Biography

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“George Washington Carver”

Written By Tonya Bolden

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 41

When I think of biographies, I tend to think about a long chapter books with the dull information and facts. In school growing up, biographies never interested me, and I always thought it was a chore to read them. However, I have stumbled across a very interesting biography on the life of “The Peanut Man” (George Washington Carver/ GWC). This specific biography is appropriate for young readers. It contains very detailed facts about GWC’s life from birth to death. It details his life and education, and his journey to discover new uses for agriculture growth. Not only does this book lay out facts and information surrounding the life of GWC, but also this biography clears up some myths that surround his agricultural discoveries. Take a look at this biography of the amazing life and discoveries of George Washington Carver.

Now, thinking back to my experience with biographies in school, I hardly remember the books having several illustrations or pictures. The lack of pictures or illustrations throughout a dense text full of facts made most biographies hard to finish. However, this particular book has many different pictures throughout the text. All the pictures showcase the information accurately, and some of the pictures or illustrations are actual sketches from GWC. I picked this book because of the pictures that I saw when I flipped through the book at the library. After reading the book, I noticed the citation at the end, and the author accessed most of the pictures from different institutes from Tuskegee and Philadelphia. The pictures add to the book because the pictures are placed strategically to further the text and to smoothly break up the information packed text.

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Biographies have many uses in the classroom, and this biography of George Washington Carver can be used in many different ways in today’s classroom. Because of the text level and historical context, this book would be best used in upper elementary classrooms such as fifth or sixth grade. The first activity that I would use to accompany this text would be a science lesson. I would use this text to introduce a science lesson on plants and agriculture. Second, I would showcase GWC’s life pursuit to better use the Earth’s natural resources by incorporating this book into Earth Day lessons. Finally, the most effective integration of this biography into the classroom would be through teaching history. I would include this book during the teaching of the time periods of Reconstruction, Roaring Twenties, and Great Depression as well as Black History Month. Overall, biographies such as this one that are full of pictures as well as information prove to be useful in the classroom because they short enough to keep student’s interested.

Historical Fiction

“Freedom Summer”

Written by Deborah Wiles

Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Publisher: Antheneum Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 32

Awards: John Steptoe Award & Ezra Jack Keats Award

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Historical Fiction is a genre of trade books that are crucial to a literacy rich classroom. To be classified as historical fiction, a book must have characters and settings that take place in a time period of the past. “Freedom Summer” is a trade book that takes place in the rural South in the early 1960’s during the time of desegregation and Civil Rights Movement. The story follows two friends who are enjoying summertime. These friends don’t see each other as colored and white, but they see each other as friends. They both love to swim, but the colored child cannot swim in the city pool. During the story, a desegregation law is passed, and the boys rush to the city pool. However, what they find at the city pool is not what they expected. Read this award winning book and see what the boys discover at the city pool.

The illustrations in this book are a mix of sketches and pastels, and they set the story perfectly. Lagarrigue won awards for New Talent in 2002 for his illustrations in this book. The illustrations add to the genre of historical fiction because the the characters have clothes that are appropriate to the the time period. Also, the illustrations depict the setting of rural South very accurately with the general store and creek drawings. Lagarrigue does a phenomenal job at capturing the setting, emotion, and attire of the time period of the 60’s in the rural South.

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This particular genre can be used in many ways in a classroom. Also, this book can be used across a wide range of grades from third to sixth grade. Some activities that I use along side this particular book include a  introduction to Black History Month. Likewise, when my class covered Civil Rights Movement in History, I would use this book to depict the segregation of public places. The students could draw a cluster map from the places in the book, and they will add places that they think were segregated during this time. Finally, this book is a great depiction of acceptance and tolerance of differences. I would have the students write as if they were the characters in the story. The students would write about the characters feelings about being different and segregation. This award winning book can be incorporated in the classroom in a variety of ways.

Informational Text

“Life on a Coral Reef”

Written by: Mary Jo Rhodes & David Hall

Photography by: David Hall

Publisher: Children’s Press

Copyright Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 48

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Trade books are essential for classrooms, but informational texts are just as necessary for a literacy rich classroom. However, like biographies, informational texts are usually dense texts that are a chore to read. Reading these texts are so tedious, and students tend to dread reading informational text. Scholastic is always publishing very student friendly books, and the genre of informational text proves to be no different. This book on the life on a coral reef is a perfect example of a student friendly informational text. Filled with colorful pictures, this books offers information in a manner that is easy to read. Important facts are highlighted throughout the text in captions, photographs, and in sidebars. Finally, the aspect that I love about this informational text is the bolded key terms that are defined in the glossary at the back of the book.

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Photos are a “go to” in informational texts, but sometimes the photos are just as dull as the dense information. All  the photos in this book are eye catching and full of color and texture. Likewise the photos highlight the information that is crucial to understanding life on a coral reef. The pictures display the wildlife and plant life that can be found on or around a coral reef. The placement of the pictures add to the overall flow of the book. The chapters are divided with full page pictures of fish and plants, and throughout the chapter, the pages are divided with pictures that include caption and sidebars. David Hall did a great job in his selection and placement of pictures throughout this text to give the information more depth in a visual way.

 Informational text can be implemented in the classroom in many different ways. this particular book would be used in a upper elementary classes. First,  I would use this is an example for a lesson on text features. The students would use photo copies of the text to search and find side bars and captions. Next, I would incorporate this informational text into a science unit on ocean habitats. I would have this book available during the lesson on coral reefs. This book can also be used in a lesson on research techniques, and the students would search through the text for facts to support their topic. The students would reference the book specifically to state their evidence.  “Life on a Coral Reef” is a great example of interesting informational text that can be productive as a tools for the classroom.

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Multicultural Book

“Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad”

Written by: Monica Edinger

Illustrated by: Robert Byrd

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Copyright Date: 2013

Number of Pages: 60

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To help broaden students understanding of diverse cultures around the world, multicultural trade books are essential to a literacy rich classroom. The book that stuck out to me while I was in the library was “Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad.” This story is told from the perspective of a little African girl who desperately wants to go back to Africa. She was a child that was aboard the Amistad which was a slave ship that was taken over by Africans. The Africans were put on trial to decide whether they would be sent back to their homeland or stay as slaves in America. Read this emotional tale of a child’s longing to be home and find out if she makes it home to Africa.

The illustrations in this great book are done in ink and watercolor. These pictures are soft to look at, but because of the ink, the details can still be seen. The content in this book could be depicted in a very gory manner; however, Byrd captures the essence of the difficult scenes in a less intense way through the chosen media. Also, Byrd captures the different cultures in an effective way. From the simple nature scenes when the character is in Africa to the congested city scenes in America, the illustrations help the reader distinguish the difference in culture. Altogether, the illustrations in this book help in the overall depiction of the story of the Amistad and Margru.

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Multicultural books are essential for students to have a board perspective about the world. this book would most likely be in a sixth grade classroom because of the length and content depth. I would use this book during a history lesson on slavery in the United States. The students would do a character analysis of Margru, and this analysis would help to give the nameless slaves that we study a face, name, and story for the students to relate to. Second, geography seems to be out the door in most classrooms today, and this book would be a bridge into a mini lessons on world geography. The book has a detailed map of Africa with capital cities of major countries. The children would label a map as a activity. Finally, I have direct experience with West Africans, and I would use this book to explain the difference in culture. The struggle the girl experiences when she comes to America would be a writing prompt for the students. “How would you feel if you were taken to a foreign country?” The students could put themselves in her shoes, and then they can better understand her struggle. Overall, this book has been my favorite so far to add to my blog list because of my heart for African Culture.

Modern Fantasy

Wolves

Written and Illustrated by Emily Gravett
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Copyright Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 40
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Fantasy in literature is not hard to find especially with the bulk of heroine trilogies set in apocalyptic nations. However, modern fantasy is a bit harder to find in picture books. I stumbled across this very funny picture book in my search. Wolves is a specific type of modern fantasy which is called animal fantasy. This specific book is a story about a rabbit who hopes down to the local ‘burrowing’ library to checkout a book on wolves. This book contains all kinds of facts about wolves, and it squashes all the myths about wolves like eating little girls going to  her grandmother’s house. However, as the rabbit reads, he doesn’t realize that the wolves in the book are coming to life and lurking behind. What I love about this book is that is has two endings. Go check it out and see what happens to this curious little bunny.
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When I first saw this book,it did not capture my eye. In fact the reason I chose it was because of its genre not is cover art. After opening the book and reading it, I fell in love with the mixed media illustration. You have computerized sketches and hand drawn lined up next to typed fonts and banners. I have seen mixed media go a little over the top, but Emily Gravett seems to find the right balance for this quirky little book. Also as the story progresses and the wolf is following the rabbit,  the wolf’s size changes. This size change adds to the suspense of the book because the sketch of the wolf begins to slowly take up the whole page.
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Modern fantasy is a genre that can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. Because most modern fantasies are chapter books, it can be difficult to find activities to match them to younger students. However, I’ve tried to rack my brain for some ideas. This particular picture book can be used in several ways in a K-3 setting. First, I would use this book to introduce the prey/predator concept in  a science unit. For higher grades the idea of carnivore/herbivore would be the center of the science lesson. Second, I would likely read this book when introducing the concept of checking out books from the library. I would take the time for the children to see the picture illustrations of the borrowing card in the back of the book as well as how to take care of the library book. I would contrast the way the rabbit let the wolf demolish the book to proper way to handle library books that the student’s will check out. Finally, I would use this book to teach prediction of endings in the ELA standards. Because in this book, the author offers two endings. I would have the students try to predict the alternative ending to the story before we read it. Overall this is a very versatile modern fantasy picture book.

Fractured FairyTale

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The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Written by: Jon Scieszka

Illustrated by: Lane Smith

Published by: Penguin Young Readers Group

Copyright Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 32

Awards: The New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year.

We all have those timeless stories that we heard growing up that are near and dear to our hearts. Most of those traditional stories are fairytales that are passed down from generation to generation. The stories share very concrete characters and sequences; however, some clever authors love to take classic fairytales and give them a twist. These twisted classics are called the fractured fairytale, and they are amusing to read. This particular story is a twist on the classic Three Little Pigs story except it is told from the wolf’s perspective. Of course the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ paints himself as an innocent bystander to unfortunate circumstances that befall the pigs. The switch in perspective gives a fresh lens to view this old tale.

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In order to capture the attention of young readers, a book must have interesting pictures. This book captures my attention because of the mixed medium of drawing and what looks like newspaper print. Lane Smith is amazing at crafting different mediums of art into his illustrations. In an interview for a blog, he was asked  his favorite medium to use in illustrating, and his response  was “I like a little bit of everything. Mixed media is the best description. Sometimes I paint in oils and I collage bits of paper into the work. Sometimes I do charcoal or pencil drawings.” (Lane Smith, http://www.estellabooks.blogspot.com/ ). You can see the mixed medium throughout The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. It is no wonder that he has won so many awards for his illustrations such as Caldecott Medal, Silver Medal Society of Illustrators, New York Times Best Illustrated Book.

Just as traditional literature in essential in a literacy rich classroom so is the fractured fairytale in most Kindergarten through Second Grade classes. This particular story can be used to help children to distinguish point of view in the story. Because the basic storyline of the Three Little Pigs is the backbone of the story  the children can better understand the shift in the point of view. I would have the students to write a newpaper interview with the Big Bad Wolf trying to tell why he needs to get out of jail. This story alongside the original folktale can aid in the teaching of the compare and contrast concept in the Language Arts standards. I would have the students discuss differences and similarities in both the traditional story and the fractured fairytale.  I might use this to open up a history lesson. By telling the story from the perspective of the wolf, the story changes, and I would connect that through discussion of historical events. I would prompt the students in discussion of certain historical events and guide their discussion to see both parties have a story just like the wolf and pigs have different perspectives of the same story. We would probably use a T chart to write down the different sides of event. Fractured fariytales are not just amusing to read, but they can help provide a much needed perspective change on some old classics.

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Traditional Literature

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The Three Little Pigs

Author and Illustrator Paul Galdone

Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Copyright Date 2011

Number of Pages 48

Growing up, I remember many stories that my teachers would tell without using a book. No, they would tell the story from memory, and it was like they were passing it down to us. The tale of The Three Little Pigs is classified as one of these stories that are passed down time and time again. Traditional Literature in the term for such timeless stories that almost everyone has heard from their parents, grandparents, or friends. Hearing this particular story, I always found the story amusing.

The reason I chose Paul Galdone’s rendition of The Three Little Pigs is because of his elaborate pen sketches. Not only did he illustrate traditional folk tale literature, but also he wrote some of his own stories. His colored pen sketches bring these stories that are often just told orally to life. When we see the big bad wolf approach the houses, we aren’t terrified because the sketches make the scary wolf a bit less scary. The lined sketches create very two-dimensional characters that give this folk tale a light funny feel.

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Traditional Literature has been used in the classroom for a very long time, and I vaguely remember hearing them throughout the early years of school. This story is appropriate for Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, and it could be used in various ways in the modern classroom. One way you can incorporate The Three Little Pigs in to the class is through character education. Students can see that the first two pigs were a bit lazy in building their houses. I would use this to teach that hard work pays off. Also, the concept of sequence of events is evident in today’s Language Art standards, and this concept can be difficult to teach. However, with a very familiar story, teachers can use a foldable to teacher sequence of events. I would use a foldable to place the Beginning, Middle, and Ending of the story. Likewise, another difficult  Language concept to teach is cause and effect. I would use this story to prompt students to think critically about why the first two pig’s houses collapsed. We should not neglect these timeless traditional stories. They can be useful in the modern classroom.

Frost and Seasons

Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost

Edited by Gary D. Schmidt

 Illustrated by Henri Sorenson.

Published by Sterling Children Literature

Copyright date is 1994, 2014

Number of pages is 48

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“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found its words.”

-Robert Frost

I have always enjoyed reading and writing poetry. The classic poets are some of my favorites such as the esteemed Robert Frost. This book contains a collection of poems by the famous poet Robert Frost. He was known for his great sensory words that are laced throughout his poetry. He was brilliant at describing scenes in nature. What makes this collection great is that this collection highlights his poems  that are centered around seasons.

When I think about seasons such as spring and fall, in my minds eye I see detailed pictures of flowers and trees. The illustrations by Henri Sorenson captures the essence and beauty of nature. He creates flowing pictures through his detailed through watercolor mixed sketches. The illustrations capture the mood of the seasons as well as a scenes from the poetry. For example, “The Road Not Taken” is a poem about 2 roads that fork in the middle of a wood. The trees are yellowed showing the beautiful signs of autumn. Throughout this poem, Frost uses many descriptive words to show the beautiful nature scene of a forest.  This poem contains a famous quote “Two roads diverged in the wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” I love this quote it shows the meaning of the poem.

Poetry is essential for a Literacy Rich Classroom, and teachers can incorporate many activities to supplement poetry. “Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost” is a book for 5th and 6th grade students. One way that I would use this book in the classroom would be to open up a Science unit that involves weather and the seasons. Another way I would incorporate this would be to have the students write their own poem in a personal poetry journal. Allowing children to express their own thoughts without guidelines, I believe the poetry journal would encourage creativity.  Also, I would take this book and integrate it into my lesson plan of teaching imagery in language arts. Imagery is a difficult concept for some students to understand. By having the students take the book and make a list of imagery words would help the students to grasp imagery words.

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Digimon Biblical Allusion

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As I was reading through Revelation, I read the passage referring to the Four Horsemen who are sent to Earth to bring destruction before the end of time.
“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”(Revelation 6:1-8 ESV)

As I began researching this topic of allusions in Revelation, various links began popping up of the Four Horsemen. Modern literature, music, movies, and television shows incorporate the story of the Four Horsemen. I stumbled across a older cartoon Digimon. I was so excited because I had not watched this show since I was about 8 years old. I love nostalgic moments like this.

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A Brief Synopsis

Digimon Adventure was a television show that originally aired in Japan, and it was only supposed to air 13 episodes. However, the hype over the show snowballed from the first episodes airing in Japan. Clearly, it was translated and aired elsewhere because I’m referencing it now. The story follows 7 and ultimately 8 children who were chosen to enter the DigiWorld and save it from impending destruction. Each chosen or “Digidestined” child was given a specific digimon. These balls of data (digimon) would evolve or (digivolve) at the change in their child’s energy and emotion levels. The children were met in the digital world with many prophesies of the “digidestined” defeating the evil digimon. (http://www.jesuotaku.com/retrospective/digimon-adventure-the-story/)

 

How on earth does this relate to Revelation? Well first, another name for the last book of the Bible canon that we possess is “The Apocalypse of John.” The word apocalypse means so many things in different contexts. When I hear the word, I begin to think of “fire and brimstone” because of my Bible-Belt upbringing. However, the general term these days may be centered around Zombies or the undead. The Greek meaning for the word was simply “to reveal” or “to disclose.” Makes sense that the book would be called Revelation. As I began to research the show more carefully for a specific allusion and not just parallelism, I discovered that a digimon Apocalymon is an Unidentified Digimon whose name is derived from the Apocalypse.” Apparently, “He can be DNA digivolved from either Piedmon and Machindramon, or Puppetmon and MetalSeadramon.” (http://digimon.wikia.com/wiki/Apocalymon).  So, the digimon orchestrating the destruction of the DigiWorld (Apocalymon)sent these four Dark Masters to start the destruction and chaos. This story line sounds very similar to Revelation.

 

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In episodes 40-54 of the first season, the digidestined are faced with the four Dark Masters: Piedmon, Machinedramon, Puppetmon, and Metalseadramon. Beginning in episode 40 (Enter the Dark Masters), the children see each Dark Digimon Master and are forced to battle them. In the following episodes, each Dark Master comes to fight individually just as the Horsemen in Revelation are introduced together as the four living creatures but come to Earth to fight separately.

The White Horseman was given authority (crown) and a bow (to conquer). Some people speculate that this particular Horseman could be the Anti-Christ or a person who deceives mass amounts of people. The deception comes from a false promise of hope or peace. MetalSeadramon came and conquered the sea of the DigiWorld, and he ruled the sea. (Episode 41-42). Likewise, Piedmon was a phantom digimon who can change shape and persuade your mind to see things that are not really there. He deceived many digimon by his elaborate illusions of reality. (http://beginningandend.com/who-are-the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse/)

The Red Horseman as given the authority to take peace from the Earth. In taking this peace, people would begin to turn and slay one another. “Thus the Second Horseman is a spirit of warfare that plagues the Earth with bloodshed right up until the end times.” (http://beginningandend.com/who-are-the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse/)   This same instance occurs with Machindramon who comes to the digiworld and builds an army of Machine digimon. He creates chaos, and innocent digimon are forced to fight against each other in order to survive (Episode 48-49).

The Black Horseman was given power and control of people’s food. He was given scales, and he made a proclamation about the amounts people would get. Puppetmon mirrors this control in the way he physically can control digimon’s actions. He proclaims the actions he wants, and the digimon are forced to fulfill the action (Episode 43-47). This proclamation is similar to that of the Horseman proclaiming the amount of food that each person would receive.

The Pale Horseman is the final horseman to come. He is the horseman of Death. All of these Dark Master embody this sense of death. Their main goal is to kill the “digidestined.” However, the last Dark Master the “digidestined” have to battle is Piedmon. He is the strongest of the four master because he carries with him the most destruction (Episode 50-52).

However, the allusion stops here with the Four Horsemen and the Apocalyse. In the Bible, the Horsemen were left to roam the Earth before he coming ultimate destruction, but  in Digimon, the four Dark Masters are defeated by the “digidestined.”  The children find Apocalymon who tried to destroy them and their digimon; however, in the end the children’s goodness causes them to become stronger than Apocalymon and then to defeat him (Episode 53-54).

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When I first began looking for allusions to Revelation or the Apocalyse, I would never have guessed Digimon. After watching episodes 40-54, I really wish to start from the beginning again. Here’s the link to a website that has every Digimon episode ready to watch. (http://www.watchdigimonepisodes.com/digimon-adventure-episode-54/).  It is under Digimon:Adventure.

Water Matters

Laodicea

As I was reading through Revelation, I read a very familiar passage

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:14-17 ESV). 

Now as a member of a Southern Baptist Church, I have heard numerous sermons preached on this passage in reference to water. “You can’t be a Lukewarm Christian,”  “Be on fire for Jesus,” and “Would Jesus Vomit You Up.” Oh, I could go on. However, I have only heard one sermon on this text  that scratched the surface on the  reference of temperature from a geographic view. As I was reading, I remembered that particular sermon, and I decided to research the possible basis of the reference of the temperature.
Surprisingly, geography seems to be the consensus of both religious and non-religious researchers.

Check Out This Map (first tri-city area)

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This Tri-City Area consisted of Laodicea in between Hierapolis to North and Colossae to the South. Both cities influenced Laodicea. Hierapolis was well-known during this time for it’s hot springs. These hot springs were used to soothe visitor’s ailements, and many people would retire to this little oasis. “The therapeutic virtues of the waters were exploited at the various thermal installations, which included immense hot basins and pools for swimming. Hydrotherapy was accompanied by religious practices, which developed in relation to local cults.” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/485). Likewise, Colossae was a city know for cold springs that flowed down Mount Cadmus. These springs were good for refreshing cool baths and great for a cooling drink during hot weather. (Paraphrased from http://www.welcometohosanna.com/REVELATION/Colossae.html). Laodicea and it’s inhabitants were well aware of the water resources in these two cities. They were also aware of the use of each temperature of different springs.
Why are the water resources in the surrounding cities relevant to Laodicea?

According to the research, a devastating earthquake destroyed the majority of this tri-city area. Laodicea seemed to be prideful because they refused Roman assistance in the rebuilding of their city following the massive earthquake. Following this tragedy. Laodicea began to build pipelines from Hierapolis and Colossae. ([http://religiouslyincorrect.com/Articles/TriCityAreaEarthquake.shtml] and [http://helps4teens.wordpress.com/tag/colossae/])

That’s IT! If you bring hot water and cold water together it will become luke warm. This particular reference to temperature would have been so relatable to those at the church in Laodicea. Because either hot water or cold water is good, no one wants a glass of warm water to drink. Frankly, a glass of warm anything is worth spitting out just as the passage says. As a former athlete, I can testify to that fact. Yuck.

**My personal opinion on this particular passage**
In my opinion, I view the reference very differently now. I no longer see it as either being a total Jesus Freak (Hot) or totally opposed to Jesus (Cold). No, I see it now as you should be someone who either soothes those in pain (HOT) or someone who is refreshing during times of need (COLD).

Since he is always trying to control the Tri-State Area. I wonder if Professor Doofensmirtz would try to conquer this Tri City Area.
(I love this quirky show)
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