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Erin Henderson, a linebacker on the Minnesota Vikings football team, has always loved big cats. While watching shows on the Nat Geo WILD channel during Big Cat Week, he was inspired to become what we like to call a “LIONbacker,” and help raise awareness of these endangered animals. He wants to make sure they will still be around when his two-year-old son grows up. He contacted National Geographic and offered to raise both awareness and money through his “Sacks for Cats” campaign–he pledged to make a donation for every sack he made during the 2012-2013 NFL season.
Henderson recently visited National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. with his family to present a $5,000 check to the Big Cats Initiative.
BOOK NAME: The Schwa Was Here
AUTHOR: Neal Shusterman
Calvin Schwa, also known as “the Schwa,” is not invisible. He is just easy to overlook. He is a nobody, so much so that he might as well be part of the scenery. Even his own father cannot be particularly sure of his whereabouts. Some call this “The Schwa Effect”, a condition that renders one virtually invisible to all but the extremely observant. It is said that this effect is terminal, eventually causing the person to simply fade away.
Anthony “Antsy” Bonano barely even noticed The Schwa when they first met. Calvin seemed to blend in perfectly with his surroundings, virtually unnoticeable. Moreover, the Schwa had sat next to Antsy in class for a long time without Antsy ever noticing until that fateful day. Antsy decided to befriend his “invisible-ish” classmate and assist him with his unusual predicament. After doing extensive experimentation on the effectiveness of the Schwa Effect, Antsy had the “brilliant” idea to use the Schwa’s stealth as a profit generating opportunity. The two-some completed spying tasks as well as dares for the entertainment of the other students, as well as for cash.
All is not well, however. Antsy and the Schwa may have just accepted one triple-DOG-dare too many. Furthermore, the Schwa is having trouble coming to grips with his Schwa Effect. He feels as if he is fading away, and that one day, possibly in the very near future, he will cease to exist. There will be emotional pain, there will be cold hard truth, and there will be plenty of ferocious dogs…
This book was excellent. My favorite part was the author’s style of writing. The book was full of humorous lines and phrases. Sarcasm, jokes, puns, and idioms were all present in this book. Such sayings as, “He didn’t have a cow, he had a whole herd,” and “It smelled like something had died in there because it had smelled something else that had died in there,” were commonplace. I could not stop chuckling to myself, and some were good enough to read aloud to family members for more laughs. Even the titles of the chapters were funny. Behind all of the humor, the plot was excellent as well. There were many unexpected twists and turns, as well as several shocking events. I will not spoil these, so read the book. I have also read another book in the series, called “Antsy Does Time”, which was similar to this book in many ways. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story with plenty of laughs thrown in.
Want another opinion? Read Mairen’s review!
Many years ago David Livingstone was the first white person to experience the mighty smoke that thunders or as David Livingstone called it Victoria Falls. This week we had the good fortune to experience Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world! We stood on the edge of a cliff and stared in awe at its power. The water was piling over the edge, the smoke was rising, the water was thundering, the white river was swirling and my clothes were soaking.
Later in the afternoon we took our adrenaline buzz up a notch with a zip-line across the mighty Zambezi River from the shores of Zambia all the way to the shores of Zimbabwe. The wind was blowing in my hair, my heart was beating fast, the falls were thundering in my ear, and we were zipping across the awe-inspiring gorge at 70 miles per hour! My mom was squeezing my hand, hoping the wire was secure, as we looked down over 200 feet and saw nothing but water, water filled with crocodiles.
As if we hadn’t had enough adrenaline already, the next day we jumped into a cage and were lowered down into crocodile infested waters. Their Jaws were chomping, their eyes were staring, and my heart was pounding.
With loads of adrenaline still racing through us we decided to take it down a notch. The next day took an art class with a local Zimbabwean artist. We were jammin’ to Marley, making jewelry “with good energy man”, and letting out our inner Rasta. Another amazing night we went to Mama Africa and saw a traditional show. Their drums were beating, their feet were moving to the rhythm, and their voices were singing to the music.
To end the week we took our energy from laid back to elegant and rolled in to the grand Victoria Falls Hotel. It is a beautiful colonial property, steeped in history. Old black and white photos adorn the walls, tea and crumpets are delivered each afternoon, the gardens are gorgeous and the veranda has epic views of The Falls. The night we arrived there was a full moon which made the experience even better. It was full of pure elegance.
After zipping, swimming, soaking, jammin’, and eating crumpets we all agreed that Victoria Falls was super awesome.
Zoe Willcutts, age 10, is a National Geographic Kids reporter and covered the events at this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Here is her report.
I went to the White House Easter Egg Roll as a kid reporter to take photos and a poll. I asked 53 people the same question: if they were president, what color would they dye the White House for Easter? I got a full rainbow of choices. Race car driver Danica Patrick said teal. Chef Spike Mendelsohn chose lime green. Al Roker, from the Today show, said he would choose lavender. Teen singer Coco Jones agreed and picked lavender too. Singer Austin Mahone said he would go with red because it was his favorite color. The band members of The Wanted were all over the map–Max chose black, Tom chose pink, and Siva said, “definitely light blue.” And best of all was the Kid President’s answer: Red, white and blue!
I also got to ask a few people what they thought ordinary kids could do to make a difference in the world. Today host Al Roker said kids can help their parents. Danica Patrick, the NASCAR driver, encouraged kids to give compliments, because “it feels great to give them and to get them.” And the Kid President Robbie Novak said “I’ve got this covered; I’m all about how we can make a difference! Don’t throw trash on the ground.”
Overall, it was a great day and I really enjoyed meeting people and seeing everyone outside being healthy and active on the White House lawn.
Saturday, March 23, 2013 marked the seventh year that people around the world participated in Earth Hour. From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., businesses, individuals and governments around the globe turned off the lights, computers, and TVs.
Hundreds of millions of people in 7,001 cities in 153 countries across the continents participated this year! With people on all 7 continents pledging to do their part and create a sustainable future, we can reduce the energy footprint on Earth.
Did you and your family participate in this year’s Earth Hour?
Simon’s cat is a rather complicated book. It’s about… a man named Simon and his cat. Hey! I guess it’s not so complicated after all!
The book tells the story of Simon, a young man with a big cat, who finds a kitten in a box in his backyard. Feeling pity for the kitten, Simon brings it into his home. But without his knowledge, the kitten gets into quite some trouble. It begins to fight with Simon’s other cat, and destroys everything in the home! Yet Simon always comes at the wrong times- when it looks like his cat is the culprit. This sparks a lot of arguments and competitions between Simon’s cat and the kitten.
The kitten is constantly playing tricks on Simon’s cat and getting itself into dangerous situations, such as playing with the hedgehogs or releasing the rabbits. It also ruins the cat’s litter box, and rips Simon’s pants and shoes! The fights are endless! It seems like the cat and the kitten will never be friends! But towards the end of the book, the cat and the kitten learn to get along. They begin to get used to each other, and they even become friends.
I enjoyed this book. It really gives you an image of what the story is trying to tell! I would recommend it to anyone, even young children. Through silly pranks and stupendous surprises, the story of Simon’s cat and the kitten is truly a great one. And the greatest surprise yet? The entire book is in pictures!
Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, recently traveled to South Padre Island in Texas. During his stay, he visited Sea Turtle Inc, an organization that helps injured sea turtles recover before releasing them back into the wild.
Andrew met a turtle named Allison at the facility. Allison is a green sea turtle that has lost three out of her four flippers, probably to a shark. Allison has been given a prosthetic fin to help her swim.
Today is Holi, the Hindu ”Festival of Colors.” To celebrate the arrival of spring, people light bonfires and throw colorful powder and water at each other. During the festival, it’s not uncommon to see people with all kinds of colors covering their face, hair, and clothing! Most people who observe Holi live in India and Nepal, but Hindus all over the world join in the celebration.
Helping the planet is a big part of what our world trip is all about and that’s exactly what we did this past week.
We helped get a hydroponics farm started. This farm will be a model for the local villagers so they can start their very own self sustaining farm. Hydroponics is a type of farming that uses a third of the water needed in an average farm and it is covered by a tarp so the elephants and rhinos don’t smoosh it.
The farm is set right next to a beautiful flood plain (the sunsets are epic) and the property is home to trees that have lived for thousands of years. Speaking of trees, one of my projects while we were there was planting trees that will one day be just as amazing as the others. There was one great granddaddy called a baobab on the property. It was so big; when I saw it my mouth dropped open.
All of the villages throughout Botswana have their own chief who controls a certain amount of land. We had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with the chief of Katchikow, we called it “Catch a Cow.” In the meeting we discussed starting a hydroponics farm in his area. He seemed to be all for it and said that it was god’s plan that the project we were helping with had come to his area.
Another problem the village people face is the destruction caused by wild animals such as the elephant. Elephants will walk through and destroy their crops, trees and huts in just one night. The cheap and easy solution is to soak rope in chili water and put it up around their fence and it will keep the elephants and other wild critters away.
It is crazy to think that the garden is their life, where as for us it is really something we do for fun. We take for granted that we have other options if our fruits and vegetables don’t grow. It will definitely be something that I will think about a lot more when we go home.
The difference we made by just sharing some new simple farming methods is astonishing. Our hope is by teaching these new methods they will double their crops and their income.
It was a fantastic week and it always feels good when you know you are making a difference in the world. I hope to continue to “make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race…”
Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a heart-breaking memoir about his tragic times in the Nazi concentration camps.
Elie Wiesel is a 13 year old Jewish boy growing up in the village of Sighet located in Hungary. It is 1943 in the midst of the Holocaust, yet the Jewish families in Sighet believe that there is nothing to fear about Hitler and that the situation is not as bad as it sounds. But, one ordinary day in 1944, the Germans appear in Sighet and Elie knows that his life will change forever. Once at the concentration camp of Birkenau, Elie is separated from his mother and sisters, and his only family member with him is his father. Together, the two endure laborious work and starvation thrown upon them by the brutal Gestapo. Their only wish is that they do not get separated and to avoid selection. Through many tiring marches to different concentration camps, will Elie and his father manage to stay together?
The tragedy and history in Night is suitable for middle school and high school kids. Elie Wiesel brings out the inhumanity he faced in the camps, making this book a good primary source on the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel even uses lots of similes, metaphors, and foreshadowing to portray the situation. When he says, “We can’t let them kill us like that, like cattle in the slaughterhouse,” (31), I was shocked at how the mass murders occurred in the crematorium and learned that the prisoners were surrounded by death everywhere. This book truly passes the word that history must not repeat itself–genocides like the Holocaust should never happen again.