Tag Archives: science fiction

[S] Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard

22 Apr

(This was first written for my Materials for Tweens class.)

Jack is a Spacer who has lived on Freedom Station his whole life. Kit is a Rat, a transplant from Earth who lands on Freedom Station. On Earth, she had her father, but she is now alone, except for an illegal sentient robot named Waldo that is extremely valuable, but extremely dangerous to have. Jack and Kit must protect Waldo long enough to get him to Kit’s father’s contact before it’s too late.

Spacer and Rat is chock-full of references to science-fiction writers and books, which may be part of the reason why it takes a while to get into this world. However, by the end of the book, readers will want a sequel so they can spend more time in it. There is a lot of depth in the world building for such a short book, like slang and festivals, and Bechard includes details that make you feel like you are there.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter S.

[P] Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass

18 Apr

(This was first written for my Materials for Tweens class.)

In Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass, Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe living in The Realms, but that doesn’t mean he’s anything special. It just means that he gets to deliver pies. Not just ordinary pies, of course, but pies nonetheless. His life changes when one day, the Earth disappears, taking his best friend, Kal, and his parents with it, leaving behind a girl from Earth named Annika. Now it’s up to Joss and Annika to bring the Earth back.

This campy space coming-of-age adventure is firmly rooted in science but still manages to be funny, moving, and entertaining. Readers will root for Joss as he races around The Realms trying to achieve a seemingly impossible task. The last chapter provides a nice ending that ties up all the loose ends while still leaving room for future adventures.

An educator’s guide with discussion questions and curriculum connections can be found here. You can also read the first seven chapters of the book for free in this sneak peek edition!

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter P.


[Quote] Laurence Yep

12 Dec

…In science fiction and fantasy, children leave the everyday world and go to a strange place where they have to learn a new language and new customs. Science fiction and fantasy were about adapting, and that was something I did every day…

Laurence Yep, in an interview with Scholastic students

In the same interview, he also talks about how he’s an anime fan (scroll down to the bottom to see this part). 😀 I wonder how long ago the interview was published…?

[H] H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden

9 Apr

H.I.V.E. = The Higher Institute of Villainous Education.

I loved this book from the title, and the story (and its sequels), weren’t too shabby, either. They reminded me of Harry Potter mashed together with Mission:Impossible or another flashy action movie with cool gadgets. The acronyms in the book all spelled out something meaningful, which was also fun.

It was while I was reading this book that I realized that books were being written for shorter attention spans these days. This book reads like a spy movie or T.V. show (which isn’t surprising, since the author has an M.A. in Twentieth Century Literature, Film and Television and used to be a video game producer/designer according to Wiki).

That said, other than the shortage of commas, this is (another) favorite new discovery. I’m waiting anxiously for the full series to come out in the States so I can buy a box set!

Really action-packed, full of diverse characters (one of whom even speaks American English!) and strong male and female characters. Great for reluctant readers and book lovers of all ages and backgrounds. (The main character is a 13-year-old boy, and School Library Journal lists it as being for grades 5-8.)

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter H.

[E] The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

5 Apr

This science fiction book set in a futuristic Africa is a Newbery Honor book from 1995, but the future doesn’t feel too dated. It features a brother and sister (with their younger brother) as the main characters, so it easily appeals to boys and girls. I am always on the lookout for books that can appeal to both genders because I rarely have book club classes that are just boys or just girls, so I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the book. I also try to switch off between male and female protagonists if I can.

I remember my sister and I both reading this book and enjoying it a lot through at least middle school. My copy of this book is pretty battered from the re-readings (and I think just the time it spent in my bag). I did re-read it recently because I was thinking about using it for a class (although we ran out of book club time because we needed to do test prep…). Even so, it took me a while before I could remember if the main characters were black or white.

This struck me because I was just reading this article about how characters are “white until proven black,” and I saw that I shared the same stereotypes in my reading. Most of the books that I read while growing up had white protagonists, so my natural association with books turned into one that is primarily white. I’m trying to counter that by reading (and re-reading) as many diverse books as possible, but there is still that part of me that defaults to white.

(Going further off topic, just the other day, my Korean American students–boys and girls–failed to notice that the main character of a short scene was female because they didn’t know her name, even though she was referred to with female pronouns throughout the passage.)

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm has mystery, action, likable characters, and bogeymen. Great for middle grades and up. It also deals with issues about race, gender, prejudice, and acceptance.

And just in case you were wondering, the main kids in the story are black, although a few key white characters (including the Ear from the title) help describe race relations in the society in the book.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter E.