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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: High school, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 155
1. 187 Reasons Why a Teacher Needs Books

Today’s guest blogger, Sarah Kilway, wrote to us after receiving hundreds of new books for her students. We couldn’t resist sharing her story with you.

Davis 9th grade center 7_croppedI teach 187 kids at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center in Indianapolis, IN. The majority of my students live in poverty. Most have only one parent at home.

Not many of my kids own books, nor were they read to as children. Even as 9th graders, they lack basic common knowledge of fairy tales, fables and iconic book characters.

Our school has many great resources, but when something is lacking, my colleagues and I step in. This often means spending my own money on books and other items for my students, but it’s totally worth it. I also have First Book.

Davis 9th grade centerThanks to First Book, I was recently able to give a new book to every single one of my students – all 187! A few told me it was the first book they’d ever owned. Some said it was the first book they have ever finished. Such a proud moment for me and them – one that I wanted to share with you.

My students now ask me to go to the library on a daily basis.

Please give to First Book today so I can continue helping them discover and enjoy reading, and so other teachers can too. Your support puts a whole new world within their reach.

The post 187 Reasons Why a Teacher Needs Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Review of Poisoned Apples

hepperman poisoned apples Review of Poisoned Applesstar2 Review of Poisoned Apples Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
by Christine Heppermann; 
photos by various artists
High School    Greenwillow    106 pp.
10/14    978-0-06-228957-5    $17.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-228959-9    $9.99

For this poet, there is no dividing line between fairy tales and reality: “You can lose your way anywhere,” claims the poem with which she begins this collection of fifty pieces on the devastating conjunction of girls’ vulnerability, the rapacious beauty industry, and fairy tales. Caustic, witty, sad, and angry, Heppermann (a former Horn Book reviewer) articulates what some of her readers will no doubt perceive already but what may be news to others: the false promises, seductions, and deathly morass of popular culture’s imagery of girls’ bodies. What makes Heppermann’s poetry exceptional, however, is not the messages it carries but the intense, expressive drive that fuels it. In “The Anorexic Eats a Salad”: “Mountains rise, fall, rise again. / Stars complete their slow trek into oblivion. / A snail tours the length of China’s Great Wall / twice. / All those pesky cancers — cured…She has almost made it through / her first bite.” Or, in “The Wicked Queen’s Legacy”: “It used to be just the one, / but now all mirrors chatter. / In fact, every reflective surface has opinions / on the shape of my nose, the size / of my chest…” These poems dwell fiercely and angrily within the visual and verbal cacophony heard and seen by girls, offering an acerbic critique, mourning, and compassionate, unrelenting honesty.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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3. Happiness and high school humanities

I got a request this past year from my friends at Boston Green Academy (BGA) to help them consider their Humanities 4 curriculum, which focuses on philosophies, especially around happiness. This was a tough request for me, and certainly not one I had considered before. There aren’t any titles I can think of that say “Philosophy: Happiness” on their covers to pull me directly down this path.

But as I thought about it, I got more and more excited about how this topic is tackled in the YA world. The first set of books I considered were titles that dealt with “the meaning of life” in a variety of ways. Titles like Nothing by Janne Teller, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, and one of my personal favorites, The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp give lots of food for thought about where we expend our energy and the wisdom of how we prioritize our attention in life.

 teller nothing 213x300 Happiness and high school humanities    maas jeremyfink 201x300 Happiness and high school humanities    tharp spectacularnow 199x300 Happiness and high school humanities

This, of course, led to stories about facing challenges and finding happiness despite (or because) of the circumstances in our lives.  So we pulled texts like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, which all deal with characters finding ways to deal with and even prosper alongside difficult circumstances.

green faultinourstars Happiness and high school humanities     vizzini kindofFunnyStory 204x300 Happiness and high school humanities     stork marcelo 195x300 Happiness and high school humanities

Then we happened upon a set of titles that raise questions about whether you can be “happy” if you are or are not being yourself. We pulled segments of titles like Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Tina’s Mouth by Keshni Kashyap, American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Rapture Practice, which I’ve talked about here before.

openly straight Happiness and high school humanities     saenz aristotleanddante 199x300 Happiness and high school humanities     keshni tinasmouth 234x300 Happiness and high school humanities     hartzler rapturepractice 203x300 Happiness and high school humanities

And then there were a world of nonfiction possibilities, those written for young people and those not — picture books by Demi about various figures, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas about work and play, and any number of great series texts about philosophers and religions and such.

So I guess the (happy) moral of this story is that it was much easier than I thought to revisit old texts with these new eyes of philosophies of happiness. I left the work feeling as though every text is about this very important topic in one way or another, and I can’t wait to see how the BGA curriculum around it continues to evolve!

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4. Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try.  I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away.  Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad.  I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!).  I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites.  The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.

Food Wars! Volume 1 ends the competition between father and son very quickly.  Soma’s dad decides he’s going to sharpen his cooking skills, and he leaves Soma with hardly a word.  Off he goes, we discover, jet-setting around the globe, creating fabulous dishes at 5-star establishments.  Soma, in the meantime, has been enrolled in a prestigious culinary school.  The only hitch? He has to pass a cooking test, or he flunks out of school before it even starts.  His judge is fellow student Erina Nakiri, and she’s one tough critic.  From a blue-blooded family of in the gourmet food biz, she has already created a name for herself in the foodie world.  Noted for her incredibly discerning sense of taste, she has no patience for anything less than the best.  Unfortunately for Soma, that includes him.  When Erina discovers his background is from a humble family diner, she has nothing but contempt for him and his cooking.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed best about Food Wars! is Soma’s personality.  He’s brash and outspoken, but he doesn’t mean to come across as a douche, though he often does.  He just wants everyone to appreciate all kinds of food, especially meals prepared with less expensive ingredients.  He’s also very confident in his own abilities, having worked in the family restaurant since he was a small boy.  He makes himself a target the first day of school by sounding like an obnoxious jerk, making a speech in front of the incoming class that is cringe worthy in its arrogance.  Since everybody has a bone to pick with him now, he suddenly has dozens of classmates rooting for, and even actively participating in efforts to see him fail.  Most of the students come from wealthy families, with esteemed backgrounds in gourmet food industries, and they don’t want his kind there.

Volume 2 introduces a parcel of eccentric personalities for Soma to interact with, as well as his first cooking battle.  If he loses, he’s agreed to pack his bags and leave school for good.  His opponent is a genius with beef, and since her family has made a fortune selling grade A cuts of the stuff, he probably shouldn’t have challenged her to a cook-off using meat as the main ingredient.  That’s what I like about Soma; he feels so strongly about an issue that he jumps to accept any challenge, without having the faintest idea or plan of how he’s actually going to win. It’s always Ready! Fire! Aim! with him, with very entertaining results.

So far, I am enjoying this series. The drama of the food wars is fun, and the descriptions of the food makes me drool. I hate cooking, but even I’m tempted to try some of the recipes included because they sound so darned tasty. I have my usual gripes while reading a comic aimed primarily at boys, and I’m not sure how these 14 year old girls can have boobs the size of their heads, but then I remember that I am not the target market. It’s still fun anyway.

About the book:

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town.  Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!  Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the  Polaris Dormitory—a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Tohzuki’s legendary cooking duels—a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be?

Review copies provided by publisher

The post Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Review of Like No Other

lamarche like no other Review of Like No OtherLike No Other
by Una LaMarche
Middle School, High School    Razorbill/Penguin    347 pp.
7/14    978-1-59514-674-8    $17.99    g

How’s this for a meet cute? New York teens Devorah and Jaxon get stuck in a hospital elevator during a hurricane. Though their encounter is a fairly brief one, it’s also intense, and both come away with that love-at-first-sight feeling. Here’s where things get complicated. Devorah is a Hasidic Jew, and a frum one at that (“basically the Yiddish equivalent of ‘hopeless goody two-shoes’”). Jaxon is black. They live in present-day Crown Heights; and although, as Jaxon says, “the neighborhood has become so gentrified that I’m more likely to get hit by an artisanal gluten-free scone than a bullet, let’s be real,” tensions can still run high, especially within Devorah’s ultra-conservative family. Even though Devorah’s menacing brother-in-law, a member of the Shomrim (Orthodox neighborhood watch), is on to them, she still can’t resist accidentally-on-purpose bumping into Jax at his work and accepting the cell phone he sneaks (in a grand romantic gesture) into her yard. The story is told from the teens’ alternating perspectives. While Jax is a little too good to be true, Devorah, whether agonizing over her love life or sharing informative details about Hasidic daily life and religious philosophy, is believable and engaging. Her struggle between tradition and modernity, filial duty and personal fulfillment, is complicated and realistic; just because she doesn’t want an arranged marriage doesn’t mean she’s ready to turn her back on her family and her culture. This leads to a conclusion that, while bittersweet, is still hopeful.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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6. Yaqui’s text set

medina yaqui delgado1 Yaquis text set Since I wrote recently about using a text set built around the idea of respect and the title Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, a few people have asked what other texts we used alongside it. Our* essential question was “What makes someone worthy of respect?”

We were aiming for a set that spanned genres, and so the resulting set was both too big to use in our short time but also made of texts that weren’t only from the YA world. It included the some of the following:

  • Poems like “The Ballad of the Landlord” by Langston Hughes and “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike
  • A series of quotes about respect from famous people
  • The short story ‘Chuckie’ by Victor LaValle
  • A couple of articles about bystanding and upstanding when bad things happen to others
  • Lou Holtz’s famous first locker room speech at Notre Dame
  • A couple of pieces from the This I Believe collection having to do with self-respect (thisibelieve.org)
  • Several anecdotes from the book Discovering Wes Moore about choices, misunderstandings, and facing adversity

This group of texts are all related to the idea of respect and who gets it and who doesn’t, and the different readings allowed us to consider respect from a variety of vantage points as we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of Piddy and Yaqui in the anchor novel.  They also gave us lots of time to dabble in writing different genres.

Text sets are such a fun way to really think hard about important stuff, and I’m excited to keep adding to this set about respect.

*This curriculum for the BGA/BU Summer Institute was developed in collaboration with my awesome friends Marisa Olivo and Lucia Mandelbaum from BGA and Scott Seider from BU. 

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7. Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira | Book Review

Reading Ana Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead will bring about a serious book hangover: her novel will linger with you for days. Dellaira tackles serious and all-too-real issues and anxieties with grace, humility and heart-breaking accuracy.

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8. Why are we doing any of this?

Every teacher has heard it before: if you’re teaching students to succeed on the Test, then you’re teaching them the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond.

And if you’re like me, you’ve either inwardly or outwardly scoffed at this claim.

As I use the summer to reflect on this past school year and to begin planning for the upcoming one, I’m thinking about this in terms of my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition course. Thankfully, I’m not under much external pressure to ensure all my students earn qualifying scores on the AP exam in May. But I do feel responsible for preparing them adequately for the Test since it has the potential to beef up their transcripts and earn them college credit.

But is the purpose of the class to pass the exam, or is it to prepare students for reading, writing, and thinking at a college level? Does preparing them for the exam do just that in this specific instance?

I would argue that part of it does but part of it does not. In particular, the reading section of the AP English Lang. & Comp. exam fails to imitate authentic college-level work. The section consists of four one-page passages — usually taken from varying disciplines and time periods — each followed by multiple choice questions testing a variety of reading and rhetorical analysis skills. Students have one hour.

But in how many college courses were you handed single-page excerpts accompanied by multiple choice questions? How many of your college exams looked like this?

In my experience (as an English undergrad and then as an Education grad student) the answer to both questions is zero. I had to read book upon book upon book, many of which were unfamiliar, dense, and complex. If we weren’t reading a book, then we were reading long, scholarly articles. We read. We thought. We discussed. We wrote. We did not answer multiple-choice questions.

Yet, answering multiple-choice questions like the ones on the AP exam is the kind of skill that can theoretically improve with explicit instruction and practice. So do I spend my time having my students do just that? Or do I spend it having them read/discuss/write about the kind of texts they will encounter in college and beyond?

The College Board and many others would probably say both — but if the point of practicing multiple-choice questions is simply to become good at answering multiple-choice questions, then why are we doing any of this?

While this isn’t a new question, I still haven’t heard a convincing answer.

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9. Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp

 

I have a couple cover reveals this morning.  First up:  I read about The Elementalists last week, and the plot sounds intriguing.  Besides, anything with dragons gets a second look from me.  What do you think of the cover?

The Elementalists

C. Sharp

It is the hottest year on record for the fifth year in a row, and famine riots spread across much of Africa. Along the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season is one of the worst in memory. The latest in a string of 9.0 strength earthquakes has claimed two-hundred thousand lives in central China. Far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless…

All seems normal in small town Virginia, where fifteen year old Chloe McClellan dreads the start of her sophomore year. Whip-smart, athletic and genuine, she’s also a bit of an angry loner who is totally unaware of her charms. Despite her plans to stay under the radar, Chloe becomes a target for the fiery queen of the It-girls in fifth period gym. She then draws instant notoriety when she’s struck by lightning after her first disastrous day of school. As if that weren’t bad enough, she soon comes to believe, that either she’s going insane, or her accident has unleashed a powerful and terrifying creature from the mythological world—triggering the final countdown to the world’s sixth great extinction level event.

Chloe finds some solace as she inexplicably wins the affections of an unlikely trio of male classmates: the earthy and gregarious captain of the football team, the flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while she struggles with the growing realization that “Dragons” exist, and she may be the only one who can stop them.

The Elementalists, book one of the Tipping Point Prophecy, follows Chloe and her group of friends, and enemies, as they struggle to save humanity by harnessing the power of the elements.

Author bio:

This is C. Sharp’s debut novel. He studied English Literature and Anthropology at Brown University and Mayan Archaeology at the Harvard Field School in Honduras. He works in film and commercial production. Chris now lives in Concord, MA with his wife and daughter.

Goodreads link:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22838892-the-elementalists

Sales widget:

https://ganxy.com/i/95879/c-sharp/the-elementalists-the-tipping-point-prophecy-book-one

eISBN:

9781626813113

Price:

$4.99

The post Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. Visual Writer Introductions

Fostering a nurturing writing community at the beginning of the school year means taking the time to build a community of writers. Here's an artistic way you can have students introduce themselves, and their quirks, to their peers.

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11. Back to School: Summer Reading

Heading into my final year of high school, I realize I have much to look forward to. I’ll be (hopefully) passing my driver’s test in a week and, in addition, have my own car for the year. I’ll be taking many anticipated, higher-level courses that I’ve been thinking about since I was a freshman. I’ll be a leader in many of the clubs and activities I’ve been in for the last three years. Yet, despite all these grand new beginnings to kick off my new year, I know that there is also one grand ending: summer reading.

Having taking honors/AP English for all four years, a part of my summer has always belonged to the written word. Though there are novels I willingly pick up on my own when the warm months roll in, I can’t attest to having always been enthralled by the books handpicked for me. When I first heard about summer reading from my twin sisters, who were just heading into ninth grade at the time, I was appalled. Isn’t summertime designed for children to relax? I argued. To take a break from books and education? Of course, I’d watched movies with characters that had summer reading and even, ironically, read books with this same act of atrocity. But I never thought that I, a measly eighth-grader, would have to suffer through it. It wasn’t even that I hated the idea of reading; as I stated before, I willingly pick up books, quite often in fact. It was more the idea that I would have to read a book that someone else wanted me to read. It was the idea that I couldn’t choose what I wanted to read.

So, in the summer bridging middle school to high school, I begrudgingly opened the letter declaring the books I would have to read that summer. A Separate Peace by John Knowles (which helped me properly learn how to spell separate) and Matched by Ally Condie. Imagine my surprise that Matched was a New York Times Bestselling novel for teenagers. I had been expecting Moby Dick (which would have been a repeat, considering I read sparknoted it in eighth grade) or The Scarlett Letter (that, actually, would come later). A Separate Peace fell into my more expected category of summer reading, but imagine my surprise again as I enjoyed that novel even more than Matched.

Matched—for those of you who haven’t read it—is about a girl living in a world where the government controls her every decision. It’s about choices, really. Choices we have, choices we don’t. It was a very fitting book at the time, looking back on it. Cassia, the main character, feels like she has no choice in her life, and I felt like I had no choice in what book to read. I now know that summer reading is put into place so that reading levels don’t sharply decline, but for those of us who do choose to read, I realize that, just because you have the freedom to make a choice doesn’t mean you will pick the right choice. That’s not to say that teachers and librarians always pick the perfect novels for us to read. Perhaps, however, giving in to reading a novel that we would never pick up ourselves but holds high acclaim for another person is a choice we should be willing to make. Even when it’s not for a classroom, where the books are often connected to a predetermined syllabus, we should be open to other book options from different people, even book critics.

With this new mindset, I approached my sophomore summer reading with open arms (well, okay, slightly less closed arms). Imagine my disgust when the book fell right into my literary summer reading stereotype—The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, was exactly the sort of novel I was afraid of reading. Long and tedious, often dwelling on the most mundane of things, not spending enough time on the most interesting things. I’ll admit, at first I was intrigued. The oldest fantasy of all, before Harry Potter and Twilight ever even had their first word. Merlin, Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table: every common fantasy element started with this very book. What failed me about this age-old story was that, when I finished the last word, there was nothing to take away—no message, no theme. Sparknotes puts up a good argument for chivalry, but is that a message I want a book to leave me with? Chivalry?

I know it’s a classic and I swear I’m not one of those teenagers who tears down classic novels for the sake of tearing down classic novels (I’ll only do that with other teenagers in my presence). And I have certainly read my share of novels that have no basis of a theme whatsoever. But I must admit that I found it rather odd that a book I had to read for education taught me nothing more than about crazy old wizards and unicorns. Perhaps on my own time, yet when I have to type twenty pages of notes (twenty-one, actually) I’d like to read a book with more substance. Even if it is deemed a classic by whomever the classic-deemers are, is it too much to ask for a novel that leaves a classic impression on my education?

The summer of my junior year (a summer I barely made after narrowly surviving Sophomore Lit), this very question was answered. And they say that there are no wrong answers, but my goodness was this question answered wrongly. The novel Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. That’s more accomplishment that I can say for myself, so who am I to tear down the novel? Well, before I do, let me first put it on a pedestal. I’m not lying when I say this novel did leave me with more substance than The Once and Future King allowed: there were observations Dillard wrote about in her book that were so spot on, so enlightening, I can’t help but to believe she must have been the only true competition for that 1975 Pulitzer Prize. What truly failed me about this book was that there were no characters and no story. I know it is nonfiction. I know that no nonfiction novel contains any sort of story or characters like the ones we fiction-lovers hold dear. But I didn’t even get a name. At least there’s Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, even E. Coli (Biology textbook anyone?). Nonfiction novels may not have the same level of familiarity as fiction does, but at the very least I would like to know a name. When I read a book, I need some sort of connection. My physics textbook always feeds me words and definitions; Annie Dillard’s novel was a far cry from thermodynamics and nuclear physics. In fact, it did feel more fiction than anything. Could it have been so hard to have introduced herself to the audience?

And then there’s this summer. This final summer before my summer reading ends for good. The two books I am currently reading—The Help by Kathryn Stockett and And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini—are exactly what I always hoped for. I would have picked them up by choice, the messages (notice the extra s there on the end) are profound and deep, the stories and characters are engaging and real. It’s no wonder they are both bestselling novels. Not every great novel is a bestseller though, and being a bestseller is hardly a measure of a great novel. Here I am easily ready to judge any book thrown my way, yet I have never had the daunting task of picking out a novel for an entire class to read, learn from, and enjoy. And simply because I am reading, learning from, and enjoying The Help doesn’t mean the student sitting next to me will. What is the formula for a perfect summer reading novel? Does it matter if the students enjoys it, so long as they read it and learn from it? Does it matter if they learn, so long as they are reading and enjoying? All three do make the perfect recipe, but it is rare for any novel, not simply a summer reading novel, to contain all the ingredients. I guess the only thing left to say is for any teacher or librarian or educator that chooses summer reading books—I commend you for being able to make such a tough choice every year.

Check out #bestseller, #summerreading, #summerreading2014

 

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12. What’s the media Feeding us?

feed Whats the media Feeding us?For the past six weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching an English course to a group of highly motivated high school students enrolled in the summer session of an Upward Bound program. This summer’s book selection — Feed by M. T. Anderson — has spurred a campus conversation that I keep catching snippets of while I wait in line in the cafeteria or when I walk down the halls in the dorm. (I’m serious — a large group of teenagers, in school in the summer, are really talking about a book in their free time!)

Feed never fails to generate intense feelings and is also one of those books that could be suited to almost any theme or purpose that a course might cover. It lends itself to discussions of identity, social class, gender roles and expectations, conformity, language, as well as the topics around which I organized my summer course: media and technology.

The overarching question my students and I have been grappling with over the course of the summer is “Does the media create or reflect reality?” Feed is the perfect title to use as a case study for exploring this question, as it presents a dystopian world where the majority of people have a device — the “feed” — implanted directly into their brains. The feed constantly bombards its users with advertisements that are responsive to their locations and emotional states and also offers seemingly unlimited access to information. Of course, it also leads the users to have tremendous blind spots in terms of their understanding of the world around them and is controlled by powerful corporations who may or may not have the best interests of their users at heart.

Feed is the perfect choice for a course focused on media literacy. The book itself articulates and reinforces the need for precisely the skills learned in media literacy exercises: how to think critically about the content present in media messages, how to actively engage with information rather than passively accepting it, and how to uncover who creates the media and what their agendas might be.

Over the course of the summer, I have watched my students develop an increasing awareness of the challenges and implications of growing up in a media-saturated world. In addition to reading Feed, we have analyzed videos, advertisements, and contemporary songs to see what is under the surface of the media messages that we too often accept without question — and with which we even find ourselves singing along! I can see my students’ blinders beginning to come off as they think more critically about the world around them and how media impacts their own lives.

While Feed projects a vision of a dystopian future and was published back in 2002, I am struck each time I reread the book by how close the world Anderson describes seems to our own. The media and technology are increasingly influential and already play a key role in shaping our reality. The time to think about the implications of a media feeding us constant messages that may or may not reflect the world we want to inhabit is now and Feed is a wonderful title to use to engage young people in these critical conservations.

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13. ‘Minutewoman Maggie’ Gallops Toward New England Beach Vault!

One if by land, two if by sea, Minutewoman Maggie is on a fast gallop from Grain Valley, Kansas, to New England Beach Vault 2013. Author Grant Overstake received an email on Sunday, inviting his storybook heroine, Maggie Steele, to … Continue reading

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14. Maggie Soars to Sunny California for Valley Vaulters Halloween Vault

Storybook heroine Maggie Steele is winging her way West for the fourth annual Valley Vaulters Halloween Vault this weekend in beautiful Murrieta, California. The event, sponsored by the Valley Vaulters pole-vault club will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 … Continue reading

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15. Moon Killers (Shadow Series #3) : episode 1

IMG_0507

Happy Halloween! To celebrate I’m releasing a portion of Moon Killers in installments to thank you. So on this All Hallow’s Eve, come sit by the fire with me. Here’s a hot cup of apple cider. Are you all set? Let’s read the first episode of book three of The Shadow Series together…

When something feels wrong, it usually is.

My boyfriend Drew places his hand on my cheek. We’re lying next to each other in the end zone at the high school’s dark, empty football stadium. Blades of grass tickle a warning all along my spine––Drew and I aren’t alone. I rustle in place, trying to shake the feeling that someone is out there in the dark, watching us. Instead, I lose myself in Drew’s gaze, caring and not caring that he’s picked tonight to tell me everything––finally. When he leans in close, I close my eyes, feel his lips on mine and melt in his arms. He kisses me as if he’s lived a thousand lifetimes and discovered only love matters. But he will die. And I will not. Not for a very long time.

Nothing about Drew says he’s just begun his Last Life. Nothing about Drew has changed at all since I took his place as the Shadow Slayer. Girls still swoon over him, especially under the Friday night lights––where he can be found pulling off winning plays week after week. Most girls would die to just talk to him. I can’t believe he’s my boyfriend.

There are two main ways girls like to stalk Drew. After a game, they flock in his wake when he and the other football players make a pit stop at the Snack Shack on their way to the locker room. The girls smile with their hot dogs or hot chocolate hot in their hands, and flip their hair ready for Drew––all dripping with Gatorade––to turn around and instantly fall in love with one of them. And when this fails, their backup plan is keeping a vigil in the football field parking lot with an eye on the locker room door. The boys, fresh from their showers, punch and joke their way to their cars. Said swooning girls walk around in circles, searching for rides they never missed. Most end up lingering by Drew’s baby blue Beemer with a can-you-help-me, I-missed-my-ride bat of their eyes, which can have the affect of bonding opportunistic girls to oblivious guys. Sometimes after a game, I stare at all the hair-flipping, eye-batting, stranded girls and wonder which one will become Drew’s girlfriend now that I’m the Shadow Slayer. Which of them will be the mortal girl he’ll date after me.

I know I don’t have a shot at being Drew’s girlfriend for very much longer anyway, even without the whole have-to-save-the-world-from-the-Shadows thing that will pretty much eat up all my free time for the next five hundred years. I mean it’s inevitable that he’ll wake up one day and be like, oh, ick what was I thinking. It’s not like he’s made me feel he’s doing me a favor by dating me or anything, in spite of our obvious violation of the Hot Factor Doctrine––Drew being a ten and me being a six. It’s way more complicated than the fact that doctrine dictates he should date up at least a few factors especially since there are plenty of female tens here at Oakdale Central High School. No, the reason I won’t be Drew’s girlfriend for long is that he’s mortal now. He’ll want, no make that need, a mortal girlfriend. He’ll need to live a real life. The life he’s dreamed about for centuries. The life he fought for. The life he slayed for. We can’t be together now that I’m the Shadow Slayer. One day soon, we’ll be separated forever. I shiver.

“Roxie, what’s going on?”

“What?”

“I’ve asked you over and over and you…I don’t know…it’s like you’re not even here.”

“I’m here. Now.” I manage a smile even though my heart’s breaking.

His smile fades and he pulls me in close to his chest.

“Will you wear my jersey to school tomorrow for luck?”

I nod. I like wearing his number. Eighteen is my new favorite number. “Sure, you know I will.”

“LT is double tough this year because their backup quarterback Anderson got a shot at starting and even though he’s just a sophomore he’s blowing every other quarterback away. If we’re going to win our division, we have to beat LT.”

It’s strange to hear Drew talking about division finals and beating LT as intensely as he once did about my destiny as Shadow Slayer and how I’d have to battle them. This mortal life is his now. So very different than mine. Being the best quarterback is what matters most to him now. I wish it could matter more to me. But my old life is sort of hollow. I’m in between worlds, not quite here.

The only thing that matters to me is moon killing. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to gain an advantage over the Shadows. It’s the only way I’ll have a shot at my own Last Life. It’s the only way I’ll be able to save the world.

But, tomorrow’s game against LT is epic. It’s kind of cool how everyone at school, make that everyone in town, wants to beat them. We hate LT. I still don’t know why, it just is. Last year when I was a freshman, I had no idea exactly why we hated LT––Lyons Township High School, the high school a few towns over. And apparently, just being a few towns over is the only reason we need to hate them. It’s weird and doesn’t make sense but our hatred really just boils down to geography.

When you’re in high school you sort of have to accept things like archrivals. Before I met Drew last year, before I found out that I’m the Shadow Slayer, I thought freshman was tattooed on my forehead. Back then it seemed everyone around me knew I didn’t know anything about anything especially stuff I was supposed to automatically know, like LT being the enemy. It took me a long time to figure stuff out freshman year. Most of the reason I wasn’t a total loser freshman year was because Drew was my boyfriend.

to be continued….

Book 1, 13 on Halloween (free)

Book 2, Shadow Slayer

Want to know more about the series? Click here for playlists, dreamcasts, and book trailers

Shadow Slayer, book 2


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16. Maggie Has a Whale of a Time at New England Beach Vault

Maggie Steele had an awesome day at the New England Beach Vault. With sunny blue skies and temps in the 70s, the weather was picture perfect for pole-vaulting at Narraganset Town Beach, Rhode Island, where a brisk ocean breeze boosted … Continue reading

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17. Flutura Gets a New Look – $.99 through 1/17

Flutura Cover 011414

Our young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, has a new look.  Book one is completed and book two will be available this spring so get started with Flutura to follow the story of three best friends.  Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

This first book will be on sale for $.99 through January 17th.

You can also sign up to hear about our future young adult releases by joining our mailing list.

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18. School Spirits - Review


Publication date: 13 May 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
ISBN 10/13: 1423148495 | 9781423148494
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy
Keywords: Paranormal, High School, Ghosts, Witches
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: ARC from Publisher


Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Kimberly's Review:

Izzy Brannick is strong and trained to fight monsters. And the one thing she is scared of? High School.

Izzy has been homes schooled her whole life. So when a case requires her to go to high school, Izzy bunkers down, watches a lot of high school television and hopes for the best. But nothing could prepare her for a best friend, a crush and a ghost. A really strong ghost.

Can Izzy's new friends accept who she is and help her defeat this ghost?

I'm a big fan of the Hex Hall series so I was really excited to read School Spirits. Izzy appears in the last book Spell Bound, and she takes front and center in School Spirits. Izzy is smart, strong and achingly awkward. I love how she's never been to a high school pep rally, basketball game. I love how she's learning everything there is to know about high school by watching television. The story introduces us to some "normal" teenagers like her new best friend Romy who is equal parts awesome fun and rainbow unicorn. And sweet Dex who makes Izzy a little bit dizzy.

In typical Hawkins fashion, there's a lot of fun one liners and witty dialogue. There's some romance, and ghosts and witches and danger. But best of all, there is Izzy who is really sweet and a bit sad.

The story moves quickly and while I would have liked more description, more twists, stronger motivations for the characters, I still breezed through it quickly in only two days. Enjoying the ride and wishing there was a sequel I could dive into right away.

It's a standalone after the Hex Hall series, but you should read the series first to fully enjoy School Spirits. I really hope this is the start of a spin off series.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
 


Visit the author online at www.rachel-hawkins.com and follow her on Twitter @LadyHawkins


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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19. Larva is Live on Amazon

 

Larva Kindle Cover

We are pleased to announce the release of our second young adult book in our Alpha Girls series, Larva.  Book two of The Alpha Girls series follows Caitlin and her friends during their freshman year of high school.

Caitlin has been dating Josh most of the summer, but she finds herself torn between Josh and the new man on campus, Trick. Trick shared a passionate kiss with Caitlin over the summer on a Florida beach, but she never thought she’d see him again.

High school is full of choices. Some more difficult than others.

 


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20. Enter to Win a Paperback Copy of Flutura

 

We are giving away three paperback copies of  Flutura (The Alpha Girls Series, book one) from now until April 18th. Book one of The Alpha Girls series introduces you to Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin who have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

You can also find Larva (The Alpha Girls Series, book two) available now on Amazon kindle and paperback.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Flutura by Angela Muse

Flutura

by Angela Muse

Giveaway ends April 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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21. “Where do you buy these?”

barnesnoble cherryhillNJ 300x231 Where do you buy these?

Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ.

Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?”

The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But it wouldn’t be the last.

“Umm,” I said, “a bookstore.”

The answer seemed obvious, but later I thought about it further. Had I bought it in a physical bookstore? I probably purchased it online. This eighth grader couldn’t do that without a parent with a credit card. And where was the nearest bookstore? It was in the suburbs, and, again, this eighth grader probably couldn’t get there without someone willing and able to drive him.

Furthermore, the city’s public libraries left much to be desired. They actually closed down completely a few years later, making Camden the largest city in the United States at the time without a public library (thankfully, a couple branches eventually reopened as part of the county system).

camdenfreepubliclibrary 500x375 Where do you buy these?

The Camden Free Public Library

That simple, surprising question actually spoke volumes: Camden, the resting place of Walt Whitman, was a literary desert. It’s not that there weren’t people who still read and wrote, as there certainly were. I knew students who read well above their grade level, inhaling books like oxygen, and then offering profound comments that left me reeling. But the sad truth was that they were few and far between.

Many students in the inner-city do not grow up in literacy-rich environments. They may not have been read to regularly as children. Their houses might not have contained several shelves of books. They might not take regular trips to the library or a store that only sells books.

Eight years later, I now teach high school English at a charter school in West Philadelphia, but this question and its implications have remained in the forefront of my mind. Relative to the nearby neighborhood schools, our students perform pretty well, with a vast majority of each graduating class gaining acceptance to four-year colleges or universities.

Yet our average student still reads below grade level, our top students’ SAT scores are unimpressive, and a majority of our students couldn’t tell you the last time they read an entire book for fun.

I appreciate the complexity behind acquiring language and literacy. But it seems to me that on the whole these are the cumulative consequences of not being surrounded by books and learning to love them. It’s a simple truth overlooked amidst today’s mania for testing: if kids experience the joy of reading, they will read more and become better readers. A student bombarded with practice reading comprehension questions or scripted intervention curriculum for hours a day, year after year, learns only that they hate what they are being told is “reading.”

So, fellow educators, how do you get your students to love reading, to enjoy a book so much that they want to find a bookstore and go buy it? How did you ever get to that point?

share save 171 16 Where do you buy these?

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22. Win a Free Copy of the DOGGIRL Audio Book!

Guess what? From now until the end of the month, I’m going to be giving away one free copy of the DOGGIRL audio book every day! That’s ten free audio books. I know! I mean it!

To enter to win, just send me a note here on my contact page telling me one quick story about you and your love for animals. It can be a childhood memory, a quick story about a favorite pet of yours, or just an overall description of why animals make our lives so much better.  Keep it short (I do have other work to do), but tell me.

That’s it! I’ll pick one winner every day and send you the secret code to download the book from Audible.com.

Sound easy? Of course it is. So go for it!

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23. What Would You Do?

First, let me ask: When did we, as a people, stop caring about doing what's right and start only thinking of ourselves?

I know I am generalizing, but I am bombarded daily with acts of selfishness and buffoonery that show no compassion or consideration. I know there are good people in this world (I try to be one of them). Still, my sense of justice is assaulted constantly by those that simply don't care.

With that out of the way, let me get to the reason I asked you here. There is a certain high school student, let's call him P, to maintain his confidentiality. P stands for Pinocchio because this student does not lie, fib, or even swear. His moral compass makes mine look like a Cracker Jack toy.

P is in a predicament. In one of his classes, it seems that the majority of classmates are OK with cheating. Over the past several weeks, they have been sharing answers to quizzes and tests, going so far as to text them or write them on the side of a coffee cup. Worse yet is that they are getting these answers from a Teacher's Aid. In case you don't know, a Teacher's Aid is supposed to be a student of strong character entrusted with helping the teacher. In this case, the Aid is helping other students cheat.

P has a problem. He does not feel he can go to the teacher or administration about this. P is worried about repercussion from his fellow students. In this age group and moral climate, repercussion could easily become physical. P also does not feel he has the support of the administration. Previous experience proves as much in a case where he tried to resolve something anonymously and then the teacher (different than the one above) singled him out to the class because that teacher had some backlash from administration. I should also mention P was a victim of bullying at a younger age. Administration did nothing in that case either, so P has little faith in them and knowledge of the capabilities of his classmates.

What is P supposed to do? What would you do, as a parent or student? It is possible that the teacher won't find out and nothing will happen. If the teacher becomes aware and P does not step forward, what happens? Is P's silence self-preservation or complicity?

I invite comments, suggestions and debate on this topic. Please post comments on this blog, share on Facebook or email me.

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24. 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and Nonfiction

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? We’ve hand-picked our top ten in each age range, all published 2013–2014, that are ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion. For a handy take-along list of titles, follow this link to a printable PDF.

Picture Books (Fiction and Nonfiction) | Early Readers and Younger Fiction
Intermediate Fiction and Nonfiction | Middle School Fiction and Nonfiction

High School Fiction and Nonfiction

Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up

alexander he said she said 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionHe Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander (Amistad/HarperTeen)
Claudia Clarke — sharp, opinionated, and Harvard-bound — is the only girl who isn’t impressed by quarterback Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls. Omar takes a bet that he can win Claudia over, and when his usual seduction tactics fail, he applies his social clout to Claudia’s cause du jour. 330 pages.

berry all the truth thats in me 170 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionAll the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry (Viking)
Eighteen-year-old narrator Judith is ostracized from her claustrophobic village after a trauma that left her mute. Readers gradually learn “all the truth” about the incident and the village itself as Judith speaks directly (though only in her head) to her love, Lucas. 274 pages.

farizan if you could be mine 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionIf You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Algonquin)
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years. But the girls live in Iran, where their love is illegal. When Nasrin accepts a marriage proposal, both girls must face the untenable future of their relationship; Sahar hatches a desperate plan for them to be together. 247 pages.

maggot moon 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMaggot Moon by Sally Gardner; illus. by Julian Crouch (Candlewick)
Printz Honor Book
In an alternate dystopian United Kingdom, the Motherland regime consigns undesirables to the derelict housing of Zone Seven. When his friend Hector disappears, Standish sets out to rescue him and uncovers a shocking government hoax. 281 pages.

lewis march book 1 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMarch: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
In this memoir told in graphic novel form, Congressman John Lewis — the last surviving member of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders — recounts his formative years, beginning with 1965′s infamous “Bloody Sunday.” From this violently chaotic event the narrative fast-forwards to the morning of Barack Obama’s January 2009 inauguration. 128 pages.

lockhart we were liars 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)
At fifteen, Cady survived an unspecified accident on the private island where her wealthy family and her love interest Gat spend their summers. Two summers later, Cady battles the resultant migraines and memory loss to piece together what really happened, building to a shocking reveal. 228 pages.

rowell fangirl 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Change-resistant college freshman Cath holes up in her dorm room writing fantasy fanfiction. As the year progresses, she is pushed outside her comfort zone by her snarky roommate, her love interest, and her loving but dysfunctional family. 438 pages.

sedgwick midwinterblood 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionMidwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
Printz Medal Winner
Seven interconnected short stories progress backwards through the history of a remote Scandinavian island, from 2073 to a “Time Unknown.” Together the tales gradually reveal the ritual that brings bloody death and forbidden love to “Blessed Island.” 263 pages.

wein rose under fire 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionRose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
This WWII-set companion to Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor winner Code Name Verity follows eighteen-year-old American pilot Rose Justice. Captured while delivering supplies and personnel, Rose is sent to notorious German women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück, where she’s befriended by victims of Nazi medical experiments. 360 pages.

boxers saints 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and NonfictionBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang; illus. by the author; color by Lark Pien (First Second/Roaring Brook)
This “diptych” of graphic novels (with touches of magical realism and humor) is set during China’s Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, Little Bao learns to harness the power of ancient gods to fight the spread of Christianity, while in Saints, Four-Girl sits squarely on the other side of the rebellion. 328 and 172 pages.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

share save 171 16 2014 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School Fiction and Nonfiction

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25. A Final Napkin Masterpiece

I am coming to terms with the fact that yesterday was my eldest’s last day of high school…sort of. I am not given to emotion, but this is a big deal. In a little over a week we will celebrate her graduation where she will walk across the stage with ribbons, cords, and medals she earned for her outstanding achievements of the past four years. I had a ribbon adorning my graduation gown, as well. Just look at my picture as I accepted what I thought was my diploma.

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Yes, R. Ted Boehm knew that wasn’t my ribbon also. I mooched it from someone who had already walked – note the smarmy grin quickly quelled when Mr. Boehm whispered “This is not really your diploma either, son.”  Oh the relief when I did pick a real one up a few days later. I’m guessing he got more than a few reprobates with that nugget over the years.

There is no doubt she will get a diploma, though. And in the fall she will go off to college. She is loud, messy, a bit sassy at times…and I will miss her greatly. I will miss being woken up by her singing at inappropriate hours of the night. I will miss her ignoring me as she saunters to her room and I will miss her friends being over to all hours watching movies underneath my room with the volume so high my bed shakes. (In writing this I wonder why teenagers hate sleep.) I jest. I could list her positive qualities, but my blog would run out of storage space. She is a true gem – a lovely, talented, and godly young lady.

And so, I drew her a last napkin art yesterday morning. I don’t have any idea when this tradition started or why, but whenever I pack lunches, I draw them a little picture on their napkin. My drawing ability would have to increase significantly to be called rudimentary. My sketches are barely above cave art. But if I ever pack a lunch and forget napkin art, they call me on it. Often my pictures are so terrible that I have to explain what I drew and why it is funny (to me).  Ironically, they also render the napkin basically useless as an instrument of cleanliness.

Most of the time they involve animal humor, but on this occasion I drew a creative take on graduation where my graceful daughter trips in front of the principal.

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I doubt it will come true, but you never know with all of those cords & ribbons weighing her down. Those things are dangerous on many levels, thus my aversion to earning any.


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