Monday, December 29, 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)The Young Elites by Marie Lu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What makes a Villain? Is it nature, nurture, or both? Is it the depraved thoughts and pleasures one secretly feels, or the choices one ultimately makes? None of us is all evil, but what makes some of us more apt to embrace the darkness? Love, acceptance, self-esteem, these emotions have the power to sway the soul. In the end, it isn't the why but the what. What we do is far more powerful than why we do it. Not every lead character is a protagonist, no matter how much she wants to be. You could blame her past, the cruelty she endured, the scars that left her feeling unwhole- but it is choice which makes us who we are. In a world where a strange blood fever has left some people with unnatural markings and supernatural abilities- fear and anger have eradicated reason. Adelina Amouteru is called Malfetto- meaning "bad one" or "damaged one." She is shunned by her father and society as a whole. However, she may have just been accepted into a group of people just like her, where she can finally feel loved and valued. She may be able to work to become a Young Elite. That is, if she can make the right choices. If she can control her darkness. If she can rule her fear and fury.

While, so far, this series hasn't hooked me quite as well as the Legend series did, I do believe there is the promise of an engaging world in Lu's city of Kenettra and beyond. I look forward to seeing how Adelina's struggle plays out in the remaining books.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jackaby by William Ritter

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jackaby, by William Ritter, is a fantasy-mystery which takes place in the late 1800s in America. The story is of a Sherlock Holmes-type detective, named Jackaby, who is not an official member of the police force, but works to solve unusual crimes. The law enforcement officials of the area shun him because his special talent for solving bewildering crimes is that he can see the supernatural. His Watson, a young girl named Abigail Rook, is an adventure-seeking sidekick who ran away from her home in England to make grand discoveries in the world. The crime-solving duo are facing a macabre set of serial murders for which no human explanation can be found.

There is a lot of potential in this novel- which I hope may become a series. The story includes many lovable characters such as a besmitten ghost-lady, an intelligent duck, a banshee, and an eccentric sort-of seer-woman, and of course, the quirky Jackaby and his goodhearted sidekick, Rook.

The reading level is perfect for Middle School, as is the content.

With further development, Ritter's Jackaby series(?)could become a beloved and popular literary classic. I am definitely left wanting more stories of Jackaby and Rook.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


In efforts to create the most engaging and exciting activities for my Library Media Club, I have been exploring lots of new sites.  One of the fun tools we will be using to express ourselves is called Flipsnack.  This is a free program that converts PDF and JPEG files into a flip book.  Here is my sample book that I will share with my students before we embark on our Selfie Autobiography project:

See my Suggested Sites link for more sites like this! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Library Media Club

After the Winter Break, I will be facilitating a Library Media Club for my students.  This will be a weekly club that meets during our Activities period.  In 25 minutes each week, we will do literature- inspired technology projects and create our very own maker space.  Also, we will be fundraising for underprivileged school libraries.  I am hoping to have the kids serve as volunteers in semiannual Scholastic Book Fairs for this fundraising effort.  Below is the Animoto advertisement my students will be watching at school:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Incubus, a review.

Incubus (Daughters of Lilith, #2)Incubus by Jennifer Quintenz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this book is an improvement upon its predecessor, it still falls short of being more than okay. What this series is lacking is development. For example, the Guard- I don't feel as if I know enough about their history and the big picture of how their organization functions. They exist to battle the Lilitu, and just show up whenever needed. There is no society developed around their organization, no structure. The "battles" between the Guard and the Lilitu are no more than backyard skirmishes which somehow never tip off the neighbors. It all seems so forced and contrived because the big picture isn't thoroughly explained.

What makes this book interesting is the love between Lucas and Braedyn. Without that, it is a transparent story with a predictable plot. I knew who the Incubus was almost immediately - which may have been the point- but it detracted from the pleasure of reading. The culminating scene came to a head far too easily.

For hesitant teen readers who need high interest, low reading level fiction- this is a good fit, but for teens who are avid readers, this series may disappoint.

I do not think I will read the third installment anytime soon. There are so many other books out there...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thrall, a Review

Thrall (Daughters of Lilith, #1)Thrall by Jennifer Quintenz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me begin by saying that I intend to completely read this series despite the fact that this first installment is weak. The storyline is interesting, if underdeveloped. I feared a Cassandra Clare wannabe when I read the jacket flap but the story is markedly different. The nature of this tale makes it inappropriate for any grades younger than high school- so be forewarned.

In a nutshell, there is an organization called the Guard that is made up of normal people who have rune-inscribed weaponry designed to defeat demons. The back story of the Guard is quite raw and lacking in substance- however there is potential. Demons are the descendants of Lilith, and are almost exclusively female. These demons can control men through desire and are able to survive only by consuming the desire that men feel for them. The men do not survive these encounters for very long.

The protagonists are two teenagers who are caught up in this demon world because of forces outside their control. Desire plays a strong theme in their relationship, making this book decidedly TEEN and not for Middle Schoolers.

I am currently reading Quintenz's second book, Incubus, which, so far, is better than Thrall.

I do believe indiscriminate teens will enjoy this series as an easy read. However, for those who expect more from their books, I would stick to Cassandra Clare as the expert in the Demon subgenre.

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Fellow Educators, join me on Edmodo by using the following link:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a Librarian, I am someone whose life's mission it is to protect, organize, share, and critically assess information in all formats- the thought of a society in which books are outlawed turns my blood cold. However, if we aren't careful, it is a plausible reality. What happens if all information becomes digital and we lose the ability to preserve it in its original, unaltered form? That information could be tampered with to suit the needs of those in power. In Bradbury's novel, the government doesn't alter the information- it simply deprives society of the information completely. People are lulled into a supposedly blissful complacency which is subconsciously destroying them. This is a powerful novel and a testament to the sanctity of the written word and the necessary existence of libraries.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is, quite possibly, the best book I ever read. I listened to it, this time, in a phenomenal audiobook production starring Sissy Spacek. If you aren't a Southern American and have never spent anytime in the South, this novel will enlighten you as to the horrible complexities of post-emancipation racism. However, Lee also deals with the big picture, ambiguous complexities of right and wrong, and good and evil as applies to humanity in general. Scout is perhaps the most well-developed character I have ever met and the novel suffers not a bit at being told from a child's perspective. In fact, it is her innocence that makes the realities presented in this work so stark, and so meaningful. No American should leave this world without having read this novel.

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The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Like many debut novels, The Paper Magician is brimming with potential but lacking in development. The story is unique and engaging but certain emotions are expected of the reader far too early on. This is quite a short book, which could have used a few more chapters to deepen the story. Ceony Twill comes off as flighty in her emotions when she deserves to be more layered. It is still an enjoyable read. The 2nd book may prove better...we shall see.

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Son (The Giver, #4)Son by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth and final installment of the Giver series is, essentially, three novels. Most plot questions are answered as we learn more about the lives of Jonas, Gabriel, Kira, and the others. Claire is the central character of this novel and it is her story that ties everything together.

The ending of this series left me wanting more closure. There are characters you are left wondering about, hoping for. There are expressions of affection you long to see but never do. So much is left up to the reader's imagination that I felt a little let down. However, that being said, the level of writing talent in this book as with all of Lowry's books is astounding. She may not tie up her endings with a satin bow but she makes you think and feel.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Messenger (The Giver #3)Messenger by Lois Lowry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With book 3 of the Giver Quartet, Jonas is back- however, he bears a "true name" this time. Matt is now Matty and he has escaped his cruel mother to be raised by Seer in Village. Village has typically been a utopic place in which everyone is accepted and provided for. However, things are changing. Seer believes it has something to do with the Trade Market. Again Lowry has a message to deliver in this tale. Materialism comes with a price, and often it is too great a price to pay. This is an excellent story and provides much to discuss in a classroom setting. I have purchased 2 copies of all 4 of the Giver books for my school's collection. I highly recommend them!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gathering Blue (The Giver #2)Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I finish a Lois Lowry novel, I become more enamored with her writing. They call this a companion novel to The Giver but there are no common characters. However, like The Giver, this novel is about a tightly controlled community that exists after our society was destroyed. This community is everything Jonas' wasn't. It is dirty, primitive, coarse, and survivalist. However, Kira, a girl who should have been killed at birth, according to law, because of a deformed leg, proves to be so much more civilized than her neighbors. The novel is beautiful and focuses on the beauty of differences (such as a choice of colors), much like the Giver. It is a must-read for any middle school child.

P.S. If you keep reading the series, book three, "Messenger," will tie "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue" together- so do not despair!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Giver (The Giver #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is obvious this novel is the grandmother of all dystopian novels. I was hooked from the beginning. Lowry does an amazing job of painting this disturbing society through the eyes of a child who never knew anything different. You take the journey into truth along with the main character. This is a story that makes you think about the power of choice and the gift/curse that is our emotions.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome Back!

Here in Florida the brand new school year has begun! 

Students, teachers, parents, welcome back to another year of learning and discovery.  I hope to make this blog as useful and enjoyable as possible for you in your research and pleasure reading endeavors. 

Your feedback matters to me.  If you find any broken links on my site, or know of any new resources I should add, please send me a note to  Have an amazing school year!

End of Summer!

Believe it or not, in Florida, the summer is drawing to a close.  The public school students return to classes on Monday, August 18th.  My daughter will be starting High School and, my son the 4th grade.  We are ready! 

Some amazing things happened this summer which I would like to share.  First, I accepted a position with a highly reputable private school in my area to serve as their Middle School Librarian!  This will be a significant culture change for me.  I am leaving a K-12 Charter Public school, in which I taught daily Middle and High School research classes as well as K-5 Library Media classes, to begin an Information Literacy program in which I can serve as a resource for both students and teachers.  This opportunity is so exciting and filled with possibilities! 

Beginning with my new school is a wonderful way to close what has been an amazing summer!

This summer I visited the northeast including NY, VT, and MA.  We toured the Vanderbilt Mansion on Long Island, saw Matilda on Broadway, went camping in Vermont and attended a Red Sox game in Boston.  It was fabulous! 

Of course, I also did some reading...

The book that really won me over this summer is Cassandra Clare's final installment in the Mortal Instruments Series "City of Heavenly Fire."

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfect, perfect, perfect!!! I very rarely weep when I read, but this final installment of the Mortal Instrument series had me weeping with joy, sorrow, and everything in between. Clare is the Queen of character development!! Brava!

View all my reviews

If you haven't read this series or recommended it to your age 13+ students, you really need to! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Summer Reading!

Here in Jacksonville, FL we have 4 and a half school days left in the 2013-2014 public school year.  I have loved learning and growing with all of my students this year.  In the past three years we have created a library program together, grown a culture of reading and responsibility, developed an information hub and sanctuary, and learned vital information literacy skills.  I have learned just as much from them as they have from me!  

Just because the year has ended doesn't mean that students cannot access wonderful stories and ideas.  I am sure your public library, where ever you live, has TONS of free, fun events planned for you... and books, of course.  Here in Jacksonville, the summer lineup looks great!

 Click HERE to see what JPL has in store for K-12 kids this summer.   

Nationally, most public libraries adopt the CSLP or Collaborative Summer Library Program.  Click HERE for the K-5 Fizz, Boom, Read Summer Reading Program book suggestions and HERE for the Spark a Reaction Summer Reading Program 6-12 suggestions.

Also, the American Library Association has their suggested reading lists for the summer:

The Association for Library Service to Children suggestions are HERE and the Young Adult Library Services Association's suggestions are HERE.  

Read books that interest and inspire you!  This is your time to read purely for enjoyment.  Read at the beach, the pool, the park, on sleepy mornings, on rainy afternoons- anytime.  It is so good for you! I promise, I will be reading too.

 Happy Summer!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gaming Fun

Too often, kids seek out games that offer no educational benefit.  Everyone needs down time to relax and unwind, but not all of that down time has to be trivial.   There are so many sites online for kids which offer games that are both fun and educational.

 If you have students or children who could use an extra bit of academic help, why not make their leisure time beneficial to them? There are plenty of FREE resources for kids who need the motivation to learn.     

The next time your kids are bored, or your students are in their computer centers, try some of the following:

Kinder Activities

1st through 8th Grade Activities

Fun English Games (3rd grade and up)

Primary Games, Reading Games (1st and 2nd grades)


Monday, April 7, 2014

Kid Snippets

One of our amazing 3rd Grade teachers at my school, is a firm believer in entertaining brain breaks.  She uses sites like Go Noodle to give the kids a moment of fun.  She also recommended a hilarious YouTube channel called Kid Snippets which has had me laughing for days.  So, do your kids need a giggle?  Do they need a break between lessons? Try these!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Please help us enrich our Teen Collection!

Let's Give 'em What They Want!  

Classroom Photo
30 days left!
To provide the titles that 1650 kids from age 5 to age 18 want to read is a HUGE undertaking- and an expensive one! We are a charter school so we do not receive as much funding as regular public schools. Kids do not read unless they have access to books they like.
This list focuses mostly on Teen selections. This is the most difficult student population to please and keep engaged in reading. Many of these books were selected by my high school students. It is so imperative that I keep these students in love with reading.
These books will serve students today and years to come. Our library is the hub of activity at our school. Students line up to grab the newest books first. They are so excited whenever we acquire new titles. This year, I have had so many more high school students coming in because they hear that I am acquiring the books they actually want to read. This is powerful!
If you donate to this project, you are investing in the literacy and imaginations of thousands of children for years to come. You are building a library in a time when people try to discredit the worth of libraries. I can attest that libraries are alive and thriving. Projects like this help them to survive. Thank you! « hide

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss (IllustAKJ Books$16.203$48.60
FrozenAKJ Books$9.485$47.40
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss (IllustAKJ Books$10.953$32.85
Light: A Gone NovelAKJ Books$13.862$27.72
Gone (Gone Series #1) Michael GrantAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
LiesAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
Never-MoreAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
Hunger (Gone Series #2) Michael GrantAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
Hunger (Gone Series #2) Michael GrantAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
FearAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
PlagueAKJ Books$13.132$26.26
How to Draw SpongeBob SquarepantsAKJ Books$25.651$25.65
FrozenAKJ Books$11.672$23.34
TennisAKJ Books$19.801$19.80
Frozen Junior NovelizationAKJ Books$3.645$18.20
TennisAKJ Books$17.851$17.85
City of BonesAKJ Books$16.051$16.05
You Can Draw Marvel CharactersAKJ Books$14.591$14.59
Frozen Little Golden BookAKJ Books$2.915$14.55
Daughter of Smoke and BoneAKJ Books$13.871$13.87
Days of Blood and StarlightAKJ Books$13.861$13.86
Everwild Neal ShustermanAKJ Books$13.861$13.86
Draw Out the StoryAKJ Books$13.831$13.83
The Rise of NineAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
The Fall of FiveAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
I Am Number Four Pittacus LoreAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Pretty Little Liars #13: CrushedAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
ProdigyAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Pretty Little Liars #14: DeadlyAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Everlost Neal ShustermanAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
EverfoundAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
The Power of SixAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Lips Touch: Three Times Laini Taylor, Jim Di Bartolo (IllustAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Ali''s Pretty Little LiesAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Pretty Little SecretsAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
RuthlessAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
Gone (Gone Series #1) Michael GrantAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
StunningAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
BurnedAKJ Books$13.131$13.13
WickedAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
The Hundred Dresses Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (IllustraAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
HeartlessAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
KillerAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
Divide and ConquerAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
Wanted (Pretty Little Liars Series #8) Sara ShepardAKJ Books$12.401$12.40
A Mutiny in TimeAKJ Books$9.481$9.48
Divide and ConquerAKJ Books$9.481$9.48
The Trap DoorAKJ Books$9.481$9.48
Curse of the AncientsAKJ Books$9.481$9.48
Robots!: Draw Your Own Androids, Cyborgs & Fighting Bots JayAKJ Books$9.451$9.45
Power Rangers Megaforce 4AKJ Books$8.751$8.75
TennisAKJ Books$8.721$8.72
Power Rangers Super Samurai 2AKJ Books$8.021$8.02
StormbringersAKJ Books$7.291$7.29
The Cahill FilesAKJ Books$7.291$7.29
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! 2AKJ Books$7.291$7.29
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! 8AKJ Books$5.831$5.83
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! 3AKJ Books$5.831$5.83
Raven''s Gate (The Gatekeepers Series #1) Anthony HorowitzAKJ Books$5.831$5.83
Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, Volume 7 Shigekatsu IAKJ Books$5.831$5.83
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! 1AKJ Books$5.831$5.83
Vendor shipping charges$0.00
State sales tax$0.00
3rd party payment processing fee$14.31
Fulfillment labor & materials$30.00
Project cost excluding donation to support$998.51
Optional donation to support$176.21
Project cost including donation to support$1,174.72
School type:
Free/reduced lunch:
Teacher's funded projects:
Grades 9-12
Students reached:
May 05, 2014
Project ID: