All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill [Ricki’s Review]

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All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Published: September 3rd, 2013 by Disney Hyperion

GoodReads Summary: “You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

 Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Review: This is a great science fiction text that will please readers who enjoy reading about time travel and/or dystopian settings. I was immediately pulled into the prison cell with Marina. Terrill does an excellent job with imagery, and I enjoyed the way the plot unfolded. As with most books that discuss time travel, I found a few paradoxes that felt like plot holes, but most books with a time-traveling plot seem to raise this concern for me, as time traveling is sort of a paradox in itself. Overall, I think Terrill did an excellent job trying to alleviate any possible plot issues, and I was impressed with her ability to build such an, intricate, complex plot. While there was a love story, it doesn’t take front and center of this novel, which I appreciated. Often, love stories forced in science fiction books, and Terrill seems to achieve the perfect balance between plot, theme, and romance. The book contains wonderfully richly realized themes that I will discuss in the next section, and I think teachers would be wise to add this book to their classroom libraries. Teens will absolutely love this one.

You can also see Kellee’s point of view by viewing her review here.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The themes of this novel truly make it shine. This book would provide for some fantastic classroom discussions. Teachers could have students examine power and how it influences people, or they could look at loyalty and whether there is a limit to our loyalty to our loved ones. Students would have a lot of fun imagining one thing they would change if they could use a time travel machine (either changing a worldly event or a personal life event). The journal opportunities are endless.

Discussion Questions: How does power influence an individual? Given extreme power, will all people be driven to selfishness?; Who are we most loyal to? Is there a limit to our loyalty?; What events would we change if we could travel back in time? How would our changes impact the world or our lives in a positive way? What are the negative outcomes?; What paradoxes come with time travel? Is there any way to alleviate these?; If we had the power to travel in time, should we? How might time travel be harmful?

We Flagged: “‘Was [the world] always this beautiful and we just never noticed?'” (Chapter 5).

“…But progress is always dangerous, isn’t it? Most of the time, walls don’t get dismantled brick by brick. Someone has to crash through them” (Chapter 19).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The e-book (a galley) did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Legend by Marie Lu, Divergent by Veronica Roth

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for providing the Advanced Reader Copy for review!**

Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka

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Guys Read: Other Worlds
Edited by Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by Greg Ruth
Published September 17th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Goodreads Summary: Other Worlds, the fourth volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read anthology series for tween boys, features ten thrilling new tales of science fiction and fantasy from some of the biggest names in children’s literature.

Prepare yourself for ten trips into the unknown, as ten of your favorite writers—Rick Riordan, who has written an all-new and exclusive Percy Jackson tale, Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame, Newbery medalist Rebecca Stead, Shannon Hale, D. J. MacHale, Eric Nylund, Kenneth Oppel, Neal Shusterman, Shaun Tan, and none other than the late Ray Bradbury—spin tales of fantasy and science fiction the likes of which you have never imagined.

Compiled by National Ambassador for Children’s Literature (and Secret Ambassador for the Intergalactic Alliance) Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: Other Worlds is sure to boldly take you where no reader has gone before.

My Review: This was such an amazing short story anthology. Usually when you read a collection of short stories there are a few winners and a bunch of losers, but with this one there are a tone of winners and a couple runners-up.

Let’s talk about how awesome it is to read a new Ray Bradbury story and a phenomenal story at that. It is an amazing story about survival, life, and love. It is such an interesting concept (a world where you only live 8 days) and is executed so well (you wouldn’t expect any less from Bradbury). And it is just one of the amazing stories. The amazing list of authors in this book would impress anyone: Rick Riordan, Shannon Hale, DJ Machale, Tom Angleberger, Neal Shusterman, Rebecca Stead, Shaun Tan, Kenneth Oppel, Eric Nylund, and Ray Bradbury. I also love the variety of stories. There are fantasy and science fiction stories – Percy Jackson right next to a story about aliens – and there are serious and funny stories – Tom Angleberger’s hilarious Rise of the Roboshoes alongside The Klack Bros. Museum by Kenneth Oppel.

Even though I don’t want to pick favorites, I would say if you are going to pick and choose go with the stories by Hale, Angleberger, Shusterman, Tan, Oppel, and Bradbury.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: I think this book would be the best as a read aloud or in the classroom library. They are just great stories and need to be shared.

Discussion Questions: After reading ___[story title]___, why do you think it was chosen to be included in Other Worlds?; What do you think is the theme of The Dirt on our Shoes by Neal Shusterman?; Which of the stories were your favorite?; In Rise of the RoboShoes what could beat the Roboshoes?; Using the illustrations and story from A Day in the Life write a narrative about the boy.

We Flagged: “All fiction and storytelling is answering that “what if…” questions. But science fiction and fantasy go a step further: They bend the rules of reality. They get to imagine the “What if” in completely other worlds.

And that is why good science fiction and fantasy stories can be so mind-expandingly fun.” (from Scieszka’s intro, p. vii-viii)

Read This If You Loved: Any of the authors who contributed or Fantasy/Science Fiction in general

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review!**

Review and Interview!: Star Challengers: Moonbase Crisis by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson

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June Scobee Rodgers presents
Star Challengers: Moonbase Crisis
Authors: Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson
Published October 22nd, 2010 by Catalyst Game Labs

Goodreads Summary: After an exhilarating space simulation field trip at the local Challenger Center, a group of students are hand-picked by the mysterious Commander Zota for a special adventure: to travel to the future and a real moonbase in trouble, where they will learn skills to save the human race.

My Review: Since I live in Florida, I am right in the middle of the NASA debate. Some feel that the science behind NASA and space exploration is not worth the money where others completely disagree. There are others who are somewhere in the middle, not knowing. To me, losing the space program is terrifying and the authors of this book take the same stance as me.

Moonbase Crisis is a book written by Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson but it is presented by June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of a commander on the Challenger, and endorsed by many NASA legends such as Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. It is also a direct endorsement for Challenger Centers which are centers across the US that teach kids about space and hope to inspire them by letting them experience simulated space missions. That is where this book begins.

JJ and Dylan Wren are invited to a special space simulation after going on a field trip to the Challenger Center. When they arrive the find out that they are 2 of 4 young people chosen to be part of this mission. They are taught how to use actual communication devices and even put on real space suits. Then Commander Zota, the man who invited them, asks them to step into a room and next thing they know they find themselves on a Moonbase. In the future.

Then on top of all of this, it is a pretty good story with some major suspense. I look forward to the 2nd book as this was obviously an exposition for more to come.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Throughout this book, science is definitely a main topic. It is sprinkled throughout discussing astronomy, botanical sciences, chemistry, and more I am sure. Though the book is science fiction, the science within in pure fact. The book shows a future where science and space exploration are not priorities and hopes to promote science by showing how important it is.

My father gave me this book as a gift and was kind enough to connect me with Ms. June Scobee Rodgers who helped make this book happen. Ms. Scobee Rodgers is the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and has spent her life making sure his legacy and NASA continue for years to come. I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to interview her about the Star Challengers series and the Challenger Center programs:

Kellee: After the Challenger tragedy, yourself and other family members of lost Challenger astronauts opened the Challenger Center to honor them. Why was it decided to use their memory to focus on the education of children?

Ms. Scobee Rodgers: The Challenger 51-L mission soon became the “Teacher in Space” mission. The teacher Christa McAuliffe and I had a great deal in common as teachers. My husband Dick Scobee the Commander had always been mission oriented.  So after we lost the “mission” the other family members of the shuttle crew joined with me to create an opportunity to reach the students and teachers around the globe still waiting for their lessons from the beloved school teacher who died along with my husband.

Kellee: What is your goal when it comes to the Challenger Centers?

JSR: Our board of directors and staff as well as all the Challenger Learning Centers all want to continue to reach students to inspire them with the importance of STEM education and the pursuit of careers with a tremendous shortage in those fields.

Kellee: How did the Star Challengers books come about?

JSR: Introduced through a mutual friend to famous author Kevin Anderson and his wife Rebecca, we explored opportunities to tell the Challenger story and STEM education with real science fiction that would both entertain and teach as well as inspire our youth across the country.

Kellee: As an educator and advocate for children’s education, what do you say to those who don’t believe that NASA and space exploration is beneficial for the future?

JSR: The largest concerns facing us as citizens right now are jobs and the economy. Job and economy growth is the direct outcome of new businesses, products and processes which since the end of World War II were created from our focus and investments in technology, engineering, research and science. And that can only happen when you have a citizenry and workforce with the talent to perform this vital role. Since 50% of all potential future scientists, engineers, technicians and similar key workforce tend to decide by the early age of 10-13 years that they either cannot do it or do not want to, we need to continue to expand our efforts to inspire and engage all of them. Even if they choose not to enter those fields. We need a STEM literate citizenry to ensure we hold the correct values for our society.

Kellee: What do you hope comes from the publication of the Star Challenger books?

JSR: I hope to inspire a whole new generation of “Star Challengers” – young people like our main characters who want to make a difference for our planet and who will reach for the stars no matter their circumstances.

Kellee: How do you hope they are used in the classroom? With children?

JSR: Students are now creating book reports and reading the books for pleasure. It would be terrific if the books could be made available in classroom sets to allow for classroom discussion.

Kellee: I loved Moon Base Crisis and cannot wait to read the second one- how many books are planned in the series?

JSR: The second book is titled Space Station Crisis, and the third is Asteroid Crisis. We need students to write the follow on books.  For example, Mars City Crisis is waiting to be written by an enterprising young person.

 **Thank you so much to Ms. Scobee Rodgers for taking part in this interview!**
Links to information about the Challenger Centers and NASA For Educators:

 

Discussion Questions: 

  • Currently, there is a search for a young writer to write Mars City Crisis for the Star Challengers series- what would you make the book about?
  • If you had the chance to go live on the space station, would you? 

We Flagged: “Also,” the commander pointed out, “the Moon is near a quarter of a million miles from Earth, while the speed of our signal – the speed of light – is a mere 186,282 miles per second. Therefore it takes 1.3 seconds for a message to travel from Earth to the Moon, which will produce a noticeable lag when you talk to anyone at Moonbase Magellan.” (p. 26)

“Zota continued as if he hadn’t heard. “Because of the Moon’s lack of atmosphere, walking on its surface will be like stepping out into a hard vacuum  Your spacesuit maintains your body’s integrity. If your suit fails, your tissues explode and freeze. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?” The cadets shook their heads.” (p. 37)

Read This If You Loved: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, The Softwire by PJ Haarsma, C.H.A.O.S. by Jon S. Lewis, Nonfiction books about space

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 I think this book is a great resource for the classroom;
I hope you fill find a way to use it!

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Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

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Tommysaurus Rex
Author and Illustrator: Doug TenNapel
Published May 28th, 2013 by GRAPHIX

Summary: After Ely’s dog Tommy dies from being hit by a car, Ely’s father allows him to take a trip to visit his grandfather’s farm. His father hopes this trip will help him overcome his grief as well as give him some sense of responsibility. However, everything goes awry when Ely accidentally comes across a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ely all of a sudden finds him self with a new goal- cleaning up the T-Rex’s mess and proving he is harmless.

My Review: Doug TenNapel is one of the most popular authors in my classroom. All of his graphic novels fly off my shelves and never spend much time back there once they are returned. The biggest draw of his graphic novels are they are so unique, action-packed, funny, smart, colorful, and very well done. Tommysaurus Rex is no different. This story is one that will make so many students want to read it and I know that each reader will be telling a friend about it. Just like his other graphic novels, this one is so much fun!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I think the best use for this graphic novel is getting it into students’ hands and letting them read it. It will find its home on middle school shelves and will be eaten up by readers. Although, another option would be to use it with book clubs as it would be quite popular, I see it more as a classroom library purchase.

Discussion Questions: Have you ever lost a pet? How can you connect with how Ely was feeling?; Ely had trouble with bullies when he got to his grandfather’s farm. How could he have dealt with them differently? Have you ever been bullied? How did you deal with the situation?

We Flagged: “Come out and play with me. You must be scared… knowing that you’re probably the only one like you in the whole world…Well, Rex, you’re in luck, I’m right here with you.” (p. 41-42)

To see a preview of the graphic novel, visit Amazon to Click to Look Inside.

Read This If You Loved: Bad Island, Ghostopolis, or Cardboard by Doug TenNapel, Mal and Chad (series) by Stephen McCranie, Jellaby (series) by Kean Soo, Sidekicks by Dan Santat

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Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!: Sidekicked by John David Anderson

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We are so happy to be hosting a stop on the Sidekicked blog tour! Walden Pond Press is such a fantastic publisher and we love being able to partake in the hype of their equally wonderful titles. Make sure that, after you stop by our tour stop, you visit the other stops: SIDEKICKED: The Superhero Blog Tour.

Today, for our blog tour stop, I (Kellee) will be reviewing Sidekicked and we’ll also be hosting a giveaway!

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Sidekicked
Author: John David Anderson
Published June 25th, 2013 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Andrew Bean was born with amazing abilities to sense things (hear, see, taste, touch and smell) better than anyone else on the planet. No wonder that he was recruited to be part of H.E.R.O. program at the middle school: an extracurricular “club” to prep students with super-powers to become the city’s superhero’s sidekicks.  Andrew, along with five other extraordinary middle schoolers including Andrew’s best friend Jenna, join Mr. Martin three times a week to work on their powers and to prepare to be the best sidekick possible. Andrew’s only problem is that his superhero is MIA not even showing up to save him when he is hanging over a pool of acid. However, Andrew’s problem seems like nothing when supervillains escape from high security prison and begin rampaging their town–throwing the sidekicks right in the middle of a super-big problem.

My Review: What a super fun book! I love the concept of H.E.R.O. and how starting in middle school sidekicks are trained to be help to their superhero–talk about career track! This concepts lends to a great story because not only do you have the sidekicks/superhero aspect of the story, but you also are throwing these kids in the middle of middle school- major drama!

Right in the middle of this drama and action is Andrew. What a funny kid! I love his voice and his story. He is a perfect protagonist for this novel (I cannot even imagine the story being told from any of the other sidekick’s POV). He is a bit nerdy, a sweet boy, pretty sarcastic, friends with the the star sidekick, and has some seriously awesome powers (even if they aren’t physical). The nerdy/sweet/sarcastic part gives us a pretty snarky, fun narrator that many people will connect with. Being friends with the star sidekick gives us some insight into her life which is pretty darn exciting and also adds the strong female and a tiny bit of romance. Finally, his type of superpowers lends to the story being told because the whole book is about Andrew figuring out his spot in the mess around him and that includes empowering his superpowers.

OH, and just you wait for the last quarter. Holy plot twist Batman! I was very shocked about part of what transpires at the end and I think you and our students will be as well.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is definitely for all middle school classroom libraries! It will find great readership from all types of readers: Alex Rider fans to action/adventure fans to powerful female character fans. All you need to booktalk it, get it into a couple of students’ hands, and it will never be on the shelf. The book would also be great as a read aloud because it is fun and would lend to some great predictions and some discussions about right vs. wrong as well as the choices the characters make. It has humor and action enough to draw in an entire class!

Discussion Questions: Which of the sidekicks’ superpowers would you rather have? Why?; Which of the superheroes would you rather be a sidekick for?; Some superheroes think that they do not need a sidekick- what are your feelings? Is 2 better than 1?; Jenna asks (in Ch. 16) a pretty tough question- what makes someone a good person? After reading Ch. 16, discuss this question.

We Flagged: “It’s Tuesday. It’s Tuesday and I’m in costume, but just barely. That is to say that I have my mask and outfit on, so nobody knows who I am. Or almost nobody at least. Which pretty much sums up my life as a whole. It’s Tuesday, which means it is sloppy joe day in the cafeteria, which is bad enough, but that’s not the worth thing that can happen to you. It’s Tuesday- middle of September, only a month into the new school year- and I’m hovering over Justicia community poo, which two weeks ago was still filled with a dozen drowning bugs and the farewell tinkle from the last toddler to be dragged streaming out of it. Today it is filled with acid. Seriously. Acid.” (p. 9)

Read This If You Love: Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series by William Boniface, Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy series by David Steinberg, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Mal and Chad series by Stephen McCranie

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I know you all want to read this book- it is so good!

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**Thank you to Kellie at Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

More Than This by Patrick Ness

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More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Expected Publication September 10th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Readers are thrown into the action right from the beginning of this book. Seth is drowning–he is dying. When he wakes up, he is naked, alone, and unfamiliar with his surroundings. Seth knows he has died, but he isn’t sure where he is. In his distant memories, he remembers the English town that he is in, but he moved away after an enormous tragedy in his childhood, so why has he returned? The town looks very different from the way he remembers it–as if no one has lived there in over a decade. Seth sets out to try to discover where he is. He hopes he isn’t alone, the world hasn’t ended, and he hasn’t arrived in his personal Hell.

Review: At the beginning of my reading, I felt the same feelings as I felt with The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I was bewildered, confused, and very curious about where the book was headed. Patrick Ness phenomenally reveals details so slowly that it makes it very difficult to put this one down. It is highly unpredictable and extremely engaging. This book evades the typical features that would lock it into one genre–it is a thriller, an adventure, and a, frankly, an incredibly thoughtful work of science fiction. More Than This teaches readers about loyalty, resilience, hope, and bravery, amongst other messages that I can’t express without revealing details of the plot. Dive into this one–it will send you to a world that will make you ponder elements of life you may not have ever considered before.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This is one of the best books that I’ve read that can be used for helping students make predictions. Teachers can use the whole book or excerpts of the text, and students would love predicting plot details, grounded in the evidence the plot provides. Like all of Ness’s writing, this book experiments with language and sentence structure, and students could examine how Ness uses language to advance the plot and overall meaning of the book. 

Discussion Questions: How does Ness reveal plot details as a way to engage his audience? Is he effective?; Where is Seth? What might Ness be telling us about the world we live in?; In the beginning of the book, Seth wonders if he has woken up in his personal Hell. Where would your personal Hell be?; What memories shape who you are as a person? Have you learned from them? How?

We Flagged: “There’s an unreality under all the dust, all the weeds. Ground that seems solid but that might give way any moment” (p. 51).

“A book, he thinks at one point, rubbing his eyes, tired from so much focused reading. It’s a world all on its own, too. […] A world made of words, Seth thinks, where you live for a while” (p. 143).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. They may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Maze Runner by James Dashner, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy!

Any Patrick Ness fans out there? Have you read this one or pre-ordered it?

What are your favorite science fiction books?

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

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The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Published May 7th, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

Summary: Aliens (and not the green, one-eyed ones we see in movies) invade Earth in waves. When the novel begins, the fourth wave has happened, and only the unlucky remain. If they wish to survive, they can trust no one. Cassie is alone, and she believes she is destined to be alone forever until she encounters Evan Walker. He turns her world upside down, defying all beliefs she holds about the world since the fourth wave. Now, she isn’t sure what she believes anymore.

Review: If you buy one book for your classroom this summer, this is the one to buy. I foresee it becoming as popular as The Hunger Games series. It is extremely engaging and very well-written. There are many plot twists that caused me to gasp and look around the room to see if anyone else was just as shocked. (My husband was sleeping.) The plot twists make it very difficult to review this book without giving much away. This is one of those books that teachers can put in their classrooms and expect the students to do the work, recommending it to others.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The themes of this book are complex, which would make for fantastic conversations in the classroom. This is not an empty science fiction–adolescents will learn about trust, loyalty, and integrity. It would be a great novel to teach students about what it means to be human. Teachers might ask students what Yancey’s purpose for writing this novel might be. Is he trying to teach what it means to be human or might he be offering an opinion about other-worldly threats? It would be an excellent model to teach shifting narration, as the book often shifts points-of-view, allowing readers to see a different glimpse of Yancey’s world. Each point-of-view is complex with rich characterization, and what I liked most was that the chapters didn’t alternate. Rick Yancey was a bit unconventional, in that he seemed to switch points of views when it best served his purpose. Each character didn’t get an even number of pages or chapters–the story took precedent over the structure.

Discussion Questions: Are we, as humans, innately selfish?; Should we trust others if it might be a risk to ourselves?; Are there limits to the lengths you would go to in order to survive?; How does this book differ from other literature in its depiction of aliens?; What does it mean to be human?; What was Yancey’s purpose in writing this novel?

We Flagged: “But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.”

Read This If You Loved: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, Divergent series by Veronica Roth, The Monstrumologist series by Ricky Yancey, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, Legend by Marie Lu

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Happy 4th of July, everyone! This text is sure to set off fireworks in your classroom (insert cheesy grin here).

Have you read it yet? Please, please share your thoughts!

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