Archives for October, 2012
BOOK NAME: Saga
AUTHOR: Connor Kostick
After the downfall of the world of Epic, a space probe of Saga has arrived at New Earth. It has deleted all the data of Epic and sent a virus into New Earth’s systems, causing anyone who connects to Saga to be infected with the virus and is forced to continue playing without dying. This probe has also invited the inhabitants of New Earth to enter into Saga thinking it’s a game just like Epic. There’s one problem though: Cindella Dragonslayer is immune and willing to fight.
In Saga, Ghost and her gang of Anarcho punks are running around vandalizing malls. But when they get caught and sent to jail, who do they find but Cindella Dragonslayer. Things get ugly when Cindella actually kills an innocent security guard, and talk about the Dark queen of Saga is becoming more frequent. The gang is quickly put up to the top of the most wanted list and must lie low, but not without formulating a plan. Ghost may not know who she is, but she sure can do some crazy things.
Can the people of New Earth join with Ghost and her gang to overthrow the Dark Queen, therefore demolishing the implanted virus? Will Ghost finally figure out her past? Find out this and more in Saga by Connor Kostick.
I thought that this book was marginal, and failed in comparison with the first book in the series, Epic. I found it really weird when the book took the story from the Queen’s point of view because of the way she talks. She keeps saying “we” instead of “I” as if there were more than one person in her. Also, I feel like the book strayed from its roots. I barely got to see it from Erik’s (or Cindella’s) point of view, which was upsetting to me. So much seemed to have happened between the demolition of Epic and when the story takes place and to just get snippets of it was really frustrating. Not only that, but I kept getting really tired of Ghost’s reappearing questions. Almost every chapter, she would wonder who she was. It felt really repetitive to me. It also started to get a lot darker than Epic. It’s no longer a game, and there is evil world domination going around. Usually, that makes for a great story, but it’s just how the Queen plans to wipe out world after world with Nuclear Bombs. I would definitely recommend that anyone thinking of reading this book consider stopping at the first one.
When you stay home sick, you think you are in the worst situation possible. But after you read this book, you will be thankful it is just a cold! This story is all about the slow process of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and how our entire country was affected. It was 1793, and Philadelphia was the largest city in America at that time. it was also the seat of our nation’s government. The political leaders were so spooked by the fever that they fled the town, leaving their positions unoccupied. Even our president, George Washington, left Philadelphia. At that time, Congress was housed in Philadelphia and because of the epidemic, they could not meet. This incident led to the creation of the rule that the president can convene Congress outside of the capital if the situation threatens the country’s well-being. It was amazing at how this fever made the whole country come to a standstill.
The argument between well-known doctors on treatment and causes were almost as persistent as the illness itself. The cause of the illness wasn’t found until later studies, but at the time many people thought it was because of the filth around the city of Philadelphia. There were no sewers or running water, but instead there were open ditches and wells. As the city was struck by the epidemic, they decided to do a city-wide cleanup so the disease would not continue to spread. Many of our modern city regulations on public health were a result of the changes made in Philadelphia due to yellow fever.
I recommend this book for kids in middle school who are interested in non-fiction or are looking for something new to try. I enjoyed this book because we hear about many illnesses that existed in other countries like the infamous black plague, but we normally don’t study the epidemics of our own country.
Something very special happened on Monday, it was my birthday! It was an amazing week of fun and celebration in Montenegro. We stayed in Perast, an old stone fishing village. After my chocolate covered birthday croissant we visited the little island in the bay. It is a manmade island built on top of hundreds of ocean ships and rocks. We toured the beautiful church and museum in honor of the Blessed Mary. Later in the day we went on a magical sunset boat ride through the bay and into Porto Montenegro. The water was so still it’s almost like a lake, but it is FREEZING!
On Monday we climbed up the old walls to the top of Kotor, a nearby town and looked down upon the stunning city. We visited Sveti Stefan which is the quintessential picture of Montenegro. It was once a little fishing village but is now a five star resort where we had a wonderful lunch on the cliffs gazing at the sparkling ocean. Later we had an awesome swim in the Adriatic.
A few days later we saw six incredible bottle nose dolphins trained by the US Navy to search for sea mines and other explosives left over from the wars of Montenegro’s past. We were there for the last day of their mission and saw the dolphins put on a show. They did all kinds of tricks like playing catch, jumping through hoops, and sliding onto the boat.
In the next village we saw mosaics that dated back to 230 B.C. They were very detailed, one even had Hypnos the Greek God of dreams who watched over them while they slept and controlled their dreams.
During the week I became friends with a caramel colored stray kitten that I named Snuggles. On our last day there was another huge storm. The rain was pouring and when we were walking back home after dinner there was a gust of wind that I thought was going to blow us away. I felt like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz during the tornado. “Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Montenegro and my birthday were amazing!
BOOK NAME: Rucker Park Setup
AUTHOR: Paul Volponi
This book isn’t anything like a fairy tale. It isn’t a thing like any of the other basketball books and movies I’ve seen before. Through a murder mystery, it teaches a lesson through the harsh experience of a teenage boy named Mackey.
Mackey was a boy who never got to meet his father; he died before he was born. His mother didn’t have many words of advice to give Mackey about anything, and his step-dad wasn’t much help either. His only friend was J.R., and the only person who helped guide him through life was J.R.’s dad, Stove.
Mackey and J.R. were offered a chance to play on the Greenbacks basketball team. This was not only Mackey’s dream, but J.R.’s especially. They played extremely well throughout the season, and right before they play Fat Anthony’s team in the tournament, J.R is killed. The book then focuses on who did it, how and why.
The entire book is based on foreshadowing, and some of the best I’ve ever seen too. You know that J.R. is going to be killed when reading the prologue, and that it is somehow Mackey’s fault. Once you figure out who did it and how, you will have an “Ohh… That makes sense!” moment.
All of the parts fit together really well. My favorites are when you here from the view of a different character of the book for about a page at a time, and then it goes back to Mackey’s view. It can really reveal a lot of the hidden parts of the book. I highly suggest that you read this. It teaches a great lesson, and you’ll want to read it again to look at all of the hints that it gave you about who did it.
BOOK NAME: The Secret School
Ida Bidson is devastated when she hears that her teacher, Miss Fletcher, must travel to take care of her sick mother, and therefore her one-room school is closing. Since it is almost the end of the school year, Mr. Jordan, the mean head of the school board, decides to save money and refuses to hire another teacher to substitute. This ends all of Ida’s dreams of taking her exit exams, and maybe going to high school! But wait… could there be a solution?
Tom Kohl, Ida’s best friend who is in eighth grade with her, tells her that he thinks she should be the teacher. At first, Ida is quick to decline the idea. But as she thinks more about it, she starts to convince herself that maybe, just maybe, she could be the teacher! After all, that is what she wants to do in life! So after voting with the class, Ida Bidson, who is only 14 years old, becomes the teacher. Yet the kids know that if they tell the school board, Ida will not be allowed to be the teacher, so they make it a secret school. At first, Ida has some troubles. It’s not easy to teach seven children in one room, especially if the kids are from first to eighth grade! Yet soon enough, Ida begins to get
used to playing the role of “Miss Bidson”, and is a great teacher.
One day, the school board finds out about the secret school. Will they close the school down? Or will Ida speak up and find a way to allow the school to continue?
I really enjoyed this book. Although it is an easy reader, I would recommend it to anyone. The book is great for ages eight and up. The characters are well developed, and sometimes the suspense of the story is unbearable!
Did you know that male mice sing? According to scientists, male mice sing for many reasons, including for courtship and to show aggression. A new study reports that males change the notes in their songs to more closely match the songs of other males. Scientists record the songs and slow down the recordings to listen to them, because they are too high-pitched for humans to hear.
Photograph from Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH/Alamy
BOOK NAME: Project Jackalope
AUTHOR: Emily Ecton
One of the most famous mythical animals is the jackalope. According to legend, jackalopes are rabbits
that sprout massive antlers. They are known to like whiskey, sing campfire songs, and wreak havoc with
their deadly deer-like appendages.
Jeremy doesn’t think anything of jackalopes, mostly just trying to earn a C- on his 8 th grade science
fair project. That’s when a live jackalope turns up in his room, courtesy of his crazy scientist neighbor,
Professor Twitchett. Not only is a make-believe creature chewing on his dirty laundry, it seems that a
bunch of shady men in suits are after Twitchett and his experiment, the experiment that Jeremy now
has. Jeremy doesn’t want the jackalope, and would gladly get rid of it, but there is something about
these men that is just too sinister.
Jeremy needs help, so he asks his know-it-all classmate Agatha for assistance. Now Jeremy, his partner
in crime, and their fuzzy little killer, are on the run. They need to find Twitchett, rid themselves of the
jackalope, and get out of this mess.
This book was pretty good. It was very funny. Jeremy incorporated his sarcastic personality into the
storyline with humorous comments and side notes. It really added to the reading experience. I found
it unique that this story made the concept of creating a jackalope somewhat believable. Through some
DNA transplants, Twitchett created an animal hybrid with the body of a rabbit and the antlers of a deer.
It was quite an interesting experiment, and was written about in such a way that it sounded nearly
doable. I enjoyed the surprising way the story concluded, although I won’t spoil any of it. This book is
short and is not overly difficult to read, so it would be good for anyone in elementary or middle school.
Want another opinion? Read Parker’s review!
Our next stop Dubrovnik, Croatia started with a surprise. Aunt Julie came to visit! Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The weather was super warm for October so we swam in the Adriatic Sea every single day. My favorite swim was deep into a spooky sea cave full of birds and other creepy critters.
You probably know that the election for the President of the United States is coming up on November 6. But who can run for President, and how does the president get elected? Kids.gov had a contest in 2010 where people had the chance to design a poster that explains the whole process–from how old you have to be to get in the running, to how the election’s final decisions are made. The winning poster is now available on the Kids.gov website.
Illustration courtesy of Kids.gov
BOOK NAME: Moon Over Manifest
AUTHOR: Clare Vanderpool
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is one girl’s journey to learn more about her father’s
In the summer of 1936, twelve year old Abilene is sent by Gideon, her father, to Manifest,
Kansas, his hometown. Here, in a room, Abilene discovers a cigar box filled with letters, a fishing lure,
doll, cork, and skeleton key. Her mind is stuck as to whether these mementos belong to her father.
While on her quest to learn more about her father’s childhood days, she enters Miss Sadie’s divining
parlor, the Path to Perdition. Miss Sadie tells her the adventurous, yet tragic story of two boys, Ned and
Jinx, from 1918 Manifest. Still, there is no mention of Gideon. Abilene tries to make connections
between the stories and the mementos. Where is Gideon’s place in this story? Read the book to find out.
This 2011 Newbery Medal Winner is an all-star read for middle school kids. Readers will get
involved with Abilene’s adventure, and they, too, will wonder who Gideon was when he was a boy. Also,
at the end so many mysteries come together that the reader will be amazed with the contemplative
mind of the author. The author sets up the plot wonderfully by incorporating newspaper articles and
written letters. Page after page, stories, connections, and wonders build on, making the reader want to
keep reading this book.
BOOK NAME: Weird But True! Stupid Criminals
AUTHOR: National Geographic
Stupid Criminals was one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t
stop laughing out loud as I read, and my family and friends kept asking me what
was so funny. In fact, I don’t even have the book right now because one of my
friends has it. After he’s done with it, another friend wants to read it too!
Stupid Criminals is about people trying to commit crimes but making dumb
mistakes at the same time–stupid criminals, get it? Just like it’s hard to do the
right thing sometimes, I guess it’s hard to do the wrong thing correctly! My
favorite story was probably about a bank robber who called the bank and
said, “Hello, we are robbing your bank at 1pm, bye!” Another favorite of mine
was about a robber who was burglarizing a house. He got hungry and had a
snack. He was caught because he left greasy fingerprints on the refrigerator door!
Well, you get the idea. It is hilarious! I guarantee that if you have a sense of
humor, you will love this book. I hope you read and enjoy it!
A planet that is about twice the size of Earth has been found orbiting a nearby star in the constellation Cancer. This planet is much too hot for humans to ever live on. But the heat is very good for something else–creating diamonds! The planet is very rich in carbon, which is what diamonds are made of. The illustration above shows the planet with a layer of diamonds under its graphite surface.
Illustration courtesy Haven Giguere, Yale
BOOK NAME: Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate
AUTHOR: Lesley M. M. Blume
ILLUSTRATOR: David Foote
You may have heard about magical creatures in far, exotic and distant lands. Or maybe you believe they live even closer to home, scattered throughout the countryside. But did you know that magical creatures are even closer than that? According to Miss Edythe McFate, they don’t just live in nature but in our homes, businesses, and cities. Miss McFate has followed mythical creatures for almost all her life and has extensive knowledge of these ancient beings. She was kind enough to write a guide for us with her new perspective.
This book provides an account of eight children and their completely true and terrifying encounters with fairies. Miss Edythe explains how to avoid these problems and how to recognize a fairy and whether they are good or bad. Miss Edythe has her reason for writing this guide in the first place. You see, she was one of the eight stories she tells in the book and since no one believed her, she had a need to show the rest of the world that fairies do exist. And she provides plenty of evidence to support it.
This is a really wonderful book filled with imagination. The reason I loved it so much is that it shows modern fairies in everyday life. The Spiderwick Chronicles were also about modern fairies, but they were located in the countryside far away from urban life. This book changes all that by documenting truly urban living fairies. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fantasy books and stories about fairies. It will provide you with a fresh perspective on fairies and everyday life. Perhaps you have one living near you!
Hi readers. Wow, what a week… it started in Serbia. Do you even know where Serbia is? Serbia is a little Balkan country bordering believe it or not, eight other small countries. We visited Belgrade the capital city. Our first afternoon we explored the old ramparts, and oddly enough there was a photographic exhibit on the USA. There was a beautiful picture from every state. Later that night went to the bohemian quarter, perfect for us, and we listened to traditional music.
Our next day we wandered and ate dinner at the coolest opera restaurant, we pulled a rope for our waiter to come and sat in a vintage opera box. At the end of the night a pianist and a violinist came and played, the violinist was hilarious.
The panda cub that was born in September at the National Zoo lived for just six days before mysteriously dying. Today, the National Zoo released a statement saying that the female cub died of liver and lung damage. The cub’s lungs were not fully developed, so the cub was not getting enough oxygen. The cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, has returned to most of her ordinary behaviors.
BOOK NAME: Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist
AUTHORS: Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears, and Roxyanne Young
A cryptid is a creature that can’t be proven to be 100 percent real. The most famous
cryptids are perhaps bigfoot and aliens, but there are many more out there. Are you familiar
with the Kraken from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series? It turns out that it is a real
creature, except not the way you think it is. It is actually a giant squid that sailors would call
the Kraken. It wasn’t proven to exist until 2004.
Reading this book, I learned that things really can be misinterpreted. One of the cryptids
that has been spotted near Loveland, Colorado, is the Loveland Frog, which is apparently
a giant walking frog that carries a wand that sparkles. This may sound stupid at first, but
most of the sightings occurred at night, so the witnesses may have seen silhouettes from
two different figures overlapping each other. The sparkles that people say they saw from the
wand may come from the stars in the background. Because of the many possibilities that
the witness could have seen, that makes it hard to prove whether a cryptid is real or not.
There was cryptid called the Dover Demon, which looks like a classic alien from the movies
with large eyes and an oversized head. The thing is, it has only been spotted twice, both
on the same weekend. One of the witnesses took a brilliant photo of it. But if that only
happened one night, there are two ways to interpret it. First, an alien might have visited but
only for that weekend. Second, someone went a little bit crazy that weekend.
Overall, my favorite cryptid described in the book is the giant squid because they
eventually determined it was real and it’s large enough to kill a whale. I found this entire
book very interesting and highly recommend that you read it.
BOOK NAME: Calli Be Gold
AUTHOR: Michele Weber Hurwitz
Calli Gold is the youngest in a family of overachievers. Her sister is an ice skater and her brother
is a basketball champion. The family calendar has different colored Post-it notes on it; one color
for every member of the family. The one who has the least Post-it notes is Calli. She doesn’t
have ice skating practices or basketball games. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t have a specific
talent. Calli’s parents keep tossing her into different activities, hoping that one day she will
find her life’s dream. But Calli thinks she’s fine just the way she is! Yet that’s not enough in her
family. “Be Gold” is the family motto, and if you’re not an expert at something, it’s almost like
you’re not part of the family.
When Calli’s teacher informs the class that they will begin a “Peer Helper Program” with the
second grade, Calli is paired with a boy named Noah Zullo. At first, Noah seems impossible to
be with. But something about him makes Calli not give up, and try her best to be patient with
him. Sure, he may be strange, but that doesn’t stop Calli from working with him.
Can Calli work with Noah, and find her talent at the same time?
I really enjoyed this book. Although many books have the same basic story line, the author uses
many details that make it different and exciting. I definitely recommend this book to anyone
ages 8 and up.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno and his team have discovered a new dinosaur species! Pegomastax africanus was only about 2 feet long, and had fangs and was covered with quills like a porcupine’s. Even though it had fangs, this tiny dino ate plants. Because of its small size, Sereno says that “it would be a nice pet–if you could train it not to nip you.”
Would you like to have a dinosaur as a pet?
Hey readers. We were just in Budapest and had an awesome time. We were all super excited to explore the city so we went on a walking tour along the Danube River. Our guide was great and we learned a lot. Did you know that Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe? It was founded in 896. We also went to the healing Turkish baths and soaked in the water for hours. We were sooooooo pruny when we finally got out. The baths were in an old mansion and have been there for over four hundred years.