professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Big trouble, terrific biography

I must admit that I do not automatically think of the name Sid Fleischman when I am thinking about biographies. I loved THE WHIPPING BOY and his other novels. However, his bio of Houdini, THE GREAT ESCAPE, was absolutely as riveting as watching Houdini in action. The same is true for his latest biography of Mark Twain: THE TROUBLE BEGINS AT 8: A LIFE OF MARK TWAIN ON THE WILD, WILD WEST. The format is similar: short chapters, interesting bits of information woven into a tight narrative. As an English teacher who used Twain's stories and novels for years, I thought I knew a great deal about the man behind the writing. Turns out that is not true. There is so much more to Twain that his oft quoted quips and his time on the Mississippi. Fleischman beings readers those details in a lively way, one that would make Twain himself proud, I think. This was a terrific way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

And on a side note, I attended our College of Education's Distinguished Educator of the Year Awards ceremony last night. I went mostly because one of our grads, Dixie Allen, won in the Support Professional category (and how we hate that librarians are "support", but that is grist for a different posting). The highlight of the evening was the final award that went to someone who works in the pediatric center at M D Anderson, teaching kids with serious illnesses, especially cancer. Dr. Claudine Simpson should be the poster teacher for NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND as she literally sees that all the kids get what they need. One child mentioned that she was a friend who made her feel as if she fit in, another talked about her haltingly but with apparent love in his heart. Her co-workers talked about her dedication. She was an inspiration and reminded me of why I love teaching still after 32 years. Thanks, Dr. Simpson, for all you do to make sure no child is left behind.
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