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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mentor Text...What I learned from SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Adam Rex

Mentor text demonstrating...POINT OF VIEW

Adam Rex takes a ho-hum subject, one that has been done and re-done, and done AGAIN, flips it on its head with a new point of view to create something wonderfully fantastic and VERY entertaining.

In this picture book, the "character" experiencing the first day of school is a newly built Frederick Douglass Elementary.  The school himself.  The school has interesting conversations with the janitor about what he is experiencing.  The fear of what it is going to be like, the insecurity...etc.

It also shows situations such as kids saying they "hate school"...which "makes the school sag a little."  A little girl with freckles doesn't want to come inside, so the school says to himself, "I must be awful."

What I noticed about this is that Rex is actually touching on our human emotions and experiences.  Every reader can relate to how it feels to be hated or not included, but by having the school feel that way, it's a fresh and unique way to explore that topic.  It gets us to think about filtering our are we making others feel (in this case the school building which is whimsical and serious all at the same time) with our words.  And not once did Adam Rex say "we should be careful what we say to others, "or any preachy thing like that.  A very masterful way to get a message across to the reader.

Way to go, Adam Rex!  I loved your story of SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.  And thank you, PBSummit, for your wonderful suggestion of a mentor text.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mentor Text...What I learned from A SQUASH AND A SQUEEZE by Julia Donaldson

I love this book!  Why?


This is a wonderful book showing us how to choose JUST THE RIGHT WORD in JUST THE RIGHT PLACE.  WITH JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF REPETITION.

Words I love:

grumble and grouse
my nose has a tickle
tapped out a jig
frolics and fiddle-de-dees
heavens alive
weeny for five

She is a master at rhyme--with just the right number of syllables.
Nothing is forced.
It's just, plain, perfect!

Rhymes I love:

all by herself
jug on the shelf

grumble and grouse
room in my house

help me please
squash and a squeeze
no room to sneeze
goat's got fleas
pig in the cupboard agrees
down on my knees

And then there's the repetition.  She knows when to repeat and why to repeat.
Let me repeat...I love this book!

P.S. There is a lesson embedded--to be content with what you have--but it is not preachy--very natural!  So that is another take-away.  In your manuscript, don't tell your lesson, trust that your reader will "get it" through your story.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mentor Text...What I learned from MOTHER BRUCE by Ryan T. Higgins

I really loved the book MOTHER BRUCE by Ryan T. Higgins. Higgins uses HUMOR, HUMOR, and MORE HUMOR...he's got a perfect title...he uses wonderful illustrations...but I'm going to stop gushing and focus on...

Three. Major. Take-aways.  

1.  Let the pictures fill in the details...don't tell it all with words.

2.  Throw in a bit of humor for parents, too.

3.  Add a punchline at the end.

Let me explain what I mean...

1.  The pictures play a major role in telling the story.  The text is stark...and the pictures fill in the details.

a. "He tried to make the best of it"  Pictures showing illustrations of the kiddie pool and the bear all dressed in fins, inner tube, and floaties.  The author says nothing of "how" he tried to make the best of it, but the picture "shows" it.

b. The page where the text reads "It was hard work."  The illustrations complete the humor with a messy painting scene, an eating scene in high chairs, a napping scene, and my favorite image of Bruce with a four-gosling baby carrier strapped to his chest.

c. Finally, another favorite where the text is so simple, "So he got creative." The picture shows him  using a slingshot to send them off into the great beyond.  Left me cracking up!

Now for the second takeaway...

2.  He has some sophisticated jokes in there for parents, too.  There is a part where he jokes that Bruce wanted to support local businesses, and then he asked Mrs. Goose if her eggs were free-range organic.  Also, when he asks about her about her return policy, and even his way of calling the problem "being a victim of mistaken identity." NICE STUFF!!

And last, but not least...

3.  His punchline at the end of the story is a turtle who thinks one of the geese is his mom, bringing the story full circle.  Clever!

So there you have it...great lessons from this wonderful mentor text!  And I owe it all to the PBSummit for pointing out this wonderful picture book to me.