The Weekly Word: June 27th, 2012

Hey there Shmoch Ness Monsters,

If you recall, last week we posed a Very Important Question: Who is the best dad in literature?

We had great responses from all you faithful Shmoopeteers out there. Now, after persuading our mail chipmunks to sort through our inboxes (we don’t really have mail chipmunks), we present our/your list of the Top 12 Fathers in Literature:

  1. Atticus FinchTo Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Mr. BennetPride and Prejudice
  3. Arthur Weasley, the Harry Potter series
  4. King PriamThe Iliad
  5. ProsperoThe Tempest
  6. The FatherThe Road
  7. Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol
  8. Jean Valjean, Les Miserables
  9. Alexander ManetteA Tale of Two Cities
  10. God, The Bible
  11. Mr. EmersonA Room With A View
  12. Father of the Prodigal Son, The Bible

Just a note: We did mention that our favorite was Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird, and we’d like to say—without sounding too cocky—that it looks like our pick for the number one seed was justified. Good ol’ Atticus really ran away with this one.

To provide a little perspective, we’ve included some fan quotes on the top three that we thought fit these fathers to a T:

Atticus Finch:

“I’m a dad. He’s my role model.”

Mr. Bennett:

“He has good-humored wit and ultimate patience and love for his excessively hormonal brood of daughters.”

Arthur Weasley:

“He stands up for what is right, has unconditional love for his children, and is very generous in his time and efforts to help others—like Harry, for example!”

Feel left out?  We want to make sure everyon has a chance to weigh in on these finalists, so we’ve set up a Facebook poll on our page. Check it out and watch your favorite rise to the top.

Shmoop Shout Out: Books that Shaped America

Here’s some news: the Library of Congress just came out with a list of books that shaped America.*

We think the list is interesting because of what it isn’t. It is not, for example, the list of the “best” books, the “hardest to read” books, or the “most efficient dust collectors in our library” books.

Instead, this foray into literary categorization is all about influence. The list might seem a little odd at first glance, but Goodnight Moon spoke to us** at a deeper and more powerful level than many a classic novel. Check the list here.

Shmoop Week in History: Treaty of Versailles Signed June 28, 1919

Think predicting the future is a talent left to Nostradamus and Zoltar? Think again.  Back in 1919, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ended WWI, aptly known at the time as The Great War—as in, the biggest war that the world ever expected to experience.

Upon viewing the treaty, however, French Marshal Ferdinand Foch pointed out that “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years. Given that World War II broke out in 1939, we think he had some pretty accurate powers of observation.

Shmoop Week in History 2.0: The Battle of Gettysburg Start July 1st, 1863

Fought in Pennsylvania, this fateful battle is often cited as the turning point of the Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee made a valiant effort to dismantle the Union Army and gain the respect of some hoity-toity British onlookers,*** but he was eventually forced to retreat to Virginia. After this symbolic move back to his home state, the Confederate cause was never the same.

Later that year, Lincoln would deliver his famed Gettysburg Address from the battlefield. That’s two serious historical events in one place, which is kind of like how we learned to ride a bike and jumped off the swings for the first time at that one park down the street. Except a little more important.

Shmoop Debate: Summer Reading Throwdown: Fiction vs. Nonfiction

The New York Times recently shared some insight into how we choose our summer reading. On one hand, the article argues, students should read nonfiction that grounds them in real-world knowledge. On the other—and given that theShmoop summer reading list is all about fiction—we think there’s something to be said for spending a summer day in another world. What say you?

What are the benefits of nonfiction vs. fiction in summer reading?  

Email us an answer at, and we’ll publish the best response on our blog…and send you your very own Shmoop T-Shirt. Who doesn’t like free t-shirts?


To Dads again,
Shmatticus, El Champion


*If you’re close to D.C. and a fan of reading, you’re going to want to visit the accompanying exhibit.

**At age three and three quarters.

***”Well then, old chap, do you think we should help him?” “Mmm, let’s drink Tea and see how he does. Cheerio!”

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