[Nonfiction Monday Reading] A Week-long Tribute to the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.

I have also written a post about my thoughts on the Accelerated Reader Program.

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I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.

Does the Accelerated Reader Program help develop Lifelong Readers?

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This week, we will be sharing about Edgar Allan Poe and his affinity for darkness that dwells in men’s hearts.

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We are also joining Nonfiction Monday this week hosted by Abby the Librarian.

IMG_9037Nevermore: A Photobiography of Edgar Allan Poe

Written ByKaren E. Lange
Published by: National Geographic, 2009.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

This book provides a perfect overview for young readers who would like to know more about the Master of Macabre and his tortured life. I read this in an hour’s time, yet I feel that I have learned a lot of information about Poe that I never knew before. It contains enough facts to make it interesting for a younger audience, juxtaposed with lovely imageries to make the events come to life; and just enough so as not to overwhelm the reluctant reader.

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I was particularly taken by this photograph of Poe’s mother, Elizabeth, who died of tuberculosis when he was only two years old. I am reminded by some of the lecture sessions I conduct about the thin line between creativity and madness, and how a difficult life history contributes to what Dabrowski calls “positive disintegration” defined as “a series of psychological disintegrations and reintegrations, resulting in dramatic change to a person’s conceptions of self and the world.”

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Clearly, Poe’s childhood with his foster family (with a foster father who found it difficult to connect to his theatre-going, poetry-loving ward with the sad eyes) and his many lost loves, and his seeming-desperate attempt to love and be loved, his alcoholism that proved his undoing, his brilliant mind edged with devils and demons and darknesses – all make for a compelling reading. Definitely a must-read for those who are drawn to Poe’s works.

For those who wish to know more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to be taken to the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore website filled with helpful links and information. The NYC Department of Education also has a collection of teacher resources to introduce Edgar Allan Poe to classrooms of different grade levels – pretty comprehensive site.

Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan PoeIMG_8986

Story and Illustrations By: Scott Gustafson
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I was intrigued by the title of this illustrated YA novel and borrowed it with great interest. As I read the novel, however, I was disturbed by the lack of historical notes that would link the narrative to an actual episode in Poe’s life. It appears more like a fictionalized retelling of a fragment of Poe’s childhood.

While I found the premise of an imp that whispered grisly thoughts that slink and slither in Poe’s young mind, and a talking Raven who seemed more like the imp’s anti-thesis quite promising in the beginning – their conversation throughout the novel, while lighthearted and funny (and would most likely capture a lot of youngsters), did not appeal to me that much.

Think of this more like a mystery novel (not necessarily within the genre of nonfiction), with Poe being accused of a misdemeanour that he did not do; hence, his quest to clear his name so that he would not be punished. Throw in a theatrical show, a prized rooster, and a Magician with a demon on his back – and you have a story in your hands. Not sure though how close the depiction of this boy is to the actual young Edgar Allan Poe. More than anything, I enjoyed the masterful illustrations. I think we need more richly-illustrated novels.

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Currently Reading…

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This was the very first meeting of “Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks” (aka SNOB-Geeks) with John Boyne’s “The Terrible Thing that happened to Barnaby Brocket” with (a few) illustrations by oliver jeffers. We had a lovely discussion punctuated by easy laughter, a dose of healthy skepticism (Mexican American style), and a suspension of disbelief (courtesy of Felicia, who thankfully does not speak backwards). It was a beautiful evening with people who obviously care about books – the best kind of people, if you ask me.

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I am now slowly reading my November books for my TWO book clubs. “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende for GatheringReaders at the Jurong West Public Library with 9-12 yo kids (discussion is on 17 November) and Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” with the SNOB-Geeks due on 23 November. Looks like I have my reading cut out for me in the next two weeks. This and A Dance With Dragons. Plus a few others besides. Book Love.

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There is also a recent review of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series in The New York Review of Books entitled The Women and the Thrones written by Daniel Mendelsohn. This article explains why I am so enamoured with the series.

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 211/212 (150)

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

15 Comments on [Nonfiction Monday Reading] A Week-long Tribute to the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe

  1. That Sherman Alexie book is one of my faves. I hope you enjoy it. I should reread some Poe since it’s almost Halloween. Maybe I’ll be more receptive to his stories now.

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  2. Brunette Librarian // October 21, 2013 at 11:10 am // Reply

    Ok so seriously – I’m so jealous you have guys in your reading group. I am in SIX reading groups and we have ONE guy in one of them. That’s it. Hope you have a great reading week!! :)

    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading @ the Brunette Librarian

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  3. No, AR does not help children develop into life long readers. Reading for pleasure, enjoyment, for information helps a person at any age develop into a life long reader. Discontinuing AR and lifting restrictions on what children are allowed to read or must read in order to achieve X number of points, is a start in the right direction. A well run AR program can be very useful to track a student’s growth but such programs are not frequently run in such a manner. I have seen remarkable growth among our students since our district dropped AR and students began to read from all areas of the library. It has been a refreshing change and much easier to motivate students to pick up whatever they like and read.

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  4. Hadn’t thought about reading biographies about Edgar Allen Poe before but now I’m quite curious. Thanks for sharing a few! :) Love that your book club read Barnaby Brocket, interesting book…

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  5. Hmmm…. I do love Poe. I plan to do The Raven with my fifth graders this week or next week. Their classes are doing a lot of figurative language, and hey – Halloween!

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  6. I hadn’t heard of these Poe biographies, but know several students who would like these. It sounds like the first one, Evermore, is the one to start with. Thanks for the recommendation!

    I’ve never been at a school that uses AR, but 99% of the feedback I’ve heard from friends and colleagues who have used it is negative. Kids tend to pick books “worth” the most points over what interests them most. It’ll be interesting to hear what others have to say about it.

    Have a good week!
    Natalie @Biblio Links

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  7. Sherman Alexie’s book was a powerful read – I save it for my advanced sixth graders, since some of the language is a bit “advanced” really – even it it’s effective and well done. I love the Poe books, Myra – background information on an author like Poe is so important for students’ appreciation of him.

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  8. Love the Sherman Alexie! It’s one of two books that I absolutely must have on my Adolescent Lit syllabus (the other is Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak). Somehow I missed your brilliant AR post this week. So glad you highlighted it today. Will be sharing with my Children’s Lit and Adolescent Lit courses when we discuss canned reading programs. Most of the students in these two courses experienced AR in school, and when I survey students about their experiences, they have almost entirely negative things to say. There are a few students who see no harm in the program and another few who say it did encourage them to read, but most students are very frustrated by it. When I talk to teachers about it, the ones who do like it note that they can know for certain what their students are reading based on the tests they take, but I don’t even think that much is true. My older son just took some AR tests for books he did not read, only saw the movie version of, and he got 90% correct on the tests.

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  9. As usual, lots of wonderful things going on in your reading life! :-) Love the picture of your book club. I haven’t read that title yet.

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  10. Katering Flores // October 22, 2013 at 6:30 am // Reply

    Awesome books and love that you have a book club!!
    By the way, we are celebrating 300 Facebook “Likes” on the blog so make sure to stop by and enter!

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  11. The book, Nevermore, looks very interesting, Myra, but I’m not sure about the other one. It doesn’t seem so good to imply that Poe had these experiences. Your book groups sound wonderful, but it is a lot of reading! Hope it’s fun!

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  12. Nevermore sounds like a great introduction to Poe and his work. I loved reading his stories when I was in 7th & 8th grade, but haven’t read anything of his in a while. I listened to Avi’s The Man Who Was Poe this summer and really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I love Absolutely True…. Excellent. I am going to have to track down Nevermore. It looks fantastic. Thanks!

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  14. Love the photo of your reading group! Looks like lots of fun. We don’t have AR in our province that I know of but yikes, the whole concept seems anti-booklove I’ll check out this post to see other comments.

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  15. I also loved Nevermore! I have never seen Eddie, but I really want to add it to my classroom library now!! Thanks for sharing some great titles with us :)

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