Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is is a Blog or a Wikki

This is a bit confusing to me but this is how I look at the two:

Blog is a post most often written by one person, that is updated regularly. Often blogs are tied to a specific topic but not always. Basically a blog is a diary kept on line and instead of being ones private thoughts and wonderings it is the putting of these thought out for anyone with internet access to read.

WIKKI's are collective works that allow editing by many of already published material.

Adventure in Learning: Web 2.0

Adventure in Learning: Web 2.0: "This blog is set up for my class entitled; Web 2.0. I am taking this class because I am very technology challenged. I want very much to be a..."

Thursday, August 6, 2009


"Saying you'll do something means you have to do it unless you have a very good reason.

"Dont let a little dispute injure a great friendship."
Rules by Catherine

Bibliographic Information

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Publisher: Scholastic Press, p. 2008 c2006

ISBN: 9780439443838

Dewey: Fic Interest Level: 3rd-6th Reading :Level: 3.9

Subjects: Autiism, brothers and sisters, people with disabilities

Plot Summary

Twelve year old Catherine attempts to make her life normal. This is a difficult task as her brother suffers from autism. All family attention revolves around his disability. Her life becomes more complicated when she becomes friends with Jason a young man who is a paraplegic. Add to this mix she meets and becomes friends with a new neighbor.

Catherine comes up with the idea of writing rules for her brother David. The rules are ones that will keep David from doing things that will embarass her in public.

Catherine's problems escalate during the summer when this story takes place. The problems come from Catherine's behavior, not from that of her friends. As the story reaches it climax Catherine comes to realize the responsibility she has for her problems. What she learns from her friendst help her to develop into a young lady.

Critical Analysis

The themes that are dealt with in this realistic fiction include friendship, honesty, acceptance, and diversity. Each chapter title is a rule from Catherine.Each rule is a clue to what the chapter will be about. As an example: :Don't run down the clinic hallway, is the title of the chapter that deals with David's visits to the clinic

The characters are very believable. They seem like young people who live in your neighborhood. The narrative and the dialogue are what you would expect from young people.The summer in which the story takes place is one of emotional growth for Catherine. She vascialtes between resenting her brother and loving him at the same time.These are normal feelings for siblings of children with disabilities.

The ending is predicatble for the reader.There are no real twists or surprses for anyone who has grown up with lifetime movies, The setting is recognizable as current and so the reader will easily identify with the main characters. Despite this the themes are universal and are relative to any period in history and geographical place.

Catherine has a strong voice that is apparent in the narrative and in the rules she composes for David. The reader gets a look into her being.and despite her flaws will find her to be a very likable human being.

The author Cybthia Lord has a very interesting website that includes information about her books and has teacher suggestions. She will also reply to your letters if you include a self-addressed stamp envelope. This is typical of authors who write for young people to have a website. apparently she used to do book talks which she no longer does. That is sad as I am sure this would have been one way to hook students and get them interested in reading other books.


Booklist: "... a heartwarming first novel."

New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading: "Catherineis an appealing andbelievable character, accutley self-conscious, torn between her love forher brotherand her resnetment of his special needs."

Kidpost Book of the Week, Washington Post: " ... will draw in readers as she struggles to find order and balance in her life."

Booklist (February 15,2006 ( Vol. 102, No. 12): "Lots fo the rules are practical. Others are more subtle and shed light on issues in Catherine's own life."

Kirkus Review (March 1, 2006): "Catherine is an appealing and believable character."

Library Media Connection (October 2006): "The first person narrative is very engaging and readers will identify with Catherine's struggles and cheer for her at the end."


The title is itself excellent to connect students to the text. A discussion can focus on what students perceive as rules.they can reflect on what the word rules mean to them. What rules do they consider as necessary? What rules do they have in their lives? What rules would they write for a sibling? Each then could produce a graphic displaying the rule to share with the class. These graphics could make an interesting display for the library or the classroom.

Another way that students could connect to rules would be to have them choose one of Catherine's rules that they feel pertains to them and write a paper about how it does relate to their lives.

The characters in this novel are well-developed and lend themselves to character study lessons for students. Each student could draw an outline of one of the characters and put a strength or weakness on each limb. Emotional characteristics could be written on the body proper. Underneath they could wtrite three words that describe the character.A fun way to share these would be to not name the character but have the class guess which character it is.

Draewing cards are important to Jason and using this idea could also be a way for students to connect to the text.Discuss with students the idea of these cards and how they helped jJason communicate. Have them do drawing cards for some of the words that Catherine made in the story.


Nominated for state Kids' Choice Awards in: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pacific Northwest (voting together: Alaska, Alberta CA, British Columbia CA, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Newberry Medal/Honor

Notable Best Books (A.L.A.)

Schneider Family Book Award

Mitten Award (Michigan Library Association)

Great Lakes Great Book Award (Michigan)

Maine Student Book Award

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award

Kentucky Blue Grass Award

Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire)

Buckeye Children's Book Award (Ohio)


Cynthia Lords website: http://www.cynthialord.com

Autism Information: http://www.autism-society.org

Scholastic book website has video interviews with Cynthia Lord that are very interesing.

Other Books by Cynthia Lord

Hot Rod Hamster

Touch Blue

Rapunzel's Revenge

"Changing lies, righting wrongs, and changing their world forever."
Nathan Hale 2007

Bibliographic Information

Rapunzel's Revenge
by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2008
ISBN: 9781599900704
Dewey: 741.5 Classification: nonfiction
Interest level: 5th-10th grade Reading level:: 5.4
Subjects: (fiction) revenge, hair, robbers and outlaws, witches, comics, fantasy , graphic novels.

Plot Summary

Rapunzel grows up in a castle. The woman who raises her has Rapunzel believe she is her mother. As she matures Rapunzel is curious about the outside world and attempts to see what is out there. Because she will not stop trying to view the world beyond her castle Rapunzel is punished and is put in a large hollow tree .. Rapunzel is able to escape her tree prison with the help of Jack to save her land from the evil of the witch. Rapunzel's character appears to be that of a cowgirl who is very independent and who faces all odds. This is a retelling of the Rapunzel tale with the major elements still there just presented differently and with added details that make this a fantasy tale full of adventure. It is the classic struggle of good vs. evil.

Critical Analysis

As in all fantasy this tale does not rely on any particular historical setting, Rapunzel lives in a castle and yet appears to be a cowgirl. Her adventures take place in a setting reminiscent of the old west. This tale is a retelling of a story that is a part of our folklore and is a story of heroes and magic. Thus it qualifies as a fantasy graphic novel. Rapunzel like so many other characters in fantasy deals with the questions such as," what if this is not my real family?' In fact Mother Gothel is not her real mother as Rapunzel discovers.According to Tunnell and Jacobs (Children's Literature in Action p. 205), "fantasy is defined by elements that violate the natural, physical laws of known world." This story does that through the creation of a world that is imaginary and filled with magic. Yet as in all well written fantasy it it believable
In this tale the reader will find all six ingredients listed in Children's Literature in Action by Sylvia M. Vardell.
There is magic the witch as an example, other worlds, the good versus evil theme that is what the text is about, heroism on the part of Rapunzel in particular, character archtypes; the prince in the original is Jack in this tale, ( the Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk).
Rapunzel and Jack are believable and can easily be related to as they travel on their quest to save their world. Rapunzel is the very epitome of an independent young woman and many young readers will delight at her strength. The tale itself is well written and one to savor. The pictures are vivid and well detailed and do in fact give the reader a vision of Rapunzel and her world.
Part of my joy in reading is creating my own internal movie of the text. This creates a problem for me in that graphic novels are filled with too much visual detail and it distracts me from the story line. This book is no exception. In my youth I really enjoyed reading comics and in particular a series called ,"Classics Illustrated." The pictures were not so exaggerated and overpowering, but were instead a backdrop for the story. Today's graphic art all looks the same and as though it were from a Japanese comic. However, I realize that is not a feeling shared by all, just like everyone does not appreciate the same artists. We live in a wonderfully diverse world and this genre is popular with many.
Despite my misgivings this is a beautiful book and one worth having in my collection. I am on a quest as Shannon Hale said in one of her interviews to find , "the right graphic novel," that will bring me over to this format. Rapunzel is beginning to do just that.


School Library Journal: :Rapunzel's Revenge is a well-written, well-drawn and beautifully modernized version of the well-known tale of Rapunzel... more than just an enjoyable read, but a lush engaging adventure that will appeal to kids of all ages."

Booklist (September 1, 2008 (Vol. 105, No.1): "This graphic novel retelling of the fairy tale classic set in a swashbuckling Wild West puts action first and features some serious girl power in its spunky and strong heroine.

Horn Book (November-December, 2008): "Newbies may not realize how particularly well matched the Hale's gutsy tale is to its format, but this introduction - with its high action quotient, immediate sensory thrills, and wisecracking heroes- should win many converts."

Kirkus Review (August 1, 2008): "A beloved fairy tale gets a glossy graphic novel makeover, reworked in a fanciful Old West setting...A dash of typical fairy tale romance, a strong sense of social justice, and a spunky heroine make this a standout choice for younger teens,"

Library Media Connection (November/December 2008): Rapunzel and Jack are unique characters and there dialogue allows that uniqueness to shine through."


This is a perfect text to use for a writing lesson on how to write your own fairy tale. After sharing this novel with the students you can discuss the setting and the characters. Discuss how the setting impacts the characters, ask what would happen if the setting changed? Have the class brainstorm a list of other settings for this tale. Choose one of the settings and discuss how this might change the characters. For example if the setting were underwater would the characters even be human?
Have the students work in groups to choose a setting and characters to write own fairy tale.this can be their own original fairy tale or they can choose to do a retelling of a well-known fairy tale as the Hales did in Rapunzel's Revenge. Once their tale is written they can create their own graphic novel to publish
This will give them the experience of choosing text that narrates the story and that is illustrated as well. This experience will allow them to see that as in the Hales text that sometimes the story is best told in pictures and sometimes in text. This will give them a text to text connection with this type of literature.
This assignment cannot just be assigned without the proper foundation of background knowledge having been presented through previous lessons. A fairy tale unit discussing the elements found in fairy tales is necessary. This means that the students will need to have listened to, or read a number of this genre.Class discussions will have had to take place that allow the students to locate the elements in each particular story.
An introduction to the genre of graphic novels and its respective elements will also have to be done. all of this is possible to be accomplished in the library setting through shared reading, videos, book trailers even that show specific elements from chosen books. This would also be an excellent unit for a collaboration with teachers to share the responsibility of these lessons. Collaboration would make it possible for the students to develop a deeper understanding of these specific genres. Do not forgot to include the art teacher as they can be invaluable in sharing the art style with the students. The effect of collaboration will be to expand student learning and in the end enjoyment of these types of books.


An ALA 2009 Notable Children's Book
A YALSA 2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teens
An Al's Book Club for Kids selection (See Shannon and Dean on NBC's Today show)
Three starred reviews
A Kid's Indie Next for fall '08 (formerly known as Booksense Picks)
A Junior Library Guild Premiere Selection
Nominee for the Texas Lone Star reading list
A Best Book of the year from kidsread.com and teenreads.com
A Cybil Award winner
On the Dorothy Canfield Fisher ChildrenÕs Book Award Master List (Vermont)
Nominated for the 2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
On the 2009-2010 Maine Student Book Award Reading List
On the TriState YA Review Group Books of Note for 2009 (Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey)


The official website of Shannon Hale: www.squeetus.com
Biographical and contact information of Nathan Hale: http://jacketflap.com

Other Books by Shannon Hale

Actor Housewife
Princess Academy
The Goose Girl
Emma Bunting
River Secrets
Book of a Thousand Days
Calamity Jack

Other Books written or illustrated by Nathan Hale
Yellowbelly and Plum go to School
The Devil You Know
La Vache Orange- a CD by Nathan Hale and Lucille Batel

Books Illustrated by Nathan Hale
Calamity Jack (by Shannon Hale)
Balloon on the Moon ( by Dan McCann)
The Dinosaur Night Before Christmas ( by Anne Mueche)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

how i live now

"... classic thinking meant you thought you wsere a freak, this is rubbish, much of life is lived on the edges." Meg Rosoff; author of, how i live now.

Bibliographic Information

how i live now by Meg Rosoff

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books 2006, c 2004
ISBN: 9780553376050
Dewey: Fic
Interest Level: YA Readubg Kevek: 6.9
Subjexts: war, cousins, family, farm life, eating disorders

Plot Summary

When 15 year old Elizabeth (Daisy) and her pregnant stepmother do not get along Daisy is sent to England to live with some cousins she has never met. Daisy bonds with her cousins but they become separated when a war waged by terrorists breaks out. Daisy struggles to survive and eventually is able to be reunited with her cousins.

Critical Analysis

This is a realistic fiction for YA readers. This text lives up to the requirements of the genre. It deals with the topics of love between cousins and war in a very frank and open manner. The text is written in the first-person, it is the voice of Daisy. She tells her story with war as the backdrop and discusses how it affects her and her cousins. .Her words ring true for that of a young person facing some very difficult challenges. Her own word on page 1 chapter one give us a clue that Edmond is the catalyst for many of the choices that Daisy will make on her journey to adulthood. On page 1 she says," Mostly everything changes because of Edmond. and so here's what happened." When she tells us of her love for Edmond one can easily visualize a young girl saying her words. "It would easier to tell this story it it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children against the World at an Extreme Time in History but let;s face it that would be a load of crap.' (p.46).
We see in the story an accurate representation of how young people might cope with these extreme circumstance with little adult input. The themes of friendship and family are embedded in the story itself. The more difficult themes of love between cousins and war are dealt with an equally adept mannerand. It is, however, not the text I am used to or in general comfortable with. It is not, Little Women. Regardless of this I found myself drawn into the text and felt profound emotion as I related to the main characters.
This novel fits the, "edgy serious," catagory of this genre and is getting close to being a novel for younf adults. In fact most adults would enjoy reading this text as well.
The setting is apparently modern and the story is realistic. We are never told specifically the time but we do know it takes place after the world wars at a time whern the internet exists.
The main characters are the four cousins, Osbert, Edmond, Isaas, Piper and Daisy. The adults, Aunt Penn, Dad , and tjhe stepmother are important to the plot even though minimual time is given to discussing them in the text.
The reader is hooked with the first page and this engagement continues as we read to find out how Edmond and Daisy interact. Much of the story is serious but there are some light moments that give the reader a chance to chuckle or smile inwardly at the characters. Daisy's observation about her cousin Isaac and the fact that he talks very little and yet appears to listen to everything is so very typicall of how a young person would look at how adults react to perveived problems in their children, She says that if Isaac lived in the states he would be," dangled over a tank full of Educational consultants and remedial experts all snapping at his ankles for the next twenty years arguing about hisSpecial Needs..."
The ending all but tales your breath away. When Daisy and Edmond are finally reunitedit is bittersweet. Edmond now lives inside himself and Daisy struggles to bring him out. Edmond lives inside himself Daisy realizex because he saw a massacre of people of the village where he lives. It is not a happy ending, nor was it predictable but it is powerful and reaches a satisfying conclusion. Daisy ends her narrative by saying," After a;; this time, I know exactly where I bleong. Here. With Edmond, and that's how I live now."
Meg Rosoff does have a website as do many YA writers it is not interactive. She does list how to contact her publicity people and publisher, there is a letter from her as well as a list of events she will be attending.


Publisher's Weekly (May 8, 2006) 'This riveting first noevel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21 century ."

Kirkus Revies. "This is a very reliable, contemporary story told in honest, raw first=person and filled with horror, love, pathos, and change. War as it will, changes the young people irrevocably."

Booklist starred review: "it is an ominous prognostication of what a third world war might look like."

The Horn Book." a winning community.... and sober vision... lyrical and compassionate, that is literally and emotionally deeply satisfying"

The Sunday Te;egraph, U.K. :Readers won't just read this book, they will let it possess them."


Guardian Children' Fiction Prize
Branford Boase Book Award
Das Lucks des Jakes Book Prize (Germany)
Julia Ward Howe Prize
Michael L. Printz Award
Publisher's Weekly Best Book
ALA Best Books
Publisher's Weekly Flying Start Author
Booklist Editor;s Choice
Kirkus Review Editor;s Choice

Shortlisted for the following awards

Los Angeles Times Book PrizeBooklist Teenage PrizeWhibead Children;s Book Award

Orange first Novel Prize


There are several simple writing assignments that students could do after reading this text that would be different from a typical bookreport. The first would be to write a short dexcription of the life Daisy led before England and the one she led in England. Fo extra credit they could add a description of what her life was like upon her return to New York.

Another way for students to connect would be for them to trace Daisy's acts of courage from her arrival in London to the clomax of the text. They could them share these thoughts either in a class discussion or on a class blog.

There are, of course, many topic for class discussions that could be done in small groups so all students would have a chance to participate. Some of the topics are lighter then others so the teacher will have to use some judgement depending on the group they are working with in order to make the discussions meaningful. This could be done in social studies class or in literature class in order to be successful. This text can be paired with a nonfiction text or section of textbook to show how events in history can effect the young and their outtlook on life.

Any number of research topics could be generated from the text and will depend on the class focus.these could even involve issues of legality regarding the cousins and their feelings for others. Should this be a legal issue and if so for the national government, for states or local entities?

Other Books by the Same Author

Meet Wild Boars, Just in Case, What I Was, The Brides Farewell. Wild Boars Cook, and Jumoy Jack and Googly

Websites of Interest

www.warchild.org.uk- discussion of international programs that aid war affected children.

www@edi.org/issues/woeld_at_war/wwar00.html- site for center of defense information regarding global conflicts

www.esnational.org- lessons plans on defining and understanding war

http://www.youtube.com- Teen board video winner entitled-how i live now.

http.//www.break.com-- this sight has a video interview with the author

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The River Between Us

Bibliographic Information

The River Between Us
Richard Peck 1934-
164p. : 22cm.
Dial Books 2003, New York
ISBN: 0803727356
Dewey Classification: Fic
Subject classifications: Civil War, racially mixed people, race relations, social life and customs of the 19th century.

Plot summary

Tilly Pruitt's family lives in the state of Illinois. There home is on the Mississippi river bank. Tilly's brother, Noah, marches and practices being a soldier prior to the Civil War and in doing so upsets his mother. The family life is changed one day when a steamboat arrives and two passengers disembark These two become borders at the Pruitt's home and a spellbinding tale of Civil War and of family mystery begins that leads to a very unexpected climax. The story begins in the future with the family of Howard Leland Hutchings traveling back to the home of his father. While at home Howard, who is the narrator of the story, is told the tale about his relationship to Tilly and that he is the grandson of Delphine ( the mysterious border from New Orleans) and Noah..

Critical Analysis

This book will challenge it's young readers and is not for the faint of heart. The brutality of the Civil War is presented in very real terms. The literary device of beginning in the future (1916) and then traveling back in time through the grandmother's story can be confusing for some readers initially. It will be important for the teacher to support through modeling reading and think-alouds for struggling readers and for those English as a second language learners. These students will be more used to reading a story that is sequential and the events of the story are written from beginning to end in a straight line format. Once the student is comfortable with this format they will be engaged in this artfully written story. Mr. Peck presents a tale that will be hard to put down until the end is reached. The last paragraph is very compelling in it's simplicity and feeling. It leaves no doubt just how the narrator feels about his heritage, " I didn't have to think it over. I was proud of anything that made me his son. ... One day I'd tell a son of my own this story of who we were. A son, or daughter with enormous violet eyes."
The characters are fully developed and not one- dimensional. They all have to deal with the complicated family relationships in the context of where and when they lived. Each comes complete with their own fears and concerns. All of this makes it easy for the reader to relate in many ways to their struggles.
The plot is well laid out with many twists and this keeps the reader focused and engaged to see what will happen next. The reader will find that this text is well crafted as it reaches a very real and very human conclusion. The book is definitely an experience not to be missed . Richard Peck has successfully written yet another authentic historical fiction.
The author's note following the story gives real insight into the author's thinking when he wrote this story. It also explains the history of the time as it relates to free women of color in New Orleans during this period in history.


Horn Book (September/October, 2003): "The harsh realities of war are brutality related in a complex, always suprising plot that resonates on multiple levels."

Kirkus Review starred (Aug. 15, 2003): "Peck writes beautifully, bringing history alive through Tilly's marvelous voice and deftly handling themes of family, race, war, and history. A rich tale full of magic, mystery, and surprise."

Publishers Weekly (May 9, 2005): "The author crafts his characters impeccably and threads together their fates in surprising ways that shed light on the complicated events of the Civil War.

Publishers Weekly ( July 14, 2003): "Without compromising his superb comedic timing and vibrant portrayals of country folk, Peck reaches new depth with this Civil War-era novel."

School Library Journal (September 1, 2003): "Peck masterfully describes the female Civil War experience, the subtle and not-too-subtle ways country was changing and the split loyalty that separated towns even families."


Due to the subject matter that is part of this work one effective way to deal with these is through literature circles. This will give the students a chance to engage even more fully in the text and the issues it presents. Discussion questions need to be based on higher level thinking rather then on the simpler comprehension questions. Using Bloom one could begin with analysis such as; discussion about the difference in treatment of officers as compared to that of ordinary soldiers. Was this fair or not? For synthesis the students could write a letter from Dr. Hutchings to Tilly as he did in the story. In their letters students should include specific people and places that were part of the story .They need also to pose questions to Tilly that would reflect the student's understanding of the life and time in which both Tilly and Dr. Hutchings lived. As evaluation it would support student understanding by discussing of the split time line and how they felt about this device. Does it add to the telling by having Dr. Hutchings be the narrator for this piece?
In order to develop student understanding of the importance of key cities on the Mississippi to the Civil War the students could create a map of the river. This will also allow the students to focus on just where the story takes place. Once complete the maps could be scanned into the computer and the students couldl display them on the white board. This will create an interactive way for the students to trace each character's trips.
Many historical novels are good for using timeline activities and this one is especially good due to the specific events of the Civil War. Students could brainstorm some events from the story. Once this list is done the students could work in groups to see how quickly they can put the events in correct order. Students will enjoy the competition and the challenge of being able to successfully complete the task. This will demonstrate their understanding of the time and of the story..