Archive | May, 2013

The Arab World Thought Of It by Saima Hussain

26 May

61EvicYmBFL._SY300_The Arab World Thought Of It

By: Saima Hussain
(via NetGalley)

Publication Date: February 2013

The Arabs were the center of learning and civilization at one point in the world.  And the contributions to our current society are mind-boggling.  In this beautiful picture book, it mentions things like astronomy, free public school, ink pens and calligraphy as just a few contributions from the Arab world.  The book is laid out with gorgeous photographs and timelines to help explain the history.  There is a two-page introduction to Islam, which is vital to understanding the society.

One of my disappointments, was the lack of women.  While the author acknowledges that there are important contributions by Arab women, the book only has one page of it.  The book is short on details, but that’s not the point.  There is a page of further reading at the end that will provide more details.  This is a great introduction to the subject.

Recommended: Grades 5 & up



Max Flash, Mission 1: Game On by Jonny Zucker

26 May


Max Flash
Mission 1: Game On

By: Jonny Zuckerission
Illustrated by: Ned Woodman

(via NetGalley)
U.S. Publication Date: November 1, 2013

Max Flash works with his parents, the stage magicians.  He’s double-jointed and can twist into all sorts of crazy places.  But when he finds out his parents are also secret agents of a secret department, life gets weird.  DFEA or Department of Extraordinary Activity recruits Max to stop a lizard character from the latest video game from getting out of the video and into our world.

It’s a billion-to-1 chance, but the video game slime beast has gone missing – and wound up in the real world.  He’s back in the video game and its up to Max to find the portal and close it and get out alive.  Easy.  And he doesn’t have to do homework this weekend if he gets the job done.

Max is new to the United States, but not to the United Kingdom.  Originally published in 2007, Max Flash has five books now.  It’s fun, it’s fast-paced and easy to read.  Max should be hit with third graders everywhere.

Recommended: Grades 3-5


Fourth Down & Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty

26 May


Fourth Down & Inches:
Concussions & Football’s Make-or-Break Moment

by Carla Killough McClafferty

(via NetGalley)
Publication Date: September 1, 2013

Playing for University of Georgia, a young man died of head injuries.  UGA, Georgia Tech and Mercer disbanded their football teams.  The Ga. legislature banned football.  But, the mother of the young man asked that the sport her son loved, not be banned.  The governor vetoed the bill.  The young man died on November 1, 1897.

With this lead-off story, the book hooked me for good.  There is more history  about the danger and injuries in football.  Yale-Harvard games were particularly violent.  There are political cartoons, the rise of the referees and opinions of a U.S. President.  The book also gives a good description of what a concussion is with incredible pictures and drawings that are well labeled.

Even so, I missed an emphasis of certain data.  For example, a lot of people believe you have to be unconscious to have a concussion.  It’s not true and the book states it very clearly.  But hidden in the text is the data that only 10% of people lose consciousness.  I wish that data like that had been highlighted or made into a sidebar.  There were other opportunities to stress the information.

But for boys looking for football pictures, this book is filled with them.  And the pictures of the players in action help bring home the point of long-term loss due to concussions.

It’s on my “buy” list for the Fall season.

Recommended: Grades 4 & up.


Girls & Monsters by Anne Michaud

26 May


Girls & Monsters

by Anne Michaud

via NetGalley

Published: April 2013


For those who enjoy the macabre, this set of short stories is for you.  It’s not uplifting or happy, but it is scary.  And very weird.  In the first story, Death Song, the sea creature is like an evil siren.  But the intense story does not explain much and does not do history well and does not have a satisfying end.

The second story is Black Dog and I am not sure I like the message in the story that includes cutting as a solution, fear of dogs, genetic disorders and a tragic end.

There are a total of five short stories and if you enjoy the scary paranormal and are not looking for happy endings, then this is the book.  There a number of books in my library I do not enjoy but keep for others.  I don’t think I’ll bother with this one.

Grades 7 & up


The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

12 May



The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

Published: August, 2012

How do you pick out a book to read?  What attracts you?  Is it the author?  (This book is the first by a new author.)  Is it the title or the cover?  What moves your hand on the shelf to grab a book and look at it?  Personally, I’ve always loved a good title.  I still remember reading a long list of possible books to read and grabbing for “One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies” by Sonya Sones.  How can you beat that title?  I joked that it might be a Disney-made book.

With a daughter living in Italy, the Italian city in the title caught my eye.  The cover made it look interesting.  But, I really have no idea what the cover art has to do with the book at all.  The dress really doesn’t make sense.  But it doesn’t matter.

Mia is an American teen in an American town who is suddenly inhabited by a demon.  Her long-lost Italian (from Milan!) relatives come to her rescue, exorcise the demon and take her quickly back to protection in Italy.  Mia is suddenly in a foreign land, with relative strangers, speaking only Italian and an overriding fear that the demon will come again.  Mia encounters ghosts, demons, and family as she makes her way.  As the book progresses, so does Mia.  Her gradual transformation from young and scared to more confident and mature is natural and not forced.  And it’s interspersed with Italian food and customs.  As Mia is introduced to Italy, so are the readers.

While the book is a good story itself, it does leave a lot of dangling questions.  I look forward to reading the next one.

Recommended: Grades 7 & up

P.S. to Laura:  The book has a one paragraph explanation of the Christmas Witch!  I was very excited to learn more!


7 Tips To Help You Succeed in Middle School

8 May

Here’s a recent example of Animoto.

What Are You Trying?

8 May

I came back from Fulton’s Technology Leadership Forum having seen and learned about software products I knew, software products I’ve heard about AND stuff I had never seen.  A success!

So, the goal this summer is try as many things as possible and see what may work in the curriculum.

One teacher suggested using iPiccy for photo editing.  It’s fun.  It’s cool. You can mess with your own photograph or grab an internet image.   And imagine where a student has to grab an image for vocabulary and gets to create something interesting looking.

Here’s another idea: take a photo, record your voice giving a talk, speech, or information about a subject and use Blabberize to make the mouth move and your voice come out.  It’s silly.  Sometimes even a middle school needs silly.

I want to do more with Poetry here and I did not organize or manage it this year.  Next year, I am definitely going to try getting students to write poems and use Tagxedo to make them look interesting.  I think the advantage of the image will help motivate and inspire.  It does for me.

I have used and recommend using Prezi (online presentation software), Edumodo (Connecting people in Fulton Co. Schools), Animoto (online animation software) and Libguides.

The item that has me most excited about the possibilities with students is using SimpleBooklet.  Students can create an e-book.  I can see this happening in any class including the library.  Students can put together an introduction to the school and library.  They can put together an individual, team or class book on a specific assignment.  We will start this summer with a SimpleBooklet for the library.  Look for it later in the summer.

What are you using that’s really cool for school?