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Susie B. Won’t Back Down
Author: Margaret Finnegan
Published October 5th, 2021 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary: This funny, big-hearted novel about a young girl’s campaign for student council president is told through letters to her hero Susan B. Anthony.

Susie B. has a lot to say. Like how it’s not fair that she has to be called Susie B. instead of plain Susie. Or about how polar bears are endangered. Or how the Usual Geniuses are always getting picked for cool stuff over the kids like her with butterflies in their brain. And it’s because Susie B. has a lot to say about these very important things that she’s running for student council president.

If she’s president, she can advocate for the underdogs just like her hero and fellow Susie B., Susan B. Anthony. (And, okay, maybe the chance to give big speeches to the whole school with a microphone is another perk.) But when the most usual of Usual Geniuses also enters the student council race, Susie realizes this may be a harder won fight than she thought. Even worse, Susie discovers that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t as great as history makes it seem, and she did some pretty terrible things to try to help her own cause. Soon, Susie has her own tough decisions to make. But one thing is for sure—no matter what, Susie B. won’t back down.

Praise: 

“Susie is energetic, breathless, enthusiastic, and genuinely, charmingly funny.” —Kirkus Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Selection

About the Author: Margaret Finnegan is the author of the middle-grade novels Susie B. Won’t Back Down and We Could Be Heroes. Her writing often focuses on themes on inclusion, hard choices, and being true to yourself. She also makes a really good chocolate cake. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit MargaretFinnegan.com.

Twitter: @FinneganBegin
Instagram: @finneganbegin

Review: Happy book birthday to Susie!!!

This book has so much in it! I was highlighting away as I read–both as a recreational reader and as a teacher (see more in Teachers’ Tools!)! I love that it is an epistolary novel, specifically writing to Susan B. Anthony, because it gives us insight into Susie’s school, home, and her inner thinking. The discussions throughout about heroes, fairness, and history is done in a very age-appropriate way but also doesn’t sugar coat anything. I love that Susie has a “butterfly brain” and went to reading lab but is proud of it. The talk about how all brains are different made my heart sing! And on top of all of this, the story itself is so on point for coming of age and how popularity, personalities, and more really start to affect kids starting in about 5th grade.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I am in love with Mr. Springer’s hero project! The way he made the project cross-curricular, interesting, interactive, and included choice just makes it such an amazing project! And there are definitely parts of the book that will work as mentors/exemplars to share with students if you have them do their own hero project including some of Susie’s letters and the Voting posters. Also, the author created a mock Susie B. News to show one of the activities for the hero project: https://www.margaretfinnegan.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Susie-B.-News.pdf.

The author also shares some activities in the publisher-created discussion guide!

Discussion Questions (from the publisher-created discussion guide): 

  • Describe the way that the author organizes the story. How does this format help to connect the worlds of Susie B. at home and at school?
  • Why does Susie B. call Chloe and her three R’s (Rachelle, Rachel, and Rose) “fakey fakes?” In contrast, Susie B. has Joselyn Salazar as her best “spark.” What connects these two as friends?
  • Each of the characters copes with the social scene at school differently. How does Soozee Gupta manage to not be alone at lunch? What is your opinion of her social strategy?
  • Susie B. wrangles with the idea of fairness and justice. She believes that they are two different things. What do you think is the difference between being fair and being just?
  • What do you think is the most important lesson that Susie B. learned in this story? Give reasons for your opinion.

Flagged Passages: Chapter 1

Dear Susan B. Anthony:
I have very bad news for you. You’re dead. Really dead. Like, over one hundred years dead. Like, right now, you are dust and bones in the cemetery of your old hometown, Rochester, New York.

Sorry.

You are probably thinking, What the heck? If I am dead, why are you writing to me?

Congratulations! Even though you are dead, you are not forgotten! You are still remembered for being a brave and determined defender of women’s rights, especially women’s suffrage. That is the fancy name for women voting, even though I think suffrage should be the name for not being able to vote, because it sounds like the suffering you would have to go through if everybody thought your voice didn’t matter one speck.

Since I am also a brave and determined defender of all the rights of all the people, I thought you would like to know that I am thinking about you.

Plus, Mr. Springer is making me.

Mr. Springer is my fifth-grade teacher. Every year he assigns this thing called the Hero Project. All of his students have to choose a personal hero. They can choose anyone they want, as long as the person is dead. Mr. Springer used to let kids choose living heroes, but then the live heroes kept doing horrible things and ruining everyone’s projects. Luckily, dead heroes can’t surprise you like that. We are going to do a bunch of research and assignments on our heroes and basically use them to learn stuff about language arts, history, and even math and science. Mr. Springer is always trying to find sneaky ways to get us interested in what he’s teaching.

Read This If You Love: Twins by Varian Johnson & Shannon Wright, How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio, Kids Under the Stairs series by K.A. Holt, Friends Forever by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham, Five Things about Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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The Beatryce Prophecy
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publishing September 28th, 2021 by Candlewick Press

Summary: From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall comes a fantastical meditation on fate, love, and the power of words to spell the world.

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all–for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories–powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves–ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her–a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone–will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for Candlewick Press for The Beatryce Prophecy:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about The Beatryce Prophecy on Candlewick’s page.

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“Point-of-View Flip as a Way into Creative Writing”

I’m a big fan of the “point-of-view flip” activity for young writers. That’s where students are asked to retell an existing story (or scene or chapter) from a POV other than the one presented in the original. This exercise can be done with a short and simple tale like The Three Little Pigs (e.g., the wolf’s first-person POV) or with more advanced texts. I like this literary workout because, besides being just plain fun, it can help writers grow their skills. Here’s my thinking:

It’s hard to write creatively, from blank, on demand. That’s why I always hated assignments like, “Write a story from this week’s spelling words.” It’s why I’ve never gone to writers’ retreats, where I’d be put up for a random week not of my own choosing and expected to produce. I can no sooner schedule my creative juices than I can schedule the rain. I suspect that many students feel the same way.

With the POV flip exercise, students don’t have to pull characters or plots out of thin air. Those elements are already there, freeing students to focus on the craft of show-not-tell, dialogue, pacing, etc.

POV flipping shows writers how much hinges on POV when telling a story. After publishing four novels and several short stories, I’m more certain than ever that POV is among the most pivotal—and challenging—determinations to make in the writing process.

Take, for instance, my new upper-MG/early-YA novel, Ripped Away, which is set in Victorian London during the Jack the Ripper spree. I wrote my first draft in the third-person perspective of a boy growing up in London during that time. Something wasn’t right though. This POV didn’t feel immediate enough, intimate enough. So I rewrote the book in the first-person POV of that same character. It was an improvement, but I still wasn’t satisfied. Something was missing.

Eventually, I understood that the book wanted a narrator with a modern voice and contemporary sensibilities, because that’s how the tale would best resonate with readers. So I re-wrote it again, and that’s how Ripped Away became a time-travel fantasy.

When I think about how different the book would be if told from yet a different viewpoint—that of another character, or several other characters, or even an omniscient narrator—I see that Ripped Away could have been many stories. It took time and effort to discover the best POV for the story I wanted to tell, and it was well worth the investment. If students get the chance to experiment with viewpoint through the POV flip exercise, I think it will help them choose the right POV when they do create their own original text.

The flip activity keys students into POV in their reading. You can’t play around with viewpoint in your writing without it seeping into your awareness of what you read. I know several readers who actually use POV as a guide to selecting their leisure reading. Some insist on female first-person POV, others on third-person limited, yet others on multiple points of view. My own daughter goes for first-person stories that are told from the distance of time—an older adult looking back on his or her youth. I, for one, am drawn to the first-person peripheral narrator, like The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway. Throw in a dash of unreliability, and I’m hooked. I also like books that skillfully mix it up—part first-person, part third-person, and a sprinkling of second-person for added intensity.

So who knows? Maybe we can get kids to read more by guiding them to stories with the POV they prefer. And kids who read more—anyone who reads more—will be a better writer for it.

Coming February, 2022

About the Book: Ripped Away is based on the real experiences of Jewish immigrants to London during the Jack the Ripper spree, when xenophobia ran high.

In the story, a fortune teller reveals that classmates Abe and Mitzy may be able to save someone’s life…and then she sweeps them to the slums of Victorian London in the middle of the Jack the Ripper spree. To get back home, they’ll have to figure out how the fortune teller’s prophecy is connected to one of history’s most notorious criminal cases. They’ll also have to survive the outpouring of hate toward Jewish refugees that the Ripper murders triggered.

Vernick’s purpose in writing Ripped Away is to illuminate this episode in history, as well as to inspire readers to contemplate possible responses to intolerance. National Jewish Book Award-winning author Anne Blankman calls Ripped Away “an engrossing adventure. From the moment Abe and Mitzy are swept back in time to the infamous Jack the Ripper, readers will clamor to find out what happens next.”

Book Trailer: 

About the Author: Shirley Reva Vernick is the author of four novels for young readers. The Blood Lie is an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Readers pick and a Sydney Taylor Book Award honoree. Remember  Dippy won the Dolly Gray Literature Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. The Black Butterfly is a Junior Library Guild selection. Ripped Away will be released February 8, 2022 by Regal House Publishing.

Shirley is a graduate of Cornell University and an alumna of the Radcliffe Writing Seminars. When not creating stories, she mentors incarcerated individuals with their writing via the Prisoner Express program.

Please see www.shirleyrevavernick.com for more.

Thank you, Shirley, for your wonderful creative writing activity and for sharing your book–we cannot wait until it is published!

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“Using Anthologies to Teach Writing”

When I was growing up, our family had an Anthology of Children’s Literature. (No doubt one of my mom’s college textbooks!) Even though we regularly checked out books from the library, I spent a lot of time browsing through that book. I loved that I could find stories from all over the world. In that volume, I discovered new tongue twisters, Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” and James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation.”

Today, biographical anthologies have become popular in the children’s literature market. You can find anthologies on a wide range of topics like sports, science, technology, math, and more. They provide young people with an easy way to access stories about people who overcame obstacles to achieve success.

Because anthologies collect the stories of people around a theme, they offer many ways for readers to engage with the stories. Readers can take a treasure hunt through the essays in search for someone that interests them. Students might seek someone who:

+Champions a cause that matters to them.

+Overcame difficulties in school.

+Plays their favorite sport.

+Works in a career that interests them.

+Did something brave.

But how do you get young people to engage with these stories? When I wrote Mightier Than the Sword, an anthology of stories about people who used their words to change the world, I chose people from many disciplines because I wanted young people to see that many people write, not just storytellers. I added interactive writing exercises so that young people could write to change their own worlds.

I’ve been an artist educator since 2001, teaching in classrooms, libraries, and museums. I often use mentor texts and anthologies to engage young people in learning history and inspire their writing. Here are three writing exercises—and an art exercise—I use with historical texts:

Writing Exercise #1: Social Media Profile

Sei Shonagon (965-1010) captured court life in her writing, a genre known as zuihitsu that combined lists, advice on conversation and letter writing, observations about events, and suggestions on how priests should preach and dress. Had Sei Shonagon lived today, she might have developed a social sharing site like Instagram or Twitter.

Try this: Invite students to create a social media profile and several posts for the person they’ve chosen. This will especially fun when working with historical people. Maybe George Orwell would write a status update like: “Big brother? This whole platform is sus.”

Note: You can use any social media site that your students can relate to. There are several kid-friendly social media sites that might work, like GromSocial and PopJam.

Writing Exercise #2: Protest Song

The Afghan rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh was angry about her parents’ plan to sell her into marriage, partly to help raise money to purchase a bride for her brother. To protest this, she wrote and performed the song “Brides for Sale” and posted it on YouTube. Alizadeh’s song saved her from an arranged marriage and paved the way for her to go to school.

Try this: Invite students to write a protest song for a cause that they care about.

Writing Exercise #3: Letter Campaign

Young Sophie Cruz wrote a letter to the Pope, asking him to fight for the rights of immigrants in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to protest the advice to “wait” for justice. His letter became a sermon and then was published in newspapers and magazines across the country.

Try this. Ask students to write a letter to encourage change. Perhaps several students will want to create a letter-writing campaign to challenge an organization, government agency, or a government official.

Bonus Exercise: Protest Art!

To protest the lack of women’s works of art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Guerilla Girls plastered posters on New York City buses asking: “Does a woman have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” The poster featured a reproduction of the nude in Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque, with her face hidden by the group’s signature gorilla mask. The poster educated readers on the statistics: “Less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female.”

Try this: Invite students to create an art poster or social media meme to support their favorite cause.

Choosing Anthologies

The library is full of many kinds of anthologies on a wide range of topics like sports, science, technology, math, and more. Check out a big stack and let your students browse. The more they read, the better chance they will have of finding a role model who matters to them.

Published July 27th, 2021 by Beaming Books

About the Book: Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is a middle grade social justice book that tells the stories of historical and contemporary writers, activists, scientists, and leaders who used writing to make a difference in their lives and the world. The stories are accompanied by writing and creative exercises to help readers discover how they can use writing to explore ideas and ask for change. Sidebars explore types of writing, fun facts, and further resources.

Download the free activity pack: https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/Activity_Packet_MightierThanTheSword.pdf

About the Author: Rochelle Melander wrote her first book at seven and has published 11 books for adults. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is her debut book for children. She’s a professional certified coach, an artist educator and the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop for young people. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, children, and two dogs. Visit her online at writenowcoach.com or rochellemelander.com

Thank you, Rochelle, for your book and for this incredible post with such useful classroom ideas! 

Don’t miss out on other stops on the Mightier than the Sword Blog Tour!

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Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Illustrator: Jacqueline Alcántara
Published January 12th, 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Summary: A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature.

Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked…until Zora. Until Zora jumped.

About the Creators:

Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received a Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris Award finalist, and for which she won the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award for New Talent. A graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University, and an oral storyteller in the African American tradition, she is also a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jacqueline Alcántara is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed The Field and Freedom Soup. Her favorite days are spent drawing, painting, writing, and walking her dog. In 2016, she was awarded the inaugural We Need Diverse Books Illustrator mentorship. Find out more at JacquelineAlcantara.com.

Praise: 

*”A lively, joyfully rendered portrait of a literary legend.” – Publisher Weekly, starred review

* “Williams’ narration is a readaloud dream….it will be a joyful guide for folklore enthusiasts” – BCCB, starred review

* “This introduction to an American icon feels just right.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “A welcome addition to any picture book biography collection.” – School Library Journal, starred review

Review: Zora Neale Hurston has a special place in my heart as Eatonville is right around the corner, and I love the opportunity to be so close to Zora’s home, be inspired by her story, and learn from her. If you are ever here, stop by the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts!

Alicia D. Williams does a beautiful job capturing the spirit of Zora and showing how truly special she was as a person and story teller. And I loved learning new things about her that I hadn’t known before (like that she graduated from high school at 28 and that she may have been lost to white-washed history if not for Alice Walker). And Alicia’s words mixed with the colorful and active illustrations of Alcántara, Zora is brought to life through the pages of this book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The publisher provided Curriculum Guide is the best resource for using this book in your classroom:

Discussion Questions: 

  • How are the end pages representative of Zora?
  • How were Zora’s stories important to American literature?
  • Why did the author call Zora a “storycatcher?”
  • How did the author integrate fictional characters and stories within her nonfiction biography of Zora Neale Hurston?
  • Why was some of Zora’s storytelling looked down upon?
  • What does the figurative phrase “reach/jump to the sun” mean?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Zora Neale Hurston, Picture book biographies

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**Thank you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of the book to review!**

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Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published March 5, 2020 by HarperTeen

Summary: In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Ricki’s Review: I was so happy to see that this book won the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. It is one of the most beautifully written books that I have ever read. It made me laugh, it made me weep, and it filled me with so many emotions and so many wonderings. The book is beautifully lyrical, and the voices are so strong. There’s a scene in the book that simply took my breath away. If you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you head out and purchase it now. It’s absolutely magnificent.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the two perspectives of the story work together? How did it enhance your reading of the story?
  • How does place function in the story?
  • Where is home for the characters?
  • How do the characters in the story grieve? What understandings did it offer about grief and loss?
  • How do the characters in this book show strength in many different ways?

Flagged Passage: 

“Can you be from a place
you have never been?

You can find the island stamped all over me,
but what would the island find if I was there?

Can you claim a home that does not know you,
much less claim you as its own?”

Read This If You Love: Books. Seriously, it would be very difficult not to see the beauty of this book. Elizabeth Acevedo is one of the greatest writers of our time.

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“Two Words That Can Help with Writer’s Block in Students!”

Imagine, you’ve just announced an end-of-school year creative writing assignment for your students. You are expecting a positive response given your school just hosted a local author who talked about the writing process or your class just finished an inspiring novel. Besides, all students want to express themselves, right? And in creative writing, there are no wrong answers and so this should be a slam dunk assignment.

Then the arms shoot up into the air.

“What can we write about?” Anything, you respond.

“Can it be about space aliens?” Yes.

“How about super heroes?” Absolutely.

Can I write about myself?” Sure. This is your assignment. Be creative and have fun.

This is going really well. The students are as excited as you are about this assignment. But when you walk down the row of desks to check on their progress you notice that several notebooks or laptops remain blank. These students defend their lack of progress by saying that they have nothing to write about. They don’t know how to start. Even the students who started strong complained of writer’s block. “I don’t know what to write next. I’m stuck.”

If this scene plays out in your classroom, it is time to let them in on the creative writing secret that has launched stories and even writing careers. It was certainly key to my middle grade time travel series, Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar. The creative writing secret I refer to is what I call the what if technique. In my view, what if are the two most important words in creative writing.

The origin of my middle grade time travel series started as a what if. My toddler son was obsessed with calendars. About the same time, he was given a children’s magic kit with a cartoon magician featured on outside of the kit box. It got me thinking: what if the magic wand was used to turn the calendar magic? Thus started my journey with Roger Tarkington and his adventures at Jefferson Middle School.

While I can’t be certain, I would imagine that many stories started using what if.

          What if a boy were trapped inside a video game (Trapped in a Video Game)? What if a student with a face deformity went to school for the first time (Wonder)What if a boy was stranded alone in the woods (Hatchet)? Asking what if can help turn an ordinary situation, such as playing a video game, hiking in the woods, or going to school, into an intriguing premise for your next story.

Answering the what if question often leads to more questions. For example, how did a boy end up in the woods by himself? Perhaps the author used what if to come up with options, such as: What if he got lost by taking the wrong trail? What if he was on a school or Boy Scout outing and got separated from the group? What if the small plane he traveled in crashed in the middle of the woods?

I went through several what if scenarios before I settled on the premise of Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar. Originally, I was focused on the magic wand from the magic kit. I looked around my son’s playroom and asked a series of what if questions. What if the magic wand brought my son’s stuffed animals to life? I liked that idea, but it was too similar to the movie, Toy Story. What if the magic wand was used to turn my toddler son into a grown man? No, I wanted to tell a children’s focused story and so I opted against that idea. It wasn’t until I saw my son sitting near the magic kit while looking through a wall calendar that I came up with the premise of a magic calendar that allows someone to repeat days of the week by touching inside the calendar day. The idea matched my interest in writing about everyday school life, but with a fun time travel-like twist.

Inevitably, writer’s hit snags in their story. The what if technique is a great place to start in overcoming what seems like impossible roadblocks. During this brainstorming, I write down every what if answer, especially the silliest ones. If nothing stands out, I come back to the sheet of paper later and reread the answers. If nothing else, you’ll get a good laugh. However, this review often triggers new what if answers, sometimes ones that combine elements of two different answers.

The what if technique forces writers to face the creative problems they face with action. The technique also shifts the focus from negative thinking (i.e., I don’t have any ideas, I have writer’s block) to possibility simply by framing the roadblock as a question.

So does the what if technique solve every writing problem? Of course not. What if won’t motivate you to write, it won’t help with sentence structure or spelling, and it won’t address writer doubt or fatigue. However, the what if technique and similar writing strategies can help writers at any level or writing stages to address challenges and find solutions so that writers can get to the two next important words in creative writing: the end.

About the Book: Meet Roger Tarkington.

The almost 11-year-old has a plan for middle school greatness. A perfect plan that—lasts for all of about five minutes. 286 seconds, to be exact.

It’s all ruined when Kyle-the-Vile Brossman appears unexpectedly on the first day of school. Making matters worse, Kyle pledges to make Roger’s year miserable, just like he did at Bellingware Elementary School.

Roger’s unlucky start to sixth grade turns magical when his calendar turns into a time travel portal that allows him to repeat days.

Influenced by his Middle School Greatness Tip #31 (Don’t wait for it to happen, make it happen), Roger devises a new plan to use his magic calendar to beat Kyle, clearing his path to middle school greatness.

Foolproof plan for middle school success, right? Maybe in real life, but remember, this is middle school!

Will Roger succeed in using his magic calendar to standout at Jefferson Middle School and achieve middle school greatness?

Or will he fall under the constant attacks from Kyle and the unexpected, everyday obstacles of middle school?

About the Author: I.M. Maynard is the author of the Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar middle grade time travel series. The first book in the series, Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar: Quest for Middle School Greatness, was released in 2020. The second book in the series, Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar: Surviving Middle School, was released in 2021. I.M. Maynard is currently working on the third and final book in the series. When he isn’t writing, I.M. Maynard enjoys reading. HIs favorite contemporary authors include Louis Sachar (Holes), Stuart Gibbs (Spy School), Gordon Korman (Jackpot), and Chris Rylander (The Fourth Stall). Born and educated in the Midwest, I.M. Maynard now lives on the East Coast with his wife and son, who was the inspiration for the middle grade series. Learn more about I.M. Maynard at https://www.maynardauthor.com/.

Thank you, I.M., for this post showing how to help students get those creative juices flowing!

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