September 2010


Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross

by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross, author of Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day

Having led college essay-writing workshops for English teachers and guidance counselors (as well as students) in high schools throughout the country, I know that faculty members are generally eager to step in to help alleviate the stress. But many teachers and counselors tell me that they really don’t know what sort of essays colleges prefer nowadays. Even in this weak economy, or perhaps because of it, the competition to get into the most competitive colleges is still increasing. And teachers say the results of college admissions are often baffling. Some teachers report that they’ve seen their top students—outstanding essay writers with top grades and test scores—get turned away from colleges inexplicably. And teachers wish to be more helpful. (more…)

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9780812974492 (1)Unbroken
By Laura Hillenbrand

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Appearing in paperback for the first time—with twenty arresting new photos and an extensive Q&A with the author—Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

“Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic.” The Wall Street Journal

9780385528207The Other Wes Moore
By Wes Moore

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.

Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

“Inspiring . . . a story for our times.” —Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

9780385494229 (1)The Freedom Writers Diary
By The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

Straight from the front line of urban America, the inspiring story of one fiercely determined teacher and her remarkable students.

As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders.”

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Look Me in the Eye
By John Elder Robison

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

Ever since he was small, John Robison had longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings pickling himself in sherry. It was no wonder he gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on.

After fleeing his parents and dropping out of high school, his savant-like ability to visualize electronic circuits landed him a gig with KISS, for whom he created their legendary fire-breathing guitars. Later, he drifted into a “real” job, as an engineer for a major toy company. But the higher Robison rose in the company, the more he had to pretend to be “normal” and do what he simply couldn’ t: communicate. It wasn’t worth the paycheck.
It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself—and the world.

Look Me in the Eye is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply of groupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names (he calls his wife “Unit Two”). He also provides a fascinating reverse angle on the younger brother he left at the mercy of their nutty parents—the boy who would later change his name to Augusten Burroughs and write the bestselling memoir Running with Scissors.

Ultimately, this is the story of Robison’ s journey from his world into ours, and his new life as a husband, father, and successful small business owner—repairing his beloved high-end automobiles. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien, yet always deeply human.

“Well-written and fascinating.” Library Journal

Click here to visit the author’s website and here to view his YouTube channel. We also have available a complimentary teacher’s guide and study guide.

 

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Just Mercy
By Bryan Stevenson

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.” —David Cole, The New York Review of Books

To watch a video of the author go to: tiny.cc/stevensonvid

www.eji.org

Selected for common reading at the following high schools:

Boston College High School
The Browning School
DeMatha Catholic High School / Gonzaga College High School

9780345505347 (1)Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
By Jamie Ford

To request a complimentary examination copy to review for classroom use, please contact us at K12education@edu.penguinrandomhouse.com or call us toll free at (844) 851-3955.

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

“Mesmerizing and evocative, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a tale of conflicted loyalties, devotion, as well as a vibrant portrait of Seattle’s Nihonmachi district in its heyday.” Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

 

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