Archive for January, 2008


January 25th, 2008

As No Child Left Behind is being revisited, please check out the SKILLs Act that requires a certified media specialist (instead of a crossing guard lady) in every school library. Only 60% of schools have a teacher-librarian. [begin sarcasm]Surprisingly [end sarcasm], those schools do lessons and other activities to enrich the learning experiences in the different subject areas.

Take action now by clicking here.

Author Signing – P. J. Haarsma

January 23rd, 2008

I got to hang out with P. J. Haarsma tonight at Barnes and Noble. His Virus on Orbis 1 is a fun read about kids running an entire spaceship until they are sold into slavery. Fans of Pendragon/Ender’s Game/Star Wars need to check it out. He’s really good friends with Frank Beddor (who was awesome when he visited our school) (and whose MMORPG just went into beta) and has a similar demeanor and personality.  
No, he is not my older brother. He decided to stand on a chair. I don’t know why.

D-Day Blogs

January 17th, 2008

This is for Pendola’s and Fraher’s 8th grade classes.Today you’ll be starting your D-Day blogs, taking on the role of a person involved in one of the biggest battles of World War II. You’ll be posting your writings in the Virtual Classroom for each teacher.Once you are enrolled, you can just go to and log in with your school computer ID. If you have not used a Virtual Classroom before, you will need to set up your profile first. 

  • The link to Mr. Fraher’s Virtual Classroom set up is here.
  • The link to Mr. Pendola’s Virtual Classroom set up is here. 

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

January 16th, 2008

“It’s nothing to worry about.”
It has been a while since I have read a book that has creeped me out SO much. Actual, physical chills. Unwind. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s the near future (although they sell iPods at the antique store) and parents are now given the option to “unwind” their kids from ages 13-18. (“Unwinding” is donating body parts to people who would better use them.)

Bright Outlook

  1. Shusterman provides yet another great sci-fi/thriller/horror story. I personally think this is his best because of the challenging perspective on modern politics. Do we truly value life in the United States? How can we best demonstrate the issues with teen pregnancy so people will listen?
  2. Amidst all of the ethics, the action jumps out at you like a movie. Characters in the beginning are walking along and then BOOM you have cars crashing and people being kidnapped on the highway.
  3. There are some dry comments that will slide past you if you don’t know what to look for. (But they are well worth it.) Here is one of my favorites (the Heartland War was a giant civil war in modern history):
  4. “How much do you know about the Heartland War?”Connor shrugs. “It was the last chapter in our history textbook, but we had state testing, so we never got to it.”

Bleak Future

  1. Because it deals with life ethics in a pretty in-your-face way, it’s not for younger libraries. But there is little language issue (cleaner than TV) and no hot/steamy scenes.
  2. It switches narrators quite a bit, so on chapters like “63. Guard” you have to realize that it’s from the guard’s perspective. This might trick some struggling readers.

I booktalked this book today. We already have 15 holds for this book and I think it’s gonna get bigger. This is a perfect introduction to books like Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Slaughterhouse-Five, and 1984.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.”

Valentine’s Card Contest

January 16th, 2008

We have been asked to create Valentine’s Day rose cards. Here is what we need:

  1. Fit at least 6 tags per 8×10 paper
  2. Be either “mushy” or “goofy”
  3. Your own artwork/design
  4. A ‘To:’ and a ‘From:’
  5. Professionalism (It is the Future Professionals.)

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

January 14th, 2008

This is the next big book, a la Lightning Thief and Ranger’s Apprentice. Vladimir is an 8th grade vampire searching for more information about his vampire dad and human mom.Very much alive

  1.  This book has a crazy mix of humor and suspense. One minute an ancient evil is stalking a jogger, the next Vladimir is delivering one-liners. His guardian greets him one morning with, “Morning, sunshine.” and he replies, “Morning, sulfuric acid.” (Because of the whole ‘dissolve in light’ thing vampires do.) 
  2. Vlad still deals with 8th grade struggles of fitting in, but now has more complications added – “…which just goes to prove that parents and guardians don’t care if they’re sending you to face bloodthirsty monsters, so long as you get a B in English” (Brewer 134).
  3. Vlad’s substitute teacher is a vampire hunter and presents some funny situations, including the fact that the sub shows up dressed in a top hat and spectacles and no one makes a comment.
  4. Vlad refuses to hunt humans. The author then has to get creative.

 The Undead 

  1.  Squeamish readers may be turned off by the blood-filled Twinkies.
  2. Some of the “Well, vampires are cool and have invented stuff!” may put the book too far towards a comic mood – like vampires inventing PlayStation.
  3. If you are tired of “Son, you are the chosen one and who you think is your ally is really your enemy and enemy a friend” plotlines, you may need to give this one some time.

Not only are vampire books becoming more popular, this book would stand on its own, even if it wasn’t trendy to fear sunlight. 

Our Top Ten Books

January 14th, 2008

I love the new Destiny update for book checkout. Now we can see our top books being checked out (as well as the catalog being able to add starred book reviews – woo!).Here are our top ten books being checked out:

  1.  I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Ally Carter on Feb. 15 – double woo!)
  2. Best Friends for Never
  3. Down the Rabbit Hole
  4. Revenge of the Wannabes
  5. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
  6. Ark Angel
  7. Lord of the Shadows
  8. Lightning Thief
  9. Slippery Slope
  10. The End

Mario-type Platform Continued

January 8th, 2008

Continuing on with what we talked about the past couple of meetings with Flash, here is a platform game where the person turns around and a villain that is beatable.Provided by Magnetos from Platform – saltas

  1.  Figure out your own artwork and boundary box (how big is too big of a character?)
  2. Find where the enemy vs. hero collision is.
  3. Notice that hero_walk is different from sidewalk. Figure out which one you need to edit.

Holds Fulfilled

January 7th, 2008

Big news! I’d tell you I love you but then I’d have to kill you is finally back on the shelves. I booktalked this in August and today I checked in the first copy (of 15) that wasn’t on hold. And just in time. Ally Carter is visiting my library in February! (Woot) 

Fire from the Rock

January 7th, 2008

Sharon Draper is a great author and Fire from the Rock is no exception. Sylvia is torn between changing the world and living a normal teenage life in 1957 Arkansas.

On Fire

  1. Perfect historical fiction where a character interacts with real-life events and people. When Faubus does his TV broadcast, you can hear the hatred.
  2. Sylvia remains a teenager. She struggles with wanting/needing to be a hero, but never is she completely unrealistic. When considering integration she also considers what her sorta boyfriend wants and if a rival girl will horn in.
  3. Not everyone is one side of the integration spectrum or the other.

Ice Cold

  1. The only frustrations I truly had were directed towards characters and I think I was supposed to be frustrated with those characters. I wonder what it would be like to have Ms. Draper as my high school English teacher.

All in all a great book that students will love and Social Studies teachers will thank you for.