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Katie Manuel | 21 comments Uglies

Uglies (First book of a trilogy) by Scott Westerfield

I decided to read Uglies because it is a science fiction series with teenage/pre-teen girls as its target audience. Science fiction is not usually my favorite genre, but this series is completely captivating. It is a dystopian novel set in the future after the "Rusties," aka our current civilization, ruin the environment. The government very much controls its people, but most of them really don't seem to mind. Only a small group of kids "Smokies" question the fact that people are grouped by ages and made to all think, look, and act the same. You are an "Ugly" until you turn 16, which is when you undergo plastic surgery to be made "Pretty." After the surgery, you move to a new section of the town where everyone is happy, laughing, glamorous, and stays up all night partying. Sounds great right? The part that the Smokies don't agree with is that by becoming "Pretty," you loose all of your uniqueness, including your opinions and personality.

I think this is an amazing series for adolescents to read because it really focuses on themes such as beauty, individualism, government control, and taking care of your environment. The main character, Tally, also goes through some very realistic friendship issues, including peer pressure, on her journey to self-discovery.

My only complaint is that the covers have been redone (the white ones are the new covers) and are a bit provocative. I would not have purchased the new version for my classroom because it does not appear to be an appropriate book for the sixth grade level, however the story is perfect for that age.


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Katie Manuel | 21 comments The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (1st book in a series) by Rick Riordan

This series of books became extremely popular in my classroom two years ago. I always think I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, but when I read it I tend to love it. I believe the reason this is a very popular series with both boys and girls is that there are very strong main characters from both genders. The author captures his readers' attention with strange chapter titles, lots of action, suspense, and characters that come across as both real kids with insecurities as well as superheroes saving the world.

This first book introduces Percy, a dyslexic boy who has a very strange experience on a school field trip that results in him ending up at a school for demigods. Along with his friend Grover (half boy/half goat) and Annabeth (daughter of Athena), he gets sent on a mission to retrieve Zeus' lightning bolt and save his own mother. He comes to find out that he is the son of Poseidon, which explains why he has such a strong connection with water. The book meshes Greek mythology with current life in a way that includes humor, real emotions, and lots of adventure!

It has also been turned into a graphic novel series, but I have not read that version yet. I think this book would be appropriate for 3-8 graders as a read aloud, independent reading book, or book club discussion book. It could also be integrated with a social studies unit about Greece due to all of the Greek mythology.


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