Monthly Archives: October 2013

Wanna see a good movie…read the book

Do not get me wrong, I love the movies.   Really.  I do.  I love everything about them.  But I must say that when Hollywood gets its hands on  a book, tends run into difficulties.  Some cases being the mere size of the work (ex. Anna Karenina), or maybe the subject (ex. The Road), or more often than not the extremely strong fan base attached to the work and want to see these epic features (ex. The Watchmen).   However, it is in these cases we forgive, for they took a chance of bringing meaningful works to the big screen, which is truly not an easy feat, since one must stay true to the original work, but also condense said work into a 2 hour feature.  Some have the potential to bring to life the characters on the page with great success (ex. A Clockwork Orange; To Kill a Mockingbird); while others are viewed as good even though they still didn’t quite measure up ( ex. A Time to Kill)

But  for every good case of book to movie, there have been bad, no horrific ones.  Hollywood tends to take several liberties that skew away from the original material.  I give you The Scarlet Letter starring Demi Moore and Gary Oldman as a prime example.  I love Gary (paging Sirius Black) and Demi Moore has had her fair share of good roles.  But my goodness, what happened in this movie would have Hawthorne  rolling over in his grave.  Why do I use this as my example, well lets see: THEY CHANGED THE ENDING!  That should be reason enough. What makes it even more astounding is that they felt the need to change the ending because they believed that not many people read the book so they wouldn’t know the difference.  Well I read the book. I saw the difference. And so did most of America.

But I digress.   I speak to you today as a reader and a movie watcher. And one who takes both roles seriously.  So when books become movies, I start to get anxious.  My mind races with “Who are they casting and are they a good fit?” ” Are they planning on removing/adding anything to the movie that was/was not in the book?”  “How are they going to shoot some of these scenes, or are they going to rely on CGI effects?”  So when I heard about the following books that are coming out or currently in the works I became both excited and nervous.  So hopefully the screen versions will live up to their written counterparts.  I am looking forward to seeing them, but remember, for every Hunger Games there is an Bonfire of the Vanities.

1) Ender’s Game




2) The Book Thief



the book thief







3) The Wolf of Wall Street







4) Gone Girl











5) Blue is the Warmest Color

blue is the warmest color


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Filed under Art, Books, Movie

Good Readers

At the beginning of the year I was asked by two eighth grade language arts/English teachers to work with their students twice a month by promoting books (mini book talks), help find new books they might not have thought of, and provide the opportunity for their own critique of a book.   This is both fun and challenging.

Talking about books is not a problem.  I can do that all day.  

Providing ideas for new books is in the bag.  I have a promotion I do where I only give the students a brief synopsis of a book. They do not get to know the author or see the cover. If they like what they hear they can check it out and then see the actual book.  Once they do, they have to give it at least one week, if they don’t like  it at the end of the week they can return but they have to give me or their teacher a detailed reason why they did not like the book in the end. They can write it in their reading response journal. We call this the don’t judge a book by its cover promotion.

So my real problem was getting them to recommend books.  They already have a response journal and they have to write papers about their books. How was I going to get them to participate in recommending books to their classmates.  Here are some ideas I had:

1)       Write a brief summary but also have the cast the book as if it was being made into a movie.  They have to sell this book to the public: what’s the hook; what would their posters look like; maybe the more ambitious ones make a trailer.

2)  Create an infographic about the book

3)  Draw a cartoon about the book

4) Select a character from the book and write reasons why you would be friends with this person and why you wouldn’t.

Those are just some ideas, however, getting the students to open up is still a challenge. Some are more than willing to talk for hours about a book, while others clam up and never even look you in the eye.   However, there is one thing that these types of students have in common. Social networking.

So why not bring social networking into the equation.  Classrooms and schools have really embraced social networking in all areas of the learning environment.  And one of the best social sites for librarians is (can you guess from the title of this post?).


Now I love GoodReads.  I have been able to see what my former co-workers are reading, what some of my friends are waiting to get their hands on; what some former students are recommending to me; and I get to see what strangers are thinking.  I have discovered so many new authors and learned about new books from GoodReads that I feel this is the perfect site for students to use to express themselves as well as learn about books they never would have thought of trying.  My GoodReads campaign has been embraced by my fellow teachers and the administration is happy with this also. However it was the reaction by the students that was surprise. They loved it and have come up to me countless times to ask if I have a certain book that they learned about from GoodReads.  I might not have gotten all of the students involved, but the ones I did, I love it.

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Filed under apps, Books, Creativity, Social Networking

One Choice Will Define You

So says the book cover for the final installment of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Yes folks it is out. Allegiant dropped today and if my students and local book store are an indication it will be flying off the shelves.  I picked my copies (three actually myself, and my two libraries) since some of my students just couldn’t wait.  I will begin reading my tonight or tomorrow and will be getting a review up soon. But until then if you have not read this series I suggest you take a look. It is an engaging read with strong, well flushed out characters. And it makes me wonder: who would win in a fight: Katniss Everdeen or Tris Prior?  Just some food for thought.


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Filed under Books, Reading, Reviews

How Schools can use 140 Characters

Over the summer I read a blog post from Claude Lord ( where spoke about Twitter being embraced by the school systems. Here are some of the highlights, I suggest you visit her site she has some great stuff.

1) Twitter’s frivolous motto: “What are you doing?” would gain full potential and extend to “What are you thinking, learning, discovering, visioning, designing, listening to, reading, blogging about?”

2) Teacher’s meetings would turn into an ongoing stream of resources, professional development, bouncing-off ideas and experiences on what works and does not, with instant targeted feedback.

3) Sharing collaborating and attributing each other’s work would be the new norm.

4) Competition would give way to collaboration with growing understanding that the more your share the more you gain

5) Locked cabinets would open-up their resources to be used, mixed, remixed and attributed.

6) Barriers between admin, faculty, staff, students, parents and community would dissolve in a cloud of connections and opportunities irrespective of age, role, status, and class – grade or socio-economic.

7) The 140 characters limit would become the art of minimizing thought in a nutshell – Good or bad is debatable.

8) Upcoming conferences would be public knowledge, repeatedly announced, retweeted, and back-channeled, so great ideas can spread to those who can’t attend – and supplement the experience for those attending.

9) Minority voices would no longer be silenced.

Ms. Lord gives a lot of food for thought on how Twitter can maximize the learning experience but also build upon the community of learners, teachers, and parents in a way that was never available before.

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Filed under apps, Social Networking, Technology, Twitter