Thursday, November 22, 2007

On Second Thought

Squiggles: A Really Giant Drawing and Painting Book
by Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books, 2007
review copy compliments of the publisher

I grew up with coloring books and paper dolls. I learned to keep my coloring inside the lines and my cutting on the lines. I can only wonder how my life would be different if I had had this drawing and painting book that is filled with partially drawn pictures to be completed however one wants, and provocative sentences that pluck one's creativity strings (for example, in the "Time to Eat" section -- "This is going to be very difficult to eat.")

Initially, this book went up on the gifts-to-give shelf in my closet to wait for the children of my friends to be old enough to enjoy and provide a "guest review." ON SECOND THOUGHT...I am going to take this book to school and give it to my students for homework. Stay with me here: each child will take the book home for a night and complete one of the pictures in any way he or she desires. It's a big book ("A Really Giant Drawing and Painting Book") so everyone will have a chance to do more than one page over the course of the rest of the year. We will make a very different kind of class book that will preserve these students' art and writing in a unique way.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition
by David Borgenicht and Robin Epstein
Chronicle Books, 2007
review copy compliments of the publisher

This seemed at first glance to be the perfect mentor text for a unit of study in writing workshop on "how to" writing. The book is divided into four chapters where a child's survival skills would be tested: at home, at school, in her/his social life, and outdoors. In each chapter, there are about a half a dozen "How To" situations, ranging from "How to Survive Being Grounded" to "How to Survive Farting in Public." Each survival situation begins with an introductory paragraph and a short numbered or bulleted list of steps. Perfect, right? Well, ON SECOND THOUGHT, I considered the very serious, very difficult, very un-frivolous survival situations that several of my students are going through right now. This book will be a part of my classroom library, and we'll discuss the format of the book when we look at nonfiction writing. I will probably invite students to add their own survival tips on 4x6 index cards in a pocket I'll make in the back of the book. But I don't think that in this class this year I will use this book for a whole-class project on "How To" writing.


  1. Readers might be interested to know that Chronicle Books is having a holiday sale-- 30% discount, plus free ground shipping until November 28th. If interested, visit, and enter the promo code FRIENDS at checkout.

  2. Anonymous10:20 AM

    ONCE again, can my kids be in your class?????


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