Monday, May 4, 2009

There's Chalk Dust in My Veins Still

I believe I've mentioned that I've been selectively sending out my resume, hoping to go back to teaching in September. That seems to have put me in a lesson planning state of my mind. Everything I read in the paper or see on the news gets me going. The things I could do with swine flu! Think Canterbury Tales. And oh to be teaching American Lit. with our current economy! The connections are begging to be made. Somehow, the books I've been reading for pleasure lately all have to do with teachers. Coincidence? One wonders. I'll tell you about two of them that I've particularly enjoyed.
My book club is reading Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip this month. It is the story of a girl named Matilda on a tropical island during war, who is introduced to Charles Dickens's Great Expectations by Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts, an object of ridicule and curiosity, is the only white person to remain on the island. Mister Pip is an interesting story about the power of story in all of our lives. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has deservedly won several awards for books for young adults.
Another book I just finished reading and am pressing on anyone with an open hand is Richard Peck's The Teacher's Funeral. I just loved experiencing this one. It is set in rural Indiana in the early 1900s just as motorcars are making an appearance, and it has a one room schoolhouse. One room schoolhouses, like homeschooling, fascinate me. I love to read about them, but would rather shoot myself in the foot than teach in one. When Russell's teacher dies, he believes the Hominy Ridge School will be shut down and he can follow his dream of lighting out for the Dakotas to work as a harvester. Alas, his dream is really crushed when his 17 year old sister Tansy is hired as the new schoolteacher. It is a sweet, nostalgic, and laugh out loud funny book I can't recommend enough. Tansy is now up there on my list of favorite teachers from books along with Jo March, Professor McGonagall, and Mr. Ratburn.


abdpbt said...

These sound good! I need to start reading books again, but blogs seem to suck up all my spare time!

Becky said...

Ooh, you know, it seems like I remember reading some Richard Peck when I was a kid. The name and the setting sounds familiar. Maybe he wrote some young-adult stuff?

And thanks for the rec on Mister Pip! I love adaptations and reworkings of classic novels. Another Great Expectations one you might like is _Jack Maggs_ by Peter Carey. It's kind of from Magwich's perspective, and Pip does not come off very well.

Christine said...

This one is for young adults and that's mostly his target audience. It's really well done and not all Gossip Girly which seems to be popular in YA lit now.