The UNDERCOVER letters from Zionsville Middle School, Part 2

Monday, April 25, 2011

On Saturday I began to feature the first in a series of letters from the sixth-grade students of the truly passionate and creative cadet teacher Miss Rachel Bing.  Find out more about Miss Bing (a high school senior) and her remarkable, loving students here.  My father captured some of my own thoughts last night when he wrote, about these students, "The comments from the students were very mature and the writing quality much, much better than I would have imagined sixth graders could produce."

Today, I'm running the next several letters, as a celebration of what a teacher can teach and of what students can do.  I've promised to answer all the students' letters in a final blog in this series.

From Evan:

My name is Evan, if you might have heard our sixth grade class decided to read your novel, “Undercover”, because a young adult teacher named Miss Bing came in to observe our class and see what we do. Throughout the book we kept notes, learned literature, and even tried to listen intently. The plot of the book had such profound meaning and suspense. Every chapter was leading to the next and every time that we would meet our two chapter quota for the day, we would beg for one more. I have to say that everyone in our class loved your book. We all took it all in and adored it. Like my teacher Mrs. Plantan says, we have to enjoy books like these, like a sweet bar of Belgian chocolate.
 I do have a few questions about the book though; do the characters have any relation with your life? Does Elisa win the skating competition, or does something else happen? Lastly, if you would make a second book for Undercover, would you?

To make a book that is as adored as Undercover, I know that you must be very busy, so all that I would like to say is, thank you for writing this book, and thank you for your time to make Elisa, Theo, Lila, and Elisa’s parents sound like they could hold a conversation with us, because of their complex personalities and moods throughout the novel. I hope that everyone that has read your book has found the thought behind the nature box, the skating competition, and even the marble girl, to be part in one of the best books they have ever read. This is what I have found about this novel. It is made for everyone to enjoy.

From Hannah:

Your book, Undercover, has some very life-like characters. I think the character I relate to most is Elisa. I may not be so creative with words, but I am creative with pencils. My poems are in art, not in words. I also am undercover (or at least I try to be). I don't like to meddle in the affairs of the popular, only in my own little world, do I actually be bold. My life is also like Elisa's. I help give advice to those who need it, and try to help people, in almost every way I can. 

My favorite part of the book is when Elisa is saying her part in the play, and can't continue because she feels like she is being uncovered. I like that part because it almost is explaining what she does and this has happened to me when we were reading an in-class book. I felt exposed as I read, embarrassed even.

Throughout the book, you learn more about this mysterious character named Elisa. At the beginning, you hardly know anything, and by the end of the book, you feel like you have known her your whole life. In the words you write the story with, it feels like I am right next to her, living each day as if I were an undercover operative, hired to watch her.

Our class enjoyed reading this book so much that we thought it would make a good movie. 

Thank you for writing this book. I have enjoyed reading your marvelous work. Your work gives me hope that someday, I might write a book that is as great as yours. Right after reading, Undercover I wanted to start writing, and never stop. Thank you.
From Emily:

When my class read Undercover as a read-a-loud book, we all loved it. Who would have thought that Elisa could be an ice skater, and who would have thought that would bring her whole family together!? I think that the idea Dr. Charmin had with the book of words was great. I would like to do that, it would help me write.

I could put some words that you used in Undercover in it. The words you used helped to improve my vocabulary. They were all great descriptive words, and they made the story more interesting and helped it come alive. 

Have you thought about writing a sequel to, Undercover? I would love it if Theo broke up with Lila and got together with Elisa. They would have to get together secretly though so Lila doesn't do anything bad to Elisa. Our student teacher suggested that Jilly will get revenge on Lila for ruining the dress she made for Elisa to wear at the ice skating competition. When Jilly gets revenge, it will be embarrassing and it will ruin her reputation. I like that idea, even though revenge is not the key. 

From Emma:

We recently got a cadet teacher named Miss Bing. She is going to be a teacher one day. We were in the school library one day and she found your book and thought we might try it out. When we first started reading it we thought it was not going to be as good as it was. I like how you put so many metaphors in your book. It just made the book even better. In your book I think that I relate to Jilly the most. I think this is because she is creative and very girly. Jilly is also my favorite character in your book. I think that you did a really good job picking your characters, and making their personalities different.
I really enjoyed your book, and I think it was a great story for my age group and class. I was wondering if you ever thought about making your book into a movie. If you haven’t then if I were you I would really look into it, because I think it would make a great movie. If you have, have you thought about the scenes and who the characters would be?
I like how you made two parts to the book. Part one was mostly about the love letters and poetry Elisa made for Theo to give to other girls and part two was more about Elisa’s family, love, and skating. I think that you made the book very realistic because Lila was the popular girl and always trying to take over and she liked Theo and always tried to steal him away from Elisa. We just finished your book a couple days ago. We all loved your book, and we were so sad when it was over. I thought that it was a great ending because it does not really matter if she won the skating contest; all that matters is that her family got back together.

From Hari:

This year we read your book “Undercover” in our literature class. First I want to congratulate you on how good it was. I loved the end where it just leaves a cliffhanger and leaves me to think about what will happen next in the story. Just a question, in my opinion this book is one of those books that absolutely needs to be made into a movie. Why hasn’t it yet? What would you put in a sequel or prequel to the book? Those are the questions that first came to mind when I read “Undercover”.
My suggestions for a sequel would take place right after the skating competition and in the middle of the book Theo breaks up with Lila or Lila breaks up with Theo. Then, I would put in a cliffhanger after they break up, where Theo is mad at Lila and Elisa for reasons unknown. (You choose because you are the author). That is a beginning for a sequel.
My idea for a prequel is here. The book takes place before Elisa is in high school. It would show how they become best friends and then how they grow apart and become friends again. (Two parts because it might be too long for one.) That is my idea for a sequel or a prequel.
Thank you again for the amazing book. Good luck Mrs. Kephart.


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