Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Wave

      The Wave by Todd Strasser is an awesome book for reluctant adolescent readers, if they have enough background knowledge on The Holocaust and Germany in WWII. 
      This book is based on a true story of a high school history teacher in California in 1969.  He is teaching his class about WWII and the Holocaust.  His students have mixed reactions to the lesson.  Some students are horrified at what they saw in the video.  Other students felt it was a sad event, but it had no bearing on life today.   Still others question how the German people could allow this to happen.
      Their teacher decides to set up a simulation to show his students how people could fall into this type of thinking.  His simulation is a shocking success and is soon spreading around the school.  The teacher and the students begin to lose themselves in The Wave.  The Wave gets out of control fast and shocking parallels to Nazi Germany occur.
     My students love this book and it has led to amazing discussions and connections in class.  We have learned about WWII, the Holocaust, and Hitler's Youth.  We have looked at the editorial cartoons from Dr. Seuss during WWII and learned to evaluate propaganda posters from all the countries involved in the war.  They have made intriguing connections with current events in the middle east and with bullying in our school.
     I highly recommend this book to all teachers.  It is scary to see the power we weild in our students' lives.  I also recommend this book to anyone with an interest in WWII or for teachers teaching a unit on The Holocaust.     

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daniel X Watch the Skies

      Daniel X Watch the Skies by James Patterson and Ned Rust is the second book in the Daniel X series.  My son Nick and I read it together because we both loved Daniel X so much in the first book.
      This time Daniel X is fighting a new alien from The List, Number 5.  This alien is filming a reality tv show on Earth to entertain his home planet.  His minions are torturing humans by making them do silly stunts and then killing them for the tv show.  The aliens in the audience love the tv show, and Alien 5 is sure they will get incredible ratings back home.  The aliens are spreading the love by impregnating the women of the town who ate the free sardine samples they found in their mailboxes.  Daniel X has to figure out how to help the pregnant women in his town and stop Alien #5 before he becomes the headline act of the new reality show.   
      I liked this book almost as much as the first one, but Nick was disappointed in the new alien.  He felt that Alien Number 5 wasn't as developed as Seth was in the first book.  He also felt that Daniel wasn't as funny as he had been in the original novel.  Although he didn't like it as much as the original book, he still liked it a lot. 
     This book has short chapters which added to the excitement of the book.  You feel like you are rushing headlong into every experience Daniel experiences.  Daniel has a sarcastic sense of humor that had both of us giggling nearly every night we read.  It is a quick read and one that you don't want to stop reading.  I recommend this book for reluctant readers, especially boys.