Monday, January 11, 2010

Key Word: Authorship

The Plot Chickens
by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
Holiday House, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher

The Plot Chickens is a pun-filled (both visual and verbal puns) about a hen named Henrietta who loves to read. Because she loves to read so much, she decides that writing must be equally "eggshilerating." She begins a story on her "Hunt & Peck" brand typewriter following the rules in the writing book. As she writes, the other hens in the henhouse offer their ideas and suggestions. When the book is finished, Henrietta sends it off to a publisher, only to receive a rejection letter. Henrietta "vowed not to brood over her rejection" and self-publishes. Her book gets a terrible review from the Corn Book Magazine and Henrietta almost loses her will to write. But then she sees that her book has been voted best book of the year by the library's story hour children and the world is right again -- her book is loved by the intended audience.

It would be fun to write a collaborative book with students following the same rules as Henrietta, beginning with a main character and "hatching" a plot that sticks to what you know (no cyberspace ray guns in Henrietta's story!) all the way through an ending in which "the main character must solve her (or his) own problem."

S is for Story
by Esther Hershenhorn
illustrated by Zachary Pullen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2009

Starting with Alphabet, Book, and Character, Hershenhorn gives us an ABC of writing process, literary genres, advice and encouragement. As with the other books in this series, each letter has a short rhyme along with a longer explanation in the sidebar.

Definitely a book to add to your resources about writing.

Spilling Ink
by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter
illustrated by Matt Phelan
Roaring Brook, on shelves March/April 2010
ages 9-14
advance reader's edition provided by the publisher

This book of writing advice can sit on your self right beside Ralph Fletcher's books A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You and How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works For You.

With the short chapters and the "dares" (dares are way more fun than invitations or assignments, don't you think?!?) that are at the ends of most chapters, this book would be fun to use for mini lessons in writing workshop. Henrietta (from The Plot Chickens, see above) would have loved this book. Mazer and Potter also begin with advice on creating characters and constructing a believable plot with enough suspense to keep a reader engaged.

The tone of this book is very conversational and the section titles vary between informational ("Revision") and inviting ("Belly Buttons").

Another must-have for your shelf of books about writing.


  1. My Amazon cart grows every time you all post reviews of books!

  2. Anonymous6:22 AM

    These all sound great. We were on a chicken book kick a few months ago (Chickens to the Rescue has become one of our favorites) so I know my girls would especially love The Plot Chickens

  3. Anonymous8:47 AM

    This looks fun! I have the S is for Story.

  4. S is for Story is amazing!
    I love puns, the chicken one sounds fun!

  5. The chicken book looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for reminding me about The PLot Chickens. I wanted to check it out!

  7. Thanks, Mary Lee, for including - and recommending - S IS FOR STORY:A WRITER'S ALPHABET.
    I'm honored to be grouped with MJ's THE PLOT CHICKENS. I'm a Big Fan of MJ's.
    And I can't wait to read and use SPILLING INK with my young writers and in my teacher workshops.


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