Monday, January 31, 2011


EmptyTitle: Empty     
Author: Suzanne Weyn  
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2010   
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Novel   
Summary: Ten years in the future, Tom, Gwen, and Niki find themselves trying to survive in a world that has run out of oil/gas as a natural resource.   
What I Think:  I was in an 8th grade English classroom when they were looking for great opening lines and a student read from this book (see below).  I had to write down the title right away because I was intrigued just from the first line.  This book was a little hard for me to read because it really hit close to home for me.  I have been thinking more and more about "being green" and how important is it to pay attention to our carbon footprints.  Just today, our electricity went out and my mind immediately started racing knowing that the temperature is in the negative numbers and I had two kids to take care of.  I knew we were in trouble if the heat didn't come back on and I started thinking of this book and imagining the worst.  I love the topic for getting teens tuned into the state of affairs as far as the world is concerned.  I, myself, didn't realize how much we do depend on gas/oil besides for our cars (see below).
     From a teacher's perspective I love the introduction paragraphs for Gwen and Niki (see below).  The author does a good job of showing us who each girl is as a character.  There are lots of inferences to be made but just as many clues from the author to make those inferences.  Also, the first three pages in general lend themselves to inferring a lot about Gwen and Tom.
Read Together: 8 - 12 
Read Alone: 8 - 12 
Read With: Life As We Knew ItThe Dead and the Gone, and This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer;   
Snatch of Text:  “Gwen Jones squeezed out of her bedroom window onto the sizzling roof below.  Even through her flip-flops, she could feel the burn of the shingles.  The feebly whirring minifan on her night table was no match against the full bake of this night.  Whatever relief she could find out here was better than nothing.” p.1

“Niki Barton drew up a light blue cotton blanket from the end of her four-poster bed until it reached the bottom of her shorts.  The blasting air-conditioning was covering her arms with goose bumps.  Once the blanket was in place, she tapped the edge of Brock’s photo with the tips of her manicured nails.” p. 14

“ We’ve been headed down this road for a while.  I guess no one – including me – thought the oil would really run out.  We had no idea that everything is made from oil – plastic, insecticides, cosmetics – everything.  Shampoo and soap are made of hydrocarbons, linked and processed from oil.  Bricks and concrete are made with oil.  The shingles on our roof.  Carpet.  Fertilizer.  The asphalt we use to pave our roads – that comes from the bottom of the tank after oil’s been refined.  When there’s no oil, the bottom of the tank is empty.” p. 41
Reading Strategies to Practice: Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Expository 
Writing Prompts: Use descriptive writing to show your readers about your character without telling who he or she is.  Write an essay to explain how teens can make a difference in caring for the environment.
Topics Covered: Friendship, Family, Courage, Survival, Science - Environmental 
Translated to Spanish: No

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