Monthly Archives: December 2008

Give a Book for Christmas


Give the gift of literacy this year by buying either a print book or an audiobook for your favorite teen or tween. (List compiled by Teri Lesesne)

For the tweens:

THE 39 CLUES – Rick Riordan (and other others for the subsequent volumes) This series from Scholastic is GREAT for young readers who like adventure, geography, espionage. . .I can’t say enough about this series, and the web site with the games and clues are a great way to wait for the next book.

NATION – Terry Pratchett. A tsunami wipes out most of his island and its inhabitants, so a young boy named Mau must rebuild a new civilization with the help of a shipwrecked young girl.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK – Neil Gaiman. My tween just bought this book at Border’s because it has a very appealing cover for tween boys. A young boy named Bod is reared by a collection of graveyard inhabitants including some ghosts, a vampire, and a werewolf. This seems normal to him. has a trailer for the Graveyard Book online.

CHAINS – Laurie Halse Anderson. Two sisters, Isabel and Ruth, are handed over to new masters when their owner dies. This is a planned trilogy offering readers a glimpse into the life of a slave in the early years of the American Revolution.

BIRD LAKE MOON – Kevin Henkes. A young boy makes friends with the family living in the next cottage in a summer filled with surprises, not all of them good.

For the teens: 

THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING – M.T. Anderson. In this 2nd book, young Octavian leaves his master’s house and tries to gain his freedom from slavery.

THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO – Patrick Ness. A futuristic civilization holds terrible truths for a young boy named Todd who  learns that the history he has been told is not at all accurate.

MADAPPLE – Christina Meldrum. Aslaug must find other members of her family when her mother dies.

TENDER MORSELS – Margo Lanagan. Part fairy tale, part magical realism, and totally absorbing and disturbing.



Online painting program


Sumo Paint lets users create online images using any of their many tools. I admit that I’m not an artist, but with all the options, I was able to make something that looked much more decent than I could have made with just paper and pens.

No, I didn’t make the example above, but I did try to create my own piece and I liked it, but not enough to paste it here. I’d be gifted as a preschooler.

How can educators use this in their classroom? Students can draw with this, similar to kidpix, as well as enhance their graphics on programs like Power Point, Voice Thread and Wikispaces. It’s free, easy to use and worth a look see.

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Take action and get scholarships



A story on written by Elaine Wong recently ran about the new Doritos bags. The excerpt is below:


Millions of Doritos bags have started featuring the faces and stories of good deed doers, as part of a joint effort between Frito-Lay and

They are the stories of 17 people—all under the age of 25—who have performed social and charitable work in their communities. They are also this year’s winners of $200,000 in grants, awarded by, which focuses on teenagers. The winners will use the money for projects such as building new health clinics and convincing others to become bone marrow donors, said Nancy Lublin, CEO of


One story that ran on a Doritos package shows 19-year-old Chad Bullock of North Carolina with the title, “anti-smoking activist” below his name. Text reads: “Chad grew up in tobacco country. After losing family members to lung cancer, he became an anti-tobacco activist and a consultant for youth advocacy and tobacco prevention.” Tagline: “Doritos recognizes those who do something.”

“What we love about this campaign is that it’s not just slapping a ribbon on the front of a box. The consumer actually learns something—about the kid, about t he cause, about and about what Doritos stands for,” Lublin said.


I was intrigued because as my son gets ready for his senior year at KS, he’s been talking about what he wants to do for his senior legacy project, and one of the things he’s interested in is starting a non profit to benefit young kids and teens who are interested in art. I went to the website to see what it was all about.
Do Something believes teens have the power to make a difference. They work to inspire, support and celebrate a generation of doers: people who see the need to do something, believe in their ability to get it done, and then take action. At they provide the tools and resources for teens to convert their ideas and energy into positive action. They have a YouTube video with some of today’s hottest young people to inspire teens to take action.

Five guidelines Do Something lives by:

  1. Believe in teenagers. Teenagers can lead today. We don’t require adults.
  2. Trust teenagers. We provide reliable, easy to access information and activation strategies, but teens decide for themselves what to do.
  3. Celebrate teenagers. We think all measurable contributions from teens are valuable.
  4. Respect teenagers. We understand that teenagers have diverse abilities and
  5. Value teenagers. Our programs and products are free. We’re not after teens’
    money; we want their passion, time and creativity.

If you have a teenager that wants to get involved, definitely steer them to this site. They have ideas, resources, grant and scholarship opportunities for those kids that are willing to do good for their community.

Great New Series!

One False Note 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordon Korman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a great series, especially for reluctant readers. The stories are high action embedded with history and geography as well as young protagonists and antagonists that are really the key players in this scavenger hunt story. has a link to the interview with Gordon Korman and Whoopi Goldberg where Gordon Korman takes questions from young readers.

View all my reviews.