Saturday, December 22, 2012

Favorites: 2012

Film: Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features)
Television: Louie (FX)
Album: Sun, Cat Power (Matador Records)
Book: The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (Dutton)
Game: Sounders 1:0 Real Salt Lake, November 8 (Western Conference Semifinal)
Video: Carly Rae Jepson, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, "Call Me Maybe"

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" showing at Capitol Theater

What does Stephen Chbosky have in common with Harper Lee?  They have both written exactly one novel.  Obviously "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is not as famous as "To Kill a Mockingbird," but in the field of Young Adult Literature, "Perks" is already considered a classic.  However, Harper Lee never got to direct the film adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the film version of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."  As an independent film, "Perks" has not had a wide release; it played 745 theaters at its widest point (a Hollywood blockbuster will play over 4,000 screens).  Therefore, the film's two week run at the Capitol Theater is significant.  This is your chance to see the film on the big screen.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is rated PG-13.  It is intended for teen audiences.

The film stars Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson.

The Olympia Film Society website is here.

You can read Roger Ebert's review of the film here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Introducing Seattle Reign FC

The name of the Seattle team in the newly-formed National Women's Soccer League was announced today: Seattle Reign FC.  I'm actually not a big fan of the name.  I tend to dislike singular nouns as team nicknames: Storm, Thunder, Galaxy, etc.  Yuck.  However, the team crest is fantastic.  And I'm definitely excited that Seattle will have a women's professional team.  Remember, the Sounders Women are a semi-professional team.  Seattle Reign FC's chief rival will be Portalnd Thorns FC.  Hopefully, the top U.S. Women players will be joining the league.  I assume the Reign will be playing home matches at Starfire, but nothing has been announced yet.  It would definitely be cool if Seattle could play Portland in a match at CenturyLink.  So while I'll probably never love the name Seattle Reign FC, I will still be a proud supporter.  Let's Go, Reign FC!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Northern & Western Europe Quiz

Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands.

You can print a blank map of Europe here.

Reading Log #8

Over break you need to read at minimum one entire book and read for a minimum of 3 hours.  The book must be a book you have not read previously.  If you are currently in the middle of a book you need to finish that book and then in addition read the amount of an additional book equivalent to the number of pages you had already read in the original book.


Did you meet the minimum reading requirement?

Where was the most enjoyable location at which you read?  Describe the location.

What was your favorite book that you read?  What did you most like about this particular book?

What are you planning on reading next?  Where did you hear about this particular book?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Golden Compass, Part III: Svalbard

German Book Cover
Vocabulary: Find and record 3 unfamiliar or interesting English language vocabulary words.  Record the word, definition, and the page number on which it was found.

Reflection: What did you think of the last third of the book?  What did you think of the ending?  What do you now think of the book as a whole?  Are you interested in reading Book II of the series, The Subtle Knife?

Analysis:  What was Lord Asriel trying to accomplish at the end of the book?  Why do you think he was trying to do this?  Was he successful?  Why were Lyra and Pan trying to stop it?  What happened to Roger?

Due Wednesday, November 28.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Golden Compass, Part II: Bolvangar

Hebrew Book Cover
Read Part II only.  Do not read ahead!

Vocabulary: Record the definitions of 3 English Language words which were unfamiliar to you.  Record the page number on which you found each word.

Reflection: What did you think of Part II?  How does it compare to Part I?  What is your opinion of Lyra?  What is your favorite part of the book so far?

Due Tuesday, November 20th.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Golden Compass, Part I: Oxford

Read Part I: Oxford by Tuesday, November 13.  DO NOT READ PART 2!!!

Please type or print neatly on a separate sheet of paper.  Due Tuesday, November 13.

Vocabulary: Philip Pullman uses a rich vocabulary.  Record 3 interesting words which are English language words but are not commonly used words.  Record the page number on which you find the word.  Look up the word in a dictionary and record its definition.  Many words have multiple definitions.  Record the definition which best matches the usage used by Pullman.  Note: Pullman uses some words, like daemon, in a context new to the world he has created.  Do not use these words.

Reflection:  Give Part I a score out of 10 (10 being the highest).  Explain in at least one complete paragraph why you gave the book the score which you did.  Explain what worked and/or didn’t work in the book.  Refer to a specific passage from the book to illustrate your point (Do not quote the book—paraphrase what happens in a particular passage).  Be specific and descriptive when explaining why you liked or didn’t like the book.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sounders Day!

Today was Sounders Day at NOVA.  Teachers and Students wore Sounders jerseys, shirts, and scarves in anticipation of tonight's match.  It was an exciting match.  The Sounders played much more aggessively than Real Salt Lake, but could not quite get the ball to find the back of the net.  The play of the goalkeepers--Michael Gspurning for your Seattle Sounders and Nick Rimando for Real Salt Lake--was outstanding.  The match ended in a 0-0 draw.  Leg 2 of the playoff will take place next Thursday at 6:30 in Salt Lake.  Go Sounders!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sounders Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Sounders Day at NOVA.  All NOVA students and staff are encouraged to wear their Sounders gear.  Students should meet in Room 4 at Break for our group photo.  Friday night the Sounders take on Real Salt Lake in Game 1 of a 2-game aggregate playoff. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

National Geographic Bee Airs Thursday Night

The 2012 National Geographic Bee airs Thursday, May 24, at 8:00 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.  It will be rebroadcast on KCTS, Seattle's PBS affiliate, at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29.  The contestants at the National Geo Bee are very impressive.  They really know their geography, obviously.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Geography Presentation

You will present what you have learned about the geography, history, and current events related to your country.  Every presentation will include a slideshow.  Each slide must have pertinent information and an image.  You may not include complete sentences or paragraphs on the slides.  Text should include key information, names, statistics, headings, etc.  The slides should serve as prompts for your presentation.  You will elaborate on the information on the slides in your presentation.  Your objective is to be succinct and thorough in your presentation and to convey what makes your country interesting and unique.

Slide 1:  Title
Name of Country
Your Name

Slide 2:  Location
Major Cities
Neighboring Countries/Bodies of Water
Image: Map

Slide 3: Environment
Physical Terrain/Landscape
Mountains, Lakes, Rivers, Deserts, Rainforests, Plains, etc.
Image: Photograph

Slide 4: Key Feature or Region
Choose a physical feature or region to highlight.  Explain what makes it significant or important.
Image: Photograph

Slides 5-7: History
Each slide must include:
  • Major event or time period
  • At least 3 facts, names, or dates
  • Photo, illustration, or chart
Record all sources you use for finding information and cite them using the correct format.  Keep this information saved in a Word document.

Slides 8-12: Current Issues
These slides should cover the current political situation facing your country.  This section of the presentation should give the audience a sense of the hardships and struggles your country has experienced.  Each slide must include:
  • A Main Idea related to the country's situation
  • Relevant names, dates, events, and information related to the situation
  • Photo or illustration
Slide 13: Conclusion
This will be the final slide of your presentation.  You can include an image on this slide or you can create a Question Slide.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Never Again"

On Thursday, our school was visited by Mr. James Morikowa from Hiroshima, Japan.  Mr. Morikowa was seven when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  He spoke to us about the devastation of the city.  He survived because his father actually moved the family out of the city center to the suburbs in fear of an attack.  The images shown by Mr. Morikowa were horrifying.  His message was "Never again."  He spoke of the need to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the globe.  His message resonated deeply with our students.

Today the sixth graders made origami cranes as a way to honor the victims of Hiroshima.  We will be mailing 33 cranes to Japan, along with a photograph of our class and a donation to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  As I am not very skilled in origami, I would like to thank Fuchsia, Taeus, Luna, Elyse, and Jasper for assisting their classmates with the folding of the cranes.  Special thanks also go to JoAnn Young, our school counselor, for arranging the visit.  It will not be forgotten by anyone present.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The two most popular things in the sixth grade: Sounders FC and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a bubblegum pop superstar from Japan.  She sings a lot about candy.  Back when I was growing up, music videos were played on MTV.  Music videos made Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Green Day, and countless others into stars.  Bands needed MTV to give them exposure.  Today a kid can go online and find video of musicians from anywhere in the world.  And I have to say, the Japanese take on pop music is very interesting.  It's very bouncy, for one thing.  I can see why the kids like it.

Sounders FC defeated FC Dallas 2-0 tonight.  We are now 7-1-1 on the season.  Fredy Montero came on for Mauro Rosales in the second half and scored two goals.  Brilliant game from him.  Also, the Sounders managed to pick up three points on the road while resting Ozzie Alonso for the entire game.  That's huge.  Granted, FC Dallas were missing quite a few of their key players.  But a win is a win, and we now have 5 in a row.  We're on a roll.

NOVA Sounders Alliance at Saturday's game vs. Philadelphia
(with Arvean's brother and Sounders broadcaster Ross Fletcher!)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rachel Carson: A Sense of Wonder

Rachel Carson (Wikimedia Commons)
Rachel Carson is one of the most famous figures in the history of environmentalism in the United States.  In 1962, she published her most famous book, "Silent Spring," about the dangers of pesticides in the environment.  This Thursday, The Evergreen State College is presenting a play about the life of Rachel Carson, called "A Sense of Wonder."  It starts at 7 pm and will be staged in the Longhouse.  This will be an excellent opportunity to learn about an important and interesting woman.  More details can be found here.

Asia Capitals Quiz

Beijing, China;  Tokyo, Japan;  Seoul, South Korea;  Bangkok, Thailand;  Jakarta, Indonesia;  New Delhi, India;  Kabul, Afghanistan;  Tehran, Iran;  Baghdad, Iraq;  Jerusalem, Israel;  Damascus, Syria;  Ankara, Turkey.

Science Fiction Protagonist Description

Write a complete page about the protagonist of your Science Fiction Story.  Describe the character in as much detail as you can.  The description must be at least 2 paragraphs in length.  Include the following in your description:

Ø Name

Ø Age

Ø Appearance

Ø Family

Ø Residence

Ø Education

Ø Profession

Ø Personality

Ø Interests

Ø Skills

Ø Pertinent Backstory

The Protagonist Description is not the Science Fiction Story itself.  It is description of the character who be featured in your story.

Monday, April 16, 2012

NOVA Poetry Permformance at Olympia Timberland Library

NOVA poets will be performing at the downtown Olympia Timberland Library on Thursday, April 19, between 7:30 and 9:00 p.m.  All members of the community are invited to attend.  This is an excellent opportunity to hear poetry performed by current 7th and 8th graders.  More information here.  Show your support for the poets of NOVA!

Science Fiction Setting Descriptions

You will create a setting for a Science Fiction story you will write.

Part I: You need to envision a setting in one of the following Science Fiction subgenres:

Other Planets
Parallel Worlds

First choose a specific location.  The location should be the primary location for your story.  Then choose a timeframe for your story.

Describe the environment of the setting in thorough detail.  If you were to travel through this environment, describe what you would see.  In describing the environment, include description of some of the following things:

animal life
buildings and structures

Use colorful vocabulary in your descriptions.  "Paint a picture" for your reader.

Setting descriptions should be about a page.

Part II: You need to provide a backstory for how your setting got to the point you described above.  You are in essence writing a history for your world.  You will need to create events for your backstory.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sounders Women Off To Great Start

Sydney Leroux scored three goals vs. Seattle University
(photo by Jane Gershovich,
Jayda Evans wrote a terrific article in The Seattle Times about Seattle Sounders Women's second match last night.  You should read it.  This was an exhibition match, and the support was amazing.  Sounders Women defeated Seattle University 5-0.  Women's soccer has found a home in Seattle.  The first regular season home match will be Thursday, May 31, vs. Colorado Rush at Starfire.  Go here for a complete schedule.  Go Sounders Women!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Read these books!

Cleo recently wrote three rave reviews that I wanted to point out to the readers of Gacekblog.  The first was for a dark fantasy with quirky characters.  The second was for a comic novel with a twist.  The most recent is for a science fiction with a splash of fantasy.  All three are available in the NOVA Library.  And keep reading Cleo's Blog to see what she reads next!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quiz Bowl #4

6 questions total.  Questions 1-4 are General Round questions and will be only answered by students.  Questions 5-6 are Final Round questions and will be answered by students and teachers.  The two sets of questions should be printed separately and turned in on separate pieces of paper.

Regular Quiz Bowl rules apply: no multiple choice or true/false, and answer may not be a number or date.  Include answers with questions.

1.  Answer must be your assigned country in Geography.  Question should relate to geography or history of your country.

2.  Answer must be the name of a country covered by a classmate in their article presentation.  You must refer to your notes to find this question.

3.  Academic question from one of three categories: Science, Spanish, or Language Arts.  Question should cover something the class has learned.  For Language Arts, the answer must be the title of a Science Fiction book.

4.  Same as #3, but must cover a different subject.

5.  Question in your favorite trivia category.

6.  Question in a trivia completely different from #1-5.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Geo Quizzes: Countries of Asia

Middle East: Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

South and Southeast Asia: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam.

East and Central Asia: China, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan.

Science Fiction Film Festival

April 19-May 2 the Seattle Cinerama will be hosting the first Science Fiction Film Festival.  The lineup of films is most impressive: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brazil, War of the Worlds, A Clockwork Orange, Dune, The Road Warrior, E.T., The Terminator, and many more.  All films will be shown on the giant Cinerama screen on 35 mm, or in some cases 70 mm.  This is the way these films were meant to be seen.  This festival exists because Paul Allen owns Cinerama and loves science fiction.  Thanks, Paul Allen!

And the poster does say First "Annual" Science Fiction Film Festival.  My guess is that they're saving Blade Runner, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Day The Earth Stood Still for next year.

More info here.

The Best Team in MLS Thus Far is Sporting Kansas City

SKC is now 5-0-0 after beating L.A. Galaxy 1-0 at home on Saturday in front of
20,323 fans. Check out Kei Kamara's game-winning goal and the subsequent celebration:

Here is some background, from ESPN, on Kei Kamara, who was born in Sierra Leone:

The Sounders, meanwhile, have looked mediocre their past two games, losing to San Jose at home, and tying D.C. United on the road. They are scoreless their past two games. The team sorely misses Mauro Rosales, who may be able to return Saturday vs. Colorado.

Thanks to Joshua Mayers for pointing out the links.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sounders U-23 vs. Timbers U-23 at Tumwater High School

The match will be Saturday, June 2, at 6 pm.  Sounders U-23 play in the Premier Develoment League (PDL), which is the top amateur soccer league in the U.S.  Brad Evans, Brian Ching, Herculez Gomes, and Darlington Nagbe are just a few of the players who graduated from the PDL to play in MLS.  The match will be extra fun as it comes against the Timbers.  Yes, the rivalry exists at the PDL level as well.  Get there early, as fans from the Rose City will be making the trek northward.  Tickets are $10.  More info here.  Go Sounders U-23!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NOVA Auction!

Last night was the NOVA Auction.

The teachers all got dressed up.

I told some jokes.

A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sounders Defeat Santos Laguna 2-1

NOVA Sounders Alliance
Seattle Sounders FC beat Santos Laguna 2-1 in the first leg of a home-and-home aggregate series.  The Sounders put pressure on the Santos defense all game.  David Estrada scored the game's first goal in the 12th minute off a pass delivered perfectly by Fredy Montero.  Santos' Herculez Gomez (great name!) scored an equalizer with a nifty goal in the 61st minute.  Just two minutes later, however, Brad Evans put the Sounders up for good, scoring on a header off a Mauro Rosales free kick.  The Sounders stayed aggressive the entire game, remarkable as it was their first game of the season.  Santos Laguna is in the middle of their Mexican League season.  The second leg of the series will be next Wednesday, March 14, from Torreon, Mexico.  The game starts at 5:00 p.m. PST and airs on Fox Soccer Channel and 97.3 FM.  Go Sounders!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sounders FC Women Sign Alex Morgan

Photo credit:  Daniel Roland, AFP Photo
Alex Morgan is a star on the U.S. Women's National Team.  In the 2011 Women's World Cup Final versus Japan, she scored the go-ahead goal in extra time (the U.S. lost the match on penalties).  She has scored 16 goals in 32 appearances for the USWNT.  She is 22 years old.  Oh, and she is the girfriend of current Sounder Servando Carrasco.

Sounders FC Women are going to be really awesome next year.  Hope Solo, Sydnex Leroux, and Alex Morgan will only play in about half the games, however, as they will be busy in the summer with the USWNT.  Still, the Sounders FC Women will be fun to watch.  Hopefully, their success will lead to a Women's Major League, with franchises in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver.  If we do get a Women's Major League franchise, though, I hope it is given its own idetitiy separate from the Sounders.  Otherwise it will feel the team is always in the shadow of the men.  At this point in time, however, in the absense of a North American Women's Major League, joining forces with the Sounders is the smartest thing a Puget Sound-area professional women's team could do.  I'm proud to be a fan of both the Men's and Women's Sounders FC clubs.

Seattle Sounders FC Women actually release their schedule tomorrow, which is also the first day to purchase tickets for their upcoming season.  Home games will be played at Starfire.  Visit the Sounders FC Women's website here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: "The Tiger's Wife," by Tea Obreht

The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht
Random House, 2011

The protagonist of The Tiger's Wife, Natalia, is a young woman who has followed in her grandfather's footsteps by becoming a doctor.  The chapters of the book interweave three stories.  The first is set in the present.  Natalia and her long-time best friend, Zora, travel to a rural Balkan village to inoculate children, a mission similar to ones undertaken by her grandfather when he was a young man.  While she is on the road, she learns of her grandfather's death.  Natalia and her grandfather were close, and Natalia has many memories of him.  Foremost among these was visiting the zoo, particularly the tiger who made his home there.  The news of her grandfather's death prompts Natalia to tell the stories that comprise the other two strands of the novel.

The second strand of the book concerns the village where her grandfather grew up as a boy.  It concerns a tiger, the tiger's wife, the tiger's wife's husband, the apothecary, and a bear hunter.  The third strand of the book concerns Natalia's grandfather as a young man.  As he traveled the region as a doctor he encountered more than once "a deathless man."  Thus the life story of Natalia's grandfather's becomes a series of fables, not unlike, I suppose, the stories in a book which has particular meaning for him, "The Jungle Book."

The Tiger's Wife is set in the former Yugoslavia, but names of ethnicities such as Serb, Bosnian, Croat, and Slovenian are never mentioned.  Likewise, states and large cities are not referred to by name.  Neither are specific wars (and there have been quite a few).  This reinforces, I think, that the stories in The Tiger's Wife are fables.  And, I might add, the fables are fantastic stories.  They're sad, they're suspenseful, and they're incredibly detailed.  Above all, they're incredibly imaginative.  And, of course, they're thought-provoking, as fables should be.

Did I mention that The Tiger's Wife is a great book?  It definitely is.  The story behind its writing is pretty great too.  Tea Obreht was all of 24 when it was published.  She was born in Belgrade, moved to Cyprus at age 7 or thereabouts, lived for a while in Egypt, and finally moved to the United States at age 12.  She wrote the bulk of the book while in college at Cornell.  I'd say Ms. Obreht is a pretty gifted writer and storyteller.  I hope she appears one day on The Charlie Rose Show or Fresh Air with Terry Gross, because I'd love to hear how she came up with some of the ideas in the book.

The Tiger's Wife is not a Young Adult title, but it is a book certain young readers will find rewarding.  It gets my recommendation. 5 out of 5 stars.

* * *
Okay, so it's not Charlie Rose or Terry Gross, but here is a very interesting clip of Ms. Obreht on PBS' Newshour:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sounders Trade Fucito and Neagle for Eddie Johnson

Eddie Johnson
(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
After Steve Zakuani was injured at Colorado last year, the Sounders have lacked a goal-scoring forward to pair with Fredy Montero.  The Sounders attempted to remedy that situation yesterday by trading Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle to Montreal for Eddie Johnson.  Montreal had only recently drafted Johnson with the first pick in the Allocation Draft.  Fucito and Neagle are young players who represent potential.  They will fit in well on an expansion club building for the future.  Johnson will turn 28 next month.  He is a former MLS star and starter on U.S. Men's National Team.  The last few seasons have not gone well for him, however.  He signed with Fulham of the EPL in 2008 but never really got a chance to play there.  He then bounced around England's lower divisions and Greece.  Last year was a lost year.  He thought he was going to sign with Puebla in the Mexican League, but at the last minute the Mexican club withdrew the contract.  Thus, Johnson is a bit of a mystery player.  If he can regain his past form, he will make the Sounders stronger.  If he can't regain that form, the Sounders could rue letting Fucito and Neagle go.

I like the deal for the Sounders.  It's a bit of a risk.  Fucito and Neagle were fan favorites and both have potential.  However, the Sounders need a player to put them over the top.  They have hopes of winning both CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS Cup.  Johnson gives them a chance to beat top clubs like Santos Laguna and the L.A. Galaxy.  There's risk, sure.  But I like the move and applaud the Sounders for not standing pat.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty Opens Today in Theaters

Princess Mononoke
The release of a Studio Ghibli film in theaters in the United States is a cause for celebration.  Studio Ghibli films use classic, hand-drawn animation, and the Studio Ghibli style is lush and distinctive.  Studio Ghibli films are revered around the world.  The studio was founded by master animator Hayao Miyazaki, who continues to oversee all major Ghibli productions.  I've been a fan since Princess Mononoke was released in the U.S. in 1999.  Princess Mononoke was released by Miramax Films, known for releasing "art house" and "independent" films aimed primarily at adults.  The critics loved Princess Mononoke, but since it was released as an "art film" in the U.S., it did very modest business.  In fact, Princess Mononoke was rated PG-13 and was undoubtedly seen by many more adults in theaters than kids.

In 2001, Walt Disney Pictures released Spirited Away.  Its reviews were even better than Princess Mononoke's, even though it is a more "kid friendly" film (PG rating).  The release of Spirited Away was even overseen by John Lasseter, known as the chief creative force behind Pixar.  The film also won the Academy Award for best Animated Feature.  Still, Spirited Away made only $10 million dollars at the box office (Shrek, released a year earlier, made $267 million, for means of comparison).  Howl's Moving Castle was released in 2005 and Ponyo was released in 2009.  Howl's was seen mostly by Miyazaki die-hards.  Ponyo, while considered a lesser film in the Ghibli canon (it's aimed at a much younder audience), nonetheless received a wider U.S. release than any Ghibli film which had come before it.

The Secret World of Arrietty is being released today in 1,500 theaters.  While a Harry Potter movie is released in over 4,000 theaters, the release planned by Walt Disney Pictures shows a definite commitment to grow the profile of Studio Ghibli in the U.S.  Will Arrietty be a hit for Walt Disney?  That remains to be seen.  You can see how the release for Arrietty compares to the laast four Ghibli features released in the U.S.
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Secret World of Arrietty is based on the children's novel The Borrowers, by Mary Norton.  It's about a group of tiny people living under the floorboards of a family of what we would consider regular-sized people.  It has the humor, beauty, and magic of the Miyazaki brand.  It's not getting the rave reviews of Spirited Away, but it's getting very positive reviews.If you're a Miyazaki fan, you will want to seek it out.  If you've never seen a Miyazaki film, you need to see one in a theater.  The Secret World of Arrietty is currently playing in Olympia, Lacey, and Tacoma.

If you're interested, here is my ranking of my favorite Miyazaki films:

1.  Porco Rosso
2.  Princess Mononoke
3.  Spirited Away
4.  My Neighbor Totoro
5.  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
6.  Castle in the Sky
7.  Howl's Moving Castle
8.  Kiki's Delivery Service

I haven't actually seen Ponyo.

Grave of the Fireflies
I also recommend the Studio Ghibli film Grave of the Fireflies.  It was directed by Miyazaki's contemporary Isao Takahata, whose style is different than Miyazaki's.  Its subject matter is the bombing of Kobe at the end of World War II.  It is much more serious and somber than other Studio Ghibli movies.  Film critic Roger Ebert was a vocal champion of the film.  Here is his review of the film for his Great Movies series.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sounders Women FC sign Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux

This is very cool news.  Hope Solo is arguably the best female keeper in the world and is a star on the U.S. Women's National Team.  She is from Richland, Washington, and played at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!).  Sydney Leroux is a bright, young star on the USWNT.  She is originally from Surrey, British Columbia, but because she has a parent with American citizenship she is eligible for the U.S. team (which has not made her popular in Canada).  In her second game with the USWNT she scored 5 goals against Guatemala (the U.S. won 13-0).

Seattle Sounders Women FC is brand-new.  Last year the club was affiliated with a team called the Tacoma Tide.  They play in a league called the W-League, which has teams across the U.S. and Canada.  The league is similar to the league the Seattle Sounders played in before they entered MLS.  The official major league of women's soccer is called the WPS.  However, the WPS is on hiatus in 2012 due to poor management.  In 2011 the league only had 6 teams, and all were on the east coast.  The future of the WPS is unknown.

The Sounders Women's season will begin in May.  The team will play about 14 games, plus exhibitions.  I assume they will play st Starfire in Tukwila.  Obviously Solo and Leroux aren't joining the W-League because of the money.  It's an opportunity for them to play and grow the sport of professional women's soccer.  We all know the Northwest has the best soccer fans in the country.  I want to encourage people to go out this summer and see the Sounders Women play.  You'll be seeing world-class athletes.  You'll be proving that Seattle, at least, is ready to support a major league women's soccer team.  And of course you'll be proving that Sounders fans are the best, most loyal fans in the sport of soccer.

Visit the Sounders Women FC website here.  Check back for updates as the team gets ready for its upcoming season.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book News

The New Books in the Library will be available Friday.  There will be a photo op of students with the books happening Friday at Break.  All students are encouraged to participate.  The books will then be available at lunch, but only to those who participated in the photo op.  After school on Friday, the books will be available to everyone.  There are a lot of great books in there, so do check them out.

I have now also updated the Library Wish List.  We welcome donations of books from this list.

Here are 5 books from the list which we need to complete series in our library:

1.  Dark Fire, Chris D'Lacey (Last Dragon Chronicles)
2.  The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians)
3.  The Merchant of Death, D.J. MacHale (Pendragon)
4.   Lies, Michael Grant (Gone Series)
5.  Chosen, P.C. Cast (House of Night)

Also, if you're looking for a good book to read, check out Cleo's book review blog Literary Reviews.  She has great taste in books, and she reads books across many different genres.  Before long she will have read every book in our Library!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

European Countries Quiz

Northern & Western Europe: Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, United Kingdom, Ireland.

Southeastern Europe: Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia.

Eastern and Central Europe: Russia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Europe Physical Features Quiz

Picture of Pic du Midi d'Ossau in the
French Pyrenees from Wikimedia Commons.
 Rivers: Danube, Rhine, Seine, Thames, Volga.
Mountain Ranges: Alps, Caucasus, Pyrenees, Urals.

Bodies of Water: Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea.

A blank physical map of Europe can be found here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

ALA Best Books of the Year

Every January the American Library Association bestows medals on their favorite children's and YA books of the previous year.  It's basically the Oscars for kid books.  The most well-known award is the Newbery, but there are many others as well.  Let's take a look at what won:

Newbery:  Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos.
Gantos is a veteran children's author, known for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key and the autobiographical Hole in my Life, about his experience in prison.  Dead End in Norvelt is a comedy/mystery set in Western Pennsylvania during the 1960's .  The book also won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  Read about this book and the runner-ups here.

Printz: Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley.
Whaley, on the other hand, is a 28-year-old former teacher and Where Things Come Back is his first book.  This is a quirky-sounding coming-of-age tale about a kidnapping and the return of a rare woodpecker to a rural Arkansas town.  I'm excited to read this.  You can read an interview with Whaley here.  Check out all this book and the Printz Honor selections here.

Nonfiction: The Notorious Benedict Arnold, by Steve Sheinkin.
This is a biography of the figure most famous in American History for being thought of as a traitor.  This title has earned praise for being well-written and well-researched.  This sounds like a great book for readers who enjoy biographies or who have a particular interest in the Revolutionary Period.  Read about this book and the other finalists here.

Belpre: Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
The Belpre Award recognizes works written by Latina/Latino writers.  Under the mesquite is about a fourteen-year-old girl named Lupita who must deal with being the eldest of eight children amd having her mother undergo cancer treatments.  Read more about the Belpre Award here.

Edwards: Susan Cooper
This award is for lifetime achievement in the field of Young Adult Literature, and its past recipients comprise a sort of YA Hall of Fame.  Cooper was recognized for her fantasy series The Dark Is Rising Sequence.  Many NOVA students have read and enjoyed these books over the year.  Thank you, Ms. Cooper, for your contributions to Young Adult Literature!  Read more about the award here

All of these books will be in the NOVA Library soon!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shame on NBC

Today I offered my sixth grade Geography students 3 extra credit points if they watched and took notes on the Republican debate from Florida.  We covered Iowa and New Hampshire in class and students found the process and the campaign quite interesting. (Note: I'm also offering extra credit in conjunction with the State of the Union address tomorrow).  "Tune in at 6 pm on NBC," I said.  I thought the debate had the opportunity to be quite newsworthy.  Many pundits attributed Newt Gingrich's primary win in South Carolina in part to his debate performance in the CNN debate.  I tuned in to my local NBC affiliate, KING-5.  There was Brian Williams.  However, he was introducing the nightly news.  NBC was delaying the debate 3 hours!  I was astounded.  On Twitter, Nate Silver and Chuck Todd (2 members of the "elite" media) were offering witty remarks on the opening remarks from the candidates.  Okay, I could watch on my computer.  But what does it say about NBC's priorites that it would choose not to air the event live on its largest platform, which is NBC proper?  Or that it doesn't even bother to show it live on MSNBC?  To me it indicates that NBC considers the debate entertainment and not news.  If they considered it news, it would be shown live.  In this age of Twitter, of instant information, a debate shown after the fact is old news.  It's not fresh.  People comment about news now through social media as it happens.  NBC doesn't tape delay its football games (though it does the Olympics--don't get me started on that).  NBC should not air debates with national interest on a tape delay basis.

Students, if you tried to tune in to the debate at 6:00 and couldn't find it, I apologize.  Because NBC is choosing to air the debate at 9:00, you probably won't be able to watch it, as you'll be heading to bed.  Here's how you can earn the 3 credit points: Write a letter explaining your displeasure.  Explain who you are and what the assignment was.  Expain why you were interested in watching the debate.  If you were frustrated by not being able to watch the debate, describe your feelings.  You can address your letters to:

Mark Ginther
King 5 News Director
333 Dexter Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

Brian Williams
NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Golden Globe Predictions

Rachel and I have a bet as to who can best predict the Golden Globes.  Winner gets their choice of candy.

Best Picture--Drama: The Descendants
Best Picture--Comedy: The Artist
Best Actor--Drama: George Clooney
Best Actress--Drama: Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Director: Martin Scorsese

Best Drama: Homeland
Best Comedy: New Girl
Best Actor--Drama: Bryan Cranston
Best Actress--Drama: Claire Danes
Best Actor--Comedy: Matt LeBlanc
Best Actress--Comedy: Zooey Deschanel

It is a CRIME that Parks and Rec is not nominated for Best Comedy.

You can watch the Golden Globes at 5:00 p.m. Sunday on NBC.  The only and only Ricky Gervais is host.

Fantasy Story: Chapter Three: The Quest

In Chapter Three, your hero will need to go on a journey as they undertake their quest.  The journey must cover a great distance.  Include description of physical features as your hero crosses the fantasy world on their journey.

Include obstacles for your hero to encounter.  These can be physical features, storms, monsters, etc.

The goal of the quest must be very clear.

The hero must experience growth over the course of the journey.  The hero can gain courage, bravery, wisdom, knowledge, etc.  They can also improve their skills in leadership, magic, combat, etc.

5-15 pages in length.

Fantasy Story: Chapter Two: The Unfamiliar

Chapter Two should introduce the fantasy world.  It will be new to the hero.  Describe the things the hero encounters in this new world which are different than what they are used to.  New characters should be introduced.  Your story will need a sidekick for the hero, a mentor figure, and of course a villain.  The hero should learn about the villain in Chapter Two but not necessarily see the villain.  Most importantly, the hero should learn about their quest.  The hero will need to accomplish a goal by the end of the story.  The importance of the quest should be made clear to the hero.

Fantasy Story: Chapter One: The Familiar

Start Chapter One by having your hero engaged in an activity.  Start with a hook to grab the reader's attention.  Over the course of the chapter, describe the hero and his or her background.  Of course the hero at this stage is not yet a hero.  Give the reader a sense of the ordinariness of the protagonist.  Also, describe the setting of The Familar, which the hero will soon be leaving.  The chapter should end with the protagonist about to pass through a threshhold into another world.