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Essays & Term Papers Review by Tony Silva

Michelle McLean
Career Press
220 West Parkway
Unit 12
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444

Essays & Term Papers is part of Career Press's series called "Homework Helpers." The book is organized in a way that makes it a valuable instructional tool and a great reference resource. As a basic primer on research writing, the book has taken its place on our bookshelf next to Elements of Style and Writers' Inc.

Michelle McLean makes a solid case for use of examples in her introduction to the book. She explains she "searched the bookstores for a guidebook that would teach students and writers how to write essays, one that would explain the rules without using fancy language and hard to understand terms." Having found no such book, she decided to write one herself. Essays & Term Papers, which retails for $14.99, is a collection of easy-to-understand guidelines supported by thoroughly annotated examples.

McLean lays a foundation of pre-writing with a simple model for topic selection, note taking, thesis statements, and building your outline. From there, she progresses to the "basic essay" -- a format that covers the features almost all essays and term papers have in common. The remainder of the essay part of the book gives clear and readable guidelines for developing 10 more essay types.

After giving the student a good understanding of how effective essays are written, McLean moves on to research writing and proofreading. There are great pointers for surviving the SAT essay and for creating lean and logical prose. Each chapter is treated as a lesson, with check questions at the end. In keeping with her simple, jargon-free approach to research writing, the author doesn't create long and complex assessments. The student can self-grade using the answer key at the end of the book and go back to review points he or she may have missed.

If you are teaching your students that writing is a process and that a good paper is a result of gathering and carefully placing building blocks, you will like this simple yet thorough approach to research writing.

Product review by Tony Silva, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2011