Burroughs Book Picks of the Week - 4/13/12
The theme of this week’s Burroughs Picks are books which our beloved colleague Artemis Stamatopoulos recommends. As you may know, Ms. Stamatopoulos has announced her retirement at the end of the academic year and is to be toasted at an Alumni Event this Thursday, April 12. Having worked at Buckley for over 40 years, Ms. Stamatopoulos is the only academic teacher I know of who has taught in all three divisions of the school and has been a homeroom teacher in all three divisions as well. Her expertise and skill have benefitted generations of boys, with her special passion for history and writing. I asked Ms. Stamatopoulos what books she would recommend to boys and parents, and here are three of hers that I also endorse.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
These detective stories are wonderful for the Class VI-Q boys, as the skilled, eccentric, and imaginative Holmes and his colleague Watson attempt to solve Victorian crimes that the narrow-minded Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard is baffled by. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of Ms. Stamatopoulos’s favorites, especially because the description of the moors is so well done by Conan Doyle. The author might approve of the two recent Sherlock Holmes movies, but there is nothing like reading the originals; no one was able to write a better detective story or create intriguing characters better. Read more on Amazon.
Ms. Stamatopoulos also loves this Charles Dickens classic, previously recommended as one of my Picks, and we both used to teach it when she took one eighth grade English section, while I had the other. I loved the story of the young, naïve, impoverished Pip, who believes that he is to come into his great expectations by being set up to marry the rich Estella, only to find out that his assumptions were completely flawed and that he is being set up to fail by the revengeful Miss Havisham, Estella's guardian. An historian to the bone, Ms. Stamatopoulos feels that if you really want to understand what it was like to be in the Victorian upper class, read about Miss Havisham in the story. If you want to experience life in the middle class, read about the Wopsle family. And if you want to learn about what it was like to be lower class, read about Joe Gargery and Mrs. Joe, Pip’s brother-in-law and sister. Read as cultural history or just an engrossing novel, this is a wonderful read for Class VIII-S boys or their parents. Read more on Amazon.
All Quiet on the Western Front
For many years Ms. Stamatopoulos taught European History in Class IX, and Erich Maria Remarque’s novel was integrated into her curriculum. (I absconded this World War I novel from her for my English IX class when she stopped teaching the history class several years ago!) This is the poignant story of the German soldier Paul Baumer, who comes to realize the grim horrors of war while serving on the Front. The description of those interminable battles and Paul’s developing understanding of the futility of it all come home to the reader much more than they would if the student were just to read from a textbook. There are many excellent World War I novels by Pat Barker, Dalton Trumbo, Sebastian Barry, Ernst Junger, Henri Barbusse, Ernest Hemingway, Michael Murpurgo, and Frederic Manning, but Remarque’s is probably the most well known---for good reasons. Read more on Amazon.