Night Flight

NightFlightNight Flight has few words.  It concentrates on just 14 hours and 56 minutes of time, starting in the evening from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland on May 20th, 1932, and ending in Ireland.  The author recreates the experience in vivid descriptive language of what she had to do to stay awake, storms, failure of equipment, flying through the night.  The author also describes what is seen from the plane as she left, during the night, flying over tundra, approaching land in Ireland. Imagine the Irish farmer coming toward this strange vehicle that had landed in his field, and the woman waving and saying, “I’ve come from America.”  Amazing.

Robert Burleigh, Simon and Schuster, ©2011, 978-1-4169-6733-0

Talking With Amelia Earhart

The back of the book has many quotes from Amelia Earhart that are worth discussing with students, or using as prompts for journal writing:

  • Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
  • I prefer good mechanical work to rabbits’ feet.
  • I could not see.  I carried on.
  • Everyone has their own Atlantic to fly.  Whatever you want very much to do, against  the opposition of tradition, neighbourhood opinion, and so-called common sense—that is an Atlantic.
  • One of my favourite phobias is that girls, especially those whose tastes aren’t routine, often don’t get a fair break.
  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.

 Journal Writing

Having students draw from their own experience is a good way to get a journal response to a piece of

writing.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Amelia had to stay awake a long time.  Describe a time when you were up very late.  Did you have to do anything special to stay awake?
  • Amelia was caught in a lightning storm.  Describe an experience you had with a storm?
  • Amelia had to be well prepared, but still incredibly brave.  Describe a time when you prepared very well for something and then did it.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click Night Flight to download.


The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Mark TwainHuckleberry Finn tells, in his own voice, of the life of his author Mark Twain, a.k.a Samuel Clemens.
Robert Burleigh and Barry Blitt, Atheneum Books, ©2011, 978-0-689-83041-9

A Story with Modern Expression

Huck Finn was written in the language of a back country boy in the 1800’s USA. Ask students to write any story in which they use common 21st century expressions to show how people “really talk”. First brainstorm the possible expressions students could consider: OMG, BFF, having a rush, goofing off, being gross, or lame, or awesome, or sweet, or cool. Something could rock, or suck. Things happen 24/7. There are zits. Things rock or rule.

Then ask students to write a very brief story in that “voice” as in the opening of Huck Finn. Something less that 200 words is fine. The objective is try out the “voice” of the 21st century.

Bad Luck Superstitions

Huck Finn said that Mark Twain’s luck turned bad like after “killing a spider”. Ask students to brainstorm bad luck superstitions they have heard of. They should be able to come up with:

  • Step on a crack, break your mother’s back
  • Break a mirror – 7 years bad luck
  • Walk under a ladder
  • Cross the path of a black cat
  • A shiver means a goose walked over your grave
  • Open an umbrella inside brings bad luck
  • If you spill salt, toss it over your left shoulder or you’ll have bad luck

Students might enjoy writing a story about a character who frequently but inadvertently breaks bad luck superstitions and what happens to him or her, if anything.

For 10 creative writing ideas, click The Adventures of Mark Twain to download.