Tracks Across Alaska

Day 230

I’ve been reading the book Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod to the students this week, while the Iditarod has been going on.  It’s been really neat to show them the map of the trail online, with the current standings from the race.

Looks like it’s going to be a close finish!  Sounds like it may end in the middle of the night, though — guess I’ll have to check in the morning.

The book Akiak:

This is a wonderful picture book.  The author traveled to Alaska and has worked a lot of true information about the Iditarod into a really heartwarming story.  Akiak is a dog about to be retired, but has one last chance to lead her team to Nome.  When she is left behind at one of the checkpoints, she sets out to run the trail alone and catch up to her team, winning the hearts of many followers in the process.


If You Were at . . . The First Thanksgiving

Day 117

I’m introducing Squanto and the First Thanksgiving (Rabbit Ears: A Classic Tale) to second grade.
Me: Does anyone know the name of the Indian who helped the pilgrims?
2nd grader (waving hand wildly): Paul!

Apparently if you were at the first Thanksgiving you’d know Squanto’s alias.

The books:

The books in the “If You” series (. . . If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King, If You Lived With The Iroquois) generally present a lot of good historical information in question and answer format, giving the reader insight through the era’s differences from the present time.  It’s approachable history, you might say.  I really enjoy the Squanto book both for the illustrations (bold, colorful, and stylistic) and for the pathos of the story of the real person who often is seen simply as a stock character in the Pilgrims’ drama.

Jenny of the Tetons

Day 115

Dear Jenny,

Although you get to spend your birthday in  Prague, here’s a picture of you at Jenny Lake in the Tetons, your other home-away-from-home.

Happy birthday, little sister.  You rock!

The book:

This is a nice little historical novel for middle graders, which includes the story of Jenny Leigh, the real namesake of Jenny Lake.  It is one of the “Great Episodes” historical fiction series.  Like any series, some books are better than others.  Many are written by one of my favorite historical fiction writers, Ann Rinaldi.  Unfortunately for the higher quality books in the series (and many are really high quality), historical fiction remains a niche genre for most kids, the realm of usually serious-minded female readers.  I hate this, because I devoured them growing up, which probably led to my reading of “real” history and my undergraduate history degree.


Day 111

One of my students brought the new Rick Riordan The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, Book 3) book to me and said it was missing pages.  Occasionally we will get a defective book.  We’ve had one printed upside down inside its hardback cover and one that had the entirely wrong cover (different title) on it.  This one jumped from page 230 to 358 or something like that.  I had to call our book jobber to send a replacement, but look where the story abruptly stopped.

That’s just mean.

A Pug’s Tale

Day 108

This is Chewie.  I made him as a baby shower gift for my friend Holly who is due in December.  She and her husband Chris have a (live) pug of that name.  When I found the book Knit Your Own Dog: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches in the library I  thought it would be a cute gift.  For the record, the subtitle of that book lies:  this was one of the hardest things I’ve knit — and I’ve been knitting for over a decade.  From a certain angle I think his face looks frog-like rather than puggish, and the knit Chewie doesn’t stand up very well.  “That’s okay,” said Holly’s mom, “neither does the real Chewie.”

Hour Game

Day 101

Time to “fall back” out of daylight saving time.

I’ll miss the daylight in the evening (what little there is), but will enjoy the extra hour of sleep tonight.

Only about seven weeks until the winter solstice when we can start adding daylight minutes!

The book:

[One of my goals after hitting 100 posts is to do more book reviews or at least comments upon books and authors, so here goes.]

I’ve never really cared for David Baldacci, but I’ll admit up front I’m not a big thriller reader.  The reviews for this one in particular were pretty bad.  I did read his The Christmas Train
and mildly enjoyed it, but a lot of that was for the train travel itself.  The only thing in this genre I’ve read recently was The President’s Henchman (Jim McGill)
by Joseph Flynn, which wasn’t too bad.