My students love this short story when I read it out to them. It’s a charming tale about a girl living in Sydney, Australia. She has everything but doesn't value it because she’s never known anything else or had to work for anything. Then it’s all taken away (I won’t say how… no spoilers here!) and ends up with nothing but the clothes on her back. My students had a lively discussion about prosperity and poverty, haves and have nots etc. following the reading. I know some of them downloaded and read some of Stafford’s other books over the next few days. I really like his style. The other short stories in the This is Better than Collection are good too.
My sister told me about this fabulous Australian author and since then I’ve read some of his fables to my middle school students (11-13yrs). They’ve been the source of some great discussions. I fell in love with the main character, Elsie, in this short story almost immediately (I was just like her when I was that age, always giving everything away. Fortunately my folks weren't like her parents!) There’s a lovely contrast between Elsie and her father who stand for two very different things. This is a really terrific story, a modern day fable that us Americans should take to heart. I think we've really lost out way and fallen in love with the god on mammon (aka money). Elsie and the Money Tree is excellent and I really enjoyed it. Mark Stafford’s other stories are good too.
This is a charming story about a young girl who’s given the rare chance to right past wrongs. But there’s a high price and she must choose whether she’s prepared to pay it. It’s only a short story but it’s packed with amusing scenes and some beautifully written conversations between the main character and her “grandfather”. I’m a big Mark Stafford fan, as are my middle-school students. There’s a depth and skill to his writing that I've always enjoyed. Also, they’re a little pointy and challenging.