Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The five include my novels No Child Left Alive, The Devil's on Facebook, and Small Town News and non-fiction books Let Teachers Teach and The Best of Sports Talk.
No Child Left Alive is the story of one year in a dysfunctional high school as teachers battle out-of-control students and clueless, self-absorbed administrators (Where do I come up with these ideas?). It is the book that C. J. Huff testified has nothing to say whatsoever about education and frequent Joplin Globe columnist Anson Burlingame says is pornography. After you read it, you will begin to wonder if C. J. Huff knows anything about education and if Anson Burlingame knows anything about pornography.
The Devil's on Facebook is an updated version of my 2006 novel Devil's Messenger and is a combination horror story/murder mystery. A teenage girl communicates with her murdered father on Facebook. Devil's Messenger, you may remember, is another book that Joplin R-8 Administration cited in its eventually successful effort to fire me. This vile book (according to them) was also pornographic and I allowed students to read it. That is true. Of course, it was never mentioned that the book had been on the shelves at East/South and Joplin High School for seven years.
Small Town News was my first novel, originally published in 2005, and is a fictionalized version of the events of October 31, 2001, when the bank of Diamond was robbed and Diamond R-4 Superintendent Greg Smith on the same day. The book is a satire on what happens when a small town is besieged by the media as newspaper and television reporters battle to get the story.
Let Teachers Teach is a collection of my best writing on education, including some original essays, plus ones that have been published elsewhere. Topics featured include standardized tests, the war against public education and public schoolteachers, my experiences teaching after the Joplin Tornado, remembrances of colleagues and former students, and the challenges that face classroom teachers.
The Best of Sports Talk is a collection of my best sports writing, mostly from the 1990s, including features on current Joplin City Councilwoman Miranda Lewis, about her aunt Nancy Cruzan of the Supreme Court right-to-die case, former Lamar Coach Armando DeLaRosa, who murdered his wife and then killed himself, current Carthage teacher Peggy Lucas as she watched her daughter Tysha, also a teacher now, play her final high school volleyball match, and the girl who received her first kiss at a basketball game, plus the way a swimmer who died of meningitis affected a class of first graders and much, much more.