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Trailer for “The Giver” movie

The film is based on Lois Lowry’s  young adult novel is almost here. The trailer for the The Giver is a modern classic. It won the 1993 John Newbery Medal and was the 1993 Honor Book on the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award (Fiction)

The setting at first seems to be in a utopian society but gradually it begins to appear more and more dystopian. The poignant story is centred around 12-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colourless, world. At the Ceremony of the Twelves all the children in that age group are ‘assigned’ to their future role in life. The roles are carefully chosen by the Committee of Elders and based on their temperaments. It is expected that each child will live a productive life for the benefit of the whole. It is a world that encourages conformity which is seen as the path to contentment. Everyone is expected to be happy about their lot and fit into this life. This is a society which is free of pain and chaos but is also devoid of emotions and feelings. There is no place for love, joy, guilt or remorse or any other human emotion and freedom of choice and individuality are unknown concepts. Once someone becomes unproductive, for what ever reason, they enter the housing for the aged for a short period before being ‘released’.

Jonas is horrified when he believes that he has been passed over at the assigning ceremony but he is named as the Receiver. This is a position that is offered rarely and he knows nothing about it. He life changes as he begins his apprenticeship. He learns that the Receiver is the custodian of all memories in their community. The Receiver alone understands about colour, emotions, weather and, more importantly, individuality. The old Receiver is now The Giver and, as he transfers more and more memories to Jonas, Jonas begins to understand what the community has lost when they are so protected against pain, it also deprives them of joy.  As the Receiver of Memory he also begins to understand some of the other dark secrets behind his fragile community. It is a great book and I hope the film does it justice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNNugNe0Wo

John Flanagan on his Ranger’s Apprentice series

These books are well-loved and the final book was a fitting end to the series and Will’s story.

John Flanagan has often answered questions about his books via YouTube. Below are two recent videos offer some insight into what he is thinking and answer a few of the questions fans are asking. I will use them in our library next year to remind our readers about the books/series.

The first short video was done in answer to why he finished the series

And will there be a movie?

Changing Education From The Ground Up – Sir Ken Robinson

I have always loved listening to Sir Ken Robinson talk about education. I love that he puts ideas out there and is not afraid to challenge educators or the education authorities.

This was an interesting speech. He is always a very engaging speaker, and offers some humorous insights, throughout but it seemed a bit milder than some of his earlier talks (or maybe that was me). However it is still worth listening to. The video, created in conjunction with the RSAis 24 minutes long. One part that struck me was “you cannot improve education by alienating the profession that carries it out. It would be like trying improve medicine by vilifying doctors. You can’t do that!” Hence education needs to improve from the ground up not by politicians making edicts but by encouraging those who are teaching. Our education departments here in Australia need to listen to this as well.

Sir Ken Robinson addresses the fundamental economic, cultural, social and personal purposes of education. He argues that education should be personalised to every student’s talent, passion, and learning styles, and that creativity should be embedded in the culture of every single school.

Russian Roulette: a prequel to Alex Rider series

A surprising novel as I did not expect another book that related to the Alex rider series but this is a welcome addition. I have only just finished and I have boys eagerly awaiting it.

I love the proliferation of good series for young adults, specially for boys. Many of our boys are not really adventurous (or great readers) and when they find a book they like, they would rather re-read it than take a chance on a new book that they might not like. Series make it much easier for me. If I can help them find a series they like they (and I) are very relieved. A few books they feel they have a connection to. After they have read a series,  we go to the “if you liked…., you might like……” approach.

My idea is to get them into the habit of reading and reading books that they enjoy. It is slow but with little steps we aim to increase their positive reading experiences.

Russian RouletteRussian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised to find this book. I enjoyed the Alex Rider series and thought like many others that it was finished which was the cause of much sadness for many of my students.
In a way it is a prequel to the Alex Rider series. It was fascinating to discover how the Alex Rider’s biggest enemy, the Scorpia assassin Yassen Gregorovich, came to be the man we encountered in the Stormbreaker. It was fascinating to see this character as a boy. We learn how brutally Yassen’s (born Yasha) family and childhood was ripped away. We see how he is forced into one difficult situation after another. He has to make many decisions that eventually lead him to be that character in the Alex Rider series. It is interesting to compare Alex and Yasha as boys. The characters are very similar but their circumstances drive them in completely opposite directions. It does however make the reader see Yassen in a different light and we fell some empathy this contract killer. In Russian Roulette the connection between Yassen and the Rider family is explained and why Yassen does not kill Alex when he had the chance at the end of Stormbreaker.
This was a good book and a must-read for all the Alex Rider fans.
Website: http://www.alexrider.com/Home

View all my reviews

Shaun Tan’s newest book: Rules of Summer

I have been waiting impatiently for Shaun Tan‘s newest work Rules of Summer (published by Hachette Books.)

An email (from The Little Bookroom) came today reminding me that it is available tomorrow in the bookshops. Of course I did not need to be reminded about availability but it did remind me to forward the email to others on staff and to send out a tweet as well.

Rules of Summer, is a deceptively simple story about two boys, one older and one younger, and the kind of ‘rules’ that might govern any relationship between close friends or siblings. Rules that are often so strange or arbitrary, they seem impossible to understand from the outside. Yet through each exquisite illustration of this nearly wordless narrative, we can enjoy wandering around an emotional landscape that is oddly familiar to us all. (YouTube)

Combining humour and surreal fantasy, Shaun Tan pictures a summer in the lives of two boys. Each spread tells of an event and the lesson learned. By turns, these events become darker and more sinister as the boys push their games further and further. (Hachette)

There are some great supporting videos for the Rules of Summer available on YouTube.

Video 1 was published on 10 June 2013 and Shaun speaks about what Rules of Summer is about and where the ideas came from.

Video 2 was published on 10 Jun 2013. In this video Shaun speaks about how he came up with the theme behind his new book Rules of Summer, available from 8th October 2013.

Video 3  was published on 2 September 2013. Here Shaun explains his drawing process and explores the potential meaning of a particular image from Rules of Summer,

There is more about Rules of Summer on here for extra detail and images.

There is an added bonus this time: There will be a Rules of Summer Exhibition that is open for a brief space of time (3 days)

  • The Venue: Bright Space Gallery, 1st Floor, 8 Martin St, St Kilda. Vic 3182
  • Dates: Friday 25th October – Sunday 27th October 2013
  • Gallery Opening times: 12 – 5pm
  • Price: FREE   If you want to book for group/school bookings please email them

Free music for student projects now on YouTube

I have been trying to teach the students good digital behaviours. When students are trying to create multimedia presentation we remind them about Creative Commons licences. When shown where to find images, sounds, videos that are allowed to be used they are more than happy to do the right thing. There are many times our students are looking for sounds or, more often, music to put the final polish on their multimedia project. There are a few I put onto a list available via our school intranet and linked to the sites. I often have to remind the boys about these sites so I was very pleased to learn the other day that YouTube is now offering music through their YouTube Audio Library. It is not a comprehensive library at the moment with about 150 royalty-free instrumental tracks people can use for free, indefinitely but it is a good start and on a site/platform that many students are very familiar with.

AudioLibrary-YouTube

The music embedded in the YouTube Audio Library is music that you can download to use in projects both online and offline. You can search the library of music according to:

  • Genre – Some of the genres you can choose from include: Alternative & Punk, Classical music, Country & Folk, Hip Hop & Rap, Jazz & Blues, Pop, Reggae and Rock.
  • Mood – Students are often interested in finding music for mood. Some of the moods represented musically include angry, bright, calm, dark, funky, happy, inspirational, romantic,and sad.
  • Instrument – Allows you to search for music according to the instrument being played in it. These include: Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Drums, Electric Guitar, Organ, Piano, Strings, Synth and Trumpet
  • Duration – Where you can search for clips ranging from 1to 25 minutes

You can listen to the tracks before downloading them as MP3 files. To download any tune you click on the arrow pointing downwards put on the line that has the title. You can also click on the star button next to it to add the tune to your favourite list. It really is very easy to use. I look forward to sharing it with our students next term.

AudioLibrary-Mood-download

There is also an opportunity to have a look at the most popular hits that people have downloaded by using the favourites list.

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