by Molly Leahy
The Tragedy Paper
In her first young adult novel, The Tragedy Paper, Philadelphia’s Elizabeth LeBan invites readers to an elite boarding school for dual story-telling. Readers follow Tim Macbeth, a new student who transfers to Irving School, as well as, Duncan Meade, who inherits Tim’s dorm room and his collection of CDs narrating a personal nightmare the previous school year. Both students are linked by English teacher Mr. Simon’s legendary writing assignment known as the Tragedy Paper.
A sign reading “Enter here to be and find a friend” greets students as they enter the school, and fortunately, Duncan has a core group of friends to help him through senior year, unlike Tim. Readers may recognize a classic love triangle between Tim, his only friend Vanessa Scheller, and her jerk boyfriend Patrick Hopkins. The Irving School Bulldogs read Moby Dick and Hamlet, while their English teacher Mr. Simon challenges them to understand themes such as magnitude, and order from chaos. LaBan creates true order from chaos in her choice of narrative structure, recorded CDs that captivate Duncan who can’t stop listening to Tim’s tale, just as readers can’t stop turning pages. Read more
Every first Monday, join us on the PAWLP Blog for a digital “book talk.” Today, we have PAWLP Fellow Sarah Burkholder with us to review Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree.
Review by Sarah Burkholder
“Everyone is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that it’s stupid.”
Ally Nickerson has lived by one rule throughout her school years: Lie low – when called upon, always respond, “I don’t know.” Now in sixth grade, Ally’s inability to read perpetuates her perception of herself as “slow” and “dumb.” Ally has always had trouble learning and is consistently the target of peer criticism. Acting disruptive is the only way she has been able to cope with these challenges. However, her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, realizes Ally’s potential and encourages her to embrace her learning differences. With the help of Mr. Daniels and two close friends, Ally recognizes that everyone has their own special talents and abilities, and with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. In doing so, Ally’s peers begin to appreciate her creativity, imagination, and resiliency. The impact that Mr. Daniels has on Ally’s life is heart-warming and inspiring to read. Read more
With the holidays here, we hope that amidst the busyness of unwrapping presents and getting together with friends and family, perhaps you’ll find a moment or two to give yourself a gift… the gift of a good book. We asked some of our PAWLP Fellows for book suggestions, and below you’ll find a few of their responses. What could be better than a good book, some hot chocolate, and a warm fire? Wishing you and yours happy reading this holiday season! Read more
In Fly Away, Patricia MacLachlan introduces us to a family full of love, talents and secrets. Lucy, the main character, is struggling to find her voice, in her poetry and in her singing. Compared to the opera, rap and lullabies sung by members of her musical family, Lucy can’t carry a tune. Read more
By Meg Griffin
When asked to write a blog post on children’s, YA, or professional books that have influenced me, I quickly said yes. This would be a piece of cake. I would write about the first book that I ever stayed up all night to read – Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, in third grade. The fact that one of the characters was named Meg, an uncommon name back in the early 60s, only made it resonate more with me. Oh how I loved the March sisters and their sense of family closeness which was lacking in my own. But wait, that book is so old-fashioned and really doesn’t seem to speak to today’s students. Read more
by Nora Ziegler
This summer I began to worry about how I needed to change my teaching strategies to help my third grade students meet the challenges of the Common Core, so I did what I always do – I found a book chock full of great ideas I could implement in my classroom. That book was The Core 6: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core by Silver, Dewing, and Perini, published by ASCD in 2012. What a goldmine! As Heidi Hayes- Jacobs says in the forward, this book is actually an edu-toolkit with instructional strategies that should be implemented at all grade levels. Here are briefs on each of the strategies: Read more