So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be by Maureen Corrigan

So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan (Little, Brown and Company, September 2014) is a tribute and examination of the often-named Great American Novel, The Great Gatsby. Ms Corrigan is a true fan of the Fitzgerald’s slim novel, and in her tribute to the work, she reviews not just the content of the book and the context in which it was written, but she goes beyond to ask the question: why did this novel become so popular today, when it was so unimpressive to the first reviewers and readers?

It’s obvious that Ms Corrigan enjoys reading and rereading the work. As an avid reader myself, I too have found myself drawn back to Gatsby many times since my first read of it in my Junior year in high school, during which time I spent an extended amount of time researching and writing about Nick Carraway’s relationship to the text. I had to revisit it in college at least once, and I’ve reread it a few times in adulthood as well. I can’t say that I love Gatsby, though, and I cannot imagine spending the time in a theater listening to an actor recite the entire book from memory. What is about Gatsby that draws me in, even though I can’t say that I even like it?

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The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller is a helpful book for educators and parents to gain ideas on how to help children embrace and love free reading time.

The emphasis is on letting children choose their books while providing guidance as experts in children’s literature. Our goal is to help our students (or children) recognize what they would enjoy most. Continue Reading

Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? Avi

When I was a kid, I had a bike and a backpack. I’d ride up to the library at least once a week all summer long and check out a bag full of books. The next week, I’d take them all back and restock. If I found an author I liked, I would check out every single book I could find by that author the next week.

There were some authors I always returned to. One of them was Avi.

I don’t know which came first: meeting Avi, or reading his books. But when I was third grade, I was selected from my class for the “Young Authors” program, and I got to meet Avi himself, who told us his story, why he loved to write, and so forth. I knew from that moment that I’d be an author too. Although I have not really written children’s fiction as I thought I wanted to as a child, I certainly have kept reading, and as my 6+ years of blogging about reading may indicate, I like writing quite a bit too!

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Avi is such a fascinating author to me because not only does he write realistic children’s fiction (like Nothing But The Truth), he also writes ghost stories (like Something Upstairs), mysteries (Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?), historical fiction (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Crispin: The Cross of Lead), historical-ghost-mystery (The Man Who Was Poe) and fantasy (Poppy). There are a million other subgenres he’s written too: I must admit, I have not kept up with all his new books since college and motherhood have come along! (I love that, now that my son is getting older, I have more “excuses” to revisit middle grade fiction!).

Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? (originally published 1992, reissued by Scholastic Paperbacks 2014) is one of the most unusual novels I’ve read: it is written entirely in dialogue. No, it’s not a play: there are no name indications in the text, nor are there settings and stage directions. Indeed, every single line that appears in the book is a line of dialogue. Continue Reading

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton

In Terry Eagleton’s slim volume How to Read Literature (Yale University Press, 2013), the author approaches literature like an old friend. His volume is easily readable and quite fun. Rather than didactically explaining how to read literature, he writes with familiarity about different ways one could look at literature. There is no lecture in this volume. There are, however, lots of ideas and inspirations from classic and modern works that Mr Eagleton himself obviously loves. Continue Reading