May 2010

how to argue with a catHOW TO ARGUE WITH A CAT
A Human’s Guide to the Art of Persuasion
by Jay Heinrichs 
Illustrated by Natalie Palmer-Sutton

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

Jay Heinrichs, author of Thank You for Arguing and Word Hero, has introduced the art of rhetoric to a whole new generation of young people. With humor and intelligence, Heinrichs continues his work with How to Argue with a Cat. Through its spotlight on the cat, nature’s least persuadable animal, the book is an accessible and fun primer to an art that gives a shy person a voice, brings groups together, and inoculates them against the more nefarious kinds of manipulation. Students will learn the secrets to debating without fear; using body language, tone, and gesture to heighten the delivery of their argument; and to think about what their opponent wants, no matter how cat-like they may be.

Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

by George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter: A Novel

In my novel Letter to My Daughter, Laura, a middle-aged mother, writes a long letter to her runaway daughter.  Early on in the story, she bemoans the fact that letter writing seems to be a dying art:  “In this hyperactive age of emails and text messages, the kind of correspondence that Tim [her boyfriend] and I shared must seem like an anachronism to you . . . But I sincerely hope, dear Elizabeth, that someday you might have the pleasure of such an anachronism; that one day you’ll experience for yourself the irreplaceable joy of receiving letters from a lover.”  Much like my protagonist, I too appreciate the value of letters as a form of communication, and for this reason I’m always looking for ways to incorporate letter-writing activities in my English classes. 

Unlike an electronic message, a letter’s a tangible thing; it’s got heft and substance.  We can hold it in our hands, turn it over, smell it even.  We appreciate the extra time it took the sender to write out their thoughts on paper, put the paper in an envelope, address, stamp, and mail it.  A letter says, Listen to me.  I’ve got something important to tell you. (more…)

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, staff reporter David Glenn has written an interesting piece considering the pioneering work—and controversial viewpoints—of psychologist, professor and author Carol Dweck. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) took note of this article and linked to it in their weekly INBOX e-newsletter, sent out today.

Dweck, currently a professor at Stanford University, is a leading expert on motivation and personality psychology.  Having done more than twenty years of research on mindset, she has come to form what many consider to be a contrarian view: by fostering the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait, and praising students for simply “being smart”, educators do a disservice not only to students but to society-at-large.

The article has sparked varied reactions among Chronicle readers.  In exchange for a free copy of Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, we’d like to get your point of view as well.  Simply read the Chronicle article and/or the book excerpt and post a thoughtful comment here.  Then email us for your free copy (please be sure to include your full school mailing address).

It’s that time of year—diploma in hand, graduates everywhere are celebrating their achievements as they move on to the next exciting stage in their lives. From practical how-to guides to inspiring tales of overcoming adversity, these books are ideal and meaningful gifts for any new graduate.


Interested in reviewing any of these titles? Please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.


Are you a high school teacher in the Tri-State area or are you going to be in NYC this summer? If so, we would like to invite you and your students to our Second Annual Author Event for NYC Educators. Held at the Random House, Inc. building in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, June 30th from 1-4pm, come hear four fascinating authors speak about their books: Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore), Liz Welch (The Kids Are All Right), Alissa Torres (American Widow), and Geoffrey Canada and Jamar Nicholas (Fist Stick Knife Gun). The event will also feature teacher presentations and fun, creative workshops for students. Refreshments and free books will be available. Join us for lunch starting before the event at 12 noon.

RSVP necessary. Click here for more information.

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? (more…)

9780679744726THE FIRE NEXT TIME
by James Baldwin

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

At once a powerful evocation of Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature and as urgent today as when it was written. (more…)

by Colson Whitehead

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, and 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

From National Book Award-winning author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour-de-force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor —engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. (more…)

the girl who smiled beadsTHE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS
A Story of War and What Comes After
by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

It was 1994 and Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre. They would spend the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. It was not until she was twelve that she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States. In this devastating, bracing original book, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks.

“Wamariya’s testimony and her search to establish her own identity in America—post trauma and post war—resonate themes that provide a troubling but necessary historical lens into the Rwandan genocide while causing the reader to think more deeply about refugees and connect to today’s world refugee crisis. An urgent, timely and relevant read for all high school students!” —Colleen Tambuscio, Special Education Department Liaison, New Milford High School

“Clemantine Wamariya’s memoir is not solely an account of survival, but it is also one of self-discovery. She demonstrates that a story does not simply end when the action ends; it continues as life’s circumstances shape how we reflect, grow, and change. Despite her harrowing experience, Wamariya expresses her appreciation for the childhood she once loved and the community she left behind. The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a sharp reminder that history does, in fact, repeat itself and that introspection and advocacy are the best ways to change the world in which we live both personally and globally.” —Suzanne Hamilton, 7th & 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher, Carl H. Kumpf Middle School

Click here to watch the author’s TED Talk

the far away brothersTHE FAR AWAY BROTHERS
Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life
by Lauren Markham

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

In the vein of Enrique’s Journey, another immigrant tale that has become a mainstay in classrooms across the country, The Far Away Brothers is the deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador’s violence to build new lives in California—fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, the United States was a distant fantasy to identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores—until, at age seventeen, a deadly threat from the region’s brutal gangs forces them to flee the only home they’ve ever known. In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the Flores twins as they make their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of teenage life with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

Click here to watch a video of the author speaking about the book at the 2018 meeting of the First-Year Experience®.

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