Friday, April 29, 2005

Graphic Nonfiction

Do you like graphic novels? You might want to try some of the new graphic nonfiction biographies. The series includes Alexander the Great, Julius Ceasar, Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes, Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln, Richard the Lionheart, Sitting Bull, Spartacus, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington. If you want to learn more about the person, there is an Internet link in the back of each book to a page with links to more information about the person. These pages are updated regularly by the publisher.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

National Geographic Online

I have looked at and read National Geographic for as long as I can remember! My parents always saved the magazines, so we had them from before World War II. By the way, that is before I was born. Before I could read, I looked at the pictures. As I was reading this month's magazine, I took note of the references to the online magazine resource. Today I visited that part of the National Geographic Website. There is so much! I looked at some of the video clips, sampled some of the wallpapers, took a poll, and just had a wonderful time exploring the extension of the magazine. Even if you don't think you would like to read the National Geographic magazine, I believe you will enjoy this Website. You may decide that you need to read the print magazine just to learn more.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Ratastrophe Catastrophe

A student just returned this book with glowing comments. He loves fantasy books and apparently this one did not disappoint him. The book is volume one of the Illmoor Chronicles by David Lee Stone. The author has changed the Pied Piper story into a funny satire. Illmoor is a continent that is home to ogres, elves, trolls, humans, and all sorts of magical creatures. Dullitch is a town with a rat problem. Diek leads the children into a series of dank caves because the piper was not paid.

You will meet some interesting characters in this book. Diek Wusapha had always been ignored until he was overcome by magic that gave him almost magnetic power over people and animals through his music. Groan and Gordo are mercenaries. Groan is an enourmous barbarian with a crocheted hat and a nipple ring. Gordo Goldeaxe is a one-eyed dwarf with a battle-axe. Tambor is an ex-sorcerer and Jimmy Quickstint wants to be a thief.

The author first got the idea for this book when he was 10-years-old. The Yowler Foul-up, the second book in the trilogy was published in 2004 in the U.K. Book three, The Shadewell Shenanigans, will be published in the U.K. in June. So far only the first is available in the U.S.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I was just reading Neat New Stuff I Found This Week by Marylaine Block, and she has listed a new search tool.
I love the name! YaGooHoo!gle. This site allows you to search Yahoo! and Google in a side-by-side format. Something new to try. I think the creator is a Firefox fan too.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Shutting Out the Sky

Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York by Deborah Hopkinson tells the reader about the life as an immigrant during the years from 1880 to 1924. She does this through the voices of five immigrants, Rose, Leonard, Maurice, Pauline, and Marcus. The reader can experience the joys and heartaches of being an immigrant and trying to fit in to the new life.These people" faced extreme poverty, prejudice, and difficult living conditions."(p. 109) Twelve-year-old Rose worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop. Pauline also was a garment worker and at the Triangle Waist Company. She later became one of the organizers of International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Even though a free public education was one of the benefits of living in America, many immigrant families could not make ends meet without having children work. Getting an education was a struggle for many immigrants. Leonard had to quit high school and later won a Pulitzer scholarship to Columbia University -- he went on to earn a doctorate in education. While this is not a novel, it has a style that gives the reader vivid images of the life of immigrants. There are many photos to give you a visual reference to the time. This book is not long, and I become so absorbed that I read it in a single sitting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


As I was voyaging on the Internet this morning, I found a site about the parrots of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. That reminded me that when our daughter went to the University of Chicago; we were amazed that Hyde Park has a flock of parakeets too. I then found an article from WGN on this subject. Further investigation led to my learning that Brooklyn also has "wild" parrots. The monk parakeets or parrots of Hyde Park seem to have first appeared in 1973. Local lore has it that they escaped from a cage at O’Hare Airport. Really the birds may have been released by owners who tired of these noisy birds. The population has grown to almost 200 birds and about 80 nests. These birds can live from 20-30 years barring any disease or accident. It seems that Chicago is a far north as they live currently. The birds are called feral parrots because they are domesticated animals living in the wild. If you want to read more about these birds, check the article in Audubon Magazine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I think I have it set so you can leave comments now, but then maybe I still don't have it right.

FDR: A Presidency Revealed.

I watched most of FDR: A Presidency Revealed, an excellent series that introduces us to the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. I learned a number of things that I had not known about before watching this series. There will be an encore presentation (they will show it again) on April 23, 7:00 pm. It gave me some insights into the life of this man who has been revered by some and disliked by others. I was also surprised by how ill he really was during the last years of his Presidency. For more information, visit the History Channel.

Robin Update

Apparently Rob the Robin was able to rest long enough that he became able to fly again. He is gone. There are no remains so we are hoping that he was able to fly out of the courtyard.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Other Books

On the way to Chicago on Saturday, I finished Artemis Fowl: the Opal Deception. I enjoyed this one, and I think that the criminal character of Artemis may truly be changing. I also think that the author has left the door open for more in this series though they will probably be taking a turn from what has been written.

I am nearly finished with Kate Klise's Deliver Us from Normal. I bought this book because I grew up just four towns north of Normal, IL - where story begins. I tell you four towns north because the towns in that part of Illinois were originally there as water stops for the steam engines on the Illinois Central Railroad - every six miles there was a town. The book isn't quite what I had expected from the book jacket, but it presents the story of a sixth grade boy whose family is poor and in his opinion definitely not "normal". He is often humiliated by his family which can be humorous and also sad.

I learned that there will be a movie made from Anthony Horowitz's Stormbreaker. Book 6 is already out in England, the title is Arkangel. You can visit the Alex Rider Website to get a chapter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Opal Deception

Artemis Fowl is back and so is his enemy Opal Koboi. If you remember, in the last book, The Eternity Code, Fowl's memory was erased. Captain Holly Short of the LEP is in trouble too. I need to get back to reading so I can find out what will happen! This is the 4th book in the Artemis Fowl series.

For those of you who have not read any of this series, I would recommend reading them in order. They are
  1. Artemis Fowl
  2. Artemis Fowl: the Arctic Incident
  3. Artemis Fowl: the Eternity Code
  4. Artemis Fowl: the Opal Deception

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I was reintroduced to fantasy by my middle child. She is an avid reader who has gone from classic literature to romance novels to Japanese manga to fantasy and back. She loves to read! Some of her favorite fantasy authors are Terry Prachett who wrote Wee Free Men and A Hatful of Sky and The Amazing Maurice (I thought this one was great!); and Garth Nix who wrote the Seventh Tower books, Lireal, Sabriel, Abhorsen, and the Keys to the Kingdom series (so far Mr. Monday, Grim Tuesday, and Drowned Wednesday.) No, she isn't a middle school reader; she will soon be finishing her master's degree.

I know many of the students enjoy fantasy, so I have read many of the books and have found many to be delightful. One of my favorites is Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; this was a book that I didn't want to end. I have enjoyed her other books too, The Thief Lord and Dragon Rider. Another great fantasy book is Eragon by Christopher Paolini, I believe the next book in this series is due out in August. Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, some Soup, and a Spool of Thread is a wonderful tale of a rather odd tiny mouse with ears that are too big who falls desperately in love with a human, Princess Pea. This is a fairy tale that has grown! Yes, she is also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie.

Did the Harry Potter books spark our renewed interest in fantasy?

Monday, April 11, 2005


As I watched SuperVolcano on the Discovery Channel last night, I was reminded of the book by Will Weaver, Memory Boy. The setting for this book is northern Minnesota after a series of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions that have changed life. It is three years after the eruptions, and the ash is still falling. Miles Newell and his family are hoping to leave Minneapolis and go north to find a better life. Miles, a 16-year-old, has invented the Ali Princess as their mode of transportation. As they travel, they find that people everywhere have changed and no one trusts anyone. One of the most interesting sections of the book for me was when they stayed at the Norway Beach Campground because I spent many summers on Lake Winnebigoshish in Bena, MN. which is just west of that campground. This book was a 2005 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award nominee.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Some New Books

I am just about to finish Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver. The setting of this book is 6000 years ago. Torak and a young wolf-cub are the protagonists. They are trying to defeat a powerful evil in the forest. They are joined in their fight by Renn. This is the first in a series called the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. I find that I want to keep reading to find what happens next.

Last night I picked up the latest Artemis Fowl, The Opal Deception. I will try to get it read quickly so I can get it out for the students. I know there will be many wanting to read this next installment.

The newest Alex Rider (character) book by Anthony Horowitz, Scopia, gives us some twists and turns. The ending is definitely a surprise! But does it mean what it seems?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Little Robin Redbreast

This poor bird apparently cannot fly and has somehow gotten into the courtyard here at the school. There is no way out for him as it is surrounded by walls on all sides. Apparently the cooks have been giving him food and water. They have named him Rob. I heard him calling on Monday and thought he was looking for a nesting place, but that was not the case. He spends his day just running around in the courtyard.

Just Beginning

This is an experiment. Hopefully it will prove to be an exciting adventure. I hope to use this space to share some of the new books in the OMS Library. I am hoping that students will take the time to tell me what they think about some of the books.