About our novels

About Giver

Common Sense Review By: Matt Berman
Lois Lowry earned the Newbery Medal for this book, so unlike any other for children--or for adults. There have been utopian novels before--though few for children--but none that give the utopia such a fair shake. It is this fairness that makes THE GIVER so riveting and thought-provoking, and so perfect for triggering discussions.
Jonas's world is very appealing. The people are genuinely content, and there is no evil overlord forcing them into submission, no totalitarianism. Instead, logical decisions were made far in the past, decisions that involved giving up some good things in order to get rid of the terrible things. Now the community runs by common agreement to its rules; some freedom is sacrificed for security; joy, for avoidance of misery. We face the same choices every day in our own society.
The choices, which provide the catalyst for discussion, all involve one central decision: to forgo the highs of life in order to get rid of the lows--to find the middle way. There is a lot to be said for this, though Jonas, speaking presumably for the author, ultimately rejects it. Some children will agree with Jonas, but others will find themselves attracted to a life that is uniformly pleasant, if never exhilarating.
The author is true to her determination not to stack the deck for readers; the ending is deliberately ambiguous, with allegorical overtones, leaving readers to decide what they want to believe.

About Lois Lowry: http://www.loislowry.com/bio.html

Whether she’s writing comedy, adventure, or poignant, powerful drama --- from ATTABOY, SAM! and ANASTASIA KRUPNIK to NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER --- Lois Lowry’s appeal is as broad as her subject matter and as deep as her desire to affect an eager generation of readers. An author who is “fast becoming the Beverly Cleary for the upper middle grades” (The Horn Book Magazine), Lois Lowry has written over 30 books for children and young adults and is a two-time Newbery Medal Winner.

Lois Lowry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and attended junior high school in Tokyo, Japan. Her father was a dentist for the U.S. Army and his job entailed a lot of traveling. Lowry still likes to travel.

At the age of 17, Lowry attended Brown University and majored in writing. She left school at 19, got married, and had four children before her 25th birthday. After some time, she returned to college and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine.

Lois Lowry didn’t start writing professionally until she was in her mid-30s. Now she spends time writing every single day. Before she begins writing a book, she usually knows the beginning and end of her story. When she’s not writing, Lowry enjoys gardening during the spring and summer and knitting during the winter. One of her other hobbies is photography, and her own photos grace the covers of NUMBER THE STARS, THE GIVER and GATHERING BLUE.

Lois Lowry has four children and two grandchildren. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

is her own site; here she writes about herself.
this is from **http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-lowry-lois.asp**


About Sounder

An Amazon.com review
In the nearly 35 years since it was published, SOUNDER has lost none of its original power or impact. That's not only the mark of great children's literature, it's the mark of great writing at any level.

SOUNDER is the story of a poor African American family in the late 19th century south. Sounder, the family's hunting dog, is responsible for much of the family income: he finds and tracks game that the father can eat and sell. Problems arise when the local white sheriff and his men think the family has become a little too prosperous. An event then happens which becomes a turning point in the oldest boy's life. (The story is told with painful honesty from his point of view.)
Author Armstrong masterfully drops the reader into a different era, an era we would like to forget. It's not a comfortable time and it's not a comfortable story, but it is a powerful one. The story is a simple one, but Armstrong paints on a large canvas, full of description so vivid and true that we feel we're there, walking on the cold ground, smelling the countryside, and even feeling the wetness of the tears and blood.
I believe it's significant that Sounder is the only character named in the book. This is the boy's story, but it could be any boy. He represents a sort of "every man," or "every child," if you will. The boy learns several important lessons along the way, some of them coming from unlikely sources.
SOUNDER is one of those stories that not only entertain children, but teach them valuable lessons in human nature, relationships, and learning. A very, very important book for us all.

About William H. Armstrong:
Born on September 14, 1911, in the Shenandoah Valley near Lexington, Virginia, William H. Armstrong graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1936. He married Martha Williams in 1942—they were the parents of two boys and a girl. His wife died when their children were very young. He farmed in Connecticut near the Housatonic River, also learning to be a carpenter and a stonemason. In 1945, Mr. Armstrong began teaching 13- and 14-year-olds at Kent School in Kent, Connecticut. He taught his students ancient history for 52 years. His first book, Study is Hard Work, was published in 1956. In 1969, his most renowned novel, Sounder, was published and won both the Newbery Medal and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. He wrote two sequels to that story, Sour Land (1971) and The MacLeod Place (1972). Armstrong died in 1999

About The Adventures of Ulysses

Ulysses, fearsome leader of the Greek forces, conquers Troy. He and his men Embark upon a glorious journey home, unaware that they have angered the gods. Their Journey will last for 10 long years, riddled with more perils than the imagination can concieve. They encounter Cyclops, a huge, one-eyed monster who makes meals of men. Then Circe, the beautiful sorceress who turns men into pigs. And Scylla and Charybdis, nightmarish creatures who crush anyone who dares to cross their path. Ulysses and his men keep to their torutured course, determined to reach the shores of home. But it is there they will have to fight the fiercest battle of all.

About Where the Red Fern Grows

Common Sense Review

Reviewed By: Matt Berman (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/Where-Red-Fern-Grows.html)

Arguably the greatest boy-and-dog story of all time, this is, for many kids, the book that introduces them to the power of literature. No one, adult or child, gets through this book without weeping, usually more than once, yet it never feels manipulative or trite -- it's a good, honest cry. For over four decades, and even in this Harry Potter, video game era, it has remained near the top of the list of kids' favorite books. Who says kids don't love quality?
It reveals a world that has all but vanished today, a rural America still untouched by modern life even in the 1930s, where a boy could ramble through the woods and mountains with his dogs all night long, night after night, in complete freedom, never seeing any sign of man or his artifacts. It also shows what our image of boyhood once was: strong, brave, emotional, honest, gritty, and loyal, Billy is an archetype that, like the world he inhabits, is virtually extinct, except in literature. And even there he's increasingly rare -- he has an intact family with grandparents nearby, and all the adults in the book are wise, kind, and loving, gently guiding Billy into adulthood. This exciting, heartbreaking, uplifting book, based on the author's own boyhood, should be a part of everyone's childhood.

About Wilson Rawls (http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/birthbios/brthpage/09sep/9-14armstrng.html):
Woodrow Wilson Rawls was born on September 24, 1913 in the rural Ozark Mountains near Scraper, Oklahoma. His parents were Minzy Rawls and Winnie Hatfield Rawls. There were no schools near his home, so his mother taught her children. She ordered books through the mail, read them out loud, and then let her children read them. Woody wasn't interested in books because they were "girl stories," but then his mother brought Jack London's Call of the Wild into their home. Woody's imagination was fired by this story of a man and his dog.
As a teenager and young adult, he traveled through the USA, South America, and Canada, working on construction jobs—among them, Alaska's Alcan Highway. On his travels, he began writing stories. Embarassed by his poor grammar and spelling skills, he kept his efforts locked away in a trunk.
He married Sophie Styczinski in 1958 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Shortly before their marriage, he emptied his trunk of rejected manuscripts and burned them. He didn't want his new wife to know about them. Eventually, Sophie heard about his writing and encouraged Woody to submit one of the stories. He sat down and rewrote her suggested story in three weeks, 35,000 words. Sophie edited it and they sent it in to the Saturday Evening Post. The magazine serialized the story in 1961, publishing it in three parts, calling it "The Hounds of Youth." Later, Doubleday published it as the book we now know as Where the Red Fern Grows. Wilson Rawls had achieved his ambition of writing a book of the same stature as his idol, Jack London.
In 1973, the book was made into a movie. The production crew rebuilt Rawls' childhood home in the Ozarks, and asked the Rawls to visit the set. Rawls said, "I stayed for ten days and relived my youth. It was wonderful." He wrote another book, Summer of the Monkeys, which was published before Rawls died in Marshfield, Wisconsin, in 1984. Woody and Sophie lived in Cornell, Wisconsin from 1975 to 1984. Today, thanks to Jim Trelease telling the people of Idaho Falls the story of their one-time resident who made his dreams come true, there is a statue of Billy Colman and his two dogs in front of the Idaho Falls Public Library, a reminder of the power of the stories about boys, men, and dogs.

About Animal Farm George Orwell

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Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely-and this is vividly and eloquently proved in Orwell's short novel. "Animal Farm" is a simple fable of great symbolic value, and as Orwell himself explained: "it is the history of a revolution that went wrong". The novel can be seen as the historical analysis of the causes of the failure of communism, or as a mere fairy-tale; in any case it tells a good story that aims to prove that human nature and diversity prevent people from being equal and happy ,or at least equally happy.

"Animal Farm" tells the simple and tragic story of what happens when the oppressed farm animals rebel, drive out Mr. Jones, the farmer, and attempt to rule the farm themselves, on an equal basis. What the animals seem to have aimed at was a utopian sort of communism, where each would work according to his capacity, respecting the needs of others. The venture failed, and "Animal Farm" ended up being a dictatorship of pigs, who were the brightest, and most idle of the animals.

Orwell's mastery lies in his presentation of the horrors of totalitarian regimes, and his analysis of communism put to practice, through satire and simple story-telling. The structure of the novel is skillfully organized, and the careful reader may, for example, detect the causes of the unworkability of communism even from the first chapter. This is deduced from Orwell's description of the various animals as they enter the barn and take their seats to listen to the revolutionary preaching of Old Major, father of communism in Animal Farm. Each animal has different features and attitude; the pigs, for example, "settled down in the straw immediately in front of the platform", which is a hint on their future role, whereas Clover, the affectionate horse" made a sort of wall" with her foreleg to protect some ducklings.

About George Orwell: go to http://www.george-orwell.org/l_biography.html



When a freighter to the United States is torpedoed during World War II, an 11-year-old boy is blinded and stranded with an elderly black man who teaches him survival skills.

Phillip Enright lives with his parents on the island of Curaçao where his father works for Royal Dutch Shell. There is a threat of a German invasion and Mrs. Enright decides to take Phillip back to the states. When the ship they are traveling on is torpedoed, Phillip is separated from his mother and left floating on a wooden raft with Timothy, a black man from the West Indies. The two drift to a small cay where they are left to survive with only a small amount of food salvaged from the ship. Phillip, who is blinded by a head injury, must depend on Timothy to stay alive. Though Phillip has been reared to be prejudiced against blacks, his attitude changes as Timothy teaches him to be independent in spite of his blindness.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR: Theodore Taylor was born in North Carolina and began writing at the age of 13 as a cub reporter for the Portsmouth, Virginia, Evening Star. He left home at 17 to join the Washington Daily News as a copy boy, worked his way toward New York City, and became an NBC sportswriter at the age of 19. Since then he has been a magazine writer, a movie publicist and production assistant, a documentary filmmaker, and the author of many books for adults and children. The Cay has won many literary awards, including the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was made into a Universal Studios film presentation starring James Earl Jones.

ABOUT Tangerine

Discussion Guide (http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=972_type=Book_typeId=3222)


by Edward Bloor
The Book
Paul Fisher's family is moving from Texas to Florida for a number of reasons. The most important one seems to be so that Paul's older brother Erik can impress the football scouts at some major universities. Indeed, most of what his parents do seems to be part of what Paul calls "The Great Erik Fisher Football Dream." It is not that Paul is jealous. He, too, possesses some tremendous athletic ability on the soccer field despite being legally blind. But Erik is the favored son, indulged by parents, teachers, coaches, and friends, even though Paul knows that Erik's behavior is less than perfect. The move to Tangerine, Florida, might just open the eyes of everyone in the Fisher family.
Paul fears his brother's physical retaliations, is angry at his father's apparent favoritism toward his brother, and resents his mother's apparent inability to see Erik for what he really is. Erik, therefore, appears to be the root of Paul's problems. Is this true? Is Erik the main conflict that Paul faces? If Erik is what caused and continues to cause Paul's problems, what caused, and perhaps continues to cause, Erik's problems?
Paul's subdivision was built on a foundation of termite-infested ground, next to a field that constantly burns muck fires, near a school that is built on land that becomes a sinkhole. In what ways is the setting of the town of Tangerine a metaphor for Paul's life? What is it that eats away at Paul's foundation? What fire burns constantly in Paul's life? What is it in Paul's life that collapses just as the ground collapses into a sinkhole?
About the author
A former middle and high school teacher, Edward Bloor lives with his wife and children in Florida. Tangerine is his first novel.

About Lightning Thief

Reviewed By: Matt Berman
Written from Percy's point of view in choppy, attitude-filled prose, there are two levels of fun here. One is the fastpaced adventure/quest of a young hero and his friends to save the world. This part is exciting and suspenseful, and, though the characters aren't emotionally involving, very satisfying nonetheless. Action and humor keep the pages turning as the three young heroes race across the U.S., beset by mythological monsters all the way, to find the entrance to the Underworld (in L.A., where else?) before war breaks out. Children who don't know much mythology can still enjoy the breakneck adventure on its own.
For those who do know Greek myths though, or for those inspired to go find out about them, there's another level of fun here -- spotting the references and laughing at the wicked ways the author has updated the gods and monsters for the 21st century: Ares is a cross between a Hell's Angel and a professional wrestler, a math teacher is a harpy in disguise, and demigods can communicate by IMing -- Iris messaging (you'll have to read it to get the details on that one). A fun read for anyone, and a great read-aloud for a class studying mythology.

About Rick Riordan http://www.rickriordan.com/index.php/about-the-author/:
Rick Riordan is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for children and the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.
For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.
His adult fiction has won the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. His short fiction has appeared in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
His Percy Jackson series features a twelve-year-old dyslexic boy who discovers he is the modern-day son of a Greek god. The Lightning Thief was a New York Times Notable Book for 2005. Film rights have been purchased by Twentieth Century Fox and a feature film is in development. The Sea of Monsters was a Child Magazine Best Book for Children for 2006 and a Publishers Weekly and BookSense national bestseller. The third title, The Titan’s Curse, made the series a #1 New York Times bestseller, and the most recent title, The Battle of the Labyrinth, had a first printing of one million copies.
Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and two sons.