Archives for October, 2011
BOOK NAME: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
AUTHOR: Elizabeth George Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare is a story of fitting in, friendship, bravery, and love.
Kit, a well-known girl in Barbados, moves to the colony of Connecticut in the late 1600′s aboard the ship, the Dolphin. Kit comes here to live with her aunt. But, everything in America feels so different to Kit, all the housework, plain dresses, dull landscape, and so much more. Slowly Kit learns to do the housework, but she still feels lonely and homesick. The only place where she finds comfort and peace is kind, old Hannah Tupper’s home. But, the colonists believe Hannah is a witch and one day set out as a mob to kill her. Kit’s time has come to show her courage and to go save Hannah. Will Kit do this, or will she get scared and give up? Read this book to find out.
This is an outstanding novel for teens. The author uses vivid language which allows readers to understand the different feelings such as loneliness, curiosity, and anxiety that a newcomer like Kit goes through. This book takes you back in time to the late 1600′s when people were just beginning to settle in New England. It shows how harshly the religious-minded Puritans treated the Quakers who trembled at the word of God. The Newbery Medal on this book is just another reason why you should get this historical fiction book off the library shelf.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
For my 11th birthday we stayed in Udaipur. My parents surprised me with five nights at an old palace. When we went into our room there was another surprise… delicious cookies and a pretty view of the lake. That evening we had a fun family celebration and I got a couple of very nice gifts. I got a wooden camel from Everest and a soft blue scarf and a necklace from my mom and dad. After our little party we went and had a big Indian dinner. Later when we went back to our room there was yet another surprise… a birthday cake on my bedside table. It was a great birthday!
BOOK NAME: Last Shot
AUTHOR: John Feinstein
Eighth grader Stevie Thomas is super-psyched when he finds out that he won the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s writing contest! As his prize, he gets to be a junior journalist at the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament! He is not so excited to find out that he’ll be joining another winner, Susan Carol Anderson. He doesn’t let that ruin his excitement, though, and counts down the days for he and his father to go to New Orleans for the tournament.
The big day comes, and Stevie soon arrives in New Orleans. He gets to meet many basketball reporters, and even staff from the different colleges participating in the Final Four. He meets Susan Carol, and as time passes by, he realizes that she’s not that bad. Both of them get to tour the Superdome, where the court, team locker rooms, and reporter rooms are located. They even get press credentials, which allow them to get anywhere.
As they are exploring the Superdome, they overhear someone blackmailing Chip Graber, the star player of Minnesota State University, saying that he had to lose the final game, or else… Who is the man? Why would he threaten a player? Stevie and Susan Carol are determined to solve the mystery! Through lies and even danger, they try their hardest to put the pieces together. Will they be successful?
I loved this book! I was glued to the pages from the day I started it, to the day I finished! I am not really interested in sports, but the author made everything easy to understand. This book is long and has some parts that may be scary for some people. Be sure to ask your parents before reading it. I fell in love with this book, and I hope you will, too!
It would be easier to find animals after dark if they glowed, wouldn’t it? Actually, scorpions found in Saguaro National Park do (at least with special equipment). During last weekend’s BioBlitz in the park, researchers used black lights to count scorpions. Black lights give off ultraviolet light, which reacts with a nitrogenous substance in the scorpion’s cuticles, giving it a green glow. “You go out at night into the Sonoran Desert with one of these UV lights and … these scorpions light up and glow like a little star field on the ground,” says Paul Marek, an entomologist at the University of Arizona.
The 2011 BioBlitz in Saguaro National Park in Arizona was a 24-hour effort to count different species within the park. The count added more than 400 species to the park’s species lists.
Photo courtesy of Paul Marek
BOOK NAME: Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem
AUTHOR: Rosalyn Schanzer
Do you have any warts or moles? If so, just be glad you didn’t live in the late 1600s in Salem, Massachusetts! Back then, these were considered to be the marks of a witch.
This book is about what happened during that time. It started when two young girls, cousins named Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, started having mysterious “fits”. Fits were when the girls would twitch and contort their bodies into strange shapes. This was very frightening to their family, and so they took the two girls to see a doctor. The diagnosis was that they were bewitched! During the fits, the girls would claim that a witch’s spirit was poking and hurting them. These stories seemed believable at that time because some respected men had written books about terrifying stories of witchcraft and the terrible things that witches do. Since almost everyone had read these stories, they were certain that witches existed.
The townspeople had never thought that a witch would threaten them, so when the news of the bewitched girls spread, there was mass hysteria. The two afflicted girls were pressured into naming who was the witch. The girls finally came up with three names and the accused women were put on trial. The accused had to pay the jail for every day they were locked up! Even if you were found innocent, you wouldn’t be released until all the fees were paid. And the hysteria didn’t stop there. In all, dozens of people were accused of witchcraft. They ranged in age from 4 to 90 years old and 19 of them were eventually hanged.
This non-fiction book gives you a lot of facts about the trials of the witches and what happened to them and their families afterward. If you love reading about history, then this is a good book for you. I would recommend this book for ages 10 and up because of the topic. I found this to be a very interesting book, so you may want to read it too.
Do you know how many tigers there are in India? Take a guess… Ok this is the answer… there are about 1,000 in India and about 3,000 in the world. A century ago there were 40,000 tigers just in India and about 80,500 tigers in the world! It is really sad, the numbers have declined because people have been hunting them. Many animal protection groups throughout the world are trying to put an end to this.
I was really lucky, out of the 1,000 that remain in India I got to see one 15 year old mama tiger in Ranthambhor National Park. She was only a few feet away from us. We were some of the only visitors that got to see a tiger this time of the year.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
Some snails surf across the ocean! Instead of using a surfboard, they hang upside down on rafts made with the snail’s mucus. There are fewer than ten species of these snails gliding across the oceans. Scientists have discovered that these snails are descendants of bottom-dwelling snails called wentletraps that use mucus to make egg masses.
Celia Churchill, a Ph.D. student a the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, described the bubble rafts as having a consistency similar to bubble wrap. “You can pop it if you get a fresh one,” she said.
Photograph courtesy Denis Riek
BOOK NAME: The Shadows (Books of Elsewhere #1)
AUTHOR: Jacqueline West
Do you like to draw elaborate pictures or paint vivid masterpieces? Imagine if you had the ability to enter paintings and make their scenes come to life in a parallel dimension. How would you use this remarkable power?
Eleven-year old Olive Dunwoody and her family have just moved into a massive, old house on Linden Street. The house is full of winding hallways, unusual antiques, and peculiar paintings. At first, Olive doesn’t notice anything particularly remarkable about any of the paintings that cover the house’s aged walls, but then she notices that some of the painted images move and shift ever so slightly. When her parents try to remove one of the paintings off the wall, it won’t budge. It’s as if the painting was attached to the wall with super glue. Olive doesn’t know what to make of all the strange happenings.
Things become much clearer when Olive finds a pair of spectacles in a drawer. When she puts the spectacles on, all of a sudden the paintings come to life! The trees in a forest painting sway in the wind as a faint white figure darts between their trunks. Olive becomes curious about this strange moving shape. When she takes a closer look, she discovers that she can enter the painting! She meets the moving entity, who happens to be a young boy named Morton. She also encounters several talking cats that can travel in and out of the paintings as well. However, Olive soon discovers that there are more sinister secrets hidden in the paintings. A blanket of thick shadows chases her through the forest painting where she found Morton. Olive also discovers a large, brown dog trapped in a painting in the attic. Olive wonders why Morton and the dog are in the paintings. What other secrets does the mysterious house hold?
I could not put down this fantastic book. The suspenseful storyline is what kept me interested. Olive is thrown into life threatening situations. She must also think quickly and imaginatively to overcome obstacles and unravel the mystery behind the paintings. Her curious and determined demeanor helps her overcome many of the challenges she runs into. The book’s ending was definitely the most entertaining to read. In the final chapters, Olive must face her fears and battle the evil being that haunts the house. Every chapter was filled with nail biting moments. The book also leaves a few cliff hangers to hopefully be answered later in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows.
BOOK NAME: Eragon
AUTHOR: Christopher Paolini
I read this book before knowing there was a movie made of it. I watched the movie later so here’s my review of both in this blog.
The book is about a brave farm boy named Eragon, who lives with his uncle under the command of the evil King Galbatorax. Eragon regularly hunts in a magic-infested forest called the Spine. One day, he finds a blue stone and can’t figure out what it is. Before he goes to bed, a little dragon hatches out of it. Eragon secretly raises the dragon, naming it Saphira. They learn to communicate with each other, using their minds. When two monsters called the Ra’zac kill Eragon’s uncle, he seeks revenge with the help of others and this is where the adventure really begins.
The book was a lot of fun to read. I’d describe it as a cross between a typical medieval tale and Harry Potter. However, the movie was a disappointment. While it had basically the same character and main story, all of my favorite parts of the book were left out. I’d say it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. If I had seen it before I picked up the book, it would not have made me want to read it. In this case, the book is far better than the movie.
Meet Shelby, a nine-year-old girl who lives in Louisiana. Her life is pretty normal… except she lives with alligators! Her father runs an alligator farm, and there are also wild alligators roaming around her yard. She spoke with Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, to talk about what it’s like living around gators.
Shelby helps her dad with the gators when they hatch. She holds the baby alligators when they come out of their shells. “Holding a baby alligator is like holding a baby dinosaur,” she says. Is Shelby scared by being around alligators all the time? Nope! She told Andrew that as long as you don’t tease them, they won’t hurt you.
Photographs by Andrew Evans
We arrived in Agra after the long train ride from Varanasi. The hotel we stayed was awesome there were surreys and a huge swimming pool, an air hockey table, billiards, and lots of children’s books. I read 2 Nancy Drew books. One was called Into Thin Air and the other was A Dressing for Disaster. I would highly recommend both for people who like mysteries.
We went sightseeing at the baby Taj and the Agra Fort. The Agra Fort was where the builder of the Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son who wanted to rule so bad that he killed his three brothers and imprisoned his dad just to rule a small part of India. Then we for a midnight swim and a game of air hockey.
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Varanasi is considered one of the holiest and most overwhelming cities in India. When we arrived at the Varanasi train station I had to agree. There were people everywhere trying to sell us things, pushing, beeping, spitting and heckling to be our taxi driver. We finally choose Vinod and he took us to our hotel. We liked him so much that we planned a little tour for later that afternoon.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
BOOK NAME: Treasury of Greek Mythology
AUTHOR: Donna Jo Napoli
Mythology is a fascinating genre with classic stories about gods, villains, and heroes. National Geographic’s Treasury of Greek Mythology takes you to the world of the Greek gods and goddesses. The book shows the birth, the different qualities, and the significance of the mythological figures in the Greek world.
From the king of the Olympian gods to the strong, enormous demi-god, the stories of all the Greek gods are being retold in this book. The prophecy states that Zeus will overthrow his father, Cronus, and take over the throne. Zeus fights his father and his uncles successfully and the prophecy comes true. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, sprung out of Zeus’s head because she was the daughter of Metis, one of Zeus’s wives whom he had swallowed. Heracles is a strong hero who is driven insane and for the crime he commits has to perform twelve labors in order to be forgiven. These are just a few of the many enchanting stories in this book.
Treasury of Greek Mythology is an intriguing mythological book appropriate for all ages. The stories are simple to understand and are very engaging. Each story has an interesting fact which makes it more fun for the reader. The illustrations are beautiful and use vivid colors, bringing out the splendid atmosphere surrounding the Greek gods. Also, the lush family tree and the cast of characters helped me understand each Greek god and their relations with other gods.
We arrived in crazy Delhi, India after beautiful, quiet and lush Bhutan. When we landed at the airport we hired a pre paid taxi who said he knew where he was going, but actually he had no clue where to go. We drove around in circle for an hour. When we finally got to the hotel it was time for dinner and bed.
The next day I woke up to a bad case of “Delhi belly” so I did some school and chilled. Once I felt a little better we went to the city center for a tour and to have dinner. We had Mexican food because we hadn’t had any since Bangkok. Living in California we ate Mexican food about 5 days a week and we were all missing it.
The next day we went to the toilet museum where we learned everything you needed to know about toilets and sanitation. My favorite toilet was one that looks like a chair but really is a toilet in disguise.
Nine-banded armadillos are expanding into areas of the United States where they have never lived before. The animals have been spotted in South Carolina and Illinois, and experts predict that they may someday be seen around Washington D.C. or New Jersey! Why are the animals moving northward?
Colleen McDonough, a biologist at Georgia’s Valdosta State University, says armadillos have been moving north for a variety of reasons, including changes in land use and fewer predators, and not necessarily due to climate change. “Because this movement has been consistent over the years, I think it is a continuation [of a longer-term trend] and not directly the result of recent climate change,” she says.
Whatever the reason, these adaptable animals may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you!
Photograph by Bianca Lavies, National Geographic
BOOK NAME: All the Broken Pieces
AUTHOR: Ann E. Burg
This book is historical fiction about a 10 year old boy who was airlifted out of Vietnam during the war. Now twelve years old, Matt has to adjust to American culture, his adoptive family, and his schoolmates. It is even harder for him because of the terrible memories that came with him to America. He has many feelings of loss, pain, and the horrors of war. He tries to deny them, but he must accept them so he can forgive himself. It takes him a long time to be able to experience the pain of the events again. To pretend that he are not scarred just makes it worse for Matt. At one point, Matt goes to a group where veterans who went to Vietnam come and share their experiences. I thought the veterans would not like Matt because of the bad memories he represents. Instead, they saw him as a symbol of why they fought that war and were very supportive of him. It really gave Matt a chance to accept what had happened in his homeland.
I hadn’t known much about the war before I read this book, but I understand more about it now. It isn’t really about the war itself but about the effect it had on the people who lived there. While reading, you see some of the fears that kids who are adopted in a new country can face. The book is written verse, or poetry style, so it goes by quickly. It is a slight tear jerker but is very well worth the read. If you don’t like sad stories, then just get a tissue box and bear through it because it is an amazing book. It’s another Rebecca Caudill nominee, so it’s guaranteed good reading!
On our last day in Bhutan we hiked to Tiger’s Nest, which is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan and is perched on the top of a cliff. The view was breathtaking. It took us about 3 hours to get to the top and about one ½ hours to get down.
The food in Bhutan is really good, but we were very excited to have pizza one more time when we got back to town. After lunch we played at the playground in town.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday, join National Geographic Kids and First Lady Michelle Obama in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people doing jumping jacks! We need more than 20,000 people to do jumping jacks to break the record. So get your friends, sports teams, afterschool groups, or even your entire school to participate!
Photograph by Sara Zeglin
BOOK NAME: Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Anne Brady
AUTHOR: Ellen Emerson White
Margaret Anne Brady lived in an orphanage in England. She was dressed in shaggy clothing, and not in the very best condition. Although the sisters at the orphanage were nice, Margaret Anne could have been better off. One day, opportunity comes her way, and Margaret Anne is invited to travel to America on the R.M.S. Titanic, as a helper for an American woman named Mrs. Carstairs. Margaret Anne accepts the offer.
The big day comes, and Margaret Anne boards the ship with Mrs. Carstairs. She is fascinated with all the luxuries of the ship. A young man helps them get settled in their cabin. Margaret Anne finds out that his name is Robert. Robert and Margaret Anne fall in love with each other.
One night, as Margaret Anne is sitting quietly in her bed, she hears a knock on her door. It’s Robert. He tells her to put on a life jacket, and go to the deck for a drill. But shortly after, he returns and says quietly, “You’ll not want to take your time, Margaret.” Margaret has a shocking thought, that maybe this was not a drill. She goes up to the deck, and soon figures out that the ship is sinking. She does not want to leave Robert, the love of her life, but ends up having no choice, and boards one of the life boats that will save her. She tries her very best to save Robert…
I really liked this book. It had a lot of description. It really gave me an image of how the Titanic looked. Also, in the book, there are pictures of the Titanic. One of my favorite parts of the book is the conflict between Mrs. Carstairs and Margaret, because of their different cultures. You’ll have to read the book to find out if Margaret saves Robert. I really suggest that you do.
The team at the National Geographic Kids website is always looking to give kids more of what they want. That’s why we need your help! If you’re under the age of 18, you can participate in our survey. It takes about 15 minutes to answer all the questions. You can sit with your Mom or Dad if you want, but we really want to see YOUR opinions. Remember, we want you to be honest–there are no right or wrong answers!
Photograph by Michelle Sullivan
BOOK NAME: Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter
AUTHOR: Richard Platt
Ever wonder what a true pirate’s life was like? The pirates portrayed in the movies are usually heartless, swashbuckling, and usually sport an eye patch. I believe reading Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter, gives the reader a more realistic insight into the life of a pirate.
The story is told from a fictional diary written by a 9-year-old boy named Jake Carpenter. His family has sent him with his uncle to become a sailor. He signs on to sail with the Greyhound and begins his first sea voyage under the command of a brutal and cruel captain. During the voyage, the ship is captured by a band of pirates, and now Jake is forced to become one of them. Jake learns how to live like a pirate. He has to abide by their rules, assist in their raids, and repair their ship. Pirates are considered criminals by the Americans, British, and other European powers; therefore, Jake is now also a criminal. Pirates often have to suffer the death penalty for their criminal actions. There may be no escape from the dangerous and possibly deadly way of life Jake has been thrown into.
The author wrote this book brilliantly. I enjoyed how the book was told in the form of a journal. It was unique to hear the story from the main character’s viewpoint. The journal or diary really gives the reader a sense of what Jake is feeling and experiencing on a day to day basis. I liked the colorful illustrations that make the book more entertaining. The illustrations also vividly portray certain events in the story, making it easier to understand. This book was a short, straightforward, and effortless read, which means that it is perfect for reading in your spare time.
I highly recommend this book to people who like to derive fact from fiction. This book tells the story of true pirate life, versus the Hollywood version seen in movies. Hollywood pirates and real pirates are different in several ways. For example, real pirates are organized bands of raiders that follow a fair system of laws that the crew themselves often create. In fact, many merchant ship captains are crueler and more unjust than pirate captains. Hollywood pirates are often publicized as ruthless, menacing, lawless villains with no respect for each other. The end of the book reports about true pirate, and how they lived. The book also provides an article about some of the most famous pirates that ever lived and revealed some interesting facts. Did you know that Blackbeard’s real name was Edward Teach or that a pirate named Jean Lafitte helped America gain independence by fighting British naval ships? Read this book for “arrr” fascinating adventure, “matey!”