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kylebrittain has commented on (7) products.

Classroom Publishing: A Practical Guide for Teachers (Openbook) by Laurie King
Classroom Publishing: A Practical Guide for Teachers (Openbook)

kylebrittain, May 29, 2011

Classroom Publishing is an invaluable resource for teachers who wish to give their students fun, challenging, and ultimately meaningful work. The book teaches students how their own ideas can be refined, improved upon, and finally published. Witnessing the gestation and birth of an idea can be incredibly empowering for the student who may have previously felt disenfranchised. This exhaustively researched and well-written book lays the groundwork for a new mode teaching that allows students to engage each other through participation in the publishing process. The book contains everything an instructor needs to teach students about publishing, from acquisitions to marketing and promotion. Also included are moving stories featuring real-world examples of classroom publishing and the impact it has had on the lives of students. This book is highly recommended for K-12 teachers and students.
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Lincoln's Daughter by Tony Wolk
Lincoln's Daughter

kylebrittain, April 28, 2011

Lincoln’s Daughter is the third installment in Tony Wolk’s Lincoln trilogy--a series that began with Abraham Lincoln’s mysterious appearance in 1950s Illinois. While I have not read Good Friday (the second book in the series), I found this book to be just as engaging and historically fascinating as Wolk’s first Lincoln book, A Novel Life. The success of that novel is largely due to Wolk’s skill and sensitivity in portraying the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Joan Matcham (the woman with whom Lincoln fathers this novel’s titular daughter). However, in this novel, Lincoln and Matcham never interact--instead we are treated to the journey through time of Matcham’s new husband, a Lincoln scholar, and the Matcham family’s desperate quest to find him. Although Wolk is working in the genres of historical- and science-fiction, the novel’s emphasis is clearly on its well-drawn characters--about whom Wolk obviously cares deeply. Lincoln’s Daughter is a quick, engaging read and well worth your time. I would recommend this book for readers interested in Abraham Licoln, readers of historical fiction, and anyone who appreciates well-crafted, wise, and subtle storytelling.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)

Ricochet River by Robin Cody
Ricochet River

kylebrittain, March 3, 2011

As a former small-town adolescent (in Colorado, not Oregon), I was amazed by the precision and depth with which Cody writes about kids coming-of-age in insular, often-stifling rural environments. Cody captures the ennui of small town life better than just about any writer, and his three-dimensional characters are often reminiscent of J.D. Salinger’s. There’s a lot to like here—especially the character of Jesse, an impulsive Native-American transfer student. Cody also writes about weighty, potentially controversial (for younger students, anyway) issues such as race and sexuality with great care and sensitivity.

Although Ricochet River’s primary demographic is probably high school students, this is a novel with universal appeal. Reading the novel as an adult provoked feelings of nostalgia for my childhood (as well as relief that I’ll never have to do it again). Ricochet River would make a great gift for any intelligent and introspective teenager.
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Oregon at Work: 1859-2009 by Art Ayre
Oregon at Work: 1859-2009

kylebrittain, March 3, 2011

Oregon at Work is a phenomenal book, and a must have all history-minded Oregonians. The book uses written and oral histories to tell the story of Oregon’s labor force since statehood. Although this is a work of labor history and non-fiction, I found the stories of Oregon Trail pioneers and their descendants to be as compelling as any fiction written about the era. It was also refreshing to read about the lives of Native- and African-American workers (these narratives tend to be ignored or glossed-over in much of the Oregon history I’ve read). Beyond the well-researched, comprehensive written history of Oregon at Work, the book’s design is excellent. The stark, dramatic black-and-white photographs help bring the book’s many fascinating characters to life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
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Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite by June Casagrande
Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite

kylebrittain, February 27, 2011

Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies is a decent introductory supplement for students of Standard American English grammar. The book’s casual approach makes it an ideal text for people who shudder at the thought of reading a grammar book. However, many of Ms. Casagrande’s explanations of grammar rules are oversimplified—she sometimes writes like she’s out of her element and it shows.

Ms. Casagrande writes a grammar column for a Los Angeles Times supplement. As a grammar columnist, she routinely faces challenges from the titular snobs. The book is both a response to the grammar snobs who have attacked Casagrande in the past and an instructive tool for burgeoning grammarians to defend themselves against the “big meanies” who lie in wait with red pens, ready to correct bad grammar wherever it can be found.
While the book functions better as a supplement than a main text (due to simplification of material), the prose is well written and frequently very funny. Plenty of pop-culture references pepper this easy-to-follow text; the subject matter is always engaging and approachable.

Despite the book’s flaws, I would recommend Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies to high school English students for use as a supplemental text as well as to adults who have learned Standard American English grammar but need a light and engaging refresher course.
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