Archive | May, 2019

Move over Buck Rogers, there’s a new girl in town

30 May

In case the title baffled you, Buck Rogers is a fictional character who first appeared in 1928. He lived in the the 20th century, but in most iterations of his story, he has an accident and is “preserved”, reviving in the 25th century. He began as a novella, then became a series of comic strips, movies serials, and radio & TV shows. He is early 20th century sci-fi, all ray guns and disintegrator beams.

But this is the 21st century and we need new heroes, weapons, and saviors of the galaxy. By Galaxy, I mean the Milky Way and by heroes, I mean Aurora, the eponymous hero of Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman.

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From the Author’s website: The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

I listened to the audiobook and was enthralled from the beginning. As a fan of various sci-fi television series, most notably Star Trek, I recognized homage to some characters. Kaufman has created a new landscape and the characters feel fresh. The story is narrated by the six members of the squad and Aurora, each of home is voiced by a different narrator. This adds to the audiobook experience because it helps keep characters straight and you develop a different relationship with each in a different way that you might if you were reading the book. The book is set in space, but it is really all about the relationships – and the need to save the galaxy.

Even if sci-fi isn’t your thing, I encourage you to give Aurora Rising  a try.

Summer planning

28 May

The whoop from the room next door caught my attention and I walked over to see what had my teaching partner so excited.

“Have you seen the new calendar?” she asked practically dancing about the room. “We are back to a Labor Day start!”

Her joy was contagious, even though I knew the reason for the changed start time wasn’t. A few years ago, the school board decided they wanted to lengthen the school year and amended the calendar so we started before Labor Day this year. Budgeting issues this year promised teacher layoffs and people were worried. The change start date for the 2019-20 school year was a way to save some jobs and keep class sizes at current levels.

My first instinct, after checking the email and looking over the new calendar, was to message my sister to let her know I could now attend the Twist Fibre Festival with her. It takes place just outside Ottawa in mid-August.

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Since that first email, she and I have messaged and searched and video chatted, finalizing plans. This weekend we booked our trip, which also involves a week in Montréal.

We still have three weeks of school, and this trip comes near the end of summer, but I am excited because summer vacation is starting to seem real.

 

 

This week’s book talks 5/20-24

24 May

Monday

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House Without Walls by Ching Yeung Russell

Tuesday

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The Other Half of Happy  by Rebecca Balcárcel

Wednesday

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Soaring Earth  by Margarita Engle

Thursday

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Riverland  by Fran Wilde

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A Place to Belong  by Cynthia Kadohata

The thing about teaching Shakespeare

21 May

I forgot how much I laugh at the end of the year when we read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

At first the kids are nervous, thinking it is going to be hard. But then these things happen:

  • we write skits in Elizabethan English and two naughty boys perform “A Midsummer Night’s Endgame”
  • they start adding eth to almost everything and I hear words like “noeth” and “oofeth” in the locker room, and I can’t help but laugh
  • they laugh at words like “nosegay”, “bosom”, “virgin”
  • our tableaux aren’t true tableaux because Lysander and Hermia can’t stop their shoulders from shaking in mirth as he cups her face and looks longing into her eyes
  • the look of terror in Hermia’s eyes as she realizes she is about to say “O, hell” in class and the twinkle that lingers there afterwards

Next week we will write Shakespearean insults. I can hardly wait.

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20 May

Books set in summer seem to be finding their way to me. Thoughts about summer are certainly making their way to me, and my students. I was grateful for the return to rain after three weeks of summery weather – it helps keep students focused.

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The main character of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s  Shouting At the Rain also appreciates a good storm.

Publisher’s Summary: Delsie loves tracking the weather–lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She’s always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she’s looking at their life with new eyes and wishing she could have a “regular family.” Delsie observes other changes in the air, too–the most painful being a friend who’s outgrown her. Luckily, she has neighbors with strong shoulders to support her, and Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he’s endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm.

As a teacher of 6th graders, I see this sort of relationship struggle frequently. Kids come into 6th middle school with friends from their neighborhood and elementary school. Middle school is a bigger pond. Some friendships endure. Some are abandoned. Some take a new shape. Watching my students negotiate this can be tough. Right now I am watching a good kid fall under the spell of someone with, shall we say, less of a work ethic. I have a feeling he will be all right, but I am am watching him and will intervene if I think I need to.

 

This week’s book talks 5/13-17

17 May

Monday

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Up For Air  by Laurie Morrison

Tuesday

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Extraordinary Birds  by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

Wednesday

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Over the Moon  by Natalie Lloyd

Thursday

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The Girl King  by Mimi Yu

Friday

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HurricanE Season  by Nicole Melleby

A little YA historical fantasy this time

16 May

I make no secret that I love historical fiction.

Julie Berry’s newest novel, Lovely War, mixes two love stories set during the First World War with Greek mythology to come up with an amazing story.

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Publisher’s Summary: They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

 

It might sound impossible to mix the two stories, but in doing so, Berry turns a good love story into something so much better.

I listened to the audiobook and it was fabulous. Whether you read the print version or listen to the audiobook, you will not be disappointed.

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