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Pushback on The Lightning Thief!

1 Oct

Alright, Naughty Book Fans:  Something REALLY cool happened today!

Mr. Hodgson–a sixth grade teacher in Massachusetts–saw my recent 60 Second Book Hook on The Lightning Thief and has created his own pushback video.

Check it out:


Interesting stuff, isn’t it? 

I think the BEST point that Mr. Hodgson makes is a point that I hadn’t even considered:  Percy, in many ways, is a role model for kids with ADD.

That’s powerful, isn’t it?  I mean sometimes we think that kids with “disabilities” or “disorders” can’t be heroes.  By intentionally creating a hero with a “problem” that so many kids struggle with—and to show that weakness as a strength—DOES have real value.

I also like Mr. Hodgson’s comments about Annabeth.  Sometimes I worry that there aren’t enough strong, confident and assertive girl protagonists in stories written for kids.  Annabeth fills that role really well.

So what do YOU think?  Can you give some practical examples of things in The Lightning Thief that are worth admiring?

More importantly, are YOU ready to record your own 60 Second Book Hook on the title?

I’m still not convinced enough to change my Way 0 rating, but Mr. Hodgson has definitely nudged my thinking.

Mr. F

PS:  Did you see the other interesting lesson learned here?  When you share your thinking online, it can be challenged by others—and that’s a GOOD thing!

Mr. Hodgson has forced me to think twice, hasn’t he?  More importantly, he’s pointed out important facts that I’d overlooked.  That’s cool—and it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t willing to open myself to others.

60 Second Book Hook: The Lightning Thief

30 Sep

So I didn’t have any time tonight to get a new student review posted or to write one myself—I was too busy reading nonfiction—but I wanted to give you something new to explore here on I’m Always Right.

The good news is I whipped up a 60 Second Book Hook on my least favorite book of all time.

Check it out here:

There’s something here I want you to notice:  The reviews on I’m Always Right don’t always have to be of books that you liked.  Remember that as long as you can articulate WHY a book isn’t all that hot, you can post a negative review too.

In a lot of ways, those types of reviews are more fun simply because they give us all something to debate!

Mr. F

The Graveyard Book: Another Gaiman Creepfest

12 Sep

I’m completely jazzed to have our second student review of the year ready to roll! This one—written by Ryan M and tackling a Gaiman book that I haven’t read yet—is a good one.

Remember, I want to see a TON of reviews this year, so consider writing your first bit for I’m Always Right right now!

Mr. F

____________________________________

If you’ve ever read a Neil Gaiman book, you know how creepy he can be.

You may have read Coraline, or American Gods, but The Graveyard Book
is definitely the best one yet. It won a Newberry Medal, a Hugo Award, a Locus Award, and a Carnegie Medal. I began this book right after I finished a fantastic book, Coraline, which I mentioned earlier.

This book takes place in the late 1800’s before any developed technology like televisions or computers were invented. The cars are the old and slow cars that you never see today. Many of the ghost characters in this book still speak in Old English accents because they died two centuries earlier.

The Graveyard Book was written in 2008, and is based mostly off of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

If you’ve ever read the book, it’s about a group of wolves who find a newborn human and raise it as their own. This child, Mowgli’s, parents have disappeared. In The Graveyard Book, though, a boy parents are murdered right in front of him, and the ghosts of the graveyard find him.

He is raised as a “boy” named Nobody Owens, who goes by Bod.

He then travels away from the graveyard for the first time. People recognize him as the victim’s son, which triggers his curiosity. He then finds a snake they call The Seer, and it tells him to find the man Jack who killed his parents.

I don’t want to ruin the entire the book, though so you have to read it to find out the rest of the story. I thought this was a sort of eerie, fun book to read. I absolutely recommend this book to any fantasy lover.

If you’ve read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, this is a must-read.

 

My Rating for The Graveyard Book: Way85

The Lost Hero is Simply Epic. . .

5 Nov

Well, here’s another shocker, I’m Always Right readers:  I asked Blair G to write a review of another Riordan fire-starter—The Lost Hero.  I figured y’all would be interested, even if I’m not!  Here’s what she had to say about the latest from the author that everyone (it is everyone, right?)  loves to hate.


Hello, Rick Riordan fans! Blair speaking (Or typing?!?)

I just finished The Lost Hero by our buddy Rick Riordan. One word to sum this book up: SPECTACULAR!!!

This book is about Piper, Jason, and Leo, all of which are demigods. They’re from Camp Half-Blood, as you probably could guess… They’re on a quest to save the world from itself  by rescuing Olympus’s queen, Hera.

But there’s a twist: Movie star Tristan McLean, Piper’s dad, is taken hostage—a monster captured him and says if he is not rescued by the Winter Solstice, he will die—so Piper needs to help him.

He IS her DAD, after all.

But that’s when Hera needs to be saved, too. How can they save them BOTH?

The only way you will know is if you READ THE BOOK (Or is someone spills the beans…)!

The Lost Hero is a really funny book. In fact, in my opinion, this is Rick Riordan’s best book yet! It has action, suspense, romance (Eew, but if you like that, then great!), amnesiac characters, gods/goddesses, monsters, and MORE!

There’s even some “Goaty-humor,” if you know what I mean.

While learning about Piper and Leo’s past is a bit depressing, I didn’t care. The Lost Hero was still the BEST book I’ve ever read, and I’m picky, so… Maybe…Just maybe… READ THE BOOK!!!!!

My Rating for “The Lost Hero”– Way 100

(Yes, Mr. Ferriter, that IS possible for a Rick Riordan book)

=D ~

The Red Pyramid, Part Deux

25 Oct

Being the wonderfully fair fellow that I am, I asked Michael C—a self-professed Red Pyramid fan—to write a real review of this Riordan tale for y’all to peruse.  Here’s what he’s crafted—the first official student review ever on I’m Always Right:

 

Hello everybody. Michael C here. I’m writing this because Mr. Ferriter challenged me to write a review of The Red Pyramid.

I decided to read The Red Pyramid again before I started writing and just like the other time I read it, IT WAS GREAT!!

You know why? Because the book has magic, fights, gods, demons, and much more.

Now I know some of you don’t like stories that are part realistic part fantasy (Mr. Ferriter) but that wouldn’t be a problem because it isn’t realistic past the first 15 pages or so. Also if you are concerned that the book has lots of driving it doesn’t. Or more precisely when it does the character telling the story at the time is out cold or the book just skips over the driving.

So really who WOULDN’T want to read a story with action, surprises, and a little bit of humor here and there?

In the beginning of the story two kids named Sadie and Carter get together on visiting day and their dad takes them to a museum. BORING!!! Then their dad blows up the Rosetta Stone and releases five gods into the mortal world. AWESOME!!!

After that it only gets better as they learn the truth behind their family and train with magic to defeat the looming peril that is about to be unleashed by Set (evil Egyptian god).

What really made the book great for me was watching Carter turn into a warrior as the book progressed. I mean isn’t it cool to watch the characters develop during the course of the book? At the beginning he is a scrawny nerd and by the end he is challenging gods to duels. How cool is that?

Anyway they make some of the gods friends and they fight some of the other gods (I liked the fighting better). Eventually they get to The Red Pyramid and end up sending Set back to the Duat (kind of like a magical storage bin) after they discover that they will need his help to defeat Apophis (the embodiment of chaos).

Overall one of the best books I ever read.

Red Pyramid Rating: Way70

Ranger’s Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan

27 Sep

I started a new experiment a few weeks back:  I decided to let my students choose the books that I’m reading!  First pick went to a boy named Chris who I was SURE was going to make me read The Red Pyramid.

That had me pretty nervous, considering I’d already burned like 473 pages of my copy lighting my grill this summer.  I didn’t want to spend any more money on a Rick Riordan book!

To my surprise, though, Chris chose The Ruins of Gorlan, which is the first book in a series titled The Ranger’s Apprentice.  “It’s my favorite book of all time,” Chris said.

That’s high-cotton!

The Ruins caught my attention from page one, introducing a villain named Morgorath who was training a group of bear-dog-freak type creatures called Wargals to take over the Kingdom of Aurlean.  Who DOESN’T like stories about evil villains training bear-dog-freak creatures to take over Kingdoms?!

While I love action books—and really love books about the Middle Ages—what really caught my attention as the story developed was the relationships between two of the main characters:  Will and Horace.  Both are orphans who were raised by the Kingdom and both are growing up.  Horace is chosen—at the age of 15—to go to Battle School, where he proves to be a super soldier.  Will—despite really WANTING to go to Battle School—-ends up apprenticed to the fief’s Ranger, who is essentially like a spy.

What I like about Will and Horace is that they’re both struggling with life.  Horace is being bullied in Battle School, but doesn’t want to show it.  Will wants to be brave and courageous—-traits that he thinks his father, who he’s never met, would be proud of.  Those kinds of themes resonate with me—-and I think they probably resonate with all boys.

We all want to be courageous.

We all want to be brave.

We all want to be strong—even in the face of bullies.

But that’s not always possible.

As the story goes on, both Will and Horace grow into their roles. Horace becomes one of the best young warriors in the Kingdom and Will ends up saving his Baron and his master from a freak creature called the Karakara—-lights him on fire with an arrow from 100 yards, to be specific.  And I liked that, too…seeing boys grow up into men is kind of a neat thing, especially because I liked both boys by the end of the book.

The only hitch is there isn’t quite enough fighting for me. While both Will and Horace become talented apprentices, they spend most of the book practicing their skills.  Horace is a master—-with a wooden sword when he’s hitting a dummy.  Will is a master—when he’s throwing his knives at stationary targets.  I kept finding myself wanting to see them take on real enemies in real battles—-instead of just the wild boar that they kill together in like the 18th chapter.

Overall, though, The Ruins of Gorlan was interesting enough that I bought the second book in the series:  The Burning Bridge.  It’s even better than book one.

Ruins of Gorlan Rating:  Way65

The Horror of the Lightning Thief

26 Sep

Everyone knows from the day that they are born that there’s nothing better than a good story.

Sitting captivated on our grandfathers’ laps, we could listen anxiously for hours. For me, there’s nothing better than a believable story, which let me imagine that I’m living the events with the main characters. I also like stories that move at a quick pace from beginning to end. Finally, I like stories that can help me to learn something new.

Sadly, Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief fails in all three of these areas.

Whether you read Rick Riordan’s book or saw the movie version that was just released, there’s nothing believable about The Lightning Thief. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of events that simply couldn’t have happened.

The best example from the book happens when Percy, Grover and Annabelle journey to the Underworld and are confronted by Hades’ three-headed dog. While readers fear that the end is near for their favorite characters, this seemingly impossible challenge is solved when Annabeth pulls out a rubber ball and makes friends with Cerberus.

Are we really supposed to believe that the dog of the Devil was just looking for a friend?

In the movie, I struggled with one scene from the climax. As Luke and Percy fight over Zeus’s master bolt in New York City, they land on a roof that just so happens to have an ancient water tower sitting on top.

Now, I know that it was nice to see Percy defeat Luke with his weapon of choice, but do modern cities really have ancient water towers on their skyscrapers? That’s a stretch at best—and I can’t stand stretches in my stories.

The Lightning Thief—especially the book version—seems to drag on and on forever! It’s all rising and no action.

Now, the beginning of the story—which sees Percy trying to survive his journey to Camp Half-Blood—is full of action and is sure to capture your attention. It’s followed, however, by HUNDREDS of pages of boredom as Percy, Grover and Annabelle travel from New York to California.

Readers are forced to sleep through a trip on a train, a stop to visit a mattress salesman, a sightseeing trip in Saint Louis—because every hero on a quest wants to go sightseeing, right?—and perhaps most painfully, a journey in the back of a cargo truck with a sad lion and a zebra.

Every time that I turned the page, I was hoping for something good to happen, and every time I turned the page, I was disappointed.

Now, I’ll give Rick Riordan SOME credit: His stories have turned kids on to Greek Mythology again. It would be hard not to want to learn more about Satyrs and Centaurs after seeing Grover and Chiron.

I also like that references are made to real events from Greek myths. According to Greek Mythology, the fight between Poseidon and Athena, who competed with one another for the affections of the city-state of Athens really did happen.

What I worry about, though, is that students will blend facts from real mythology with the fiction of Mr. Riordan’s mind.

Isn’t it possible that someone somewhere is going to really believe that the Gods fought over the theft of Zeus’s master bolt and that a young boy named Percy saved the day with his heroics? There’s just enough truth in The Lightning Thief to leave readers confused about facts and fiction—and as a teacher, that scares me.

The Lightening Thief is simply the WORST story that I’ve ever read. I won’t be recommending The Lightning Thief—or any of its sequels—to my friends. I just can’t stand stories that dance in fantasy and never seem to end.