Sunday, June 5, 2011

48HBC Finale

If this was the 24HBC I would have done quite well. Unfortunately, having work, then more work, then a broken down car in 95 degree heat 30 minutes from my parents right before the construction, then dehydration, then a party all on Saturday, a key day, really killed my time. I knew I wouldn't get to read between 8 am and probably 1 am on Saturday, so about 17 hours, but I didn't know I'd have such an eventful day to completely wear me out either. So in my 2nd 24 hours I read 54 minutes.

But in my first 24 hours I read 9 hours, and 57 minutes, and networked 1 hour and 9 minutes.

So my total time is 12 hours even I just realized. I was aiming for 12-15 hours, and this is my first year, so I'm plenty pleased.

I read 5 books - the ones I posted on and also The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, Calamity Jack, a young adult graphic novel by Hale, and Ten by Lauren Myracle. I figure you're 10 in 5th grade, so it fits the requirements.

I already can't wait for next year and really enjoyed the networking and checking out other people's blogs and twitter accounts! Thanks to everyone for their support and commenting on my posts!

Friday, June 3, 2011

48HBC: Wednesday Wars

Update: Currently at 7 hrs, 52 min of reading/blogging time and 1 hour, 9 min of networking time, for a total of 9 hrs, 1 min as of 17 hours into my start. (I'm using a stop watch to keep track of my time so a)I don't have to remember when I started/stopped reading and b)because I'm kind of anal like that and want to be exact.) I feel quite accomplished. I'm on my 4th book right now.

My second book for today was The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt because I've been hearing so much talk about Okay for Now by Schmidt and read that one of the characters is originally in The Wednesday Wars. I really like to read previous books about people (when I know about them) before the next book.

This book made me wish I had paid more attention in high school English when teachers talked about themes and symbols and "crap" like that. Now that I'm reading more advanced books, I'd like to understand them as well. If I stop and think about what certain parts of the book mean, I can come up with a meaning, but usually when I ask someone else, they come up with what I think of as a better meaning. There may be no wrong or right (contrary to HS English teachers' beliefs) but some meanings are better than others.

The Wednesday Wars talks a lot about Shakespeare, and I'm sure that the author put in the specific parts and plays to make some type of symbolic connection. It makes the book that much more interesting. I thought this book was powerful because it talks about the Vietnam War and a relationship between authority and students, specifically one teacher - Mrs. Baker - and one student - Holling Hoodhood. She hates his guts at the beginning, as he puts it, but she does warm up to her here and there. Schmidt makes some smart moves in this book by making you think all is "swell" when the next chapter, walls (or the ceiling in this case) come tumbling down. He writes a shocker or two into the book as well.

One main theme of the book is being who you want to be, not what someone else wants you to be. Holling learns this early on through The Merchant of Venice but doesn't apply it until much later. On page 48 he says people trapped a Shakespeare character into being a certain way without allowing him to "be anything except for what he was." This plays into the story within Holling's family throughout the book.

There are many parts I found to be profound and many great Shakespearean lines in this book. I highly recommend it and look forward to Okay for Now.

48HBC Blog Post: Creature Tech

Update: So far I'm at about 5 hours of reading time, so I'm going to be blogging and networking for the next hour before work.

I read Creature Tech by Doug Ten Napel, a YA graphic novel. I read Ten Napel's Ghostopolis a week or two ago, and loved it. So when I went to get books for this weekend, I went straight to his last name and found two other books by him, including this one. I recognized Ten Napel's style right away on the cover with the straight lines of the main character, Dr. Michael Ong. This book starts in the past to give the reader an idea of where the plot comes from once we get about 30 pages into the book. We see a giant moray eel fall on a house and crush someone to death.

Then we get to the present day and meet Dr. Ong who becomes a world-class scientist and works at Creature Tech, a place where he and a couple others go through strange things in crates given to them by the government. His town isn't very happy to have this strange operation there. His main task is fighting a ghost who comes back from the dead and all the cats he turns to fight against Dr. Ong.

Although Dr. Ong may sound mature, he is actually a very young man, and there is even a bit of love in this book. Ten Napel combines the science fiction with love with humor, unbelievably. Some parts are visual jokes and some are verbal jokes. For example, at one point the ghost is putting together an aerial view of the town and breaks into an Italian song. Once he finally puts all the pieces together and you realize he is searching for the giant eel again, he says, "That's a moray!" Here it refers to the eel and to the Italian word for love, amore.

Dr. Ong is a very smart, if not sometimes careless, person, but he also comes across as normal in some ways. He has friends, he fights with his dad, he's falling in love with the girl he used to make fun of in high school. The characters in this book, including the bad guys, make this a great story, and the plot twists, foreword, humor, and excellent drawings make it even better.

I should mention something about the foreword. It's written by Terry Mattingly, the director of the Washington Journalism Center, and he gives a very interesting view on the story - he said it feels just like a storyboard for a movie. It's good to read the foreword because when you come to certain parts in the book, it makes them easier to understand.

48 Hour Book Challenge

Here we go! Starting at 7 am on Friday morning but I don't think I'm having cereal for breakfast (catch that reference?). It's time for the 48 hour book challenge. How many hours can I read in the next 48 hours? Well, with work all day Saturday, it certainly will be a challenge, so we'll see.

I'm starting with Creature Tech by Doug Ten Napel, a YA graphic novel.

Here is a link to the challenge:

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

48 Hour Challenge

Coming up this weekend between June 3rd and 5th I will be trying to read at least 12 hours out of 48 hours in a row for a contest.

Here is the link:

Another blogger and fellow tweeter, @motherreader, puts on this challenge yearly. I will be blogging about the books I read, which will probably mostly be YA and will include several graphic novels. Feel free to sign up yourself or just check out the many blogs of people competing and find some more great books to read!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris Barton

After waiting awhile for Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris Barton, published by Dial Books, and then waiting for my library to prep it to be checked out, I was stoked to see it ready for me today. I also finished reading it today. It's a quick read, only 121 pages including the acknowledgements. I liked it a lot, so 121 pages went by too quickly for me.

Can I See Your I.D.? gives 10 "true stories of false identities," including the famous one of Frank Abagnale Jr. from the movie Catch Me If You Can. It has stories as recent as 15 years ago and from nearly 200 years ago. It includes men and women.

The most interesting and unique thing about this book is the perspective it's in. Instead of the usual first or third person, this book is written from the 2nd person, using "you." Barton tries to get you in the head of each of these people so you really feel what it's like to be this person and understand his or her motive. Some motives are survival while others are for thrill or a better life.

I liked the way the chapters were set up with the name and fake identity along with date, place, and illustrations about the deception and what's coming up in the chapter. At the end Barton would tell us what happened to the person in the end, possibly my favorite part of each chapter.

While learning a bit about 10 people in our history who you may never have heard of, you're also learning about yourself. What would it take for you to take on a new identity? What IS your identity now? Barton himself realizes that these are good questions to ask and think about, and he writes about this in the Afterword. He asks, "who do you think you are?" (113) and brings more to this book than just a unique perspective and information about these identities. I think his goal is to have the reader put his/herself in the shoes of these people and really think about how he/she would have reacted in each situation. At the end of the Afterword he says that each person had a reason to be someone else and asks, "Can you imagine what yours would be?" (118).

I think this would be a good book for reluctant readers, especially boys, because it talks about fear and stress and the adrenaline of pretending to be someone else but in short chunks and an overall short book.

You can find a discussion guide for Can I See Your I.D.? here: Discussion Guide and his homepage here: Homepage. Chris Barton also wrote Shark vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers. Both are excellent books I would suggest checking out. You can follow him on Twitter @Bartography.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Traveling Cross Country with Coke and Pep Part 2

Here is the continuation of Coke and Pep's journey across the United States.

After sleeping in Lincoln, NE, the McDonalds head to Darwin, MN for the other possible largest ball of twine besides in Cawker City, KS.

Next, they stay in MN to see the SPAM museum in Austin, MN. This is the HQ of Hormel. I remember my family trying to see this museum several years back, but we were there too early in the morning for it to be open. It actually sounds very interesting.

The last MN stop is in Minneapolis to find the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, but it turns out even the museum itself is questionable as it no longer exists. Mrs. McDonald is certainly bummed about this.

The last place the twins get to go before the book ends is in Spring Green, WI to visit the House on the Rock. The author has included some authentic photos of the place in the book, and it looks very interesting. It sounds cool, too, with the labyrinth of rooms to visit and get lost in, ending with the long "room" out over the rock.

When Genius Files #2 comes out, be sure to check back here for another post on the continuation of Coke and Pep's journey across the United States!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Traveling Cross Country with Coke and Pepsi

This post is about Coke and Pep(si) McDonald from Genius Files #1: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman. I wanted to make a list of the places that they travel so people can follow along with them. Gutman makes a point to mention that all these places are real and even helps us follow along with side notes in the book telling us what city to look at next. This post will take the McDonalds from California to Cawker City, Kansas.

First they went to Burlingame, CA and visited the Pez Museum, or Museum of Pez Memorabilia as Gutman calls it.

Next was Chico, CA and the National Yo-Yo Museum. Coke's mom loves all these little random places. He puts it well, though, when he says, "We're driving two hours out of our way to look at some yo-yos?" I think I would feel the same way if I were 12, going on 13. (page 119).

Due to a twist in the story, the twins, Coke and Pep decide it's better if they skip Lake Tahoe, although I've heard it's a great place to go swimming and kayaking.

Instead, they continue on to Truckee, CA and the Emigrant Trail Museum where you can see the Donner Party Exhibit and Donner Memorial State Park, something Pep is delighted to see!

After a night at the campground, they head to Fallon, NV to Sand Mountain to listen to the Singing Sand Dunes.

Next, the group (don't worry, Coke and Pep have their parents along) heads just past the border of UT and NV to Wendover, UT where it's the dad's turn to enjoy the Bonneville Salt Flats.

After UT they went to Evanston, WY, about an hour east of Salt Lake City. This was the first town they hit in WY. But we quickly move on to Cheyenne, WY, the last big city in WY on I-80. The family stops in Kimball, NE for the night.

They stop at Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, NE and see a "gigantic Buffalo Bill" statue and "one of the largest souvenir shops in America." (page 182).

Their last stop before Cawker City, KS is in Lebanon, KS to stand in the exact geographic center of the continental United States.

Cawker City, KS - home of the world's largest ball of twine. Coke and Pep have been eagerly awaiting their arrival here, and Mrs. McDonald is interested in seeing it, too. Why would two 12-year olds be so interested in this attraction? What is waiting for them in Kansas?

Read The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman to find the answers to these questions!