Archive for November, 2013

SYLO by D.J. MacHale

November 25th, 2013

SYLO by D.J. MacHale kept me guessing the whole time as to who the villains were and what motivated them. That’s saying a lot, because I’ve seen many stories about a crazy government taking over. That’s the big trend right now, right? But SYLO covers new ground as we wonder if there’s another, bigger threat that the super controlling government agency is protecting the populous from.

It does have the stereotypical underdog male protagonist, his goofy friend, and the tech-savvy girl/potential girlfriend. So the characterization is a little routine, but it’s the plot that will keep you reading. A small island off of the East Coast of the United States has been quarantined and high school student Tucker Pierce intends to find out why. A mysterious disease is reported, a shipment of superpower-enabling crystals washes up on shore, and high tech aircraft haunt the night skies. It’s got all the makings of a Men in Black story, but, like I said, it’ll keep you guessing.

It’s the first part of the series and I appreciate that MacHale wrote an introduction explaining that this is not Pendragon. In the current market, where there is so much series loyalty and students get upset when an author writes in a different style, it was probably a wise move on MacHale’s part. It’s still science fiction, but it has a little bit more of an edge than the first Pendragon books. It’s worth getting a copy for your library to test the waters of its popularity. It’s a well-known author but not necessarily a well-known series since it’s new, so it may take a bit before you need multiple copies unless you booktalk it.

What Does John Locke Say?

November 22nd, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted to analyze John Locke’s philosophy on the establishment of a government’s rights, but wanted to hear it in the style of Internet Europop sensation Ylvis, look no further:

What Does John Locke Say?

Here are the lyrics:

Dark Age gone
Renaissance done
17th century
has begun
Science can
Find the laws
That all nature must obey
But can we find
the laws of man
and society at large
how should we live
Enlightened now
What does John Locke Say?
To understand political power, we must consider the natural state, of man is a state of perfect freedom
What does John Locke say?
The natural state is also equality, where no man has more power than another, and it’s evident that all humans are equal
What does John Locke say?
But if man be free why give up freedom, cause he is exposed to danger and invasion, so he joins for mutual preservation
What does John Locke say?
Reason is law that teaches mankind, that all are equal and nobody ought to harm another’s life, health, liberty or possessions
What does John Locke say?
English Kings
were out of hand
so much Locke
went to Holland
Europe was
filled with absolute monarchs
A Glorious
enabled Locke to go home
and write about
the rights of man
and how society should ru-u-u-u-n, ru-u-u-u-n, ru-u-u-u-n
and what power is based o-o-o-o-n, o-o-o-o-n, o-o-o-o-n,
What does John Locke Say?
When power is given for protection, and it’s used for other ends, there it presently becomes a tyranny
What does John Locke Say?
If the train of abuse continues, the people should rouse themselves together, and put the rule in better hands
What else does Locke say?
All ideas come from sensation, let us suppose the mind to be, white paper void of all characters
What does John Locke say?
Tabula Rasa! Tabula Rasa!
What does John Locke say?

Smithsonian X 3D Explorer

November 14th, 2013

The Smithsonian is scanning in some of their items from their exhibits and making them 3D models. That’s great because now there will be digital copies that will act as a back-up in case something were to happen to the originals.

But it gets better.

Not only can you browse the 3D models by visiting their website, on some models you can download the 3D model. Let’s say that you have a 3D printer and would like to make a copy of a dinosaur skeleton – now you can! I wonder if anyone will put Lincoln’s face in a video game mod now…

The writer’s workshop with Tom Leveen was awesome.

November 1st, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 8.20.10 PM
It’s one thing to have an author visit your school to promote the sale of their books. I get it. I’ve also seen authors talk about their books but then also give writing advice. That’s been great and I really appreciate it.

But for an author to talk to our students for the sole purpose of helping them write better? What a novel idea. (You see what I did there?)

Tom Leveen knows how to relate to students, addressing them as intelligent writers who want to improve their craft. He hosted a writer’s workshop with our students last Friday after school and walked them through his own writing process, but did not stop there. He dialogued with our students, challenging them to truly analyze what makes for a well-told story, and then taught them how to take that knowledge and put it to paper. His quick wit and approachable demeanor complemented his dissection of the hero’s journey, actionable plots, and how to hook a reader with the First Five – the first five words, the first five sentences, …

He’s a local author and I’m glad that Ms. Trombley lined up the visit. It was definitely a benefit to our students and our faculty. Librarians/English teacher-type people: you need to invite him to your school. It’s well-worth your time. I was impressed with the maturity that Tom drew out of our students and for the increased excitement for writing that happened on a Friday afternoon when most students would want to vacate the school as quickly as possible. They chose to be there and it was a good choice.

I have another article up on the Penumbra blog

November 1st, 2013

Penumbra Magazine asked me to write an article to celebrate their magazine on their anniversary, so of course I did. They’ve been so good to my stories and I. Here’s a link to the article.