13 Little Blue Envelopes

Written on April 21, 2014 – 1:09 pm | by Mrs. Klein

I like the concept of taking on a series of challenges which are revealed after each has been completed. I certainly would not be as adventurous as Ginny, traveling around Europe alone, but following a book character is a safe way to explore “what ifs.” I questioned the wisdom of some of Ginny’s decisions, but I had to remind myself that she is 17 years old. It was satisfying to see that she learned something in each of her challenges, even to the point that sometimes the teacher’s intended lesson totally misses the mark. As a teacher, I could relate to this. The ending left enough uncertainty for me to want to read the sequel.

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The Eye of Minds

Written on April 21, 2014 – 12:50 pm | by Mrs. Klein

As I was listening to this book, I kept thinking of certain students who like video games so much that they choose to blog about them. I found the idea of becoming a character in a video game by lying in a specially made coffin too creepy. Do people crave action so much that they would want to be an active participant in a video game rather than just on the outside manipulating a digital character? There is certainly a lot of action in this book. I would not normally be interested in a story about a video game, but the author kept me attached to the main character. I wanted to see how he completed the challenge.

I thought the ending was quite unexpected. Should I have seen it coming? Shelfari says that this is the first in a series. Does the ending leave you wanting to read more?

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Uncommon Criminals

Written on April 21, 2014 – 12:30 pm | by Mrs. Klein

Since two classes were working on research papers during January and February, I did not allow myself much time to read. However, during our recent spring break, I listened to two audiobooks and read a third. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter is the second in the “Heist Society” series. Besides the entertaining story of a girl from a family of thieves who has chosen to limit her heists to those she deems morally right, there is an important theme of Interdependence. The story opens with Kat successfully stealing a picture in order to return it to its rightful owner. However, she is berated by her friend Hale and her cousin Gaby for going off on her own rather than including those who helped her in the past.

This is soon rectified when Kat is challenged to steal a gem that her more experienced uncle had failed to capture years earlier. Kat learns the importance of depending on others and of showing those close to her that she values their expertise, their ideas, and simply their presence.

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SYNC: YA and Classic Audiobooks

Written on January 27, 2014 – 11:29 pm | by Mrs. Klein

I received the email today listing the titles that will be available for FREE during the summer months. I read reviews for some of the titles I had not seen before, and I think I’m going to like a lot of them. I tried this for the first time last year, and I loved it. Not only did I get to listen to some really good contemporary YA fiction, but I caught some classics that I had not read.

Click on this link to go to the SYNC home page to look at the list. Ask your parents or other teachers about The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. That’s another classic that I missed along the way. Just think–you can find your favorite summer spot and let someone read to you. How much easier can it get?

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On the Inside

Written on January 20, 2014 – 10:27 pm | by Mrs. Klein

This music video is by Kyle Kupecky, a former member of my favorite group, Anthem Lights. Kyle decided to go solo, and this is his first release since then.


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Written on January 20, 2014 – 10:18 pm | by Mrs. Klein

By now, I should know that I will not like the third book of a dystopia series as much as I like the first two. Allegiant, the third book in the “Divergent” trilogy, by Veronica Roth is no exception. I did like it, but I thought it was too long, and I didn’t enjoy the politics involved in the attempt to clean up the society. I thought the politics were on a par with Mockingjay; although Allegiant was not as violent as Mockingjay. Tobias was not the strong character that he was in the first two books, so I was disappointed by that. Tris was still strong, but at one point, she was kind of a know-it-all. Generally, the book was a satisfactory ending for the trilogy, but it was not what I expected. I suppose that is a good thing, but I think it will turn off some readers.

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The Eleventh Plague

Written on January 12, 2014 – 10:16 pm | by Mrs. Klein

By the time I finished listening to this book, I decided that it is mistitled. It is not about the plague but about the aftermath of the plague. There were certain elements that brought to mind the TV series, Revolution. The United States has been devastated by disease and war and people have returned to an agrarian society. As I  listened to what the main character, Steve, had to say about his grandfather, I was glad that the grandfather was not a major character, even though Steve did learn something important from him. When Steve and Jenny were set up by bullies and had to serve detention, I wondered why Steve even bothered to go to school since he was just a visitor to the town. There were a couple of good action scenes that made up for the fact that I didn’t get into the characters as much as I usually like.

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The Maze Runner

Written on December 30, 2013 – 10:11 pm | by Mrs. Klein

As I reflect on this novel, I am surprised that I liked it as well as I did. Typically, I prefer character-driven stories, but the action in this book trumped the character development. Thomas was a likable character, but he didn’t have strong relationships with the others in the Glade–until Teresa arrived. Even then, the two were still trying to figure out their part in beating the Maze, so they were not really attached to each other emotionally. Perhaps it was the challenge of beating the maze and the Grievers that kept me reading (or listening, since it was an audiobook). The elements of mystery and danger were enough to hold my attention.

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Fox Forever

Written on December 25, 2013 – 7:33 pm | by Mrs. Klein

This was a satisfying conclusion to the “Jenna Fox Chronicles.”  Like  The Fox Inheritance, Locke is the main character; he must fulfill his obligation to the Network who helped him in the second book. The Favor turns out to be more complicated than he expected, and there were a few tense moments. I’m not sure if boys will find enough action to endure the love story bits. Locke’s trip into the tunnels was fairly intense, but of course, readers must make it through the first two novels first. Have any boys tried reading the first book?

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Avatar Help

Written on December 9, 2013 – 10:56 pm | by Mrs. Klein

For those who want instructions on how to upload an avatar, please read this post, written by Miss W, the former teacher who coordinates the Student Blogging Challenge. Make sure you save your picture in your My Documents and open it in Student Paintbrush.

Miss W recommends that you open your picture with MS Picture Manager in order to crop it. However, you can crop it right in Student Paintbrush. When you crop the picture, you will likely paste it into a new Paint file. You can check the size of your picture by clicking on Image–Attributes. You may have to play with the sizes a bit to get it to 97 x 97. If the picture does not turn out the way you want it, don’t save it. Open your original picture in Paint again and start over.

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