Saturday, May 21, 2016

Avenging The Owl





A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Han Solo avenged the destruction of an innocent planet by helping Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. Han walked away with a gold medal and the love of his life. But when Solo Hahn—named in honor of the beloved action hero—tries to avenge the death of his gray-and-white kitten, he gets eight months of community service. Eight months of working at the local raptor center helping owls—his now sworn enemies.

For the first time in his life, Solo is labeled a troubled kid, an at-risk youth. He’d always gotten good grades, had good friends, and gotten along with his parents. He used to volunteer to read Reader’s Digest to old people at the retirement home next door, and his favorite thing in the whole wide world was to surf. He wrote screenplays for fun. But when his parents uproot him and move the family from California to backwoods Oregon, Solo starts to lose track of the person he was. Everything is upside down, and he finds himself dealing with things way beyond his understanding. He’s the new kid in town, and he’s got a bad reputation. The question is: What will he do next?

This is a story about staying true to yourself when things get tough. Solo has every reason to lash out, but he ultimately needs to find a way to cope. Avenging the Owl deals with the difficult issues of suicide and depression, but more than anything it captures the powerlessness of being a kid. It won’t be easy, but the wild beauty of Oregon, its cold, empty beaches and captivating wildlife, may be just what Solo and his family need to help them start over.

This very cool book is by Melissa Hart.   She worked as an environmental educator and owl trainer at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene for eight years.  She teaches Literature for Laurel Springs, a distance-learning high school based in Ojai, California. To learn more about Melissa Hart and her other great books, click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thirteen Brother Pirates


Thirteen Brother Pirates: The Journey Begins in 1775 when thirteen brothers are forced to join the British Navy and hunt pirates. Their mission changes when they get attacked and their Captain abandons them in the middle of the North Atlantic.  Stranded on a disabled ship, they must save themselves or dare the impossible -- save their brothers, find justice and win independence.

This unique Pirate Adventure story is by John Mattox.  John is a writer who began typing stories into his father's TRS 80 Color Computer as a child and hasn't stopped writing since.   His favorite authors include Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gladwell, Creighton, Cialdini, Gould, Tolkien, Conroy and anyone who can tell a good story to keep the pages turning.  John hopes his books will encourage more reading and inspire the next generation of writers.  He believes this story spans the age gap between Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Click here to learn more about John's books.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Astronaut Instruction Manual


Endorsed by authors, teachers, scientists and Congressmen, The Astronaut Instruction Manual excites a new generation of space explorers. The book, designed for children between the ages of 8 and 13, is a functioning, first-step instruction manual. With excitement and honesty, it encourages readers to articulate and personalize their own vision of next-generation space travel.

This cool Space book is by Mike Mongo.  Mike is a writer who encourages students to pursue careers in space-related fields. He lives in Key West, FL.  The learn more, click here.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cheechako


Will Rollins, a greenhorn--cheechako--(chee-chock-oh) is miserable in his new Alaska life. In addition to the bully after him, he can't seem to make any friends in school and doesn't know a thing about dogsleds, riverboats, hunting, or surviving at 40 degrees below zero. When Will darts out alone onto rampaging river ice to rescue a stranded dog, his bravery wins him a valuable, trained sled dog, Blackie, and a new human friend as well, an Alaskan Indian boy named Elias. It's Elias who challenges and inspires the cheechako to become a rugged outdoorsman and a real Alaskan. Will starts out by feeding, harnessing and then driving a sled dog team. He learns to throw a hatchet-and hit what he aims at! He learns to snowshoe and stay alive in the cold, to challenge his fears and to push on when everything he wants to do is quit. Best of all, he learns to be a good friend. But when a fierce, Siberian blizzard rampages across central Alaska, stranding Will's family, nearly burying their log cabin in wind-blown snow,it will be up to Will and Blackie to try to make it out alive. With Elias injured and Will's family in danger of freezing, can a cheechako save them? Can he save himself?

Cheechako is one book of an Alaska adventure series by Jonathan Thomas Stratman.  Mr. Stratman grew up Alaskan and has since lived in the Pacific Northwest. Whether for adult or youth, his novels richly recreate the core Alaskan adventure and experience.

Below, he recalls his first dogsled ride, about age nine.

"The musher sat me in the sled and told me, no matter what happens, hold on to this rope. I'm not sure what he thought might happen, but what did happen is that the sled tipped, he fell off, and his seven-dog team went flying down a frozen Nenana street dragging me. I remember bumping along on my back for awhile, then rolling over to slide along on my stomach. The team didn't even slow down until they left the hard-packed road to head out onto the river, and I turned out to be too much of a drag in the deep snow. It's the kind of first ride a boy never forgets."

Click here to learn more.

Saturday, December 5, 2015



From Ethan Hawke, four-time Academy Award nominee—twice for writing and twice for acting—an unforgettable fable about a father's journey and a timeless guide to life's many questions.

A knight, fearing he may not return from battle, writes a letter to his children in an attempt to leave a record of all he knows. In a series of ruminations on solitude, humility, forgiveness, honesty, courage, grace, pride, and patience, he draws on the ancient teachings of Eastern and Western philosophy, and on the great spiritual and political writings of our time. His intent: to give his children a compass for a journey they will have to make alone, a short guide to what gives life meaning and beauty.

Click here to learn more.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Youth Need Values and Dreams





Anthropologist Scott Atran is one of the leading researchers on the question of why people turn toward violent extremism. He's spent a great deal of his career interviewing members of radical movements all over the globe, most recently Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members in Kirkuk, Iraq, and aspiring members in Barcelona and Paris. He recently addressed the United Nations Security Council on how to counter ISIS's disturbingly potent appeal to some people, and he provided some key insights, some of them a bit counterintuitive. Atran's entire address is worth watching.  It's titled, Youth Need Values and Dreams, Click here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Two Winters in a Tipi



Mark Warren is a naturalist, composer, novelist, and director of Medicine Bow, a “primitive school of earthlore.” In the summer of 1989, a streak of lightning scorched his house and everything inside, so he moved into a tipi. He tells his story in Two Winters in a Tipi.  I loved this book and it's perfect for intermediate to advanced readers.  If you have a reluctant reader, this is a great read-aloud book.  It's a story of one man's search for the soul of the forest.  Mark is an amazing storyteller and he expertly weaves an intimate yarn that you will not be able to put down.  You'll love his dog, Elly.

Mark is a very wise man and has lived an admirable, adventurous, and rich life close to nature.  We can all learn a lot from him as to how we too can reconnect with ourselves by reconnecting to the natural rhythms of the wilderness.  The world needs more men and male teachers like Mr. Warren.  If I lived anywhere close to North Georgia, I would attend as many of his workshops as possible.

Click here to visit Mark's website.