Books! Books! and More Books!

Your Guide to Reading Your Favorite Genre of Books

You’ve probably been lectured by your parents and teachers about how you’re supposed to be reading while we’re out of school for a while. You may also be saying to yourself: “What in the world am I supposed to read?” True, libraries are shut down, but there are still some other ways to read. Your parents or guardians might have a stash of books hidden around somewhere, they might not. If they don’t, you can easily find another way to read books.  If you have a library card, you can make a Hoopla account, which is run by the Dearborn Public Library system, and allows you to download audiobooks, regular books, and lots of other media of reading material to your phone or device. Another way to get books electronically is Libby, another library-run app that also allows you to read books and listen to audiobooks straight from your device! If you don’t have a library card, you can currently get temporary library cards at this link. For nonfiction titles, you can get articles from Newsela, Storyworks, and more!

Fantasy / Fiction:

  • Harry Potter: A fantastical book about a teenage wizard who goes on adventures to escape the dark wizard Voldemort, who murdered his parents, and attempted to murder him. 7 book series By: J.K. Rowling
  • Percy Jackson: A teenage boy discovers he is a demigod, a half mortal / half god. When Zeus’s master bolt is stolen, he and his two new friends, Annabeth and Grover, have to go from the realm of Hades, LA, to Mount Olympus, the 600th floor of the Empire State Building.  6 books, 2 sub series By: Rick Riordan
  • The Crowns of Croswald: see review for The Crowns of Croswald: Book 1 (click for review) 2 book series By: D.E. Night
  • The Forbidden Library: When Rule-follower Alice sneaks downstairs to get a drink of water in the middle of the night, she hears voices – her father’s, and someone else she doesn’t know. Later, her father tells her that he is going on a trip aboard the Gideon, a fancy ship. Four days later, she finds out that the Gideon has gone underwater, with all the passengers, and a funeral is held. A slightly too-jolly lawyer approaches her and tells her she is going to live with an uncle, whom she has never met. She is escorted to the uncle’s estate, called the library by a man named Mr. Black. She later finds out that she is a Reader, someone who can read themselves into books. When she discovers the voice that she had heard her father speaking to is a fairy, named Vespidan, who is after a book in the library with Mr. Black, as well as a boy named Isaac, who is after the same book, she finds out that she must choose her friends wisely, and see if she can keep the book safe, and not disappoint Greyon. 4 book series By: Django Wexler
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series: When twins Sophie and Josh Newman begin to work in a book shop run by Nick Fleming – who they later discover is Nicholas Flamel – they become part of an adventure, and a prophecy. 6 book series By: Michael Scott

Nonfiction/Historical Fiction: 

  • Who is?/Who was? Series: A series that talks about places and people from Helen Keller to J.K. Rowling. Currently 150 titles By: Numerous Authors.
  • One for Sorrow: (Historical Fiction) With the ominous backdrop of the influenza, One for Sorrow is a ghost story about a girl named Annie, who is a new girl at school, when she is claimed as best friend by Elsie, the tattletale of the school. Things go downhill from there.  By: Mary Downing Hahn
  • Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon This book is a fascinating biography on the story of the worldwide race to make – and steal – the world’s most dangerous weapon. By: Steve Sheinkin 
  • I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World: This biography is on the amazing woman who changed the world, Malala Yousafzai. By: Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick
  • Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone: After Chernobyl, scientists thought everything nearby was dead. But was it? In this book you follow along the scientists as they try to find out why some animals are still alive there.  By: Rebecca L. Johnson
  • Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: This nonfiction graphic novel shows the history of hurricane Katrina, the 2005 hurricane of New Orleans that killed 1830 people. By: Don Brown
  • Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands: A super interesting biography on architect and artist Maya Lin. By: Susan Goldman Rubin

Graphic Novel:

  • Smile: This book is an autobiography on Raina, who lost two of her adult teeth, and then had to live with it during her highschool years. Has a sequel entitled Sisters. By: Raina Telgemeier
  • All’s Faire in Middle School: The author of Roller Girl brings us a story about a girl whose family works at the Renaissance Fair. When the girl, named Imogene “Impy”, wants to train as a squire, she must show her bravery by leaving the fair and going to middle school. By: Victoria Jamieson
  • Berrybrook Middle School Series: This three-book series shows the daily lives of middle school students. 3 books: Awkward, Brave, Crush. By:Svetlana Chmakova 
  • Nimona: A wonderful graphic novel about nemeses, dragons, science, and symbolism. By: Noelle Stevenson
  • Amulet Series: Siblings Emily and Naven, along with a robot named Miskit, go crashing through a series of adventures in a world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. By: Kazu Kibuishi
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret: (novel/graphic novel hybrid) Orphaned clock keeper, Hugo, meets a bookish girl, who puts his undercover life and secret in jeopardy.  By: Brian Selznick
  • Bone Series: Three bone cousins, named Smiley Bone, Fone Bone, and Phoney Bone are run out of Boneville, their hometown, and find themselves in a creature-inhabited forest. By: Jeff Smith 13 books, as well as a side novel series.

Now that you’ve looked at some of our recommended books, you might want to read some of these, and recommend them to your friends! If you don’t know what genres you like, you can try a book from each, and then decide which one you like the best! Happy Reading!

By: Myrna Burkhalter

Facts to Make You Smile

By: Dalia Nedzinskas

  • Cows have best friends – Cows are calmer when they’re with a friend, and they’re also smarter too.
Cows Have Best Friends
  • Goats and sheep are attracted to smiles – Alan McElligott performed an experiment to see what goats would do if they were shown a photo of a happy person and a mad person next to each other. About 51% went towards the happy face, 30% went towards the mad face, and the rest didn’t really care about the faces. So, in the end, most goats prefer a smiling face 😀
Goats Can Understand Human Expressions And Are Drawn To Smiling Faces
  • There is a pouch on an otter’s body where they keep their favorite rock – Folds of loose skin across an otter’s chests create a pouch under each forearm. Sea otters use their favorite rock for opening shellfish and clams. They keep this rock in one of their pockets. Most of the time, according to science, the left pocket.
The Marine Mammal Center : Sea Otter
  • Seahorses mate for life and they travel by holding tails – Baby seahorses sometimes hold each other’s tails and drift in the water looking for food. Seahorses have a strong tail that helps them hold onto objects, making it easier to eat their food without being pushed around by the current.
30 Happy Animal Facts That Will Make You Smile | Animal facts ...
  • Squirrels plant millions of trees every year due to forgetting where they buried some of their acorns – Tree squirrels are a very important animal because they help oak trees spread. From storing acorns in the ground, they plant baby oak trees.
TIL that squirrels plant thousands of trees per year simply by ...
  • A group of hedgehogs is called a prickle – Also, hedgehogs got their name because they prefer to live in garden hedges, and because of the pig-like noises they make.
  • Baby puffins are called pufflings – Also, puffins form long-term pair bonds or relationships.
A baby puffin is called a puffling! | Puffins bird, Animals, Baby ...

Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald

There have only been a few books I have disliked, and I’m happy to say that this did not make that list. I really enjoyed The Crowns of Croswald for multiple reasons. One is that this book is really similar to Harry Potter, which is one of my all-time favorite books. Both Harry Potter and Crowns of Croswalds share the plot similarity of a young orphan who ends up in a school for magical kids, and goes crashing (literally in Ivy’s case) through a series of adventures.

An image of the cover of “The Crowns of Croswald,” which has fairy-like creatures glowing red inside of lanterns.

Coming back to The Crowns of Croswald, I was pretty surprised that Ivy was a royal. I quite enjoyed the prologue, and I’m still waiting for the boy in it to come back again. Was he one of Ivy’s ancestors? No signs yet, though! Maybe in the next book. 🙂 I also enjoyed Ivy’s best (human, sorry Rimbrick) friend, Rebecca. I thought she was quite an interesting character. I also thought that Fyn was a cool character. I was slightly disappointed that Rimbrick didn’t come back, except in the story in the Hollow Shaft. I was also a little sad that Wincome passed on. That said, however, I loved this book!

Recommend this to: Fantasy lovers. And Harry Potter fans.

By: Myrna Burkhalter

Valentine’s Day: A History

Valentine’s day, a popular holiday even though it’s not a national holiday. This holiday is used as a way to show your love for someone and or appreciation for that person. But the history of Valentine’s Day is not as clear since there are many different histories to this holiday. Valentine’s Day has many stories on how it started.

One of the most popular origins and the one I will be talking about is from a Roman holiday called Lupercalia, which originally was celebrated the coming of spring also included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. The Greeks celebrated the observation of the mid-winter celebration for the marriage of the god Zeus and the goddess Hera. Some historians wonder if these traditions may have influenced the way we now celebrate February 14. These are some origins that most historians believe that this was the history of Valentines’ Day.

Another origin is based on a story of when the Romans had gone to war.  Many of the soldiers wanted to get wedded but the king did not allow them too. The king believed the soldiers would not fight as well. A saint named Valentine went ahead and wed multiple soldiers and was executed days later and so they made a holiday after him. Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. The Saint Valentine prayer asks Saint Valentine to connect lovers together, so that two become one, and the couple remembers their devotion to God.

One final origin is the day that commemorated a martyred saint named, you guessed it, Valentine. Even though legends differ, most celebrate three different saints called Valentine or Valentinus, and very little is known about these men. Another legend says a bishop called Saint Valentine of Terni is the true namesake of the holiday; this Saint Valentine was also executed. By the mid-19th century, mass-produced paper Valentine’s Cards were being created even through many Valentine’s card ideas were still worth trying, and Valentine’s Day then as we know it was born.

In conclusion, Valentine’s Day’s history is not a simple concept. So next time you think of Valentine’s Day think of the effort people put in for love.

By: Jacob Brown

Getting to Know You: Mr. Petrusha Edition

An image of Mr. Petrusha, Mrs. Petrusha, and Drew Jr. on vacation.

Mr. Petrusha has been teaching for almost 3 years at O.L. Smith. His least favorite part of teaching is going to meetings. He went to Waterford Pierce Middle School for middle school. He has read Harry Potter more times than he cares to admit, and loves graphic novels. He also loves superheroes, and has lots of batman posters in his classroom. Here is an excerpt from our interview with him!

Interviewer: Do you have children / partner / husband /  wife / pet / person?

Mr. Petrusha: I have a wife that I’ve known since my first year of high school. So I met her in 2005ish. I’ve been married for three years now, and I have an eighteen-month-old son. And my wife is going to have our second baby in June.

Interviewer: What is one memory you have of middle school? 

Mr. Petrusha: Probably when my seventh grade class got to spend a week in Chicago. It was a lot of fun.

Interviewer: What advice would you give a student who loved your subject?

Mr. Petrusha: Just pursue it! Don’t be afraid just because it’s not the cool subject – especially with math. Don’t be afraid to say you love math. It’s not a bad thing. A lot of jobs coming up in today’s world are going to be math and science and computer and technology based, as we know.

Interviewer: What would you tell a student if they were failing your class?

Mr. Petrusha: Come talk to me. We’ll work out a plan and get you to get what you need done.

Thank you for all you do teaching 7th and 8th grade. That takes a lot of love and dedication to be able to teach both grades. All your hard work is showing from your students’ NWEA math, and their report cards. When you walk into your class, you feel this kind and loving environment. Take a moment to thank Mr. Petrusha today!

By: Myrna Burkhalter, Molly Holland, and Ella Ballheim

Spirit Week!

Coming up during the week of February 10th, is O.L. Smith’s Spirit Week, sponsored by the Student Council! Read more to find out what the days are, and some ideas on what to wear! 

  • Monday, February 10th: Decades day, in which you can  dress as your favorite decade! You can wear a poodle skirt for the fifties, an old band shirt for grunge 90’s, a tye-dye shirt and lots of peace signs for the 70’s. Or, you could even come up with your own creative decade idea!
Decade ideas for Spirit Week! We can see examples from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
  • Tuesday: School spirit day! Go Vikings! Sport your Viking gear, or wear blue and gold!
Image result for viking logo
An image of the Viking logo
  • Happy Sports day! Wear a team t-shirt or hat! 
An image of a University of Michigan shirt.
  • VSCO day! You don’t have to add the sound effects (tsk, tsk, and I oop), but you can come wear scrunchies, big shirt, hydroflasks, puka shell necklaces, and more! 
Examples of items one might wear for VSCO Day, including a hydroflask and scrunchies.
  • Last, but not least, O.L. Smith will rap up the week with a pep rally and color day! Sith graders’ color is yellow, Seventh graders’ is red, and 8th grades’ is blue. 

Thanks for reading! Happy Spirit Week! 

-Myrna S. Burkhalter

One Wacky Christmas Tree

By: Jacob Brown

My name is Michael. My family members are pretty normal most of the time. I was the exception too there normalcy…

So one christmas, my mother and grandmother took me to get a tree while my father and grandfather got special ornaments based off of our family. I was 3, and was in charge of picking out what type of tree that we would decorate that year. However, I thought mom said fur tree, like on an animal so, on the way to the tree farm I was hyping up for something soft. 

We got there 15 minutes later, and we had reached the tree farm. My mother went and talked with an employee and we walked over to a fenced area of the farm. I saw many luscious trees and the needles were soft like little pieces of fabric. I looked around and found one that was like a throne of swords, perfectly serrated that were as sharp as a needle haystack. The tree had a big blank spot to make it look like a prickly throne. I said, “Death tree, death tree, death tree, let’s get a death tree.” 

My mother and grandmother looked at my and they asked, “Are you sure this is it? We can still-”

“No this is it,” I interrupted. I waddled over to the car and sat down and said nothing and they bought the tree. 

We headed home and when we got inside, we learned my father and grandfather never left to get ornaments. We had to improvise since the store would be closed by the time we would get their. We used colored paper, so our tree looked like a spiky triangle with little torn up pieces of paper. And the rest was pretty weird as well.

On Christmas night, I heard rustling so I woke up and I assumed it was Santa. I stayed quiet and quickly moved down toward the top of the stairs. I saw two people put presents around the tree and assumed it was Santa and Mrs. Claus, so ran back to bed.

Sleeping until morning, I woke up and Christmas and the rest went like a normal everyday Christmas.

Getting to Know You: Mr. Wellman Edition

A picture of Mr. Wellman at the “Pink Out” volleyball game

Mr. Wellman has been teaching math at O.L. Smith for six years. He loves the “Avengers” and has a large collection of “Avengers” pop toys. Mr. Wellman went to Mason Middle School in Waterford MI. Mr. Wellman has a wife, and grew up with Mr. Petrusha. Mr. Wellman’s favorite subjects in school are math and science. He also plays golf and softball. We hope you enjoy this article and enjoy learning about Mr. Wellman!

Interviewer: What is the most fun part of your job?

Mr. Wellman: The most fun part of my job is being able to help students understand concepts, and being able to see that moment when they finally… it just clicks. And you can just see that in their eyes, and their emotions. That’s probably the best part of my job is that moment right there.

Interviewer: What is the hardest part of your job?

Mr. Wellman: The hardest part is, I would say, the motivational aspect of it. Motivating kids to be interested in your topic – particularly with math – getting them interested in what you’re doing in the classroom.

Interviewer: What memories do you have of middle school?

Mr. Wellman: I actually remember my favorite subject when I was in middle school was actually science. And that was Mrs. Robinson’s class, actually. Seventh grade. That was the first time learning about – in math, in particular – learning the pre-algebra concepts. That was a new chapter for me. Another memory that I have from middle school, actually, I was in middle school when 9/11 happened.

Interviewer: What advice would you give a student who loved your subject?

Mr. Wellman: Challenge yourself. Always. Always, challenge yourself. Once you feel like you’ve mastered something, push yourself farther, and that’s when you’re going to really go places.

Interviewer: What advice would you give a student who is struggling with the subject you teach?

Mr. Wellman: Keep working. Don’t give up on it. You know, things don’t happen overnight. It takes time, and it takes dedication.

Interviewer: Why did you pick your classroom theme, if you have one?

Well, I would say my theme is… there’s a lot of superhero stuff around here, because that’s my thing. I like Marvel. I actually own all the movies. Seen them all more than once. I enjoy it.

Mr. Wellman, thank you for all your hard work this year. You are doing a great job teaching 7th and 8th grade. Your hard work is showing in the student’s report cards through this years class. Thank you for your hard work and keep it up, Mr. Wellman. Thank you for reading all about  Mr. Wellman.By: Myrna Burkhalter, Molly Holland, and Ella Ballheim