Category Archives: About Us

December 14, 2008

Book Review: Ranger’s Apprentice — The Series

Posted by at 8:00 am in About Us, Reads | Permalink

Hi everyone,

Since I'm just joining The STACKS, I thought I'd start out by telling you about my favorite series (next to Harry Potter, but that goes without saying). A couple of years ago, I was in a bookstore looking for something to read when I saw a small blue book with a cloaked figure hidden in the shadows. The title was Ranger's Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. When it comes to books, I love series and I love fantasy. I took a chance on the book and absolutely loved it. Now, five books into the series, I am absolutely hooked.

Rangersapprentince1 Since I don't want to spoil the series, I'll just briefly describe the intro to Book 1 before letting you know exactly why this has become my favorite series. When we first meet Will, the main character, he is an orphan living at Castle Redmont. As a child, he was taken in by the Baron of Castle Redmont and was raised with several other orphaned children. The story really begins as the castle wards are chosen for apprenticeships.  Rejected by the Battle School, Will is instead chosen by the silent and mysterious Ranger Halt. The first books in the series are about Will's apprenticeship and the adventures that come his way.

I love the pacing in these stories. Even though a lot of time is spent on Will's training, there are fascinating descriptions of the world he lives in and plenty of action to move the story along. Each book is more interesting and exciting than the last (when the fifth came out, I read it in one night only to be so frustrated by the cliffhanger at the end that I'm asking a friend of mine to ship me a copy of Book 6 from Australia, where Books 6, 7, and 8 are already released).

Rangersapprentince2 Here in the US, the first five books are available. Their titles are:

The Ruins of Gorlan
The Burning Bridge
The Icebound Land
The Battle for Skandia
The Sorcerer of the North

If you are into action, are a sucker for spies or action, and love fantasy series, I highly recommend the Ranger's Apprentice series.

— Rob, STACKS Staffer

November 14, 2008

THE FIVE: Coolest Fictional Families

Posted by at 6:58 am in About Us, Reads | Permalink

Recently, I found myself thinking about some of my favorite fictional
families — those moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and close friends
of the main characters who influence the tone and plot of a book
despite limited time on the pages. Some of them even end up in their
own spin-off series (I'm looking at you, Karen Brewer!).

I have a pretty amazing set of relatives, but even so, there are
five fictional families in particular that always stuck out to me for
being so loving, wacky, and welcoming. In no particular order, I
present to you the five coolest fictional families:

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November 8, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by at 6:14 am in About Us | Permalink

We recently moved offices at eScholastic so now I have a proper bulletin board to tack things up — here's a picture of what's right in front of me every day (besides my computer monitor).

Nancys_bulletin_board
 
Click on the image to see a larger view.

Of course, a shrine to Harry Potter:

1. Daily calendar tear-out, from Wednesday, July 18, 2001 (courtesy of Amanda, the HP board moderator)
2. Harry glasses (glass not included)
3. My favorite Harry and The Potters postcard
4. Chamber of Secrets poster
5. More Harry and the Potters postcards
6. "Dairy Potter and the udder of the Phoenix" bookmark (ironic, considering I don't drink milk!)
7. My Power of Potter Pledge Certificate from last summer

And Other Fun Stuff:

a. Cute Zimmer Twins stickers
b. A tribute I made to one of my favorite Japanese cartoon characters, Doraemon
c. Code – what websites are made of!
d. Email I got from my boss once. Funny part of the email: "When you are not online- people start to worry :) "
e. WORK! (inspiration)
f. "Jollyship the Whiz-Bang" is a play that a bunch of us Stacks Staffers went to
g. Cartoons exemplifying my <3 of the Internet
h. Zac Efron (calms my nerves on a bad day)

This is just part of my desk space (there are quite a embarrassing number of Zac photos posted) and since we just moved in I'll be adding more! (during my lunch breaks, of course).

— Nancy, STACKS Staffer

October 29, 2008

HSM3: Ink Splot 26 Goes to the Movies!

Posted by at 3:56 pm in About Us | Permalink

Hsm3_poster Unless you've been living in a hole, then you know that last Friday was a very big day for high schools, musicals, and Zac Efron fans everywhere: the opening of High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Over the weekend, the movie was #1 at the box office, earning $42 million in the US and $40 million internationally. Hello, that's enough money for Troy to fix his sorry little truck about a zillion times over!

So, were you one of the brave souls who fought the crowds to secure a spot on opening night? You can bet that your dedicated bloggers — Nancy, Karen, Carly H., Carly M., and Morgan — were there!

The five of us met in the office lobby after work and speed walked our way to the closest movie theater. As we got within a block of our destination, we noticed that a group of middle school aged girls were overtaking us, and we actually started to run a little bit.

Once inside, we were herded into line amongst a multitude of eager fans. Somehow we found ourselves in the middle of a big group of kids and parents who had all come together, with little red graduation caps and EHS megaphones in tow. While we waited, a few of them popped open a laptop and huddled around it to sing along to the soundtrack.

Then the theater doors opened and the stampede began. With so many of us, we knew that finding seats together would be futile, so we split up and scattered ourselves around. Unable to exchange glances or see each other's reactions during the movie, this blog entry is not just a way to tell you guys about our experiences, but also to share them with each other!

So here goes  — and BTW, SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

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October 10, 2008

THE FIVE: Nightmare Book Settings

Posted by at 11:19 am in About Us, Reads | Permalink

Sometimes I think it would be so cool if I could live inside a book. Life would be perfect and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. But actually, I can think of a few books that I definitely would not want to live in. Imagine what a nightmare it would be to wake up inside one of these books:

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In Collins’ book for ages 12 and up, it’s the America of the future and 16-year-old Katniss has to compete in a fight to the death with 23 other kids on live TV. That’s 23 other kids all trying to kill you on live TV! You win this twisted reality game show by being the only person who doesn’t die. It’s a great book, but I’ll stay here in the peaceful present, thanks.

4. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
When a meteor hits the moon, at first, it’s only annoying because it’s all Miranda’s teachers talk about. But soon it starts to cause major catastrophes on earth like volcanoes, tsunamis, and drought — changing Miranda’s life forever. The scariest thing about this book is that it feels totally real. Like, I want to start stockpiling food and water in case of emergency.

3. All the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling
I know Hogwarts seems really cool and I would love to be friends with Ron, Harry, and Hermione, but to be totally honest, I would never want to live there. Too much scary stuff happens. Seriously, imagine having classes every day with those teachers: Snape, Umbridge, Mad-Eye Moody. Or going to the bathroom in your school and finding a giant troll who wants to kill you. And Voldemort? Forget it! That dude scares me silly! I love the books, but I also love my safe Muggle world.

2. Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix Peterson
OK. Imagine you are living your normal life thinking it is 1840, but then your mother tells you that it is really the 1990s and you live in a historical theme park where people pay to watch how you live without cars and electricity. What?? And not only that, but Mom wants you to sneak out and find a doctor because people are getting sick and dying in this village without modern medicine. If you can’t find help all your family and friends will die of this disease. Oh, and if the theme park owners catch you, they will kill you because they don’t want anyone to ruin their “experiment.”

1. The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss
When I was in 7th grade, one day for no reason at all, my friends just stopped talking to me — forever. It was awful. I eventually made new friends and forgot about those losers, but for a while it was a living nightmare going to school every day. This book describes that exact situation, and believe me I do not want to re-live that experience again!

What about you? Any book setting that YOU think it would be a nightmare to inhabit?

— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

September 26, 2008

Book Characters I’d Most Want to Meet

Posted by at 8:10 am in About Us, Reads | Permalink

I finally got around to watching the 2005 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve long been a fan of the older movie version (from 1971, starring Gene Wilder and called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for some reason). After watching the older movie, I’ve always been a little afraid of Willy Wonka. I don’t know about you, but I found Gene Wilder’s depiction of the candy inventor to be pretty darn creepy. In particular, I was traumatized by the weird boat scene where Willy Wonka is chanting, “Yes! The danger must be growing, / For the rowers keep on rowing, / And they’re certainly not showing / Any signs that they are slowing . . .” Um, FREAKY!

However, the new Willy Wonka, as played by Johnny Depp, struck me as very strange but completely harmless — someone in need of a friend, even. Instead of being disturbed by the thought of coming into contact with the man, I now would jump at the opportunity to get a golden ticket (especially given my deep love for food).

In honor of my new affection for Willy Wonka, here is my list of the five book characters I’d most want to meet in person:

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September 19, 2008

THE FIVE: Fantasy Books On My To-Read List

Posted by at 7:19 am in About Us, Reads | Permalink

One summer, I very systematically went to the local library and read every fiction book I could get my hands on with the keyword dragon in the card catalog description. Secretly, I hoped learn how to obtain my very own dragon by reading as many books related to the subject as possible. Or at least know what to do when I, inevitably, would encounter one. (Now, looking back, my plan was rather shoddy — I should have looked in the nonfiction section, obviously). That was the height of my fantasy and science fiction fandom, and my favorites included the Dragon Chronicles by Susan Fletcher and the Redwall books by Brian Jacques.

Fantasy books were my favorite genre for a while, but since I’ve become a “grown-up” — *shakes fist at Time* — I just haven’t made the time to read that many fantasy books. Well, that’s all about to change!  Here are five Fantasy books that are on my “to-read” list:

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September 6, 2008

Share & Swap Books!

Posted by at 7:20 am in About Us, Writing Prompt | Permalink

A lot of my friends love to read, but one especially (let’s call her “M”) likes almost exactly the same kind of books I love to read. M is my book-swapping buddy — whenever I go visit her, we usually trade 2–3 books, along with our reviews. Sometimes the books traded are never read, but they have definitely traveled around America!

So, here are some of my PROS & CONS on sharing books:

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August 15, 2008

Book-Based Movies Starring . . . Me

Posted by at 11:58 am in About Us, Book to Big Screen, Reads | Permalink

The top five book-based movies I’d want to star in:

5. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Yes, I know there already is a movie and Dakota Blue Richards was actually a really good Lyra. But the movie ending was totally different from the book ending, and that was a big problem for me! I think they should remake the movie with the correct (i.e. book) ending, and this time I get to play Lyra. Although, it might be interesting to play Mrs. Coulter too. . .

4. Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
Because I have always wanted to be a princess in an enchanted castle. And a movie version of this book would totally bring it to life!

3. East by Edith Pattou
East is like a combination of The Golden Compass and Beauty, so in this movie I would get to be a princess in an enchanted castle AND ride cross country on the back of a talking polar bear.

2. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers
Theodosia is my new favorite female character. She is kind of like an old-fashioned Hermione Granger if she lived with Muggles her whole life, and her best friend was Indiana Jones instead of Harry Potter. Theo’s parents are archaeologists and bring back cursed amulets and stuff from Egypt, but only Theo can tell they are cursed. Of course, they don’t listen to her so she has to deal with the black magic all by herself. She ends up having some pretty awesome adventures. . . . which I would have no problem translating on the big screen!

1. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pierson
This movie would be so cool to star in, kind of like a combination of Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan. I would get to fly, swim with mermaids, talk to dolphins, be chased by pirates, and captured by cannibals (ok maybe that part wouldn’t be so cool). And if I could make a suggestion to the Casting Director . . . Johnny Depp would be great as the pirate Black Stache!

If you could see your name in lights, what book adaptation would YOU want to star in?

— Sonja, Scholastic.com Editor

August 2, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Scholastic.com Editor

Posted by at 10:53 am in About Us, Authors | Permalink

Selznick_kibuishiAs the editor of the Books & Authors website for Teachers on
Scholastic.com, I have a really fun job. I get to read all the books I could ever want — for free — before they are even published! (BTW Inkdeath is amazing. You are going to love it!) But the best part of my job is when I get to meet authors and talk to them about their books, which I did a few weeks ago at the American Library Association Conference in California. Here is how my day went:

  • 8AM Wake up and get dressed
  • 9AM Eat breakfast in the hotel
  • 10AM Set up video equipment to tape the interviews with the
    authors
  • 12 Interview Kazu Kibuishi. He was really sweet and talked about his graphic novel series Amulet. He even showed us his notebook where he sketches all his ideas before they make it into the final book.
  • 1PM Interview Holly Black. She is so cool. She talked about The Spiderwick Chronicles and her new teen graphic novel series The Good Neighbors (for ages 12 and up) which is also about faeries, but the darker more evil side of faeries.

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