Monday, February 2, 2009

Sahara Special

Do you have a secret self that no one knows about? Is there a part of you that you keep hidden from even your family? Hmmm. Well that's okay, I don't either. But wouldn't it be exciting if you did? Sahara has a secret. A big secret.
I read at home, and write, too, but whatever I write, I make sure I'm by myself and then, when I'm done writing, I rip it out of my notebook. Ihide it in my binder behind section 940 in the public library, where all the books about Somewhere Else are located. This very paper, for instance, will someday be an archaeological find. Someday, someone will reach behind section 940 and find the dusty works of me, Sahara Jones, Secret Writer, and that person's life will be made more exciting, just by reading my Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures. Someday, people will see I am a writer.

Sahara Jones is repeating fifth grade. After her dad left two years ago, she stopped doing her classwork and began writing a series of letters. Dear Daddy, when are you coming home? Why didn't you take me with you? All of the letters are now in her "official file," which only teachers can see. After spending a year being pulled out for "Special Needs," Sahara's mom decides that enough is enough and that Sahara should be in the classroom, whether she fails or not. (Thanks, mom!) Enter Miss Poitier (or Miss Pointy). With her long, flowing skirts, purple lipstick, and unconvential teaching methods, Sahara is immediately enthralled by her new teacher. Miss Pointy issues each student a journal and instructs them to write as much or as little as they like.

Although she writes her secret library pages in profusion, she is reluctant to write in her classroom journal. Her first journal entry declares herself a writer, in which Miss Pointy pointedly (ha) replies with, "a writer writes." There are a number of other memorable "Pointy-isms" that found me scribbling furiously in my Nightstand Notes* so that I would remember to say them to my own class. (Note to my class: You may have begun to wonder why I have suddenly donned purple eyeliner, tell long, drawn-out stories with seemingly no point, and hand out copious amounts of glittery stickers; it's because I'm emulating my new teacher-idol, Miss Pointy.)
The story is told through Sahara's eyes, and those who read the book will admire her honest insight to the world and tickle-your-funnybone dialogue. With the help of Miss Pointy and some unlikely classmates, Sahara finds the courage to overcome her fears and throw her "official file" to the wind.

*Nightstand Notes are just a simple notebook that I keep next to my bed for jotting down thoughts, reflections, or anything else I want to remember while I'm reading. I have about 10 books on my nightstand at this moment, so the NN help to keep my thoughts organized.

Miss Pointy's Schedule:

Puzzling, 9:10-10:40
Time Travel and World Exploring or Mad Science, alternate days, 10:40-11:30
Read Aloud, after lunch
Read Together after Read Aloud
Read Alone after Read Together
Art of Language, end of the day
I know, it makes your own school day seem pretty dreary, huh?

Recipe to Read By: No-Bake Chocolate Cookies
This cookie recipe has all of the characteristics of Miss Pointy: it's sweet, sloppy-looking,
no-nonsense, and a little nutty.

2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cocoa, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanut butter and oats.
2. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow cookies to cool for at least 1 hour.
(I only make it about 10 minutes, but I recommend following the directions.)
Store in an airtight container.

Hint: Bring some to your teacher and score some major brownie (ahem, cookie) points.

*Recipe courtesy of

Kudos to Esme Raji Codell:
I can't tell you how much inspiration I've gained as a teacher from this author. I recommend Esme's fabulous book, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, to parents and teachers alike, as well as her equally exceptional children's literature website, Planet Esme, and Book-A-Day Blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment