Student Voices: Insights from Karina D., Emma Y., Nour B., Maria F., Bianca C., and Anabella S.

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Insights

Favorite Book Quotes by Karina D., 6th grade, & Emma Y., 7th grade

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  • “Sometimes, things that appear very different on the surface are actually the exact same at their core.” – Jameson Winchester Hawthorne from The Inheritance Games (the first book) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    • This quote stuck out to me as I was reading the book, this specific scene stuck in my head. Basically, the main character, Avery, was trying to unlock her new inherited billionaire house and she had a task of finding the key. The thing is, the keychain that the key was attached to contained a bunch of other keys – all similar to each other in shape and size. She figured the odd one out in record time while on a call with Jameson Winchester Hawthorne – who inhabits a part of the billionaire mansion. He was surprised, and then decided to say this quote, which stuck out to me since it hints at a deeper mystery in the book. – Emma

Amazon.com: The One (The Selection Book 3) eBook : Cass, Kiera: Kindle Store

  • “Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyway.” – Maxon Schreave from The One (the third book of The Selection) by Kiera Cass
    • This quote stuck out to me as I was reading this book, because it really wrapped a lot of things up in the story. They were in a situation where it was life or death, which adds a lot more suspense to the book itself, and the quote. It also provides information about who Prince Maxon chooses in The One to marry and spend the rest of his life with. This moment filled my heart with joy, which is why I definitely like this quote. Also because it’s something that I would understand myself, if I were to be in love I’d think back to this quote and smile, to fully understand the meaning behind the words.  – Emma

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  • “I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina” He said. “You and I are going to change the world.” ― The Darkling from Shadow and Bone (the first book) by Leigh Bardugo
    • This quote stuck out to me because it’s really funny, it’s misleading because of what happens with the Darkling – let’s just say it’s an interesting thing to take note of. He really acknowledges the fact that the darkling and Alina can change the world together, change the Grishaverse and The Fold itself, which may or may not happen in this book, the first book of the series.. They make a powerful duo, but we find out later in the book if it’s for better or for worse. Definitely recommend, there’s also a bunch of other good lines in this story to take note of. – Emma

Amazon.com: Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House #24) (Magic  Tree House (R)): 9780679890706: Osborne, Mary Pope, Murdocca, Sal: Books

  • “There is no water and still less soap. We have no city, but lots of hope.” ― Mary Pope Osborne, Earthquake in the Early Morning
    • This quote stuck out to me because just when they lost their house to an earthquake, with all their belongings, (and continued) the one thing they didn’t lose was their hope, just as inspiring as it sounds. That told me when times are rough, just don’t lose hope. – Karina

Amazon.com: Twister on Tuesday (Magic Tree House, No. 23): 9780679890690:  Osborne, Mary Pope, Murdocca, Sal: Books

  • “I love teaching. It’s a job that lasts forever. Whatever you teach children today travels with them far into the future.” ― Mary Pope Osborne, Twister on Tuesday
    • This book Quote stuck out to me cause it shows that the knowledge you teach is the knowledge that could lead to the future. Which shows that knowledge can last for eternity and just will be taught over and over again. – Karina

Books vs. Movies by Nour B., 7th grade

Debate: Books vs Movies — RVA Weekly

Is the book always better than the movie? In most cases, yes. The reason behind this is that most of the time the book is too boring to turn into a film. So the directors had to add extra parts to make it more interesting or leave stuff out because it wouldn’t add anything to the movie. 

When the book is being turned into a film, it’s probably better to let the author direct it so they can portray the book exactly like they wanted it to be. The movie is almost always the directors point of view of the book which can be interpreted differently so many times. While authors can portray the book just how they wanted to. Most people say the book is better than the movie or TV show because they’ve read the book and were disappointed by how they left out some of their favorite parts from the book. 

One of the reasons the book is (almost always) better than the book is. The director has to fit the book into about a 1.5-3 hour movie. That’s pretty hard considering all the details included in the book. When you read books you get to see what the character is thinking while in movies you often don’t get that privilege This leaves us to fiure out what the character is thinking through what they say or do in the given situation. Books also provide background knowledge while the movie doesn’t have enough time for that. When you read a book you get a lot of information about the characters, in the movie they just show the characters and give you no information on who they are and what happened to make them who they are.

Reading the book leaves you with some type of imagination to picture where they are or what the character looks like while the movie the characters and setting look completely different than what is described in the book. The book gives you freedom to imagine what the character look like and what the setting is like. This is often ignored by movie directors  and many fans of the book are left disappointed or upset.

In conclusion, the book is almost always better than the movie. While there are some exceptions to this, it is correct most of the time. Reading allows you to feel like you are also experiencing it while the movie just feels like you’re just watching it. 

The Truth About The Hunger Game Series (Spoiler Alert!) by Maria F., 8th grade

Amazon.com: The Hunger Games - Library Edition: 9780545310581: Collins,  Suzanne: Books

The inner workings of what actually happens! 

Warning: A lot of unpopular opinions are present 

The Hunger Games series is such a good book series but have you ever thought about who is the true villain or looked at who we should blame for prim’s death. Also what is truly going on with every character and their motives. Today I’m going to be going into more depth on what I think of the series and provide several theories that might even answer some of the questions above. 

Gale Is One of the Villains Of Our story! 

Hey I know what you might be thinking, Gale how could Gale be a villain, he was always there for Katniss! Or was he? From the very beginning of our story we were introduced to Gale and the author introduced him as a side character who played a protagonist role in the series. But why would we question his actions then. Well let’s look a little deeper, in the beginning gale acted like he and Katniss were just good friends and “he cared for her.” But later on in the story it proves that he did actually have secret feelings for Katniss and this had inevitably confused Katniss on who to chose, which didn’t help her mental health state. At Katniss’ lowest point in life Gale showed up and made it more confusing. Fine this doesn’t make him a villain but it does serve us every right to call him not a good person. But now let’s look more into Gale’s character throughout the book series. Gale has been proven time and time again that he hates the way the government is run, and clearly despises the capital.  So lets flash forward to the third book when gale designs that nuclear bomb that ends up killing one of my favorite characters Prim! He claims he did not know what the purpose of the bomb was and had no idea it was going to kill prim. But clearly he knew that designing a bomb is made to kill people. So Gale was willing to kill innocent people all around the capital? Also the real question is he designed a super powerful bomb but yet didn’t even take one second to ask what it was for! He killed his people and not only that, he ruined Katniss as well. So in conclusion, gale is a secret villain in disguise you decide!

Peeta Is the Best Character In the books! 

In the Hunger Games series peta is presented as a main side character so how can he be the best character in the whole series. Well let’s just say Susan Colonies knew what she was doing when she presented peta. She made peta a lovable character from the start who just happened to fall head over heels for our main character Katniss. The reason why Katniss is not the best character is because of her thought process on things, and instead of character development in Katniss we saw none of it. But yet in peta we did, peta even with his PTSD that he got in the hunger games, Yet he was still able to think with a strong mind. Peeta Is a character who went through so much for Katniss and we love him for that. 

Katniss went through too much and yet she still didn’t fail us? 

I feel like this is a given idea that Katniss has been through so much that mentally is not ok. But I did feel like putting it in here since it does contribute to topic one. What I mean by that is clearly Katniss has been through a lot from going through the hunger games and losing her sister. But yet Gale never helped,I feel like Gale just worried her more than helped which is why I say that he was never the best character. But yet Katniss didn’t fail us because in the end she ended up killing president coin. Many might say that was a foolish move on her behalf. But I think even in her terrible mental state her killing president coin was the best move she could have made. It was brave due to the fact that was her own leader and she knew what she was risking. The killing coin has stopped form another version of hunger games arising and yet she did this all in her terrible state of mine!

Effie Trinket Hates The Games! 

How could Effie hate the games if she announces the whole procure and draws the names. I don’t have that much evidence to support this theory but you can tell that Effie never enjoyed having to see Katniss and Peeta go through what they went through. You can tell that she had a soft spot for them and her having to see all that happen to them just didn’t sit well with her. 

President Snow Just wanted what was best for the Capital 

I had left the best one for last! How could someone as cold as president Snow want something good that is not for himself. Well hear me out although we can all agree president snow had the most evil character traits in the books. He did unfortunately care for the capital but never for the right reason. President Snow had worked so hard to create the evil foundation that he made from the districts divisions to the capitol. So just like anybody that worked hard on something they don’t want it to crumble. So when Katniss had posed a threat he was shocked on how somebody could have dared to do such a thing. Which is why what happened in the second book happened. President Snow did that in hopes of having Katniss’ death come true which didn’t happen and resulted in President Snow’s enemy never to be gone. So he had to take drastic measures due to the fact that he just wanted to protect the capital. So in the end president snow never cared for the district people but for his capital. 

My Mixed Feelings on the Author of Harry Potter by Bianca C., 8th grade

J.K. Rowling's tweets on LGBTQ community sparks outrage - YouTube

Although I do love the Harry Potter series: I think it pretty amazing. I love the whole story line of Harry Potter adventures to defeat lord Voldemort… But I do have a big problem with the Author J.K Rowling because of her being anti- trans. As someone who is in the LGBTQ+ community, it is something I have a problem with because I believe that just because you weren’t biologically born a woman doesn’t mean you aren’t because I believe we can be whoever we want to be.  

I get that she is a huge feminist, but it just isn’t right telling trans- women that they aren’t real women because they weren’t born as one but they can still be a women in their heart, and if you feel like you are a women then you are you don’t have to go through being pregnant or getting your period 7 days a month to be a she. So that why I have a huge problem with J.K Rowling.

We should all get to choose who we want to be: even our gender.  We choose the decisions in our lives we can be who we want to be and J.K ROWLING HAS NO RIGHT SAYING WE CAN’T MAKE THAT CHOICE. And by her treating trans- women like this, she’s making people feel tarnished by the Harry Potter books because of J.K Rowling anti trans posts on twitter And a lot of the actors from the harry potter movies totally disagree on J.K. Rowling’s views on trans women. They have repeatedly argued on the trans topic.

She is totally mistaken if she believes trans women aren’t real women because they are and that the truth is why I have mixed feelings on Harry Potter because I hate what she’s been saying about trans people, but I do love her books so you can see why I’m confused.

4 Classics I Want to Read That Actually Sound Good by Anabella S., 8th grade

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins  Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story with only about 64 pages, and It sounds like every last page is going to be a masterpiece. The story follows a woman and her husband who rent a house for their summer vacation. The Narrator (the woman) suffers from depression while her husband John, who’s a doctor, belittles her illness, thoughts, and concerns. The Narrator’s treatment for her depression (given to her by her husband) is that she must do nothing active.  However, she feels that writing is a form of freedom for her and so she decides to start a secret journal to help calm her mind. In this Journal, she mostly describes the house. She speaks mainly positively about the house but then some disturbing elements start to pop up. The Narrator becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in particular in one of the rooms and she starts to believe she can see things (a woman) trapped in the wallpaper. What was first believed to be a fun summer getaway turns into a psychological battle of terror, solitude, and freedom. A woman who slowly goes insane trapped in a room surrounded by dull yellow wallpaper. 

Crime and Punishment - Wikipedia

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment is one of the most well-known pieces of classical literature and for good reason. The story is about Raskolnikov, a former student who lives in poverty in Saint Petersburg, and one day he decides to murder an elderly local pawnbroker who has made her way to a small fortune. Raskolnikov wants this fortune for himself and so he kills her as his solution to get the money. Then from the point in which he kills her onward, his mental states start to darken and deteriorate. Raskolnikov becomes enveloped by his guilt and then has to deal with moral dilemmas on whether he should confess or continue to lie about what he did. This book has me crazy with the urge to read it and get a full understanding of everything that happens and I’m also really intrigued by Dostoevsky’s style of writing. 

Amazon.com: The Setting Sun (New Directions Book): 9780811200325: Dazai,  Osamu, Bett, Sam: Books

The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai 

Osamu Dazai is a great classic Japanese author who also wrote the book No Longer Human. No Longer Human is my favorite book to this day so I have high expectations for The Setting Sun and I have a feeling it won’t disappoint. (The Setting Sun is originally in Japanese and translated to English). The story of The Setting Sun is set in the early post-war years of WW2. It follows a 29-year-old aristocrat called Kazuko who divorced her husband and decided to move back in with her mother. After the war had ended the family had lost most if not all of their money due to the war and would now have to move from Tokyo to the countryside. We get to follow Kazuko as she tries to make a living for herself while her mother’s health is declining and her brother is trying to come to terms with the new state of the world after the war. The biggest reason why I want to read this book so much is due to Dazai’s amazing way of being able to show the change in society after so much harm was done to the people post-war and how the spirit, culture, and moral code at the time were changing. He also does an amazing job of showing how society and the changes happening put a strain on the main character. You get to see clearly into the mind of the character and how they think, making the character feel real while making you connect with them and understand all that is happening to them at the time. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

This is again another common classic piece of literature most people know, but it should be noted that the book does touch on a lot of hard topics, so I recommend you look into the book more before you decide to read it. The story is set in the 1950s and follows Holden Caulfield who is 16 years old. We first meet him right when he is released from an institution and his story starts at Pencey prep, Pennsylvania (The fourth school he has gone to and is on his way to failing again). After getting into a fight with a friend Holden packs up early and goes home to Manhattan. In Manhattan, he stays in a hotel where he finds a girl and asks her to run away with him but when she denies him he gets angry and heads to his childhood home where his little sister is. He tells her that he has failed out of yet another school and she gets angry telling him that he can’t go around hating everything. He ends up going to the same school as his little sister and continues to try to find himself and form some kind of future for himself. The story doesn’t have much of an elaborate plot besides an angry kid having to change schools over and over yet the book calls my attention and I think it might be because of all the things I’ve heard about the style of writing and the way that the characters are expressed. I feel like there is a lot more to the book which I don’t know yet and I’m crazy to figure it out. 

Thank you so much to my student voices today and their look at ___!

Author Guest Post: “Why I Write Science Books for Children” by Mary Batten, Author of Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean

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“Why I Write Science Books for Children”

One day some years ago when I was writing scripts for the Children’s Television Workshop science series 3-2-1 Contact, I took my four-year-old daughter to my office and introduced her to the show’s actors. Afterwards, she looked at me and said, “I didn’t know they were real.” I was astounded. She had learned from watching Sesame Street and the show I was working on–the only TV shows we allowed her to watch–that what you see on TV is pretend. Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the other muppets were imaginary characters. Sesame Street was an imaginary street. My little daughter had learned the difference between fact and fiction.

From toddler age, children are fascinated by the real world. I consider them budding field biologists. They pick up the tiniest pieces of their environment–a pebble, a shell, a feather, a blade of grass–and excitedly present it to their parent or caretaker. As soon as they can, they repeatedly ask “Why?” About everything! These questions are the beginning of scientific curiosity. And it is my hope that my books tap into and nourish that curiosity.

By third grade, most children have learned about the two literary genres, fiction and nonfiction. The books I write are nonfiction–science, nature. When people ask me why I write nonfiction, I have two answers: First, I am fascinated and excited by the complex interrelationships among animals, plants, microbes, soil, sun and water that hold ecosystems together. Secondly, what goes on in nature is more fantastic, more bizarre than anything science fiction writers have imagined. Sex-changing fishes, flowers that use trickery to attract pollinators, insects that look like leaves and sticks, symbiotic partnerships between totally different species, and creatures that live in water hot enough to melt lead–these and many more are all real!

My newest book, Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean, is about animals that live in the hottest, most extreme environment on Earth–hydrothermal vents. It is the second book in a series I created called “Life in the Extreme,” about the incredible ability of living things to evolve and take up residence in nooks and crannies of the most extreme environments. Discovery of hydrothermal vents in 1977 is one of the greatest adventures in science. 

Hydrothermal vents are underwater hot springs that form along the mid-ocean ridge, the longest mountain range on Earth. You can’t see it because it’s at the bottom of the sea. There it snakes more than 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) around the planet. When scientists first descended into this world, nobody expected to find any living thing. But the porthole of their tiny submarine revealed fish, clams, shrimp, crabs, and giant red-tipped tube worms never seen before. How could anything live amidst plumes of superhot, toxic liquid gushing from strange chimney-like structures?

Like toddlers who develop by asking questions, scientists also gather knowledge by asking questions and searching for answers. Questions open doors to discovery and the mind-blowing discovery of hydrothermal vents raised many questions. One of the most important was, “What are these creatures eating?”

Until vents were discovered, scientists thought that green plants and the sun were the base of all food chains–a process called photosynthesis. But no sunlight reaches the total darkness of the vent world miles below the ocean’s surface. And no green plants grow in this world. What then?

Following up these and other questions, scientists discovered an entirely new food chain–one that depends on energy from the Earth instead of energy from the sun. Amazingly, vent animals eat bacteria that feed on toxic chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs, spewed from Earth’s interior by undersea volcanoes that create the vents. Scientists called this process chemosynthesis. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered where the sunken ship Titanic lay, called it “Probably one of the biggest biological discoveries ever made on Earth.”*

Textbooks had to be rewritten to include chemosynthesis as well as photosynthesis. Today research to learn more about hydrothermal vents is going on all over the world.

For me, one of the joys of writing nonfiction is reaching out to scientists who are doing the real work and interviewing them. One of the scientists whom I consulted for this book, Dr. Janet Voight, Associate Curator at the Field Museum in Chicago, said, “There’s so much about the deep sea that we haven’t even begun to explore. It’s all discovery, and that makes it exciting.”

Children are natural born explorers. Tapping into their questions is one of the most exciting and productive ways to foster children’s developmental curiosity, engage them in the basic scientific process, and encourage them to write their own nonfiction. Children’s science books, such as Life in Hot Water, can be used to create multi-disciplinary units engaging biology, geography, art, and creative writing. 

*Bill Nye discusses discovery of hydrothermal vents with Robert Ballard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D69hGvCsWgA

Published June 21, 2022 by Peachtree

About the Book: .A dramatic overview of the deep-sea extremophiles that thrive in scalding water and permanent darkness at the bottom of the ocean

The scalding-hot water gushing from vents at the bottom of the ocean is one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Yet over millions of years, many organisms—from chemical-eating bacteria to eyeless crabs and iron-shelled snails—have evolved in amazing ways that enable them to thrive in this unlikely habitat. Scientists are hard at work to learn more about the complex ecosystems of the ocean depths.

Award-winning science writer Mary Batten and NYT best-selling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez, the masterful duo that created Life in a Frozen World, team up again in this impressive overview of hydrothermal ocean vents. Her clear, informative text coupled with his unique and eerily realistic paintings of sights never seen on land—gushing “black smokers,” ghostly blind shrimp, red-plumed tube worms—will entice readers to learn more about this once-hidden world at the bottom of the sea.

About the Author: Mary Batten is an award-winning writer for television, film and publishing. Her many writing projects have taken her into tropical rainforests, astronomical observatories, and scientific laboratories. She scripted some 50 television documentaries, was nominated for an Emmy, and is the author of many children’s science books, including Aliens From Earth, and Life in a Frozen World: Wildlife of Antarctica. Her most recent book is Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean.

Thank you, Sara at Holiday House, for connecting us with Mary!

Author Guest Post: “Unforgotten” by Kerry L. Malawista, Author of Meet the Moon

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“Unforgotten”

In my thirties, newly pregnant, I returned to my hometown library in search of my mother.

Once inside that maroon brick building, I was transported back in time. The thrill of possibilities lining the shelves, the card catalog with its array of seemingly endless wooden drawers, and the metal water fountain—where I struggled with how to simultaneously hold down the foot pedal and rise up on tiptoes to take a sip of water.

A gray-haired woman approached me. “Can I help you?” she whispered into the hush.

“Yes, I am trying to find the Bergen Record—from 1970.”

“Any newspapers over a year old are kept on microfiche. Follow me.” She drifted toward a side room full of machines that had clearly seen better days. A mysterious room, where grown-ups had unspooled reels and loaded slides into carousels, forgotten ways of recording the world. She demonstrated how to load the microfiche into the viewer and how to move the film around to find past articles, then she left me to my task.

“Good luck!” she said as she walked out of the room.

My eyes blurred as the years flew by. I slowed down as I reached 1970. Even more slowly I scrolled. January…March… April. I noticed the headline for the Apollo 13 launch on April 17 of that year, and stopped. I remembered that day at Shaler Elementary School in Ridgefield, New Jersey. It was a Friday, and my teacher, Mrs. McCurry, had marched us single file down the hall to the all-purpose room to watch the splash down with the entire school. Two large televisions were set up on the stage at the front of the room.

I overheard talk among the teachers that something might have gone wrong with the space shuttle and that the astronauts were at risk of burning up as they re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. A tense chatter filled the room until we saw the first sight of the parachutes opening, and like purple butterflies the astronauts floated down to safety. Everyone cheered. But for me, the thought of those men floating around in a capsule, out in space, away from their families, left a sad and lonely sensation in the pit of my stomach.

I never understood why that feeling about Apollo 13 stayed with me so long. The astronauts had made it back to earth. They hadn’t blown up.

Sitting beside the industrial metal bulk of the microfiche viewer, carefully sliding the brittle plastic film forward, I was launched back to my childhood bedroom. Running along the wall next to my bed, right where my eyes landed was a line of white trim that extended out from the center windows. On the wood was a tiny indentation with some chipped paint, shaped just like a rocket ship, with what I thought at the time looked like fire, blasting it off into outer space. As I settled into sleep each night I would check to see that my rocket ship, my Apollo 13, was still there.

Scrolling down to May, I realized that the desolation lingering from that long-ago Apollo landing was actually from three weeks later, when my mother’s capsule didn’t protect her. Till that moment I hadn’t realized how close these two events were in real time. My memory had fused them together, overlaying the later dread with the earlier Apollo 13 landing.

Now I wondered if had it always been a rocket I saw there, or did it only become one after our lives exploded?

Increasing the magnification, I zoomed in to the top of the front page—May 8, 1970. At first all I saw was the large faded photograph of the demolished Ford Country Squire station wagon, smashed in, glass shattered.

I read the caption below, “A woman was killed and her small son critically injured in Palisades Park.” I didn’t want to imagine a “woman,” my mother, pressed inside what looked like an enormous accordion with all the air pressed out of it.

The story below unfolded: “Police say Mrs. Leddy, 32, of 389 Mayer Court, Ridgefield, was driving south on Grand Avenue when her car swerved into the northbound lane and crashed head on into a truck driven by Edward Martini, 45, of Staten Island. According to police, Martini was sitting in his van reading a road map when the accident occurred.”

When I paused the flat black and white microfiche, I thought how little of the story those spare words told. I knew the facts: My mother, with my baby brother in the back seat, was on her way to pick up my little sister from nursery school. An eyewitness saw my mother slump to her side, that it appeared she had fainted, resulting in her foot pressing down on the accelerator. The autopsy stated, with high certainty, that an aneurysm exploded in her brain.

Yet, in that moment, staring at the picture, the intoxicating smell of the burgundy leather seats returned—just months before the accident we had celebrated the arrival of our very first new car—and the reel of that long-ago day unfurled through my brain.

My nine-year-old self, along with my four siblings, staring at my father sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Girls, there’s been…”

My knees weak, I glanced away, trying to land my eyes anywhere but on my father’s face. Not wanting to see his tears.

“There has been a terrible accident,” he said. I was like one of my lightening bug trapped in a jar, looking for a way out.

Slowly he choked out the rest of the words. “Mom’s gone.”

“What do you mean she’s gone?” I understood, but I didn’t want to.

Barely audible, he said, “She died.”

One of us asked, “What happened?”

“We aren’t sure yet, but she was in a car accident.” He might have said more. I couldn’t take in his words—a wall had gone up between my ears and my mind.

After I left the library, eager for more memories of that day I called the Palisades Police Department. While I realized it was unlikely, I wanted to see if there might be a small chance someone there remembered the accident. Something they could tell me. A desk officer answered the phone.

“Palisades Police Department. Is this an emergency?”

“No. I just have a question. I’m wondering if there might be someone working in the police department that was here in 1970.” Adding, “There was a car accident…I was hoping to ask about.”

He said, “Well our Captain was here then. Maybe he’d remember. Hold on a moment. What was your name?”

“It was Kerry Leddy back then.”

As I waited, my self-consciousness grew. Should I hang up? This guy has better things to do. Who calls the cops twenty years later, expecting someone to remember a car accident?

“I can’t believe I’m hearing from you,” a voice said, nearly as whispery as the librarian. He sounded as if he had been sitting by the phone, awaiting my call. “How is your brother?” His voice choked.

“He’s fine.” I said, doing my best to keep my own voice steady. “Really well. He’s in the army.”

“I’m so glad. . . . He was so . . . badly hurt. . . . I had gone to the hospital to check on him.” I could hear him struggling to find the words.

I said, “I’m shocked you remember.”

“How could I forget? It’s like it was yesterday. . . I was a new officer, just there a couple of months, and going to that scene and seeing the accident and your Mom. . . five kids. . . Well. . . Man. . . jeez. . . .” His voice once again caught in his throat. “I think about your family all the time. . . it was so awful. . . you kids…your brother like that. . . your mom. I never could get her out of my head. My wife had just had a baby. I never forgot it. I’m so glad to hear you all did so well.”

Captain Stanton had nothing new to tell me about the accident. Nothing new to tell me about my mother.

Yet he gave me just what I was needed, what truly mattered: Captain Stanton remembered. Remembered my mother. Remembered our family. All these years he had carried her and us with him, linking the past to the present. That’s what I was searching for, to not forget.

I found my mother in the newspaper that day in the library, and I discovered that I’d merged our family history with that of the space program. Then I found an eye witness to the devastation our family faced—a man who’d just started a family of his own when my mother died—and he’d spent time inventing a future for our family. That factual and emotional confirmation, together on the same day, launched me to write my novel, Meet the Moon. I remembered, embellished, and invented a family grappling with grief in hopes of reaching readers the way I reached the policeman, who gratefully said to me, “I can’t believe I’m hearing from you.”

Expected Publication: September 15th, 2022 by Fitzroy Books/Regal House Publishing

About the Book: In 1970, 13-year-old Jody Moran wants pierced ears, a kiss from a boy, and more attention from her mother. It’s not fair. Seems like her mother is more worked up about the Apollo 13 astronauts, who may not make it back to earth safely. As it happens, the astronauts are spared a crash landing, but Jody is not, for three days after splashdown, her mother dies in a car accident. Now, Jody will never know if her mother really loved her. Jody’s father has taught them to believe in the “Power of Intention.” Announce what you want to the world to make it happen. But could the power of Jody’s jealousy and anger have caused Mom’s accident? To relieve her guilt and sadness, she devotes herself to mothering her three younger siblings and helping Dad, which quickly proves too much for her, just as persuading quirky Grandma Cupcakes to live with them proves too much for Grandma. That’s when Jody decides to find someone to marry her father, a new mom who will love her best. Jody reads high and low to learn about love, marriage and death. For her adolescent firsts—kiss, bra, and boyfriend—she has the help of her popular older sister, her supportive father, and comical Grandma. But each first, which makes her miss her mother, teaches her that death doesn’t happen just once.

About the Author: Kerry L. Malawista, PhD is a writer and psychoanalyst in Potomac, MD. She is co-chair of New Directions in Writing and founder of the recent project The Things They Carry – offering virtual writing workshops for healthcare and frontline workers. Her essays have appeared nationally in newspapers, magazines and literary journals including The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Baltimore SunThe Boston GlobeZone 3Washingtonian MagazineThe Huffington PostBethesda MagazineArlington MagazineThe Account Magazine, and Delmarva Review, which nominated her for a Pushcart Prize. She is the co-author of Wearing my Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories (2011), The Therapist in Mourning: From the Faraway Nearby (2013), both published by Columbia University Press, and Who’s Behind the Couch (2017) published by Routledge Press. When the Garden Isn’t Eden: More Psychoanalytic Concepts from Life will be published by Columbia University Press spring 2022 and her novel, Meet the Moon will be released September 2022 by Regal House Publishing. Her website is KerryMalawista.com.

Thank you, Kerry, for this beautifully written post!

Guest Post: Classroom Uses for Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship by Theanne Griffith, Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers, and Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

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One of the assignments during my Spring Children’s Literature course at UCF was creating a mini-teaching guide for the books we read for book clubs. We started with picture books for practice then students created them in their book clubs each week. The course was structured by genre as were the book clubs.

Today, I am happy to share the classroom uses and discussion questions found by my UCF Elementary Education students about fantasy novels.

Dragons in a Bag
Author: Zetta Elliott
Published October 23rd, 2018 by Random House

Summary: Jax is left by his mom to an old lady by the name of Ma. Jax later finds out that Ma is a witch who has 3 dragon eggs that hatched. They need to return the eggs because they won’t survive in the regular world due to lack of magic. They go to portals through time that takes them to the time of dinosaurs. Along the way, Jax meets his grandfather who also knows magic, and has him return two of the dragons to the magic council but accidentally left one left behind so he returns to the regular world. He forces his mom and the witch to hash out their problems.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: When using fantasy in the classroom it is always a good way to spark your students’ creativity. This source could be used as a creative writing prompt to boost off their creativity of the story: Conduct an activity based upon the book like have them write a short story about what they would do if they were in Jax’s shoes and have them draw pictures of dragons, name them, and design the dragons how they would like them to be pictured.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What was Jax’s first impression of Ma?
  • How do you think Jax will return the last dragon to the magic council?
  • Who do agree with and why? Ma who wants to keep the world of magic separate or L. Roy who wants magic to come back to earth.
  • Why do you think Jax decided to open the window for the squirrel?
  • What were 2 things the dragons were not allowed to have?
  • When you first hear the word apprentice what comes to mind?  Did you have the same thinking as Jax?
  • How does the story tie in with real-life scenarios with the fantasy?
  • Who are the most influential character apart from Jax?
  • When do we see the change of events come in play throughout the story?
  • When reading the book your imagination goes wild,in what other circumstances does your mind go other places when reading this story?

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall


The Magnificent Makers: How to Test Friendship
Author: Theanne Griffith
Illustrator: Reggie Brown
Published May 19th, 2020 by Random House Children’s Books

Summary: Pablo, Violet and Deepak are three friends who get sucked into a telescope and must play science games to come back and play again. Deepak is the new kid who makes Pablo jealous with his presence. Throughout the book, the team works together and build their friendship to complete the games.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The book could be used as a classroom read-aloud over the course of a few days or a week.  Due to the science elements, this book would be a good way to start off science discussions in the classroom. For example, the second chapter includes the students learning about food chains. This book is perfect to make connections back to science.

Discussion Questions: 

  •   Why do you think Pablo was jealous of Deepak?
  •   What were some of the challenges they had and what did they have to do?
  •   Why do you think Pablo, Violet, and Deepak were chosen for the Maker’s Maze?
  •    What do you know about producers, consumers, decomposers, and scavengers?
  • What were your favorite aspects of science that you learned from the book?
  • What type of emotion did the characters experience in the book?
  • When Deepak arrived to class, what did Pablo notice about him?
  • How does Pablo overcome is jealous toward Deepak?
  • Toward the end of the book why did they relate their friendship to the ecosystems?

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall


Polly Diamond and the Magic Book
Author: Alice Kuipers
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published April 22nd, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Polly Diamond is a little girl who receives a magic book that lets her bring to life the things that she writes and draws. She has a little sister who she doesn’t like very much and a brother on the way. Polly loves to write, she writes lists and stories and anything that she thinks is worth writing. When she starts writing in her magic book she realizes that the book can talk back to her. She writes to her book and comes up with lists and stories to write. She realizes that whatever she writes in the book comes to life when she writes about making a ladder to paint her room and the books on the floor magically move to make a ladder. The book tells her that is what she’s for and Polly quickly learns she can do anything she writes. She makes herself invisible and her sister into a banana. But she realizes that the book is taking everything she says literally. When she writes about eating a club sandwich the book gives her two slices of bread with a bat in between because it took the definition of a club literally. She told the house to fix up the carpet and turn her room into an aquarium. But the carpet was on the ceiling and fish were swimming around her room. She then realizes that everything she wrote was crazy and tries to put the house back to normal because she can’t even recognize it anymore. She fixes it just in time for her parents to come home with her new baby brother. At the end of the story she gives the book a name, Spell. And looks forward to writing and drawing another day with her new book, and friend Spell.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Polly uses and explains words like metaphor, affixes, alliteration, and hyperbole.  This is a great opportunity to talk about these definitions, make lists of words and phrases that relate to these words, and do activities where the students use metaphors, alliteration, homophones, homonyms etc.  It seems like a useful book to have in a first grade classroom and use with a higher level reading small group or a second grade class.    It could also be used as a read aloud, again discussing the key words and their meanings, then practicing using those skills.  There is a lot of use of imagery in this book as well as understanding literal meaning and how words matter.

After reading the text, students can respond to the story by engaging in a free write activity after they finish the reading. As a teacher, we could set a timer for five minutes and ask the students to write continuously about their thoughts on the book, good or bad, and afterwards, go over it as a small group.

Discussion Questions:

  • Polly had many favorite words throughout the book, what are some of your favorite words and why?
  • Make a list of activities you would do to have a Super-Fantastic-Day.
  • In the book, Polly writes down what her dream bedroom would look like. If you could have your dream bedroom, what would it look like?
  • When Polly writes in the magic book, she learns that she needs to write clearly and use as much detail as possible. What are some important rules to follow when writing so people can understand your message clearly?
  • When Polly is playing hide-and-seek, why does she become invisible?
  • Imagine the turquoise notebook has changed your house like Polly’s. Please write a short story explaining what your home looks like in order to get it back to normal.
  • How does Polly feel having to share a room with her little sister when her brother is born?
  • If you had a magic notebook that could bring three things you wrote about to life, what 3 things would you write or draw and why?
  • Polly loves words with double letters like “Dizzy.” List 5 words you can think of that have double letters.
  • Polly loves alliteration.  That’s when  two or more words in a row begin with the same letter.  What alliterations can you think of?

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall


Sisters of the Neversea
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Published June 1st, 2021 by Heartdrum

Summary: This book is a tale about three children, Lily, Wendy, and Michael. Their parents, Mr. Darling and Ms. Florene Roberts-Darling are separating, splitting the family between two different locations.  The night before Wendy and Mr. Darling are supposed to leave, the children are visited by a boy named Peter Pan and Belle. Stories of pirates and merfolk persuade the children to follow Peter Pan and Belle off to a mystical land called Neverland.  Upon arriving the children are separated and discover once you arrive you can never leave.  The children meet merfolk, pirates, native children, the lost, and fairies in a desperate attempt to figure out how to get home.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be great for a read aloud, book club, or close reading because it involves a lot of higher level vocabulary than some students may currently be reading at and it has long sentences and dialogue which again, some children could struggle with. These classroom uses would allow for discussions.

Geography could also be tied in because students could illustrate and demonstrate caves and waterways the Merfolk might have dwelled in. They also could show their knowledge of what an island like Neverland might have, and include what trees they think the lost boys were living in.

And, of course, it could be looked at versus Peter Pan as it is a retelling.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If you were a character in this book, who would you be and why?
  • If you were to create a different ending, How would it go?
  • Why do you think Mr. Darling and Ms. Florene wanted to separate?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • What were some challenges that the children had to face or overcome?
  • Why do you think Peter Pan and Belle appeared?
  • Why do you think it was hard for the lost boys to remember who they are?
  • Why do you think Peter Pan never wanted to grow up?
  • Why do you think Belle brought Peter Pan to the island?
  • Why do you think the crocodile made a TikTok sound?
  • Does this book remind you of any other children’s stories?  If so why?

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall  


Student Voices: Recommendations by Anna Liz R., Brielle P., Ava G., Chase S., and Silvia S.

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Recommendations

Books to Read for Each Season by Anna Liz R., 7th grade

Sometimes you just want to get in the vibe of each season, so here are some book recommendations you should read during winter, spring, summer, and autumn! 

~Winter~

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo – This book is so sweet and nice that it will just bring you a warm smile on a cozy winter afternoon. The fantasy and the use of personification is incredible, and it feels like the author is speaking only to you at times. I would really think that Despereaux would love snow and the winter holidays. 

~Spring~

Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1)

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson – This book has a lot of forest scenes that will just remind you of the Spring season. Plenty of oranges, kingdom conflicts, and running and chasing. Just as exciting as the season itself!

~Summer~

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – This book literally takes place over summer where Percy goes to the Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp. Not only that, but all those water scenes make you want to go to the beach on a hot summer day. 

Undercurrents

Undercurrents by Willo Davis Roberts – This mysterious book takes place over summer where the family with a new stepmother spends their summer vacation in a beach house where only the truth about the stepmother gets revealed little by little. I love the summer setting in this book!

Framed! (Framed #1)

Framed! by James Ponti – If you have nothing to do on a hot summer day, you should really read Framed. Of course, this book starts with Florian’s and Margaret’s last days of summer. Where they spend most of their time at a museum using TOAST. However, they get involved with FBI cases, and it’s up to them to solve it. Definitely a quick read on a summer day!

~Autumn~

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – This awesome book gives you dark academia vibes with all the mansion and the lifestyle of the Hawthorne family. All the mysteries and strategies are incredible. A dark academia person loves autumn, so this book is perfect for that time of year.

A Danger to Herself and Others

A Danger To Herself And Others by Alyssa Sheinmel – This book gives you more of Halloween vibes that has many cliffhangers. And to see how the main characters turn out to be really gives you villain vibes as well.

Death Note: Another Note - The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases

Death Note Another Note: The BB Murder Cases by Nisio Isin – This book is more for the anime watchers that enjoy the anime Death Note. This is an alternative ending from the anime with some new characters. This book has reminds me of the spookiness of Halloween because of each murder case that they have to solve. And the plot twist at the end is incredibly insane.


Books to Read in the Springtime by Brielle P., 7th grade

Korgi series by Christian Slade & Ann Slade

Books and Original art - Korgi and Joker! - Mixed Age Threads and Misc -  CGC Comic Book Collectors Chat Boards

This series is yes, a wordless graphic novel series about reading the Korgi series and admiring the artwork, the details, and interpreting the book is so relaxing and calm to do. The first book in this series reminds me a lot of the springtime, the feelings, the “Korgipeople” everything in it is so sweet and feels like flowers in the springtime.♡

Lou! by Julien Neel

Journal infime (Lou!, #1)

First off, when I first saw this book I was in awe it definitely caught my eye just by the cover and the title(specifically the heart exclamation point in the title). Not only was the book itself catching my attention but when you read the story you really fall in love with the characters, the artwork, and the storyline, everything is a chef’s kiss. Well, now how does this relate to the springtime? Not only does this book have all these qualities it is in fact mostly in the springtime which means if you like flowers, sun, etc. This book is a perfect read. Plus, if you enjoy this book it is a series so there are more to love! ♡

Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Series Volume 1-4 Books Set By Alice Oseman : Alice Oseman:  Amazon.com.au: Books

This book series is amazing, it has romance, and adventure everything you would want in a book is in this book. Not only is it a cute book but it has great animation/drawings I thought it was such a cute series.♡

Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron

Maybe a Mermaid

This book is so cute! I love the story so much and the mom and daughter relationship reminds me so much of Rory and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. I love how this story begins as a cute kid story and then transforms into a mystery of the house and the mermaid. This book could also work for the summertime!♡

Pretend She’s Here by Luanne Rice

Pretend She's Here

This kinda horror book I thought was perfect for the springtime, think about it if you are on spring break and you’re bored your gonna want something interesting. Now let me tell you this book is FILED with an interesting plot. Basically what happened was the girl on the rights friend died and her mom comes out of nowhere and… well nothing good happens so that’s why you should read it!♡


Mystery Book Recommendations by Ava G., 7th grade

Framed! by James Ponti

Framed! (Framed #1)

After moving to Washington, 12 year old  Florian Bates uses his theory of all small things aka T.O.A.S.T, in which he lands himself a job as a FBI agent with his new friend Margaret. They go through a journey from lowkey spying on people on the subway to getting involved in a huge art crime that could be directed to an even bigger art syndicate.

Spy School By Stuart Gibbs

Spy School (Spy School, #1)

Even if he is only in middle school, Ben Rigby is already training to be in the CIA. But except for his insanally good math skills and being incredibly awkward, he really doesn’t have any good “spy” skills. Could the CIA really want him as a junior agent?

One Of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)

Bayview High’s detention room contains 5 students. A beauty, brain, criminal, athlete, and an outcast. But when one of the students doesn’t make it out alive the other 4 are the top suspects. Which one could have killed him? They all have motives but which one actually killed him? 


Ten Recommended Graphic Novels by Chase S., 8th grade

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

This Was Our Pact

This Was Our Pact is an emotional graphic novel about a friend group or “pact” of kids who are Ben’s (the main character’s) classmates. There is a festival where the townspeople gather lanterns and float them down the rivers, the pacts goal was to find out where these lanterns end up, but the pact shatters due to a fallout and leaves Ben with one other unusual kid who isn’t really popular and doesn’t fit in, Nathaniel. The 2 embark on a journey filled with magic and friendship in which the likes of nobody else has ever gone on. This is a very great graphic novel with relationships and fantasy merged into one.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Adapted by P. Craig Russell, Illustrated by Various Illustrators

The Graveyard Book, Volume 1

Bod is a normal boy, but he doesn’t have the most normal life. Bod was and is raised by ghosts, and his solitary guardian is neither living nor dead. There are many easter eggs in Bod’s graveyard home, like a hidden entrance to the city of ghouls, but also a wide variety of peril. In the living world, a man named Jack is still out there and has already killed Bod’s whole family. It is up to Bod to find out answers about his life without putting it at risk. This is a very fantastical and suspenseful graphic novel that really puts you in a beautiful new world in a shade of grim.

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner

Fake Blood

AJ is a regular schoolboy starting a new school year, but as he looks at his surroundings he notices everybody is changing except for him. He hasn’t grown or has had out of the ordinary or fun summers like his friends have. AJ also had a crush on a girl who ended up being obsessed with vampires, and during a school project AJ tries to win her over with vampire attire, but gets different than he expected when he finds out she herself is a slayer. Now, it’s up to AJ to preserve the school and keep all the students in it safe. This is a graphic novel tying real life experiences with drama and fantasy, having a mythical sense of danger into what seems like an ordinary environment.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta, Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau

Bloom

Ari has just finished high school and is ready to move to the big city with his band. But Ari needs to convince his father to let him quit his job at their struggling family business. Ari has worked at their business since he can remember and he used to love it, but he can’t believe wasting his whole life over it. While interviewing for possible replacements, he finds someone who loves baking just as much as he wants to escape it, and the two form a close bond. It is up to Ari not to ruin everything and obtain the hopes of his dreams. This book has such a real life experience to it, the occupations, the situations, the romance. All of it has suspense and is an enticing graphic novel to read.

The Iliad by Gareth Hinds

The Iliad

Based on the Greek poem The Odyssey, over three thousand years ago, two armies faced off in what would be known as the famous Trojan War. This graphic novel places readers into the valleys of Troy. The men and women who struggled through the war, and the experiences of those who were caught in the crossfires. This graphic novel is very historical and informative, it gives you a better image and understanding of war and its pains and struggles, rather than romanticizing it and gaslighting the harsh circumstances of war.

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond, Illustrated by Dave McKean

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

The world is a relatively safe place, there are mountains, forests, oceans, animals, plants, everything you can imagine. There’s civilization, tea, cakes, and all sorts of imaginative features of the world. But this world provides gaps of features with nothing more but emptiness. Harry, Sue, and Ben are intrigued by this world and want to investigate it. With sticks and stones, twigs and dirt, what are conjured out of these through imagination consist of a mouse, a bird, a snake, and a wolf. But as their conjurations increase, so do their power, and slowly but surely, the question is put into place: how powerful is too powerful, and will it be out of their control? Can they unmake what’s already been made? This graphic novel is suspenseful, especially for such a calm environment to begin with. The problem isn’t pre-set, it slowly builds up over time and that’s what makes this book so enlightening and cautioned.

Last Dance by Hanna Schroy

Last Dance

Miriam has trained her whole life to be on stage with the ballerinas. Her hard work has finally paid off after she became the prima ballerina of the Lulli Dance Company, but she hasn’t been entirely transparent with them. Miriam has sustained a wide variety of bruises, scratches, and injuries that have taken a heavy toll on her. One disastrous ankle injury though means one thing, that she might have to give it all up forever. Miriam discovers a pair of slippers that, according to a spirit, will give her the strength to regenerate and heal her injuries. She just wanted one thing in return: to be on stage and perform with the rest of the ballerinas, just like Miriam. This graphic novel accurately portrays struggle and the urge to follow your dreams, it really is enlightening and puts things in perspective in regards to other fields.

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying

City of Secrets

There is an orphan named Ever Barnes who’s job is to guard a secret in a puzzle-box of a building. Many others who work at the building look away when Evers passes by, except a person named Lisa and the head of the Switchboard, Madame Alexander. It only clicks to Evers after he is beset by a gang of rogues to find out the secret for him to conspire with his friend Hannah to discover the secrets he was so guarding this whole time. This graphic novel escalates from a rough standstill to a coup and betrayal. I think it’s a very exciting change of events and to conclude a good graphic novel.

The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski

The Runaway Princess: (A Graphic Novel)

Robin is a princess who starts to rebel against her strict and uptight parents. The princess loves adventure and is willing to go on all sorts of journeys in the outside world. But her parents aren’t too pleased with her sudden departure, and they set out into the world to go find her and bring her home. This graphic novel really is similar to the famous “Rapunzel” story but in a very different sense under very different circumstances. Nonetheless, I do think it has a good plot and it really is a transformation to the word graphic novel.

The Red Maze by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, Illustrated by Various Illustrators

The Red Maze

The Red Maze is a part of a wide multiverse series of different worlds and the whole 5 Worlds series has never disappointed us. The main character is still determined to save the galaxy and in this graphic novel, she is headed towards the red maze, a nonstop maze of pipes in which the final destination leads to the red beacon. They must confront a ruthless businessman and a secret rebellious leader with their friend who returned from another source and light the red beacon. I like graphic novels that are widespread and involve travel, this book emphasizes that by highlighting the series of events to go succeed for the bigger picture. 


》Book series I’d recommend as a Middle Schooler ↴ by Silvia S., 7th grade

A series I highly recommend would be Dork Diaries by Rachel Renée Russell

Dork Diaries 11

You go through a journey with Nikki Maxwell through her new middle school. And someone find out her secret and is ready to use it against her at any moment. Find the truth about Mackenzie Hollister and what true friendship is. But make sure you read them in order or things will get confusing.

Summary: New school. New mean girl. New crush. New diary so I can spill about all of it…I put a lot of really personal stuff in this diary along with my sketches and doodles. But, mostly it’s about how TRAUMATIC it was transferring to my new private middle school, Westchester Country Day. And, how a lot of the CCP (Cool, Cute & Popular) kids were really SNOBBY and made my life TOTALLY miserable. People like, oh, I don’t know, maybe…MACKENZIE HOLLISTER!! And, it just so happened that I got stuck with a locker right next to hers. I could NOT believe I had such CRAPPY luck. I knew right then and there it was going to be a VERY, VERY long school year.

If you like Dork Diaries then I bet you’re gonna love the Misadventures of Max Crumbly by Rachel Renée Russell

Rachel Renee Russell Misadventures Of Max Crumbly 3... — Books2Door

Max crumbly is Nikki Maxwell’s love interest’s best friend that goes to a different school nearby. Max gets stuck in his locker by his bully on a Friday and no one realizes he is away. But he and someone get out after finding out there are bad guys out for them!︴

Summary: There’s a lot that’s great about his new school, but there’s also one big problem—Doug, the school bully whose hobby is stuffing Max in his locker. If only Max could be like the hero in his favorite comics. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys.

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels by Raina Telgeimier, Gale Galligan, and Gabriela Epstein

Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #1) (Revised  edition): Full-Color Edition (1) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix):  Telgemeier, Raina, Martin, Ann M., Telgemeier, Raina: 0000545813875:  Amazon.com: Books

Throughout the books you learn the struggles of each girl like family, friends, and health issues they have. And even more severe matters like the loss of a loved one or divorce. It comes to show true friends don’t think any differently of you because of something you might be ashamed of.

Summary: Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn are The Baby-sitters Club! Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Buy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8) Book Online at Low Prices in  India | Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8) Reviews & Ratings -  Amazon.in

You’ll get a good laugh out of some pages of this book! Also, if you haven’t watched the movie, I suggest it, too

Summary: Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into a new year and a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Desperate to prove his new found maturity, which only going up a grade can bring, Greg is happy to have his not-quite-so-cool sidekick, Rowley, along for the ride.


Thank you so much to my student voices today and their list of recommendations!

Guest Post: Classroom Uses for Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen, Maya and the Robot by Eve Ewing, and The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles

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One of the assignments during my Spring Children’s Literature course at UCF was creating a mini-teaching guide for the books we read for book clubs. We started with picture books for practice then students created them in their book clubs each week. The course was structured by genre as were the book clubs as were the book clubs.

Today, I am happy to share the classroom uses and discussion questions found by my UCF Elementary Education students about science fiction novels.

Concealed
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Published October 19th, 2021 by Scholastic

Summary: Ivette, Joanna, and now: Katrina

Whatever her name is, it won’t last long. Katrina doesn’t know any of the details about her past, but she does know that she and her parents are part of the Witness Protection Program. Whenever her parents say they have to move on and start over, she takes on a new identity. A new name, new hair color, new story.

Until their location leaks and her parents disappear. Katrina embarks on a dangerous rescue mission to save them-and find out the truth of her past at last.

Yet every new discovery shows that the Katrina’s entire life has been nothing but lies. Katrina has always kept her parents’ secrets. But it turns out, they were the ones keeping secrets from her this whole time. Could she be the reason they’ve been hiding all these years? The truth will throw everything Katrina has ever believed about herself into question.

Concealed is an action-packed adventure story by award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a great relatable book for young adults! Throughout the story, Katrina, the main character, fights for more information about herself and her family and why they are on the run, but she often gets overlooked and ignored when she’s asks questions. A lot of teens experience this and I think it would be a great book for a book club or even an assigned read for the class to explore sci-fi and have good discussions.

This books interdisciplinary elements include science and family and friendship values. It touches on the development of science in the DNA and gene makeup, which students may be unaware of at the time of reading which may lead them to explore more on their own. The family and friendship values show that no matter what a family goes through there is still love there. Along with this it shows the importance of friendship and everything that goes along with having a good friend by your side, even when at first you don’t think it is important.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What would you do if you were Katrina and no one would answer your questions?
  • Would you have wanted to go with Katrina on this adventure? Why or why not?
  • Katrina’s skill is drawing and Parker’s skill is computers, describe what your skill is.
  • Describe how you would feel if you found out that you had a lost twin sister/brother.
  • What did you think of X in the story? Did you think he was a good character or a bad character? Why?
  • What would be your name if you had to choose another one?
  • Describe the relationship between Katrina and Parker.
  • Describe one event in the book that stood out to you the most and give your reasoning.
  • Why do you think Katrina didn’t like moving so much? How would you have felt if you were in her shoes?
  • Why do you think the main character’s family has to run and change their identity so many times?
  • Do you think it would be safer for Katrina to leave Parker out of her life? Why or why not?
  • Describe the relationship Katrina has with her parents as the book goes along. What about Parker? X?
  • Why do you think Katrina was so open with Parker, even at the beginning of their friendship?
  • Do you believe X is trustworthy? Why or why not?
  • Why do you believe B and L refuse to tell Katrina the truth about what happened before she lost her memory?
  • Do you think Ellla will side with her family or Mr. Sterling?
  • Describe what part of the book surprised you the most.
  • Do you think it is a good idea for Ellla and Katrina to share their life story on social media? Why or why not?

Recommended For: 

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The Last Gate of the Emperor
Authors: Kwame Mbalia & Prince Joel Makonnen
Published May 4th, 2021 by Scholastic Press

Summary: An Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this journey to the stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.

Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In a way, students can learn about culture in this book. From there, diversity can be introduced into the lesson. Also, it would be great for discussing using your own personal interests and culture in your writing. The story also intertwines Ethiopian history and culture with space adventure and science fiction. This will be entertaining for the students while also educational. Another thing that can be taught while reading this book is that you will have to face the consequences of your own actions. If you are going to do something that you know is wrong, something bad will happen afterwards.

Students could also make timeline of events which would be interesting to see Yared’s adventure and battles laid out.

This novel would be considered interdisciplinary because it intertwines history with science fiction. It also introduces the idea of secret underground games, space & robots, as well as intergalactic war. These topics are mostly seen in movies but the main plot line is finding the uncle who would have the answers. It shows the students that even in stressful situations, never giving up and determination in hard times shows better outcomes.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Think about what makes up you. What aspects of yourself would you reflect in your stories?
  • Compare a time when Yared was brave to one where he was scared? How did he overcome his fear?
  • Describe a time Yared had to ask for help?
  • What futuristic items in the book do you wish we had now? Why?
  • Describe the relationship between Yared and his uncle.
  • Predict what you think Yared will do in the next book.
  • How would you characterize Besa? How does the author convey her feelings without talking?
  • Why do you think the story starts with an audio transcript? Did it grab your attention or confuse you?
  • How do you feel about the rules on Addis Prime? Would you want to follow them?
  • Does this novel remind you of any movies or maybe other literature you have read?
  • How would you feel if you were in the same situation as Yared?
  • Do you think Yared has good qualities or does he often find himself in trouble because of them?
  • What other Ethiopian stories have we read in class before? Do you find similarities in the novels?
  • Do you think the illustrations on the cover with Yared and the robots in space gave you a good summary of what the book might be about?
  • What inferences can you make by looking at the cover of the book?
  • How and why did the setting change?
  • What key words from the novel stood out to you the most and why?
  • If the authors were to write another novel using Yared and Besa, what do you think it would be about?

Recommended For: 

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Maya and the Robot
Author: Eve Ewing
Illustrator: Christine Almeda
Published July 13th, 2021 by Kokila

Summary: An illustrated middle grade novel about a forgotten homemade robot who comes to life just when aspiring fifth-grade scientist Maya needs a friend—and a science fair project.

Maya’s nervous about fifth grade. She tries to keep calm by reminding herself she knows what to expect. But then she learns that this year won’t be anything like the last. For the first time since kindergarten, her best friends Jada and MJ are placed in a different class without her, and introverted Maya has trouble making new friends.

She tries to put on a brave face since they are in fifth grade now, but Maya is nervous! Just when too much seems to be changing, she finds a robot named Ralph in the back of Mr. Mac’s convenience store closet. Once she uses her science skills to get him up and running, a whole new world of connection opens up as Ralph becomes a member of her family and Maya begins to step into her power.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be useful in the classroom in order to get children interested in STEM:

Students could learn more about robotics and electrical elements. Following along with Maya as they learn students are introduced to new ideas and definitions that will bridge their understanding of STEM.

Students will be able to create their own science fair projects. Students can present their own ideas and also learn about how projects in the book worked

Discussion Questions: 

  • Do you think that her finding the robot impacted her in a good or bad way? Why?
  • What piece of modern technology does Ralph remind us of?
  • What modern upgrade would you give Ralph?
  • What is something in your life that you would consider your Ralph?
  • Who can relate to Maya? Explain why?
  • Throughout Maya and the Robot there are many different lessons you can take away. What lessons can you take away from the book and why?
  • How did Ralph allow Mr. Mac to heal after Christopher’s death?
  • Throughout the book Maya often feels alone in the classroom. What is one way to make your classmates feel included?
  • Could Maya have fixed her relationship with MJ and Jada earlier in the book? Why or why not?
  • Throughout the book Maya’s teacher calls her by the incorrect name. Why is it important to stand up for yourself when you feel uncomfortable?

Recommended For: 

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The Last Last-Day-of-Summer
Author: Lamar Giles
Illustrator: Dapo Adeola
Published April 2nd, 2019 by Versify

Summary: When two adventurous cousins accidentally extend the last day of summer by freezing time, they find the secrets hidden between the unmoving seconds, minutes, and hours are not the endless fun they expected.

Otto and Sheed are the local sleuths in their zany Virginia town, masters of unraveling mischief using their unmatched powers of deduction. And as the summer winds down and the first day of school looms, the boys are craving just a little bit more time for fun, even as they bicker over what kind of fun they want to have. That is, until a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. Now, with the help of some very strange people and even stranger creatures, Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town—and each other—before time stops for good.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Using this book in the classroom could help students become more brave or confident. Majority of the students should be able to relate to this story because it is almost like a dream come true. This book could open up a lot of “What if” questions for students and I love it. Students will be able to use their imaginations, better their reading skills, and have fun at the same time.

This story would also be a fun story to read together as a class and it is a fun novel to get students eager to read!

Once students are done reading this book, there could be a class reflection on how we can all be brave heroes in real life in our homes and at school. To make this even more exciting students can create their own super hero crest and name. Students will practice helping others and I will make sure their parents know about this assignment to help the students with understanding that we help each other all of the time not just at school, but to practice it everywhere if applicable and not dangerous.

Students can also respond by writing their own fictional story about their own adventures on the last day of summer.

Discussion Questions: 

  • In the novel the acronym BTSFOASTF is written by Grandma. What does it mean?
  • With a partner, come up with an answer together and write it on the white board. Grandma is diabetic, What medicine did she take and what is it for?
  • When Otto and Sheed took the picture, what happened?
  • Why did Sheed decide not to tear up the picture?
  • What was the one thing Otto discovered had been consistent since time had been frozen, and in which chapter was this discovered? Would you have noticed the same thing? Why?
  • For how long did Otto and Sheed’s adventure last, and why do you think so?
  • How do you unfreeze a person in the story?
  • Why did TimeStar lie?
  • Who is TimeStar and why do you think so?
  • What role did the clock watchers play in this story?
  • How are Otto and Sheed alike? Different?
  • How do Otto and Sheed work together and overcome their differences?
  • What were some clues that you noticed when reading, that something was not right after the boys took the photo?
  • Describe the boys relationship with their grandmother
  • If you could time travel, would you rather go forward in time or backward in time?
  • What was your favorite part about Sheed and Otto’s day?
  • Are you surprised by who Mr. Flux is?
  • Is this how you would want to spend your last day of summer?

Recommended For: 

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Student Voices: Thoughts on Characters from Ana T., Katie S., Eva S., and Gabriela C.

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Thoughts on Characters

Ten Characters I Would Like to Meet by Ana T., 7th grade

 ♡ Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

I want to meet her because I look up to her. I would love to be friends with her, and she is such a hard worker. I would also love to use her time travel necklace.

Edward Cullen from Twilight

I want to meet him because he seems really nice plus if I get to meet him I get to meet his whole family, and I would love that! And I really want to go to Forks!

Ron Weasley from Harry Potter

I want to meet him because he is so funny on the books, and and he’s such a good friend; I would love to be friends with him <3

Prince Maxon from The Selection

I would like to meet him because I feel like he would be funny, and he’s such a good person too, so I would love to meet him!

Jacob from Twilight

I would like to meet him because he’s really funny in the book, and I feel like he would be really sarcastic but like the funny kind.

♡ Ren from Love & Gelato

I would love to meet him because he’s so sweet, and I feel like if I meet him we would be funny.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

I would LOVE to meet her she is so calm, and she is such a good friend. I would love to meet her and try on her glasses.

♡ Alice Cullen from Twilight

Alice is my favorite twilight character. She is so sweet, loyal, and honest!

Alosa Kalligan from Daughter of the Pirate King

Alosa is a strong woman, and she is really independent and smart, so I would like to meet her.

Nikki from Dork Diaries

This was one of the first books I’ve read when I first came here, so I would definitely like to meet her!    

Favorite Characters by Katie S., 8th grade

Heroes

When people think of heroes, they probably think of Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter. These heroes are heroes, that is true, but today I am going to write about underrated heroes from books that aren’t as popular or common but should still be recognized.

  • Fort Fitzgerald from The Revenge of Magic – Fort has got to be on this list for three main reasons. 1) For me he is the most improved hero. He started off annoying and self absorbed, but over time he showed his true colors and became caring and sincere. 2) As I said earlier, Fort is extremely caring and would do practically anything for his friends when they are in trouble. 3) And finally Fort is one of those characters that years after you read the book, you still think about him and the story.
  • Simon from the Simon Thorn series – Simon is funny and witty is just a great character to have around. I enjoyed the whole series very much and, (no surprise) Simon was my favorite character of the whole book.
  • Elijah from the Magi Series – As I am writing this blog, I am looking through all my favorite books and I came across the Magi series. I really enjoyed the adventures that Elijah went through and I had to put him in this blog.
  • Jax from Eighth Day – Jax is personally for me the hero of the whole story. He is trustworthy, kind, and he always stands with his friends. He saves the day multiple times and is  a key part to the whole story.
  • Max from Maximum Ride – Max is one of my favorite characters of all time. She has the best attitude toward life itself and she is always there for her family.

Villains

Here are my favorite book villains of all time.

  • Olivana from Royal Academy Rebels –  Olivana is a typical villain. She starts off as the nice fairy godmother but as more details are revealed, it is shown that she has a darker plan.
  • Mitus from Frostblood – This “being” controlled and manipulated all the kings and made them bad. If he isn’t the true villain in the story, then I don’t know who the villain actually is.
  • Charlie from Charlie Thorne series – I know she is supposed to be the ‘hero” of the story, but she is so manipulative, and does things that benefit only herself and her ow survival.
  • Overlord from H.I.V.E. – Overload is the ultimate villain. He created a clone so he could have a host after his own body dies, and what’s worse is he killed hundreds of people to get what he wants over his lifetime.
  • The Circle of Cavan from the Gallagher Girls series – The Circle of Cavan is the group bent on taking over the world. They have world leaders under their influence and they will kill anyone to get what they want.

Unlikely Villains by Eva S., 8th grade

Villain – a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Villains can come in many shapes and sizes, backgrounds and pasts, but sometimes the villains of a story, or even in real life, are not always portrayed as villains. Here are some book characters that turned out to be the true villains in a story.

  1. Albus Dumbeldore (From the Harry Potter series) – The Harry Potter franchise is one of the most popular and liked books out there. Everyone knows that Harry Potter, the main character, fights, and defeats, the villain in the story, Voldemort. But what if Vodemort wasnt the only villain in the story? Dumbledore, a person that Harry Potter idolizes and cares for deeply, is actually a villain. In the span of the seven Harry Potter books, Dumboldor used, and manipulated Harry Potter, even after his death, to achieve his goal. From the first day of attending Hogwarts, Dumboldor has used Harry in trying to defeat Voldemort, knowing full well, that Harry would have to die to get rid of the horcrux inside of him.
  2. Raven (From the Delirium series) – Raven is a well beloved character in the Delirium series. But is she really all that good? Raven not only uses Lena, but puts her in forced situations that causes Lena to be in life threatening situations.
  3. Ruby Elizabeth Daly (From The Darkest Minds series) – The Darkest Minds is one of my favorite books series of all time. The main character, Ruby, is portrayed as unique and special from the very beginning, and as the book progresses the readers cheer her on from obstacle to obstacle. However, the longer the reader reads the series, the more they start to realise that Ruby may not be the most pure of heart. Ruby lies to, deceives, and kills countless people to make sure her secret is safe. She even does this to her closest friends.
  4. Caleb Prior ( From the Divergent series) – Caleb Prior, the older brother to Beatrice Prior, seemed in the beginning of the book, a  kind, caring, and perfect older brother. But, this is not the case. Caleb was one of the most surprising villains in the first book, Divergent, when the readers found out he betrayed and sold out his own sister to Erudites leader.
  5. Zachary Goode (From the Gallagher Girls series) – Zachary Goode is the main characters love interest and friend. However, from the very beginning, Zach had been keeping secrets and having secrets agendas to make sure no one found out his darkest secrets. He manipulated and lied to everyone around him to make sure his secret was safe, just to save himself from looking bad.

I was inspired to write this blog because of another blog post called “Focus on Villains by Diego, Luis, Elsa, Kaley, Max, Mariana, & Daniela”. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.

One Character I Like and One I Don’t by Gabriela C., 7th grade

  • Jameson Hawthorne: I appreciated reading The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and finding this hidden gem of a character. I enjoyed trying to decipher what each of his moves meant and what the next one might be. Jameson was always unpredictable which meant that each page with him was a thrill-filled adventure. Ms. Barnes always manages to outdo herself with characters so it is no surprise she managed to have such a fun one.
  • Bryce Loski: It’s safe to say that Bryce Loski was not one of my favorite characters in Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. My main problem with him was how much of a jerk he was to Julie, and I know this is a bit of a contentious opinion because many readers enjoy Bryce and his redemption; I just don’t think Bryce is more than the sum of his parts.

Thank you so much to my student voices today and their look at characters!