Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner
Recommended by: Jamie Tobin, middle/high school library media specialist, Mechanicville TA.
Suitable for: Grade 12. (Book contains strong language and mature situations.)
Why I chose it: The plot: a neurotic, Woody Allenesque high school senior named Shakespeare Shapiro, who happens to be an aspiring writer, has a senior project to write his memoir, which is included in installments in the book. I recommended this book to teacher Mike Daley, who was looking for a project for his communications class, which consisted of mostly non-college bound seniors. The students loved it.
How teachers can use this book: Daley created extension activities based on Shakespeare's memoir. The students could write actual events or create a fictionalized account. Another assignment had students write their own obituaries. Daley now reads this book with his class every year as an end-of-the-year activity, and it continues to be successful. It addresses the learning standards for literary response and expression, along with critical analysis and evaluation, and encourages creative writing.
What I like best: Wizner really captures the voice of a typical teenage boy, from exasperation with his parents to trying to find a prom date, and it seems to ring true with students.