Archive for November, 2008

YA/Teen Lit Staff Development Class Full

November 26th, 2008

The class registration opened up yesterday afternoon at 4pm. It’s 9am the next day and I already have 30 teachers signed up and we’re working on a wait list.

I guess YA/Teen Lit is popular.

Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix

November 24th, 2008

This one’s set in the world of Just Ella, but you don’t need to have read it to understand Palace of Mirrors.

We’re now in the rival kingdom following a peasant girl named Cecilia. Cecilia goes about her normal peasant-type chores during the day, but at night she is trained by one of the King’s Order in the ways of being a princess. Cecilia is in hiding for her protection while a decoy princess sits on the throne.

This fits right in with Haddix’s mystery and hidden agendas. Just like with Found, there’s a surprise at the end that ties everything together. This surprise was told to me ahead of time (thanks, Ms. Standhart…) and I still was able to enjoy the book.

There is a romance, but it’s more of the close-friends type through most of the book. If you’re looking for a light fantasy, with people kissing frogs and all that, this is probably not your choice. Castle life is rough, with lots of betrayal and murders. If you like mysteries and intrigue, you’ll like Palace of Mirrors.

Benefit Car Washes

November 21st, 2008

Check out the local car washes tomorrow to help out Kelly Tracy’s family:

Mesquite HS – Sonic Restaurant, NE corner of Val Vista and Williamsfield, 8-noon

Gilbert HS – 24 Hour Fitness, SE corner of Val Vista and Elliot, 9-noon

Desert Ridge HS – Valero Gas Station, SW corner of Guadalupe and Ellsworth, 9-noon

The Fashion Show is at azcentral

November 17th, 2008

Emily Gersema from the Arizona Republic did a great job covering the fashion show. Check it out here.
Cheryl Evans
photo by Cheryl Evans

Chilton’s Exercise Jingles

November 14th, 2008

In GarageBand, “Share->Export to Disk” and save it in your documents.

Click here for the link to the Virtual Classroom. Log in like you log in at school. If this is your first time using a VC, you’ll need to update some user information.

In the Virtual Classroom, it’s the Exercise Jingles database and you’ll add an entry and choose your .m4a file.

Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld

November 12th, 2008

If you liked reading about Tally and Shay and all the other bubblies in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, you’ll definitely like Bogus to Bubbly.

It’s full of trivia about the books. For instance: look at the cover of Uglies. Notice anyone in the girl’s pupil? That’s the reflection of the photographer from the photo shoot. And the design in Aya’s eye on the Extras cover was inspired by the videogame The Last Starfighter.
Check the last word of each book. Notice a pattern?

The real treat is the insight that Scott Westerfeld adds for aspiring authors. He gives quite a bit of honest information about his writing process and the thoughts behind sections of the book.

Floating Ice Rink
I have no idea where this idea came from, except that it allowed me to write a scene that put together my three favorite things: fireworks, falling, and miscreant behavior.

He highlights where the technology from the books intersects with real-life, like how cuttlefish camouflage can actually match checkerboard patterns and that there are flash tattoos under people’s skin that can detect blood sugar. (I did not know that people actually have surgery to put diamonds on their eyes. Ouch.)

And I appreciate Westerfeld’s great sense of humor. The book reads like you’re checking his blog’s RSS feed.

So littlies aren’t considered ugly in Tally’s world – they’re too cute and innocent and small. Like penguins.

If you’ve just created a cool new building that uses smart matter supports, you don’t want someone coming along and turning that matter into, say, liquid. Because that would be bad.

He also describes the process behind creating effective slang and using it in regular conversation. (I actually used “dizzy-making” in conversation with one of the school secretaries without realizing it.) He has an acronym to help with coming up with slang, but I want you to check out this bubbly book.

’08 Podcasts

November 10th, 2008

Click here for the link to Ms. Redfield’s Virtual Classroom.
Here’s a re-posting of the instructions:

  1. In your GarageBand project, click on Share (in your top menu) and then Export podcast to disk. Remember where you save it, because you’ll need to browse for the file later. It should be saved as a .m4a file.
  2. Go to the podcasting virtual classroom by clicking here. (You may need to open a new window (File->New Window to be able to view the instructions here and work in the classroom.)
  3. Log in with the same user name and password that you use to get onto the computers at school.
  4. Fill in the required profile information. This site is closed to only people in our district, so share what you are comfortable with.
  5. Type in the enrollment key that you got from your teacher and click on the Enroll Me button.
  6. On the virtual classroom’s main page, click on the link for your specific hour.
  7. This represents a student-made database of podcast files.
  8. Click on Add Entry.
  9. Type in your podcast description title and a short description.
  10. At the bottom of the screen is a place to upload the actual podcast file. Browse for the file and then make sure to Save and view.
  11. Now you can view other groups’ podcasts.

Michael Crichton

November 5th, 2008

Michael Crichton, author of Andromeda Strain, Congo, Jurassic Park (and a whole bunch of other techno-thrillers) died yesterday from cancer. If you like any of the TV shows currently on that have the real life science mixed with building action, they’ve more than likely been influenced by one of Crichton’s works.

I should mention that he’s 6’9″.

Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf

November 5th, 2008

From the creators of the Edge Chronicles, Paul Stewart and and Chris Riddell, comes the story of Barnaby Grimes. In book one, Curse of the Night Wolf, we follow a pseudo-Victorian Gothic horror hero through the rooftops of a dark city.

It’s got the same great names/descriptions as the Edge books as well as the detailed illustrations. These add to the feel and accentuate just how ridiculous high society can look and a hint how horrifying werewolves can get. It’s a little bit of an edgier (sorry…had to do it) story than the other series, but I liked it.

My only complaint was that it was too short. I know that there’s book two scheduled for release in February and that in the UK they’re already at book three. Definitely excited for the next books. I started and finished this one on election day.

Starclimber by Ken Oppel

November 3rd, 2008

The sequel to Airborn and Skybreaker comes out in February, but I got an advanced reading copy from the publisher.

Matt Cruse returns, but this time he’s able to captain his own airship. It’s basically a giant, floating crane, but he’s okay with that. His crane services the Celestial Tower, the French’s answer to space travel: just build a big enough tower. There are terrorists who don’t want this or any space expedition to succeed. It’s for this reason that the Canadians are keeping their project secret.

The Canadian Starclimber is essentially a giant elevator to the stars. When I first read this, I laughed. It fit with the whole airships and steampunk feel of the first two books.

But then I saw that it’s in the works.

LiftPort is a real life company looking to send a cable into the sky, keep it attached to a counterweight held in gravitational orbit, and have an elevator travel up the cable. Craziness, but if it succeeds…

After competing to be a part of the Starclimber project, Matt teams up with Kate to explore outer space. Just like the other two books, you’ll see some exotic creatures. We had cloud cats, giant hydrogen jellfish…what next?

I enjoyed the book, but I’m a big fan of flying and exploration. The romance between Kate and Matt develops but of course becomes complicated when Kate becomes engaged to someone else. It makes for some awkward times trapped in a small space elevator.

This one had a little bit more bathroom humor to the book, but it actually contributed to the plot.

Not often do you see the following quote:

A lot was riding on this. And it all came down to two toilets.

Lots of fun. If you’re like my brother-in-law and judge the quality of a book by the amount of monkeys present, you’ll be pleased.