I held strong for about two months. I didn’t venture near Amazon for several days — almost two weeks.  Maybe three.  And then…

Sigh…the first Saturday of the month.  The South Texas Writing Project Fall Conference.  The book jumble sale at the Methodist Church.  A twinge of curiosity about my Amazon wish list. I was lost. It’s like that first drink an alcoholic takes after being dry for a year.  It makes all that came before it a mockery of self-discipline.  An illusion of control.

Yet, I’m not sad. I feel good. The urge to read something — the compulsion to get between those covers and make some noise — in your head.  It’s to be nurtured, appreciated, loved.  And I didn’t just think of myself. Oh, no. I’m a generous sort when given the space. I picked up some titles for my classroom, as well.

FOR MY CLASSROOM   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Scroll down to see links to author pages]

Mystic Places (published by Time/Life)

→  one of those book series they put out.  This one is about the pyramids, Stonehenge, crop circles, Atlantis. I think a lot of the myths have been debunked on most of these.

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott; abridged version by Barbara Greenwood, illustrations by Greg Ruhl.)

→ it’s not complete, hence "abridged".  It concentrates on their home life in the early part of the novel where their father is away and mother too, sometimes.  The illustrations are beautifully rendered. Amy’s hair is to die for! It’s a nice hardcover edition as well.  The end papers have a lace design on them. 

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

→ This Signet Classic is a tie-in version to go with the 1993 motion picture.  The cover is a still photo of Dickon and Mary taking Colin to the garden.  Inside the front cover is the movie information that you see on movie posters with the production company — Zoetrope, producer Francis Ford Coppola, director Agnieszka Holland.  About halfway through the book is a set of black and white photos of the cast.  The language of the characters tries to be true to life. Dickon’s country pronunciation, I think, makes the story more interesting to read. 

Where The Red Fern Grows  (Wilson Rawls)

Product DetailsThis one was particularly interesting because of what was inside the book.  And I don’t mean the text.  This copy belonged to a girl named S. back in 1998.  In various parts of the book were school pics of her mates.  They look to be middle schoolers.  One little boy, wearing the uniform of a local Catholic school, wrote: To: S, From: C.  In smeared red felt tip, it says:  I ♥ U.  Awwww….precious. 

Another boy, M., wrote #1 M. WUZ ↑.  (That’s such a lame thing to write.) 

A girl named A. wrote: To: S.  Have fun this year and do well.  Your Friend. A. 10/07/98.  Then! in smeared red felt tip, it says, BITCH! Oooooooh! Behind-the-scenes drama!

►More girl stuff:

To: S.S.  To a cool friend I meet this year.  p.s.  7th grade girls kick ass.

Hi S.  howes goin’?  To which someone replies (S.?):  go to hell (I’ve been there)

Hi! Whats up?  So, I hope you have an awesome year!  A. P.

You know, I’ve been teaching middle school my entire career in private and public schools.  For foul language and foul thoughts, I would –easily — put them up against a stevedore from Marseille, a gunnery sergeant, or a prison guard. 

Soccer Halfback (Matt Christopher, illus. by Larry Johnson, cover illus. by Richard Schroeppel)

→ large print children’s novel from 1978.  Interesting to see a soccer-themed book before the 1990s.  Soccer in the US used to be the property of suburban/upper-class kids who didn’t have the body mass or political connections to get into football or basketball.  It was a "white-boy" sport.  For preppies.  It’s not that way anymore.  Thank GOD!!!  The story concerns "Jabber" Morris. He desperately wants to play soccer, but his family want him to give it up for football.  The blurb at the back says that Matt Christopher has a fan club.  []


Pick your favorite Matt Christopher book and tell us why it would be a great movie in 50 words or less. Submit your entry through the contact form

Selected entries will win the opportunity to receive an autographed Matt Christopher book ($4.50 shipping and handling charges apply). Offer ends December 20, 2009.


NIGHT (Elie Wiesel)

→ Winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.  Translated from the French by Stella Rodway.  Preface for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition by Robert McAfee Brown.  Wiesel spent time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  This book is his experience.  The cover art, for me, echoes other war novels such as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, CATCH-22, and The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II by Max Hastings.  An image of spiritual chill, sinister solitude, hopelessness. No human comfort of any kind.  Has teaching Holocaust units in schools prevented mass murders or massacres from happening again? Are children getting the message that it’s wrong and must never happen again?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

→  This Bantam Classic paperback is practically new.  Wonderful text illustrations by John Tenniel.  The cover image is by Milo Winter from a 1916 edition.  I believe Bantam could have spent a bit more money to make the book easier to read. The print is too pale. The letters too tiny. There’s no excuse for such a lack of consideration towards the reader.  On the bright side, I love how the stories are mixed media, so to speak. There’s prose, poetry, songs, and thoroughly English dry wit.  P. 103 contains a diagram of chess moves related to the story. My school’s girls’ chess team won state. I can’t wait to show them p. 103!





  1. Amazon’s Wilson Rawls Page
  2. Amazon’s Louisa May Alcott Page
  3. Amazon’s Elie Wiesel Page
  4. Amazon’s Lewis Carroll Page
  5. Amazon’s Frances Hodgson Burnett Page
  6. Amazon’s Matt Christopher Page

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