Sunday, July 31, 2011
On the ride to school, the class throws an absolute party on the bus. The bus driver, Mr. Rodrigo keeps his eyes on the road afraid of witnessing something he should not. While the jocks ambush Cap, Mr. Rodrigo has what seems to be a heart attack. He becomes unconscious and falls in the isle. Cap jumps into the driver seat and asks for directions to the hospital. A girl named Naomi gives him directions to the hospital. Naomi is actually in the group of jocks but is the nicest one in the group. The police chase Cap to the hospital where Cap is arrested for underage driving. Cap is released but has one last chance to show the cops he is a good kid. For those of you that do not know the police have seen Cap drive underage before and were not happy about it. Rain is very proud of Cap. She also informs Cap that she is getting stronger and should be on her feet and in Garland in a few weeks. The next morning, Cap does his Tai Chi to calm himself before going to the Halloween Dance meeting. Cap needs to attend this meeting because the jocks set him up and elected him class president. While doing Tai Chi, Naomi shows up and practices along with him. Cap is shocked at this. At the meeting Cap answers honestly, admitting that not one part of the dance is set up yet.
But can you blame him? I cannot blame Cap for not setting up the dance yet. He has a lot on his plate right now, plus this is not something he wants to be involved in. When you are not interested in something it is hard to be excited about it. Were you ever in a situation like this? Honestly, I have forgotten to do many things my parents have asked me because it is not a high priority to me, even though it is to them. What about you? Have you forgotten to do something vital in your life?
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
We only have one life to live, right? So we start off living it the way our parents set it up for us. If that works for us, we duplicate it to some extent. I loved my life growing up in small-town NJ, and although I may have ventured away for college, I happily created a very similar life for my own family. But what if? What if I were raised completely differently? How would my thoughts and views on things have changed? How much does my environment affect the way I think, act, and feel? I may still look like me, but naturally I'd feel differently about many things. It wouldn't make me wrong, just different! Consequently, I look forward to Cap showing me a whole new perspective. It will be refreshing to see how his experiences have shaped him, and this leads me to something else I'm thinking:
The world NEEDS people who are all different! We understand that on some level, and yet much of the world's problems stem from the fact that we can't accept people who think differently than us. So, Cap, prove to me what I already suspect. Different is refreshing, different is entertaining, and different is more than just OK; it's necessary. Our lives are short and we can't experience everything. That's why reading is so great; it allows me the chance to encounter these different people, different places, and different experiences.
I leave you with this question: Have you recently enjoyed a character in a book who was totally different than yourself? If so, I suspect you grew without even realizing it! I, for one, am looking forward to being "schooled!"
Mrs. K. Smith
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I wanted to take this opportunity (it's my turn to post today) to give you all some updates on who is reading our writing and just how far and wide we are reaching with our summer reading reflections. However, before I do that, it goes without saying that the writing, both by the teachers and by the students, has been terrific so far, and it shows your commitment to this project.
Reading has always connected us to people, be they our friends or neighbors, schoolmates or parents, we have always used reading as a means to share information, ideas, breaking news, and our thoughts on the world around us. Through this blog, we've been doing what we've always done, only now we are making our thoughts available to a much larger audience.
So, on with the statistics..
Above you can see the six most popular posts we have had since the writing officially began on June 17th. If you don't see one of your posts up there, give it time, some of these have been around for over a month!
- Increase the number of readers on our page to include people from more than the ten countries we have already.
- Keep connecting the stories to your own lives. Our posts with the most reaction seem to be those where the writer makes a connection between the book and their own experiences.
- Spread the word among your friends. The more people we have talking about our books, the better!!
Monday, July 25, 2011
Jeremy would be amazed if he could contact his dead father. He spends a lot of time thinking about ways to do it. For example, he is interested in outer space and time travel. Earlier in the book, he thought that if he could use time travel, he could go back to that day when his dad died and change it. Then, he used a Ouija board to communicate with his father, even though he wasn't sure it would work.
It seems like Jeremy will do anything to try to be with his dad. I can't blame him for trying. Would you do the same thing? Do you believe in time travel and Ouija boards?
This book made me think about families and farming. I was especially interested in the relationships between Luke and his mother and father. I thought it was difficult to watch the Garner family trying to survive after the government had made so many restrictions on how they could make a living. This was a stress on the family, especially when Luke's mother had to start another job. In addition, Luke's father is constantly obsessing about the farm, and neither parent has much time left for Luke. I couldn't even believe that Luke was no longer allowed to sit at the table for meals! I know that Luke's brothers, Matthew and Mark, will probably continue in their father's footsteps as farmers, but what can Luke do for a living when he gets older if he remains hidden? I realize that he's only twelve, but he has to have dreams to nurture!
I always laugh when I tell someone in New Jersey that I'm from Nebraska and they ask if I grew up on a farm. The first and last farmers in my family were my great-grandparents. Modern farms out here are big business; corn and soy as far as the eye can see. Obviously, as I blog here from Nebraska during the heat wave, the news includes reports about the crops. If corn prices go up, it means higher food prices for everyone. This reminds me of the futuristic world of Among the Hidden. Isn't it wonderful that good literature can connect to you wherever you are?
Among the Hidden is one of the best books I've read in a long time! It was a real page turner. I plan to read the entire series. Until next time,
Thursday, July 21, 2011
"When we lock things away," he said with conviction, "we're really imprisoning ourselves."
This is exactly how Capricorn Anderson feels, imprisoned inside of C Average Middle School knowing no one and nothing, and being locked away from Garland Farm,his family, and his home.
Cap is a very interesting guy. Everyoneone else at C Average Middle School agrees which is why they have nominated him as eighth grade president, the laughing stock of the school. Cap is perfect for president, but as time passes, some of the eighth graders have realized that Cap is too good for the job.
Cap has changed from a laughing stock to the eighth grade president hero. This is because of Cap trying to adapt in the real world. Although he meditates in front of his locker everyday, he will step up and accept a challenge such as driving a school bus and risk being arrested. It is up to Cap do whatever it takes to be the best eighth grade president C Average Middle School ever had.
10. Choosing which college to attend
8. Figuring out who your real friends are
6. All school dances for that matter
5. Your first love
4. Learning to drive
3. Your first job
2. Realizing that you really are growing up
1. Finding out who you are
How can these things be both good and bad, you ask? Let's see;
#10- Choosing a college- It's an important decision. What will you study? Where will you live? What friends will you meet? Which college will accept you? What will the admissions boards of the colleges think when they examine the supposed summary of who you are: the SAT scores, grades, and application that can never truly sum up the person you are and the promise you hold? It's an important decision, and it's stressful, and it consumed me much of junior year. In the end, you will go where you go, and you will like it or not like it, or maybe a little bit of both, but either way, you and your parents will make a big decision about your future. Maybe you won't even go to college. Whatever happens, you will be alright. Figuring that out is the really cool part of the whole process.
#9 Parents- You love your parents, of course, but they also drive you nuts! I, for one, longed for more independence when I was in high school. But my mom was not too impressed with me when I lost my car keys twice in less than a month. Yeah, that actually happened. But what would we do without our parents?
#8 Friends- Figuring out who my real friends were was a painful process for me. Maybe some of you have gone through this in middle school. It's taken me over 30 years to realize that I have to be my own best friend. I have to enjoy my own company. Also, when you find a true friend who loves you as you are, someone who can make you laugh but watch you cry.... it's truly a blessing.
#7 Prom- Finding a dress, finding a date, finding a new date when things didn't work out with the first dare... Oy. What an ordeal the whole thing was! But guess what? I married my prom date, and it's been working out very well!
#6 School dances- Fun, but also a big hassle.
#5 First love- Think of all of your relationships as a mirror of who you really are. Sometimes, you will like what you see. Sometimes, you won't. But if you take a good, hard look at yourself, you can start to change the face in the mirror.
#4 Learning to drive- Nothing is cooler than cruising in your car with your friends when you are a teenager. Nothing. Learning how to drive? I am still working on that!
#3 First job- My first job was working at a day care. It was not easy. Sometimes I loved it; sometimes it was stinky, literally. But your first job is an important step in your life. You'll find out a lot about yourself.
#2 Growing up- Growing up means that you have responsibilities, which can be a drag. It also means that you can be your own person. You can make your own decisions, answer your own questions, and solve your own problems. It feels good.
#1 Finding out who you are- I made this one number one because it's the most important in my mind. It's not easy, but it's crucial to your happiness. I think finding out who you really are is an ongoing process, but it begins in middle school and high school. Hopefully, you will like the person you discover. Chances are, if you like that person, most other people will too.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my post. I know that it's rather long, so thanks for reading until the end. What would you add to my list? Do you agree or disagree with any of the items that I have chosen to include?
For more insight into the life of one witty and wise teenager, read Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar. I recommend it to students entering 7th and 8th grades. Happy reading!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Now, I don't want to give the whole book away, but has anyone else ever felt like Elsie?
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This is an age old question that Jeremy and his friend (not girlfriend), Lizzy, set out to find out in Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. I know several people have already written about the story events and adventures that Lizzy and Jeremy go on to find the "keys" to unlock what life is all about, so I will not repeat any of that. However, there are a few things, I must comment on about the novel.
First, Wendy Mass does a wonderful job of pulling the reader in, creating interesting characters and showing how both main characters change from the beginning to the end. There is adventure, humor, and lots of connections to be made throughout the story. The ending is fabulous, and I agree with Mrs. Smith - you might want to get a tissue handy once you get to page 269.
One of the most profound things in the book (and there were a couple of them) that hit me was the folktale about the wolf on page 271. That is something that both kids AND adults should read. We all have wolves fighting in our heads. It's kind of like the angel and devil on your shoulder concept. But the overall point is that we DO have power over our actions. It's the qualities we feed that set our path for life. It reminds me of a line from "A Muppet Movie" when that famous green frog, Kermit, sang, "Life's like a movie, write your own ending; keep believing, keep pretending." We can all write our own endings and hopefully along the way, we will be wise enough to realize what really matters in life. The key or the "rocks,: as Jeremy finds out, are what really matters. The sooner people realize that, the more they will enjoy life and its truly important moments. Have you started your rock collection?
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Scott Hudson, newly a ninth-grader and the main character in David Lubar's Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, gave me some insight into what goes on in the mind of a child waiting to meet their next sibling. Only, Scott provides this valuable information through the eyes of a much older child. Upon finding out that his mother is expecting, and upon going through the trials of being a freshman, Scott does what any self-respecting big brother would do: he creates a survival guide for his younger sibling through his journal entries.
Now, my oldest reads and writes, of course, but he wasn't ready for this type of undertaking when he was waiting for his sister and brother to be born. However, I do think it might be a great summer project. We could even create the guide through short video diary entries like they do in "Good Luck, Charlie!"
That's an idea I'd love to see move forward in my house this summer! I'll be sure to keep you posted on the progress.
What about all of you--is there something you feel like you could create a "survival guide" for?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Also, I've just been introduced to Jeremy and Lizzy's new twin neighbors. Their personalities are far too interesting to not be included in the book in some way. I'm looking forward to seeing how they play their parts.
It seems as though Jeremy's struggle will continue with plenty of laughs, trials, and mishaps!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
In chapter nine, Jeremy and Lizzy's task for the day is to return the book to Mrs. Billingsly. This is their first task, and they don't know what the purpose is so they read the contents of the letter to learn more. It turns out that Ozzy Oswald would pawn items for teenagers back in the day, and now Jeremy and Lizzy are asked to return the items to their owners. The book brings back memories for Mrs. Billingsly but Jeremy learns an important fact of life. Mrs. Billingsly could not have known the outcome of her actions...pawning the book to buy a dress. Yet choices are part of everyday life and who knows how they affect others down the road. And yet, we manage to live with all of them. Good or bad, they make us who we are.
In chapter ten, Jeremy and Lizzy learn more about the identity of Oswald Oswald, the grandfather who started the pawn business. I particularly like the way he would make the teenagers type their reasons on the typewriter to discourage all but the most determined children.
In chapter eleven, Jeremy and Lizzy return a lamp (a Tiffany, no less) to its original owner. Mr. Rudolph ends up being an eccentric guy who had pawned his mothers lamp to buy a watch, which was incredibly useful to him. He made a million dollars in the stock market, gave most of it away and now leads a simple life. It turns out that Mr. Rudolph practices meditation and has given a lot of thought to the meaning of life. He quotes a wise man's adage "We can count how many seeds are in the apple, but not how many apples are in the seed."
Nobody knows what the future holds. But you have to face life with a sense of adventure! I have always liked the saying, when life gives you lemons...make lemonade. Think of the times when something turned out different from what you expected. Was it a good surprise? If not, did you learn something?
This was a great book. Until my next blog entry...
P.S. Chapter 9 made me want to reread The Tao of Pooh. If you've never read it...it's fun.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
I have just finished chapters four and five and I am not surprised that Jeremy and Lizzy didn't find anything at the flea market because I didn't think that Harold gave the keys away. I did think that in chapter three, the man at Larry's Locks and Clocks might be able to make the keys, but it was so complicated that he wasn't able to do it. Their plan to go in to Harold's office just might work, but I don't know if they will find all of the keys. Do you think they can find the keys in Harold's office?
Anyway, throughout the story, many questions kept arising while I was reading. What was it like for Luke to not be able to go outside? (I thought this as I was sitting on my patio enjoying a beautiful summer day.) What was it like to not have a friend to play with? to talk with? to confide in? to goof around with? All of these things set the stage for me, and it was easy to sympathize with him. I also wondered something that is from my history background. How much of what a government tells us is really true? In this story, Luke's parents believe everything that the government says. However, Jen's family is way more lenient. Can the government really track them? Does our own government track us? What happens when people stand up to their government? Well, that one can be answered by looking into history. There are a lot of parallels with this story and our society today.
This was a great novel and I think you will really enjoy it. It is suspenseful and has several twists and turns. I like books that are not predictable and this one surely is not! The great thing is, if you really enjoy this, there are several more, as it is the first of many in a series.
I hope this was helpful and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!!
Mrs. Fusaro :)
I would get butterflies in my stomach and feel sad if I got a special box for my birthday from my dad who died five years ago. How would you feel?
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Among the Hidden:
I love the choice that Luke makes at the end. I was sad about what happened to Jen, but I don't think that Luke would have been so brave if events had unfolded differently.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life:
I love the hula hoop scene. Talk about true friendship! Of course, I love the letter at the end. It makes me cry every time I read it.
My favorite part is when Cap drives the bus! I know it's unrealistic, but a totally fun and necessary part of the plot. That's when everyone changes their minds about Cap. I also love what he has engraved on the bracelet.
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie:
I have so many favorites here:
1) I cheered for Scott when he visits Mouth in the hospital. You never know how much you mean to someone.
2)I was surprised when Scott's brother reveals his problem with reading. It made me wonder if any of my students ever suffered in silence like that.
3) I loved just about everything about Lee's character. I was so happy when Scott finally has an epiphany about her.
4) All of the Tom Swifties!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
2. Relate it to the World
(I suggest this right after your summarizing) Now that you've hopefully read at least a part of the book and you know ideas from the book, think what you would do if this happened to you or a close friend or family member. This is a HUGE eye catcher!
Finally #3. Question the Reader
An easy way to get people to reply to your post is to ask questions! Get their brains working and ask for answers from opinions to what do you think will happen next.
Order means nothing, but this is how I look at it. If you follow this order though, your blogging life will be easier.
Thank you for your time. Did this help you?
Friday, July 1, 2011
I hope everyone’s vacation is off to a great start and you’re all excited about HBW Reads. I’m just a few chapters into Among the Hidden, but I am enjoying it a great deal. The first thing that I want to write about is “magical words”. This is just a term I use for a sentence, phrase, or paragraph that stands out to me. As a reader when I come across one, it makes me put the book down for a moment and think about where the author may be heading or if these words were the initial inspiration for the book. As a writer, when I come up with something like this it tends to take over my life. I need to find something to write on - it could be a napkin, paper bag, or anything that is nearby. I’ve even left myself voice mail so I wouldn’t forget (this is before iphones and texting!). Anyway, Chapter 2 had a magical sentence for me: “Somehow, Luke never got as old as Matthew and Mark.” This sentence made me think about all of the different directions the book could go in, as well as how it has meaning in my own life. It’s the kind of sentence that would make a great opening to a story. It’s like a literary seed.
I also want to comment on how it’s not clear to me at this point when this story is taking place. At times I feel like it takes place in the past; this is mainly due to the characters' dialogue and the way the author describes the setting. However, because of the theme (population control) and the way the government is referred to, I also think it may be the future. I like not knowing- it adds a little extra mystery.Finally, my last comment is about population control. Many of you may know that population control has been used by a few countries to combat famine. Until starting this book, I never thought about how it was enforced and the lives of children who were born into “filled families”. I did a little research on population control and found it to be fascinating. I love it when a book makes me curious about a topic. Do some of your own research!