Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters

The entire sixth-period Music Fundamentals class was divided into three rock-n-roll bands. They would represent the sixties, eighties, and nineties eras. Why skip the nineteen-seventies? “Don’t Ask,” Tenny Boyer would tell you.

The Music Fundamentals teacher, Ms. Finkleman, gave the excited class just a few minutes to name their bands. The sixties band, Band Number One, debated between Barf Hammer or Barf Machine.

A member of Band Number Two, the eighties band, suggested the name Floccinaucinihilipilification since it is one of the longest words in the English dictionary. (How do you fit that on a T-shirt?)

A girl named Haley suggested the name Ms. Pinkbottom, since that was the name of her recently deceased dog. Can you believe someone then had the nerve to suggest, M43, the number of the actual bus that hit her dog?

As Band Number Two floundered, the normally comatose brain of Tenny Boyer lit up like flashing Christmas tree lights. Ignoring his stiff band room chair and the buzz of excitement around him, Tenny considered how names of classic rock bands feel like the music they play, like Metallica. It dawned on him that some band names are just like little stories, such as the Grateful Dead. All of a sudden, a girl in the class named Bethesda shook Tenny Boyer from his reverie. He smiled and said, “The Careless Errors.” “How about the Careless Errors?”

Everyone in Band Number Three stopped, turned, and looked at Bethesda. She would make the final decision about the name, not Tenny. He wasn't the one responsible for the best thing that ever happened to sixth period Music Fundamentals. This was all due to Bethesda Fielding and her discovery about Ms. Finkleman, aka, Little Miss Mystery.

What did Bethesda unearth that could possibly scare the quiet Ms. Finkelman to change her entire curriculum from English folk ballads of the sixteenth century to the raucous rhythms of Bon Jovi? How could a goody-goody like Bethesda delve so low as to blackmail the meekest teacher at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School? Surely the rock-n-roll project will act as a conduit to finally ignite Tenny Boyer to like school. But, will the Careless Errors unfortunately live up to their name?

Find out in a school story that mixes in both humor and mystery with a twist you may not expect in the book, The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, by Ben H. Winters.

(This book may be a good fit for a class read-aloud.)

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