Archives for May, 2012
BOOK NAME: Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters
AUTHOR: Claudia Mills
This book is about a fourth-grader named Mason Dixon who never wants to try anything new, and
describes himself as someone who “isn’t really a sports type of person.” It sounds like the only time he
tries something new is when his best friend Brody talks him into doing it.
Well, this time Brody talks Mason into playing basketball. You would think that since Mason is tall, that
would be easy, but he has no basketball skills of any kind, or at least he keeps telling himself that. The
thing is, Brody is the complete opposite, trying everything he can.
Overall, I didn’t exactly like this book because it keeps switching between basketball and what Mason
is learning about in school, as if all readers care about his fourth-grade social studies class. It also talks
too much about the old lady who lives next door to Mason and how she hates dogs. The book’s title and
cover would make you think it’s all about basketball, but it is only around 60 percent about the sport.
Depending on your age, you might think this book is better than I do. I’m in sixth grade and I found it off
topic at times, but it actually might be much more interesting to fourth graders or younger readers. My
favorite parts of the book were when it was about Mason and Brody playing basketball.
A team from National Geographic and The North Face, including National Geographic contributing writer Mark Jenkins, reached the summit of Mount Everest on Friday, May 25. Team leader Conrad Anker reached the summit on Saturday. He did not go with the rest of the group because of exhaustion.
What did it feel like to be on top of the world’s tallest mountain? “It was awesome,” said team member and The North Face athlete Hilaree O’Neill. “There is a 360-degree view of the Himalaya, and you could see over into Tibet, all of Nepal, and the mountains. It was amazing just being able to stand up there, and experiencing that made the whole thing worth it.”
Photograph by Emily Harrington
BOOK NAME: Every You, Every Me
AUTHOR: David Leviathan
Evan is wracked with guilt. He feels responsible for the disappearance of his friend Ariel and as a result, is engulfed by waves of depression and regret almost everyday. Everything changes when Evan is walking to school one morning and discovers an envelope with a photo inside. The photo shows nothing but the exact spot he is standing on! Soon afterwards, more envelopes begin to appear with more photos of him, his friends, and even the private places where he would hang out with his friends! Evan soon begins to grow suspicious and paranoid and begins to ponder what the photos could mean. Has Ariel returned and is haunting him with photos to remind him of his actions? Or could it be someone else who’s been close with Ariel before? As Evan conducts his own investigation to reveal the truth behind the photos, he must find the photographer before he is completely trapped within the walls of lies, conspiracy, and unreality that threaten to tear him apart. Read Every You, Every Me to find out what happens to Evan as he combats the ever-growing darkness clutching at his heart!
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan was a decent book. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 7.5. I think it’s unique that the author employed the photographic novel concept in his story, but the story also lacks crucial elements. For one thing, the author fails to begin to draw in the reader’s attention in the beginning/middle sections of the story and only succeeds in doing this by the near end of the book. The story was also a bit enigmatic and secretive for most of the time, as readers can’t really understand what happened to Evan’s friend Ariel during the course of the story.
However, I enjoyed the end, when the the story reaches its climactic point. The author excellently came in strong by generating suspense that would make readers be at the edge of their seats. The main character is well depicted in the story and readers get to comprehend Evan’s inner feelings throughout much of the text (even the “crossed-out” ones). For example, Evan will recall random moments with Ariel such as their eccentric, philosophical conversations and their romantic dates. This book was neat in its own way and it was the first time I had the opportunity to acquire a glimpse of a photographic novel. The plot of the book also resembled that of an epic drama.
Rahul Nagvekar, a 8th grader from Texas, won the 2012 National Geographic Bee today at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. Nagvekar received a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands! Nagvekar is the third GeoBee champion from Texas in the past four years.
Watch the tense final moments of the competition, with the questions asked by “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
Fifty-four state-level winners matched wits in the National Geographic Bee preliminary round on Tuesday, May 22. Here are the 10 competitors that came out on top:
Raghav Ranga, Arizona
Varun Mahadevan, California
Anthony Stoner, Louisiana
Adam Rusak, Maryland
Karthik Karnik, Massachusetts
Gopi Ramanathan, Minnesota
Neelam Sandhu, New Hampshire
Rahul Nagvekar, Texas
Anthony Cheng, Utah
Vansh Jain, Wisconsin
The winner of the National Geographic Bee will win a $25,000 college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a trip to the Galápagos Islands. Watch them compete in the final round on Thursday, May 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale
BOOK NAME: I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You
AUTHOR: Ally Carter
If you like books with lots of action, adventure, and most of all, girl power, then
you will love, I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter.
This novel rolls spies, romance, and friendship all together to create a story about
young women who have some very surprising talents.
15 year old Cammie Morgan is a sophmore at the Gallagher Academy for
Exceptional Young Women. From the outside, the school appears to be a just
another snooty, private school for rich, stuck up girls, but if you dodge all of
the lasers, sneak past the armed guards and don’t get caught on any of the 50
security cameras that surround the campus, you will discover that the Gallagher
Academy is actually a school for spies. Instead of learning basics about cells and
atoms in science class, Cammie and her friends are taught the latest in chemical
warfare. Instead of just having to learn one language, they have to be fluent in
fourteen, and instead of doing dodge ball or capture the flag in P.E., they learn
how to kill a man seven different ways with their bare hands. However, when
Cammie meets an ordinary boy who doesn’t know she’s a spy, she has no idea
how to express her true feelings about him without revealing her secret identity.
Sure, she may be able to crack CIA codes, take out someone twice her size, and
save the world from ruthless dictators, but can she handle a relationship with a
normal guy who can never know who she really is?
I loved this book and would definitely recommend giving it a chance. It’s a really
fun read with lots of suspense and drama but also with humor as well. Although
some boys might like it, it’s aimed towards a female audience and I think girls will
probably enjoy it more. So, if you want a humorous read full of action, romance,
and espionage, then I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You is
definitely for you.
The finalists in the 2012 National Geographic Bee arrive at National Geographic headquarters this week for the finals! Every year, thousands of schools participate in the Bee, but only one finalist from each state goes on to compete in the finals.
We landed in Miami, shocked that everyone spoke English and that we were back in the U.S.A. The morning after we landed we drove to Coco Beach and checked into an awesome hotel with a water fall and a huge surf shop.
We were all so excited to board the Disney boat the next morning that we didn’t do much but talk about it while we walked the beach and had dinner on the pier. The cruise was my brother’s birthday present. I was soooo excited I could barely hold it in.
We boarded the ship and Mickey Mouse greeted us. Then we explored the many decks and our state room filled with Mickey everything. We put our stuff down and ran out to do one of the many activities.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
BOOK NAME: Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion
AUTHORS: Brandon Mull
Jason has been forcefully shoved home, trying to stay in Lyrian to stay with his friends. He manages to steal Ferrin’s (his displacer “friend”) hand and uses it to get information out of him. He tries to make it back to Lyrian, and eventually succeeds. However, things are much worse than he was lead to believe. Creatures that he didn’t even know existed are trying to hunt him down, he cannot locate his friends, and Maldor has started killing the people who hold syllables of the word. His goal is simple; find his friends, escape these mysterious creatures alive, and unite a completely neutral, but powerful, nation against Maldor. No big deal, right?
Surprisingly, I liked this book even more than the first book in the trilogy. I was pleased that it did not end suddenly like the first book. In the first book, I felt that something more should have commenced, but it just ended really abruptly. Second, Brandon Mull didn’t use the same creatures in the first book over and over. He created completely new, and even more deadly, creatures. I also really liked how well he developed the Blind King, or Galloran. He was so mysterious in the first book, but his personality really begins to develop. I will admit that I was surprised at how good of a swordsman Galloran was, and even more surprised at why. I feel the most sympathy for Nedwin. He suffered eleven years of torture in Felrook, and that is what left him to feel no pain. I can’t even begin to imagine how much pain someone would have to go through to stop feeling it. Overall, I thought that this book was amazing, and recommend it to anyone who even remotely enjoyed the first book.
Celebrate America’s parks on May 19! Kids all over the country will be visiting parks this Saturday. Are you planning to visit a park with your family this weekend? Check out 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!”
Did you visit a park for National Kids to Parks Day last year?
Do you have a favorite national park or state park?
Photograph by Jim Neumann, My Shot
BOOK NAME: The Meanest Doll in the World
AUTHORS: Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
Annabelle Doll, Tiffany Funcraft, and the rest of their families are dolls with secret lives. When the Palmer family, the people that own them, are asleep or away, the dolls move around and visit each other’s houses.
One day, as Annabelle and Tiffany are on their way back from an exploration in the attic, they suddenly hear the Palmers coming home. Caught on the spot, with no idea what to do next, Tiffany and Annabelle see one of the human’s backpacks, and hide in there. They stay there for the night, but in the morning, they find themselves in a place no live doll would ever dare go to: SCHOOL. They realize that they will be stuck there until the Palmer’s daughter finishes school. Tiffany decides to tour the building. Although Annabelle is a little hesitant at first, she agrees to tag along.
Oh no! The kids start getting out of class, so Annabelle and Tiffany jump into a backpack that they think is the right one. Very quickly, though, they realize that they are not in the Palmer’s house. They learn that in this new home, the dolls are alive as well, and there is one doll, named Mimi, that thinks she rules over all dollkind. When Annabelle and Tiffany are able to decrease Mimi’s power, they jump into the backpack they came in, and hope that when they get to school, they will find the right backpack and get back to the Palmer’s house. Little do they know that Mimi wants revenge on them, so she follows them all the way home. What will the dolls do about Mimi in their home? How will they catch her? How will they stay safe?
I really loved this book! It provides you with a look on the human world from a different perspective. When I read the book, I felt as though I was a doll with a secret life as well, going on all the adventures. I would recommend this book to anyone ages 9 and up.
Phenomenal Friday Fact
Every year, Americans throw away 16 billion diapers, 1.6 billion pens, 2 billion razor blades, 220 million car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the U.S. commercial air fleet four times over.
Photograph by Katinutt101, NG Kids My Shot
BOOK NAME: The Seer
AUTHOR: David Stahler Jr.
Jacob has just been forced away from all he knows and loves. He used to live in Harmony, one of the colonies on the moon Nova Campi. Harmony’s inhabitants are all totally blind, whether from birth or by choice. They live by the code of Truesight, the belief that blindness erases all of the impurities in one’s soul. Jacob was evicted because he suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, acquired the ability to see. Such an “abomination” must not exist in Harmony, and Jacob needed to escape or face the wrath of Harmony’s High Councilor.
Now Jacob wanders the plains of Nova Campi. Only one thing keeps him from surrendering to the endless sea of grass, from stopping and accepting death alone in the desolate wilderness. It is the hope of finding Delaney, his closest friend, who ran literally “blindly” away from Harmony recently before his escape. If he can find her, then he will have a companion to explore the world of the beyond Harmony.
After trekking for days he meets his first Seer, a man by the name of Xander. At first, Xander does little more than offer Jacob food and water. Xander reappears to save Jacob from a gang of shady individuals, then decides to allow the boy to stay with him. Xander knows of Delaney, as well as where to find her. She is now under the custody a powerful corporation known as Mixel, a corrupt organization that largely funded the colonization of Nova Campi. After the first visit Jacob realizes that Mixel is using Delaney for her singing talents to generate revenue, and a considerable amount at that. They won’t give up Delaney, not without a fight…
Will Jacob be able to take Delaney back? Has he found a friend in Xander? Will he ever adapt to the world of the Seers? Most importantly, can he come to grips with his sight, which may be more than just looking with his eyes?
This book is the sequel to the book Truesight which I have read as well. Both are excellently written science-fiction novels, but I enjoyed this book more than its predecessor. This story had more action than Truesight, from man-to-man combat to undercover rescue attempts. I enjoyed reading about Xander, my favorite character in the story. Xander is gruff on the outside, but kind-hearted inside. He is also street-smart, determined, and an exceptional fighter. He assists Jacob significantly throughout the book. A story is often made by its villain, and The Seer is no exception. The Mixel Corporation and its high-class handlers are the embodiment of greedy, back-stabbing, and dangerous. I would recommend that you read Truesight before you read The Seer, which should not be overly difficult because both books are fairly short. All in all, they are a worth-while duo.
We pulled into the Recife bus station missing our amazing surfer buddies and then we meet Carlos, another amazing friend. He was an exchange student with my cousins a few years ago. My Cousin Kayla’s family owns a farm in Indiana so he learned to speak English and all about agriculture. Carlos met us at the bus station and drove us back to his family home. His mom and step dad then moved out of their master suite so we could be comfortable.
In the afternoon his step father took time off work to take us on a tour of the city. We started with the oldest jail in Brazil; all the cells are now little shops. Next we went down to the waterfront to see the new cruise ship dock. They are preparing for the World Cup and the Olympics here too. Later we went to the old city that is more than 500 years old.
More than 114,000 young artists from across the country have submitted their drawings to the Doodle 4 Google contest, and now you can help select the winners! The drawings are all based on this year’s theme, which is “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…”
The competition was open to K-12 students in the United States. The entries are broken up into five different age groups, and you can vote for your favorite in each category. The national winner will be chosen on May 17, and the winning doodle will appear on the Google homepage on May 18.
Illustrations courtesy of Google
Phenomenal Friday Fact
BOOK NAME: Code Talker
AUTHOR: Joseph Bruchac
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac is a memoir of one Navajo’s true life which is filled with pride, humiliation, and struggle.
Ned Begay is only a 6 year old Navajo boy when he leaves his parents to go to a boarding school, where he learns the ways of the white people. A few years later, America is whisked into World War II and bilingual Navajos are desperately needed. Courageous Ned signs up for the Marines and is engrossed with a confidential job of a code talker. He learns and helps add to a special Navajo code, on which the lives of thousands of Americans depend on during this war. Ned succeeds with this challenge and faces many dangerous battles in the Pacific while radioing back messages in the Navajo code. Ned, along with his fellow Navajo code talkers, uses his native tongue to protect his beloved country.
This amazing novel which brings out Navajo culture and traditions would be enjoyed by middle school kids. I like how this book depicts the Pacific side of World War II. The descriptions of the war scenes are detailed. However, the violence does not go too much in depth, so it is still pleasant to read. Readers will be astounded with what a big role the Navajos played in the war and how their special code worked. There are many examples of words in the Navajo code giving readers an insight into the code and elevating the excitement.
A new gecko species has been found in Papua New Guinea. This black and gold striped gecko is called Nactus kunan, from the word, kunan, which means “bumblebee” in the local Nali language. Scientists think that this lizard’s coloration helps it stay hidden on the rain forest floor.
Photograph courtesy Robert Fisher, USGS