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Driver's Ed
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Driver's Ed

Written by Caroline B. CooneyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Caroline B. Cooney


· Laurel Leaf
· Paperback · January 1, 1996 · $6.99 · 978-0-440-21981-1 (0-440-21981-7)
Also available as an eBook.

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

Getting a driver's license is the one thing that would make Remy's and Morgan's lives nearly perfect. And it seems as if it's going to be easy and fun. After all, Mr. Fielding, the Driver's Ed teacher, thinks his course is a joke. With their already licensed friend, Nickie Budie, Remy and Morgan take the stop sign at the corner of Warren and Cherry Roads. When this action has fatal consequences, they are forced to deal with death, guilt, and the responses of their friends and families. Though there are no easy answers to their dilemmas, the teenagers struggle to do the right thing in the face of their crime. This powerful story of a prank gone awry will leave teenagers grappling for solutions to tough issues.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Caroline Cooney was born in 1947 and grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. An excellent student and ambitious youth, she loved school and was involved in many different activities. By the time she was in tenth grade, Cooney played the piano for musical productions, directed a choir, and had a job as a church organist. Always an avid reader, Cooney often read series books such as The Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames. These characters had a big influence on her life and in fact, she says "Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, was my reason to go to nursing school in Boston later in life."

Cooney graduated from Greenwich High School in 1965 and attended various colleges, where she studied music, art, and English. It was in college that she began writing, and discovered a talent and joy in what would become an award-winning writing career. Cooney professes, "I love writing and do not know why it is considered such a difficult, agonizing profession. I love all of it, thinking up the plots, getting to know the kids in the story, their parents, backyards, pizza toppings."

Cooney's love of writing for young adults is clearly demonstrated in her numerous celebrated novels including: Driver's Ed (An ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, and a Booklist Editors' Choice), Among Friends (A New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age), Twenty Pageants Later (An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers), and the time travel novels, Both Sides of Time and Out of Time. She is a master of mixing spellbinding suspense with thought-provoking insight into teenagers' lives.

TEACHING IDEAS

Using Driver's Ed in the Classroom

Pre-Reading Activity

Provide a copy of your state's Driver Education manual for the class. Allow students to peruse the manual thoroughly. Are there any advantages for teenagers and their families that come from taking Driver's Ed? Have students make a chart of the requirements for obtaining a license in your state. How old do you need to be? What kinds of tests do you need to pass? What skills must be mastered for the driving test? What happens if you fail the written test, the driving test, or both? Display the chart in the room, and refer to it as you study the novel.

Thematic Connections

Responsibility -- In the novel, Mr. Fielding, the Driver's Ed teacher, is described as "merely there" (page 8). Find other examples in the book of Mr. Fielding and the students as "merely there." To what degree, if any, is Mr. Fielding responsible for the behavior of Morgan and Remy? How does the tragic death of Denise Thompson cause him to change? Ask students to think of the best teacher they have ever had. Have them brainstorm the traits that made that person a good teacher. Are the traits based purely upon the teacher's knowledge of the subject matter? What responsibilities and moral obligations do teachers have that people in other professions don't have? To what degree might teachers influence the personal lives of their pupils?

Acceptance -- Morgan and Remy notice an unusual traffic sign which reads "Thickly Settled." Consider the message of the sign in relationship to Morgan's and Remy's lives. How does the plot of the story "thicken" after they take the sign? At the story's end, in what way are the conflicts thickly settled? Have students create a sign that Morgan or Remy might design warning kids of the dangers of vandalism.

Family and Relationships -- Have students compare and contrast the reaction of Remy's parents and Morgan's parents to the news that their children took the stop sign. Were the reactions what you expected? How did the mothers' responses differ from the fathers' responses? In what way did this entire situation affect Remy's brother Mac? Why did it influence him so profoundly?

Guilt -- On page 95, Morgan refers to himself as "a slime." How does the omniscient point of view of the novel help you understand the inner struggles of the characters? How would the story be different if it were told in limited or first person point of view? What perspectives might be gained? Lost? In your view, are Morgan and Remy "slimes"?

Friendship -- What is the irony in Nickie Budie's name? In what way was he anything but a buddy to Morgan and Remy? Define a buddy. Were Morgan and Remy true buddies?

Interdisciplinary Connections

History
-- Morgan is the son of a politician. Ask students what the inherent difficulties and benefits might be of growing up in the public eye. Have them research people who were children or teenagers in the White House (Chelsea Clinton; Amy Carter; John F. Kennedy, Jr.; Caroline Kennedy; Julie Nixon Eisenhower; etc.) What are their perceptions of being the child of a public official? What are they doing now?

Invite a criminal lawyer to the class. Ask this person to speak about the similarities and differences between being tried as an adult and as a juvenile. What age limits are involved? Are there any instances in which minors can be tried as adults despite their age? What distinguishes a civil suit from a criminal suit? What are the differences between vandalism, criminal mischief, and malicious mischief? What are the maximum punishments for each of those crimes?

Language Arts -- Have students find a reward notice in the Classified Ads section of your local newspaper. Compare this notice to the one written by Mr. Thompson. Ask them to write an original story explaining the reasons for and the outcomes of their reward notice. Have students share their stories with the class.

Ask students to research their "dream car." Using reference materials like Consumer Reports, have them determine their dream car's price, average gas mileage, optional features available, safety record, etc. Allow students to design an advertisement for their dream cars using this information.

Math -- Have students look up statistics regarding traffic fatalities caused by young drivers in your county. Compare the statistics for males and females. Contrast your county's statistics with those of neighboring counties.

Vocabulary/Use of Language

Why did Remy's mother name her after the artist Rembrandt? In what way does this knowledge about the origin of her name cause her to feel guilty? Ask students if their names are "solid names of old" (page 7) or newer names. Provide a baby name book and have them look up the meaning of their names. What reasons do parents, grandparents, and friends give for the origins of students' first names? Ask students to write original definitions of their first names, using this knowledge. Have them illustrate their definitions and create a class name book.

Teaching Ideas prepared by Jane O. Wassynger, English Teacher, Greenville Middle School, Greenville, SC.

VOCABULARY

Why did Remy's mother name her after the artist Rembrandt? In what way does this knowledge about the origin of her name cause her to feel guilty? Ask students if their names are "solid names of old" (page 7) or newer names. Provide a baby name book and have them look up the meaning of their names. What reasons do parents, grandparents, and friends give for the origins of students' first names? Ask students to write original definitions of their first names, using this knowledge. Have them illustrate their definitions and create a class name book.

AWARDS

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

An ALA Quick Pick

A Booklist Children's Editors' Choice

REVIEWS

* "A wrenching, breathlessly paced plot and an adrenaline-charged romance make Cooney's latest novel nearly impossible to put down. . . . This modern-day morality tale is as convincing as it is irresistible."--Starred, Publishers Weekly

* "A poignant, realistic novel, with nicely drawn characters and a vintage metaphor that's actually refreshing: A driver's license. . . . is the `ticket out of childhood."--Starred, Booklist

"Wonderfully written, and very realistic. Reluctant readers as usual will find this author tops."--VOYA