Sunday, July 31, 2011

Schooled Chapters 11 and 12

Chapters 11 and 12 are important chapters. These two chapters involve much commotion. If you don't belive me, see for yourself.

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

Finding the Meaning of Life Early

Jeremy Fink and Lizzy Muldoun are working in "community service" after "vandalizing" Harold Folgard's law office. They were in the office looking for the keys to Jeremy's dad's box. As their punishment, Lizzy and Jeremy have to work for a man named Mr. Oswald. He is a wealthy pawn broker who is moving to Florida. Their job is to help deliver items that people gave to Mr. Oswald's grandfather, Ozzy, (the original pawn broker) for money. The people were only kids when they pawned their things. For Jeremy, the job is more than delivering items to random people. It is also about hearing the sad stories behind the possessions. To me, the stories all are parts of the meaning of life. For example, a lady named Mrs. Billingsly gave Ozzy a Winnie the Pooh book that she loved and shared with her best friend, for money to buy a dress. The dress was for a ball to welcome women to society, and a man who eventually became Mrs. Billingsly's husband saw her in it. So, she learned a lesson, because she lost a friend forever, but she did get a husband.

If I was in that situation, I would get a wife first and reunite with my friend later. What would you do?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The HBWReads Blog is Being Featured at the #140edu Conference

On Tuesday, August 2nd, I have the privilege of speaking at #140edu: Exploring the State of Education NOW Conference at the 92nd Street Y, NY, NY.  My topic: The Buzz Books.  

A while back, I was asked by the conference founder, Jeff Pulver, to participate in this conference, and if so, what did I have in mind to talk about.  Immediately, I thought of the Buzz Books and the HBWReads blog.  Reading, to me, has been a difference-maker in my life, taking me from a place of shadows and ignorance, to one of luminosity and understanding.  

Scholars have recently been examining the state of reading today among the general population of children in grades 5-12, and the statistics coming out of their work paint an awful picture.  There are extreme ramifications upon our society if we raise a generation of non-readers.  So, we as a school, looked at what we thought of reading in general, and more specifically of summer reading.  We looked at reading phenomena like the Harry Potter books, the Twilight Series, and more recently, the Hunger Games trilogy.
We saw something there that caught our eye.  

Reading is a social endeavor, and it's done best when we can talk about books with people we have an interest in.  When we read a book that is outstanding, the first thing we want to do is to run and tell someone who matters to us all about it and recommend it to them.  We wanted to capture that somehow.  

When I get on stage on Monday, I'm going to talk about that idea, but I am also going to talk about the work that has been done by all of the students and teachers at the site so far this summer.  Looking back at the statistics I shared the other day, we have had wild success in terms of readers and traffic through our site.  We have had conversations around books that would not have otherwise occurred.  We are making reading viral, and helping to spread it through not only our community here in Verona, but also in other parts of the county and world.  Don't underestimate the power of your thinking.  

The conference will be live on the web, and as soon as the information is posted as to how to tune in, I'll pass it along here.  (Here is the Ustream address if you are interested in catching the conference.  I go on roughly at 11:45am)

Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Ready to be "Schooled"

I'm looking forward to Gordon Korman's booked entitled Schooled. I've only read No More Dead Dogs and enjoyed that, so I'm expecting to be pleased. I understand that this story is about a boy named Capricorn (Cap for short) who has been home schooled by his grandmother until an accident forces him into a typical classroom. Reading about different types of lifestyles has always intrigued me, and here's what I'm thinking:

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

Some Statistical Updates

Good afternoon and Happy Summer to everyone!

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!

We have had visitors from ten different countries since we began, with over eight-thousand of them from the United States.  Looking at this, I'd love to challenge you all to double this by the end of the summer, and to see how many different countries we can reach!  
Lastly, these are our total pageviews for the last month and for all time.  A pageview counts as any time a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox) loads a web page.  These number are astounding!  Your writing is being read by so many people far and wide.  

Wonderful job!

Here are my challenges to you for the rest of the summer:
  • 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 Fink: Desperate for Dad

Jeremy's new friends, Samantha and Rick, wanted to help him find the missing keys to the "meaning of life" box. So, they invited Jeremy and Lizzy to their apartment to use their Ouija board to try to talk to Jeremy's dad. Unfortunately, the seance didn't work.
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?

Among the Hidden

I just finished reading Among the Hidden while on vacation here in Omaha, visiting family and friends.  Mrs. Fusaro's post addressed many of the major ideas that the book raises, so I will attempt another entry point for discussion.

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,
Mrs. Grannemann

Thursday, July 21, 2011

HBW Reads: Schooled

Schooled by Gordon Kormon-Chapters 1-11

"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 Best and Worst Things About High School

In the spirit of Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar, I decided to write my blog entry as a top-ten list since the main character, Scott, writes many lists for his sibling-to-be in the story. After rereading this book, I spent some time reflecting on my life in high school, and I realized that a lot of the best things about that time period are also the worst things. Here's my list of the top ten things that are the best AND worst things about life in high school:

10. Choosing which college to attend
9. Parents
8. Figuring out who your real friends are
7. Prom
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!

-Mrs. Kleinknecht

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade

When I read this book I learned that one shouldn't judge somebody by their appearance. Jennifer decided she didn't like the new girl, until she began feeling sorry for her. She felt sorry when she found the new girl, Elsie, crying in the girl's room. She found out that she was a very good friend and that her social life was difficult.

Now, I don't want to give the whole book away, but has anyone else ever felt like Elsie?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What IS the Meaning of Life?

Do you ever wonder why you are here on earth? What your purpose is? What kind of mark will you make on others?  Is your purpose right now to simply annoy your little brother or sister?  To be a star soccer or baseball player?  To be another Bill Gates?  To be the pride and joy of your family? 
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?

Mrs. Fusaro

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Connections to Sleeping Freshman Never Lie

I have three young kids aged six, four, and ten months.  And since I cannot remember what if feels like to be that young, I always wonder what the two older ones were thinking while they were waiting for their younger siblings to arrive. 

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

Schooled: So Far

So far in Schooled I'm up to chapter 12. Schooled is about a boy named Capricorn Anderson who lives with his grandmother Rain in their "hippie" community, Garland. After Rain falls out of a tree and has to go to hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a former Garland hippie, Mrs. Donnelly and her judging daughter, Sophie who is totally embarrassed by Cap.

When Cap starts school it is almost time for Student Council Election. Zach Powers, the most popular guy in school, is planning on nominating Hugh Winkleman, a kid who gets wedgies everyday, but then once Capricorn comes and Zach sees how weird and different he is he nominates him, and Cap gets elected for Student Council president. Cap doesn't even know anything about government!

Once Cap gets elected the "popular" kids start harassing him. They make a fake girl fall in love with him, put impossible suggestions in the suggestion box, and give him directions to fake meetings. Then when the bus driver, Mr. Rodrigo has a heart attack while driving, Cap takes over to bring him to the hospital, when something tragic happens. And just when him and Sophie were just starting to get along!

Now I won't tell you anymore because you can read it yourself. So far I'm thinking that Naomi Erlanger is going to change the most since she seems like she feels bad for Capricorn. I don't think it's fair for Cap to get harassed just because he is new, different, and doesn't know anything.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Schooled Capters 1-10

Schooled is an entertaining book about Capricorn(Cap) Anderson, a home schooled boy from a community by the name of Garland Farm. The only residents are him and his hippie grandmother who he calls Rain. Rain was picking plums in a tree when she fell and broke her hip. Cap picks her up, put her in a car, and drives her to the hospital. Along the way, a police officer stops them and arrests Cap because he should not be driving. Meanwhile, Rain is brought to a hospital and is told she needs 8 weeks of rehab. Rain becomes furious when she is told that she needs 8 weeks of rehab and that Cap will need to live with a guardian until she is back on her feet, but Cap remains calm and accepts the fact that he will live with a guidance counselor from a public middle school, Mrs. Donelly and her high-strung, sixteen-year-old daughter, Sophie(who hates him). Cap begins attending Claverage Middle School, A.K.A C Average Middle School. Cap is very afraid because the only person he has had contact with is Rain. Have you ever been in a new situation like this? What did you do? Cap does not handle being the new kid in school, he just go through his daily routine without totally understanding what was happening during the school day. The closest Cap gets to having a friend is Hugh. Hugh, though, is not in the popular crowd and this makes Cap's life even worse. Cap cannot catch a break, Sophie dumps a bucket of water on his head because she does not understand his tai chi, to Zach Powers, a jock, sneaking disgusting objects into his locker just because he feels he can. In the real world, people can be very judgemental. People judge one another based on skin color, personal habits, popularity and even if you are physically in shape or not. It's a sad thought, but it is true. Just because someone does things a little differently does not mean they should be ignored or bullied. Have you ever been judged. Let me hear your thoughts.

The Second Half of Jeremy Fink

The first several chapters of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life were enjoyable because I was getting to know the characters, and Wendy Mass was great at making these characters interesting and real. However, it was the second half of the book that I LOVED! I know it's a Young Adult novel, but the messages that permeated the final chapters were ones that would benefit people of all ages.
Without giving away the entire plot (I need to be very careful here), these are some the messages the I took away from the book as I read: Choices, good or bad, will shape your life. Even a person who has left your life may still be thinking about you. Living simply and without too many "things" will make your life more peaceful. Life is full of potential. (I loved the apple seed quote and you just may find it hanging in my classroom this September.) Truly important things are worth struggling for. Challenge yourself by doing something you find difficult and you'll grow in self-confidence and self-esteem. And finally, although there are so many more, growing up doesn't always mean growing apart. My question to you is this: Which of the many lessons found in this book do you think is most important? Today, for me, it's the message about living simply. I say "today" because next month it might be about friendship or potential. I think the answer changes depending on our struggles at the time.
Finally, although I loved all the reminders about what's important, I didn't get choked-up or teary-eyed until page 285. Because I don't want to spoil the ending (which I thought was AMAZING), I will just tell you that it was Jeremy's Rock #1. You'll know what I mean when you read it. That part really hit me and I had to put the book down to grip my emotions. I've lived a lot of years (no, I'm not telling you how many) but his Rock #1 was hands-down the most important thing to always remember. I'm curious. Was there a particular point in this book that hit you hard? If so, what was it?
In summary, this book ROCKS! Wendy Mass is an awesome storyteller, and I am trying to get someone in my family to read it now so that I don't need to wait until September to talk about it. Blog me!
Mrs. K. Smith

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jeremy Fink

The adventures of Jeremy and Lizzy are quite humorous! Lizzy's carefully laid out plans have provided suspense and comedy so far. Poor Jeremy must be completely shaken up! As I'm reading this story, I'm wondering about Jeremy's mom. She's been behind the scenes for most of the book so far. Will she play a part in helping Jeremy open the box? Afterall, she knew about it and probably knew her husband pretty well.

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

Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini

Houdini was a man of many names. The King of Cards, he was called as his circus name. The King of Handcuffs, his magician name. Harry Houdini is his real name, or is it? Ehrich Weiss was his real name. Harry was the changing and rearranging of the letters in Ehrich. Houdini was simply the adding of the letter "I" to the end of his idol's last name, Houdin. Houdini also said he was born Appleton, Wisconsin. He was actually born in Budapest, Hungary. As you can see Harry or shall I say Ehrich not only loved magic tricks, but he also enjoyed actual tricks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chapters 9-11: The Book, Oswald Oswald, The Lamp

I just love the rising action in chapters nine through eleven.  As they say...the plot thickens.

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...
Mrs. Grannemann
P.S.  Chapter 9 made me want to reread The Tao of Pooh.  If you've never read's fun.

Jeremy Fink: The Flea Market

In chapter 4, Jeremy and Lizzy try to find the four keys at a huge flea market in New York City. I thought they would find at least one of the keys, because there were so many vendors who had boxes of old keys to sell. I felt nervous when they finally found a key that fit into a hole. Would it be the right key? Bad news. The key would not turn in the lock. Lizzy did not give up. She said, "That brings us to the next item on my chart. The one I hoped we wouldn't have to get to." What will happen next? What do you think Plan F is?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jeremy Fink - Chapters 3-5

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?

Among the Hidden - Who is hiding and why?

Among the Hidden...when I first saw this title, several questions came to mind. Who is being hidden and why? Are the people involved voluntarily hiding or were they forced into it?  Why would people be hiding?  I thought of many possible reasons why people hide and I kept coming back to one thing - FEAR.  Sure enough, Luke is being hidden by his family due to fear that the government will find out that he exists and take him away or worse...get rid of him and punish his whole family.  This seems to be a futuristic world where the population needs to be controlled.  The families cannot have more than two children or they are jeopardizing the entire society, according to the government.  Sound crazy? It's not. There are many governments across the globe today who exercise their own forms of population control and many people do defy the government and have more children than they are allotted.

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!!
Happy Reading!! 
Mrs. Fusaro :)

Jeremy Fink: Chapters 1-3

After reading chapters 1-3 of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, I think it is a very well-written, suspenseful story. I also like all of the dialogue. I especially like how Lizzy (Jeremy's best friend) and Jeremy plan out how they will search for the four keys to open his dad's special box. Jeremy's dad died five years ago. Before he died, he made the unique box to give to Jeremy on his 13th birthday. Inside the box is the "meaning of life." If I was Jeremy, I would look for a person who could pick locks. I think it would be almost impossible to find four keys that fit the key holes hidden all around New York City.
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

What Was Your Favorite Part?

What was your favorite part of the buzz book you are reading? SPOILER ALERT!!! Here are my favorites!

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!

-Mrs. Kleinknecht

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is a about a kid(jeremy of course) and his best friend lizzy. Jeremy gets a package from his dead father. It's a box with four key holes. Engraved on the lid are the words "the meaning of life". The problem is, a old friend of his father's lost the keys. There are instuctions to open the box on his 13th birthday. Lizzy and Jeremy set off to find the keys, and almost get arrested in the process. It's agreat book everyone will enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to Blog

Hello everybody! I had this problem so I am willing to give you advice on how to blog. Blogging is over thought A LOT! It is actually quite simple. Here are 3 very easy steps to blogging.

1. Summarize!

Whether it is 8 chapters or a whole book, find the main ideas and string them together in the order that they occurred.

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

Among the Hidden

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!