Tuesday, July 29, 2008

#17: From Ms. Drackett, Multi-age Math

While visiting my aunt in June, I noticed that every time I left the room she pulled out her book and began reading. She said the book was so good she couldn’t put it down. So, I purchased a copy of Guilt by John Lescroart and began my summer reading adventure that has included Lescroart’s Dead Irish, The Mercy Rule and The First Law. Now well into Hard Evidence, I have come to feel like the characters are part of my family.

Set in San Francisco, these books involve police detective Abe Glitsky and attorney Dismas Hardy. In each one, I have been kept guessing until the last pages about the guilt or innocence of the accused. The characters are interesting and grow and change over time. The plots are complex and satisfying for those who love this genre. I recommend that anyone interested start with Dead Irish, the first Dismas Hardy book, and go from there, although Guilt was great. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

#15 and #16: From Ms. White, Speech, Language, and Hearing

Special Note From the Blog Editor: This post is submitted by Ms. White, but it was written by her new puppy, Rogue.

I have read two books this summer on dog training. The books are: the ASPCA Complete Dog Training Manual by Bruce Fogle, D.V.M. This book has great photo illustrations to make learning easy. The second book is Training Your Dog - The Step by Step Manual by Joachim Volhard and Gail Tamases Fisher.
Both books include a wealth of knowledge regarding the canine species. Lessons are provided in a clear, well organized manner.

The books also address the psychology of the dog so owners can understand how to approach the learning process with their beloved pet. Despite recommending positive rewards and treats for man's best friend, I personally did not find any practical use for the information contained within their pages. I have chosen not to alter my behavior as recommended by the authors.

Rogue White

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

#13 and #14: From Ms. Newell, Grade 8 Language Arts

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Perhaps my favorite book of all. Jane is an orphan for whom life has not provided. However, she is far from "poor me". Instead, she lives a life if integrity and self reliance. Jane provides for herself, never taking the easy road such as marriage to a particular rich man (he does have a rather spectacular deal-killer of a flaw). Jane guides her own life and forges her own destiny. I just like that.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This is an unforgettable book. It tells the story of a young man shipwrecked on a raft with a wild tiger he calls Richard. The book itself is a journey, not just of the young man's tenuous survival, but of one's own religious beliefs. At the heart of the book is the question "Why do we belive what we believe?" and "What is the nature of this thing called Faith?". Heavy subject matter, I agree, but when explored through allegory it becomes accessible.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

#12: From Mr. Winemiller, Grade 7 Math

When I'm not reading about the Gators, I like to read science fiction for enjoyment. As I was looking for a new author at Selby, I stumbled across Douglas Adams (first science fiction author alphabetically). His first in a series of books is titled: A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. After reading a few chapters with my opinion of it going for a roller coaster ride, I was about to give up on it, until I realized it was full of satire. Adams balances futuristic imagination with humor as the main characters try to find the true meaning of life, the universe, and everything. He particularly enjoys poking fun at human nature. I find myself laughing out loud when I least expect it, which is a new experience for me with science fiction. I've completed the second book as well, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. There are five books in this series.

# 11: From Ms. Lucas, Grade 6 Language Arts

After years of prodding from my parents I finally read Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand. Going into it, I had no real interest except my parents' rave reviews, and I'll admit I was skeptical. Horses are great and all, but a whole book??? I was pleasantly surprised!!! It is a nonfiction account of arguably the best and most popular racehorse ever to run. It reads like a novel, and I found myself totally enthralled pulling for the horse and all those involved with him.

Hillenbrand tells the story of the horse and his owners, trainer, and jockeys, giving equal time to all. You learn about the hardships and successes of each, pulling for them in the victories and the defeats. Her depiction of Seabiscuit is especially touching, portraying his personality and how the humans in his life were so touched by him. The book is also quite the history lesson of our country during the Depression. Overall, I found it interesting, informative, and intriguing. I think that's pretty good for a nonfiction book!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

# 10: From Mrs. Drake, Grade 6 Science

I am reading a series of African stories by an English gentleman born in Zimbabwe, Mr. Alexander McCall Smith. The first book is, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. There are 8 so far in the series, and I have completed 5 of them.

Precious Ramotswe, at the death of her father, has begun a detective agency in the land of Botswana, Africa. Other characters are her assistant, Mma Makutsi, and her betrothed Mr. J.L.L. Matekoni. Mma Ramotswe is an unusual woman. She has chosen a profession that is uncommon for a lady in Botswana. Her adventures are purely African and you gain insight into the culture of Botswana. Great to read on a rainy day.

#9: From Mrs. Roberts, 8th Grade Science

I have read 5 food mysteries and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver. (Food is my love.) The book describes the old ways of farming and our pipeline to the food industry. Very Powerful Book - more for adults or mature kids. Check it out.

#8: From Mrs. Timmons, Multi-grade Science

If you enjoy short stories, you have GOT to read Me Talk Pretty One Day, by Dave Sedaris. I absolutely adore the author's somewhat caustic sense of humor, especially in regard to his childhood in North Carolina. I also particularly love the title of the book, because the underlying theme for all of his stories in this book (his 4th on, by the way) is the inability to communicate. For instance, he moves to France and tries to learn 10 new French words a day: exorcism, facial swelling and death penalty were at the top of one day’s list, while slaughterhouse, sea monster and witch doctor topped the following day's list. I find those words to be extremely critical when attempting to have a conversation with an individual of the French persuasion, don't you?

In one of his essays, Dave recalls that while growing up in North Carolina, he had a lisp and therefore had to go to a speech therapist, who, ironically and stereotypically enough, pronounced the word "pen" in 2 syllables. In another, he attempts to be a college professor at the Art Institute in Chicago (which goes horribly wrong as he assigns the students to observe soap operas for homework!) and you literally find yourself laughing out loud at his lack of insight and ability in being an instructor.

I highly recommend this book to everyone because you can read an essay, put the book down for a week, month or a year and pick right back up where you left off. I know Christmas is just around the corner, and his book, Holidays on Ice, is equally as impressive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

# 6 and # 7: From Ms. Connery, 7th Grade Language Arts

21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness, by Joyce Meyer, is an excellent book that offers the reader insight as to how to have peace in the middle of life’s confusion. Meyer shares personal stories that give an in-depth understanding on how to handle people and situations in the middle of stormy situations.

This inspirational book offers those who seek to have peaceful relationships and desires to have the knowledge on how to do so. This book is a quick read and gave me the support that I don’t have to ‘fix’ everyone who comes to me for help. Wow, what a relief! Some people – believe it or not – enjoy being miserable! Mrs. Meyer shares that it is okay NOT to dwell on that type of person. It’s not worth losing my peace!

Reduce Me to Love, by Joyce Meyer, is another excellent source on how to understand the ultimate gift we can give to others. Love. Meyer shares that it is impossible to give something you don’t have, so she proceeds to explain in this book how a person can ‘”unlock the secret to lasting joy”.

I loved this book for two reasons. The first is that I am developing a plotline for a trilogy I’m writing and one of the main character’s major flaws stems on love. The second reason is that this book is based on my life verse, First Corinthians 13, written by the Apostle Paul. The information in this book can be hard to deal with, because it offers the reader to see his or her reflection in the words. Sometimes it is hard to see ourselves in the true Light.