Archive for the ‘Homeschooling in Literature and Film’ Category

This post reviews Angie Renich, The One and Only Miss Violet Remy (Wildwood Digital Publishing, 2011).  [Digital Download available here].

A couple of weeks ago Angie Renich contacted me and asked if I’d like a free copy of her book for review.  It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a piece of children’s literature, though I have done so on many occasions before.  A summative post that has links to most of my reviews of children’s books where homeschooling features is available here.

I googled Ms. Renich and couldn’t find much except that she doesn’t like Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and that she composed some music for a ballet version of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  That last one is relevant to the story, so here goes…


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This post reviews Amanda Fortini, “O Pioneer Woman!” in The New Yorker, 87 (May 9, 2011), pp. 26-31. [Abstract available here]

Fortini, a frequent contributor to several popular publications on topics ranging from celebrity fashion to politics, here pens a fascinating portrait of Ree Drummond, the famous blogger “The Pioneer Woman.”   (more…)

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This post reviews Laura Brodie, Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year
(New York: HarperCollins, 2010).

Brodie, mother of three, part-time English professor at Washington and Lee, and author of other works of fiction and nonfiction, here offers a memoir of her one-year experiment in homeschooling with her eldest daughter Julia.  Brodie also has a blog on short-term homeschooling that has dealt a lot with school bullying as motivator for homeschooling. (more…)

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While reading this humorous and engaging take on homeschool stereotypes by the blogger Kelly Green and Gold I started thinking about some way to track how homeschooling is represented in popular media.  That’s a huge task of course.  But I knew that the website HULU archives a lot of television, so I wondered if there was any way to search the site for homeschooling themes.  (more…)

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This post reviews Wendy Mass’ children’s book Every Soul A Star (New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 2009).

Wendy Mass is a popular author of a fast growing catalogue of children’s books (nine so far).  Every Soul a Star joins a growing list of recent children’s books that include homeschooled characters.  I read it this week-end, which was not easy to do because two of my daughters kept stealing it from me to read it themselves.  For this post I’ll begin by talking about how Mass uses homeschooling and then turn the post over to two guest bloggers, my daughters Rachel (age 13) and Susanna (age 8).  (more…)

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This post reviews Lucy Frank, The Homeschool Liberation League (New York: Penguin, 2009).

Frank, author of seven young adult titles, here offers a delightful contribution to the growing genre of children’s literature with homeschooled characters.  (more…)

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This post summarizes what I’ve learned about homeschooling in mainstream children’s literature, looking at some books I haven’t reviewed already to make a few points about the genre.

I first got interested in depictions of homeschoolers in mainstream children’s literature when I came across David Almond’s excellent 1998 book Skellig.    (more…)

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This post briefly reviews Lizza Aiken, “Growing Up with Joan Aiken: A Daughter’s View” in Horn Book Magazine (May/June 2009): 253-258.

Joan Aiken (1924-2004!) was a major figure in 20th century children’s literature.  She wrote nearly 100 books, the most popular of which are probably the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series.  In this article her daughter Lizza describes Joan’s early childhood, and it turns out that she was, until age twelve, taught by her mother at home.

Joan’s mother Jessie was a well educated woman who immersed her daughter in a world of books from her youngest years.  Readers of Aiken’s often dark work will not be surprised to hear that as a child she was exposed to quite a bit of literature with mature themes. 

Lizzie Aiken describes her mother and grandmother’s typical day:  They would begin with lessons in the morning–perhaps an assignment to re-write a Biblical passage in Shakespearean language, or to “produce a poem in the style of Wordsworth or Chaucer.”  Next the pair would do housework (in a home without running water or electricity).  Later in the day Jessie would often read aloud from great literary works.  In the evenings Joan would do her own work: “from the age of five, she kept a writer’s notebook.”

Lizza Aiken describes a mother-daughter relationship mediated by a rich vocabulary drawn from the literature in which the pair constantly marinated, giving Joan a love for reading and writing that laid the foundation of her future literary success.

At age 12, however, Joan was sent away to school.  She was “totally unaccustomed to noisy adolescent society” and had tremendous difficulty making the transition.  Her daughter writes, “she said that from that time she stopped growing, started to become deaf, and developed even further the habit of withdrawing into her imagination.”

The article goes on to discuss Aiken’s adult life, much of it tragic.  Poems, songs, and stories memorized as a girl helped her cope, and as such Aiken passed on to her own children a love for committing large quantities of literature to memory.  There are many other revealing anecdotes and incidental details mentioned in this article that shed light on Aiken’s work for those who may be interested.  The article, quite understandably, is written as a loving homage rather than a critical appraisal, but I mention it on this blog because of its value in noting yet another historic figure who was taught at home and establishing another example of the strong association in the world of children’s literature with home schooling.

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This post continues my exploration of recent children’s lit employing homeschooling themes with a review of the young adult fiction trilogy of Susan Juby, whose comedic heroine is Alice MacLeod, a sarcastic and disaffected teen who was homeschooled until age fifteen.  The books, with their American publication date, are as follows: 

Alice, I Think(HarperTempest, 2003)

Miss Smithers(2004)

Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last (2005) 



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This post reviews David Gilmour’s The Film Club: A Memoir(New York: Twelve, 2008).

Gilmour, a Canadian novelist, movie critic, and media odd-jobber, here offers a memoir describing the experience of allowing his deadbeat 15 year-old son to drop out of school and live at his home rent-free on condition that father and son watch three movies of father’s choosing every week together and that son promise not to use drugs.  For three years David and his son Jesse are “the film club.” (more…)

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