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The Great and Only Barnum is a MUST READ.

9 Sep

So there’s one simple truth that EVERYONE needs to understand about reading:  Nonfiction RULES.

That’s why it drives me completely nuts to see twelve-year-olds rotting their minds with Riordan books.

When there is an entire world full of interesting TRUTHS to read, why would ANYONE want to waste their time on myths—-especially cheesy myths about lightening bolts being stolen and demigods on sightseeing expeditions across the country?

Need a bit o’ proof?

What would you say if I told you about an entertainer that swallowed live frogs in front of an audience, only to throw the stunned little critters back up later to use in the next performance?

What would you say if I told you about an eleven foot elephant that jumped in front of a train in order to save his handler and then reached out with his trunk to hug a friend just before he died?

Or what would you say if I told you about an amazing museum with an aquarium on the bottom floor, a zoo on the top floor, and a collection of bearded ladies, tiny men, and fat boys in-between.

All of those stories are real—and they’re all a part of the life of PT Barnum, the showman almost singularly responsible for bringing circuses and odd museums to America during the 1800s.

Barnum is an incredibly interesting dude.  He made millions and lost millions.  He swindled people and was swindled himself.

But alongside his love of making money, he loved making people laugh.  That’s his real legacy—-and it’s the real reason that you’d be crazy NOT to read The Great and Only Barnum, one of the best biographies I’ve picked up in a long, long time.


The Great and Only Barnum’s Score: Way 80



Number the Stars is a Lois Lowry Phenomenon

9 Sep

After a long layoff, I’m Always Right is BACK! Many thanks to Midori for writing the first student review of the year. Remember that you can leave comments that either agree or disagree with Midori’s ratings.

Mr. Ferriter

(PS: Will YOU be the next person to write for I’m Always RIGHT?!)


Hi Everyone! I am here to write about an amazing historical fiction book called Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. This book was given the Newberry Honor Award which therefore meant that it had to be a pretty decent book.

I was first introduced to this book in third grade when my teacher recommended me read a Lois Lowry book for my book box. I checked out this book and was immediately intrigued. Ever since, it has been one of my favorite books. In this interesting book, Lois Lowry mixes the history of war and freedom with a story of friendship to create a historical fiction masterpiece.

This book takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943 during the time when food was scarce and Nazis roamed the streets of Copenhagen. Annemarie Johansen’s best friend Ellen is Jewish and she isn’t safe because the Nazis are relocating all the Denmark Jews.

Ellen moves in with the Johansen’s and pretends to be part of the family until one night, Nazis storm into the Johansen’s house saying how they know that Annemarie and Ellen are best friends and how they think that they may be hiding her.

Ellen and Annemarie are in the bedroom when they hear the Nazis come in. Annemarie rips off Ellen’s Star of David necklace and throws it into a green chest right before the Nazis storm into the room. Once the Nazis leave, Ms. Johansen knows that they are still not safe for they almost got caught.

She takes them way out of Copenhagen to her brother’s farm, Uncle Henrik’s farm. They all stay there until they can figure out a way to get to freedom in Sweden.

They thought that they were safe until Annemarie went on a walk one day and saw Nazis walking around. She immediately ran as fast as she could back to the farm and said that she will always remember that squeaking sound coming from the shiny gloves the Nazis wore. Uncle Henrik and Ms. Johansen knew that they had to figure out a plan quickly or all of Ellen’s family would be relocated.

They decided to make a boat so that Ellen’s family and other Jews can sail safely to Sweden. Uncle Henrik had just finished the boat when he heard Nazis coming their way.

He told everyone in the boat to hide inside some of the crates or behind them. They all did as he said right as the Nazis came their way. The Nazis knew that there were some Jews in the relative location of where Uncle Henrik was but they didn’t know where so they were bringing search dogs around to sniff them out.

Fortunately, Uncle Henrik was already a step ahead of the game and had given everyone white handkerchiefs to carry with them. Uncle Henrik knew that Nazis were going to come sooner or later with dogs so he put a chemical on all of the handkerchiefs that makes the Jews impossible to sniff out. The Nazis left empty handed. After the last Nazi was out of sight, everyone said their good byes and the boat set off.

The book fast forwards two years where Annemarie and her mother are at their house and everyone had their window open because on the streets people carried around flags to celebrate the end of the dreadful war. They opened the window in Annemarie’s room when she sees the green chest and opens it up. Inside she finds Ellen’s Star of David necklace and says that she will always remember her best friend and the day that she gained freedom.

I was never really interested in historical fiction until I read this book. Lois Lowry is an amazing author and I am very glad that I read this wonderful book.

My Rating: Way 80