Archives for March, 2012
Happy April Fools’ Day! Well … not quite yet. This Sunday is the first day of April, which traditionally is the day when people play pranks on each other. No one is exactly sure how April 1 became the day to play tricks on people. One theory says that when the calendar year was changed so the year began at the beginning of January instead of April, those who were slow to start using the new calendar were called “April fools.”
Are you planning to pull a prank this year? What was your best prank ever? Leave a comment and tell us!
Photograph by Old Visuals / Alamy
Phenomenal Friday Fact
We crossed an amazing suspension bridge from Argentina to Paraguay with one more stamp in our passports.
It was a rainy morning when we arrived at the Trinidad Jesuit Mission. The ruins of the church were spectacular and there were beautiful remains of living areas as well. The Jesuits set up a type of living for the native Guarani people that was very communal. Each family was given a small home and the children were schooled. There was a big central plaza with the main church, a hospital, a coligio which housed the priest and also contained art workshops, and the cabildo which was where the Guarani’s chosen leader lived. The food was shared equally between every one. The missions were growing throughout Paraguay and Argentina but in 1641 an army of 3000 slave traders took over and there was an abrupt end to the Jesuit Missions. Many years after the missions had been buried in to the earth they were discovered and found in great condition, especially considering they were almost 400 years old. Well that was my history lesson for the day.
BOOK NAME: The Outsiders
AUTHOR: S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is like a stew cooked with ingredients like violence, crime, horror, friendship, bravery, and kindness.
Ponyboy Curtis is a smart and defensive fourteen year old boy who lives in Oklahoma with his two older brothers. He is part of the gang known as the greasers who are poor and are characterized by the grease in their hair. They constantly fight with another group, the Socs, who are rich kids who have a cold, hard, and mean personality. One day things go too far between the two groups and Ponyboy and his friend Johnny kill a Soc in self-defense. They run away to the countryside and hide in a church. Later, the church catches fire, and Johnny and Ponyboy risk their lives to save the children inside. They are hurt badly but are recognized as heroes. But, what dramatic events await them?
The engaging plot of this book, revolving around distinctive personalities, the ordinaries of friendship, and the outsiders in a group, suits the taste buds of all teenagers. Teenagers can relate very well to the characters and incidents in this book because the author, S. E. Hinton, was a teenager herself when she wrote this book. Also, this book has vivid descriptions which come out strongly with the use of similes. I like how the book teaches that groups are not barriers to friendships. So, if you are a teenager, pick out The Outsiders from the library shelf.
Our first night in Cordoba, Argentina we were wandering the cool streets full of art galleries and found an oil painting that perfectly captured our many weeks in South America. There are two horses; saddled gaucho style, standing by a beautiful river that looks like so many we have seen along the way. We just had to have it.
After making friends with the gallery owner and making our purchase we wandered a little farther and found a sushi restaurant. We loved having something different for a change and the sushi was very yummy. The next day we went on a city tour and learned about the history of Cordoba.
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BOOK NAME: Chomp
AUTHOR: Carl Hiaasen
Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so the critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.
When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!” Wahoo figures he’ll have to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And there’s Tuna–a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.
They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun…
It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive “Expedition Survival”…
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron explored the deepest point on the surface of the Earth for about three hours on Sunday before resurfacing. Although Cameron’s expedition to the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep location was shorter than planned due to a hydraulic fuel leak in his sub called the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, he was able to get a look at the deepest ocean floor, which he described as bleak. “It looked like the moon,” he said. He didn’t see much in the way of sea life, either. “I didn’t find anything that looked alive to me, other than a few [shrimplike] amphipods in the water,” he said from aboard the research vessel Mermaid Sapphire.
Among the 2.5-story-tall sub’s tools are a sediment sampler, a robotic claw, a “slurp gun” for sucking up small sea creatures for study at the surface, and temperature, salinity, and pressure gauges. Although Cameron had originally planned to collect samples with the sub’s hydraulic arm, the leak made that impossible. Despite the setbacks, Cameron and the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER made history by making the deepest solo dive ever! Cameron, well-known for his films Titanic and Avatar is also an ocean explorer. He dived to the wreckage of the Titanic 33 times.
Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic
Phenomenal Friday Fact
The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
BOOK NAME: Joshua Dread
AUTHOR: Lee Bacon
BOOK NAME: Ashtown Burials: The Drowned Vault
AUTHOR: N. D. Wilson
BOOK NAME: The Enchantress
AUTHOR: Michael Scott
BOOK NAME: The Emerald Atlas
AUTHOR: John Stephens
BOOK NAME: Chomp
AUTHOR: Carl Hiaasen
BOOK NAME: Scat
AUTHOR: Carl Hiaasen
Hi again blog readers! This is a review of my favorite book by Carl Hiaasen, Scat. It takes place in Florida near a huge swamp. Nick is the main character. His class goes on a field trip to the swamp. In the middle of the trip, a wildfire starts so everyone flees to the bus. Mrs. Starch, Nick’s teacher, goes back to the swamp to get Nick’s friend, Libby’s inhaler. The investigators think she is gone for good until the inhaler appears in Libby’s yard. The mystery of what happens to Mrs. Starch is really cool.
One of the reasons I like this book is because some of the characters are really likable. My favorite character is Twilly. He is very, very rich and he spends his money on donating wildlife preserves. He really stands up for what he believes in and doesn’t hesitate to show it. My other favorite character is Drake. I mostly like him because he adds humor to the book. He is the manager of an oil company in the area next to the swamp. He’s kind of foolish. He set up his business in Florida just so he can run the business while he spends his time water skiing!
Scat is one of the best books I have ever read. First of all, it’s about nature which I love. Also, it’s got some mystery, some great characters, some humor, and some interesting dialogue. I think you’ll really like it too.
Want another opinion? Read Jordan’s review!
Winter is officially over. Today is the first day of spring! This day is also known as the vernal equinox. Many people believe that this is the day when daylight and nighttime hours are equally long, but is that really true? According to Geoff Chester, a public affairs specialist with Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Naval Observatory, the hours are equal before the equinox, although “exactly when it happens depends on where you are located on the surface of the Earth,” he said.
Photograph by Mario Guzmán, European Pressphoto Agency
BOOK NAME: Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark
AUTHOR: Gail Langer Karwoski
I own a dog named Bailey. She is a beloved member of the family, her pack. She is our constant friend, protector, playmate, and comforter. Dogs are known as “man’s best friend”, and have been a part of human history since the Stone Age. Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark describes one such dog in American history.
Lewis and Clark are known as the captains of the first American expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Along with the Native American woman Sacagawea and the other explorers in the Corps of Discovery, Lewis and Clark explored the many wonders of the western United States. A lesser known member of this group of adventurers was Seaman, Lewis’ loyal Newfoundland dog. The four-legged pioneer contributed to the expedition in many ways. Seaman assisted the Corps of Discovery as a sentry and hunter. Most importantly of all, he lifted the spirits of his traveling companions, even in their darkest and bleakest moments. Seaman truly was the dog who explored the west.
Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark embodies a well-written historical fiction novel. The author based the storyline on actual journal entrees by Lewis and Clark as well as other pieces of historic evidence. She also improvises and elaborates on events that are not described as clearly by the journals and other sources. The book did lack some excitement in certain areas, such as when the Corps of Discovery made rest stops or was delayed by foul weather or other conditions. My favorite aspect of the book was that it included illustrations depicting events in the story. It made the book more interesting because the pictures allowed me to see the event as the Corps of Discovery would have seen it many years ago. The captions of the pictures were written accounts of the journey by Lewis and Clark, which were interesting to read. All in all, Seaman was a worthwhile read.
Pasado del Jamon. We pulled in to The Ham Hotel happy to be there. This was one of the coolest hotels in Argentina. There was a big playground, a soccer field and vines to run and play in. There were also all kinds of animals; dog, cats, horses, guinea fowl, puppies, peacocks, and parrots. Mom and dad had fun touring the beautiful wineries and Everest and I had fun playing at the hotel.
We pulled up to San Antonio, our refuge in the high country near Aconcagua, the western hemisphere’s highest summit and stood in awe of the magnificent Andes Mountains. We were ready to do some hiking.
We started our first morning with our new guide, the montana perro (mountain dog), the best guide on the mountain. We hiked up the river bed and down the snail trail. It was gorgeous. The sky was sapphire and the wind was blowing, it was a fantastic day for a hike. The vast mountains took our breath away. We saw so much wildlife, from stallions and cows to colorful birds and foxes.
We went back to a delectable dinner in the refuge after our big adventure with a really big appetite.
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Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, recently spent some time penguin-watching on South Georgia Island, which is east of Argentina’s Terra del Fuego and north of Antarctica. Andrew watched the activities of a colony of king penguins. Read Andrew’s blog post on Digital Nomad.
Photograph by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler
BOOK NAME: Hachiko Waits
AUTHOR: Lesléa Newman
Who doesn’t love a heartwarming book that is about loyalty and a strong bond between others? It’s even better when it includes a dog! In this case, a dog named Hachiko. Hachiko Waits is based on a very real story about a dog named Hachiko who lives with its owner in Japan. When Professor Ueno goes to the train station, Hachiko (or Hachi for short) follows to see off his master. Each time Professor Ueno pats Hachi’s head he says “You must be the best dog in all of Japan.” And then he boards his train. Hachiko then goes home the rest of the day until 3 o’clock when he returns to the train station. At that time, he gets to welcome his owner home.
This goes on for several years. But one day, when Hachi is at the train station waiting for Professor Ueno, he doesn’t step off the train. Puzzled, Hachi eventually heads home. The next day, Hachiko comes back, but again there is no sign of the professor. Hachi then stays at the train station and every day at 3 o’clock he would sit there waiting in hope. Even one boy named Yasuo can’t persuade Hachi to leave his post. Children would feed Hachi and the conductor too. Where can the professor be?
This is a sad book, but it is worth the tears to experience this wonderful story. Since it is based on a true story, it makes it even more fantastic. In fact, Hachiko is so beloved by the Japanese, they even have a statue of him still waiting for his master to come home. I’m glad they recognized his loyalty and remember him even though he was a dog. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes dogs and heartwarming stories.
Tomorrow night, the planets Venus and Jupiter will be very close to each other in the night sky–3 degrees apart, which is about the width of two fingers held at arm’s length. These two planets are the brightest ones visible to the eye. When planets line up in the sky, it is called a conjuction. Although the planets may look like they are close together, they are really more than 448 million miles apart from each other.
Photograph by Laurent Laveder, TWAN
BOOK NAME: Boom!
AUTHOR: Mark Haddon
This is the first eBook I have ever read, and I have got to say, it makes reading a lot easier. I read it on a Pandigital Reader that I received for Christmas. What’s great about it is you can annotate, quickly do Google searches of words in the book, look up the meaning of words, highlight, and even put in multiple bookmarks. The eReader also is lighter than most books, and it can still hold way more than just one book. I highly recommend that you get some type of eReader.
Boom! begins as a realistic fiction story told by a kid named Jimbo and his overconfident, but genius friend, Charlie. His teenage sister has a redneck boyfriend nicknamed Craterface, for obvious reasons. One day, Jimbo and Charlie decide to listen to what the teachers are saying at a staff meeting at school. After the meeting, they hear two of the teachers speaking a language even the police couldn’t decode.
Everything realistic stops here. I am afraid that I can’t tell you anymore without giving away what’s so fun about this book.
I will say that my favorite character in this book is Charlie. He kind of reminds me of Ferris Bueller. (If you haven’t seen that movie yet, I strongly recommend it.) They are both overconfident and always seem to have a plan for everything.
National Geographic is teaming up with NASA and Angry Birds to create a book called Angry Birds Space that will be a companion book to a new Angry Birds game. The book will be available starting on March 20 and the game also called Angry Birds Space will be out on March 22! In an update to the familiar gameplay, players will have to deal with zero gravity, different space objects, and more.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres. That’s almost 40 football fields! All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
BOOK NAME: Liberty Porter, First Daughter, New Girl in Town
AUTHOR: Julia DeVillers
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the First Daughter of the United States? If so, Liberty Porter, First Daughter, New Girl in Town, by Julia DeVillers would be the perfect book for you as it tells the experiences of Liberty Porter, the new, imaginary First Daughter.
Liberty Porter, a fourth grader, has just moved into the White House, for her father has been elected President of the United States. She has been eagerly exploring her new home and already discovered her two favorite areas–the chocolate shop and the movie theater. Then, the first day of school arrives and Liberty is not sure what to expect. She enjoys meeting many new people but feels awkward as everybody whispers, asks her for autographs, and treats her like a celebrity. But, as the days pass on, she realizes that some people want to be friends with her just because of her high status, while others are friendly to her because of her personality. Soon, Liberty learns how to find who her true friends are.
This is a fun read for younger kids. It shows how life as the first daughter can be glorious yet challenging. In fact, a Secret Service Agent follows her everywhere–even to school! I came across some interesting facts about former presidents such as President Kennedy’s son getting stuck in a mud fountain and President George H.W. Bush hating broccoli. Also, I liked how Liberty sportingly handles the situation when her classmates tease her by coming up with rhyming names for her like Liberty Porter, Bus Boarder, and Liberty Porter, Worst Sporter.
Did you know that scientists know more about the surface of Mars than about the deepest points of the Earth?
James Cameron, filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer and his DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team are embarking on a voyage to advance the world’s understanding of our ocean’s
vast range of biological and geological phenomena. The historic
expedition to the Mariana Trench’s lowest point, Challenger Deep, which
lies 6.83 miles (10.99 kilometers) below the ocean surface.That is deeper than Mt. Everest is tall. This journey is the first
extensive scientific exploration in a manned submersible of the deepest
spot on Earth. James Cameron will pilot the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER vessel, which is
outfitted for scientific exploration and analysis. He will
conduct tests, collect samples, and document the experience in the
high-resolution 3-D for which he’s known globally.
Photograph courtesy Brook Rushton, DEEPSEA CHALLENGE
We boarded the Buquebus (the modern ferry) excited for Argentina but completely in love with Uruguay and sad to say goodbye.
The boat ride was beautiful. The sun was setting over the city when we pulled in to Buenos Aires. After a short stay in Buenos Aires we moved on to Mendoza, a smaller city 14 hours away in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
We arrived in Mendoza for the start of Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (National Wine Harvest Festival) the biggest event of the year. There were all kinds of activities each day. There were concerts and wine tastings and shows, all of them giving thanks to God for the wonderful harvest. The water supply in Mendoza is very small so the harvest is a big deal.
BOOK NAME: Noah Barleywater Runs Away
AUTHOR: John Boyne
Hello, everyone! It’s Hunter back again to review another book.
This review is on Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne. It’s a work of fiction, with a mixture of events that could actually happen and events that could never, ever happen–like when doors and mirrors talk. In the book, an 8 year old boy named Noah runs away and meets an old man who tells Noah about his life through stories and puppets. Parts of the book are interesting because of some surprises, but other parts are kind of boring and hard to believe. I didn’t really like that the old man and his life story are supposed to be teaching Noah, and I guess the readers, a lesson because they end up sounding like a lecture instead of something to make you think about things from a different point of view. I also thought that the story was sad (remember I said there were some surprises?) and definitely not something that I think younger kids would like at all.
So I’m sorry, I can’t really recommend that you read this book. If you have to though, it’s kind of worth it because of the surprises…