Since I started this project earlier this week I've been spending a lot of free brain time thinking about what stories I wanted to read and write about on a given day. I've done two short stories, one essay, and no longform journalism, which I do want to cover. 20 years ago when I started teaching the only thing I taught in class was fiction, either novels or short stories with the occasional play thrown in to cover Shakespeare. During the past three or four years it has morphed into well over 50% non-fiction. Part of this is the common core standards but most of it is that the students seem to enjoy reading about true life a lot more now. I'm sure I have an opinion as to why that is but I haven't developed it yet. Maybe that will be a blog entry later. Today I'm reviewing another essay, Joyas Volardores, by Brian Doyle. He is another Portland author although I've never met him. This essay was published in The American Scholar in Autumn of 2004.
Joyas Volardores by Brian Doyle
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. It starts off talking about the heart of the hummingbird which beats amazingly fast. Then it moves to the heart of the blue whale which is so big it could accomodate people walking around inside of it. And then the final paragraph ties it all together and is just about the best final paragraph (or two) I have ever read. It is literally breathtaking.
Essay: 10 of 10
The facts that Doyle uses are interesting. The prose is nice. The points he makes in this essay are wonderful. This is a short essay but it has so much meat and meaning and it needs to be savored. And the end... Wow.
Teachability: 9 of 10
This is a great essay to teach author's purpose. This essay could also spawn some of the best classroom discussion. It's not an essay about hearts; it's an essay about living. Students love talking about life. There is incredible depth to this essay and sharing it with kids will be wonderful.