6th grade students from Lebanon Middle School in Connecticut have been reading The Pirates of Pompeii this term. As part of their coursework, they were asked to write letters to me. I was hugely impressed by the standard of their writing. Here are a just a few of the many outstanding excerpts from their letters, a testiment to Mrs. Violette's creative lesson planning!
Hello, my name is Kayla... and I am in Mrs. Violette's sixth grade reading class. We have just recently finished your wonderful book, The Pirates of Pompeii. I loved reading this great page turner and my grades have been excellent on the tests and questions Mrs. Violette has assigned. As our final project for this novel we are writing to you about how we felt about your book and more... My favorite character was Flavia because she was a brave and intelligent girl... When I read that Flavia lurks around gathering information and got kidnapped I couldn't believe she wasn't the least bit fearful, unlike me, who would be scared out of my mind if a bunch of goons came and stole me from my family.
(from Kayla's letter)
My class has been taking quizzes on the reading as well as doing comprehension questions and character charts. I pass the quizzes easily, because your writing is deep and memorable. Everything about it is exhiliarating and flowing. The questions are easy because when I need evidence I want to go back and reread and take in everything I missed. The character chart was the hardest piece of work to do because everything you need is spread out throughout the reading.
(from Ethan's letter)
I saw that the Romans, even back then, acted similar to how people act in times of disaster. This is showed when Kuanto and the other pirates take a simple job and turn it into a money making business by taking advantage of the vulnerable and start kidnapping innocent children to sell just to make extra money. This reminds me of when New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the people were stealing from each other.
(from Andee's letter)
I can make two connections between my life and the novel The Pirates of Pompeii. One connection that I have with this book is that I can relate to Felix, Nubia, and Lupus's passion for playing an instrument. These three characters play beautiful music while celebrating, entertaining, and bringing joy to others. I also love playing an instrument, the clarinet. Playing the clarinet allows me to celebrate many occasions in life as well as cheer people up. Another connection between my life and your book is that I can relate to the fear and terror Leda experienced being locked in a chest. When I was five years old I climbed into a chest for fun, and my sister and her friend closed the lid and sat on top of it so that I couldn't get out. I was uncomfortable, scared, and confined in a small space just as Leda was in the story. Although we were both closed in the chest for different reasons, we were both helpless and unsure of when we were going to be set free. These two personal connections helped me to imagine myself in the lives of these characters.
(from Brandon's letter)
Out of all the characters, Lupus is my favorite. He reminds me of a little monkey climbing trees and looking for adventure. The part of the book that made me laugh is when Lupus stood on top of the rock and held up the wax-tablet saying "let's go find Nubia ourselves". That made me laugh becuase in my mind Lupus looked like a little superman saving the day... I also relate to Flavia. I love adventures and climbing trees. I actually climbed a tree and fell down and this kid I didn't even know caught me and now we are best friends. I also make good plans like Flavia. The plan of going to Felix's was genius. I came up with a plan to sneak into my grandpa's house one day to throw him a surprise birthday party which is not easy because he has dogs that bark a lot and he basically stays inside all day.
(from D'Lanie's letter)
When we read a book in reading class, we have a certain schedule to follow so we read a few chapters at a time. We had a week to read chapters 1 to 7. In addition to our reading assignments we had comprehension questions and a "reading check" to make sure we read the book and understand what we read. My grades on the comprehension and "reading checks" ranged from 90 to 100. I think by my grades you can tell I enjoyed the book immensely... I learned the names for different rooms of the household and public areas. A triclinium is a dining room and a solarium is a room in public baths used for resting, reading and beauty treatments. Finally, the most interesting piece of information that I learned is what it was like for the people and slaves of Pompeii after the eruption of Vesuvius.
(from Ally's letter)
When I read The Pirates of Pompeii I felt like I was really experiencing the mystery and was solving it with Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus. I felt like I was kidnapped and was experiencing the life after a huge volcanic eruption, and living in a tent with lots of other survivors and being able to enjoy it through music and friendliness... You write your books so well! I loved your book The Pirates of Pompeii! It will always be one of my favorite books. It was my favorite book to read this year in class. I will read the other books in your series... I hope you have a great 2011!
(from Katy's letter)