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A writing teacher shows a classroom of 4th graders and their teacher how to use the written word to change their lives.  Teachers will want to use this book in their own classrooms.  It will entertain, inspire, and serve as a reminder that the teaching of writing in the classroom is more than teaching the mechanics.  When students learn to write, they can change their lives.

Little House on the Prairie fans will love this book.  Melissa walks you through her seasons on Little House, giving her thoughts on various episodes and sharing little known trivia and background.  She also share memories about the cast, in particular, Michael Landon.  I’m inspired to re-watch my favorite episodes.

I’m also impressed with Melissa Anderson as a person.  Here is a child star who went on to have a successful career and then put it all on hold for the sake of her own children.  She stepped out of the limelight so she could put her family first.  You just don’t see that very often.

This was one of the best history books I’ve ever read.  I learned so much about a time period that is often reduced by history textbooks to a summary of The New Deal and the beginning of WWII.  American History classes should use this book!  Egan interviewed people who lived through the Dust Bowl, and combined their stories with historical records to recount 40 years of history on the American Plains.

Did you know that during the great dust storms, the skies would rain mud?

Did you know that babies, children and even adults died from lung diseases brought on by dust?

Did you know that the dust storms blew dirt from the plains all the way to Washington DC and out into the Atlantic?

Did you know that the dust storms could have been prevented?

Through recorded cassette tapes, Hannah reveals to her friend Clay the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.  Suspenseful and heartbreaking; I had a hard time putting it down.  The alternating narration between Clay’s life and Hannah’s voice on the tapes keeps the story moving quickly.

The one feeling I was left with overall though, was that suicide is a glamorous way to go.  In the end, Hannah is able to explain her reasons for killing herself, make her enemies feel bad for hurting her, and bid farewell to her grief-stricken almost boyfriend.  It’s the ultimate, “They’ll miss me when I’m gone” fantasy come true.  If I had a child reading this book, I would definitely want them to explore this topic from other points of view.

This is one of the more unusual memoirs that I’ve read. Patsy Harman is a nurse-midwife, who co-owns an OB-GYN practice with her doctor husband.  (Even though they run an OB-GYN practice, they no longer deliver babies, as their malpractice insurance rates for deliveries have skyrocketed.)

Harman’s memoir combines reflections on the business side of the medical practice with personal anecdotes from her own medical life, as well as that of her patients.  Even thought I don’t agree with Harman on all of her stances on social issues, I thought she was a wonderfully caring practitioner, and found myself wishing I lived closer to her Appalachian home so I could go to her office!

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