Archive | November, 2013

The Girl on Fire

28 Nov

Catching FireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I am a Suzanne Collins fan.  Yes, I read all three books.  Yes, I saw and enjoyed the first movie.  Yes, I did reread the book within the last month – just to get ready.  And, yes, I finally saw “Catching Fire” on the big screen.

YES – You should go see it!  The movie stays amazing close to the story of the book.  I believe that all of Johanna’s lines  (played by Jena Malone) may be directly out of the book – word for word.  I like the addition of President Snow’s granddaughter to sum up the feelings in the capital.  Is it in the book?  No.  But you can’t put everything in the movie so they did a great job capturing the emotions.

This book spends a good bit of time setting up the situation in the districts and how district 12 is faring.  The movie does a good job explaining it too.  In the Hunger Game arena, they follow the book and it is really well done.

Rated: PG-13 for violence.  I think they bleep out Johanna’s cursing. <grin>


The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

28 Nov

The House of HadesThe House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

Published by Disney – Hyperion Books
Copyright 2013

The Mark of Athena ends on a cliff hanger with Percy and Annabeth falling into Tartarus.  This starts back on the Argo II fighting monsters.  As the seven travel on their mission, each one meets with one or two or more challenges.  Most of the challenges are individual.  Several are set up from minor gods and goddesses to test or kill the heroes.  Each one undergoes change.  And it’s pretty darn exciting too.

I think the biggest disappointment in this book is that it feels more cookie-cutter type.  Jason was tested.  Now Leo needs to be tested.  Now it’s Nico’s turn.  While the tests are wildly different and highlight each hero’s abilities, it still plods a little from one challenge to another.  This book may just be a book setting things up for the big finish.  But it disappointed in both its length and its method.  A shorter, tighter story may have been better.

Having said all that, I’m a big Riordan fan and I own a personal copy and bought two for my library.  I just look forward to the next one.

Recommended: Grades 5 & up


Towering by Alex Flinn

20 Nov



Towering by Alex Flinn

Copyright 2013

I admit that I’ve been busy and haven’t kept up with releases of favorite authors.  (I hesitate to admit that I haven’t read the latest Riordan but the Thanksgiving holidays will take care of that!)  Still, I found Towering at the DeKalb Public Library and grabbed it.

Wyatt lost his two best friends and goes to live with a woman whose daughter was his mother’s best friend.  Got it?  In a separate story, Rachel is left to live in a tower by herself – no way out, of course, and no real connection to the real world.  She doesn’t even know who “Mama” is.  Wyatt hears her sing when no one else can.  And Rachel recognizes him from her dreams.  And her hair grows magically at certain times.

I really like Alex Flinn’s twists on fairy tales though Beastly may still be my favorite.  So reading about Rapunzel (or Rachel in this version) had to have some interesting twist.  It did.  And, I hesitate to say it, but it twisted the fairy tale out of reality.  Okay, I know that sounds weird, but the story doesn’t stay plausible even in terms of a fairy tale.

I think the saddest part of the whole story was the letter from Rachel’s mother to her daughter.  I can’t imagine so short a life with no purpose or accomplishment except to give birth to the One.

As harsh as the criticism is, the reality is that I will purchase a copy for my library.  The book is still very readable.  And it may turn out that middle schoolers aren’t nearly as picky with details as I am.  I’ll let them decide.

Note: there is an understated evil theme of giving drugs to unsuspecting people.

Recommended for grades 7 & up


Quick Tips: Show Them What You Mean

10 Nov

So you may not have a sophisticated broadcast system or SMART board or LCD projector, but you still want to show kids what it looks like.  You may grab screenshots (on the PCs it’s using <SHIFT><PrtScn>) or use your camera/phone/tablet to take a picture of the screen.  If it’s more than you want to show, use something like Paint to crop the picture to exactly what you’re intending to show.

You can now get fancy – using good ‘ol PowerPoint or anything else you find.  Insert the picture into PowerPoint, add arrows, pointers, comments.  Then, if you can’t show PowerPoint on your board or you just need to print, you can always do a SAVE AS… to a “jpeg”.  It will actually save each slide as a separate picture file.  Now use your pictures any way you want.  Upload, put them in Animoto, send them to Edmodo, or find the perfect app for you.

Don’t look at your technology as limiting – use what you have to explore the possibilities!  When in doubt, ask a student.  They may have great suggestions.


One More Time! “Shaking Up the Morning Broadcast”

6 Nov

Thank you for the awesome response to today’s presentation “Shaking Up the Morning Broadcast: Moving Away from Talking Heads”.  I’ll repeat on Thursday, 11/7 @ 12:15pm in the Kenyan 1-2 rooms.  Join me at GaETC conference!  The PowerPoint presentation is online at GaETC and here.Barber GaETC Shaking Up Morning News