Thursday, April 2, 2015

MORE new stuff?

Gees... more new stuff?  Who writes these books?  How can anyone possibly keep up?  Well, I'm here to help!

Do you have to teach your students about text features?  Well, I found a book today that your boys (and probably some of the girls) will be falling over themselves to get a look at.  It's called "Super Basketball Infographics" by Jeff Savage.  Each two page spread has a different kind of graphical element with facts about basketball.  The graphs are visually interesting (using size to relate proportion) as well as being vibrantly colorful but the information was also very compelling.  And the variety of graphical presentation was staggering!  This is going to be a great addition to your classroom library (although it will probably disappear pretty fast.  Better buy two!).

The second one I read is by Louis Sachar, (famous as the writer of "Holes" and "The Wayside School" series).  This one is science fiction and it has a really interesting premise.  A (pretty crazy) scientist has invented (or maybe genetically modified) a micro organism to give off energy.  It splits crazy fast but the scientist is quite sure that when exposed to oxygen, it will die.  Although the first batch was quite expensive to make, the rest will be incredibly inexpensive.  Free energy!  What a deal.  Until it turns out that the micro organism mutates.  The kids in the story seem to be innocent bystanders and there is some happily misleading foreshadowing but I didn't really love this one.  I think you could have some very interesting conversations about energy consumption and responsibility but I never really connected to the characters.  

The last one is a super fun mystery/spy thriller.  Hale is 12 and his family lives in compound of a big spy network.  The children of the spies are also being trained to be spies so the kids are taking classes in things like Disguises, Tactical support, and Home Intelligence.  Hale always feels like a loser because he is overweight and struggling to pass the Junior Agent field test.  His younger sister, Kennedy, thinks she can already pass the test (and probably can) so that makes it even worse.  One day, his parents leave for a mission and don't come back.  Hale suspects that they are being held by a competing spy agency called the League, so he goes undercover to try to figure it out.  This book is exciting and funny.  I thought the characters were interesting (although the adults are a bit more ridiculous than I prefer, but I think the kids will like it) and well developed.  This would be a great one to pair with a more serious spy book like "Stormbreaker" by Anthony Horowitz.  

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