The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley ISBN 978-1451654424
cover art from The Smartest Kids in the World and How they got that way by Amanda Ripley
The American Education system is broken and after reading books like this I really wish that someone would have the courage to announce it from the roof tops. THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!!
Amanda Ripley is a journalist who tried to avoid the complex educational system; however, she was interested enough in these comparison studies and PISA test scores.
PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a test that is put together by the OECD (Operation for Economic Co-operation and Development) — this test evaluates if children are ready for adulthood and the duties of earning a living. Problem-solving more than answering basic facts.
The test has learned that though the USA spends almost the most per student … we are about the middle of the road in results.
Amanda Ripley tracked three US students who studied abroad in Korea, Poland, and Finland. She compared their experiences with foreign students who came to the United States.
I loved this book and I would say that anyone in the education field or any parent who is concerned about their children should read this book — it is fascinating.
The US education system is broken and needs to be fixed before we ruin the lives of many more students.
To learn more about the OECD — please click on the link
“[Ripley] gets well beneath the glossy surfaces of these foreign cultures and manages to make our own culture look newly strange…The question is whether the startling perspective provided by this masterly book can also generate the will to make changes.”
(New York Times Book Review)
“Compelling . . . What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in The Smartest Kids in the World, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe ….Ms. Ripley packs a startling amount of insight in this slim book.”
“[T]he most illuminating reporting I have ever seen on the differences between schools in America and abroad.”
(Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post)
Posted in Adult Non-fiction | Tagged 978-1451654424, Amanda Ripley, education, PISA test scores, Program for International Student Assessment | Leave a Comment »
Darling, mercy dog of World War I by Alison Hart ISBN 978-1561457052
cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I
I have read many dog lover books and this is one of them. I think the society has finally come to the point when we can recognize the hard work of others and celebrate that hard work. In World War I many animals were trained to help the soldiers, if it were horses pulling wagons or dogs finding wounded soldiers and delivering messages.
We may remember C.S. Lewis’s story of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” — where we hear a tell of what it is like to be a child in war torn Britain. “Darling, mercy dog of World War I” tells a story of what it was like to be a dog.
There is a dog tax so it is more expensive to have dogs in war time. Eventually with the father away and finances tight, they need to give up Darling. The war department thinks that she will make a good messenger dog for she seems smart and quick. However, on her final test, she is thinking more of going home than completing the task at hand. However on her way across the field en route to home, she hears that her handler is hurt and she goes to him and then finds help. At that point the trainers learn that she is much better suited to being a mercy dog, a dog that finds wounded soldiers. She successfully completes her training and goes to the front.
This is a great story — with a happy ending (a rare occurrence for a trained military animal in World War I) but we learn about the possibility of unhappy endings. This story is fictional enough to make it a pleasant reading experience but also has just enough truth to know that these animals were amazing and the trainers were truly hard working.
If you have an early independent reader who enjoys animal books — this is a great read. A highly recommended book!
Product Description: At home in England, Darling is a mischievous but much loved pet to Robert and Katherine. But when the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, they send Darling off to be trained, even though it is very hard to say goodbye. Darling goes through training along with many other dogs and is ultimately used as a mercy dog, seeking out injured soldiers on the battlefield and leading the medics to them. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling is faced with a major challenge.
Posted in kids fiction | Tagged 978-1561457052, Alison Hart, Britain, Darling, dog training, mercy dog, World War I, wounded soldier | Leave a Comment »
X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking by Jeff Gordinier ISBN 978-0670018581
One day I was looking at other books talking about Baby Boomers and Millenniels and I wondered — what generation am I?
When I discovered that I am part of Generation X (after asking where were Professor X and Wolverine?) I wanted to learn more about what others thought I was.
X Saves the World — is a great collection of essays about the contributions of our generation and it is indeed a mixed bag of offerings. But when I read his collection — I nodded and said, yup I can see that.
Many people lament that we do not have the commitment of the Boomers and that we lack the goodness of the Boomers children the Milleniels (though the current activity of certain celebrities make me wonder, are they really that good?) — I have to ask. We may not be out to save the world … but many in my generation think of doing good where we are. The concept of “Think Global, Act Local” — questioning the status quo and realizing that unlike our parent’s generation, we will have multiple jobs through out our life and not the same one for 40+ years.
Did I agree with everything he said about my generation? No, but I will admit that I recognized many things in what he wrote.
If Generation X were a Super Hero … we wouldn’t be Superman — clean-cut and respectable. We are more like Gambit — the gambler with the cool cards and fancy staff … or maybe Surf Person … meandering around helping people when we can, when we aren’t searching for that ephemeral perfect wave.
From Publishers Weekly
Nostalgia for the attitudes and culture of the early to mid-’90s looms large in Gordinier’s entertaining book-length argument for the greatness of Generation X. Gordinier does not have warm sentiments toward the baby boomers or the current wanna-wanna generation of celebrity worshippers, preferring instead the self-effacing, conflictedly ambitious heroes of the ’90s, like Kurt Cobain and Richard Linklater, who were not enthralled by the concept of changing the world. Gordinier has an easygoing style and a comprehensive knowledge of pop culture gleaned from a career writing for Entertainment Weekly and editing Details magazine, and this might be the reason the book sometimes feels like a collection of essays. Sequences on the rise of Nirvana and the burst of the dot-com bubble are ably narrated. And Gordinier does find a fresh perspective in discussions of recent phenomena such as YouTube and American Idol and their relationship to Generation X. (Mar. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Posted in Adult Non-fiction | Tagged 978-0670018581, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Jeff Gordinier, Millieniels, X Saves the World | Leave a Comment »
Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich ISBN 978-0345542885
I appreciate Janet Evanovich’s humor and characters, they are fun and a great way to relax when the snow is falling far too much and winter is just surreal. Is this intellectually stimulating? No, but it wasn’t intended to be it is meant to be fun and happy and ridiculous at times.
In an interview given at one of the end of the audio books, Janet said that she plots out which characters are going to be the supporting roles in the book. In “Takedown Twenty” — the supporting roles fall to Ranger and Grandma Mazur, in my opinion a great combination.
Stephanie has a file on “Uncle Sunny” — he is FTA for running someone over … twice. Uncle Sunny is Morelli’s godfather and protected by the mighty Bella. It seems that everyone wants to keep quiet about the whereabouts of her FTA.
Ranger is searching for someone who has killed the mother of his client and because of Stephanie’s many connections he calls her to help him track down the killer of old women.
Grandma Mazur turns out to be the key to all the investigations and in her usual quirky sense provides many chuckles.
Overall a pleasant read beside the wood stove on a winter day.
Posted in books on CD, general fiction, mystery | Tagged 978-0345542885, Grandma Bella, Grandma Mazur, Janet Evanovich, Lorelei King, Ranger, Stephanie Plum, Trenton New Jersey | Leave a Comment »
Intertwined by Gena Showalter ISBN 978-0373210121
Aden Stone has always had many problems: when he walks too close to a cemetery the dead wake up, he hears voices in his head and he has no family.
Aden has been shuffled from foster homes to juvie his whole life and he is trying desperately to stay out of trouble and pretend to be normal.
Aden has just been shuffled to one more home and his good behavior has been rewarded and he can go to public high school. He is finally achieving his goals.
At school he meets someone he thought was impossible — a person who quiets the voices in his head. He is enthralled and wants to spend as much time with her as he can because he is finally calm. With much hesitation he reveals to her what is happening and so she begins to wonder about her own life and the death of her mother when she was a young girl.
This is a great paranormal story: vampires, werewolves, and speakers of spirits … a great combination and a story I will continue reading.
From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Aden Stone is not your typical 16-year-old. Since birth he has had four souls trapped within him that possess special powers: the ability to time travel, raise the dead, possess a body, and predict the future. As a result, he has spent his whole life in and out of mental institutions diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. Now able to control the voices in his head, Aden has moved to Crossroads, OK, to live in a halfway house for delinquent boys. His goal in life is to find a means to free these souls and at last be at peace. When he meets Mary Ann Gray, she miraculously acts as a neutralizer, and for the first time in his life, he truly feels normal. The two become fast friends, establishing a sibling-type bond. Little do they realize that when they first met, their connection sent a power surge throughout the world drawing every paranormal creature from fairies to vampires to Crossroads on a quest for power. To complicate matters, Aden becomes romantically involved with a vampire princess and Mary Ann with her werewolf bodyguard. Together the teens must figure out a way to protect themselves, and all of humanity. This fast-paced, action-driven plot has many unexpected twists and turns. Well written, with a unique story line and strong characters, Intertwined is fresh and original at a time when there is an overload of paranormal romances on the market.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Posted in Science Fiction, YA Fiction | Tagged 978-0373210121, Aden Stone, foster care, foster care system, Gena Showalter, Intertwined, spirits, vampires, walking dead, werewolves | Leave a Comment »
The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
cover art from The Third Victim
I had heard Lisa Gardner speak at a conference and since was sounded so interesting in person, I felt I had to read her work. So off to the InterLibrary Loan site and I requested “The Third Victim” on audiobook.
It opens in a small town in Oregon. Rainie Connor (short for Lorraine) is one of two full time officers in Bakersville. She has grown up there and was only away a few years when she went to college, but she returned a few years ago and lives in the home she grew up in. She has just finished her lunch in a small diner when an emergency call comes in concerning the school. Her boss calls her via radio and asks her to take lead and says he will meet her there. As a single woman with no children, she has no immediate ties to the school and she does have a hard time trying to gain order in the parking lot and the surrounding area. Keeping frantic people out of the school, investigating to see if the perpetrator is out of the building, to see about getting injured people out, and otherwise securing the crime scene.
As it turns out there were three victims: two students and a teacher. The alleged suspect was the sheriff’s son.
Because of the small town jurisdiction the State Police were involved and because it was a school shooting an FBI serial crime expert was called in. Most of the book seemed to be about the three parties and how they did and didn’t work together.
Another aspect of the book was how the small town dealt with such a blow. Feelings were high and though the investigators felt that the youth didn’t do it all by himself, finding the one who helped was very hard work.
Rainie also had to deal with demons in her own past. Her mother had been brutally murdered in her own home and her good-for-nothing boyfriend who many suspected as the possible murderer was not found.
This was a fine mystery with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing all the way through.
“A suspenseful, curl-up winter read, this thriller teems with crisp, realistic dialogue and engaging characters.”
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Riveting, hold-your-breath suspense.”
— Iris Johansen
Posted in books on CD, mystery, Thriller/Suspense | Tagged Bakersville Oregon, Lisa Gardner, Rainie Connor, school shooting, small town | Leave a Comment »