Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wikis, Social Networking, and More in Plain English

Thanks to the good folk at LM_Net, I recently learned about a wonderful blog called "The CommonCraft Show". Once you scroll down the page, you'll see links to various videos including:

These brief videos do a great job of getting to the gist of the topic, and as the title says, in plain English. If you're curious about any of these topics, but don't have the first clue where to start, take a look at these videos.

Thanks for the great info CommonCraft!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

You are considered a "littlie" until age 12. At 12, you move into a boarding school where you will eat, sleep and breath life as an "Ugly", looking forward (and across the river) to age 16 when you can have the operation that makes you a "Pretty" and you can move to Prettytown--and all your troubles are surgically removed along with that too-large nose or too narrow chin. Then you meet someone who challenges this vision of your future--the only vision you've had until now, on the eve of your 16th birthday. What if you must then choose between this new friend and the only dream you've ever had. What if there's a ugly side to being a Pretty--that has nothing to do with how you look?

Uglies is the first in a trilogy that chronicles the adventures of Tally Youngblood as she is introduced to the not-so-perfect side of her utopian world. The series order is: Uglies, Pretties and Specials. For the readers who simply can't get enough of this story, there is now a 4th book in the series, set a few years in the future beyond the point where Specials left off--it's called Extras.

Although these books are 400+ pages, they read so fast that even some of my more reluctant readers are taking a chance on them--and coming back for more.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Imagine Jules Verne sitting down with Robert Louis Stevenson, the folk who worked on Disney's Treasure Planet and Hiyao Miyazaki (the anime version of Howl's Moving Castle)--and coming up with an adventure story that was part historical fiction, part science fiction, and part fantasy. That doesn't actually describe what Kenneth Oppel's Airborn is, but it's close. Matt is a 15 year old cabin boy on a luxury airship (think dirigible or blimp). He's more at home in the air than on solid ground, but his world is about to get shaken up when he meets a young woman who is determined to prove that her grandfather's sightings of large furry flying creatures were not hallucinations. With airship wrecks, pirates, uncharted islands, and mysterious flying creatures (that may or may not exist), this story is a page turner that doesn't need a screenplay to come to technicolor life as you read. This book works for just about any reader, male or female, who likes a good adventure. Many of my high school students are reading this one and being inspired to read more by Oppel. Reading level grades 6 and up.