Monday, June 22, 2015

Spirit Animals: First Born

Well, it's summertime, and Mrs. Edwards has taken me to her house for the summer.  I keep an eye on her children while they read over the summer.  Her oldest son, who is 8 and going into 4th grade, is currently working on a series called Spirit Animals.  The first book is by Brandon Mull, titled First Born.  Spirit Animals: First Born is about four children in the land of Erdas about to find out if they have the spirit animal bond.

In the land of Erdas, some special people have the gift of being able to conjure and speak to the Spirit Animals.  Four children, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan each see a flash of light one fateful day.  After that the animals come.  For Connor, it's a wolf; Abeke, a jaguar; Meilin, a panda; and Rollan, a falcon... beasts of legend.  Erdas is plagued by dark forces from the past and the children with their Spirit Animals must go on an epic quest where they will learn about themselves and their Spirit Animal.  This is an outstanding series so far, and Mrs. Edwards son gives it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Spirit Animals: Wild Born by Brandon Mull

Copyright:  2013

ISBN 10:  0545522439

Where to find it:  F Mul

Lexile level:  680L

I think this would be a fun book to explore creative epic writing with students.  One of the cool things with this series is that the books have a special code for where kids can find their own spirit animal and go on adventures with it.  Kids can use the spirit animals they get to craft a new story with themselves as the star.

Standards covered: 

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1  Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3  Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3  Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Well, the ladies are at it again... reading and talking up some books!  This next book was also a California Young Reader Medal candidate for this past year, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.  I feel that I am a little biased in recommending this book because of the cover.  I'm blue, it's my favorite color, the cover has a beautiful blue mask... It reminds me of me. :)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is an incredible angels versus demons story, but not one you would think.  These aren't heavenly, Biblical-type angels or demons from Satan.  The angels in this story, while beautiful, are warriors: deadly, soldiers, and merciless killers.  Our 'demons' quickly find a soft-spot in our hearts with the introduction of Karou, the story's human protagonist.  Karou has very limited knowledge of her past and why it is that she lives with 'monsters.'  She is an incredible artist and goes to a private art school in Prague with her best friend Zuzana.  She also has blue hair, can speak dozens of languages, and knows a variety of fighting styles all of which came from wishes.  One of her secrets is her traveling.  She is able to sneak all over the world through magical passages and doorways where she collects assorted teeth for Brimstone, her Chimera guardian.  As the story progresses, she is thrust into a meeting with Akiva, an angel, and cannot help but to wonder how and why he is so familiar.  This is a fantastic story that will make any reader question what they feel about angels or demons.  And when you finish this, you'll be happy to know that Karou's story doesn't end with this novel... check out the sequels!!

  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  • Copyright:  2011
  • ISBN 10:  031613399X
  • Where to find it:  F TAY
  • Reading Range/Lexile:  850L
I could see some of the English teachers using this book to create an argumentative paper or debate discussing just who the 'bad' and 'good' guys really are.  Students would be expected to use the text, actions and interactions with characters, and character backgrounds as evidence for their arguments.  Further, I would suggest that for a fun activity, students create a Chimera to represent who they feel best embodies their own character traits.  Students could use their computers to create a digital version of their Chimera, and name for it.  

The standards one would cover are:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.3--Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1--Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2--Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3--Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.