Saturday, March 14, 2015

Divergent/Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Confession: I saw the movie first. It didn't ruin the book for me.

What an awesome series. A futuristic survival story with surprising grit and hardship mixed in with a little bit of romance. It is a Young Adult novel and although the thickness of the book may seem daunting, it is anything but. I found it to be a quick, engaging read.

Before we begin, a quick run-down of the different factions.

In a futuristic world, what was once Chicago is now a city divided among factions. Each faction has key qualities: Dauntless are brave and strong-willed fighters; Abnegation are conservative and selfless; Candor are brutally honest and cannot lie; Amity are community- centered and dispute-free; Erudite are inquisitive and brilliant. The premise is that when people associate with those similar to them, they can create a peaceful society and avoid war. Judging by the looming fences surrounding the city, I'd say that fear is one of the main factors in this separation, not peace. At the age of 16, children are given an aptitude test where they encounter different scenarios. Their responses to those scenarios determine to what faction they should belong.

There is one dangerous category to belong to. The category that can't be contained: Divergent. Divergents are those who do not fit into a specific faction and therefore cannot be as easily controlled.

It is here that the story begins. Beatrice is divergent, a member of the Abnegation, making her choice to leave her family and join the Dauntless initiation. Beatrice is small and seemingly meek, and as she begins her training it is evident that she will encounter many struggles along the way. The largest struggle will be to hide who she is from her instructors and train herself to think like the Dauntless. As Beatrice finds her inner strength, she also finds secrets that she is not supposed to know. Something is brewing among the factions; something dangerous is about to take place. Can Beatrice stay ahead of the game before her whole city unravels?

Insurgent picks up where Divergent ends, so you'll just have to keep reading.

Of course, anyone who has read this book must now answer the question: What faction would you belong to?

Take the quiz here

Friday, March 6, 2015

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod 

by Gary Paulsen

I was looking for books to share with my students about the Iditarod when I stumbled across Winterdance. In early elementary school, we studied the Iditarod and followed the race. It has fascinated me ever since.  I am not an avid reader of nonfiction. I do not care for memoirs. This was the most humorous, gripping, and interesting nonfiction book that I have ever picked up. It is full of action and adventure of the best kind. This book is a glimpse into the heart of "the last great race on earth."

Paulsen takes on the challenge of running the Iditarod. This is a grueling  sled dog race through Alaska that stretches 1000 miles. To learn more about the race, go here. 

Paulsen eats, sleeps, and breathes Iditarod. It is the ultimate challenge and he will stop at nothing to take it on. But with all of the hardships to even get to the race, will he make it to the finish line?

"I write because I really, really like to write." -Gary Paulsen
"For young people I tell them to read like a wolf eats."

Children's Books about the Iditarod: