Archives for January, 2010
BOOK NAME: The Hunger Games
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
16-year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the country of Panem, which represents the last remnants of North American civilization as we know it. Each year, the capital hosts the Hunger Games, an event that makes the people of Panem realize that they are under the supreme power of the capital. During the Hunger Games, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are taken from each district to participate. The Games are a fight to the death in a giant arena, and the last person, or tribute, alive wins. When Katniss’s little sister Prim gets picked at random to be the female tribute for District 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The rest of the story follows her journey in the Games.
You’ll have to read more to find out what happens as Katniss journeys to the Capital and enters the games. Katniss really inspired me with her bravery and love for her family. She stood up for what she believed in and made sure she was doing the right thing. I think that a lot of themes from the book translate really well into everyday life, and one thing I liked about this book is that you get to see everything from Katniss’s point of view. I also love books that I can’t put down, and The Hunger Games is that kind of book-I was even reading it during class sometimes! It’s an enthralling storyline that makes me need to keep reading, and seeing it from Katniss’s perspective made me feel like it was me going through all of the terrible ordeals. This is a book that takes a more mature mindset, so I would definitely recommend it for middle-school aged kids.
Tai Shan was born in 2005 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The giant panda turned four last July, and now it’s time for him to relocate to China. This Saturday, January 30, there will be a farewell celebration for Tai Shan at the National Zoo. Tai Shan will leave the zoo on February 4.
Tai Shan is going to China to be part of a panda breeding program. Giant pandas are endangered, with fewer than 2,000 pandas living in the wild. China’s giant panda breeding program will help sustain the numbers of wild pandas.
Learn more about Tai Shan’s farewell party on the National Zoo’s website.
Learn more about giant pandas on National Geographic Kids.
Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian National Zoo
The wild tiger population in Asia’s Mekong River region has dropped by 70 percent in just over a decade, from 1,200 tigers to only about 350 remaining, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Poachers are hunting the tigers for use in traditional medicine.
This year, 2010, is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac. Later this month,
ministers from 13 tiger range countries will meet in Thailand for a
conference on tiger conservation. It’s hoped the governments will agree
on future needs in protecting this big cat from extinction.
Read more about the tigers on National Geographic News.
Learn about the Big Cats Initiative.
Luke Dollar is trying to save big cats. Read an Interview With Luke Dollar.
What is a decennial census? It’s a count of the population of the United States that only happens once a decade (10 years). The first official count of the 2010 census took place in Noorvik, a remote village in Alaska that is in the Arctic Circle. In the photo above, you can see U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves traveling to meet with Noorvik residents by dogsled.
Many of the people living in Alaska’s remote villages leave for hunting or fishing grounds during the spring thaw, so the census traditionally begins earlier there than the rest of the United States. People living in bigger Alaskan cities will receive the census form by mail in mid-March, along with the rest of the country. Taking a national census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data is important for determining how many seats a state gets in the House of Representatives, as well as how to distribute funds for schools and hospitals.
Learn more about the 2010 decennial census on the U.S. Census Bureau website.
How much do you know about the Iditarod, the famous yearly dogsled race? Quiz Your Noodle and find out!
Photograph courtesy U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office
BOOK NAME: Woods Runner
AUTHOR: Gary Paulsen
This book is a good historical fiction because it has a lot of Revolutionary War facts and a lot of action combined into one book. After every chapter, Gary Paulsen picked one important fact about the Revolutionary War and it would usually be a fact on the chapter you just read. Gary Paulsen actually used all of the guns in the book to get the feeling of them for the story.
The book is about a 13-year-old boy named Samuel who loves hunting and lives in a cabin with his Mom and Dad. He was out hunting one day because he feels so calm and relaxed in the woods. But before he went out, one of his neighbors told him there was a war in Massachusetts. He turned back because he heard something behind him and he saw smoke. He thought of the British Army, and he sprinted back…
I’m not going to tell you the rest because I want you to get the book and read it, but it’s about adventure and survival.
I’ve written a review on another Gary Paulsen book: Hatchet. Woods Runner is Paulsen’s newest book. It was published in 2010. It’s different than Hatchet because it’s historical fiction and Hatchet doesn’t really have any history. In Woods Runner there are more characters than Hatchet where there’s really on Brian, the main character. Gary Paulsen also read diaries from kids in the Revolutionary War so that he could get actually know how people like Samuel actually felt and acted.
BOOK NAME: So B. It
AUTHOR: Sarah Weeks
Heidi’s Mom is not normal. She’s been diagnosed with Down syndrome and can’t talk right. Heidi doesn’t know anything about her mother’s past. They live with a friend named Bernadette who took care of them after Heidi’s mom was caught wandering outside with a baby. Heidi has been living with Bernadette for years now. Bernadette, on the other hand, is afraid to go outside ever since her father died so both Heidi and her mom has to go get the groceries and other chores.
One day Bernadette finds an old camera in the closet with peculiar pictures in it. One of them had her mom at some Christmas event next to a sign that read: Hillside Home. Heidi decided to take a bus all the way to Liberty, New York alone to try to find out the history of her family. The trip takes her about three days to arrive in New York, when she discovers the secret about her family.
I enjoyed reading this book because l liked the story line to it. It did get a little boring at parts though. I took a long time to get started since the first six chapters were from the past rather than present. My favorite part of the book was when Heidi found out that the manager of the Hillside Home was her grandfather and one of the mentally disordered men was her dad. My least favorite part of the book was at the end. I would like to read another one of her books because I like her creativity and the way that she writes.
President Obama has finished his first year in office. But how well has he done as President? National Geographic Kids magazine asked 758 readers to grade President Obama on his performance in different subjects like health care, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the environment.
So how did he do? For the most part, NG Kids readers think the President is doing a pretty good job. Most kids (90%) gave him an overall passing grade. When it came down to individual issues, the readers were a little more divided. For example, 46% gave him an A or B on health care, 22% gave him a C or D. Fifteen percent of kids gave him an F–more Fs than he received on any other subject. Readers were more pleased with President Obama’s progress on taking care of the environment. Nearly half gave the President an A or B in this subject.
But when it comes to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in four kids gave the President a C or D for his performance. Here, too, they were sharply divided on his handling of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both sides were extremely vocal about the stance they thought the President should take.
Along with the grades, kids also gave advice for the President to keep in mind for the rest of his term, such as “Sometimes being a leader means standing alone and doing the right thing when no one else will,” “Listen to the people, because the people make up this great union,” and “Try not to slouch so much.”
What grade would you give President Obama for his first year in office?
Read more stories about President Obama on News Bites.
Photograph by Pete Souza/Official White House Photo
You have probably heard the name “Buzz Aldrin” before. Aldrin was one of the first two people to walk on the moon in 1969, along with Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong. Aldrin will be celebrating a big milestone this Thursday, January 21: his 80th birthday.
You can help wish Buzz a happy birthday! Follow the link below to enter your name and birthday message. On January 21, the Planetary Society will give Buzz a giant birthday card, filled with names and messages from all over the world!
Add your name and message to the card on the Planetary Society website.
See restored footage of the 1969 moonwalks on National Geographic Kids.
See pictures of Buzz Aldrin and others exploring the moon on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph courtesy NASA
BOOK NAME: Island of the Blue Dolphins
AUTHOR: Scott O’Dell
This is a book in the genre of survival which you don’t see often, so it’s a lovely break from the more popular genres such as fantasy. The author, Scott O’Dell, is an artist in my mind because from the first page to the end of the book he “paints” the scenes in your mind. Island of the Blue Dolphins features twelve year old Karana who ends up spending many years alone on the island and must learn how to survive. Fortunately, she is not exactly alone. She has her trusty companion, Rontu, a dog she tames from the wild. Together, they face many challenges and have many adventures together.
I think Karana got off easy compared to the boy in Hatchet because he had no one with him, not even any animal friends like Karana did. In Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karana had many items at her disposal such as a fence, food around her all the time, and she even had a canoe. Compared to Hatchet where he had to build his own fort and didn’t have much food or weapons, Karana did pretty well. That is, until she met the devil fish one day!
Based on a true story, it will surely become one of your favorites. I highly recommend this as a challenge for young and developing readers. It is a forgotten classic that should be known again. I also recommend another one of Scott O’Dell’s books Thunder Rolling in the Mountains.
On January 12, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7 earthquake, causing widespread devastation. The earthquake’s epicenter was about 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. The International Red Cross estimates that a third of Haiti’s citizens will need emergency aid.
The quake destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, and even the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. The city is currently without electricity or phone service.
Find out more about the Haiti earthquake on National Geographic News.
Find out how you can help on the American Red Cross website.
Learn more about earthquakes on nationalgeographic.com.
Learn more about Haiti on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images
BOOK NAME: Blessed Child
AUTHORS: Ted Dekker and Bill Bright
For 10 years Caleb was raised in a monastery by Father Matthew. When his life was threatened, relief expert Jason Marker and French Canadian nurse Leiah risked everything for the precious life of this young boy. After being taken away from his easy, calm life in a monastery, Caleb’s relationship with Jason and Leiah gets stronger, but at the same time his faith is slowly fading. Caleb cures many people, but can he cure himself and make things right with God? Will God forgive his sins and renew his faith?
The attention towards Caleb isn’t the only reason some people despise him. Caleb happens to know something about a man running for president that nobody else knows about. He has no desire to tell anyone about this valuable information, but if he did this man’s popularity would be corrupted. Caleb doesn’t know what is in store for him and he doesn’t have much time to figure it out!
The amount of faith Caleb has amazes me! In my mind, Caleb is just a small, innocent boy, but when he felt a certain way, I felt it too. The author did a glorious job getting me into the book. Honestly, I attempted to read this book once before, but just wasn’t ready to read it! Then I started again and was interested in it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl… this book is enjoyable! I really hope that y’all read it and that it “grabs” you like it did to me!
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced the fourth annual Rachel Carson Contest. The “Sense of Wonder” contest is open to teams made up of two or more people from younger and older generations. There are four categories: poetry, photography, essay, and dance. Teams should create a work that reflects how the team feels about the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful. The deadline for entries is June 16, 2010.
Rachel Carson was an important figure in the birth of the environmental movement. Her book Silent Spring, published in 1962, alerted people to the dangers of the pesticide DDT, which was widely-used at the time.
Get more information on the contest on the EPA website.
Get green tips on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Troy Lim, Your Shot
BOOK NAME: Hatchet
AUTHOR: Gary Paulsen
Brian Robeson, a 13 year old boy, is flying to visit his divorced Dad who lives in Canada. The pilot has a sharp pain in his chest and he has a heart attack. After the pilot’s heart attack, Brian ends up flying the plane for about two minutes. After finding that the radio is broken, he crashes the plane into a lake.
This story is about Brian and how he survives in the wilderness for 42 days with nothing except a hatchet and a ripped up windbreaker. At first, he had pains all over his body, so he just slept on the sand. The next day, the pain was getting better, so decided to build a lean-to shelter. That’s just the beginning of all the excitement.
He ends up fishing, hunting and picking berries for food. And there’s also dangerous times like a tornado, and standing about six feet from a black bear.
Gary Paulsen is a three-time Newberry Honor author and he’s very good. He also has a good book called Guts which is all about his real life. It is very exciting and the reason why I wanted to read Hatchet.
That’s all for now. I hope you read this book. Until next time – bye!
Plastic bags clog streams and waterways, and one city decided to take action against this menace. On January 1, 2010, Washington, D.C. became the first city in the U.S. to add a 5-cent fee for plastic bags for food and carryout. Most of the money raised by the new law and the “Skip the Bag, Save the River” campaign will go to the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund to educate people and clean up the river. The remainder will go to the affected businesses.
What do you think of the new law in Washington, D.C.? Does your family bring reusable bags to the store?
Photo courtesy District Department of the Environment. Learn more at http://green.dc.gov/bags.
BOOK NAME: Brady Brady and the Great Rink
AUTHOR: Mary Shaw and Chuck Temple
Brady Brady and the Great Rink is a book about a hockey player named Brady Brady. His name’s not actually Brady Brady. His name is Brady, but he never listens to anyone because he’s always thinking about hockey. So they call him Brady Brady because they’re trying to get his attention: “Brady BRADY!”
His championship game is coming up. And at his rink the lights go out and there’s no power. So Brady Brady makes a rink in his back yard. It takes him a long time to make it. After he makes the rink, he plays hockey with his dog. He gets out pucks and a net and his dog plays goalie. The dog’s name is Hat Trick.
The championship game was the coolest hockey game ever played. People in his town came from all over town. And nobody even care about the score!
I play hockey, but I’ve only played one season. I really like this book because they play hockey.
The world’s tallest building officially opened on Monday, January 4. The Burj Dubai, the tallest skyscraper in the world, is 200 stories tall and contains housing, offices, and a hotel. Standing at a height of over 800 meters (2,625 feet), the Burj Dubai stands about half a mile high. It will also be home to the highest swimming pool in the world!
Before the Burj Dubai, the tallest skyscraper in the world was the Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Taipei 101 is a little higher than 500 meters (about 1,640 feet).
Get more facts on the Burj Dubai from Reuters.
Quiz Your Noodle on inventions that changed the world on National Geographic Kids.
Giant salamanders must swim upstream to lay their eggs, but navigating all the dams can make the trip nearly impossible. A new program helps the salamanders get around the dams while still protecting the cities in Japan from flooding during the monsoon season. Watch the video to find out how they do it.
Get the facts on spotted salamanders on National Geographic Kids.
Learn more about Japan on National Geographic Kids.
See the video on National Geographic News.
When you think of endangered animals, you probably think of creatures like polar bears, tigers, or orangutans. But plenty of other species that we don’t hear about are threatened by climate change, too. The Wildlife Conservation Society has published a new report listing some of the less well-known animals facing the challenges of a changing world.
The United Nations have designated 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity.
Get started by learning about the animals on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s list!
Ah, 2010. A new year. A new start. And a chance to read tons of new books!
What’s the BEST book you got as a holiday gift this year? Which one are you kicking off 2010 with?