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.
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.