Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Friday, September 28, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-6

By Patricia McCormick
© 2006

It is difficult to imagine the life of Lakshmi, a thirteen-year old Nepalese girl. Living in poverty with little hope of change, Lakshmi still tries to delight in the small things that life offers. Ingrained in her culture is the small and insignificant value of her gender compared to that of males. She watches as her mother, "serves my stepfather her dinner, she kneels at his feet." For Lakshmi, her worth is measured as a commodity when she is sold to a house of prostitution in India. Thinking that she is going to a wealthy home to serve as a maid, her innocence is soon lost when the reality of her situation becomes obvious.

The storyline is compelling, though certainly disturbing. McCormick's beautiful and poetic writing contrasts with the harsh realities that face Lakshmi.

Inside the bundle Ama packed for me are:
my bowl,
my hairbrush,
the notebook my teacher gave me for being the number one
girl in school,
and my bedroll.

Inside my head I carry:
my baby goat,
my baby brother,
my ama's face,
our family's future.

My bundle is light.
My burden is heavy.

The chapters are short - on average, one page long. The brevity, however, does not shadow the more complex and deeper meaning of her writing

This book won't appeal to those looking for light content, but it is well-worthwhile nonetheless. Although it is fiction, Lakshmi's story is based on truth as "each year, nearly 12,000 Nepali girls are sold by their families, intentionally or unwittingly, into a life of sexual slavery in the brothels of India." (McCormick, p. 264). Troublesome as that statistic is, the worldwide estimates of nearly half a million trafficked is even more gruesome. This book is an excellent springboard for further conversation about these sociological issues.

My recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blog Against Abuse

Bloggers Unite on September 27th to protest abuse - child abuse, domestic abuse, animal abuse, drug abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, or any other abuse. Seeing this challenge from Lee Hopkins I immediately ticked off the destructive impact of all types of abuse...and how it's effect is so long-term. Think about the cycles of abuse in families where behavior is passed on from one generation to the next - not a one time incident, but patterns of ongoing violence and/or degradation.

The act of human trafficking is gaining attention in our community. Like other forms of abuse, it is difficult for most of us to fathom the existence of slavery in contemporary life. And yet, it exists - documented on a regular basis via Naples Daily News stories. Interestingly, there are three new young adult books that also deal with the general theme - all of which deserve their own separate blog posting: Broken Moon by Kim Antineau, Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, and Sold by Patricia McCormick.
Though these books deal with human trafficking in fictional worlds which are quite different than modern day Collier County, they expose readers to the abusive environments, the physical and emotional conditions of both the perpetrator and the victim, and the unimaginable lack of humanity. Reading and discussing these themes with others makes them *real* and helps us work towards an "abuse-free" world. It is vital that we don't forget nor sweep these atrocities under the rug.

Photo credit to Jules57's Rusty Fence

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-5

When She Was White: The True Story of a Family Divided by Race

By Judith Stone
© 2007

This book is based on a true story of a young lady who had her color reclassified by the government because she was “different” from her birth parents. She grew up afflicted with the social stigma and cultural dislocation often experienced by mixed race people.

Eventually her parents abandoned her because she chose to live her life as a black woman even though genetically she was white. Over the next few years she suffered abuse, homelessness, and physical illness.

I personally related to some of her stories because I was also seen as being different in my community because of my long term interracial relationship. I have seen first hand how people are treated when they think you are different.

At times this book had me laughing and at other times almost in tears, it was easy to follow and very enjoyable to read.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Brenda Stevens-Harrison ACE Computer Systems Technology Instructor

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-4

By Julie Gregory
© 2003

Though difficult to fathom, there is a condition called Munchausen by proxy (MBP), which is specific type of mental disorder involving child abuse. It is a rare disorder in which a parent seeks medical attention for their child after creating real or imagined illness. Typically, a mother will deliberately make their child sick and/or report exaggerated or false symptoms which results in doctor's attempts to treat with tests, medications, and even surgeries. The parent usually demonstrates warm and caring attention towards the child, thus creating a web of confusion and deception.

This autobiography is a harrowing account of MBP through the victim's eyes. Reflecting on her childhood, Julie Gregory realizes with horror that her mother was indeed inflicted with MBP. Beautifully written - even in the sadness and ugliness of it all - there are bits of hope buried in facets of her life. She uncovers the cycle of child abuse and explores the vast impact it has on the entire family. The book appears to be serve as a cathartic release for Julie and possibly an attempt to redirect her anger into a more constructive manner. She also has a website (www.juliegregory.com) which, among other things, provides a forum for others to share their experiences.

This book is a must read for health and mental health professionals or for students interested in those career fields - however, consider yourself warned of the stark reality painted in eloquent words that will draw tears of sadness and angry, clenched jaws.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-3

13 Little Blue Envelopes

By Maureen Johnson
© 2005

Ginny is caught up in a fun and entertaining scavenger hunt around the world when her somewhat eccentric aunt dies and leaves her intriguing clues! Her passport is stamped in London, Scotland, Paris, Amsterdam, Greece and more idyllic settings. Her path crosses with new friends, strange traveling companions, and some wild characters. Adventurous, but still somewhat timid, Ginny learns, loves, and develops a new appreciation for life in her travels.

Reading this book reminded me of my own adolescent summers, even without the world-wide tour. Engaging and fairly light reading, it was a good choice for a summertime read. With a 'fairy tale' ending, it may be a little sappy for some, but all in all, it was enjoyable. Taken at a little deeper level, it would be interesting to re-trace Ginny's steps via Google Earth and add in some historical and geographical content!

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Watching Students Grow

I had an incredible experience this summer assisting GED Instructor, Linda Bonas, implement blogging and RSS readers with her GED Book Club! The challenges were many - which made it all the more rewarding!
  • the core group of about ten students juggle work and family obligations, thus meeting dates and times were sporadically attended,
  • though some of the students used e-mail communication, many were not familiar with the Internet or computer,
  • blogging and RSS were definitely new concepts to the students, and
  • many of the students were former English as a Second Language students and were learning lots of new vocabulary, writing structure skills, and information literacy along the way.
The following VoiceThread gives a bit more insight to the adventure - can't wait to see students grow in their reading, blogging, and commenting as they begin the new book! Kudos to Linda for introducing GED curriculum with innovative ideas and technology tools!

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-2


By Scott Westerfeld
© 2005

The first book in a fascinating new trilogy, this story is a cross between a futuristic society and unchanging human elements of emotion.

Tally, like all uglies, will turn pretty on her 16th birthday. The pretties have it all – clothes, parties, fun, and no worries about beauty – what more could a teenager want? Tally reconsiders those questions when she is forced to look at another side of the pretty world. Reminiscent of the “Stepford Wives,” Tally discovers what ugly really is – and it is not just limited to altering of physical appearance!

The story line alone is out of the ordinary, but it would also be an interesting connection to standard high school curriculum in the form of

  • psychology (principles of social and developmental, in addition to physiological)
  • history (reference to the “Rusties” indicate the previous civilization dependent on oil and trade),
  • communication (various electronic devices in addition to face-to-face), and
  • environmental science (key aspects of reduce, reuse, and recycle, as well as factors of extinction).

Get ready for the next two in the triology: Pretties and Specials!

My recommendation: 4 ½ out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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