Final Reader’s Chair Script

Reading a variety of books is important because it keeps readers interested and introduces them to new genres of literature. Over the year Kate, Althea, and Emily have read a widespread selection of books. We have put together a list of ten book recommendations for 8th grade students.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a really unique, creative book. It is told as though what you are reading is a new edition of an ancient, long complicated history of a country, and even goes into detail on the fake author’s life. It has a lot of suspense and action, but is also hilarious and really romantic. It has something for everyone, so I would recommend it to anyone that wants to try something different!

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan is the first book in a spin-off series of the Percy Jackson series. It is about three characters named Jason, Piper, and Leo, who are all demigods. One of their parents is human and the other is a Greek god. The three of them have to go on a quest to save Hera, the queen of the gods, who has been kidnapped. I would recommend it to people that like Greek mythology or the Percy Jackson series.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard is a book I recommend for girls. The series of books is based on solving one girl’s murder. Beware, once you read one of the books you won’t be able to stop! They are exciting and suspenseful although and fun books to read!

Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël takes place in modern times. It’s about the freshman year of a girl named Echo, whose older sister Zoë was murdered a year earlier. Echo is given her sister’s diary, and as she reads it, she becomes closer to her sister and closer to the truth about her death. I would recommend it to pretty much any girl, but it’s easier to relate to if you have a sibling.

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins is a story about a girl named Jazz. She is dragged to India one summer against her will. Jazz is shy and doesn’t want to spend her entire summer volunteering with people she doesn’t even know. However the monsoon rains of India can change anything and Jazz begins to learn things about herself. I loved this book and would recommend it to any teenager.

The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanne Philbin is a story about three girls whose parents are famous.  They live in luxury but have connectible issues. I put it on my “want to read” list in the beginning of the year and I recommend any girl to do the same! It’s a fun story that weaves together three very different characters.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is one of type few books I read that actually made me cry. The story is in turn romantic and sentimental, and brutal in its realistic plot line. It also describes a bit of what it is like to have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, which I thought was really interesting and made it stand out. I’d recommend this to anyone with a love of romance.

The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees takes place in the 16th century. It is about a girl named Violetta whose country is attacked, and she escapes to London. There, she meets William Shakespeare. She tells him the story of how her parents met, and he uses it as the basis of his play Twelfth Night. I would recommend it to people that like historical fiction.

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak is one of the best books I have ever read. It takes places in Nazi Germany, and focuses on a girl hiding a Jewish man in her basement. It is suspenseful and creative, and I absolutely loved it. It is really long and advanced, but worth all the work! I’d recommend it to anyone with the drive and the love of reading to tackle it.

Annexed by Sharon Dogar also takes place during the Holocaust.  It is about Peter van Pels, the boy who loved Anne Frank when they were in hiding together. They story is a fictional account of what Peter thought during the time Anne’s diary was written. I would recommend it to people that like Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl or people that are interested of the Holocaust.

These books are all very different but are all easily relatable to 8th grade students. Having read many different kinds of books will put you at an advantage throughout the year because you’ll be prepared for the reading material ahead. Hopefully, at least a few of these books interested you. Have a great year and keep reading.

Click here for our podcast: Emily Althea Kate

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Annexed Reader’s Chair

Words are powerful.  They can make people laugh.  They can make people cry.  If they are used in just the right way, words can change people’s lives forever.  This is an idea that was constantly on my mind as I read Annexed by Sharon Dogar.

The story of Anne Frank is very famous, and those who are familiar with it know that Anne loved a boy named Peter van Pels, or Peter van Daan as he was called in Anne’s diary.  Most, if not all, of our perceptions of him come from the way he was described in the diary.  We don’t know what he was thinking the whole time they were in hiding.  Annexed is about that time except it’s told from Peter’s point of view.

The book starts off with Peter walking from his home towards the Annex, the place they hid in for two years.  It shows how he doesn’t want to go into hiding, especially with the Franks, whose daughters he sees as two of the most annoying girls in the world.  As the book goes on, his feelings change so eventually he considers Margot, Anne’s older sister, as a very good friend, and he loves Anne.  The last quarter of the book is about what may have happened to Peter when he was in a concentration camp.  No one really knows what he actually experienced, but the author based that section off stories from Holocaust survivors.

A big theme in the book is how words have power.  Anne and Peter often talks about how Anne wants to someday write something that will change people’s lives.  Ironically, her diary is one of the most moving books that exists, as I discovered when I read it two years ago.  Annexed is fictional, but it had a great impact on me anyway, especially when it talked about the horrors people in the concentration camps faced.  “‘You’re free, boy.  Free!’  Am I?  Can I ever be free of the pictures inside me?  Of people standing in lines?  Of a man putting a noose around his neck and jumping?  Of God dying?  Of bodies lying in piles like matchsticks?  And of the truth that when there is nothing else, there is still the will to live?” (page 328)

More than anything else, this book made me truly appreciate how fortunate I am.  When they were in hiding, Peter always longed to go outside.  “‘I miss the rain,’ I say after a while.  ‘The rain on my face.’  And I can feel it as I say the words, rain falling fresh like pine needles on my face.  I miss the rain with a physical ache, like a pain inside me.” (page 196)  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like to be trapped inside for two years, never being able to feel rain or breathe fresh air.  The book was so good at making me feel like I was there with Peter and the others.  When I’d go outside after reading for a while, I would stand and absorb everything, almost like I’d been trapped in the Annex too.

I would recommend this book to anyone and to everyone.  You don’t have to have read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl to understand what’s going on.  I think we all need to realize how lucky we are to live without a constant fear of being murdered, and how lucky we are to be free.  This is the type of book that you find yourself thinking about long after you’ve finished it.  Annexed was a wake-up call to me and I think books like this are important for all of us to read.

Saving Zoë Reader’s Chair

If you have a brother or sister, you have probably wished for them to disappear at least once.  But no one considers the results: what if they actually did disappear?  Echo, the main character in Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël, finds herself in this situation.  When Echo was in eighth grade, her older sister Zoë was murdered.

The book starts as Echo enters her freshman year.  Starting high school is hard enough, but being known by the whole town as “the girl whose sister was murdered” makes it worse.  Everywhere she goes, Echo is stared at and whispered about.  On Echo’s fifteenth birthday, Marc, Zoë’s old boyfriend, gives Echo Zoë’s diary.  At first, Echo doesn’t read it because she assumes there isn’t anything in there she doesn’t already know.  Eventually, curiosity causes her to read it.

In the beginning of the diary, nothing surprises Echo.  As she gets further into it, she discovers secrets her sister had that Echo could never have imagined.  Echo becomes wrapped up in Zoë’s life, and the more she reads, the closer Echo comes to discovering the truth about Zoë’s death.  She admired her sister, and wishes she was more like her, but she has to tell herself that no matter how much she wants to be, she is not Zoë.  The book shows how sisters can share a bond even when one is gone.

My favorite part of this book was a simple scene.  Echo is reading the diary, and Zoë mentions how she’d bought Echo a diary for her fourteenth birthday, wrapped it up, and hidden it in her closet, hoping she wouldn’t forget it was there.  Zoë died before Echo’s birthday, so Echo never got the gift.  Echo runs to Zoë’s room, opens the closet, and finds the present.  “But the moment that silver-wrapped box is on my lap, I’m suddenly reluctant to open it.  Because this was meant to be unwrapped in a room full of laughter, family, and friends.  It was never supposed to happen like this.  Though knowing Zoë, she’d want me to open it no matter what.  And since so few of her plans had turned out as she’d hoped, I wasn’t about to disappoint her now.” (page 176)  I don’t really know why this scene stuck out to me so much, but I think it was because it sort of felt like even after she’d died, Zoë was still there for Echo.

I loved this book.  It only took me a couple days to read because once I started it I didn’t want to put it down.  I’d recommend it to almost anyone, especially people with brothers or sisters.  Not all of us have siblings that were murdered, but I think we can all relate to Echo’s feelings towards her sister.

Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

“Here, guys, I printed a copy for all of us.”  “What?  So did I!”  “And I made one copy!”  “I would’ve but my printer was broken.”  “Great, now we have nine copies of the script!”  This is pretty much the exact conversation my group and I had during English this morning.  We had said that the last person to edit should print four copies, one for each of us, but unfortunately we all thought we were the last person!

This is one of the problems with group work: miscommunication.  In this case, it wasn’t a big deal.  We just recycled the extra copies.  But it could have caused much bigger problems.  Maybe no one would have printed it.  Maybe we wouldn’t have finished the script.  Group work is fine in school, but once you get home and have your project on a Google doc, things begin to get a little confusing.

However, groups do have their benefits.  For one, there’s the old saying “two heads are better than one.”  We had four people in our group, so theoretically the project came out four times better than if we’d done it individually.  Also, you don’t have to do as much work when there are three other people to share it with you.

For this specific project, one challenge was finding common ground between our four books.  They were all very different, so trying to find things they had in common was like that riddle about a raven and a writing desk.  We eventually managed to use friendship and trust as things they had in common.  Even then, however, the friendships and trusts found in the books were really different.

The actual recording went pretty well.  We had to redo it once because we started laughing in the middle, but we still managed to get it done within the period.  I think people might have talked for over twenty seconds once or twice, but the whole recording was about six minutes.  This was right within the zone of 5-7 minutes, which we were happy about because we weren’t entirely sure it would be long enough.  It had its rough spots, but in the end I think our project turned out pretty well.

Reader’s Chair Podcast

Forgetting Is Painful

Imagine if one day you woke up and couldn’t remember anything.  You didn’t know where you were, why you were there, who all the people around you were, or even who you were.  This is what happens to the main character of The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.  He wakes up on a school bus and doesn’t know anything except that his first name is Jason.  He is sitting next to a girl named Piper and a boy named Leo who say that they’re his best friends, but he can’t remember seeing them before in his life.

Jason has blue eyes, blond hair, and a small scar on his upper lip from when he tried to eat a stapler when he was two.  He is brave and loyal to his friends, even though he can’t remember them and hardly even knows them.  He is a leader and knows that someday soon he will have to lead a very important quest to save the world.  At first he is really worried about that and thinks he’ll mess everything up, but by the end of the book he has accepted his destiny and knows he will be ready when the time comes.  In this book, his motivation is protecting his friends and getting his memories back.  He is issued a quest at one point, and he agrees to go on it in hopes that his memories will return if he is successful.  During the quest, he is always worried when his friends are in danger and he does everything he can, even risking his life, to save them.  The quote I chose is from page 380.  “Jason took a step forward.  ‘You’re not killing anyone, wolf man.  Not without going through me.’”  They are being attacked by Lycaon, who is the king of the wolves, and his pack.  The quote shows one situation in which Jason is willing to die for his friends.

At the beginning of the book, Jason, Piper, and Leo are on a school trip to the Grand Canyon, but they are suddenly attacked by storm spirits.  Jason, Piper, and Leo manage to defeat them, and then a girl arrives who says her name is Annabeth.  She is looking for Percy Jackson, her missing boyfriend.  The three friends find out that they are demigods, which means that one of their parents is mortal and the other is one of the Greek gods.  Annabeth brings them to Camp Half-Blood, the only safe place for demigods.  The people at Camp Half-Blood soon find out that Hera, the queen of the gods, has been kidnapped.  Jason is given a quest to save her and Piper and Leo come with him.  Before a demigod goes on a quest, they get a prophecy.  No one really knows what it means until the quest is completed.  Jason’s prophecy is on page 128.  “Child of lightning, beware the earth, /The giants’ revenge the seven shall birth, /The forge and dove shall break the cage, /And death unleash through Hera’s rage.”  Jason knows that Hera is the one who took his memories, and he is determined to get them back.  Apart from wanting to know who he is, his memories might be able to help them find Percy.  They go on the quest and there are many dangers along the way, including a powerful new enemy that could cause the end of the world as they know it.

I really, really liked this book.  It is the first book in a new series that is the sequel to the Percy Jackson series.  I loved the Percy Jackson series and I was excited to learn about this series.  The book didn’t disappoint me at all and I can’t wait for the next one to come out.  You could probably read this book by itself, but you’d understand it better if you read the Percy Jackson series first.  I would recommend this book to fans of the Percy Jackson series and people that like fantasy, adventure, and mythology.

Not Necessarily Boring

For a lot of people, if they picked up a book at the bookstore and found out from reading the summary that it took place in the 1500s, they would just put it back.  I am like this usually too.  But when I found The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees, I thought I might as well give it a try so I bought it.  I didn’t end up reading it until a while later, but once I had started I did not regret buying it.

The book is about a girl named Violetta.  She lives in a small country called Illyria where she is the duke’s daughter and she was forced to escape when it was attacked by Venetians.  She went to England with her friend Feste, the court jester.  There they meet William Shakespeare and they ask for him to help them with a plan they have.  Illyria had a sacred relic that was extremely important to the country, and it was stolen by a man named Malvolio when the country was attacked.  Violetta and Feste are determined to get it back and Shakespeare can help them if he is willing.  He agrees to help them and they set their plan into action, but it is very risky and not everything goes according to plan.

This book is a continuation of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.  Violetta is the daughter of Viola and Orsino, the two main characters in the play.  Several of the other characters were in the play too, including Feste and Malvolio.  At one point in the book, Violetta tells Shakespeare the story of how her parents met, and at the end of the book Shakespeare turns it into a play.

I really liked this book.  Sometimes historical fiction can be boring for me, but this book wasn’t boring at all.  I thought it was really creative how the author continued a Shakespeare play and also how she put him in the book as a character.

A quote from the book that I think describes it is “A Fool who was no man’s fool, and his boy who was really a girl.  He’d felt the old pricking sensation running through him.  He’d sensed a story here, and he was seldom wrong.”  (page 9)  This is from the very beginning of the book, directly after Shakespeare meets Violetta and Feste who were performing on the street.  The quote shows that Shakespeare was immediately interested in them and it also shows the beginning of his desire to write a play about them.

Books: A Way to Travel

Books can lead you into another world.  You can experience things you’ve never experienced before.  They can take you to the future.  They can take you back in time, maybe to the 1500’s, like in The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees, which I am currently reading.  No matter what sort of books you like to read, there are always more that you want to read at some point.  I can think of several books I want to read, including the Maximum Ride series, The Lost Hero, and Darke.

62554822Something I would like to read is the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.  A lot of people have recommended them to me, and all my friends who have read them said that they are really good.  I think they look really interesting.  I don’t generally like science fiction, but there are some good ones out there and I think Maximum Ride might be one of them.

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68242793Another book I can’t wait to read is The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.  It is coming out this month.  It’s the first book in a companion series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which is one of my favorite series.  Those books are really good, and I’m hoping these will be just as good, if not better.

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darke-coverA third book I am looking forward to reading is Darke by Angie Sage.  This is the sixth and second to last book in the Septimus Heap series, which I am a fan of.  It is coming out on April 8, 2011.  I can’t wait to read this book because I love the Septimus Heap series and I really want to know what happens next.  I am sure it will be as good as the first five books.

Picture from The Official Septimus Heap Blog


518876976_da84ccf0f9_tHave you ever felt lost?  It’s a terrible thing.  There’s a moment of numb shock as you first realize it.  Then it starts to sink in, and you panic.  Eventually you start to feel hopeless, like you will be lost forever.  Anyone who has ever been lost will be able to appreciate how much worse it is when you are moving to a new place, and everything you ever knew is being left behind.

This is how Ally, a character in the book Every Soul a Star, feels when her parents tell her they are moving.  They run a place called Moonshadow campground in the wilderness of Alaska, and they have lived there for years.  Ally can hardly remember anything else.  When she finds out they are moving to Chicago, she feels that numbness at first.  Then comes panic followed by a sense of hopelessness.  She is devastated as she realizes she won’t be able to see the stars with all the lights and pollution in the city.  She says, “I might not even see the Big Dipper or the North Star.  Without the North Star, how will I know where I am?  Stickers of the solar system on my ceiling aren’t going to cut it.” 

At first it seems like she is just talking about how she knows what direction she’s in from looking at the stars.  But as you look deeper, you discover she isn’t only talking about that.  She means that she will feel lost in the city because she has grown up looking at the stars, and she won’t be able to anymore.  The stars are a part of who she is, because they have always been there for her, and moving to the city will make that part of her disappear.  Really, moving means not only losing the stars, but losing a part of herself.  That is when the numbness has worn off and panic sets in.  She soon realizes that there’s nothing she can do.  She is going to move, and the stars will be lost to her forever.

Picture from Flickr

The Girl Who Lost Everything…But She Has A Plan

Her country is a mess.  She escaped to London.  She went from the duke of Illyria’s daughter to a foreigner in an unfamiliar place.  Her clothes are torn and dirty.  The only company she has is a court jester named Feste.  That is, until she meets William Shakespeare.

Violetta and Feste were taken into slavery when their tiny country, Illyria, was attacked by Venetians.  They managed to escape and have been hiding in London ever since.  But their goal is not to simply stay hidden from their captors.  They must save Illyria’s sacred relic, the Cup of Magis, which has been stolen by the evil Malvolio.  The relic is what brought the country into existence and it must be returned to its rightful place.

Violetta has an idea.  A risky idea that requires Shakespeare’s help.  But Malvolio has discovered their whereabouts.  Will has agreed to help them and he is in great danger by their presence.  They put the plan into action, but Violetta soon realizes it is not enough.  She will need help from someone she was close to as a child.  Someone who happens to be the son of the man who caused Illyria’s downfall.

This book is  The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees.  It is a continuation of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.  Violetta is the daughter of the play’s hero and heroine, Orsino and Viola.  I thought it was very clever of the author to do that, especially since she put Shakespeare in as a character and made it seem like he wrote the play after meeting Viloletta and hearing her story.  It is a very exciting book and I like it a lot.  I can’t wait to see how it will end!