The Perpetual Learner

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     Hello, all you young readers! Many of you enjoy graphic novels and the fantasy genre. I have news about a fantastic novel for all of you to read.

     Students taking the advanced English course will be reading the novel by Jeanne DuPrau, City of Embers. The book became a bestseller soon after being published in 2003. A film based on the novel was released in 2008. The graphic novel adaptation by comic book artist Niklas Asker was released in 2012 and is available on Scribd!1

     What is scribd?       It's an online library service. For a small monthly fee, you can read as many of the books or listen to the audiobooks in the library. There are titles for the whole family. You also get free access to other services like CuriosityStream and ConTV. Who said reading isn't fun?

City of Ember: The Graphic ... by Random House Teens

     Now, for the advanced students, you will be studying the far more exciting full novel! This is the kind of book you will enjoy reading so much, you will find it difficult to put down. For the harder parts, we are always right beside you to help. Here are some pointers for you to get started.

Author     Jeanne DuPrau (born 1944 in San Francisco, California) is a writer, best known for The Books of Ember, a series of science fiction novels for young people. She lives in Menlo Park, California.

    Her bio profile on Goodreads2 describes her as someone that appreciates the difficulty involved in writing well, but she remains motivated to achieve the goal all the same. She sounds like each one of us in some way, and an excellent role model for us to follow as we tackle our studies.

Brief Description of City of Ember detailed summary, provided at Spark Notes3

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever!                                             Scribd graphic novel version 1

Suggested support material

  1. Jeanne DuPrau, 2012. City of Ember Graphic Novel adapted by Dallas Middaugh with art by Niklas Asker
  2. Jeanne DuPrau, 2003. City of Ember RandomHouse Goodreads
  3. Summary and study guide Spark Notes
  4. Wendy Dillon (Narrator), 2004. City of Ember ListenLib. EAudiobook
  5. Registered students can access the class library

#dystopianFiction #albatross2 #graphicnovel

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The Maze Runner is a 2009 young adult dystopian science fiction novel written by American author James Dashner and the first book

released in The Maze Runner series. The novel was published on October 6, 2009, by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, and was made into a 2014 major motion picture by 20th Century Fox, directed by Wes Ball.

Description: Wikipedia & Spark Notes Image: Audible 1

Characters (adapted from Spark Notes)

Thomas A teenage boy and the story’s main protagonist. Inquisitive and quick-witted. He often rejects authority. Caring, loyal. Shows responsibility to those around him. Courageous and impulsive. His heroic acts earn him both friends and adversaries.

Teresa A teenage girl and the only female resident of the Glade. Strength, intelligence, confidence, and fearlessness. Teresa shares a telepathic connection with Thomas, as well as a past neither remembers. Though a target of suspicion, she proves herself to be trustworthy.

Chuck An awkward, chubby Glader around age 12 or 13. Thomas’s first real friend in the Glade. His silliness annoys some of the Gladers. His abilities are underestimated.

Alby Leader and oldest of the Gladers. He tries to maintain order at all costs. Seen as mean or harsh, though he sometimes jokes and allows himself to be vulnerable.

Newt A former Runner who serves as second-in-command after he is injured in the Maze. He is Alby’s closest and most trusted ally. He is kind, friendly, and trustworthy, motivated by his care for the Glade’s residents.

Minho The Keeper of the Runners, Minho is fast, both mentally and physically. Smart and strong-minded, he acts based on his deep knowledge of the Maze. He has a sarcastic sense of humor, but may also be quick-tempered. A trusted and loyal friend to Thomas and Newt.

Gally The main antagonist. He is the keeper of The Builders, and a loud-mouthed bully. Gally dislikes and distrusts Thomas. He cares about the safety of the Glade and believes in the importance of rules.

Ben A Builder who has been stung by a Griever. The attack has altered Ben’s former personality and left him mentally unstable and prone to physical violence.

Freak, that’s the Number One Rule, the only one you’ll never be forgiven for breaking. Ain’t nobody—nobody—allowed in the Maze except the Runners. Break that rule, and if you ain’t killed by the Grievers, we’ll kill you ourselves, you get me?                                                                                          Spark Notes 2

Suggested support material

  1. Mark Deakins, 2009 The Maze Runner Listening Library Audiobook
  2. Summary and study guide Spark Notes quiz
  3. James Dashner Following Author's site
  4. James Dashner, 2009. The Maze Runner PenguinRH Ebook
  5. Registered students can access the class library

#adventure #dystopianFiction #albatross2

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Summary: When a young boy reluctantly becomes involved in his school play, he takes on not just the role of 'the old crone' but also a journey of discovery about his family.

A wonderful drama ensues in school, on the stage and at home, as the boy's relationship with his father becomes more authentic when some secrets buried in a dusty box in the attic are unveiled. Summary: Image credit1

     Students found this book a little confusing, perhaps due to the character's tendency to allow his imagination to take over whatever he is doing in the real world. Later, however, as students began to grasp the unusual storytelling mode, they were able to enjoy the story about an amusing and cute little boy in a large, chaotic world. As Leo discovers his place in his family and community, we come to know him as sensitive and insightful.

     This is a story filled with playful curiosity and humour, with an undertone of intrigue and sadness. Leo, the protagonist, expands his understanding about himself and others, driven by curiosity and passion. In so doing, he discovers complexities about the past that appear, at least to him, to be concealed secrets.

     It's a perfect read for those entering their teen years. The language level is moderately difficult. Around 182 pages long, it is easily understandable when presented in smaller parts. The themes allow for exciting interactive projects that will help students along the way as we read this with them in June this year.

     Creech describes her impetus for writing by quoting Leo, her main character in this novel:

“It seemed to Leo that he—Leo—was only doing what Papa did every day, taking little moments and dressing them up so that they were more pleasing to your eye, your ear, your mind. And once you had dressed them up like that, they took root in your mind, replacing the other, more drab or hurtful ones.”

And maybe that is what I am trying to do in each book I write. Offer readers little moments that are more pleasing to their ears, eyes, minds. Moments which might replace other, more drab or hurtful ones they encounter in the real world. Author, Sharon Creech2

Suggested support material

  1. R. Schreiber, website Edublogs
  2. Sharon Creech, 2013. Replay Author's site
  3. Sharon Creech, 2005. Replay Harper Collins Ebook
  4. Christopher Burns, 2005. Replay Harper Audiobook
  5. Registered students can access the class library
  6. Jeopardy lab quiz

#childrensFiction #giga

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A brief retelling of Thanhha Lai's award-winning book Inside Out and Back Again, by Cedar Park 4th and 5th graders in honor of the Global Reading Challenge

Inside Out and Back Again from Abigail Levin on Vimeo.

  1. Study Guide Vocabulary.Com word list
  2. Registered students can access the class library

#biographical #childrensFiction #historicalFiction #verseNovel #poetry #eagle

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James-and-the-Giant-Peach-audiobook-cover James and the Giant Peach Audiobook is a children’s audiobook written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl, that has captured young reader’s imaginations for generations.

“This is a stunning book to be cherished for its story, a superb fantasy.” Chicago Tribune

About the Author Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was born in Llandaff, South Wales, and went to Repton School in England. In 1933, he went to Mombasa, East Africa. He became a fighter pilot during WWII and in 1942 was sent to Washington as a diplomat. It was there that he started to write short stories. (Penguin Random House)2

Audiobook Description

After James Henry Trotter's parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it's as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins! (Mid Columbia Libraries)1

Characters James Henry Trotter: The seven-year-old protagonist. The Old Man: A friendly yet mysterious man, who initiates James' adventure. Aunt Spiker: A thin, tall, cruel and evil woman; Sponge's sister. Aunt Sponge: A fat, treacherous, greedy and evil woman; Spiker's sister. The Centipede: A male centipede, depicted as a boisterous rascal and proud of his 'hundred legs', even though he only has 42. The Earthworm: A male earthworm who often quarrels with the Centipede. The Old Green Grasshopper: A male grasshopper, who is the eldest and most cultured of the animals. The Ladybug: A kind, motherly female ladybird. Miss Spider: A good-natured female spider who takes care of James. The Glowworm: A female glowworm, who is used as a lighting system for the Peach. The Silkworm: A female silkworm, who assists Miss Spider in the production of thread, both before and after the adventure.

Suggested support material

  1. Julian Rhind-Tutt, 2013. Penguin Random House Audio
  2. Roald Dahl Biography Penguin Random House
  3. Create & Learn, Teach. RD Official
  4. Editions of the book (history). Roald Dahl Fans' site
  5. Julian Rhind-Tutt, 2008. James and the Giant Peach Audiobook
  6. Registered students can access the class library

#childrensFiction #bridge

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Nobody Owens is an unusual boy. He was raised in a graveyard by ghosts, and has learned the secrets they keep, like the ability to fade and dream walk. And he'll need all of those skills to face what is waiting for him on the outside.

YouTube: official Trailer

The author speaks about his personal motivations, experiences and the journey he initially set out on, of becoming a good writer, of how unexpected that journey turned out and of writing this book.

It's about growing up. It's about learning, and it's about moving on. Author, Neil Gaiman

We are sure you will enjoy this fascinating fantasy novel and the many interesting related projects with your peers this summer.

Suggested support material

  1. Study guide Shmoop
  2. Neil Gaiman, 2008. Official website
  3. Neil Gaiman, 2008. Author's Biography Author's site
  4. Neil Gaiman, 2008. Scribd Ebook
  5. Neil Gaiman, 2008. Scribd Audiobook
  6. Registered students can join VOZ before class time

#childrensFiction #fantasy #horror #albatross

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Students in the Mega program The Sloppy Copy Slipup - book cover
will study this novel from June until mid-July. First published in 2005, this novel tells the story of a boy who, having failed to produce a draft for a writing assignment, ends up telling his teacher and class a compelling story about his eventful weekend as an excuse. His peers beg him for further instalments. We are sure this story will have you excited to read and share the parts that you enjoyed reading the most. Of course, we encourage you to read the book chapters as instructed by your teacher before every class and bring along your student workbooks so that you can join in the fun classroom projects that we have prepared for you.

About the Author & Illustrator

DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her work is directed at children. She received a Congressional Commendation from the State of New Jersey for Grandpa's Corner Store and the Irma S. and James H. Black Award for A Dog Like Jack. Bowker Author Biography

Fourth-grader Brian Higman worries about how his teacher Miss Fromme—nicknamed The General—will react when he fails to hand in a writing assignment, but he ends up being able to tell his story after all. Schlow Library

Recommended Support Material

  1. DyAnne DiSalvo, (2005). Amazon Audiobook
  2. Patricia Reilly Giff, (2005). The Sloppy Copy Slipup Author's site
  3. Patricia Reilly Giff, (2006). The Sloppy Copy Slipup E-book Google Playstore
  4. Teachers' resource Jeopardy lab
  5. Class time content

#childrensFiction #mega

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Students in the Tera programThe Miraculous Journery of Edward Tulane - book cover
will study this novel from mid-July until August.

The novel was published in 2006. Written for 7-year-old readers. It is illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline and has won multiple awards.

We are excited about you starting to read this book. We encourage you to read the book chapters as instructed by your teacher before every class and bring along your student workbooks so that you can join in the fun classroom projects that we have prepared for you.

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit who only loves himself. He lives with a little girl and her family, happily sitting in his chair in the dining room while the girl is in school and spending all of his time with her when she is at home. Until tragedy strikes when he is accidentally sent overboard on a cruise to London. Bookrags

Recommended Support Material

  1. Plot summary (chapter-by-chapter, premium content) Supersummary
  2. Study Guide Bookrags
  3. Patricia Reilly Giff, (2006). The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Author's site
  4. Patricia Reilly Giff, (2006). e-book; or read it on Scribd
  5. Places to buy the audiobook. Suggested links on Kate DiCamillo's site Audiobooks Class time content
  6. Teachers' Guide to the novel. On Scribd

#childrensFiction #tera

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Pictures of Hollis Woods - book cover
Students in the Tera program will study this novel from the beginning of June until mid-July.

Pictures of Hollis Woods was published in 2002, and became a Newbery Honor Book in the following year.

Patricia Reilly Giff was an American author and teacher born in Brooklyn, New York, United States.

You may enjoy watching watch the film directed by Tony Bill, titled Pictures of Hollis Woods. It is based on the novel. As always, students are urged to read the hard copy (or e-book version) of the book before we proceed with the lessons. The audiobook or film productions will not serve as sufficient preparation for the lectures.

We encourage you, as always, to read the book chapters as instructed by your teacher before every class and bring along your student workbooks so that you can join in the fun classroom projects that we have prepared for you.

Patricia Reilly Giff captures the yearning for a place to belong in this warmhearted story, which stresses the importance of artistic vision, creativity, and above all, family.                  (

Recommended Support Material

  1. Plot summary (chapter-by-chapter, premium content) Supersummary

  2. Patricia Reilly Giff, author of Pictures of Hollis Woods website

  3. Patricia Reilly Giff, (2008). Pictures of Hollis Woods e-book Class time content

  4. Audiobook Amazon, audible

  5. Tony Bill, director, (2007). Pictures of Hollis Woods (watch the CBS, TV movie) IMDB

#literaryFiction #tera

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Holes by Sachar, Loius - book cover
    Later this summer, students will begin reading Holes, a novel by Louis Sachar, published in 1998. Many American students would have already read this humorous novel, but the book has also been read in many other countries. In fact, it has sold more than five million copies in at least fifteen languages. Fifteen-year-old Stanley Yelnats is accused of doing something bad and is sent to a correctional camp. There, boys spend hours, digging large holes in the desert. Holes is a humorous yet serious story in which the reader gets to know the backgrounds of the boys at the camp. You will learn about turning bad situations into good, and the importance of friendship and family. We are sure you will enjoy reading it. The resources at the end of this post should help you get started with your reading adventure. See you in class!

Image credit: Holes – cover art by by Brandon DormanAll Rights Reserved – Yearling Newbery

Recommended Support Material

  1. Sparknotes, (2014). Louis Sachar's “Holes”: SparkNotes Literature Guide on Scribd

  2. Gale and Cengage, (2016). A Study Guide for Louis Sachar's “Holes” on Scribd

  3. Louis Sachar, Q & A – Holes

  4. Holes, by Louis Sachar. Scribd E-book

  5. Holes, by Louis Sachar. Read by Kerry Beyer Audiobook Class time content

#literaryFiction #adventure #humor #birdie

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