Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Homeschool.com’s Product Reviews

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children.

To see a bibliography of her complete works, click here. A list of her children’s books/young adults’ books can be found here.

For this review, we reviewed her three Author Student Guides:

  • A Student’s Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • A Student’s Guide to Herman Melville
  • A Student’s Guide to Mark Twain

The three guides follow a similar format. Each has 120+ pages, and each includes:

  • An introduction to the life and works of the particular author
  • Chapters where Dr. Diorio examines the author’s different writings (books, stories, poems), including the plots, characters, themes, literary devices, etc. that were employed in each.
  • An author chronology
  • Chapter notes
  • A glossary
  • Suggestions for additional readings
  • An index
  • Definitions throughout (nice touch – one of my favorite things about these guides)
  • And more.

All guides can be purchased as paperback books or in iPad or Kindle format.

Specific info on each guide follows.
Interesting things I learned about Nathaniel Hawthorne include (I admit, most of the “interesting things” I’m including are of a personal nature – the literary info is EXCELLENT!):

  • His great-great grandfather was a judge in the Salem witch trials of 1692. Generations later, Nathaniel was still ashamed of this, and changed the spelling of his last name, to distance himself from this.
  • He used ancestral sin as a theme throughout many of his writings.
  • He used ambiguity extensively – leaving the ultimate meaning of a story up to the reader.
  • While attending college, he became friends with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • He followed The Scarlet Letter with The House of the Seven Gables.
  • He also published children’s stories.

Interesting things I learned about Herman Melville:

  • He had to leave school at the age of 12.
  • He was friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  • He died in relative obscurity, even though Moby Dick is now considered a classic piece of literature. In his lifetime, he was actually considered a “fifth-rate” author. Ouch!

Interesting things I learned about Mark Twain:

  • His pen name “mark twain” is actually a riverboat term – it indicates a safe depth of water for navigating river boats – meaning mark two fathoms (12 feet).
  • Many of the characters in his book were drawn from people he knew in his life. For example –
    • Becky Thatcher was based on a girl that lived across the street from the Clemens family in Hannibal, MO.
    • Huckleberry Finn was based on a real boy named Tom Blankenship.
    • Aunt Polly was drawn from Twain’s mother.
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was originally written for an adult audience.

What I like about these Student’s Guides:

  • The information is EXCELLENT! Info includes the different themes the authors used, literary devices, how their lives shaped their characters, and more. There is A LOT of important info included in each book.
  • These books can easily be used in homeschooling – for in-depth studies of the authors. In fact, as a result of this review, I’m going to add this to our homeschooling! (Not previously included – but really, I’m going to add it!)
  • I like how the material is presented/arranged. It’s well organized and I appreciate organization.
  • The highlighted definitions throughout are wonderful.
  • The books are of good quality – with wipe-able covers. That’s important in my house.
  • The price point is very good. Especially if you consider it to be the main cost of an ENTIRE course you’ll be teaching. What a deal! (Under $12! Actually, they’re presently $9.99 for a paperback book, but I realize prices can go up)
  • These are good books to have in your homeschooling library.

What don’t I like?

Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing!

Here is a link to Dr. Mary Ann’s bookstore.