Blasting the canon

The Red Badge of Courage

As a new English department chair, I’ve already been faced with decisions about book orders. Our high school opened in 2007, but our middle school just opened with a sixth grade class last year. This means it was time for us to create a seventh grade curriculum. I believe in leadership through structured freedom, so […]

Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

berry_scandalous sisterhood of prickwillow place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry Middle School    Roaring Brook    354 pp. 9/14    978-1-59634-956-6    $15.99    g This airy confection could not be more different from Berry’s most recent (and pitch-black) novel All the Truth That’s in Me (rev. 11/13). Part murder mystery, part girls’-school story, part dark drawing-room comedy (think Edwin Drood, […]

Review of This Is Dalí, This Is Pollock, and This Is Warhol

ingram_this is

This Is Dalí by Catherine Ingram; 
illus. by Andrew Rae Middle School, High School     Laurence King/Chronicle     80 pp. 5/14    978-1-78067-109-3    $15.95         This Is Pollock by Catherine Ingram; 
illus. by Peter Arkle Middle School, High School    Laurence King/Chronicle    80 pp. 5/14    978-1-78067-346-2    $15.95         This Is Warhol by Catherine […]

Review of Egg & Spoon

maguire_egg and spoon

  Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire Middle School    Candlewick    479 pp. 9/14    978-0-7636-7220-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7582-0    $17.99 An imprisoned man tells his story, Scheherazade-like, in letters to the tsar. He begins with Elena, a young girl in the impoverished Russian countryside who is nursing her dying mother and who has witnessed her brother […]

Literature circles: the details

classroom table and chairs

In my first literature circle post, I gave an overall explanation about the purpose and how the initial meeting goes and left a few mini book reviews. In my second lit circle post, I pointed you guys to sources if you wanted to kick off your own. In this last (for now) lit circle post, […]

Review of The Madman of Piney Woods

MadmanPineyWoods

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis Intermediate, Middle School   Scholastic    370 pp. 9/14    978-0-545-15664-6    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-545-63376-5    $16.99 In this companion to Newbery Honor Book Elijah of Buxton (rev. 11/07), it is now 1901, and for thirteen-year-old Benji Alston of Buxton, Ontario, the American Civil War is ancient history — […]

Frankly, tired of reading Anne Frank

frank_diary of a young girl

I’ve hit an academic dilemma at summer camp this year. For the past three years at this gifted students’ camp, my lead instructor has chosen to teach The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank). Yes, the book provides an entryway into a very difficult historical topic; yes, it’s pretty amazing to watch Anne’s growth; […]

Review of At Home in Her Tomb

liu-perkins_at home in her tomb

At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins; 
illus. by Sarah S. Brannen Intermediate, Middle School    Charlesbridge    80 pp. 4/14    978-1-58089-370-1    $19.95 e-book ed.  978-1-60734-615-9    $9.99 Late in 1971, workers digging an air-raid shelter in Hunan Province found three tombs of a noble family from early […]

Who’s doing the thinking?

teacher-point

Over the summer, I’ve been doing some literacy work with an educational consulting group here in Boston — we’re taking some of their existing professional development (PD) and classroom tools and modifying them to better address the Common Core. Last week, I went with some other members of the team to a PD session for […]

Review of Park Scientists

carson_park scientists

Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard 
[Scientists in the Field] by Mary Kay Carson; 
photos by Tom Uhlman Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    75 pp. 5/14    978-0-547-79268-2    $18.99 Although most of us think about our national parks in terms of their stunning natural vistas and opportunities for outdoor adventures, they […]