Popular Books for Teens

Popular books for teens

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Over the past year, these books have been the most popular in my classroom. Some are newer releases and some are older classics. But all have been either requested or checked out numerous times.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (or ANYTHING by John Green!)
Students who like TFiOS will probably check out his other books: Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, An Abundance of Katherines

Students who like John Green books also seem to like the following reads:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

FanGirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Every Day by David Levithan

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

It by Stephen King is a perennial favorite. Students also love Carrie and Christine.

Students who like Stephen King also seem to like:

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Crank Series by Ellen Hopkins

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare (ALL of these books are popular and she continues to publish new ones)

The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare (Same with this series!)

Students who like Cassandra Clare's books also seem to love the following:

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Angel Burn Series by L.A. Weatherly (Angel Fire and Angel Fever)

(Not shown): Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, or the Shiver Series by Maggie Stiefvater (ShiverLingerand Forever)

On preorder (out July 1, 2014): Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, which continues the Shiver story.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is, of course, one of the most popular series in recent years. Even those who read the books in middle school love re-reading them in high school.

Students who like The Hunger Games also seem to like the following:

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

The Program by Suzanne Young

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

Dust Lands Series by Moira Young

The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

Ender's Game by Orson Card Scott

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Ashfall Trilogy by Mike Mullin

Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Trilogy) by Patrick Ness

A classic novel students read in 7th or 8th grade is The Contender by Robert Lipsyte.

Students who like The Contender also seem to like:

Jude by Kate Morgenroth

Gone by Michael Grant

The girls can't seem to get enough Nicholas Sparks novels. Favorites are:

The Notebook, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, and The Longest Ride

Students who like Nicholas Sparks also seem to like:

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

and any books by Sarah Dessen (not pictured).

For additional books that teens favor, check out these titles released yesterday by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA):

YALSA 2014 nominations for Top Teen Reads

Which books do your students like? 
Leave a comment with your picks below. 

Thanks for stopping by!


Divergent Movie Review (with Spoilers)

Divergent Field Trip & Movie Review Blog Post

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Patience should really be a virtue when writing a script for a movie. For example, if the third and final book of the series is not released yet, you should probably hold off on re-writing the scenes. Why? Well, you may cut or completely botch some of the crucial foreshadowing points. Like they did in "Divergent."

Along with my colleague, we took our senior English students to see "Divergent" on Friday. Even though I had seen it Thursday night, I was anxious to see it again with people who had read the book to see if I was making a big deal out of nothing with some of the little changes that were made.

Some of them were OK with the changes, and some felt the same as me: pretty ticked off. Although, since many of us didn't really like Allegiant, maybe making the changes means they are going to completely change the story, which might be a good thing. ;)

Things I HATED about the Divergent movie.  www.hungergameslessons.com

Things That Really Bugged Me About the Movie...
Please be warned there are spoilers here as I go through my biggest pet peeves of the movie (this has spoilers to Insurgent and Allegiant, as well):

That's not how it happens! -Click for Divergent movie pet peeves

1. What's up with Tris shooting her family in her final fear landscape exam? This is completely ridiculous! She would never shoot her family. She refuses to shoot them and instead tells Jeanine to kill her instead. She even recalls Tobias saying "Selflessness and bravery aren't that different..." (page 396). Her worst fear is that her family will die and she will be responsible. So she can't shoot one of them! Let's pretend that she shoots Jeanine instead in the movie (it never really shows WHO she shoots, after all.) How will this foreshadow the climax of Allegiant? Will Tris shoot someone instead of sacrificing herself for her brother? It doesn't quite have the same effect. I actually like that she sacrifices herself for Caleb, even though he almost killed her in Insurgent. It shows her divergence; it shows that she will NOT conform to the "faction before blood" mentality.
  Did they do this because they showed her do this same thing with Tobias when they are trying to shut down the simulation? Perhaps. It is a little overkill in the book. I get that. But...it still really botches the foreshadowing in Allegiant, in my opinion.

2. Four is NOT a rapist! Another fear landscape debacle: Four is portrayed as a guy who just wants to get down with Tris and she fights him off to overcome her fear. Ummm...no. That is not how it happens! Yes, he is kissing her, but she says she doesn't want to sleep with him in a hallucination. Then she pushes him against the bedpost and starts kissing and grabbing him...then she moves on to her final fear. Why change this? I felt like it was a bad portrayal of Four.

We want our Dauntless cake! And other things missing from the Divergent movie...

3. Where's the Dauntless cake? How hard would it be to slip a little bit of chocolate Dauntless cake in there? Seriously.

4. Tris' mother's death is less sacrificial and more accidental. While this part was still sad and touching, I don't think it's because of the changes that were made. I think Shailene's gut-wrenching cry when her mother dies was so emotionally gripping that the fact that her mother's death was shown as more of an accident was overshadowed. Again, why change this scene? OK, I get that she needed to be holding her mother for that part to register with movie-viewers, but couldn't her mother still sacrifice herself and still take down the Dauntless soldiers and Shailene still grip her mother's body and wail? Yes! So why make it seem like Shailene is doing the dirty work in the scene instead?

Divergent Movie Pet Peeves: I can't tell Will and Al apart!5. I can't tell Will and Al apart! This was very annoying. I felt those two actors looked a little too much alike in the movie. I thought Al would be much bigger than Will...and everyone.

6. Peter is not quite as evil as he is portrayed in the novel. I kind of like some of Peter's dialogue in the movie and I guess this part doesn't quite bug me as much as others. But why not show that he attacked Tris along with Al? Or just even more of a jerk? Though, I'm actually glad he didn't stab Edward in the eye. I don't think I could have handled that part. 

7. No Trust Fall... Why not include the trust fall at the end of Tris' zip line experience? That was kind of important, considering it helped her bond with the Dauntless-born.

Chicago's Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) - Photo by TOrman
8. Where's the Bean? While many Chicago landmarks are shown, Cloud Gate (aka the "Bean") is missing, along with the sculpture the Dauntless members slide and play on (I really wanted to know which sculpture it was - the Picasso? The Calder? Come on...!). Also missing was Navy Pier's carousel during the capture the flag game. As someone who has visited Chicago numerous times and seen these things, it really bugged me. What else did you notice missing? (I'm sure there's more.)

Things I LIKED about the Divergent Movie  from www.hungergameslessons.com

I'm sure there are more pet peeves I have, but I want to switch to some of the things I actually did enjoy:

1. Did you spot the author in the movie? One of the things I noticed the second time around was seeing Veronica Roth (the author of the series) in a couple of the scenes. I saw her as an Erudite at the Choosing Ceremony and again as a Dauntless member running up to the top of the John Hancock building to zip line. Perhaps she was in more scenes, but those were the only two I noticed.

2. Theo James is Perfect as Four. As I said in my previous review, Theo James was great. I thought he was perfect as Four. And I was OK with Shailene Woodley as Tris and then she had that moment after her mom died and I was WOWed! Plus, I liked her little comments about people underestimating her character. Those were perfect little bits of humor.

3. Uriah IS in the Movie. I was heartbroken when I heard Uriah wasn't cast in the movie. However, you may have caught a glimpse of his name on the leaderboard scenes. He was toward the top, usually around 3rd place after Edward and Peter. This makes me happy that he WILL be cast in "Insurgent."

4. Thank you for fixing the illogical scenes from the book, like the ending: It never made sense to me WHY Jeanine Matthews would ever leave the simulation control in the hands of Four when she doesn't even know if the simulation serum is going to work on him! Why leave him alone in the Dauntless compound control room? She is supposed to be smart. I am glad that this was changed in the movie. It makes much more sense.

5. Tris doesn't finish first in her class after her mother warns her to stay in the middle: This was another part in the book that I never understood. Why would Tris brush off her mother's warnings and shoot to the top of the leaderboard? It just never made sense to me to have her finish first. It's not as though they find out she's divergent and punish her right then and there. (Which, they should have so that teens reading it see what happens when you don't listen to your mother!)

Overall, I really did enjoy the movie. I thought the setting was well done and it moved at a good pace. What did you think? Did you love it or hate it? Do you think the parts they changed will affect the other two movies? Am I making too big of a deal about those parts? Comment below!


Divergent Movie Lives Up to the Hype

Divergent Movie: Non-Spoiler Review

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I wasn't the biggest fan of the Divergent book initially. I felt the story line had some flaws and the ending was way too rushed. And a little illogical.

But one thing I have maintained: I really felt the book would make a great movie.

I was not disappointed tonight.

I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that Theo James is amazing and Shailene Woodley is not as annoying as I thought she would be. She's actually pretty good.

Yes, there are some major changes from the book. But be open-minded. Think of how illogical some of the parts of the book are and be happy they made the changes they did in the movie.

I'll write a more in-depth review later. I have to catch some z's so I can wake up and take my class to see it in the morning. :)

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Waiting for Divergent: It's worth it!

We got free posters when I picked up my tickets. Yay!

What did you think? Post whether you liked the ending or not below. 


Catching Fire DVD Presents Additional Learning Opportunities

Catching Fire: Comparing the Novel to the Movie (blog post)

  The release of the Catching Fire DVD tonight at midnight is a reminder of all the learning opportunities the novel initiates. Use this opportunity to expand on those issues (which can be downloaded free from the Teach.com website or HERE) and investigate new ones with my Common Core-aligned packet of ready-to-use activities.

Some of the areas covered includes the Common Core Reading Literature Standard #7:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. (from the NGA Common Core State Standard Initiative website)
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More specifically, students will analyze the adaptation of the text to film. While an author uses words (through narrative and dialogue) to express the tone, the director uses visual techniques. One of my activities makes it easy for students to analyze the decisions the director makes, such as the lighting, sound effects, camera angles and focus, and coloring. (RL.7.7)

Catching Fire quotation analysis activityStudents will also analyze how faithful the movie sticks to the text. Did the actors use the same dialogue or were changes made? If they were, students evaluate why. Many may find the new dialogue works better for a movie adaptation, or perhaps it doesn't. (RL.8.7 and RL.9-10.7)

A student's perception of the text is also important: did the actors live up to how they pictured them in their heads while reading? If not, why not? If so, they can choose passages from the text that exemplifies the images on the screen. (RL.6.7)

The best part of having the DVD, of course, is being able to pause or revisit/replay scenes in order to have meaningful discussions during viewing. Students can interrupt with their questions and comments without being shushed in the theater.

Hunger Games Teacher: I Teach to Make Reading Fun


TeachersPayTeachers Sale Time!

Super Secondary Sale Celebrating 3 Million Members on TeachersPayTeachers!

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Are you ready for a site-wide TeachersPayTeachers sale? Stop by Thursday and Friday and use promo code TPT3 at checkout to get an extra 10% off resources already marked down 20%. That's basically 30% off regular price. (But math people tell me it's 28% technically...in my mind it's still 30% off!)

Check out all these great SECONDARY sellers who will have their stores marked 20% off:

English/Language Arts

Tracee Orman: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tracee-Orman
Danielle Knight: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Danielle-Knight
Addie Williamshttp://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Addie-Williams


Social Studies


Making it as a Middle School Teacher: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Making-It-Teacher

Foreign Language

TeachersPayTeachers 3 Million Strong Site-Wide SALE!

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What Can We Learn About Social Behavior from The Hunger Games?

Social behaviors in The Hunger Games trilogy on www.hungergameslessons.com

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Effie Trinket—a character from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games—is the epitome of poise.

Yet, when she tries to teach Katniss and Peeta manners during their sojourns to the Capitol, she doesn't always exhibit the best of them herself. Take, for example, her response to Katniss and Peeta eating with forks in chapter 3 (p. 44); it was quite rude: "'At least, you two have decent manners...The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages. It completely upset my digestion.'"
Sociology Connection: What can we learn about social behavior from The Hunger Games?
While Effie personifies prim and proper, she maintains a Capitol arrogance that practically prevents her from exhibiting an ideal etiquette. In fact, Peeta's social graces are probably most socially acceptable. (But ask your students their own opinions. Perhaps they will say Prim, Madge, or even the baker.)

So what can we learn from Effie on correct social behavior? What can we learn from other characters?

One discussion I have with my students while reading Part I of The Hunger Games is the irony of Effie's attitude toward the citizens of District 12. In chapter 6, Effie refers to the district citizens as barbarians. Yet, it is the Capitol citizens who are watching children kill one another for entertainment. Which citizens are the real barbarians?

Using Interactive Notebooks
My Hunger Games (and Catching Fire and Mockingjay) teaching units offer numerous opportunities to use interactive notebooks while reading. For this lesson, have your students create a T-chart with one column labeled District citizens and one column labeled Capitol citizens. (Feel free to make a copy of the Google Docs chart in the link. You can have your students use it as an online collaborative worksheet or an individual reading notebook activity.) Have your students add events, quotes, and examples from throughout the book, then answer the follow-up questions for deeper analysis. Make sure to have your students compare both columns to our own society. What does Panem reveal about us?

Classroom Connections: Social Behavior in The Hunger Games

Do you have a topic you'd like to see me address in my "Classroom Connections" posts? If so, please comment below with suggestions. Thanks for reading!


RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

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My heart goes out to the family of Philip Seymour Hoffman, our beloved Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games trilogy movie depictions, who died today at the age of 46.

Hoffman was such a talented actor, giving life to every character he portrayed. One of the first roles that made me take notice of him was his depiction of Freddie Miles in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." While Matt Damon headlined, it was obvious that Hoffman was a serious actor.

He played the cranky manager of the Oakland A's (Art Howe) in one of my favorite movies of all time: "Moneyball." No one could have played that part as well as he. Of course, he had already made a name for himself before "Moneyball" when he played Truman Capote in "Capote." After winning the Oscar for best actor, it was hard not to take notice of his versatility. His role as Harper Lee's childhood friend was the link joining my favorite novel movies together: Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird and Suzanne Collins' best-sellers The Hunger Games trilogy.

Sources say he only had one remaining scene to complete for "Mockingjay Part II," which will most likely be rewritten and filled by another character. Even so, it should be noted that he is irreplaceable. I remember my reaction when his name was released to play Plutarch, thrilled that such a talented actor would play the war-mongering head gamemaker that ultimately saves, destroys, then saves Katniss again. Will he ever get to utter the line, "Don't be a stranger" to Katniss?

My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. I will miss him not only for the role he played in The Hunger Games trilogy, but for all of his films. The three-finger salute goes out to you, Philip...

"It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love." RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman


Do You Need Teaching Resources for Divergent by Veronica Roth?

Do you need teaching resources for "Divergent" by Veronica Roth? Click on image for more details.Divergent by Veronica Roth Teaching Unit

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If your students are yearning for another trilogy after reading The Hunger Games, consider teaching Divergent by Veronica Roth. The novel has started to grow on me the more times I read it...enough so that I started using it in class. Over the past year I've created several resources for teachers and recently posted them.

You can pick and choose which items you need, or buy them all in one bundle with my complete Divergent novel unit.

What you will find in my teaching unit:

Chapter questions pack (This is comparable to my Student Survival Guide for The Hunger Games): It contains an introduction activity, vocabulary exercises, chapter questions, and integrated Common Core language, reading, and writing practice.
Preview of Divergent Novel Unit from Hunger Games Lessons

Final Exam: 60 pages of Common Core assessments and answer key, plus it includes an editable Microsoft Word copy.
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for more...

Final Review Game: 30 questions covering characters, vocabulary in context, literary elements, figurative language, and plot (important events) from the novel.
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for blog post on www.hungergameslessons.com

Factions Graphic Organizers: Reading aids for keeping track of each faction and their interactions.
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for blog post on www.hungergameslessons.com

Research and Mapping Project: Have students research the city of Chicago, mapping the locations of each faction headquarters. This can be used with all three novels in the trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant).
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for blog post on www.hungergameslessons.com

Movie vs. the Book Activity Pack: Includes over 20 different exercises (some don't even require viewing the movie to complete). Great for using with the upcoming March release of the movie "Divergent." (Which is produced by our friends at Lions Gate®.)
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for blog post on www.hungergameslessons.com

Create a New Faction & Write a Manifesto Activity: Let your students get creative while practicing their writing and critical-thinking skills.
Divergent Novel Activities and Resources - blog post

FREE Bookmarks: Print and distribute these Divergent-themed bookmarks to your students. One side includes each chapter and the pages
Do you need Divergent teaching materials? Click for blog post on www.hungergameslessons.com

Many teachers were waiting for me to post this and I apologize that it took so long. I wanted to make sure the activities were relevant and completely aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Plus, I teach full-time, so...that tends to cut into my writing time. ;)

I hope you'll find my unit to fit perfectly into your curriculum. It is versatile for grade 7 all the way up through seniors. I cover almost all of the reading literature standards, as well as many of the language and writing standards. You don't have to worry about being "brave" going into this unit; I've got your back. Enjoy!

Need an AFFORDABLE option for classroom books? I purchased mine through Amazon, below. They are only $5.24 each and free shipping if you are a Prime member.


Happy New Year! Resolutions, Freebie, & Hunger Games Haymitch Humor

Happy New Year! From www.hungergameslessons.com and www.traceeorman.com

Happy New Year, Friends!

I apologize for my lack of posts lately. I've been pretty busy this month working on my Divergent novel unit (I'll post the link as soon as I get it up), so my blogging has been obsolete lately.

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My resolution is to blog a little more here and on my other blog: Mrs. Orman's Classroom. How about you? What do you resolve to do in 2014?

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's my 2014 New Year Activities FREE download. Enjoy!

Free 2014 New Year Activities


And last but certainly not least, here's some Haymitch humor for you. Seemed fitting on New Year's to include him. ;)

Please be responsible. Unlike Haymitch.

Hey Hay... Let the par-tay begin!


"A Christmas Story," "I, Frankenstein," and Random Memes

Ralphie Meets Katniss - Click for more funny memes on www.hungergameslessons.com

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HAPPY FESTIVUS! (Yes, today celebrates Festivus, but I won't be airing my grievances...)

It's holiday break, so I hope you are enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation, my teacher friends! As you can see, I have slacked off blogging this month. But with finals given, my grades posted, and my Christmas shopping almost all done, I thought I would have a little fun and make some memes for you to enjoy. Feel free to share, pin, and post. A link back would be great, but as long as you don't crop out my url, you're good. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Above, I thought I would have fun with Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" and Katniss from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." And below, another variation...

Katniss thinks Ralphie should shoot a bow and arrow instead of a Red Ryder BB Gun:

Who needs a Red Ryder BB gun when you can shoot a bow & arrow? Click for more funny memes on www.hungergameslessons.com

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Did you see the trailer to "I, Frankenstein" when you went to "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"? If so, what do you think of the monster referring to himself as Frankenstein? English teachers know that Frankenstein was actually the doctor who created the monster. But according to "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage" published by the Oxford University Press, the use of Frankenstein to refer to the monster is now acceptable. What do you think, English teachers? Does it bother you at all?

You might be an English Teacher if you think it should be "I, Frankenstein's Monster" Click for more funny memes on www.hungergameslessons.com

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I also posted this on my Instagram and Mrs. Orman's Classroom blog. When I gave my students their final exam over Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, it included a nice little typo. I was completely unaware because my spell check has already learned the word "mockingjay," of course. Had I read it aloud as I tell my students to do before they turn things in, I would have caught it. Instead, one of my 5th period sophomores pointed out the mistake when he asked me if he should write about Katniss. ;)

To Kill a Mockingjay? Click for more funny images on www.hungergameslessons.com

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This is for my Pinterest Grammar Errors board. My nephew was so kind to allow me to photograph his shirt, in which he had printed that he was his classmate's #1 fan. But they forgot to put the apostrophe in "Owen's".  *cringe*
*Owen's #1 fan #grammarfail

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Here's another image from my Instagram. After seeing a similar "Phone Jail" on Pinterest, I decided to make my own.
Phone Jail from www.hungergameslessons.com Click for more images

 But the problem is...
Overflowing Phone Jail from www.hungergameslessons.com Click for more images
Yep, my 5th period English class is overflowing. This is only about half of the students. Guess I need a bigger jail. (Disclaimer: My students all have laptops, so they still have immediate access to technology. During tests, however, I do require they leave them with me. Also if I catch them SnapChatting.)

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Happy Holidays from Hunger Games Lessons! www.hungergameslessons.com

And a couple of images to leave you to wish you a Holly Jolly Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Wonderful Holiday, whatever you celebrate! And if you are a Festivus worshiper, here's something special for you...

Replace your Festivus pole with a wrecking ball. :) Same thing, right?

Have a Wrecking Christmas! Click for more funny images from www.hungergameslessons.com

This image was made by one of our students and displayed in our commons in December. 
I laughed every time I walked past it.

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Images were taken/created by ©Tracee Orman. All Rights Reserved. 
Images used in depictions by Lion Gate® Entertainment and MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Wrecking Ball Christmas made by an Erie High School student
Citation for Frankenstein usage: Bryan Garner, "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage", New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998
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