Author: Michelle McLean

Publisher: Career Press; 319 pages

Book Review by:  Laxmi Chaandi

Essays and Term Papers is part of a series by Career Press called Homework Helpers with books on a large variety of subjects taught at elementary and high school levels.

Michelle McLean is a freelance writer and the chief editorial consultant for PixieMags, LLC, a company that digitizes magazines and other literature that can be used in electronic devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

She has a BS degree in history from Weber State University and a Master of Arts degree with distinction in English from National University.

Among the values you will find in this book are: a description of “plain English”; each element and step involved in writing an essay; descriptions of a dozen different types of essays; samples of a rough draft, edited, and finished essay; explanations on why proofreading and citing sources are important, and how to do these.

Also included in this book are step-by-step instructions on how to write a great essay for your Scholastic Aptitude Test and a discussion of what you can expect in college-level courses.

This book contains detailed lessons on what an essay is, how o prepare to write an essay, and descriptions of different types of essays and the purposes they accomplish.

It also contains explanations of what a research or term paper is, how to research for its contents, and how to proofread and provide citations of sources of your information.

Among the 18 chapters in this book is chapter 17 on how to write an SAT essay. The last chapter contains tips on how to improve the quality of your essays, to make them even better once you have written the drafts.

What is great about this book is that within chapters are important lessons on issues pertaining to the subjects of the chapters. All of us know that good preparation is key to accomplishing a task well. For example in chapter 1, Before You Write, there are five lessons that help you prepare to write your essay. These lessons are entitled: Choosing a Topic, Make a List, Make Notes, Your Thesis Statement, and Make an Outline.

This book is very practical too, and helps  students do what they learn with an exercise at the end of each chapter. Taking the example of chapter 1 again, the exercise makes you think and recall what you learned in the chapter and write down the answer to each of these three questions: 1. What should you record on a note card? 2. What is a thesis statement? and 3. What are the three things you should do when writing any essay or paper?     

In this book, you will learn what are the elements and characteristics of different types of essays. First and foremost, read what is a Basic Essay. Then, find out how to write persuasively in an Argumentative/Persuasive Essay; what are the elements of a Cause and Effect Essay; how to put together the components of a Critical Essay; and learn what a simple Definition Essay is.

In addition, you discover how to get started in writing a Descriptive Essay; what is involved in creating a Division and Classification Essay; learn the skills needed in developing an Evaluation Essay; how to acquire the tools necessary to “build” a Literary Analysis Essay; and, how to tell a story in a Narrative Essay, especially if you want to be a best-selling novelist someday.

For two basic reasons, this is an excellent and essential guidebook for you if you are a student wanting to learn how to write essays and term papers or for your child if you want to make him or her more adept at writing.

The first reason is that it is well organized and therefore, user-friendly.  The material is set forth in small chunks of easily-usable chapters. You need not begin from the beginning. If you want for example, to start with learning how to prepare to write a basic essay, read the first chapter, Before You Write.

Then simply move on to chapter 2, Basic Essay. Then you can go to any chapter that shows you how to write a particular kind of essay. It would be a good idea to practice writing that type of essay before moving on to learn to write a different type of essay.

The second reason is that being a writer myself, I assert that it takes not just a teacher, but a teacher who is also a writer, to teach writing. Michelle McLean has practical experience in both areas. From reading a brief description of her background which states that “she spends her time writing and teaching beginning writers the ropes,” I believe she is qualified to also teach you (or your kids) how to write good essays and term papers.