Tag Archives: education

“Spy Camp” Should Bunk Up with Disney Channel

1 Oct

Spy Camp

Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs has all the makings of a great Disney Channel sitcom: lots of too-clever kids, a bumbling dad, danger and peril that miraculously never ends in anyone getting killed, and boy-girl chemistry and crushes with no actual romance happening.

There’s no literary ground being broken here, and in fact the book is a sequel to Spy School featuring the same characters. Bur readers definitely don’t need to read the first book to check in to Spy Camp, since the book’s story can stand alone.

The book’s hero, Ben Ripley, is a middle schooler. His parents think he’s attending a science and technology magnet school, but of course, he’s really at a top-secret training facility for future spies. Spy Camp begins with Ben reluctantly packing up for a spy summer camp, but it’s not going to be all s’mores and songs around the campfire.

Before he can even unroll his sleeping bag, Ben gets a letter with a no-win proposition. In the first book, Ben foiled a plot by an enemy spy organization called SPYDER. Now, they’re so impressed with Ben that they have given him two choices — join the enemy agency or die in 24 hours.

Spy Camp is a quick, fun, read with enough action to keep middle-elementary readers engaged. Not surprising, since author Stuart Gibbs is a real-life adventurer who’s climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro, ice-climbed in Patagonia, and faced down a charging elephant. A third book in the Spy School series is already scheduled for publication.

As with the other nominees, the Texas Bluebonnet Awards folks have put together some amazing resources for Spy Camp readers.

Scholastic, I Don’t Know If We Can Be BFFs

21 Feb

One of my favorite things about elementary school, besides the fact that the paste in the ’70s tasted like mint, was getting the Scholastic book order forms. I would pore over the catalog, optimistically marking a dozen books. My parents would wheedle me down to two or three favorites, and then, we would wait.

Book order day was like having Christmas in the classroom. Nothing smells quite like a new book — scented with just-dried ink and a whiff of adventure.

As a teacher, I still love the Scholastic order forms. My students can’t all afford to buy books, but every month, Scholastic catalogs offer a $1 book, and I always buy a class set so we can explore a new book together.

This month, I was especially excited to get a catalog  featuring just books on math and science.

Until I saw this:

Girls who like math are nwe

Girls who like math are nerds. Girls who twirl batons are ditzy!

“The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Genius.”

Because, you know, the way we need to market science and math to girls is by offering not an experiment kit or a calculator, but two sparkly  “BFF” necklaces.  And the girl who is into math is a “nerd,” while the girl who twirls batons is a “ditz.” Because apparently smart girls are unattractive nerds and pretty girls are stupid.

(I did find part of the advertisement helpful, though — the warning about a choking hazard. Because I was like, totally fighting a gag reflex.)

An educational publishing powerhouse like Scholastic can do better for our girls.  Better than a catalog that only offers biographies of Einstein and the Wright Brothers. Better than the book and LEGO sets for boys “teaming up to save the world,”  while the ones for girls invite you to “adopt a pet, go camping, plan a surprise party.”

The catalog offers plenty of great books to stir interest in STEM for boys and girls. I’ll still spend way more money than I should, and I will still think “new book day,” is the best day of the month.

But Scholastic, if we’re going to be BFFs, maybe you need to read “The Clueless Publishing House’s Guide to Being a Genius,” and give girls something challenging to wrap their brains around instead of something sparkly to wrap around their necks.

Sybil, Party of 3, Your Table is Now Available

17 Jun

Hi, I have a bad case of blogging multiple personality disorder this week. And bonus: if you would like to hear the other voices in my head, I will tell you where they are talking.

First, I am being rational and sensible and posting pictures of Baby Ruth’s in the pool at the San Antonio Express-News’ online site: MySA.com. I am exploring the phenomena of cowardly morons who make up fake names and act like idiots in the comment section.

Come, read and discuss the decline of society with me. Or make up a fake name and act like an idiot in the comment section. Either way, I’m cool with that. Just click here and comment.

Also today, I am guest posting for The Atomic Mom. Katherine  is young and hip and adorable, and you should read her blog all the time. But especially today. Because I am sharing an important life lesson about what you should and shouldn’t lick. Also, I have an  anecdote that may simultaneously reveal why newspapers are in so much trouble right now, and why I fear for the future of the teaching profession. Yes! All that in one story.

Go on, you know you’re curious now. Leave a comment so Katherine doesn’t think I’m a loser. Thank you. Again, click right here.

Thank you. I love you. 

Now, go away.

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