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.