The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book Review: "The Landry News"

Andrew Clements writes some of my favorite children's books. When I come across a reluctant reader, I can usually get them to read Frindle all the way through.

I recently finished The Landry News, and felt as if it was written for me. When I was a kid, I found an old manual typewriter with cracking black tape, and beautiful round keys. I stood over it in the hot garage and banged out a newspaper with the help of my cousin. It was a piece of beauty. Distribution: 4. I worked my way up and eventually became Opinion Page editor for my college newspaper (distribution: 28,000 daily).

Clements book centers on a girl with my same passion. She can't resist the urge to publish -- no matter what trouble it brings. Like his other novels, we see moral growth as our heroine struggles with the ethical issues of distributing news and opinion.

But the character that scared me to death was her teacher. Clements sketches a caricature of the burned-out teacher. He was teacher of the year... a while back. He wants kids to take responsibility for their own education. All this manifests itself in a guy sitting at his desk the entire period, hiding behind his newspaper. Clements always exposes the beautiful, good core of each of his characters, but this guy made me worry over each of those days I "phoned it in" and cut corners. Makes me wonder which of the days my students will remember.




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