Thursday, October 28, 2010

Module 4: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life as We Knew It. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Print. ISBN: 9780152058265

"Sometimes I've thought I'm keeping it for people 200 years from now, so they can see what our lives were like."
"Sometimes I've thought I'm keeping it for that day when people no longer exist but butterflies can read."
"But today, when I am 17 and warm and well fed, I'm keeping this journal for myself so I can always remember life as we knew it, life as we know it, for a time when I am no longer in the sunroom."

A catastrophe has hit the earth...or better yet the moon. An asteroid has hit the moon and knocked it closer to the Earth. When this happens the Earth is changed forever; volcanoes going off every where, floods, and death everywhere you look. Miranda and her family live in a small Pennsylvania town, and they are going to have to learn how to survive as everything collapses around them. We follow Miranda's account of the events through the diary she keeps through it all.

As you start reading Miranda's diary, you know what is coming. What you do not realize how much would be effected if the moon is ever knocked closer to the Earth. Miranda and her family (her mom and two brothers) are just your everyday family. But everyone goes into survival mode once the moon hits. At times, Life as We Knew It is so realistic that it will give you chills. By writing this book in a journal format, Susan Beth Pfeffer is able to create the raw emotions that a catastrophe would create. Each major problem seems to lead to another problem, but some how Miranda and her family make it through. A School Library Journal reviewer stated, "Pfeffer tones down the terror, but otherwise crafts a frighteningly plausible account of the local effects of a near-future worldwide catastrophe. The author provides a glimmer of hope at the end, but readers will still be left stunned and thoughtful." Who would have thought the moon being knocked closer to the world could inspire such a gritty but hopeful tale?

Since the book is told from Miranda's point of view, students will each take a major event in the book and write it from another character's point of view. Students will be expected to write it like a journal entry.

Peters, John. "Life as We Knew It." School Library Joural. Amazon. Web. 7 Nov. 2010.

Module 4: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Meyer, Stephenie. Eclipse. New York: Little, Brown, 2007. Print. ISBN: 9780316160209


"You don't understand. You may be brave enough to live without me, if that's what's best. But I could never be that self-sacrificing. I have to be with you. It's the only way I can live."

In this third installment of the Twilight series, we find ourselves in the middle of a love triangle of sorts. Edward is back and ready to prove his love to Bella, and Bella is ready for him to...except for this tiny problem of a werewolf taking up some of her heart. When the vampires and werewolves have to work together to defeat an evil they do no completely understand, Bella will finally have to immortal life with Edward or a mortal one with Jacob.

Although the first two books created a cult following for Stephenie Meyers, Eclipse is what brought her life-long fans. In this edition, the characters really developed independently and in a unifying way. The author plays down Bella's dependency, and we are able to see a stronger person taking her place. Although set in a realistic setting, everything involving the atmosphere takes on a sinister feel. At times you will wonder, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, but in the end, lines are drawn. The New York Times states, "Meyer's trilogy seethes with the archetypal tumult of star-crossed passions, in which the supernatural element serves as a heady spice." Readers of this series will not be disappointed with Eclipse.

Much of this book is based on folklore of vampires and werewolves. Students will write down some of the myths of vampires and werewolves that they know and that came out of the book, and then research where they came from.

"Eclipse." The New York Times. Amazon. Web. 07 Nov. 2010.

Module 4: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print. ISBN: 9780439023481


" I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment with I will finally have to let go."

Katniss Everdern's life has been about keeping her family safe and fed. But all of the that comes crashing in on her during the District's "reaping". Katniss and fellow District 12 student, Peeta, are chosen to be a part of the "Hunger Games". The Games are the Capital's way of keeping all the Districts in check. Each district is expected to send one girl and one boy to partake in a kill or be killed, winner take all game, which is televised for the entertainment of the rich. As Katniss prepares herself for the games, she realizes that there is more to Peeta than she thought. Will she survive long enough to know the truth about everything?

As you read Hunger Games, you are taken right with Katniss. You are pulled out of her home, into an unfamiliar city, and then into the arena where everything just wants you dead. Suzanne Collins has created a country in the future, where each the "Capital" is dependent on each District for something, but the Districts have no power. Katniss is about as real as a character gets with her raw emotions and passion to protect the ones she loves, whether she knows she loves them or not. Although very realistic in some ways, much of Hunger Games deals with the unbelievable, such as skin tented green, trackerjays, and the ability to rid yourself of every scar you have ever received. A Booklist starred review states, "Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance." This book has a little bit of everything in it, and with pull all readers into its pages.

This book is based on the idea that there has been a major world disaster in which the United States has had to completely change its location and government system. The students will be given a map of the present-day America, then by using information in the book, try to figure out where each district is located. In order to prove their theory, students will need to cite specific quotes from the book.

"Hunger Games." Booklist (2008). Amazon. Web. >http: sr="8-1-spell/qid=1289166204/ref=dp_proddesc_0ie=utf8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1289166204&sr=8-1-spell">.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Module 3: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Deuker, Carl. Gym Candy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Print. ISBN: 9780618777136

“We both understand that the games that mattered were the games yet to be played – my games.” For as long as Mick can remember, he has been living in his dad’s shadow. That is until he learns the truth about his dad’s pro career, or lack thereof. Now Mick just does not want to make the same mistakes that his dad did. As he starts high school football, he knows he has the skills, quickness, and attitude to be the best, but he thinks he is missing the strength. When hitting the weight room does not lead to the results that he wants, Mick starts trying other avenues to reach his goal…. steroids.

Carl Deuker has written a novel that takes an in depth look at the use of steroids. Gym Candy does not sugar coat the effects that steroids can have on you, but instead puts them right out in the open. Mick seems like such a normal teenage guy. He has a great support system at home (although dad is pushy at times), a best friend who can get him the ball, and a ton of talent for the game of football. The problem comes around when Mick has to be the best no matter the cost. This story can be hard to read at times due to the nature of the subject. Anyone who has seen a friend, family member, or team member go through this will relate to what all the characters are going through. “Deuker skillfully complements a sobering message with plenty of exciting on-field action and locker-room drama, while depicting Mick’s emotional struggles with loneliness and insecurity as sensitively and realistically as his physical ones,” says Booklist. Emotions run high in this sports novel.

Steroid use has been heavily documented in the news and in research. Students could research what steroids are, the effects (both wanted and unwanted), and long term effects. Each student would then be given a personal story found by the teacher discussing how steroids effected this a specific person.

"Gym Candy." Booklist 104.1 (2007). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, 1 Sept. 2007. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.

Module 3: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen: a Novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print. ISBN: 9780618683079

“Because as it turns out- and I’m sure this won’t be a revelation to anyone out there with half a brain, even though it was to me- that life isn’t all about football.” D.J Schwenk is just an ordinary teenage girl... if you call working a dairy farm, having a family who really doesn’t “talk” to each other, and playing football ordinary. It all starts off when a family friend, who happens to the football coach for D.J.’[s rival school, asks D.J. to train his star quarterback, Brian Nelson. As they train through the summer, D.J. realizes how much she loves playing football and how much she wants to play for the school. It gets complicated when D.J. starts falling for Brian. Can they find a way to make it work on and off the field?

When a book claims to be a sports book, the reader does not think there will be a complex story line. What Dairy Queen does is take a girl who has to quit basketball because she has to help on her family farm. Add in a cute quarterback who she is training, a desire to play football on her hometown team, a best friend that thought they were dating, and a family feud, and you have the multi-layered story created by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. As confident as D.J. is in her ability to train Brian, you would think that would transfer to the times she needs to talk with her family. D.J. is a girl that anyone can connect with, as well as someone you want to get to know better. While the setting is in Wisconsin, you can see this story happening in any small town. The Booklist review says, “This humorous, romantic romp excels at revealing a situation seldom explored in YA novels, and it will quickly find its place alongside equally well-written stories set in rural areas, such as Weaver's Full Service (2005), Richard Peck's The Teacher's Funeral (2004), and Kimberly Fusco's Tending to Grace (2004).” After readers finish this book, they will be dying to read the next two installments.

Many readers do not understand what working on a dairy farm entails. Students could research the hours, labor, and other responsibilities that come with being the only person working on a small dairy farm. Then I would have them draw up what their typical day during the summer looks like. The students could compare and contrast how different each life is and how they are the same.

"Dairy Queen." Booklist 102.15 (2006). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, Inc., 1 Apr. 2006. Web. 24 Oct. 2010.

Module 3: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Carter, Ally. I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You. New York: Hyperion for Children, 2006. Print. ISBN: 9781423100034

“I guess a lot of teenage girls feel invisible sometimes, like they just disappear.” This sentence alone describes how so many middle school girls feel. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I Would Have to Kill You follows Cammie Morgan through the first semester of her sophomore year at Gallagher Academy. Although the nearby town thinks Gallagher Academy is a prep school for rich, dysfunctional girls, it turns out to be spy-in-training school for girls. Both of Cammie’s parents were spies, and Cammie feels that she is just expected to follow in those footsteps. What Cammie does not expect to have open is to fall for a town boy who CANNOT know her secret. With the help of her friends, Bex, Liz, and Macey, Cammie will try and have a “normal” relationship with Josh while having to lie to everyone around her.

In I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I Would Have to Kill You, Ally Carter has created a setting that is very isolated which suits the book. This place is set close enough to a town to be known by them, but far enough to safe guard their secrets. Cammie Morgan seems like such an ordinary girl, but as the book progresses you realize there is much more to her. Although at times Ally Carter seems to be trying too hard to write from a teen’s point of view, she seems to hit her stride by the end of the book. As Cammie and her friends spy on Josh, go through his garbage, and just go through their daily lives, you realize that no matter the setting, teenage girls are all the same. School Library Journal’s review states that, “It will likely attract readers who enjoy lighthearted, frothy tales and squeaky-clean romances.”

Throughout this book are some very interesting inventions. Students could invent a couple of new ones that maybe Cammie would need. They would draw up the invention, describe it’s functions, and then write about how Cammie would use it in the story.

The students could also do a four person “T-Chart” to compare Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macey. They are four very unique characters with many great qualities.

Doyle, Miranda. "I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I Would Have to Kill You." School Library Journal (2006). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, Inc., 1 July 2006. Web. 24 Oct. 2010. .