Archives for April, 2012
Sylvia Mendez never imagined that she would be forbidden to attend Westminster Elementary School because of her Mexican ancestry. Aki Munemitsu never imagined that she would be forced to go to an internment camp because of her Japanese ancestry. And most of all, both girls never imagined that their worlds would one day collide.
In this book, which is based on a true story, Sylvia and Aki both face different challenges during World War II. Sylvia’s family moves to an asparagus farm that they are renting. Sylvia’s father, Mr. Mendez, wants her and her brothers to attend the closest school to where they live, Westminster Elementary School. Yet he is told that because his children are of Mexican descent, they must enroll at Hoover Mexican School, quite a distance from where they live. Aki Munemitsu lives on an asparagus farm and attends Westminster Elementary school. But when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Aki and her family are forced to go to an internment camp and abandon their farm. That’s when the Mendez family rents the farm.
One day, when Sylvia accompanies her father to the internment camp to deliver the rent payment to the Munemitsu family, she meets Aki and sees how terrible life is for the Japanese-American people. The girls become friends, and send letters to each other. At the same time, Mr. Mendez goes to court against Westminster Elementary School for its segregation against Mexican-American children. Will he convince the court that segregation in schools is wrong?
This is a great book! Many kids look at a book and say, “If it’s history, then I’m not reading it.” Yet although this book is based on history, it is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone ages nine and up. Sylvia and Aki taught me so much about the history of our country and of the injustices that went on during World War II.
BOOK NAME: Little House on the Prairie
AUTHOR: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Hi guys. You know that book series of The Little House on the Prairie books? All of those books are about a real girl growing up in pioneer times with her family in the midwest. There’s one book in the series though that is about her husband when he was a boy. It’s called Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Farmer Boy is about Almanzo Wilder who is about 9 years old in the book. Though he’s just a kid in terms of age he is expected to work like a man most of the time. He plows fields, chops wood and drives a team oxen when he isn’t going to school, which he hates, by the way. What he really wants to do is work with his family’s horses, but his father who is pretty strict doesn’t think he is old enough.
I really liked this book even though I wasn’t sure about it at first. It gave me a clear picture of what it was like to grow up on a farm in the olden days–lots of work but lots of unstructured time also. I thought the author used great descriptions in the book and some humor too. Almanzo is an easy character to like because even though he lived so long ago he is pretty much like all kids I know. He’s pretty nice and hard-working overall but has some not so nice and lazy feelings also. I could really relate to Almanzo because he wants to grow up so badly but he’s treated like a little kid sometimes. In the end of the story, which I won’t give away, Almanzo realizes that his father understands him after all. I really recommend this book to anyone, but especially to boys ages 7-12. It’s totally worth it!
Phenomenal Friday Fact
The winners of the 2012 National Geographic Student Expeditions Photo Contest have been chosen from more than 1,800 entries. The contest was open to high school students across the country. Timothy Brooks, who snapped the grand prize winning photo above, will travel to London this summer for the National Geographic Student Expeditions London Photography Workshop. His winning photo entitled, Coyote Curled at Sunset, is shown above.
Photograph by Timothy Brooks
BOOK NAME: How To Survive Anything
AUTHOR: Rachel Buchholz
How To Survive Anything is a unique book that conquers not only day to day
problems (think middle school), but also problems you wouldn’t want to encounter every
day (think volcanic eruptions). This handbook provides information on how to survive
anything in a compact, fun filled style. You’ll find it chock full of interesting facts and
hilarious illustrations that never fail to impress. This book is handy and could possibly
save your life, or your social life at least. It contains real advice on how to handle
perilous situations such as shark attack, lighting, falling through ice, or maybe the most
dangerous of all, embarrassing parents. The book is split into different categories so
you can find what you need almost instantly.
Another bonus is that it also contains fun quizzes to see if you could really
survive anything including one of my favorites, popularity contests. It is rare to find
something so fun and educational in the same book. I was astonished to find myself
laughing and learning at the same time. This book is now my go to for everything, but
hopefully I won’t have to use it when I’m adrift at sea. The most fickle reader will love
this sure-to-please book. This is a book for all ages to enjoy and share and would
make a great gift. I recommend it for anyone who wants a change of pace or if you’re a
magnet for trouble.
The human race emerged the victor of a horrific war with the Buggers, a hostile alien race. A fleet of human starships, under the command of Ender Wiggin, destroyed the Bugger home world, annihilating the insect-like creatures. In the years that followed, Ender Wiggin vanished, and human colonies sprang
up on habitable planets across the galaxy. Then, a terrible discovery was made by a mysterious human calling himself the “Speaker for the Dead”. The Buggers were not actually bloodthirsty alien beasts; they were intelligent beings who had been willing to make peace with humans! Ender Wiggin went from hero to monster and the human race mourned the unnecessary destruction of the powerful race that was the Buggers.
Then, on a world called Lusitania, another group of highly intelligent beings, the piggies, were discovered. Humans seemed to have a chance to redeem themselves for the destruction of the Buggers. When the piggies brutally murder a scientist attempting to study them, however, the old fears of killer aliens arise again. The Speaker for the Dead is now on his way to Lusitania to discover why the piggies turned to savage, unprovoked killing. He also hopes to right a great wrong he committed earlier in his life. The Speaker for the Dead is… Ender Wiggin, and it is his mission to stop a second alien race from being wiped out.
This was an excellent book, but there are some issues that must be addressed. There are some graphic descriptions of violent death, which may be disturbing to younger readers. There are also some inappropriate references that should only be read by a middle or high school audience. These factors are a drawback, but they cannot alter the fact that this book is phenomenally written. The plot constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. Speaker for the Dead is actually a sequel to another great book, Ender’s Game, but Speaker for the Dead can be read and understood perfectly well without even picking up its predecessor.
Celebrate America’s parks on May 19! Kids nationwide are gearing up for the second annual National Kids to Parks Day. “National Kids to Parks Day encourages children across America to get out and play. This simple idea of playing in a park can potentially give millions of kids the reason to get active and get outside just as families prepare for summer,” said Grace Lee, executive director of the National Park Trust.
Visit the National Kids to Parks Day website to find an event near you and register to participate. As the National Park Trust mascot Buddy Bison says, “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!”
Photograph by Joel Ocay, My Shot
We drove into Praia do Forte not knowing what to expect, but within a few minutes we knew we were going to love it. Gallego, a smiling, surfing, and snorkeling caretaker greeted us and welcomed us into our friend’s beach house. Before we even got our suitcases from the car we went to the beach and felt the warm water on our toes. The house was beautiful and had a pool in the backyard, but best of all we were ten steps from the ocean. We were all super excited to explore the cute beach village and the coral reef full of little critters.
Our first night in town we explored and met Alexandre the owner of the Billabong surf and skate board shop and decided we would take our surf lessons with him the next day. Alexandre, Marcio and Lideo, three amazing guys with electric personalities picked us up in the morning. We spent some time on the shore learning the basic moves and then we hit the waves.
BOOK NAME: The Emerald Atlas
AUTHOR: John Stephens
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And–if an ancient prophesy is correct–what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
The National Geographic Kids website has been nominated for a 2012 Webby Award! The website is listed in the Website – Living – Youth category. NG Kids won the award in this category in 2010, and received the People’s Voice award in 2011.
NASA’s decommissioned space shuttle Discovery took a victory lap over Washington, D.C., today on the back of a Boeing 747. The shuttle was traveling to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum in Dulles, Virginia. Discovery flew by several iconic buildings as it passed over the the city, including the Washington Monument and the White House.
Discovery‘s first space voyage was on August 30, 1980. The shuttle flew 39 space missions over the next 30 years. Its last mission was a trip to the International Space Station.
Photograph courtesy Glenn Benson, NASA
MOVIE NAME: The Hunger Games
BASED ON: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I loved the book The Hunger Games and couldn’t wait to see the movie. The story takes
place in future North America, where the government randomly selects a boy and girl from each
District to compete in the Hunger Games. The goal for them is to kill one another and become
the last one standing.
Many of the scenes in the movie were exactly as I imagined them when I first read the
book. But there were a few changes. First off, the District 12 mayor’s daughter gave Katniss the
Mockingjay pin in the book for good luck. However, in the movie, an old lady gave it to her. The
time that Katniss spends with her District 12 friend Gale is shortened quite a bit, but that is
obviously done because of the time constraints of a movie. The only huge part left out is Peeta
losing his leg in the end of the Games. President Snow was much older than I had thought, and
he has many more parts in the movie than in the book. The head Gamemaker also had no scenes
in the book, but he has many in the movie. Ceaser, Katniss, Effie, Gale, Cato and Haymitch were
exactly as I imagined. My favorite character in the movie is Haymitch, mainly because the actor
who portrays him makes the scenes entertaining.
Some scenes in the Hunger Games movie actually are taken from Catching Fire, the
next book in the series. One example is when the people in District 11 start
rebelling and are quickly out-numbered by the armored police ironically known as the
Peacekeepers. This actually happened in District 8 in the second book. President Snow’s reaction
to Katniss and Peeta’s threat is also in the movie but
doesn’t come until the second book.
I loved both the book and the movie and am looking forward to watching Catching
Fire and Mockingjay on the big screen.
Oh no, the bus is sold out! There isn’t another bus until tomorrow. What are we going to do?
About 15 minutes later we found a bus that would take us to another station, where we would take a bus to a ferry terminal, where we would take a ferry to Salvador, so we hopped on. About 17 hours later a protest took place on the highway and we waited for hours until we realized they weren’t going anywhere, so we then drove to a nearby bus station where we sat and waited some more. A bunch of people got sick including Everest so we named the bus “the vomit comet.” Then they told us we would have to sleep on the bus one more night.
When we finally arrived at the bus stop the next morning we were all VERY happy. We had more moving and grooving to do but we were finally in Salvador de Bahia on our way to Basso in Santa Teresa.
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BOOK NAME: Scorpia Rising
AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz
15-year-old Alex Rider, teen super spy, has been a vital asset for the British intelligence agency MI6. For about a year, MI6 has dispatched Alex on numerous missions throughout the world to thwart the plans of maniacal, nefarious men who’ve attempted to carry out their diabolical plans. But now, Alex has had enough of dangerous missions and has “retired” in order to enjoy the luxuries of being a teenager. However, his retirement is soon cut short by the arrival of an old enemy: Scorpia. Alex had already defeated this ruthless terrorist organization twice in the past, but Scorpia has returned in order to restore its shattered reputation and has its attention turned towards the Middle East. Alex is forced to go undercover under the orders of MI6 and halt whatever Scorpia is trying to accomplish. Can Alex defeat Scorpia a third time, or will he have finally met his match?
Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz, was a superb book fraught with suspense, action, and memorable characters. The author definitely ends the Alex Rider series well with this book and at the same time, gives readers a taste of what a true action-packed book should be like. Scorpia Rising contains several commendable “positives.” For one, the action surpassed that of the previous books in the series. Readers will be hooked onto the book while they read about Alex’s daring exploits as he races to stop Scorpia’s operations in the Middle East. From narrow escapes from burning boats to epic fistfights, readers will be caught in the thick of the action. Suspense also accompanies the action in the story by allowing smooth transitions between certain sections of the book. The author also tinkers with the plot section of the story and not only crafts an intricate, eventful storyline, but also makes the characters themselves appeal to the reader. Scorpia Rising introduces new characters while also including returning ones. An example of a returning character is Julius Grief, one of Dr. Grief’s clones in the second book of the series, while a new character includes Razim (the primary antagonist of the book).
This book did not contain many negatives, but one particular one might be the complex plot. Some readers may find it difficult to understand what is going on, but fortunately, the action and other positives of the book will make up for plot confusion. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this book a 10, as it clearly represents what an outstanding thriller should be like. I’d recommend this book to any action/adventure reader who’s scouring the library shelves searching for a perfect thriller.
An 8.6-magnitude earthquake, and a strong aftershock, struck off the coast of Indonesia yesterday. The earthquake was followed by a small tsunami, unlike the December 2004 earthquake, which was followed by a major tsunami. “The waves were just below 1 meter [3.3 feet],” said Emile Okal, a geophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “That is significant, but it’s not going to do much damage.”
The major earthquake that devastated Japan last year had a magnitude of 8.9 and triggered a deadly tsunami.
Photograph by Heri Juanda, AP
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BOOK NAME: Skipping Christmas
AUTHOR: John Grisham
If you had the chance to skip Christmas, would you? Sure, it would mean not having to go to your siblings’ boring Christmas pageant, not getting sick on candy canes and fruit cake, and not having to pretend you’re thankful for the wacky presents your relatives send you, but wouldn’t you miss the Christmas tree? And the decorations and carolers? And not to mention, what would your family and friends think of you?
These are the types of questions Luther and Nora Krank are faced with when they suddenly decide to forgo the holidays in the novel, Skipping Christmas. With their only daughter leaving for a year to go teach children English in Peru, the Kranks are feeling pretty gloomy and don’t know if they are up to celebrating Christmas. In fact, Luther, who has never liked the holiday because of the all the stress and chaos it brings, proposes the plan of skipping altogether and going on a luxurious cruise instead. Although the idea at first seems crazy and Nora immediately vetoes it, the couple eventually comes around and they excitedly book their tickets for a Caribbean cruise, starting on Christmas day.
At first, Luther and Nora’s attempt to forgo everything that has to do with Christmas goes very smoothly and they begin to think that skipping the holidays will be easy. However, as they continue to refuse invitations to Christmas parties, turn down charities asking for donations to help give underprivileged kids presents, and go as far as to not decorate their house with Christmas lights, ultimately causing their neighborhood to lose the annual holiday decorations contest, they soon begin to be met with distaste from their neighbors. As the book goes on, that distaste grows into a full-fledged “war” between the neighborhood and the Kranks, the matter being over whether or not Luther and Nora are going to celebrate Christmas.
This novel is very amusing and will have you constantly laughing as you read it. I recommend it to preteens and young teenagers because it does contain some bad language (Luther utters the occasional swear word) and was originally aimed for an adult audience. Other than that, this book is very funny and entertaining and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
We arrived in the city of color and samba, Rio de Janeiro, with our eyes wide open. Our home the first three nights was Bossa, in the historic part of town called Santa Teresa. We spent our days exploring the city and taking in all the sites. We started with two huge landmarks Sugar Loaf (the big rock in the pictures of Rio) and Christ the Redeemer, both were incredible. I have seen pictures of this giant statue my whole life so standing there next to him was truly amazing.
BOOK NAME: Echo’s Revenge: The Ultimate Game
AUTHOR: Sean Austin
and Jeremy only want to have a normal life, one where you can play video
games, live freely, and not be in constant fear. Their mother’s
explosive boyfriend is constantly beating them, and he goes over the
line one day; which initiates operation Thunderbolt. Reggie and
Jeremy plan to run away to their divorced Dad’s house, but things seem too easy.
They make it to the house with a surprising amount of ease.
But that’s when everything begins to go wrong. What could
possibly go wrong since they made their destination? Find out this
and an incredible amount more in Echo’s Revenge: The Ultimate Game.
thought that this was one really amazing book. It has every trick in
the book- suspense, character development, action, and even
some extra. I will warn the reader, however, that it is a little
spooky and dark, and has reference to slavery. In my opinion,
though, this is what makes this book so exciting. I can put myself
in the main characters shoes and really picture myself there. This
book also makes me rethink all the games I have ever played, imagining
what could happen if they turned out to be real. I would definitely
recommend this book to someone in middle school or older. I also
found the author’s website worthy of checking out (even though the book
said to avoid it).
Phenomenal Friday Fact
Around 10,000 homes in the U.S. run exclusively on solar electricity.
Check out a contest where students compete to build the best solar-powered house.
On April 15, 1912, the ship R.M.S. Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. The giant ship, said to be “unsinkable,” sank quickly–it disappeared beneath the waves less than three hours after hitting the iceberg. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster, with only 710 survivors. The location of the Titanic was a mystery until National Geographic Explorer Bob Ballard found the wreckage of the iconic ship in 1985.
Sunday, April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the disaster. The National Geographic Museum is commemorating the event with the Titanic: 100 Year Obsession exhibit. The exhibit takes visitors through Titanic‘s history, from the construction of the ship to the latest findings at the wreck site.
Are you interested in the story of Titanic?
Watch the two-night Titanic event on the National Geographic Channel beginning on Sunday, April 8.
See pictures of the Titanic shipwreck on National Geographic.
Get 10 cool facts about the Titanic on National Geographic Kids.
Read Tamar’s review of the National Geographic Reader: Titanic book on the DogEared Book Blog.
Photograph by Emory Kristof, National Geographic
Leaving our hotel in Paraguay at 2:00 am wasn’t super fun but we arrived at the immigration office just five hours later. While we waited for our boat over to Iguazu Falls, Argentina we stared at the beautiful river from shore. The sunrise and the morning mist were truly magical. This is where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil all join together.
When our ferry arrived we all hopped on very excited to see some of the largest waterfalls in the world. Tomorrow we would go to the park, but first we had to get our Brazilian visas. We left the consulate office with our passports stamped, explored the town and found a tourist office. After hearing about all the activities we decided that The Great Adventure boat ride was by far the best even though we were told “YOU WILL GET SOAKED”. The next morning we suited up, put on our life jackets and boarded the 9:00 o’clock boat. We traveled down the river for a while, as we got close to the falls our jaws all dropped in awe.
BOOK NAME: National Geographic Readers: Titanic
AUTHOR: Melissa Stewart
Most of us know the story of the Titanic. A huge ship, which everyone thought was unsinkable, hit an iceberg and sunk. Less than half of the passengers survived. Yet here’s something you might not know: The reason such a small percentage of people survived was because there were not enough lifeboats for everyone to board. Before the ship had set sail, lifeboats had been taken out so that first-class passengers could have more room on the deck!
The new National Geographic Kids book, Titanic, has many interesting facts about the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. Did you know that the last living survivor of the tragedy, Millvina Dean, was three months old when she boarded the Titanic, and she passed away in 2009?
I learned so much from reading this book! There are also paintings that look real! I would recommend Titanic to anyone ages 7 and up.
I would also like to tell you about the new National Geographic Kids program, “Super Readers”! There are different book levels for super readers, depending on how advanced they are in reading. For every four books you read, you can go online and get a prize! Although the books are thin and easy for older kids, I would still recommend it to children at any age. Enjoy the program, and keep on reading!