amandalee's Reviews > The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
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's review
Jan 31, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 09 to 31, 2012

I have now read this novel, well, 13 times. Wait! Thirteen times? How can that be? And why? This novel is okay, but it is definitely not of a "read thirteen times" caliber.

The first reading was when I was a sixth grade student; it was a class novel. Inspired by the novel, my classmates and I signed a round robin in an attempt to overthrow our teacher. We knew that the crew was on to something, and like them, we were dissatisfied with our "captain". And, like the crew, we failed. After scribbling our middle school signatures, we placed that round robin on our teacher's desk. The result: a week of no recess.

[I wish I could find this teacher, who has retired, and apologize to him for the behavior of my class.]

The other 12 times? Ironically, I now teach this novel to middle school students. This is the fourth year I have taught the novel and each year I use it with three separate classes. Believe it or not, we read the novel in its entirety - which means I read it three times through a year.

I give my kids a warning before we start - this book WILL start SLOW, but, I PROMISE, it will pick up. We discuss the history/time period (the kids are always amazed at how different it was in the 1800s); we talk about parts of a brig (the ship they are sailing on); we work slowly through the first few chapters. The first few days of reading are met with grumbling. However, just like I promised the kids, the book picks up. By the time we get to the middle of the book, kids are BEGGING to read more. In fact, a student - who was clear that he hates reading - asked if we were going to read today. As soon as he said it, he paused and then said, "I can't believe I just asked that. Who would have thought I would like a book?"

Is this book the best YA book I have ever read? No. Not even close. However, I appreciate the history, the lessons within, and, most obviously, the fact that the book engages my students - even the hesitant ones.

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