Archives for May, 2011
BOOK NAME: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2012
AUTHOR: National Geographic
Did you know that the smallest bone in your body is smaller than a grain of rice? Did you know that a lunar eclipse lasts about one hundred minutes? Did you know that there is a big annual celebration in Brazil called “Carnaval?” Did you know that the people of the Hindu religion celebrate a holiday called “Diwali,” which in English means “Festival of Lights,” that is also the meaning of the Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah?” You can learn all of that and so much more in the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2012!
In the book, there are different sections. You can read about amazing animals, going green, different cultures, the world billions of years ago, and even about how the world will be in the future! There’s also a game section, where you can play the same kinds of games that are in the magazine. I loved the quiz to stump your parents.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I flipped every page, always interested to know more. I had a lot of fun playing the games, too. Overall, I think the almanac is just like a great big issue of the magazine!
On the back of the book, it says “Dare to Explore!” That’s exactly what the almanac does; it makes you want to explore and discover new things.
Want to learn more about the almanac? Check out the video and get a sample of the amazing facts you’ll find inside!
BOOK NAME: The Web of Fire
AUTHOR: Steve Voake
A few years ago, an unsung hero named Sam Palmer, the Dreamwalker’s Child, saved the Earth from a group of aliens intent on destroying mankind. He ventured into the remarkable world of Aurobon, where humanoid aliens piloted giant insects. Now Sam and his best friend Skipper have returned to Aurobon. Old enemies have risen once again, and the same group of aliens is still trying to destroy mankind, this time with mind-controlling parasites. They are definitely more powerful and have taken over Aurobon, attempting to crush all resistance. Only a few rebels remain, but they are terribly outnumbered. Sam and Skipper are once again thrown into a seemingly impossible mission to save mankind and maintain balance on Earth and Aurobon. The fate of both worlds rest on a few determined rebels, some double agents, and a brand new bug. All the while, a new conflict rages in Sam’s mind. His essence is once again in Aurobon, but something is different this time…
If you already have read the book The Dreamwalker’s Child that I blogged on earlier and found it thrilling, you will enjoy this sequel even more! Much like The Dreamwalker’s Child, this book was well written and included phenomenal detail. Being inspired by art, one thing that caught my eye were the amazing illustrations. In this book, the pictures of bugs are extremely realistic looking, down to the last hair on the leg of a flea or the wing vein of a hornet. I was fascinated with the descriptions of the weapons and insects. I also liked the touch of humor in this book. In the dialog, sarcasm was often used by Skipper and Sam, and two other soldiers, Mump and Zip. This book also included a great deal of interesting science. The idea of parasitic mind control was especially interesting. The author described the parasite replacing the host’s brain, commands and actions, with its own. In this way, the parasite was able to control the host’s body. If you controlled the parasite, you controlled the host too. Just think of the uses for this, especially in the military and spy fields. I hope there are more books in the series. If so, I can’t wait to read them!
Tine Valencic, a 7th grader from Texas, won the 2011 National Geographic Bee today at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. Tine received a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands!
Watch Tine answer the final two questions asked by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic
BOOK NAME: The Door in the Wall
AUTHOR: Marguerite de Angeli
Going through a painful event can be depressing, but you’ll always find a few sparks of hope. This is the moral that enhances the plot of The Door in the Wall. It is an adventure book by Marguerite de Angeli that won the Newbery Medal.
Robin, son of the knight, Sir John de Bureford, is a young boy living in London during the medieval times. Soon after his parents leave to help the King and Queen, Robin falls ill and paralyzes his legs. Robin is left alone thinking that nothing good will come, but a monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the church. Here, Brother Luke makes Robin cheerful by taking him swimming, teaching him how to read and write, and helping Robin carve wood figures. Brother Luke explains to Robin that these are all doors in the wall. Upon getting a letter from Robin’s father, Brother Luke and Robin begin a long journey to Lindsay to stay in the company of Sir Peter and his family. Not long after they reach, however, the Welsh army attacks Lindsay and the town is at battle. Brave Robin goes on a secret mission to seek help. It’s a risky journey that Robin takes, so will he be able to get help and find another door in the wall?
I would definitely recommend others to read this amazing book. The detailed description helps picture the Middle Age setting. It’s amazing how people got names in that time period, for example, John-go-in-the-Wynd is a messenger who travels very fast. I enjoyed identifying the different doors that Robin entered. The adventure in this book builds up the excitement till the very end.
On May 21 Iceland’s most active volcano, Grímsvötn began erupting, spewing a 12-mile-high (19-kilometer-high) cloud of ash. The eruption has also generated volcanic lightning. Grímsvötn volcano is one of seven volcanoes located under the Vatnajökull ice cap.
Icelandic airports have canceled flights because of the ash, and London’s Heathrow Airport may be affected by the end of the week. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, disrupting air traffic across Europe for several days.
Photograph from AFP/Getty Images
BOOK NAME: Chains
AUTHOR: Laurie Halse Anderson
Chains takes place during the Revolutionary War, a time in history when we were trying to make our own country. This is a story about one particular African slave, Isabel, who fights unfair circumstances and treatment. During these trying times, she questions herself and her life, and has many doubts. Isabel lives with her owner and is set to be freed upon the owner’s death. However, she is sold to cruel, unpleasant people who are loyal to the British. Since this story takes place in New York City while the war is happening, Isabel has a front row seat to lots of action. She faces much danger, but does her part to fight for both her freedom and that of her new country.
One time as a punishment, she is given a scar on her cheek in the shape of the letter S. The S stands for insolence and it causes her much humiliation. But after all her trials, she begins to take pride in the letter and says it really stands for Isabel. The story ends with a surprise, so I wont’ give it away, but I can tell you to never give up! I learned from Isabel that there is always hope, even in the bleakest situations. In fact, hope may be the only thing you have to get you through difficult times.
I really like historical fiction because you get a better insight as to the issues people faced during a specific time period. In Chains, you can better appreciate the horrors of both slavery and war. I also chose this book because it was nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award and these books are always a good read. This is one of the better books I’ve read, so I really wanted to stay up all night to finish it. I think everyone should read this book to see the mistakes of the past so we can avoid making them in the future.
Snowmelt and heavy rainfall in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota have swollen the Mississippi River to near-record levels. Flooding has occurred in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Some rural areas have been flooded by opening spillways on the river. Doing this might help keep flood water out of big cities.
Photograph by Patrick Semansky, AP
Just one recycled can saves enough energy to run a small radio for more than ten hours.
BOOK NAME: The Gift: Witch & Wizard Book 2
AUTHOR: James Patterson
I hope all of you know who the author James Patterson is. If not, abandon the computer and get one of your parents to take you to the bookstore ASAP. But while you’re there, don’t pick up The Gift. I’ve already made that mistake.
Okay, okay, it wasn’t THAT bad. Let me start at the beginning: I’m normally a huge Patterson fan, but when I picked up Witch and Wizard (the book before The Gift), I was a little disappointed because it was only mediocre. It was an okay plot and everything, but the way it was written was not as appealing as it could have been. Despite this, when the sequel (The Gift) came out, I went right to my local Barnes and Noble, bought it, and read it. Now, a few hours later, I’m still in a state of confusion.
Before we get into why I didn’t like it, I’ll give a little background. Whit and Wisteria Allgood are just normal teenagers until they discover they have magical powers when the New Order is established (basically, all of the job titles start with “The One” and they hate anyone who isn’t into the whole “kill people who look like they don’t like us” thing). That was the first book, in which they engage in many adventures, live in an old department store, and use magic. The Gift is the second book in the series, and follows Whit and Wisty again as they engage in even more fun adventures, sometimes involving chocolate and inevitably ending in meeting “The One Who is The One.” Don’t worry, I’m confused, too.
Basically, my problems with the book were these: James Patterson and his coauthor (conveniently listed in barely-visible print at the bottom of the dust cover) tried WAY too hard to get the teen language and vibe right–I mean, I never say ‘totes cool.’ Also, the plot was not as great as it could have been. We’ve all seen post-apocalyptic new world government stuff before, and we’ve also seen magic. But mix them together in a generic plot line, and what do you get? Not a good book, I can tell you that.
Before you forgo reading this, remember that this is only my opinion and I tend to be pretty tough on books. If you have read it, comment back and tell me what you thought!
A bunch of you are probably thinking: “But wait! You’ve already done a review of the Barnes and Noble nook.” But this review is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to compare two of the top e-Readers: The Barnes and Noble nook and Amazon’s Kindle.
First up is the nook. I’m going to bounce back and forth between nook and Kindle, and I’m going to ask the same question for both. I interviewed my Dad for the nook because he has one. And I interviewed my friend Noah who got a Kindle for Christmas.
REED: How do you control everything?
DAD: There’s a small touch screen at the bottom of the nook. This is where you push and slide-around to find everything you need – sort of like an iPhone or iPad. The touch screen controls everything on the larger screen above, including your shelves of books, selecting what you want to read, as well as the B&N store, games and web browser that are all on the nook. There are two buttons on each side of the nook so you can turn the pages forward or backward and use whichever hand is most comfortable. Probably the coolest feature of the touch screen is that you can slide your finger forward or back to turn the pages instead of using the buttons.
NOAH: You have a keyboard, two buttons to turn the page, there are four arrow keys, one for up, down, and side to side. There is a button in between the arrow keys to select stuff. Like the nook, the Kindle has two buttons on the side to turn the page. There is no touch screen.
REED: What options do you have from the main menu?
DAD: From the nook’s main menu, you can get to your library of books and magazines, a selection of daily blogs, the nook store, Sudoku and Chess games, a web browser and all of your device settings, like turning on and off wireless.
NOAH: You have the option to turn wireless wifi on or off. You have a web browser. You can get small board games. You can buy books on the Kindle from either Kindle.com or Amazon. It depends on which Kindle you have. You can also share your books with other Kindle users.
REED: Is there a nook/Kindle app for the iPod, iPhone or iPad?
DAD: Yep. You can access your nook library from any device, including iPod (REED: I use the nook app on the iPod Touch I got for Christmas!), iPhone and iPad as well as Blackberry phones (which I sometimes use), and your desktop computer.
NOAH: Yes. It isn’t as good as the actual Kindle.
All in all, I think both of these e-Readers are very good and are neck-to-neck. Barnes and Noble probably has a slight advantage due to their new Nook Color. I can’t tell you too much more because I don’t have one. I would recommend the nook because it’s very simple and the touch screen makes everything easier.
Thank you guys for reading this. I hope you enjoyed this blog. This was a very fun review for me because I got to interview Noah at school. If you want to see another interview, check out when I interviewed the famous kids author Gary Paulsen. You can read it here.
Tarantulas shoot silk from spigots in their feet like Spider-Man and are able to keep their balance and stick to whatever they are walking on. Scientist Claire Rind of the University of Newcastle examined tarantula feet under a powerful microscope and found silk-producing spigots mixed in with the tarantula’s regular hairs. She also saw silk coming out of the spigots. Rind studied three kinds of tarantulas: the Chilean rose, the Indian ornamental, and the Mexican flame-kneed tarantula.
If you could squirt sticky silk out of your feet, what would you climb?
Photograph courtesy Claire Rind
In 2011, Earth’s population will reach 7 billion and put a strain on
the planet’s resources. What is a typical person like? Watch this
fact-packed video to find out!
BOOK NAME: The Scorch Trials
AUTHOR: James Dashner
The Gladers successfully solved the Maze and everything was supposed to be over. No more confusion, no more puzzles, no more running to save their own lives. The Gladers expected to be able to get their preview lives they knew nothing about back. To have it easy again. But even the Maze was easy compared to what was ahead of them; the Maze provided the essentials. When diagnosed with the Flare, the Gladers are sent across a disintegrated wasteland to retrieve their cure, to prevent themselves from turning into a Crank, to pass another trial.
After reading The Maze Runner I immediately got online, looking to see if there was a second book, the ending of the first hinting on a continuous story. The Maze Runner was rather new at that time and The Scorch Trials was being written and worked on then. I waited patiently for this book to come out and as soon as I got it, I read it as fast as I could.
James Dashner is very descriptive and the surroundings of the story and characters are so real, you’ll want to engage in the story more than ever. I read dead into the night, curious about the unrevealed relationships between the events happening and the role which they all played in the character’s lives.
I suggest this book to just about anyone of any age. If you can read and have a longer attention span than a squirrel go and read this book!
Is that a snake? Not quite! It’s a newly-discovered species of legless lizard. This is the first legless lizard to be discovered in Southeast Asia, but there are about 200 species of legless lizards found around the world. Although they look like snakes, these animals have external ears like other lizards. Scientists think that snakes evolved from legless lizards.
This lizard is also blind and probably doesn’t need to see since they live underground. Legs and eyes “are simply a waste of energy when you’re working your way through underground tunnels,” says biologist Jenny Daltry of Fauna & Flora International.
Photograph courtesy Thy Neang et al, Zootaxa/Flora & Fauna International
BOOK NAME: The Dreamwalker’s Child
AUTHOR: Steve Voake
If you think tiny mosquitoes, and horseflies are annoying, imagine what it would be like if you met a mosquito or horsefly the size of a fighter jet!
Sam leads a normal life, but lately it has seemed a bit boring. Strangely, insects have started following him around. However, these insects aren’t just flying around him, they’re monitoring him! They are actually insects piloted by human-like creatures from another world, who have come to Earth using trans-dimensional portals. Sam is unaware that he has a significant role to play in their world. Then a mysterious incident occurs. A bicycle accident leaves Sam in a coma. His essence enters a strange, alien world called Aurobon, where small insects on Earth, are the size of planes. Immediately, he runs into trouble. He is captured by a group of people who plan on developing a disease to destroy human kind. They know that he could foil their plans, which is why they imprisoned him. That’s when he meets Skipper, a daredevil girl who pilots wasps. She says she will help him escape the prison. What Sam does not know is that Skipper and her allies know his true identity. He is the Dreamwalker’s Child. According to a prophecy, the Dreamwalker’s Child will rise up against the dark forces in Earth’s most dangerous hour. How can Sam possibly stand up to the enemies who are trying so fiercely to kill him?
I’ll never look at insects the same way again. The author takes normal insect behaviors and transforms them into intricate military maneuvers. For example, a swarm of wasps swooping down across the landscape means that they are actually searching for enemy aircraft. A group of ants dragging away a dead wasp is actually a rescue group retrieving a fallen aircraft. This author wrote the story in vivid detail, and I could picture every event. The illustrations were also unique. They showed the inner workings of the insect aircraft and land forces. For example, the book provides a picture of the cockpit of a wasp right down to the smallest dial. It helped me understand the intricate inner workings of the aircraft. The idea of human-piloted biological creatures is a very unique concept.
A huge number of whales can be found near New York City, scientists say. To get an idea of what was happening under the surface, scientists placed underwater sound recorders off the coast of Long Island and in New York Harbor, and they picked up a surprising number of whale sounds! The recorders picked up the songs of six different kinds of whales: the fin whale, blue whale, humpback whale, minke whale, sei whale, and the North Atlantic right whale. The whales came as close as 10 miles of New York City.
Some of the whales were migrating to breeding grounds, but others stay around the coast all year round. Scientists are unable to tell exactly how many whales appear on the recordings because of the limitations of the technology.
Think you know your blue whale facts? Quiz Your Noodle and find out!
Photograph by Flip Nicklin, National Geographic
BOOK NAME: Hana’s Suitcase
AUTHOR: Karen Levine
Do you want to learn about a Jewish girl who suffered during the Holocaust by searching for clues of their life? This is exactly what a Japanese woman does to learn about the Holocaust victim–Hana Brady. This true story is told in Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine.
Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of the Tokyo Holocaust Center, teaches her students about the Holocaust by using artifacts from Jewish children who suffered, one of which is Hana’s suitcase. The children want to know more about Hana, so Fumiko goes to Holocaust museums in Europe where she learns about Hana’s fate, and also about Hana’s brother, George, who survived. Fumiko gets George’s address and writes to him about the suitcase. George then comes to Japan to tell the excited students about Hana’s sad story. Hana Brady was a Jewish girl who was growing up in the 1930′s in Czechoslovakia. Little did she know her life would change drastically as the Nazi soldiers invade her country. Her parents are sent to concentration camps. Hana and George are sent to Theresienstadt, under Nazi lookout, and then to Auschwitz, a concentration camp in Germany. What happens to Hana over here?
Hana’s Suitcase is an amazing book which shows the pain of the Holocaust by focusing on Hana’s life. Actual photographs bring to life this young girl who suffered terribly. This book is filled with suspense as to whether Fumiko will find more clues about Hana’s life or not. I like how this book keeps switching between Hana’s life in the 1940′s and Fumiko and George living today. Hana’s Suitcase is touching to the heart.
This Sunday, May 8, is Mother’s Day. Kick off the celebration by watching this video about baby seal Puff and her search for her mother.
What are you going to do for your mom this Mother’s Day? If you need inspiration, try these cool activities:
Time for another phenomenal Friday fact!
25% of the waste in U.S. landfills is made up of organic
matter like food scraps and yard clippings. Try composting these items instead
of tossing them in the trash!
BOOK NAME: Wait Till Helen Comes
AUTHOR: Mary Downing Hahn
If you like creepy ghost stories that gives you chills, then this is the book for you! In this saga, we meet Molly, a 12 year old girl who is annoyed with her 5 year old bratty stepsister, Heather. Scary things begin to happen when Molly’s family moves to an old church. It’s really, really old since it was made in the 1700s. Like any old church, it has a graveyard right next door. One of the graves belongs to a girl named Helen. Heather “befriends” the dead girl Helen through her ghost. Heather is lonely since she hates the new members of her step-family. She is hoping that Helen will come and scare her new family away.
Heather often says “Just wait ’till Helen comes. She will make you all sorry for what you’ve done to me”. Heather visits Helen’s grave almost every night to plot her revenge. She offers up wildflowers to the gravesite.
On the property is a pond too. It is near the site of Helen’s old house which had burned down and is now in ruins. Children have drowned in this pond and Molly believes that Helen lures children to this pond and drowns them. She fears for Heather because she thinks the same fate may await her. “A few children have drowned in the pond by mysterious causes. It is not a good place for children to play” the caretaker of the property warns Molly and her brother, Michael. Spooky stuff, huh?
I don’t want to give away the ending, but anyone who loves ghost stories should pick this one up. I think you’ll soon make friends with Helen too.
BOOK NAME: Graceling
AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore
When I saw a friend reading Graceling, it piqued my interest and I picked it up the next time I was at the library. I started to read and was intrigued by Katsa, a girl who is ‘graced.’ Only certain people are graced, and you can tell that they are because they have different colored eyes-Katsa’s are green and blue. From the age of 8, everyone thought that her grace was killing because she instinctively hit a distant cousin when she heard someone behind her. While on a mission for King Randa to save the kidnapped Prince Tealiff, she accidentally meets Po, the son of the man she rescued. They meet again when she gets back to her king, but Katsa soon realizes that it isn’t right for her to be forced to torture Randa’s rivals. She goes off with Po to find out who kidnapped Tealiff and why, and also to save Princess Bitterblue from her evil father King Leck.
This book was a little confusing at first, just to get all of the names straight and the whole setup of the kingdoms. After that, it was a thrill ride that kept me reading till the end (well obviously, since I’m writing this review). My favorite character was Katsa, and not just because her name sounds like Katniss from The Hunger Games (you’re thinking now, aren’t you?). She was a strong female character, which is becoming more and more popular with modern authors. Plus, who could think of a guy named ‘Po’ as their favorite character? Po’s character was actually very nice and brave, but whenever I saw ‘Po,’ I had to stop myself from laughing, which distracted from the plot. Other than the unfortunate name choices (Po and Bitterblue), the book was a good read. I encourage kids in middle school and up to pick it up and give it a try.
Studies suggest that sea urchins don’t have specialized eyes, the way people do. Instead, a sea urchin uses its entire body to see. A new study leads its research team to believe that sea urchins use their tube feet as retinas (the part of the eye that absorbs light), while pigmented cells in the rest of the animal’s body help block out extra light. Earlier studies had found that where and how many spines were on a sea urchin’s body affected how well it could see.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
Alec Loorz and many other young people are concerned about climate change. To raise awareness of the environmental threats to the planet, Alec is encouraging young people to participate in events in cities across the globe May 7 – 14.
“iMatter is about the generation most affected by climate change standing up and working for a planet worth inheriting,” Alec says. “It is about mobilizing and empowering our generation to create a sustainable and just world.”
To find out more about the march, go to iMatter March.
BOOK NAME: The Sea of Monsters
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
Hola, boys and girls how are you? I know I’m good. A lot of people liked Parker’s review so I’m going to do one to. If you want to check out his review, click here. I liked this book because there is a lot of action and adventure, which are my favorite books. I hope you like my review.
The story starts off when Percy is having a nightmare at his mom’s house in Manhattan. Percy and Grover (Percy’s best friend) have this sort of link that whenever Grover is in trouble Percy can see what is going on in his dreams. Grover went out on a quest to find the wild god Pan like all satyrs do (Satyrs are a mix of goat and human). Grover was in Miami in Percy’s dream running from something while murmuring, “Have to get away, have to warn them.” Percy didn’t know whom Grover wanted to warn but had a feeling that it was the entire camp half-blood.
It turns out that a Cyclops named Polyphemus that lives on an island in the Sea of Monsters has taken Grover prisoner. Grover’s warning was a message for help.
Camp half-blood is for demi-gods. Demi-gods are people who are half god half human. In Percy’s case his father is Poseidon, god of the sea.
I can’t tell our much more because I would be a spoiler. I really enjoyed writing this one so you guys and girls could compare it to Parker’s. I hope you guys and girls do. Well I’ve got to wrap it up so see you later!