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Monday, September 5, 2011

MDIHS Course Overview: Senior English

Grade 12 English: Literature and Self

Keith Eaton eaton.keith.a@gmail.com

288-5011 ext. 109

Blocks A&C

Fall/Winter 2011-12


MDIHS Mission Statement

The mission of the Mount Desert Island High School community is to provide a safe, supportive environment in which all members are held to high academic and ethical standards. The faculty, staff, and administration, supported by the community, guide students as they acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become responsible, self-directed learners and healthy, productive citizens.


Welcome!

Students and parents, welcome to Senior English with Mr. Eaton. Having spent the previous 11 years teaching at the North Haven Community School on North Haven island in Penobscot Bay, I have a lot to learn at MDIHS. Chief among them are the electronic grading systems (Power School), First Class and Google Docs. Once I’m up to speed with these tools, they will become more and more integrated into our curriculum and daily lessons. For now, I will be relying on gmail as a primary means of communication.


This semester’s Senior English will be centered around one Guiding Question: How does literature reflect culture and self? Embedded in this question is the issue of social responsibility. These are broad concerns, but they will provide a common language for our discussion of literary themes in class texts. Reading prior to class discussion is essential for a successful English class. It is expected that all students prepare for the days’ lessons with the same dedication as would be expected of the classroom teacher.


This will be a writing intensive course, preparing seniors for life beyond high school. Therefore, there will be frequent writing assignments. However, as I am a believer in writing as a process, students will be given several chances to improve each longer writing piece through the drafting process. Short homework assignments and in-class, on-demand writing tasks will be completed in a single draft. As seniors do not have a specific portfolio task required of them, it is essential that they are working with their advisors (and me) to ensure that they have met the standards in all portfolio tasks. In the event that a task (or tasks) have not met the standards, I will work with the student to develop a related assessment.


Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. Attendance will be taken during the first 10 minutes of class. Students arriving late during Block A will be sent back to the office. Three tardies will result in an automatic detention.


Essays and Deadlines

Final essays must be completed and printed before class on the day they are due. Drafts will be passed in electronically (via e-mail) before class on they day they are due. This is a level of professionalism expected in the workplace, and, for now, school is your job!


• There will be one shorter college essay/personal narrative piece at the beginning of the year.

• There will be three longer essays this semester.

    1. Literary analysis of Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills, focusing on the issue of social responsibility, economics and ethics.
    2. Analysis of a selected Raymond Carver short story in light of a current social, health or moral issue. This will require research of secondary sources accessed through MARVEL!, Gale’s Opposing Viewpoints and our library’s other on-line databases. Students will also report out and present to their peers on this topic during class.
    3. Persuasive writing based on Lord of the Flies and What Happened to Lani Garver? Students will examine themes related to peer pressure and bullying while attempting to persuade audiences of the validity of their positions.
• One short book review, based on independent reading due before the holidays in December.
• Throughout the semester, there will be shorter, on-demand writings, including a final exam.


Materials

Students will be required to provide a three-ring binder which will house all work from the semester. This binder will act as an English “portfolio.” All completed tasks will be neatly stored here in order that a final assessment of student work and effort may be reached.


Vocabulary

This course will focus on building vocabulary through the study of Greek and Latin roots. Chapter assignments will be issued on Mondays. On Thursdays, tasks will be due, and there will be a short vocabulary quiz.


Grading

Homework: 10% On-demand writings: 20%

Papers/Projects: 40% Vocabulary tasks: 10%

Class presentations: 10% Class participation: 10%


Texts & Tasks

  • Personal/College Essay
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gillman, Charlotte Perkins
  • Life in the Iron Mills Davis, Rebecca Harding (Social Responsibility Essay)
  • “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King, Jr., Martin Luther (On-demand writing)
  • “The Lottery” Jackson, Shirley (On-demand writing)
  • Night Wiesel, Elie (On-demand writing)
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Carver, Raymond (Social/Health issues essay/presentation)
  • Lord of the Flies Golding, William (Persuasive essay)
  • What Happened to Lani Garver? Plum-Ucci, Carol (Persuasive essay)
  • Hamlet Shakespeare, Bill (On-demand writing)
  • Free choice reading from selected texts (Book review)

Common Core Standards Assessed in this class:


READING LITERATURE

RL.11-12.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


RL.11-12.3. Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


READING INFORMATIONAL TEXTS

RI.11-12.6. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.


WRITING

W.11-12.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.


W.11-12.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


W.11-12.8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.



Student’s name: _______________________________


I have read and understand the Senior English course overview. I know that I can reach Mr. Eaton via email or telephone if I have any questions regarding my student’s progress in this class.



_______________________________________________________________

Parent/guardian signature




_______________________________________________________________

Student signature

MDIHS Course Overview: Honors Junior English

Grade 11 Honors American Literature

Keith Eaton eaton.keith.a@gmail.com

288-5011 ext. 109

Block B

Fall/Winter 2011-2012


MDIHS Mission Statement

The mission of the Mount Desert Island High School community is to provide a safe, supportive environment in which all members are held to high academic and ethical standards. The faculty, staff, and administration, supported by the community, guide students as they acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become responsible, self-directed learners and healthy, productive citizens.


Welcome!

Students and parents, welcome to Honors Junior English with Mr. Eaton. Having spent the previous 11 years teaching at the North Haven Community School on North Haven island in Penobscot Bay, I have a lot to learn at MDIHS. Chief among them are the electronic grading systems (Power School), First Class and Google Docs. Once I’m up to speed with these tools, they will become more and more integrated into our curriculum and daily lessons. For now, I will be relying on gmail as a primary means of communication.


This semester’s Honors Junior English will be centered around one Guiding Question: How does American Literature reflect the national identity and culture of the United States? Embedded in this question is the theme of the American Dream. These are broad concerns, but they will provide a common language for our discussion of literary themes in class texts. Reading prior to class discussion is an essential for a successful honors English class.


This will be a writing intensive course, preparing honors students for college writing. Therefore, there will be frequent writing assignments. However, as I am a believer in writing as a process, students will be given several chances to improve each longer writing piece through the drafting process. Short homework assignments and in-class, on-demand writing tasks will be completed in a single draft. Juniors are required to complete two common assessment, portfolio tasks: the transition speech and a thesis paper. For the latter, each paper will be a thesis-driven essay and will provide students with ample opportunities to meet the standards.


Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. Attendance will be taken during the first 10 minutes of class. Three tardies will result in an automatic detention.


Essays and Deadlines

Final essays must be completed and printed before class on the day they are due. Drafts will be passed in electronically (via e-mail) before class on they day they are due. This is a level of professionalism expected in the workplace, and, for now, school is your job!


Critical Review

These tasks require students to read and report back on literary criticism of a given work.

  • There will be one on-demand writing about Huckleberry Finn at the beginning of the year to be followed by a critical review.

• There will be four longer writing tasks this semester.

    1. Literary analysis of comparable themes in Mistress Bradstreet and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories.
    2. An historical analysis of the American Dream as presented by Rebecca Harding Davis. This will require research of secondary sources accessed through MARVEL!, Gale’s Opposing Viewpoints and our library’s other on-line databases and print resources.
    3. Literary analysis essay on symbolism in The Great Gatsby.
    4. Screenplay writing based on The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. (Note: if the standards have not yet been met for the thesis essay, student will be required to address that standard.)
  • Presentation on a Supreme Court case, noting how it relates to the American Dream theme.
  • One short book review, based on independent reading due before the holidays in December.
  • Students will end the semester by presenting their transition speeches.
  • Throughout the semester, there will be shorter, on-demand writings, including a final exam.


Materials

Students will be required to provide a three-ring binder which will house all work from the semester. This binder will act as an English “portfolio.” All completed tasks will be neatly stored here in order that a final assessment of student work and effort may be reached.


Vocabulary

This course will focus on building vocabulary through the study of Greek and Latin roots. Chapter assignments will be issued on Fridays. On Wednesdays, tasks will be due, and there will be a short vocabulary quiz.


Texts & Tasks

  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor Foster, Thomas C.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain, Mark (On-demand writing & Critical review)
  • Mistress Bradstreet Gordon, Charlotte (On-demand writing)
  • Selected Short Stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne (On-demand writing & thesis essay)
  • The Crucible Miller, Arthur (On-demand writing & Critical review)
  • Life in the Iron Mills Davis, Rebecca Harding (Thesis essay on the American Dream)
  • The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Literary analysis thesis essay)
  • Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Alexi, Sherman (Screenplay or replacement task)
  • Free choice reading from selected texts (Book Review)
  • Personal transition speech (Common Assessment)
  • Supreme Court Case presentation

Grading

Homework: 10% On-demand writings: 10%

Papers/Projects: 40% Vocabulary tasks: 10%

Class presentations: 20% Class participation: 10%


Some of the Common Core Standards Assessed in this class:


READING LITERATURE

RL.11-12.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


RL.11-12.3. Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


WRITING

W.11-12.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.


W.11-12.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


W.11-12.8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.



Student’s name: _______________________________


I have read and understand the Senior English course overview. I know that I can reach Mr. Eaton via email or telephone if I have any questions regarding my student’s progress in this class.



_______________________________________________________________

Parent/guardian signature


_______________________________________________________________

Student signature

Saturday, September 3, 2011

SY 2011-12

My how time flies! 2012 is fast approaching, and I've just begun a new job. MDIHS has been amazingly welcoming! What a great community. I am very excited for the new year to begin. Check back soon for class blogs and updates. I beg your patience as I adjust to my new environs.

Keith

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kennedy's First Review


The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Review by Kennedy Cooper

In this sci-fi fantasy, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, Jenna Fox, a 17-year-old girl, has just woken up from a coma. Jenna doesn’t remember a thing, but soon enough memories start coming back to her. These memories are not your normal kind of memories. Jenna starts to remember almost drowning when she was only three, her baptism, and even being in her mother’s womb. Jenna starts to wonder why she is remembering these things while not even remembering her middle name. Jenna soon finds out that she isn’t (and will never be) the old, pre-accident Jenna Fox.

When Jenna wakes up from her coma, she knows very little. She knows that she used to live in Boston but is now living in California. She remembers two friends she used to have, named Kara and Locke, and she remembers her family. What Jenna doesn’t know is what happened to her and what happened to her friends. When Jenna meets Mr. Bender, her new, next door neighbor, she decides that they will be friends, because she still hasn’t any. Mr. Bender has birds that fly in and out of his garden, but they won’t land on Jenna like they do Mr. Bender.

Shortly after meeting Mr. Bender, Jenna decides she wants to go to school. At first, Jenna’s mother, who she calls Claire, is hesitant to let her go. Her father, Max, who is living in Boston to run his company, talks Claire into letting Jenna go anyways. Once Jenna arrives at school, she meets new friends. Ethan and Allys seem to be Jenna’s favorite friends. There is a boy at Jenna’s school who is different from all the rest of the kids. His name is Dane, and Jenna doesn’t care for him very much.

When Jenna accidentally cuts herself deeply, she rushes to the bathroom to clean out her cut and finds that under her thin layers of skin, she is blue. Jenna goes downstairs to her father, who explains to Jenna about the accident that she has wondered about for so long. Now, Jenna Fox knows her own secret. Her mother and father had made the decision to save Jenna’s life after the accident she wasn’t supposed to survive by using an unacceptable amount of bio gel. Jenna learns that the only part of her that is really her is only ten percent of her brain.

Jenna is illegal. Can she trust her secret with anyone? Ethan. Ethan, who’s relationship has grown with Jenna throughout the story, is the only person who Jenna tells. When Allys finds out about Jenna’s secret, she isn’t seen at school for a number of days, and is said to be out of school sick. Ethan and Jenna become worried, and go to see Allys at her house. Allys’ parents say that she has grown deathly ill, and that chances of her survival are slim. Allys tells Jenna that she is sorry, sorry for what Jenna wonders. As it turns out, Allys had told her parents about Jenna’s secret.

Is this it for Jenna? Is she going to jail? Will people kill her? What will happen to Allys? Questions are answered when Allys’s parents show up on Jenna’s doorstep.

This book is definitely a page turner. Though it is a science fiction and fantasy read, I think it also symbolizes the discovery of one’s self in teenage years. Since Jenna has lost herself after the accident, she must find herself again. I also think this book is a great story to show the development of friendship and how true friends are willing to lay themselves on the line before they will let anything happen to each other .

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Aidan's First Review

Code Orange
by Caroline B. Cooney
Review by Aidan Emerson

The novel I read is called Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney. This book is about a 16 year old boy from Manhattan named Mitchell Blake, or Mitty for short. In this story, Mitty has one major conflict that he must solve, or the world as he knows it will most likely end.

Mitty Blake is pretty much an average kid: he has friends; he has parents who want him to do better in school; but he has something most 16 year olds don’t have–a deadly virus. On Friday, January 30th, Mitty was given the assignment of turning in an outline, 10 pages of notes and a bibliography with four physical books included. This was all for a term paper that Mitty was supposed to have been working on four weeks prior. Mitty had not yet even picked his topic, the required subject being “infectious diseases.”

For his topic he chose Variola major (which he later found to be smallpox). While visiting a vacation home in Connecticut, he came upon 4 books, old medical texts, just what he needed for his bibliography. Reading through one of the books, he came upon an envelope labeled ”Scabs.” Opening the envelope, he found scabs from a 1902 smallpox epidemic. Not thinking much of them at the time, he took them out of their envelope, crushed them up between his fingers and accidentally breathed in the dust particles.

A few days passed, and with more research on his topic, he came to the conclusion that he, Mitty Blake, could in fact have smallpox. He posted questions on the internet asking if it was possible to become infected by 100 year old smallpox scabs. His responses varied from “probably not” to “it is very possible.” One member of the online forum said that they were informing the F.B.I because they thought the message was a threat.

Mitty was confused because he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He could be infectious, and he could not be. Nevertheless, he thought that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would have better things to do than attempt to track down some 16 year old boy about something to do with his English paper, but he was wrong.

On Wednesday, February 11, Mitty Blake went missing. He had not shown up for dinner and was not in school in the following morning. Everyone was wondering where he had gone. Had he run away? Had he been kidnapped? The truth is, on Tuesday, February 10, Mitty had been kidnapped by a group of terrorists who wanted to use the disease to bring down the United States.

Mitty Blake must face this challenge alone, in the dark and with a chance that he himself might have the disease and be able to spread it just by breathing.

I would recommend this novel to people because it is very riveting and you want to know what happens next after every chapter.

Caleb's First Review

Skeleton Creek
by Patrick Carman
Review by Caleb Taylor

In a small town called Skeleton Creek in Oregon, there lives a boy and a girl named Ryan and Sarah, and they both share one thing in common with each other: their lust for information, the history of their town, and the mysterious mining dredge in the woods. Skeleton Creek has many mysteries tied to its history, like its name. Ryan and Sarah had tried to find the origins of the name Skeleton Creek and who founded it. Ryan writes in his journal almost every day, and he narrates what had happened before he wrote the journal and what was happening when he was writing in the journal. At the top of each page, there is a date, and the date is set in September. No year is written. In the journal, Ryan describes the town. It looks small, but old, town at the foot of mountains. Ryan mostly writes about the mysteries that he and Sarah have discovered.

Ryan writes about what happened when he and Sarah first went in an old mining dredge in the forest next to town that they had discovered. Sarah has an addiction to video taping the things that She and Ryan see, much like how Ryan loves to write about what he and Sarah see. Ryan was looking around when, at the end of the dredge, a man appeared. The man looked wet and was dragging one of his legs behind him. He remembers that the man gave him a warning to stay away from the dredge: “Number Forty-Two is mine. Stay away from this place I’m watching you” 
(Carman 51). After that, Ryan was backing away when he broke through some wood rails and fell to the ground. All he remembered was waking up in the hospital with a giant cast on his leg.

When Ryan went home from the hospital, he found that Sarah had sent him an email with a password for her website. The website is for Ryan’s eyes only, but is available to watch at www.sarahfincher.com with the right password that Ryan gives in his journal.

Ryan and Sarah’s parents agreed that Sarah and Ryan shouldn’t see each other because they have gotten themselves into too much trouble. As a result, Ryan had to be careful when he emailed Sarah. The video shows the night when Ryan had his accident. The video shows Ryan exploring around some old rusty gears when the man came out of nowhere and stopped in front of Ryan. Then through the video you can hear Ryan screaming, and the camera is dropped. While recording the sound of feet running then the video was over. The man was not talking in the film. As Ryan and Sarah continue to reveal the secrets of Skeleton Creek, the Dredge, and the ghost of Old Joe Bush, they start to realize, they are not the only ones who do the hunting, but if you want to hear more about Skeleton Creek and there is a secret organization that seems to be helping Old Joe Bush and protecting some sort of secret at the mining dredge, read Ryan’s journal!

I myself at first thought that this book was just some random story about some river that is a sacred or dangerous place while one person finds some treasure, but when I read the book, I really enjoyed it! The book wasn’t some cheesy story of a man who finds some gold while many rumor about the location of the gold (or valuable item) was haunted but turns out there wasn’t a spirit trying to kill him but some crazy old man! Read the book if you want to read the ending of this hair raising story, and read the two sequels too! Hate to admit this but I tried to watch one of Sarah’s video’s but I warn you! I chickened out! It is that scary! I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a story with plenty of suspense and who loves horror, although this book I would call scary, not horror. WARNING: Do NOT read this at night in the dark!

Mya's First Review

Shadow
by Jenny Moss
Reviewed by Mya Goodell

The fantasy novel Shadow by Jenny Moss is an amazing story where the setting takes you to an old castle far, far away in Deor, a long time ago. The protagonist (Shadow), must protect and “shadow” the queen of Deor from a dangerous prophecy. The character Shadow is an orphan girl, the same age as the queen, who grew up in the castle. She is basically a slave to the queen, fulfilling her every need when summoned. The character the queen of Deor is spoiled, and treats Shadow like dirt. One of the conflicts in this story is the prophecy, which belongs to the queen and if it is true then the queen will die before she turns 16 on her upcoming birthday. Everyone around the castle becomes anxious and stressed because they are not sure how the queen will die and what will happen after her death, and who is royalty and willing to take her place.

The queen becomes jealous of how smart Shadow is when they are being tutored by the castle tutor. She then lashes out at Shadow, and Shadow is sent to the dungeons for shoving the queen while trying to defend herself. Piers, Shadow’s young, grey-eyed friend in the castle, helps her in the dungeon by giving her one of her favorite foods: almonds. Later on, the character Sir. Kenway helps set Shadow free from the dungeons, so that she can continue protecting the queen from the prophecy. Sir. Kenway is a handsome young knight who visits the castle often to see the queen. Sir. Kenway is told to keep Shadow safe from all dangers.

Soon a major conflict start coming up around the castle, as several murders of innocents take place, and Sir. Kenway and Shadow manage to escape Unfortunately, they are forced to leave their friends and loved ones behind in the castle. Upon leaving the castle, Shadow must set off on a journey to find her destiny and discover the mysteries of her undefined past. Not only that, she must save her fading kingdom before all of it is lost forever and ever. On the journey, Shadow and Sir. Kenway meet new friends, and some are even magically gifted.

If you haven’t already read the fairy tale Shadow by Jenny Moss, I strongly recommend it, for it is an excellent book filled with magic, adventure, mystery and suspense, with surprises lurking around every corner of their journey to save their kingdom. Even if fantasy books aren’t your favorite kind of story, like me, I still liked it and recommend it. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.

This story also contains romance, because behind the scenes in the story, Sir. Kenway who was supposably going to marry the queen told Shadow he was just pretending to like the queen and that he really liked Shadow instead.

One of the reasons I liked the book was because of how well Shadow told the story from her point of view. The author uses such description in her words so that it made me feel like I was right there with her, in the old castle walls far, far away. I also like the book because of the mystery and conflict in the story when Shadow is trying to figure out her past. Overall it is a wonderful fantasy book.

Megan's First Review

Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Review by Megan Goodell

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is a timeless fantasy/love story, filled with adventure and sudden twists. Finally, a book where you don’t already know the ending after the first chapter! The story brings the reader right into the historic, Civil War-minded, small town of Gatlin, Virginia, southern accents and all. Here, everything stays the same, and nothing new ever happens.

All narrator and protagonist Ethan Wate wants to do is get out of that town, for reasons exemplified on page 31: “Shawn shook his head. ‘Like pickin’ peaches off the vine.’ ‘Peaches grow on trees.’ I was already annoyed... Shawn looked at me, confused. ‘What are you talkin’ about?’” Everyone in the Gatlin is narrow-minded, and many of them dumb at that. Many of the kids in his school are worse. The town’s claim to fame is that it’s one of the closest towns to the site of a Civil War battle. Most of the adults think that the South only lost the war because it was being more gentlemanly; and was better than the North in that way. An elite church group called the Sisters of the Confederacy exists for those women who could trace their heritage to Confederate soldiers or activists. These are considered to be the worst in Ethan’s opinion. Ethan’s focus changes from leaving Gatlin to something else at the beginning of his sophomore year of high school when he finds that some things in Gatlin actually can be interesting. Instead of learning about the “War of Northern Aggression,” hanging out with his same best friend, Link, listening to Link’s terrible but hopeful band, “Who Shot Lincoln?,” and talking about the two most popular cheerleaders, Savannah and Emily, a new girl moves to town, Lena Duchannes.

Prior to Lena’s arrival, both Ethan and Lena have been having identical dreams about each other, but neither ever thought they would actually meet. Lena is the niece of the town shut-in, Macon Ravenwood. No one has seen him in years, and his mansion on the outskirts of town is the “haunted house” of many people’s childhood, and subject to many dares.

Lena is an outcast almost immediately, just because she is different from everyone else in the school. She is a target for bullying from the mean-girl cheerleaders who are endlessly cruel. Ethan, star of the basketball team, defends her, but he is just as outcast as she is. Soon, the reader find that Lena is much more different than anyone suspected.

Besides the Casters themselves, only two or three people in Gatlin even know that Casters exist. They are families who happen to have powers or abilities that other humans don’t, such as changing things from one object to another with a thought, or mind reading. For centuries, the Duchannes family has been Casters. Each member has a talent or power. There are Light and Dark equivalents for each power, mainly the same abilities, but with some twist for a different intention.

In the world of Casters, Casters are claimed Light or Dark when they turn sixteen. This process is called the Claiming. Dark Casters’ eyes turn golden-yellow, and Light Casters’ eyes turn green at this time. If one is Light, one’s life will continue as before, but with more access and knowledge of their powers. If one is Dark, however, one will forget one’s feelings towards people, even family, and have more access and knowledge of their powers, with evil or dark intentions. Usually, it’s their choice. As if being a Caster isn’t different enough, Lena’s family is different even than other Caster families. Going back over a century, to the time of the Civil War, a curse was put on her family when Genevieve Duchannes, a Caster, tried to save her fiancĂ©, southern soldier Ethan Carter Wate (who Ethan Wate was named after), using a forbidden cast. Ever since then, Lena’s family hasn’t been able to choose to go Light or Dark. Before Lena’s cousin Ridley turned sixteen, she and Lena had been best friends, comforting each other when they were bullied at the schools they went to. Then, Ridley went dark. She was a Siren and could manipulate anyone any way she wanted to and betrayed everyone in her family. Lena had her share of Dark Casters, for her mother was one of the Darkest, most powerful Casters ever to have lived, a Catalyst, even having killed her father.

Lena’s family knows that by the pawers Lena has shown already, she will probably be a Natural (the Light equivalent of a Catalyst), or a Catalyst like her mother. Because of this, almost everything about Casting is kept secret from her so that if she does go Dark, she won’t be very dangerous. This doesn’t help when she and Ethan believe that they can stop the choice from being made for Lena. Another distraction from Ethan and Lena’s quest to find out about Lena’s heritage is that Lena is running out of time. As her sixteenth birthday nears, Lena’s powers become stronger and stronger. Stronger actually, than any other caster other than her mother, Sarafine, who is trying to kill her because of this. Lena can manipulate the weather with a flick of her finger, but sometimes she can’t control it. Often the weather in Gatlin reflects how Lena is feeling, and it’s a good thing it’s hurricane season. Otherwise, with the way people are acting towards her, they might get even more suspicious.

As time runs out, Lena and Ethan find out that she does have a choice, and she must also decide between Ethan and her family. During a reenactment of the Civil War battle Ethan Carter Wate was killed in, Lena must use a forbidden cast to save Ethan from something almost worse: her mother.

Beautiful Creatures is a story of two drastically different high schoolers who fall in love, despite their families’ attempts to keep them apart for their own good. As they struggle through conflicts with their emotions, families, and the fact that Lena is a Caster, they discover what it would be like to have a life opposite of theirs’.

This modern fantasy is so good that I could barely put it down. It keeps the reader wanting to read more all the way through, but still leaves room for an even more exciting climax, and leaves the reader needing to read the sequel. Characters with distinct pasts that you find out about along the way bring the mystery of Lena’s Claiming together, but will they find out in time? To find out what Lena decides and more, read Beautiful Creatures and the sequel, Beautiful Darkness.

Maddie's First Review

Morpheus Road: The Light
By D.J. Machale
Review by Maddie Hallowell

In the novel Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale, 16 year-old Marshall Seaver has to face the truth on some things he doesn't plan on dealing with during summer vacation. Marsh's best friend, Cooper Foley, has done some things he shouldn't have, he would get in real fights, or sneak out when he was grounded, but the worst was when he sold counterfeit Yankees tickets, thus for the summer, Cooper’s parents are taking him to their vacation home. This is when the haunting began.

Marsh lives in a small town in Connecticut named Stoney Brook. All of the haunting started right when summer vacation began. Marsh's mother died 2 years ago. She was a photographer, and she would collect little gifts to bring back to Marsh. One time she had one of her pictures in a magazine, and Cooper really liked it. So for Cooper’s birthday, she framed a copy and gave it to him. That picture was at the Foley's summer house. Later in the story it adds clues about a murder.

Marsh thinks he is good friends with Cooper because they're completely different ' " I worry. Cooper doesn't. I think things through. Cooper doesn't. I freeze in social situations. Cooper doesn't. I hate playing sports. Cooper doesn't. I worry about what people think of me. Cooper doesn't" ' (MacHale 6). He thinks that they stayed friends for so long was because the never would compete. Marsh has the whole summer planned out for him and Cooper, but those plans change when Cooper goes to the summer house. Marsh was going to go visit him at the lake house but when Cooper goes missing all of that changes.

On the day that Marsh and his father had a "little" argument, Marsh threw a souvenir that his mother had gotten for him against the wall. Marsh has some strange things happen to him when his dad goes to Las Vegas for the week, after he threw the souvenir. His father wants him to come with him but Marsh wants to stay home. After the first night Marsh doesn't want to stay at home alone anymore. He thinks that he is being haunted, and that the only person who will understand him is Cooper. The only problem is Cooper is at his family’s summer house. Cooper sold counterfeit Yankees tickets and was caught, so that is why his parents are taking him to their summer house at Thistledown Lake.

When Marsh goes to his friend’s house and only Cooper’s sister Sydney is there, he asks to spend the night. The next day, when Sydney called her parents so that Marsh could talk to Cooper, they found out that Cooper was missing. Marsh is convinced that his being haunted is related to his friend Cooper going missing. He believes that when he finds out what happened to Cooper, the haunting will stop and he can get back to summer vacation with Cooper.

The main character and narrator Marsh is worried about Cooper, but he also doesn't want to be home alone. Marsh believes he is being haunted by a character he draws named Gravedigger. Cooper's sister Sydney and Marsh end up helping each other, because when Marsh told Sydney what was happening to him, it started happening to her as well.

Cooper is a laid back sort of guy. He doesn't care what other people think of him or if they like him. He disappeared one night; he does this sometimes, and no one thought anything of it. His friend Marsh and his sister Sydney came up to the lake house so that when he came home his mother and father wouldn't be the only one to greet him.

Sydney, Cooper’s sister, is one year older than Marsh and Cooper, not so nice, and very smart. ' " The girl was cold. I mean icy. She was a year ahed of us in school and light-years ahead academically. I think she'll have a shot at valedictorian" ' ( MacHale 10). Cooper and Sydney don't get along so well. You wouldn't think that she would care that Cooper is missing.

This is a great book to read for people who like to be on the edge of your seat. This is a thrilling and scary story. I really enjoyed reading this book. It always kept me on my toes, asking and wondering about things. This book is a combination of horror, fantasy, and adventure and that is what keeps people reading, this is a boom I never wanted to put down. This story has lots of ups and downs; just when its going one way, boom, it goes the other way. Morpheus Road: The Light is not like other books: it is hard to guess what will happen because most of the things happen when it is least expect it.

Sam's First Review

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
Reviewed by Samantha Sparhawk

When I first saw the novel The Girl Who Threw Butterflies I did not think it was going to be about baseball. I did not know a lot about baseball but Mick Cochrane the author made me feel as if I where in the field watching them play.

This story took place in Buffalo. I have never been to New York, but I could sort of picture this city in my head as I was reading the book. The story is based on a girl in middle school. Her name is Molly. Molly’s father died about six months ago, and it was all that Molly could ever think about.

Molly’s father loved baseball, and so did she. They would always go outside and play catch. Molly’s father taught her how to throw the butterfly, or the knuckleball. The year before this Molly played softball and did not like it. She said that the ball was too big and a little harder to throw.

Molly has a best friend named Celia. Celia and Molly have been friends forever. One day, Molly thought of an idea. She wanted to try out for the boys baseball team. She told Celia about her idea and Celia thought it was crazy. But then Molly explained her idea a little bit more and Celia felt a little bit better.

The first practice came around and Molly began to have second thoughts about wanting to be on the boys team. However, she thought that if her father were there he would have told her to go for it. She sucked it up and was there at the practice as the only girl and she was proud of it. She saw some boys that she knew. She was fine until it came to be time to find partners. She was scared because all the boys seemed to be picking people quickly and she did not want to be the kid that does not know what to do and have to be told where to go.

But then there was a tap on her arm. It was Lonnie House. She was very surprised that she saw Lonnie there.

Lonnie was an artist who loved to draw, paint or anything that had to do with art. The year before Lonnie was asked to draw a mural on the wall in the school. Molly and Lonnie’s friend ship grew and grew. Molly wanted to be pitcher of the team and Lonnie wanted to be a catcher. It was perfect. Now every practice, they would work together when it was time to play pass.
Molly had a secret weapon. The knuckle ball. This particular pitch is the one that landed her the role of being one of the pitchers on the team. She did not always pitch it perfectly, and she had to be careful her form before she threw the ball.

There was a kid on the team that didn’t like Molly. His name was Lloyd- Coleman. He hit Molly with a baseball one of the first practices that she had. He also wrote “give it up” on her school locker. He has a bunch of friends that kind of didn’t like her as well.

Molly’s mother had been quiet ever since the car accident that her husband was in. She always had paper work or catalogs that she is is looking at. Molly thinks that her mother does not really understand her as much as her father did. When Molly’s mom had figured out that Molly was on the boy’s baseball team, she was not very happy with her daughter at all. She thought that Molly had tried out for the girls softball team When found out that that was not true she asked why she didn't like softball, saying, “You liked it so much last year.” Molly told her “How do you know I liked softball you never showed up to my games you don’t even know what position I played.” After their argument Molly’s mother gave up and said that it was okay that she was playing baseball.

In the end of this book Molly decides that it wouldn’t be awful to take her moms offer to move to Milwaukee with her. This means that she has to leave her baseball team, her friends and the house that her father once lived in all behind her. It was tough to decide but she did and she was happy with it. Lonnie had given her a goodbye kiss and it was so hard for Molly to say by to Celia but she got through it just fine.

I enjoyed reading this novel a lot. Even though i could not relate to the book other than that i enjoy playing sports, I still enjoyed it. This particular writing style is on the point of view of a middle school girl who enjoys baseball. I say if you enjoy a book about sports, challenges, some sadness I recommend this book. I give this book three thumbs up!

Jasmine's First Review


Sand Dollar Summer
By Kimberly K Jones
Reviewed by Jasmine Brown

The book Sand Dollar Summer is about a young 12 year old girl named Lise. Lise and her five year old brother, Free (a brother that hasn’t spoke), were normally the first ones to get picked up from school by their hard working, single, stay at home mom. One day, though, they lost track of time and realized that their mom was extremely late. Their teacher brought them home, and then their neighbor took care of them. That afternoon, a police officer showed up at the house and told them that their mother had been in a car accident.

Annalise (Lise’s mother) was badly injured, and it would take several months for her to recover. Lise and Free snuck out of the house and saw their mother at the hospital. She had broken legs, a broken arm, well I guess you could say that she was basically broken all over.

Annalise thought that a vacation would be a good idea. Annalise and the kids took a vacation to Fiddle Beach. Fiddle Beach is an island off the coast of Maine. As they arrive there, they find that they are going to be staying in a tiny shack for the whole summer.

When Lise swims in the ocean for the first time, the thought of something lurking in the deep dark ocean waters, something that could possibly kill her, makes Lise think badly about the ocean. When she swims in the water for the first time, she realizes that it is very cold and that she does not want to spend her summer with her body being numb.

Lise never adjusts to the cold numbing sensation of the ocean water, until the horrifying hurricane. Lise in that awful weather to save her very nice friend Ben (part of the Passamaquoddy tribe). As the waves rose bigger and the ocean roared, the more danger Lise was in. When Ben’s house was starting to appear, she noticed a light left on inside and a man sitting in a chair holding on for dear life. As the house started to float away, Lise wanted to save Ben (the old man) even more. Yet she knew that nothing could save him. Lise was very close to drowning when her dog showed up next to her, dragging her to shore.

My two favorite quotes from this book are, “Don’t ever doubt that a mere second can change your life forever” (front cover) . . . and . . . “The sea gives, and the sea takes away. The sea gave me a great deal, but fickle as it is, it tried to steal it back, and nearly me with it” (back cover), and “It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re right, when really you’re just being selfish” (201).

I really liked this book, and it didn’t take me long to read it. I would recommend this book to grades sixth through eighth. I think that it’s a little too easy for high-schoolers, and it might even be a little too hard for fifth grade to be reading. This book was great, and if I were to rate this book from a one to five, then I would probably rate this a four. Read this book to find out what happens to Lise and her family.

Isaac's First Review


Review of Dogsong
by Isaac Stone

The novel Dogsong by Gary Paulson is about Russel, a teenage Eskimo who lives in northern Alaska. He ends-up taking a huge journey to find his “song.” There is an old man named Ooruk who tells Russel he needs to find is inner song. The reason why Russel needs to find his inner song is because he is not happy the way he is living and wants to live the way his ancestors lived before he did.

When Russel goes to find is inner song, he needs to hunt and live like his people did in the past. Rather than using a snowmobile, he needs to run Ooruk’s old sled-dogs. At first, the dogs do not listen to Russel. Once they realize that Russel was the one getting their food for them, they started to listen.

Along Russel’s journey, he goes to hunt seal out on the ice, and he gets stuck out there for a while because the ice breaks off. Russel makes a bridge across the lead(a lead is a spot of open water in the ice where it breaks) using another smaller pice of ice. Finally, he walks the dogs back to the shore with out having caught a seal. Eventually he did learn to hunt with a bow and arrow and managed to kill a caribou and some small game like rabbits.

One day, Russel goes to hunt seal, but Ooruk tells Russel that he is going to go with him. Ooruk wants to go out on the ice because it is his time to die so he goes out with Russel and makes Russel abandon him. Russel takes Oorguk out to the ice, and Oorguk lays on the ice and tells Russel to leave him to die. Russel does not leave at first, but when he but when he finally does leave, he does not go home. He runs the dogs north for a very long time and finds a giant herd of caribou. Then he turns his dogs loose to herd the caribou towards him so that he can get a shot at one. Russel manages to take down four caribou.

Russel finds a place to camp which is in the middle of the trees, and he makes a sleeping bag-like thing out of the caribou skins. Russel has a very strange dream about a man hunting wooly mammoth with rich red meat and yellow fat. He dreams of the children's faces covered in the fat.

After that, Russel woke up and started running the dogs again. He ran them until he found the perfect place to camp for the night. It was a ledge that hung out over the ground, and Russel made a lean-to out of the caribou skins. When he went to sleep, he found an old lamp made out of stone. Russel went out and made the lamp work. He found some moss to use as a wick and used fat from the caribou for fuel.

A day or two later, Russel found snowmobile tracks and followed them until he found the snowmobile and the tracks of a human. He followed them until they stopped. There, Russel found a foot sticking out. He dusted the snow away until he found it was a woman named Nancy. She was pregnant and almost died. Russel took her with him, and they made a camp on the bank of an old brook. Once they ate all the food, Russel left for a week to hunt and found the tracks of a polar bear. He followed them until he found the polar bear and killed it with a lance. He cut huge chunks out of it to eat with Nancy. That night, when Russel came home, Nancy was having her baby five months early. it died because from the lack if food that nancy had, killed it the next day they left and kept heading north until they found a village.

Then Russel finally finds is song it is about his journey through northern Alaska with the dogs. I highly recommend this book. If you like the out doors and the other books by Gary Paulsen then you will love this book.

Gina's First Review


Deep and Dark and Dangerous
Reviewed by Gina MacDonald

While I was reading the novel Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn i got the chills a lot because it was such a great mystery.

The book Deep and Dark and Dangerous was written in Maine at a lake called Sycamore Lake. This book by Hahn was one of the best book’s i’ve ever read.

The characters in the story are Ali, the main character who is telling the story; Emma, Ali’s little cousin, and Dulcie’s daughter; Dulcie, Ali’s aunt and Emma’s mother; Claire, Ali’s mother; Sissy/Teresa, the ghost that they all thought was a real person until towards the end of the story. Those are all of the characters except for a few characters who were only mentioned once or twice along the story.

The story Deep and Dark and Dangerous starts off when Ali finds an old photograph from the box of books that her mom gave her. The people in the photograph that Ali found were her mom, Claire, and her aunt, Dulcie. There is one more person in the photograph that got teared out of the picture. Ali was curious and thought the name could be on the back of the photograph, the back said “Claire, Dulcie and T” the rest of the name was cut off. Ali asked her mom if she knew anything about the girl named “T” and she said she didn’t she wasn’t the same for a while after that day. The background of that photo was the lake that Ali’s mom Claire, and Dulcie visited every summer when they were kids, it was a lake called Sycamore Lake in Maine. After Ali had already upset her mom enough. Dulcie came over with her daughter Emma for a few days. She said she wanted Ali to babysit Emma for the whole summer. Claire wasn’t happy with that decision that she made letting Ali go for the whole summer but she did. When they arrived at Sycamore Lake in the beginning of the summer, all fine until Sissy started coming to the lake. Sissy was mean and horrible to Ali and nice to Emma. Sissy had a secret she was hiding that she wouldn’t tell. Ali thought it might have had something to do with the old photograph she found in the beginning of the story. After half the summer was nearly over, Sissy started to get meaner and meaner, and she always wore the same clothes everyday, a pink faded bathing-suit. She was rude and not polite. She never knocked before entering the house, nor did she care.

Dulcie went to go painting and she let out a big yelp, Emma and Ali rushed to the door and her painting room was all destroyed and on one of the paintings, in black paint and very large letters, it read “I’M WATCHING YOU, TELL THE TRUTH OR ELSE.” (page 80) A little while after that, Sissy kept coming over and kept annoying Ali and Emma. Dulcie and Emma headed off to the clinic because Emma had a fever, and Ali stayed home. Sissy showed up she was upset that Dulcie threw away her doll named “Edith” Ali thought of following Sissy when she left so she could tell her mom what she has been doing this whole summer, so Ali followed her until she could no longer see her because of the fog. Ali came across a graveyard, she noticed the red sweatshirt that she gave sissy to wear on a gravestone. Ali walked over to the gravestone and it said “In Memory of Our Beloved Daughter and Sister Teresa Abbott, March 11 1967 to July 19 1977, May her soul rise from the deep and be at peace.” Ali kept thinking of the name Teresa, and the story of how she drowned.... Ali thought that Sissy was playing a trick on her. Ali came across a house and knocked on the door, nobody named Sissy lived in the house. She started talking to the lady, the lady said her name was Ms. Trent. They started talking about Teresa and what happened and then after a while Ms. Trent got a phone call from Dulcie saying that Emma is missing and it is all Ali’s fault because she wasn’t there to watch her. Ali was frustrated, she ran out the door of Ms. Trent’s house, she kept running she came across the lake with a canoe. Emma was getting forced into the canoe by Sissy. Ali jumped in the canoe because she knew not to leave Emma alone again, Sissy paddled away from shore until nobody could see anything. Sissy was teasing Emma with the doll Edith, until she threw it into the water, Emma dove in after the doll. Ali was horrified. Ali saved Emma while hanging onto the canoe for dear life. Sissy disappeared with the doll Edith. Ali and Emma were suffering in the cold deep water. They spotted a boat flying by and they screamed “HELP” The man drove up to them in his boat and hauled them up. He had mentioned about how the search crew, police officers and everybody was looking for them. When they got back to the dock Dulcie glanced at Ali and told her she needed some explaining to do. Ali and Emma both suffered minor hypothermia, and Emma still had a fever. After Ali had explained to Dulcie was happened, she kind of got a little less tense. Sissy didn’t come back for a while after that day, until one day she walked up to the door and was talking to Ali while Emma was taking a nap. Ali kind of already knew she was a ghost.

Ali wanted to know the whole ghost story about what happened to sissy. Sissy told her the story, the story was- Sissy went out in a canoe and had Edith, Claires doll with her, she wanted to tease her with it and so did Dulcie, they were both very mean to Claire when they were kids. They went out deep into the water until they could no longer see anything at all, Dulcie and Teresa(Sissy) were playing pass with Claire’s doll Edith. Claire started crying and crying hoping that she could get her doll back. Dulcie got sick of the whole teasing thing so she threw the doll into the water thinking nobody would care. But sissy cared and she jumped after it, and drowned.-

I loved this book so much, i wish i could read it over and over again. I suggest to anyone to read this wonderful book by Mary Downing Hahn. This book has very well thought out parts in it. The only books that Mary writes are usually ghost stories, and the ghost stories are very good!

Adrianna's First Review


The Great Wide Sea
By M. H. Herlong
Review by. Adrianna Ames

The Great Wide Sea, a novel by M. H. Herlong, is definitely one of my favorite books. People always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So I followed that advice when my friend handed me this book. She had read it and told me that it was a really good book.
So I read it.

Ben is the narrator of the story and who the story follows. He is also the oldest of the three brothers. He’s 16 turning 17 and is interested in engineering. Dylan is the next oldest. He’s nearly 12 and his thing is astronomy. Gerry is the youngest. He’s 5, almost 6, and is still attached to his blue blankie. The Dad’s name is Jim. He loves to read poetry and his life-long ambition is to sail to the Bahamas and go from island to island for a year. Before the story began, Christine, the wife and mother, tragically died in a car accident, going to the store for ice cream.

One day, the boys all came home from school and a “For Sale” sign on their front lawn. When they asked their dad what was going on, he told them that he was selling the house and they were going to sea for a year. The boys had a small sailboat out on the nearby lake. They all loved to sail, but leaving their friends, their sailboat and, most of all, their mother’s house was not a positive feeling. They were selling their house and Ben’s small sailboat, and they had to leave school. Ben, being 16, really wanted a car. His mother had promised him a car when he turned 16, but now that she wasn’t there anymore, his father was in charge, and Ben wasn’t going to get his car.

The house sold more quickly than they thought it would. A family bought the house and the sailboat. The movers came and cleaned out the house. In the process of the packing, Ben was having a really hard time, feeling that everything was going to be lost: his mom’s house, her things, and his sailboat. Added to that, he was going away for a whole year, on a trip that he couldn’t get out of. He wasn’t close to his dad to begin with, and now that a year-long voyage was being forced on him, he disliked his father strongly.

The boys packed their clothes in duffel bags and left the next morning. They drove all night down to Key West. The next morning, their dad was down at the marina looking at their new boat. Before sailing that day, their dad gave them each a book. Ben’s was all about engines, cleaning them and fixing them. Dylan’s was about celestial navigation, and Gerry’s was a children’s book on a little sailer boy. He told them that those books were going to be very important to them. While at sea, they would perform those respective duties.

Upon first seeing the boat, Ben, being the narrator, shared his feelings about it. He said, “Chrysalis (the boat’s name) was not big or beautiful. She was only a few feet over thirty. Her white hull was scratched and dull, with a long red streak running almost the whole length of the port side. Sun and salt had bleached and roughened the teak. The joints were caked with black gunk. And there on the stern was her name, Chrysalis, in fancy, looping letters. It was awful” (Herlong 17).

The first day was just a test run. The radio didn’t work, the sails were dirty, bunched up in bags, the engine needed to be cleaned. After the test run, they took a couple days and fixed up the boat, then off they went.

The first island they reached was the island of Bimini. They stayed there for several days, slept out on their boat and took their dinghy to the island everyday. Soon, they began to have some trouble with Ben,. At one island he was so upset with his father that he jumped into the ocean and swam to shore and stayed there for the whole day, just laying on the beach. At another island, they got seaweed stuck in the propeller, and Ben dived down and fixed it. Then it happened again. Jim dove on the prop. There was a lot more seaweed this time, and he needed a knife. While he was clearing the prop, the knife slipped and cut his hand badly.

They were getting ready to head back to Key West but then their dad told them something they absolutely did not want to hear: they weren’t going back to Key West yet. He wanted to sail to Bermuda first. Everyone wanted to go home except him, but he was the captain.

Sailing to each island in the Bahamas usually took all night so that they had shifts for steering the boat. First, Dylan would be on watch from 4pm to 9pm. Then, Jim would follow from 9pm to 1am. Ben had the next shift from 1am to 6am.

On their way to Bermuda, Dylan took his shift, and then his dad relieved him. Ben usually was awakened by his dad shaking him because it was his turn to steer. But he wasn’t awakened that morning. He woke up at 8am, and the boat was strangely silent. He went up on the deck and didn’t see his dad anywhere. He also realized that the one and only EPIRB was gone. Ben woke Dylan up, and neither knew what to do. They didn’t want to wake Gerry up yet, because they knew that he would panic and cry.

They had a log where they wrote the time and speed of the boat and the direction so they could see where they were on the maps. But their dad was gone and nothing was written in the log. They didn’t know how fast the boat had been going; they didn’t know when their dad fell overboard; they had no clue where they were.

When Gerry woke up, he started asking where his dad was. Dylan and Ben had to tell him that they had no clue where he was and they couldn’t go back and find him. They didn’t know what direction to go, how far they would have to travel back, and they didn’t even know for sure that he was still alive.

They are surprised one morning awakening wrecked on a ledge not far from a small island. They take the dinghy to shore with as much stuff as they can fit on, and Ben goes back three or four more times getting everything important off the sailboat.

When I was younger I used to take sailing lessons here on North Haven. My grandmother told me that if I took Sailing lessons until I was a certain age that she would buy me my own sail boat.

I went to camp last summer and while I was there I received a letter from my Dad saying that he had a surprise for me when I got home. So for two weeks I was wondering what it could be. Then when I got home I saw a big navy blue sail boat sitting on a boat trailer in the yard. I was so happy. I named the boat after my mom. Marina Dawn.

I picked this book because I love sailing. I have sailed ever since I was 5. My friend said that she had read this book and she thought that I would like it. She knows that I like adventurous stories because I am an adventurous person, and that I love the ocean and I love to sail. This book was perfect for me. It had me hooked from the first page. I’d read it again. I don’t even remember looking at the pages, I just remember seeing what was going on in the book, picturing it in my head so easily. It’s funny how books can do that to you.

The second I read that the father, Jim, had fallen overboard, I was even more interested. Then it goes to the boys getting stuck in a big storm, and its even more interesting. Then they get stranded on an island! The book’s gripping story goes from interesting to extreme.

Adam's First Review

Adam Murphy
Review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

As soon as I started reading Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, I could tell it would be a great, funny, and well-written book. It was easy to read and really flowed well, and it was exactly my kind of humor (teenage boy humor). Overall, it seems like the target audience for the book would be teenage boys.

Arnold, a.k.a. Junior, is an interesting protagonist because of his geeky and very likable personality. The other thing that made him a great character was his brain problems that we learn about from page 1. He has extra liquid in his brain which makes it clog up and get nasty. The best thing about Arnold is his cartoons which help paint the perfect picture for me. Seeing them every few pages would always bring a smile to my face. They were all throughout the book and were very creative, funny, and well drawn.

Arnold lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation (or in the book they call it the “Rez”) in a town called Welpinit. From what he tells us about Welpinit, it’s a beautiful place full of pine trees and has a big lake that Arnold has swam in. Although people don’t usually swim in it because of an old story told in the book.

The Reardan school is big and coming from the rez it’s supposed to be filled with super smart and athletic wonder kids. Arnold seems quite out of place when he gets there coming from his smaller school at Welpinit. When he tries out for the basketball team there were 40 kids and only room for 24 kids, so 16 had to be cut.

Arnold starts out in the story going to the Welpinit school, but soon after he leaves the rez and switches to the Reardan school consists mainly of not Native Americans but white kids. Soon after the switch he finds a new friend named Gordy. Gordy is probably one of the nerdiest characters in a book that I’ve even read about. He also meets Roger who is the nice and happy version of Rowdy and is the star basketball player for Reardan as Rowdy is the star player for Welpinit.

This book is also great for anyone who loves basketball. It is a very big part of the characters lives because Arnold, Roger, and Rowdy all play throughout the story. You can tell that Alexie knows a lot about basketball. Alexie can make you feel like you’re actually there playing in the game through Arnold's eyes. It was very surprising to me that Arnold played ball because of his geeky personality, being smart and small, but he does play and he plays very well. The tryouts were the opposite of what my town has with the Reardan having tryouts with 40 kids, here we have so few kids everyone gets to play and gets better no matter what their skill level to start was.

Arnold also has a very colorful family in his mom, dad, sister, and grandma. They’re a very poor family living in one house. His mom is very loving and caring for him, as is his father, though his father usually isn’t sober. Throughout the story, Arnold’s narration about his sister doesn't’ reveal much, except that she has graduated from school and lives at home. The grandma is the most dynamic family member in my opinion because she’s funny, she speaks her mind, and her views of the world are both joyful and inspiring.

I highly recommend reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian if you like to play basketball and laugh a lot. I even liked it so much that I have started reading another of Sherman Alexie’s books The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and, so far, neither of these books have disappointed me!

Natalie's First Review

Demon Glass
By Rachel Hawkins
Reviewed by Natalie Carrier

Demon Glass by Rachel Hawkins takes place in both Georgia (the one in the United States) at a school for witches, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and demons and in England, during the hot summer. Sophie, a demon girl, travels with her father, her best friend and vampire, Jenna, along with a Warlock named Cal to England for a summer. Former crush, Archer Cross, now a known enemy of Sophie and her group of friends and family, has been told to be around the same area. When Sophie arrives in England, she finds out that she and her father are not the last demons left in the world. People have been raising demons illegally. The demons owners can then control demons and use them as weapons.

A few weeks after Sophie arrives in England, she finds herself in danger. She is then saved by Archer Cross. When she and Archer want to be together, she puts her family, friends and prearranged marriage to friend Alexander Callahan at risk. When Archer comes into the story Sophie doesn’t know whether to be with the person she’s supposed to marry or the enemy who she’s in love with.

Archer and Sophie then set out to find who’s raising the demons and what happened to their former dark witch friends Chaston and Anna. While on their journeys, Sophie and Archer find things out about their school and what’s going on that they couldn’t even possibly imagine. They then discover that people they thought were friends, really were their enemies.

What I like about this book is that Hawkins really had me feel like I was really there. Rachel Hawkins describes things such as the house in relationship to things that people reading the book could relate with, for example, she wrote, “Although, calling it a house was like calling the Mona Lisa a painting” (Hawkins 36). That gives me a good description that the house is supposed to be extremely large. The setting of the house, and the background, was very good. She gave me a vivid image of what the house is supposed to look like, with its, “golden-colored stone that looks warm to the touch” (Hawkins 36). At the beginning when Hawkins describes Hecate Hall, I can definitely see the difference between the atmosphere of Hecate Hall and Thorne Abbey.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Demon Glass is a book that kept me wondering what was going to happen next. It is a suspenseful book with a romantic twist of who Sophie’s supposed to fall in love with and who she falls in love with. Its also a book about family and friends, and what’s best for both Sophie, and her family. This book sets itself apart from other fantasy high school books I find because Sophie’s crush, Archer, wants to kill her and she loves him anyway, or so she thought. I recommend this book to people who do enjoy romance books as well fantasy. I must admit, though, that this book does come to an unexpected, abrupt ending. It’s a good way, I find, to bridge into the next book of the series which is suspected to be coming out some time next year.

Avery's First Review


Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Reviewed by Avery Waterman

I have never thought about animals running a farm by themselves, but in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, I feel like it is now possible. This book takes place in England, a long time ago. The Manor Farm is where all the animals are living, and they are very unhappy with the owner, Mr. Jones. The animals get so mad that they want to start a revolution. They force Mr. Jones off the farm, but Mr. Jones is not giving his farm up that easily to a bunch of animals. He’ll be back, but as of right now, the animals are trying to figure out who will lead.

The pigs take on this lead roll, but two in particular, Snowball and Napoleon, can not agree on anything. Napoleon soon runs Snowball out with deadly force, which becomes a part of Napoleon’s power. After this confrontation, Napoleon becomes the supreme leader of the farm. The animal’s government makes rules and seven commandments, but since most of the animals can not read, the pigs change them to what suits them best. The pigs soon become more privileged than all the other animals on the farm.

In life, people use the metaphor “you're a pig” for a negative reason, but actually pigs are very smart animals. I think this is why he made the pigs in control. Pigs are perfect for this roll, because in the world there are lots of greedy leaders out there, and a pig is greedy and takes all the food and supplies, but yet they are actually very cleaver animal. The sheep in this story just do what they are told, like in real life where they need to be herded, so in the story they do what the leaders say. The horses plan and are simply power houses, brave and can take care of themselves, hard workers. The goats are stubborn, like they would be if you had goats on your farm.

Whenever anything goes wrong on the farm, Snowball is blamed. When something right goes down on the farm, it is because of “leader Napoleon.” Other farmers become aggravated with the animal farm and get angry about the farm and the animals and how it is run. Rumors, lies and suspicions arise among the other farmers. They want to plot an attack on the farm.

The animals on the farm are hard at work building the windmill which Napoleon has claimed will generate heat and light to the farm houses, but during a nasty storm the windmill blown down. Determined, the animals start the windmill over again, only this time they will make the walls thicker and stronger than last time. The horse, Boxer, the worker, labors night and day on the windmill and any other jobs that need to be done. He is the roll model worker on the farm, but sometimes he works him self too hard. This eventually catches up to him as he gets older and older.

The neighboring farmers finally plot another attack, and ruin the animals’ hopes and dreams. But still the animals will not give up. The farm turns into a republic, which Napoleon won, because he was the only animal to run for president.

The ending of this book is sad, but yet peaceful and happy in some ways. It has very clear and subtle ending. It will not disappoint and is an easy, yet fun book to read, you will soon not be able to put it down.