Archive for May, 2014

May 13, 2014

Dystopian Fantasy: The End of the World as We Know it

Dystopian Fantasy: The End of the World as We Know It
by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard38-FE3-KathyHiggs-Coulthard

Hunger Games
The Maze Runner
Ender’s Game

What do these books have in common?

a) They’re great books that offer an exciting read.
b) Preteens, tweens, and teens love them.
c) They either have or will soon be made into movies.
d) They are dystopian novels.
e) All of the above.

The answer is e) All of the above!

Books like Hunger Games and Divergent are introducing today’s generation to dystopian fiction. While many adults may not recognize the label “dystopian,” it’s not new. Remember reading Louis Lowry’s The Giver or Stephen King/Richard Bachman’s Running Man back in the 90’s? In fact, a brief Google search will uncover dystopian stories dating back to the 18th Century! But what does “dystopian” mean? The opposite of utopian, dystopian stories take place in a society where people are severely oppressed or live in fear. Usually they take place in an altered reality or a future version of our world where the government wields heavy-handed power.

Dystopian stories draw in middle grade to young adult readers because they offer many of the same features fairy tales offer to younger readers: They show that the world is a dangerous place where people are not always what they seem, but where creativity, intellect, and perseverance can prevail.

If you have a child ages 10 and up, you’ve probably seen them carrying around a copy of Hunger Games or Divergent. But there are more great dystopian books out there than just the blockbusters. Check out these:


13th reality

Title: The 13th Reality
Author: James Dashner
Genre: middle grade


Title: City of Embercity of ember
Jeanne Duprau
Genre: middle grade



Among the HiddenTitle: Among the Hidden
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: middle grade



Title: The UgliesThe Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfield
Genre: y/a


Add to the list! What dystopian novels have your family discovered?

May 6, 2014

National Clean Up Your Room Day

Blog Photo

by Angela Verges

Sometimes I stumble across the most bazaar things, this time it’s National Clean up Your Room Day, which is celebrated May 10th. This is one holiday I’m willing to celebrate, but I don’t think my boys are. Have you ever had to constantly tell your child to clean his room?
It your child is less than thrilled about cleaning his room, encourage him to join you in the national celebration of clean your room day. Maybe your child doesn’t even believe his room is a mess. I remember many times that my sons room has looked like a science experiment gone wrong. When he did attempt to clean it things were rearranged, but still not clean.
I recently read a picture book that reminded me of my son and his attempts to clean his room. Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon! is a picture book by Pat Cummings that uses colorful pictures and rhyme to tell the story of Harvey’s cleaning spree.
Harvey was all set to watch cartoons when his mom reminded him that it was the day he needed to clean his room. He didn’t’ t think his room was mess at all and could be cleaned before the next T.V. show that he wanted to see. Harvey picked up a softball, a toothbrush and even library books he had forgotten about.

Author and Illustrator: Pat Cummings Ages 4-7 years

Author and Illustrator: Pat Cummings
Ages 4-7 years

When Harvey looked at the clock it was nearing time for next T.V. show he wanted to see and there were still toys all around his room. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. Maybe Harvey could have taken a few cleaning tips from the book How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.

In Jane Yolen’s book questions are raised such as, Does a dinosaur put dirty socks in the back of his drawers? Does he hide his pajamas behind bathroom doors? In the end questions such as this are answered and the dinosaur has a tidy room.

Author: Jane Yolen Illustrator: Mark Teague

Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Mark Teague

In the picture book How to Clean Your Room in 10 easy steps, author Jennifer LaRue Huget takes a different approach. On the opening page of the story the little girl welcomes the reader into her very clean room. The author used humor as she lists step one, “always wait until your mother hollers.”

By step three the reader is told to take everything out of his closets and drawers and dump it in a pile in the middle of the room. This is the beginning of reorganization efforts. By the end of the story, the reader has seen how to clean his room in a fun way.

Author: Jennifer LaRue Huget Illustrator: Edward Koren

Author: Jennifer LaRue Huget
Illustrator: Edward Koren

Check out the article 10 Awesome Ways to make cleaning FUN for kids, for creative ways to get your child to clean. Here are a few of those tips:
• Dress up like maids and butlers
• Let your child pretend she is filming a cleaning commercial
• Give your child a mission or challenge – for example, tell him his first mission is to organize all of his shoes. Sing or play the theme song to Mission Impossible as he works

What are your tips for National Clean Up Your Room Day?