Notes from a Children's Librarian: Get Kids Writing!

tagged :
Book Cover Chester

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

Inspiring kids in the primary grades (kindergarten included) to get writing is easy with these literary gems.

Chester, by Melanie Watt, is the first in a trilogy for a sophisticated young reader. A power struggle between author and character takes the plot hostage. Chester, the cat, trumps Watt's mouse-story by attacking the mouse's happy home, substituting mouse pictures and cheese for cat pics and fish snacks. Watt fights back (her story is in black font as opposed to Chester's red scrawl) with a scary bulldog, and a downpour of rain, which smudges Chester's version of the story. Watt gets the final word by drawing the humiliated cat wearing a cinch-waisted tutu.

Book Cover Chester's Back

The feud ramps up in the sequel, Chester's Back!, with Chester graffiti-ing Watt's author photo. The author counters with open auditions for Chester's replacement. The cat's egomaniacal needs are finally satisfied (or so he thinks) when Watt makes him a star, but not the kind of star he intended.

Book Cover chester's masterpiece

The final book, Chester's Masterpiece, addresses how to construct a story. Chester's red pen completely takes over, right down to the bibliographic data. Watt's comments are relegated to post-it notes demanding Chester plan his story, addressing genre, setting, villain (Dr. Mean Mouse) and alternate endings. Chester runs out of ink but he definitely gets the last laugh. Very advanced humour.

Augustine, also by Melanie Watt, motivates young readers to draw their story. Augustine the penguin is a lover of all things art. He moves from the South Pole to the North Pole and nervously faces his first day of school, expressed through his "Blue Recess Period" (Picasso-inspired) drawings.

Book Cover Jeffrey and Sloth

In Jeffrey and Sloth, by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Ben Hodson, Jeffrey's having trouble writing. Should he start with pictures or words? He draws a sloth, who distracts him until he gets an idea, writing the sloth into an active cross-Canada search for a blanket. This one emboldens children to turn doodles into a narrative.

Book Cover Mr Zinger's Hat

In Mr. Zinger's Hat, by Cary Fagan, playfully illustrated by Dusan Petricic, Leo meets Mr. Zinger, the old man who walks the courtyard, the one with the dark suit who looks like an elf. When Mr. Zinger's hat blows off and lands on Leo's head Mr. Zinger says there's something inside...a story. One which Leo and Mr. Zinger create together with Leo providing a simple, perfect plot solution. It turns out Mr. Zinger is a writer and after he heads home to write, Leo is inspired to create his own tale.

Book Cover Any Questions

The voice in Any Questions?, by Marie Louise Gay, is first-person Gay. She's test-driving a story, making decisions in full colour with her little characters contributing ideas, i.e. What if the paper were sea-blue? Gay writes out ideas, makes changes, deletes words, until suddenly she knows what the adventure will be about. A story within the story unfolds: "The Shy Young Giant." Gay stops to brainstorm with her illustrated kids about what will happen next, modelling the true writing process in a most kid-friendly way. 

**

On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.

September 20, 2016
Books mentioned in this post
Chester

Chester

illustrated by Mélanie Watt
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover Paperback
More Info
Chester's Back!

Chester's Back!

illustrated by Mélanie Watt
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
More Info
Augustine

Augustine

illustrated by Mélanie Watt
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Paperback
More Info
Jeffrey and Sloth

Jeffrey and Sloth

by Kari-Lynn Winters
illustrated by Ben Hodson
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
More Info
comments powered by Disqus

X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...