Echo!

EchoHey, guys! Aidan here. Lissy asked me to write a book review for a story I recently read: Echo By Pam Muñoz Ryan. I’ve read it – and it’s really cool! Sure, it’s a big book, but it has vivid characters and nice classical pieces, like Rhapsody in Blue (my aunt loves that piece). Set in World War II in Germany and America, the book follows Frederick, Mike, Ivy and a harmonica through different and difficult periods of history. I read it for my summer reading project, and it was perfect! I recommend it to those that have those kind of projects, once you start reading this- you can’t stop! Well, that’s all from me. Bye!
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Women In The News!

Hi Guys, Olivia here. IMG_6812ac

It was really great to see two women make history last week when Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver became the first two women to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School.

This is pretty amazing. To graduate, the officers (already a military police platoon leader and an Apache helicopter pilot), had to complete a really tough course including completing a twelve mile foot march in under three hours, carrying full military load, participate in three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters and twenty-seven days of mock combat patrols, plus many other tasks too many to list. At the end of the course they then walked the distance from New York to Boston wearing heavy packs. Wow!

The only issue is, that unlike the men who complete this course, neither Grist or Haver are able to apply to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, as currently it is restricted to men. Regardless, I want to say congratulations to these two amazing trailblazing women.

Artemis Fowl – Criminal Mastermind!

artemis eye acartemis with blue eye ac2

Hi Folks, Aidan here.

I think I may have mentioned that I love my local library and I love them even more for recommending the Artemis Fowl series by Mr. Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) which I started at the beginning of the summer and have barely put down.

The Fowl books are an adventure series with a twist. First meet twelve year old Artemis Fowl II (teenage criminal mastermind) and his six foot plus Eurasian bodyguard, Butler. Second, meet Holly Short of the LEPrecon, Foaly the centaur and my favorite character, Mulch Diggums – a kleptomaniac dwarf with a really bad, erm, flatulence problem. Then throw them all together in a series of high-stakes adventures both around the world and under it.

While I was reading the books I Googled some of the reviews. Amazon says  – “You will never think of leprechauns the same way again. Rip roaring, 21st century romp of the highest order.” And I have to say, I agree. Another review said “Think of Die Hard, but with fairies.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, if you like twelve year old masterminds and fairies with quick wit and a tendency towards sarcasm – run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore or library and pick up the Artemis Fowl series. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Drawings by Tess.

First Stop – Peru

Llamas

Hello Blog Post Readers. This is Lissy Puddleton, finally writing about our time in Peru.

First of all, as you may remember, this was my first time out of the state, not alone the country. My cousins and I had never boarded a train, never mind a plane. It was all very exciting, albeit slightly terrifying.

To be honest, I barely knew where Peru was before Grandma whisked us off there. True, I knew it was in South America, but finding out exactly where it was (on the Pacific coast, with Ecuador and Columbia to the north, Brazil to the east and Bolivia and Chile to the south – just in case you were wondering), was something I had never given much thought to, until we were on the plane, heading south.

The first thing we found out when arriving was about the invasion of Francisco Pizarro in 1531 and the death of Athualpa, the Inca King, which led to the hiding and losing of the lost treasure of the Inca. To put this in prospective Henry VIII was on the throne of England and had just become the head of the church of England. The story of Pizarro and Athualpa was really fascinating, plus it’s really cool that treasure hunters are still looking for this treasure today, now worth an estimated eight-billion dollars.

Getting to fly across the Nazca Lines was also amazing. Even though I’m sure there must be a logical explanation on how these soil canvases were made, I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive, and does make you wonder how on earth (or not) they did it.

Of course, visiting Machu Picchu was the highlight of our trip. It’s only when you’re standing 8,000 feet above sea-level that you realize what an accomplishment the lost city is. Hiram Bingham’s re-discovery just over a hundred years ago, is also quite unbelievable. Pretty impressive, seeing he wasn’t even looking for Machu Picchu, but another lost city, Vilcabamba.

Having lived my entire life in Texas, I must admit, Peru was a bit of a shock. I never knew a place could smell different – but it did. I never thought I’d be daring enough to try new food – but I did. I also never thought I’d be trekking around the jungle with just my cousins for company – still find this one difficult to believe – but I did.

However, the best thing about Peru was something you can’t read about in books or online – it was the people. From the eccentric Lucila to the enthusiastic Senor Gustavo, I will never forget their friendliness and how welcome they made us feel. Truly, when it comes down to it, it’s the people that really make a country and bring it to life.

Happy travels, my friends.

Jokes on Tess

Tess for tickles

Tess loves to tell jokes. Here is her current favorite!

There were two nuns driving through Trannsylvania when Dracula appears in the road. The one nun says to the other, “quick, show him your cross.” So, the other nun rolls down the window, leans out and shouts – “Get out of the road, you toothy git!”

Cagney’s Top Ten Tips on Packing

Hello, my friends.

As you can imagine, I am becoming quite an expert on packing for international travel. I am, therefore, going to share my fabulous knowledge with you all, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

Firstly, if you’ve never traveled out of the country before, don’t worry. It’s easier than falling off a llama (which, as it turns out, is pretty easy). As long as your family doesn’t abandon you once you get there (a different blog post altogether), you’ll be fine.

When my cousins and I first started boarding airplanes I had no idea what to pack and so I took everything – big mistake. Less is definitely more. First of all you have to carry this stuff and wheels on suitcases only take you so far – you still have to lift it. Secondly, there’s always lots of fun stuff to buy when traveling and you want to make sure you have room to bring it all back.

So, you may ask, how do you fit a week’s worth of fabulous clothing into a suitcase without having a complete meltdown? Just follow Cagney’s Top Ten Tips  on Packing and you will be good to go.

1. Check the weather – if it hadn’t been for Mrs Snoops, the whole bunch of us would have taken summer clothes to Peru in June – big mistake. Just because it’s 100 degrees in your hometown, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same where you are going, especially if it’s in a different hemisphere.

2. Make sure you have a sleep mask. Jet lag is a bore and you will wake up and want to go to sleep at the most inconvenient times. Also, for some reasons, the further north you go in summer, the longer the days. When it’s not dark until gone ten and light by 4:30, a sleep mask can come in mighty handy. My personal favorite is purple, padded and plush with the words – “wake me and I’ll bite you” on it, but anything will do in a pinch.

3. Take one spectacular outfit. Just in case you bump into a glamorous movie star who invites you out for dinner – hey, it can happen.

4. Do not carry anything sharp and pointy onto the plane – they get very upset about this.

5. Don’t forget your chargers and adaptors. Weird thing about other countries, they don’t have plugs that look like ours – that was a bit of a shock.

6. Lay out all the outfits you want to take. Make sure your pants and tops match, there’s no point bringing your fabulous lime green top halfway around the world only to realize you have nothing to match. Pack your favorite outfit first and then keep going until you have one outfit for every day – no more. Jeans can do double duty for two outfits, if you are pressed for space. Don’t forget your PJ’s, a sweater and, although it pains me to say it, sensible shoes.

7. Take something to do for the downtime – which there always is when traveling. Aidan brings books – of course. Lissy is inseparable from that darn laptop and Tess – duh – brings food. Just make sure whatever you bring it’s not too bulky or heavy, or if it is, it’s edible.

8. If you’re going to England – take an umbrella.

9.  We cannot always choose who we travel with, so bringing ear plugs to drown out your travel companions constant information dump is always advisable.

10.  Finally, don’t forget to mark your luggage really well. After several hours in the air, the last thing you need is to have problems identifying one of the gazillion black suitcases gliding around the carousel. I’m not going to go over the top like Tess – whose baggage, as you can imagine, is hard to miss, but subtle is not the way to go either. A bright ribbon attached to the handle in your favorite color is always a good start, or a luggage label with an unusual design. My luggage label states – BACK OFF MISTER, THIS IS MINE! Subtle, but effective, I find.