading Alex’s story. Every time something happens, you just wonder how much more she can take and what else can happen to her.
One thing that makes this book stand out from others is that Isla Bick’s descriptions of some very simple things like pain and smells are so dead on that you can feel or smell what she is talking about. When the EMP first hits, Alex describes the pain and other side effects of the EMP so well, that the reader would have no problem understanding what Alex was going through. Then, after surviving “The Zap”, Alex regains her sense of smell that she lost because of the tumor, so Ms. Bick must describe the new scents that Alex smells and she is so precise in the descriptions comparing the smells to things like wet pennies and curdled milk. The precision doesn’t stop there, though. It is obvious that Ms. Bick has done her research when it comes to EMPs and other nuclear information. The physics within the book is not only detailed and specific, but understandable. It makes the possibility of the type of destruction that happens in Ashes seem reasonable which is a terrifying prospect.
Not all of my questions were answered in this book, though, but based on the cliffhanger there will definitely be a sequel which will hopefully tell us more about the EMP, the changed, and what will happen to Alex next....more
This is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse. The 2012 talk, the apocalyptic movies and dystopian novels all don't bThis is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse. The 2012 talk, the apocalyptic movies and dystopian novels all don't bother me, but this book terrified me; however, this made me not want to put the novel down.
The story closely revolves around Miranda and her family (mother and 2 brothers) after a meteor hits the moon, moving it off course. Because of the diary format of the novel, we get to hear Miranda's innermost thoughts. Pfeffer beautifully writes Miranda's voice so as a reader I quickly became attached to her. Because we are reading from Miranda's point of view, the love for her family transports through the writing. As the world gets worse and worse, I became more and more attached to Miranda and her family. I understood Miranda's frustrations, felt her mother's pain in making hard decisions, and sympathized with her brothers when they hurt. I also was happy when Miranda and her family had successes. Because of all these connections, the book was not only terrifying and realistic, but also heart wrenching and wonderful. ...more
This book takes place in the future where most members of the society have a "feed" implanted in their brain. This feed gives them information, showsThis book takes place in the future where most members of the society have a "feed" implanted in their brain. This feed gives them information, shows them things to buy and gives them entertainment. The feed also controls the major functions of the body.
First, I'd like to say that I listened to the audiobook, and I really felt that they did a great job. Whenever Titus or the narrator would share a Feed with the reader, the audio was made to actually sound like the commercial or show that the character was listening to.
M.T. Anderson showed us a future in this book that at first sounds like so much fun, and the first half of the book really was fun. Titus and his friends going to the moon, meeting new people, dancing... But soon the reader begins to realize that the world isn't as perfect as it seemed at first, and Titus goes on this journey with the reader. The second half of this book is quite heavy and deep. The tone quickly changes and the story all of a sudden takes a different focus. It is no longer the fun story it once was.
Now, this book almost falls into the dystopian realm, because of the consumerism that is pumped constantly (and with the government's permission) into the brains of the citizens with the feed, but I think that it better fits into sci-fi because of the focus on the technology, clothes, etc. that has changed in the future. ...more
When I started iBoy, I originally thought it was going to be cheesy. A boy got hit on the head with a phone and now he has powers? But boy, was I wrong. This book is an edge of your seat suspenseful thriller that keeps you reading. Although the basis of the story is about a boy who has part of an iPhone embedded in his brain thus giving him all knowing knowledge as well as powers such as electric shock, it is more than that. This book is about friendship and right vs. wrong. Tom decides to use his powers to be come a vigilante in his crime-ridden neighborhood by seeking revenge on the guys who gang raped Lucy, the friend he was going to visit when he got hurt. The books becomes quite the psychological study, because Tom has to decide if it is all worth it- is hurting a bad person okay or does it just make you a bad person too?
As a teacher, I did have a couple of ah-ha moments. 1) There is so many math and science sections in the beginning of the book as Tom is realizing his powers and recalling what happens. It would be a great cross-curricular book to share. It has sections about velocity, binary notation, and of course technology. 2) There are great references to e.e. cummings, Aristotle, and Arthur Koestler. HOWEVER 3) This book is quite explicit. Tom lives in a very hellish neighborhood in London and the dialogue in this book is raw and realistic which means cursing and violence. So, if it is going to be shared in any grade under, I'd say, 10th (though some reviews say 12 and up, but I think that is too young), only parts should be shared with students. 4) I wish this book was okay for my 6th and 7th graders, because I think it is a book that many a teenager will like as it combines comic book-like superheroes with a realism that many will connect to. ...more
Can't decide between 4 & 5 stars--such a great book!
This is a book that keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself reading whenever I could (including times when I was holding my sleeping son or when I should have been sleeping). When you find out how Marina and Em are connected, it just blew my mind! I then had to find out how everything was going to turn out. I was just so impressed with everything:
First, the plot. It is so complex and intricate. You have to pay attention to keep up with the timeline, but it isn’t so bad that you’ll get lost. It is so admirable that the author was able to craft such intense timelines and intertwine them seamlessly.
Second, the language. I loved how Cristin Terrill wrote. The imagery throughout transported you into the story.
Third, the suspense. I just HAD to know what was going to happen!
Fourth, the characters. In a way that I’ve never experience before, Cristin Terrill truly gets you into the minds and hearts of the characters. You understand their motives, who they used to be, who they’ll become, all because of the way that Terrill tells the story and crafts her characters. You feel their heartbreak with them (and one particular realization that you find out in the very end just broke my heart and blew my mind), and you are so invested in everything they do.
Finally, the themes. The discussions that would come from this novel would be so interesting. Just the idea of power and corruption that is dealt with would lead to quite a debate.
Ricki also pointed out in her review how fun it would be to have students imagine what they would change if time travel existed.
This text would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss plot and character development, theme, and style. And most importantly, it will be a text that students will be intrigued with, not want to put down, and share with everyone....more
Ship Breaker is set in a future where global warming has changed the tide levels, the ice caps no longer exist, oil is like gold, and ships are wreckeShip Breaker is set in a future where global warming has changed the tide levels, the ice caps no longer exist, oil is like gold, and ships are wrecked all along the coast of the gulf- a future that seems almost too realistic.
Nailer and his crew work as ship breakers- they go into the wrecked tankers and scavenge what they can. Life is rough: Money is scarce, there is little food and the housing is built from whatever they can find. Everything changes though after a hurricane hits their town and Nailer, with his friend Pima, find a crashed clipper (a rich person's boat). While scavenging the boat, and finding tons of goods!, they discover a young girl who some how survived the wreck. Nita is the daughter for a rich man and bargains with Nailer and Pima for her life, but just having her there is going to change everything for Nailer and Pima.
The question that Nailer asks himself throughout the entire book is: What is family? He questions if loyalty or blood are the answer to this question.
The book is filled with fight scenes and life or death situations. Ship Breaker is a book not only for dystopian lovers, but for readers of action/adventure as well. ...more
My Review: In the world of illustrated novels, we have many a class clown: Greg, Nate, George & Harold. But now we have our very own genius, and he is a genius that kids are going to love! This book combines the humor and fun plot that Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Captain Underpants have, but adds in science (though the kids reading it will be none the wiser). The way that Sciezska combines humor, adventure, twists & turns, and science is perfection that will have a whole slew of readers waiting for the next Frank Einstein book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book has so much that a teacher could touch on while reading it. It would be a perfect book for a read aloud in reading with cross-curricular activities based on the book in science. I was very lucky to once again be able to write a teaching guide, this time for Frank Einstein. To see more specific class activities and discussion questions, view my teaching guide at the Abrams website. http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic/F......more
*Wow. Marissa Meyer completely impressed with this one! I was afraid that it was going to be just another dystopian or fairy-tale retelling, but it was so unique and really was entertaining and well done. I can definitely see why Cinder was a huge hit when it came out and I am so glad that I finally got to read it. What I specifically loved about Cinder is it didn't completely rely on being a fairy tale retelling or on being a pure dystopian novel- it is a unique combo of the two.
Characters: I love how Marissa Meyer didn't overwhelm the story with too many characters, as I have seen in other dystopian novels, she specifically delved deep into the most important characters. It made me, as a reader, feel like I had a deeper connection with the characters who actually mattered.
Setting: Holy world building batman! I am always a huge fan of a character who can build a world that is futuristic yet completely realistic. Although the Lunar colony and the glamours are a bit of a reality stretch, Kai's Commonwealth is completely plausible.
Conflict: Wow! Levana is so evil! She is a great antagonist to go up against the hardcore Cinder and handsome Kai.
In the classroom: The parallels between Cinderella and Cinder combined with many human issues throughout Cinder will definitely make it so it can be part of a classroom read aloud or novel analysis.
Topics: War, Humanity, Mechanics, Propaganda, ID Chips, Plagues, Politics
Snatch of text: "The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean." (p. 1)
"The lingering moon caught Cinder's attention, and a shock of goose bumps covered her arms. The moon had always given her a sense of paranoia, like the people who lived up there could be watching her, and if she stared for too long, she might draw their attention. Superstitious nonsense, but then everything about Lunars was eerie and superstitious." (p. 43)
(Went back and forth between a 4 and a 5, so sticking with a 4.5 only because I figured out the big secret. Otherwise- Loved it!)...more
Most dystopian novels don't give you the date that they are taking place and they seem so impossible that we assume it is hundreds of years in the futMost dystopian novels don't give you the date that they are taking place and they seem so impossible that we assume it is hundreds of years in the future. Awaken is different. It takes place in 2060 and Katie Kacvinksy gives us a history that goes approximately to the present. And it is a scary, scary history, but mostly because it is probable.
In this world face to face schools no longer exist and all students go to Digital School. Our protagonist is Madeline, the daughter of the inventor of Digital School. Her day consists of interactions almost completely with computers. All of her friends are on the computer, she runs on a treadmill that projects scenery, and even when she "goes out" it is on the computer by watching movies with friends. And she doesn't question a day of it anymore. Then she meets Justin. In real life. He changes everything.
I love that Katie Kacvinsky gave a complete history to us, so that the present day in her novel seems so much more reasonable. It also showed one really negative way that our world could turn if we continue the way we are. The world Madeline lives in, doesn't even have real trees anymore, because no one wants to take the time to take care of them. That sounds so much like our society now, but a little more extreme. Though we have few that fight for the environment, how much would they fight if science finds a way for us to not need, say, trees? That is what has happened in Madeline's world. People stopped fighting.
I also enjoyed that throughout there were journal entries written by Madeline. Through these journal entries, you got to see a side of Madeline that she hid from everyone, including the reader. ...more
This is the book you will looking for in 2011. Wow! Cannot wait to share this book with my students!
In a futuristic Chicago, the population has been split into 5 factions based on what they blamed on the world's disarray. The Amity blamed aggression, the Erudites blamed ignorance, Candor blamed duplicity, Abnegation blamed selfishness & the Dauntless blamed cowardice. In this world, faction comes before family and at age 16, you are given the opportunity to choose which faction you will join- you can stay with your family or leave. This choice can change everything.
Blog post: This is one of the books where I wish that I hadn't gotten the ARC because it just meant that I had to wait longer than everyone else to read the sequel. I read the book in one or two sittings and waiting is all I have been doing ever since. Divergent is one of my favorite reads of the year that was filled with dystopian thrillers left and right. Now all of them have been pretty good, but I really feel that Divergent is the stand alone star.
What will first grab you in this novel is the factions that the author creates. With so much turmoil in our nation, many people blame different things. This novel takes the different blames and shows what happens if you focus too much on one cause for the disarray in the world. The Amity blamed aggression, the Erudites blamed ignorance, Candor blamed duplicity, Abnegation blamed selfishness & the Dauntless blamed cowardice. And what happens when your choice of blame overshadows even your family- that is what Divergent is about. It is about choice. It is about selflessness. It is about strength....more
I was enthralled by this smart, yet still accessible middle grade novel. Once I began it, I did not want to put it down. I cannot wait for the next book which I hope will be in my hands sooner than later.
The book was not only packed with an interesting concept (Mira and her mother travel through time to try to right wrongs that haven't happened yet), but the book was filled with information about late 19th century Paris, French history and art. Although some may feel like there was information overload, I found it all so fascinating. I am primarily sucked in when a book includes history that is less well known and that is exactly what this book did. Do you know about the Dreyfus Affair? After reading you will. I was also so excited to read a book so full of art history and art elements. Each page includes sketches from Mira and throughout the book you meet incredible artists such as Degas, Monet and Rodin. A cast of characters that is better than any fiction. This part of the book actually reminds me a lot of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris except Mira is trying to fix something instead of fixing herself.
One wish I had while reading was wanting to see the artists' works as each artist was introduced. I was blessed enough to have an art-filled childhood so I could picture many of the pieces; however, many students do not have that background knowledge. I would love to see a non-fiction companion book that includes more history on each artist including copies of their artwork to really connect the students with the brilliant pieces that are being discussed in the novel.
Snatch of text: "Dad was right - [Notre Dame is] truly a wonder of the world...// Usually when you go into a building, it's lighter or darker, cooler or warmer than outdoors, but it's still part of the same world. Stepping into Notre Dame was like changing time zones or countries, crossing some magical border. A hush filled the cavernous, echoey space of the cathedral, despite all of the voices of tourists murmuring and people praying, as if the sound was absorbed into the bones of the building itself.//Light streamed in from the windows like a physical presence, the kind of light you think you can reach out and touch...The air itself felt still and chilled by the stone all around. The walls were stretched thin between the pillars that soared into a vault overhead, like the skin of a massive beast taut between its ribs." (p. 14-15)
Topics: History, Paris, Art (Photography, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting), Jewish ghetto, Notre Dame, Eifel tower, Madeline books, Anti-semitism, Degas, Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Monet, Gauguin, Seurat, Renoir, Manet, Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Patriotism, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, Zionism, the Dreyfus Affair, Military, Conspiracy, Human Rights, Justice system, Journalism, Race/Religion...more
*Summary: Kaelyn lives on a small island off the coast of Canada. The only way to leave and return is on a ferry. Kaelyn returned to the island after living on the mainland and hasn't really seemed to fit in. So, Kaelyn has decided to turn over a new leaf. She doesn't want to be the quiet, weird girl in class anymore so she has started being more friendly to everyone in her class. And it is going really well. But then her friend Rachel's dad gets sick. Very sick. First he had a cough and was sneezing. Then it seemed like the illness took over his brain and he wanted to socialize, but had no inhibitions. Finally he is found in the yard screaming and hallucinating. Then he died. Just like that. Kaelyn's dad, a microbiologist, tells them all to stay away from anyone who has the symptoms because no one knows how to control it. This ends Kaelyn's resolution and starts an epidemic that takes over causing the government to quarantine the island. No longer is Kaelyn's life about making friends; it is about keeping her family safe, figuring out who her true friends are and surviving.
What I Think: I had trouble putting this book down. You get so caught up in the epidemic and rooting for survival that you have to know what happens to not only Kaelyn and her family and friends, but the whole community. The novel, written as an open letter to a friend of Kaelyn's who has left the island, really captured the emotions that would be feeling when an epidemic like this would take over a community. As Kaelyn's emotions change or envelop her, you feel them as well. But the truly terrifying aspect of this novel is that it could easily happen. We saw with the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 that the flu is relentless and that fear quickly takes over. In Kaelyn's story, the epidemic not only affects people who have the virus, but everyone in the community quickly showing all who are the good and the bad people in town. Fear becomes the emotion that controls too many instead of hope and kindness....more
*This is one of the few books that I just cannot figure out the genre. The book starts off as most dystopian novels do- introducing you to a dreary civilization with a tyrant controlling the citizens. In The Unwanteds, you get introduced to the Stowe boys who are in the middle of the Purge- a ceremony that separates the wanted and necessaries from the unwanted. The unwanteds are sentences to death. Alex already knows he is an unwanted and has tried to prepare himself to be separated from his twin brother Aaron, who is a wanted. After the purge, Alex, along with the other unwanteds get taken to the death camp at the edge of the city. And this is where everything changes. The unwanteds enter the death camp to find that there is a magical world that is hidden (through magic) from the dystopic world on the other side of the locked iron gate. Here, Alex and his friends Meghan and Lani meet Mr. Today, the magician who runs Artime, as well as Jim, a magical flying turtle, and other amazing things. This, obviously, causes everyone's life to change drastically- and the adventure begins.
And what I truly loved about this book- The unwanteds were any child who showed any creative talent, so Artime was a place filled with art, theater, music, writing, reading, etc. and the Artimians fought with their art (and magic)! How cool is it that the band-nerds and book worms and weirdo artists get to kick butt with what they love the most! Amazing shout out to creativity and art.
Such a unique book and the blurb, "Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" really makes sense when you finish. A fun book for middle grade and a definite purchase for any teacher. ...more