Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Fair is Coming!

The book fair is coming to Highland. All students will have the chance to visit the book fair and do some shopping during their visit to the Learning Center on Monday, 12/7 - Thursday, 12/10.

If you'd like to help set up the book fair, see Ms. Wyatt. We'll be setting things up on Friday (12/4) afternoon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

I'm looking forward to discuss this book for eighth grade book club later this week. Yellow Star was a quick, but engrossing historical fiction read. Written in verse, it recounts the experiences of Syvia and her family during World War II. Based on the experiences of her aunt during the war, Jennifer Roy chose to share her aunt's story through a first person narrative. Syvia was four and a half when her family and all the other Jews in Lodz, Poland were moved to the ghetto. By the time liberation came the quarter million Jewish population of the city numbered at 800, with only 12 surviving children. A powerful story of war and suffering told through a child's eyes.

Works Cited
Yellow Star Cover. LibraryThing. Web. 15 Nov. 2009

Science Fiction and Fantasy

For the past couple weeks, I've been reading all fantasy and science fiction as part of the materials for young adults class I am teaching this fall. These are genres (especially fantasy) that I don't always pick up when choosing my recreational reading. It has been a great reminder for me how important it is to continue to stretch myself as a reader and how important it is for me as a librarian to make sure I'm familiar with books in all genres to do a better job in matching books with readers at Highland.

Here's what I've read:
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Unwind by Neal Schusterman
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Foundling by D.M. Cornish
River Secrets by Sharon Hale
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchet
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Fruits Basket v. 1 by Natsuki Tayaka

I really enjoyed the science fiction reads! And I made it through all the fantasy (enjoying some more than others), including my first manga.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I know I probably shouldn't post this before book club discusses it next week, but WOWSA! I really liked this book. I think I've read about 30 books so far this school year, and Unwind is by far my favorite.

This book grabbed me and kept me hooked. There were a number of twists and turns that caught me off guard. The premise is original and twisted. Set in future America after the Heartland War (the second Civil War), a peace treaty was signed after both sides agree to the idea of unwinding - taking 13 to 18 year olds and harvesting all their body parts. Connor finding out he is about to be unwound goes on the the run. Along the way he meets Risa, a ward of the state, and Lev, a child born to be tithed. The three of them try to stay alive. There is lots to think about in this book and plentiful action.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

I just finished "reading" The Arrival by Shaun Tan. I put reading in quotes because the entire story is told with artwork and no words. However, it clearly and powerfully expressed the story of a family leaving their homeland and moving to a new place. The father in the family goes first and has to struggle to try to figure out the language, culture, food, and a way to survive in this new and foreign place. As he comes in contact with people who help him understand the ways of this new place, their stories of why they have come to this brighter, more hopeful place are briefly told.

Wow! While I was hesitant to pick up this book, I am so glad to have experienced this story.

Works Cited
Arrival Cover. LibraryThing. Web. 28 Sept. 2008

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Recent Reading

I'm excited to be teaching a Materials for Young Adults course this fall! The class has required me to do a lot of reading. We are covering 5 or 6 books a week. Some of the books are more for older teens, but a lot of the books on our reading list are books we have in the Highland library.

I read The Contender by Robert Lipsyte. I've been playing with Animoto. It's a tool that lets users create a short video. It's a great tool for creating book trailers.
Here's my animoto:

Here's what I've read so far for the class:

Book Clubs

The Highland Lunch Bunch book clubs will be kicking off for this year soon. Any Highland students are invited to join the fun! We meet during the lunch and recess period to eat together and talk about the book. Please contact Ms. Wyatt if you have any questions. Check out the book club page to find out what is happening with the lunch bunch groups this year.
  • 6th Grade Lunch Bunch will meet on Friday, 9/25, to talk about Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret. The book is a page turner about a brother and sister who have to figure out how to survive in the aftermath of an earthquake. I couldn't believe all that these two kids had to go through during the course of the book!
  • 7th Grade Lunch Bunch will meet on Thursday, 9/24, to talk about Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Wowsa! If you haven't read this book yet, you have to check it out. Katniss and Peeta are chosen to represent their district in the annual Hunger Games. The games are a televised competition where the last survivor wins. There's something for everyone: action, adventure, and even a little romance.
  • 8th Grade Lunch Bunch will meet on Friday, 9/25, to talk about Acceleration by Graham McNamee. This book was a thriller. Duncan has a horrible summer job, staffing the lost and found at the Toronto Subway. Bored out of his mind, he starts reading a diary that someone has lost. What he finds is disturbing. It seems that the writer of the journal is planning to kill someone. Will Duncan get involved and find this killer before it is too late?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowen

Nikki Donovan’s life is perfect. She’s popular, just turned sixteen and Chris Sanders, the hottest guy at school, has just asked her out. Then Michael shows up, he seems to be stalking Nikki, trying to convince her that her long-lost father is really DemonKing in another dimension. She ignores him but takes the note that is “from her father” and convinces herself that it’s just one of Chris’s friends messing with her. If that’s the case then why does Michael know her father’s name: something she’s never told anyone and why is there a large man with a knife trying to kill her while calling her “Princess”? On top of all that why does she feel strangely drawn to Michael and now unsure about Chris?
It turns our Michael is telling the truth. Nikki’s father is a
demon, but not the stereotypical one. He’s loving and compassionate just like any good father. He’s dying and Nikki is his only heir. Now Nikki must choose between becoming the Demon Queen or drinking a potion and turning back into a regular human. Pretty easy choice right? Well if she chooses the human route then she’ll forget everything and everyone related to the Demon world including her dragon-tear bracelet, her father and Michael. What will Nikki do? To find out the answer to these questions and more read Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowan.
This book was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it a perfect 5 out of 5. The characters were interesting and easy to relate to and the plot was unpredictable and kept me reading until the last page. Rowan has created a unique read that has something in it for everyone: monsters, mystery and even a little romance. It’s a sensational novel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer update

I was giving a presentation last week about technology tools that have been really useful in the library, and I realized that I haven't updated this blog for quite a while. I've been trying to read a bunch of books from the highland collection this summer. Here are the cover images of the last 20 books I've read. If you want to see my ratings and read my reviews of these books, click on the book cover below or check out my LibraryThing page.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

I just spent a week with my family in Disney World. I decided to bring along Kingdom Keepers, a book about a group of Orlando middle school students who have been chosen as DHIs, interactive hologram hosts. Finn turns out to be the leader of this group when many strange, unexplainable events start to take place. When they all start having strange dreams and start visiting Disney at night in their holographic forms, they realize there is something very strange going on. The kids meet Wayne, an original Imagineer, who tells them about a fable that may help them stop the evil forces scheming something awful. This book will appeal to Disney fans. While it didn't knock my socks off, it was fun to read about this adventures taking place in all the rides and attractions I just visited.

Works Cited
"Kingdom Keepers Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 20 June 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Student Summer Recommendations

We asked students to recommend their favorite reads of the year. We had these recommendations displayed in the library to assist other students with ideas when they are looking for books to read this summer.
Here's the list in no particular order:

IQ by Roland Smith
Cryptid Hunters
by Roland Smith
Peak by Roland Smith
Elephant Run by Roland Smith
Shakespeare’s Secret by Roland Smith
Masterpiece by Elise Broach
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz
Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
Eragon Series by Christopher Paolini
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent
Sammy Keyes Series by Wendelin VanDraanen
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series by Michelle Paver
Shooter by Walter Dean Myers
Children of the Lamp by P.B. Kerr
Zenda Series by Amodeo
The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato
You Be the Jury by Marvin Miller
Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch
Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
Swindle by Gordon Korman
Leven Thumps Series by Obert Skye
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zuszak
Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Fable Haven Series by Brandon Mull
Amazing Agent Luna by Nunzio DeFilippis
Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale
White Giraffe by Lauren St. John
Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Evernight by Claudia Gray
The Weight of the Sky by Lisa Ann Sandell
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney
Feathered by Laura Kasischke
Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Friday, June 5, 2009

Looking for Summer Reading Suggestions?

So many Highland students are really avid readers! We hope that you all will continue this habit over this summer. I know I'm looking forward to time in the sun with lots of good books. I thought I'd put some resources together to help if you are looking for some books to read this summer. Don't forget to ask your friends, as they are usually a really good source for recommendations.

Even though there is some major construction going on at the public library, don't forget about the summer reading program at Cook Memorial Library! Using their web site is a great way to request materials and find out about programs.

Places to find book recommendations:
Please post a comment if you have books to recommend for summer reading or you read any books that really wow you this summer.
Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Trials of Kate Hope by Wick Downing

Kate Hope, a fourteen year old lawyer works at her family office, Hope and Hope, with her grandfather. When her grandfather falls ill she has to take care of the business including two cases that she needs to take to court. A poor dog named Herman needs to be saved from death because he's all his owner Miss Willow has. Meanwhile she has to help a poor man named Mr. Alvarez who has been accused of murder. How will she be able to do this and still be friends with Mike her sort-of boyfriend?

Review by JF

Works Cited
"The Trials of Kate Hope Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 4 June 2009

Write in the Middle Release Party

Today we celebrated the release of the first edition of Write in the Middle, Highland's brand new Literary Magazine! It was a great event! I'll post some pictures soon. But here's a peak at the cover of the publication.

Because we got a grant for the project, all the published authors and the members of the editorial board received a copy of the publication. We self-published online, so copies can be ordered

A special thanks goes out to the amazing students who volunteered their time to be part of the editorial board and the teachers who worked to help facilitate this student-led publication, Carey Fox, Brianne Hodges, Linda O'Connell, Alison Ortega, Kristen Palic, and Logan Shoemaker.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass is a great novel about astronomy, family, and most of all friendship. It’s a great book because it is really interesting, and there is a lot going on.

Jack, Ally, and Bree are three totally different teenagers. Jack is a pudgy, kind of lazy boy that would rather sit in the back of the classroom drawing aliens than learn or hang out with friends. Also, he is not very smart, and usually fails a few classes. But, under special circumstances everybody gets along. Right?

Ally is a smart girl that loves astronomy. She lives in a place called the Moon Shadow, where they have the best view of the moon and stars. She has never been to a place with more than fifty people, and she always thought she would grow up here in the Moon Shadow and take it over one day with her brother Kenny.

Bree is a beautiful, outgoing teen that loves to shop, hang out with friends and party. She really wants to be a model someday. To her life seems perfect, and she just knows she will be taken for the modelling class. Until she hears the news from the science geeks that called her parents.

Then, everything changes. Jack’s science teacher calls (which is a class he happened to fail) and invites Jack to come see the eclipse at the Moon Shadow with him, while leading a tour and working on a project. Jack doesn’t really want to go until he hears that would get him out of summer school. No summer school? Oh, sure I’ll come Mr. Silver! Jack says. Anything to get out of school while your supposed to be home having fun. So he goes on the trip. Ally suddenly figures out that she will have to move to a crowded area around Chicago. Leave the Moon Shadow? Go where the stars are pretty much covered with pollution? NO WAY! But, her parents have decided, and the Moon Shadow is already getting new owners. Bree is terrified! A place without malls? Without civilization? Are they kidding me? These are the first thoughts that go through Bree’s head when she finds out she is moving to a lonely place called the Moon Shadow. What is she supposed to do with stars? She needs clothes!

But, with everything happening so fast, the three teenagers become friends and start planning how to go back to where they belong. Lots of events happen, and in the end.... read for yourself! This is a great book, which you won't want to put down.

Review by Jessi479

Works Cited
"Every Soul a Star Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 4 June 2009

Thanks to Danette Haworth, Virtual Guest Author!

The sixth grade lunch bunch read Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning for our last book of the year. We were very fortunate to be able to have an author chat with Danette Haworth. Ms. Haworth showed us some pictures of wildlife and the landscape in Florida that help shaped the places in the book. We also got a chance to look at a bunch of examples of cover art.

It was a text chat with images in a presentation. It was great watching the students involved. As our time with Danette went on, they crept closer and closer to the screen where we could see the images and the text chat. By the end of the session they were waving and saying good-bye to the screen.

We really appreciate Danette Haworth taking the time to talk with us about her book and answer our many questions. I'm excited about the possibility of connecting with other authors virtually in the future.

Works Cited
"Violet Raines Cover." Online Image. Summer Friend Blog. 28 May 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Home of the Brave is one of the 2010 Caudill nominees. Although the cover of the book doesn't look particularly appealing, I really hope that students will look past the cover and check out this book. I thought it was a pretty amazing read.

Kek describes his experience arriving in America after leaving a relocation camp in Sudan. His dad and brother were killed in the violence and his mom is missing. Kek tries to understand this new country after arriving in Minnesota during the middle of winter. Written in verse, the language is poetic and beautiful. Fifth-grader Kek remains optimistic and has a way of connecting with people and carving out a new life for himself in spite of heartbreaking and nightmarish experiences endured in his young life.
This book is touching and poignant. I would highly recommend this book.

Works Cited
"Home of the Brave Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 8 May 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn

Ali is just your average 13-year-old girl looking for some adventure in her summer. When her Aunt Dulcie invites her Gull Cottage by Sycamore Lake, where Dulcie and her mother used to spend summers, to baby sit Emma while Dulcie paints, Ali can’t say yes fast enough. Ali’s mother is not as open to the idea, could it have something to do with the picture Ali found a few weeks of Dulcie, her mom, and the arm of a girl who’s name completely gone except for the letter “T”? Ali tells her mom that there is nothing dangerous about Sycamore Lake. Although her mom seems to be holding something back, she eventually lets Ali go with her aunt and cousin. When they get to lake Ali has no idea how her mother could hate such a gorgeous place.

Emma, who’s 4 years old, is simply ecstatic that she gets to spend the summer here and is almost happy except for one thing, besides her mom Ali is her best and only friend. Then Sissy comes. Sissy is cruel, bratty and Emma’s new best friend. Ali is furious when Emma starts acting exactly like Sissy. Ali is sure that Sissy is just using Emma ,but whenever she brings the topic up Emma becomes furious and Ali gets in trouble with Dulcie. When Sissy starts telling them the rumors about a girl being drowned right in Sycamore Lake, Ali begins to wonder who she can trust and what is and isn’t real.
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn is a thrilling, quick read that will keep you reading until the very end. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 because at times the plot was quite predictable, other than that Hahn does a wonderful job of making the characters jump off the page and has really created a wonderfully chilling ghost story.

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"Deep and Dark and Dangerous Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 7 May 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Seldom in the realm of young adult fiction are we placed into the mind of a character such as Katsa. Graceling by Kristin Cashore narrates from the point of view of a young lady who struggles with control over her own life. In the world of Graceling, some individuals are born with proficiency in a certain skill, called a Grace. These “Gracelings” have distinctive eyes that identify them. Some are alienated, while others rise to higher positions. Katsa is discovered to have a Grace that isolates her from other people and Gracelings alike: the Grace of killing. She is exploited by her uncle Randa, a king. Unexpectedly, she meets a mystifying Graceling fighter, Prince Greening, or “Po”, who seems to be able to read her like an open book. He becomes one of her first real friends. A mystery arises as to the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather, and they discover a secret that threatens the destruction of all they know.

Graceling was better than I anticipated, seeing as it was the author’s debut novel. I didn’t completely like the writing style in the beginning, but I did get used to it after the first few chapters. The plot and character development, especially the change in Katsa’s personality, became more absorbing as I read on. The twist at the end especially surprised me. Those who enjoy fiction or fantasy would most likely enjoy this book because of its array of colorful characters.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"Graceling Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 April 2009

Need by Carrie Jones

Zara, has been sent to her parents’ home state, Maine, months after her father died. When the book starts, Zara is extremely depressed about it. Her mother sends her to live with her Grandma Betty for some time. When she gets there, she goes to a new school and meets the creepy guy. Turns out, the creepy guy is a pixie. This is all I can say if i don't want to spoil the book.

Another cool thing in the book are the fears. Zara names all kinds of funky fears and phobias that no one has ever heard of. There are so many you can't even remember them all. This suspenseful book is packed with action and love. I think it is great for guys and girls even though the main character is a girl.

Review by JG

Works Cited
"Need Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 April 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman

The Last Invisible Boy was a sad and funny book about a boy named Garret who is writing a diary/journal of his life. He had recently lost his dad which he calls "the terrible day that changed everything", and he explains the struggles of his brother, his mom, and himself. During this time he feels like he is “going invisible.” Garret hasn’t gone to school for weeks and goes to the cemetery where his father is buried. Garret has a friend that helps him the whole way through.

Review by cecx2

Works Cited
"The Last Invisibile Boy Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 6 April 2009

Earth Day Book Swap

Highland students will have the opportunity to participate in the school's first book swap. Students are invited to bring in a middle school appropropriate book from home they no longer want or need. Students can drop these books off in the Learning Center any time in the next few weeks.

Then, on Earth Day, April 22, the book swap will be open for action. All of the books that were collected during the swap will be on display. Students who brought in a book are welcome to come to the library and choose a new-to-them book from what other students' have added to the swap. It'll be a great way to reuse books and get some new things for students' personal libraries!

Highland Book Fair, 4/14 - 4/17

The spring book fair will soon be arriving at Highland.
The book fair will be held in the Learning Center from Tuesday, 4/14 - Friday, 4/17. Students will have the opportunity to browse and shop when they visit the library with their literature classes. The book fair will also be open during Open House from 7:00-8:30 on Thursday, 4/16.

If you have questions. please contact Ms. Wyatt.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Door of No Return by Sarah Mussi

Zac Baxter is just a teenager when his grandfather is brutally murdered and their apartment ransacked. Suddenly caught in a deadly conspiracy where every move could bring a deadly checkmate, Zac has no one to trust and everything to lose. Zac moves to Ghana in a thrilling conclusion that can uncover the truth…and a treasure of gold. This fast paced book boasts an exciting plot, tons of intriguing foreshadows, and every new clue in the mystery completely throws you for a loop. Also, the reader will enjoy the Zac’s amusing thoughts like this portion of the book.
“‘Why do you think I was so ready to help you?’
‘Because of my stunning good looks,’ I suggested.
‘Dummy,’ said Mina.”

Unfortunately, sometimes the book moves a little too quickly and the foreshadows can ruin the suspense of sections of the book. However all in all the book was an amusing and novel that compelled you to keep reading.

Review by Septimus Demosthenes

Works Cited
"The Door of No Return Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 26 March 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

The Magic Thief is about a poor gutter boy named Connwaer who steals a stone from a stranger. Little does he know that the stone is actually a locus magicalicus, a stone on which a wizard focuses his or her magic. At first, he thinks the man is ordinary and not so special, but then he realizes that the man is anything but ordinary and has gotten himself in something involving forces even greater than his own. Wellmet is a city teeming with magic. But as the magic level drops in Wellmet, can Conn save it from the hands of disaster?

I rate this book 5 stars because of the action and the power of friendship woven throughout this novel.

Review by Diana

Works Cited
"The Magic Thief Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 March 2009

GemX by Nicky Singer

This science fiction novel takes place in a futuristic society where people are either extremely poor or wasteful and rich. A genetically modified “GemX” child, Maxo Strang lives the life of a snotty brat, until one day, when he sees a girl on a TropScreen who he instantly falls in love with. As he finds out who she is and learns her story, both of their lives are changed. This story is somewhat innovate and creative, but is somewhat too unrealistic at times. The author’s naming of ProperNouns is also somewhat distracting. If you like romance novels and reading about dystopian societies, then this is the book for you.

Review by I. Kanreed

Works Cited
"GemX Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 March 2009

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

Marvin is somewhat normal. He has a very big family. The thing that isn’t very normal about Marvin is that he is a beetle. He lives under a sink in the Pompadays’ home. The boy who lives there is James. When James gets a pen and ink set for his birthday Marvin surprises him with a tiny picture of the outside of James’s window. James sees the picture and starts talking to Marvin.

When James’ dad sees this he is very impressed. So impressed that he shows it to the museum. There James and Marvin realize that the picture looks like a Durer drawing. Then the assistant says that many of Durer’s drawings have been stolen. And she gets the idea that if James (Marvin) could draw a fake drawing of Fortitude then she might be able to catch the thieves. When the plan goes wrong what will Marvin do to get the real picture back?

I rate this book a 5 out of 5 because it was a book I could never put down.

Review by AH

Works Cited
"Masterpiece Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 March 2009

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

Most girls enjoy reading teen romance novels. Unfortunately, it seems that most love stories targeted toward our age group all have the same plot lines and are very limited. Each of these stories only seems to be a variation on a theme. For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I read The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas, which really stood out from other novels in this genre.

This book is about Antonia Lucia Bella, an Italian American teenager with big dreams and hopes of finding love. Since she was a child, Antonia has dreamed of becoming a saint. She has sent the Pope tons of letters suggesting all kinds of saints — from patron saint of the fig tree to saint of quick thinking. She has always recommended herself for the job. But now she needs a certain saint more than anything else- the patron saint of kissing. Antonia is desperate for her first kiss. Only, she may be looking for a relationship with the wrong guy, when her perfect match is right before her.

Through a few miracles, humorous events, and sweet moments, Antonia learns about herself and love. Most of all, she sees that she is wonderful the way she is.

This novel is laced with the humor and struggles of dealing with family, boys, and discovering yourself. It is a fun read that I would recommend to girls looking for an entertaining coming-of-age book.

Review by KM

Works Cited
"The Possibilites of Sainthood Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 March 2009

Announcing the Highland Literary Journal

I'm really excited about this new project! Mrs. O'Connell, Mrs. Fox, Ms. Hodges, Ms. Ortega, and I got a grant this year to start a literary journal at Highland.

We are currently collecting submissions of writing from students and staff members at Highland. The writing can be poetry, prose, or non-fiction. Writing pieces should be submitted to me via email or on a flash drive. The deadline to submit work is April 17, 2009.

We are also looking for a name for the journal, cover art, and students and staff members willing to serve on the editorial board to help determine the what will be included in the inaugural Highland literary journal. I've included a copy of the application for the editorial board within this blog post.

Please see me in the Learning Center if you have any questions and stay tuned for some more updates on how the project is progressing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Caudill News

The Highland Caudill results are in, and the winner at Highland was The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Second place was Jenny Han's shug and Heat by Mike Lupica was in third place. We had 278 students vote this year. To vote in the Caudill program students had to read three or more of the nominated books. There were 20 students who read all 20 of the Caudill nominees!

Next week we'll have the Battle of the Books. There are some battles scheduled within and between classes. Any students are welcome to come to the Battle of the Books on Friday, March 13 afterschool.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban really reminded me about how the little things can be wonderful. Zoe Elias learns this when she realizes she wants to learn how to play piano and go onto Carnegie Hall. When she asks for a big, white, shiny, new grand piano, all she gets is the Perfectone old, wheezy, organ. Throughout the book, Zoe learns that the Perfectone really isn't that bad and discovers that her family and friends love her. She faces many challenges but succeeds in the end. One challange is the annual Perform-O-Rama. Will Zoe take home the gold, or fall flat on her face with the Perfectone D-60? Read A Crooked Kind of Perfect to find out!

Review by FredrickO'Charles

Works Cited
"A Crooked Kind of Perfect cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 4 March 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

If you knew that someone you loved was going to die, how far would you go to save them? Mary E. Pearson explores this concept in The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Jenna Fox has just come out of a coma after she was in an unexplained accident. She’s trying to piece together her life while trying to unscramble the mysteries of the present. Why can she remember her baptism when she was an infant but not remember what her best friends were like? Why does her next door neighbor know more about her than she does? Why is she 2 inches shorter than before? Most importantly, who was Jenna Fox and who is Jenna Fox?

On her journey Jenna will have to face obstacles bigger than odd next door neighbors, cute egocentric boys, and kind disabled girls. She’ll have to face herself and what she did that her parents are trying to make her forget. But if she forgets her past, how will she discover her future?

Overall I enjoyed the book. I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars because there were certain parts that I thought were boring and unnecessary and the ending was pathetic for a published writer. Other than that I thought that theme was great and it was an original story that is worth reading.

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"The Adoration of Jenna Fox Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 4 March 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tashis

It was lights out this afternoon at Highland. The power suddenly went out and stayed out until there were just five minutes left of the school day.

Thank goodness the library has some windows and emergency lights. We were still able to host classes for reading, although the two classes signed up to use the computer lab were out of luck.

After working for a while on non-computerized things, I decided to take advantage of the time and read along with the students in the library. I picked up a book from next year's Caudill list, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. It was such a cute, touching story. I really liked it, and it was a super quick read. Emma-Jean is a quirky protagonist who finds it a great complement to be called strange after she looks up the definition in the dictionary. She is the kind of kid who stands apart and likes to observe. However, she decides to try to help a couple people out with problems which leads her into problems of her own. Her brand of help, although clever, usually involves some level of forgery. I really liked Emma-Jean. I think this will prove a popular Caudill book, particularly with the sixth graders.

Works Cited
"Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree Cover." Online image. LibraryThin
g. 25 Feb, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy

The Wild Girls is about Joan, a girl who reluctantly moves to a new neighborhood. In the forest nearby, she discovers an eccentric girl who refers to herself as the “Queen of the Foxes”, or Fox for short. Joan and Fox become fast friends, and spend their time exploring and imagining. As Joan grows closer to Fox, and meets Fox’s father, Gus, she begins to learn more about herself and discovers a love for writing.

I was quick to judge when reading The Wild Girls: within the first two chapters I had already dismissed it as a trivial, juvenile book that wasn’t likely to be remotely unique. I began to find the story interesting and enjoy it a bit more when the girls join a writing program, and when Joan’s conflict with her family was brought more into focus. Altogether, readers of realistic fiction might be inclined to follow the colorful characters of Joan and Fox, but others might find the story somewhat bland. I would rate this story a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited

"The Wild Girls Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 29 Jan. 2009

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Bianca doesn't connect with people well; she's extremely shy. She's deadly afraid of her first day at Evernight academy where her parents are both teachers. She decides to make a statement to her parents and run away from the gloomy castle of Evernight. Before she gets too far away from Evernight she meets Lucas who tackles her thinking she needs protection from something. Lucas is apparently also an Evernight student and Bianca finds it strangely easy to talk to him. Bianca finds Lucas attractive with his rumpled bronze hair and his perfect smile. They depart and Bianca can't wait to go to orientation in hopes of seeing Lucas again.

At Evernight there are two very distinct social groups: the perfect, snobby popular ones and the losers who didn't belong. Bianca, upon arrival realizes she's in the second group. In the main hall where all the students are assembled Lucas is nowhere to be found. Even after the headmistress has dismissed everyone Bianca can't find Lucas and she is disappointed, she thought Lucas and her had really connected, but apparently it was nothing special. In the next few days Bianca is walking to class with Patrice and she sees Lucas. She immediately runs over to talk to him and he acts as though he's never met her before. Bianca is crushed and feels completely alone once again. She tries to forget about Lucas but it seems impossible. What will happen next? Will Bianca and Lucas ever end up together? To find out these answers and more read Evernight by Claudia Gray.

Overall I thought that Evernight had an outstanding cast of characters that keep you reading until the very end. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars because the plot was full of twists and turns and it was one of those books that really makes you laugh, cry, and wish for more. I would highly suggest reading Evernight to all fans of Twilight.

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"Evernight cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 29 Jan. 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Boost by Kathy Mackel

I really enjoyed the book Boost by Kathy Mackel. This book is about sports and how some people turn them into more than just fun. Savvy is a star basketball player and her older sister Callie is a flyer on a cheerleading team. Although their sports are very different, they are both looking to boost their game. When illigal steroids are found in Savvy's gym bag, she says they are not hers but no one seems to belive her. Meanwhile, her sister, Callie, is stuggling to keep her position as the star flyer on the team even after she is told she is getting too heavy and needs to drop some weight. How far will both girls go to stay on top? You'll have to read Boost to find out!

Review by FredrickO'Charles

Works Cited
"Boost Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 23 Jan 2009

The Compound by S. A. Bodeen

In a world where supposedly everything has been destroyed from nuclear war, one family survives. When warning of an attack came, Eli Yanakakis and his family escaped to an obscure, underground structure called the Compound, built by Eli's father, a rich and powerful figure. The doors to the outside are locked for 15 years, when nuclear radiation is supposed to dissipate, and can only be opened before with a password that only Eli's father knows. Unfortunately, they are running out of food, and having no choice, Eli's family turn to drastic solutions. It is during this time that Eli finally stumbles into the room meant to be for his twin brother Eddy, who along with his grandmother, did not reach the Compound in time. Eli suddenly notices that Eddy's laptop, which still had an Internet setup, was briefly connected to the Internet. Through a series of events, Eli and his siblings begin to question their father's actions, until they finally realize the horrible truth. This great novel provides constant surprises and twists, and will make you want to finish it in one sitting.

Review by I. Kanreed

Works Cited
"The Compound Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 23 Jan. 2009

The Devil's Breath by David Gilman

From the very first sentence, “The killer, like many assassins, came in the night”, to the dramatic conclusion, The Devil's Breath is action packed. And, unlike some popular books, like the Maximum Ride series, this book has a plot too! The only problem with the book is that there is a little too much of the supernatural. When 15-year-old Max Gordon’s father goes missing, Max journeys to South Africa to find him. However, this adventure is made much more difficult by mercenaries, giant sinkholes, and sabotage. This exciting novel deserves 4 1/2 stars.

Review by Demosthenes Pleasant

Works Cited
"The Devil's Breath Cover." Online image. LibraryThing 23 Jan. 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quest by Kathleen Benner Duble

Quest is a historical fiction book about the time when the crew of the Discovery try to discover a passage to the east. Different parts of the book are told by one of four people; John Hudson, the son of Henry Hudson Henry who is the captain of the Discovery, Richard Hudson, who was the brother of John, Seth Syms, a boy who was trying to escape from someone and replaced his cousin Nicholas on the Discovery, and Isabella Digges, who has fallen in love with John. I like how this book is told from four different points of view, and it’s not the kind of book that uses sailor terms.
I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Review by cecx2

Works Cited
"Quest Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Jan. 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Fairy Tale Detectives, part of The Sisters Grimm series, is a hilarious novel about two girls, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, who are orphans. They have theoretically not relatives and have been tossed around to many foster homes. When someone who claims to be their "Grandma Grimm" shows up, the girls are a bit skeptical about following her to her home in Ferryport. But soon Sabrina and Daphne find out that things aren't always what they seem in Ferryport.

I think everyone should read this novel! It's a book that you will never be able to put it down!

Works Cited
"The Sisters Grimm Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 8 Jan. 2009

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

Most of us probably head straight to the fiction section of the library, forgetting about the biography and autobiography sections. So if we never venture into that unpopular library section how much will we miss out on? Are there interesting or perhaps even entertaining books that we won’t ever know about? Honestly, I would usually keep my distance between the biography section and myself. However, after recently reading the hysterical book Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka, I saw that there actually are some great autobiographies.

Knucklehead is an autobiography of Jon Scieszka, the editor of Guys Write for Guys Read and the hilarious co-author of books such as The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man. His autobiography focuses mainly on his incredible boyhood and growing up in a family with six mischievous boys. Scieszka and his brothers were deemed “knuckleheads” by their father, which, after each amazing act of stupidity and their never-ending monkey business, is proven to be true. I really enjoyed reading this book and often times found myself laughing out loud. From breaking his brother’s collarbone four times, tying his little brother to a bed with his father’s ties, tying a babysitter up in a closet for two hours, and some crazy road trip adventures, this book is full of laughs! There were also tons of great pictures and drawings included along the text. This book was very funny and was a pleasure to read. As an autobiography, I give Knucklehead high praise, and would rate it three stars compared to all books.

Works Cited
"Knucklehead Cover." Online Image. LibraryThing. 08 Jan. 2009

Into the Volcano by Don A. Wood

Into the Volcano is an interesting new graphic novel about two brothers who go on a trip to Hawaii, where some of their relatives live. The boys get more than they signed up for, as a "research trip" into an exploding volcano reveals the true reason they are there. Sumo, the timid and less athletic brother, also must overcome his weaknesses, and his experience in the volcano changes him. Meanwhile, the brothers meet up with an unexpected person, and must escape from the volcano. This graphic novel has some great, almost cinematic drawings, and is as much about the artwork as the story. The plot, however, can be somewhat unrealistic at times. Still, this book is an exhilarating and breathtaking experience, that older and younger kids can both enjoy.

Works Cited
"Into the Volcano Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 8 Oct. 2009

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wowsa! I got hooked into this book. I had heard from a couple students and other librarians that it was a book I shouldn't miss. I agree! Although I think I actually hollered out at the end because it left me hanging and waiting for book two...

Katniss is chosen as the District 12 girl competitor for the annual Hunger Games. The games consist of 24 teens, two from each district. Life is hard in District 12, and Katniss and her best friend, Gale, have to scrounge and hunt illegally in order to help their families survive. When she travels to the capital Katniss and Peeta, the boy competitor from District 12, have to compete in the games and try to outwit and outlast the other contestants in a game of life and death that is manipulated for the interest of the viewing audience. With a little bit of everything, this book will appeal to a wide audience. There was action, adventure, fights to the death, and even some romance. This book kept me turning the pages and the end left me hanging and hungering for the sequel.

Works Cited
"The Hunger Games Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 8 Oct. 2009