Monarch Teacher Network: Day 3 in Mexico

February 18, 2008

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This morning we overslept a little! Luckily, we made it down to breakfast on time, where Chris and I tried cactus juice for the first time. It was pretty good! It was as green as newly-cut grass, with a taste of pineapple in it. After racing through breakfast, we boarded the bus to go to El Rosario, our first monarch reserve!

cimg1771.jpgThe 2.5 hour drive to the sanctuary was amazing, with mountains that are actually dormant volcanoes hovering above you. Some of them reach as high as 12,000 feet above sea level. Remember, here in NJ we are at sea level. As we drove up the cobblestone road that leads into the sanctuary, Marcos explained that the local townspeople had laid the road by hand in order to make it easier for tourists to visit the sanctuary. About halfway up the mountain we saw our first monarchs, a breath-taking sight since none of the teachers on the trip had seen monarchs since last fall, when we released them in the US and Canada. As we drove up toward the mountaintop, we could see the effects that years of mining and logging have had on the oyamel fir forests that blanket the area. For years the local Ejidos have cut down the forest to meet their everyday basic needs for shelter and wood for heating and cooking. More recently, the forests have also fallen prey to illegal logging because the wood from the oyamel trees is extremely valuable and can be cut down and sold for a very large profit in some parts of Mexico (especially Mexico City). If this illegal logging continues, then the migration of the monarch butterfly will become extinct. Thankfully, the Mexican government has begun to work with the local Ejidos and number of local non-profit organizations to restore parts of the de-forested areas and educate the locals about taking better care of their environment. A big part of this is the designation of the Monarch Biospere Reserve in this part of Mexico. In this reserve the Monarchs’ homes are now protected by the government and the local people who live here. El Rosario is one of these reserves.

As we drove, Marcos took the time to explain the background of the Mayan and Aztec calendar. The MesoAmerican cultures used an anthropomorphic calendar. This means that it is based on the humans and not on the sun. There are 260 days in a year because the average amount of time that a child spends in the womb is 260 days. It is absolutely fascinating!

Finally, we arrived at approximately 8,000 ft above sea level, to the parking lot of the El Rosario Sanctuary. We de-bussed and headed toward the mountain path. We passed through a gauntlet of shops and restaurants, and Marcos reminded us to “Be-a strong!” Anything we bought at the bottom of the mountain would have to be carried to the top and back down again. No thank you! However, our senses were assaulted by the sights and smells of the shops, making our mouths water and our eyes wander from item to item. It was hard to be strong!

After paying at the visitor center, we began our ascent. The ejido members have built concrete steps into the mountaintop for about half of the climb. This made the climb a little easier! As we reached a slightly higher altitude, we began to see a few monarchs flutter by our heads, headed down the mountainside to the flowers closer to the bottom. As we reached the Plains of the Rabbits (a meadow halfway to the peak), we entered a river of monarchs, flowing down thecimg1806.jpg mountainside. As the warmth from the sun hit the clusters of monarchs on the bowed branches of oyamels, thousands more monarchs lifted into the air in search of nectar and water. It was surreal to stand in the midst of thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies, tumbling down the mountain like flakes of orange snow.

As we kept climbing we saw more and more monarchs. More than I ever imagined possible. We came across hundreds of them puddling in small streams. We even got pictures of Mariposa (our class mascot) with a few other classroom mascots from around North America. They puddled with some of the live monarchs and even had a real, live monarch land on them!

Throughout the hike we would meet people on their way down, encouraging us to keep climbing. “It only gets better! You haven’t seen anything yet!” They were right! At the peak, the scene stole your breath away. Because the warmth of the sun had not yet risen to that height, the boughs of the oyamel trees were weighted down by cimg1835.jpgmillions upon millions of monarch butterflies. We spent about 45 minutes just sitting at the peak, surrounded by orange sunbursts flitting through the sky. It was serene and tranquil, like a silent snowfall. The only sounds were the wind blowing through the trees and the flapping of millions of butterfly wings.

As we descended the mountain later that afternoon, we stopped every few feet to lift sunning monarchs off the path. You had to watch each step to ensure you did not mistakenly step on a monarch gathering its strength in the afternoon sun. It was magical. The climb down was much harder than the ascent, though. It was so steep that you would have to grab into trees to keep your balance while scooting downhill. Because of the altitude and the length of the climb, many climber’s legs began to tremble as they walked.

Once we reached the main path we were inundated again by the shops and restaurants. The native people were shouting prices but the language barrier presented a problem. They began holding out goods to attract our attention, while slowly repeating the prices in Spanish. We were able to work together to determine the prices and even to bargain a little! Icimg1856.jpg purchased a few t-shirts which were hand-embroidered on the site, along with pine needle baskets made by hand down the mountain. Even now, when I open the basket, it’s like a Pandora’s box of Christmas. The scent of pine and winter is overwhelming. We browsed through all of the shops, and even though I love to shop it is not easy when you don’t speak the language. It made shopping an intellectual experience if nothing else!

We had lunch at one of the small shacks on the side of the trail. The homemade blue corn tortillas were delicious! We don’t raise blue corn here in the States, so it was a treat to see blue tortillas. And fresh tortillas taste nothing at all like store-bought ones. I had quesadillas, and it was the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten! Almost everyone in the group ate at the restaurant and we all raved about the food. At one point we heard a cell phone ring, and we were amazed that anyone had service. Then, we saw one of the young Mexican girls grinning. It was her cell phone receiving a text! Even though the Masawa people have retained much of their own culture, technology like cell phones has made the leap over the great divide and become a part of daily life.

cimg1793.jpgWe finally got back on the bus later in the afternoon for the 2.5 hour journey back to the hotel for the night. I spent much of the long ride back thinking about what I had witnessed in the sanctuaries. Words can not describe what you see in the sanctuaries, and I wish that all my students could have the opportunity to see the magic takes place there. When you are here and you see, hear and feel the billions upon billions of monarchs, you are overwhelmed with the fact that we really are just a tiny part of this giant universe. It is a truly life-changing experience. Looking back at my pictures, video and words I realize that nothing can accurately describe the sanctuaries. The emotions that run through you as billions of Monarchs cling to the towering trees overhead and dance and play in a river of orange with a stunning blue sky behind them are indescribable.

I received a fellowship for this trip from the Monarch Teacher Network/Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  MTN is a fantastic organization that gives summer workshops, “Teaching and Learning with Monarch Butterflies”, all over the country.  Anyone who attends the workshop (you do not have to be a teacher!), is eligible to go on one of the 3 yearly trips to Mexico.

Monarch Teacher Network: Day 2 in Mexico

February 17, 2008

After a frantic morning spent hunting down our lost luggage, (I wanted to hug my suitcase when it finally arrived) we boarded our tour bus at 8am. As we began our first leg of the journey we were treated to a tour of Mexico City while our tour guide, Marcos, gave us a brief history of the area. I was shocked by the poverty we saw. Marcos explained that while there are wealthy parts of the city, too many politicians offered land to the poor in exchange for votes over the years. Sadly, those same land areas lack electricity and running water. It is a very crowded city- in 2006 Mexico City had a population of almost 20 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world.
We drove for about four hours, slowly making our way into the Transvolcanic Mountains. We finally arrived at ourcimg1697.jpg destination 8,000 feet above sea level- the town of Tlalpujahua. Tlalpujahua is not a tourist town. However, it does have a storied history. In 1937 a landslide wiped out the entire town, killing over many people, but sparing only one building in the town; the Church of San Pedro y San Pablo. The church was built on sacred ground, so that the natives (Aztecas) would attend mass when the Spanish completed it. The people in the town are extremely religious. We were in town on Sunday and many of the local people were in the church attending Mass. The inside of the church is breathtaking. Instead of being dark and intimidating, it is bright and cheery. The walls are pastel pinks and blues, covered in flowers. Flowers were sacred to the Aztecs so this was another way to encourage them to attend mass. At the top of the cathedral, the ceilings meet with a large white daisy. It is stunning!  I loved seeing a church that was so different than those I was used to- ornate and intimidating on the outside while bright and inviting on the inside.  It was a great experience.  Plus, even though the hymn the celebrants were singing was in Spanish, I recognized the melody as one that I grew up singing, just in English!

The locals see Sunday not only as a day of religious observance but also an opportunity to dress up and go to church, and to visit the huge market where the locals sell handmade pottery, handcarved wooden goods, fruits and vegetables and all kinds of hand-made souvenirs and baked goods. We walked around the market, doing a little shopping. Despite being 2000 miles from home, it reminded me a lot of the local market/auction. Chris and I bought a handmade terracotta bowl and spoon, painted with small flowers. There were also mass-produced items available- we even saw a teddy bear wearing a t-shirt proclaiming, “Someone at TCNJ Loves Me!” He was certainly a long way from home!

We had lunch at a local cafe (which thankfully produced an English menu for us). I had the Azteca soup- spicy cream of tomato broth with avocado, tortilla, and pork rinds. Chris tried Manzana, an apple soda, while I stuck with Coke.  My taste buds weren’t used to the assault of spices, but I enjoyed my lunch.

cimg1706.jpgAfter a relaxing lunch, we took the bus a few miles up the road to the Two Stars Mine, a silver mine that the locals have reopened as a museum. As Marcos reminds us, this is another opportunity created by the locals to help their economy. It is an extremely important place in Mexican history because most of the villagers worked in the mine in the early 1900`s and the town was actually built on top of the mines. Today, you can walk into houses in Tlalpujahua and find the entrance to many mine shafts. The restaurant where we ate lunch even had an entrance to the mine! The mine is also important because thousands of men from town died there over its short 40 year period of operation, in very unsafe mining conditions. Men were forced to sometimes work naked in damp mines, almost a thousand feet below the earth’s surface. Because the mines are located in the volcanic mountains, they get hotter as the shafts go deeper. Even worse, the owner and overseers made the men work naked so that they wouldn’t try to steal any of the gold or silver at the end of the work day. They also paid the men 7 cents a day and the money that they were paid with could only be used to buy things at the store at the mine, because the money was especially minted by the mine to pay the mine workers and was not good anywhere else in Mexico. So whatever they earned they had to give back to the mine owners just for basic necessities like food for their families. The mine also had a credit system for purchases and in many cases the men working the mines owed the mine more money than they earned. Of the mine profits, less than 3% made its way back to the town. 97% of the profits went to France, where the owner of the mine lived.

Two Stars Mine was one of the most prolific gold and silver mines in the entire world. We were able to tour the small museum, with a young girl from the area telling us about the objects in the museum. After the tour, we were allowed to enter the mine shaft. The shaft we entered was on the ground level and it was comfortably cool and moist. Below us, there were 14 more mine shafts with 30 meters between each level. Just imagine being that far below the earth’s surface! And the lower you go, the hotter it gets, because you get closer to the magma in the volcanoes. At some depths, it was almost 150 degrees F.

Approximately 150m into the mine shaft we were able to see the altar used by the mine workers. Each day, as theycimg1709.jpg entered the mine, the men would leave an offering and a prayer at the altar. They would pray to the Virgin of Carmen for their safe return at the end of the day. The Virgin of Carmen was their patron because she was the only relic to survive the landslide that destroyed the town many years before. The Virgin thus became the town’s patron saint of disasters.

The mine was a bit claustrophobic and I couldn’t imagine entering everyday and climbing even further below the surface. However, the men who did so had little choice. It was one of the few economic opportunities at that time. Today, there are beautiful murals painted outside the mine which depict the history of the mine. The natives are seen as abused and treated as the US treated African slave, if not worse. The owners of the mine are living the high life, practically blanketed in gold and silver. The murals were heartbreaking.

After the Two Stars Mine, we headed to our hotel for the night. Before reaching the hotel, we made a quick detour to a cactus orchard. Marcos gave us a short explanation of the many uses of the giant Maguey Cactus in Cultepec. Some of these cactus are 8 to 10 feet tall and after the cactus matures in seven years in sprouts this asparagus looking tree from its center that is 15 to 20 feet tall. Marcos explained that if the stem is cut, a sweet liquid, like water, can be harvested. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque, which is the “happy drink”! After fermenting, it becomes a strong alcoholic drink that the locals love to drink. The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and marcos demonstrated the size of the fibers for us by cutting the tip of a stem.. Both pulque and the fiber were important to the economy of Meso-America. They even made paper from the cactus!

cimg1743.jpgWhen we reached the hotel we would be staying at for the next two nights, we were stunned. The Hacienda Cantalagua was stunningly gorgeous. It was an original hacienda built in 1771. The original buildings still stand. The gardens and fountains throughout the property were lush and serene. The hacienda wall extended over the horizon in all directions. However, we were so exhausted from the day’s activities that we quickly logged onto the computers in the business center, ate the delicious buffet dinner, and fell into bed!

Monarch Teacher Network: Day 1 in Mexico

Between the days of 02/16/02-02/23/08 I was privileged to be a part of a life changing professional development experience. When I began my student teaching a few years ago, my cooperating teacher introduced me to the Monarch Teacher Network. The Monarch Teacher Network is a growing network of teachers who have received training to use monarch butterflies to teach a variety of concepts and skills, including our growing connection with other nations and the need to be responsible stewards of the environment. Even though I am now a language arts teacher, I use the monarchs as an overarching theme for the entire year. “Journeys” is the theme for this year, as my 6th graders end their journey in our school and begin to plan the journey that will be the rest of their lives. The monarchs serve as a community-building activity in the beginning of the year, when we raise them as a class.

I took the workshop two years ago, worked as a staff member last year, and finally applied for the fellowship to Mexico this year. When I received the fellowship, I was ecstatic! The trip was 8 days of intense professional development and I changed the way I look at my teaching and the world around me. I HIGHLY recommend taking the workshop this summer if it will be near you. We are expanding nationwide over the next few years and would be thrilled to hold a workshop in your state if you are interested. The workshops for this summer are as follows:

  • June 18, 19, 20 – Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama
  • June 23, 24, 25 – Texas A&M University, Texarkana, Texas
  • July 28, 29, 30 at Webster Hill School, West Hartford, CT (minutes from Interstate 84)
  • August 6, 7, 8 – Forest Park High School, Woodbridge, VA (Prince William County)
  • August 11, 12, 13 – Waples Mill School, Oakton, VA (Fairfax County)
  • August 11, 12, 13 – Knox Agri-Center, Galesburg, IL (Knox County close to Interstate 74 exit)
  • August 11, 12, 13 – Brookside Elementary School, Columbus, OH (Franklin County)
  • August 13, 14, 15 – Cox Arboretum, Dayton OH (Montgomery County)
  • August 18, 19, 20 – Paramus, NJ (Bergen Community College; New York City area)
  • August 19, 20, 21 – North Branch NJ (Raritan Valley Community College; Somerset County, Central NJ)
  • August 20, 21, 22 – Sewell, NJ (EIRC facility, Gloucester County, Philadelphia area)

Info for Canadian Teachers

  • Kingston, Ontario – July 23, 24, 25thFrontenac Secondary School
  • Brighton, Ontario – July 29, 30, 31st – Brighton Public School
  • Wiarton, Ontario – August 5, 6, 7thPeninsula Shores District School
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba – July 22 – 24th

If you are interested in the 3-day workshop, I can forward the brochure to you! This 3-day workshop was the most rewarding workshop I have ever taken!!

Journal Entries

*taken from my moleskine journal entries, written daily over the course of the trip.

February 16, 2008
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It’s been an interesting day. Chris and I left the house at 3am, ready to arrive at the Philadelphia Airport with plenty of time to make out 6:10am flight. (As an aside, 6:10am is entirely too early for a flight). I was nervous and excited about the trip, a jumble of emotions. This trip is something I have looked forward to for years, since my first introduction to the Monarch Teacher Network. I couldn’t wait to get to Mexico City!

We checked in, made it through security, and even had time to spare before boarding our plane. We took off on time and enjoyed watching our in-flight movie, Martian Child, starring John Cusack. After the movie, I started to feel like we had been on the plan for too long. We had hit a lot of turbulence, so it was a rough flight. I fell asleep for a few minutes and when I woke up I knew it had been longer than the predicted 3.5 hour flight time. Moments later, the captain announced that due to a severe weather pattern in Dallas, we had been circling and rerouted for over an hour. The storms were too severe and we had been unable to get near the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport. He then announced that we were running low and fuel and would be heading to Little Rock, Arkansas to refuel. About 45 minutes later, we landed in rainy Little Rock.

Let me tell you what I learned about Little Rock- it’s flat, brown, and there is a huge Waffle House near the airport. On the plus side, I do get to add another state to my list of “States I Have Physically Been In”.

While we were on the ground in Little Rock, I frantically attempted to get through to American Airlines. There was no way we were going to make our connecting flight to Mexico City and I wanted to see if they had also been delayed. I finally got through and was informed that our connection was already on its way to Mexico City. The very sweet customer service agent let me know that we should be landing in Dallas at 11:22am and that she could rebook my tickets on the 3:25pm flight to Mexico City. I was upset because this meant we would not make it to Mexico City in time for the Museum of Archeology tour. But I took the flight and chalked it up to experience.

About 2 hours later we finally landed in Dallas, in the middle of the same storm that had prevented us from landing earlier. We had spent over 6 hours on the flight instead of 3 hours! This left us with some time to explore the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, which is gorgeous. It is absolutely ginormous and has many stores and restaurants in the various terminals. My favorite part was the Skylink, a monorail system that connects the various terminals.

After having lunch, the weather in Dallas (and all over the South) worsened. There was a terrible thunderstorm going on. One crash of thunder was so loud that it shook the terminal windows in front of our seats! The severe weather led to many more cancellations and delays. Thankfully, though many flights were canceled, our flight was only delayed by an additional hour.

Our Mexicana flight got off the ground around 4:30pm. On this flight we had an entire row to ourselves! We also were fed dinner and watched an episode of the CW’s Life is Wild. And between the two flights and the extended stay at the airport in Dallas I was able to finish reading Tunnels (review coming soon).

After we landed in Mexico City we went through immigration. The line was a veritable melting pot of international flavors- around us we could hear French, German, Dutch, and Chinese. The English accents we heard were American, British, and Canadian. The wall behind us was covered with a gorgeous mural depicting the most famous aspects of Mexico (more accurately, the most famous tourist areas).

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The line moved fairly quickly and after both customs and immigration we headed to baggage claim. We assumed our bags would be unloaded because so much time had passes while we were on line. Now, we have obnoxious baggage- mine is sea-foam green and Chris’ and bright red. It should stand out from across the room. As we approached the baggage claim it was nowhere in sight. I began to panic slightly, seeing as we only had our daypacks and nothing else. It was 9pm, I had no contact supplies, no deodorant, nothing. I was hoping and praying our baggage had just been removed to another location.

I went up to the Mexicana counter and asked the agent about our luggage. After the initial language barrier, we were told our luggage had not been placed on our flight due to the cancellations and delays in Dallas. It should, theoretically, be on the next plane out of Dallas. Of course, that would be the last plane out before the next morning. The agent had us fill out a claim and told me my luggage “should be on tonight’s flight, arriving at 1am”. I made sure to emphasize the fact that I was only in Mexico City until 8am the next morning. The luggage absolutely must be delivered before 8am. Otherwise, I would be 6 hours outside of Mexico City with only one pair of underwear! The luggage handler promised me that the luggage would be delivered between 1am and 6:30am.

Stressed out, exhausted, and sore from sitting in an airplane seat all day, we exchanged our dollars for pesos. We were able to get an official government taxi, loaded our tired selves and backpacks inside, and headed to our hotel. Once we arrived (30 minutes later), we checked in, left a quick message telling Erik we had arrived, and collapsed in bed.

I would spend the next morning hunting down out luggage and making sure it arrived before 8am. But for that moment, all I needed in the world was sleep!

Finally Home!

I am finally back at home, on my own couch.  After 8 days in Mexico, an 18 hour flight last Saturday, and an unplanned overnight stay in Dallas, Texas last night- I am HOME.  The trip to Mexico was absolutely amazing.  I am currently uploading my pictures, and will be updating TheReadingZone With my adventures over the next few days.  Thanks for all of the wonderful comments while I was gone!  I am off to update myself on the blogosphere happenings that I missed. 

Live From Maravatio, Mexico

I am sitting in the business center of the Hotel Cantalagua.  Mexico is absolutely gorgeous.  Today I hiked 2 miles to over 10,000 ft above sea level.  It was amazing!  There eere millions upon millions of monarch butterflies.

It has been an amazing trip so far! 

Cybils

I am so excited about the Cybil announcements!  Check them out here. I am happy with the awards and you can expect more in-depth analysis when I get back. Congratulations to all the winners! 

Monarchs in Flight

I will be on a 6:10am flight to Mexico City on Saturday morning!  I am so very excited about this fellowship.  Over the course of eight days I will visit Mexico City, the monarch reserves El Rosario and Sierra Chincua, Museum of Anthropology, Alternare, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Tzintzunzan, Janitzio, Lady of Guadalupe shrine, Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Sun, Templo Mayor, and the National Palace.

Seeing the monarchs is supposed to be a magical experience.  I have my writer’s notebook packed and I am hoping to get a lot of writing done.  The poem below is a Native American blessing that my classes and I say when we release our monarchs each fall.

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.

Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all.

In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

The following line is often added when the Legend is read prior to releasing butterflies at a wedding:

We have gathered to grant this couple all our best wishes and are about to set these butterflies free in trust that all these wishes will be granted.

I will be gone for 8 days.  Stay safe and keep blogging!!

Hot Books in February

As I am frantically trying to pack and prepare for my fellowship (I leave for Mexico on Saturday morning!), I realized I better get my Hot Books list posted before I leave. Without further ado, here are the most popular books in my classroom over the last month.

Avalon High: Coronation Volume 1: The Merlin Prophecy by Meg Cabot: This graphic novel has been a huge hit. Interestingly, the majority of readers are boys. The book has been passed from one boy to the next since it arrived from Scholastic a few weeks ago, and the buzz is slowly building.

Gathering Blue and Messenger by Lois Lowry: We recently finished our science-fiction unit of study. As a class, we studied Lois Lowry’s The Giver and my students loved it. They were very excited to learn that Lowry had written more books in the “trilogy” (I’m never sure what to call it….It’s not technically a trilogy if all 3 books can stand alone!) and that the books included answers. A few have finished “Gathering Blue” already and are moving on to “Messenger”. Every day someone comes up to my desk to share their excitement. “We finally know what happened to Jonas and Gabe!”. Kids like answers- they hate books that leave them hanging. At least my kids do! They are very happy to find out the answers and I am thrilled to see them reading more and more.

Lush by Natasha Friend: Realistic fiction is the most popular genre in my library and my students love to read books about other kids who struggle with realistic problems. “Lush” has been making the rounds through my girls and they are all raving about it. Also popular, Natasha Friend’s Perfect: A Novel and Bounce.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer:  Since my booktalk, this has not been on my shelf at all.  My students, especially my reluctant readers, are loving this book.  At least once per day a student comes up to me in the hall saying, “It can’t get any worse.  Can it?!”  The students who have finished the book definitely have a new appreciation for running water, heat, and air conditioning!

So, what books are popular in your classroom or library right now?

When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You) by Meg Cabot

Before this weekend, I had never read a Meg Cabot book. Sure, I have seen “The Princess Diaries” movie(s). I had heard Meg’s name bandied about for the last few years. For some reason, I had never taken the time to read one of her books. However, during my last trip to the bookstore I stumbled on her 1-800-Where-R-You series, which really caught my interest. I have always been fascinated by missing persons cases (the forums over at Websleuths are some of my favorite reading), and it seemed like 1-800-Where-R-You would be right up my alley.

When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You) is the story of  Jess Mastriani, a misunderstood teen who has “anger issues”, according to her guidance counselor.  When Jess ends up walking home from her daily gig in detention on afternoon, she is struck by lightning.  She seems fine and feels fine, and assures her best friend, Ruth, that all is well.  However, her life is changed forever when she wakes up the next morning.  As she gets out of bed, she realizes that she knows where Olivia and Sean are.  Granted, she has no idea who Olivia and Sean are so she ignores her dream.

Then, as Jess pours milk into her cereal she stares into the faces of Sean and Olivia.  On her milk carton.  Sean and Olivia are missing children and Jess somehow knows where they are.  When she lets the authorities know (through the toll-free hotline 1-800-Where-R-You), she learns that not everyone who is missing wants to be found.  And that you can’t stay anonymous when you are the only person with the answers everyone wants.

The remainder of the book follows Jess as she struggles to come to grips with her new ability.  When the federal government steps in she is backed into a corner- does she protect her family, those who are missing, or her country?  Plus, how can she do all this and still get the local bad boy to see her as girlfriend material?

I enjoyed this book and plan to read the rest of the series.  My only disasppointment is that  I am hesitant to put  it into my classroom library.  Jess is a typical high schooler, so her thoughts are littered with four-letter words. This fits her voice and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  However, that makes me hesitant to put it into a 6th grade classroom library.

Exhaustion

We had a class trip today.  I feel like I will never get up from this chair.

 I’m Tired

I’m tired of being misunderstood,

nerves are shot,

weak – like old wood.

I’m tired of being ill,

no energy, can’t think,

losing my skills.
(read the rest here)

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