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“You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” More
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
Material: hard cover
Summary: A new creative writing teacher swoop in to a fourth-grade class for the semester. Each week, she brings magical words, fantastic stories and a supportive way of thinking about writing. She inspires the kids to draw from their lives to create stories, poems, and writings of their own that bring meaning to their lives. The 5 kids who make up the characters in the story use her writings to help them deal with the struggles they have in their own lives, and to support each other. This is a non-illustrated chapter book for transitional readers (second and third grade)
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 7 to 10
Reading Level: 2.3
Age of Child: Read with a 6-year-old boy.
Young Reader Reaction: My kids enjoyed listening to the book but did not react strongly in an either positive or negative manner.
Adult Reader Reaction: I thought this book was difficult to read to my kids at this age because each of the kids was dealing with a very emotional situation. One had a mother going through chemotherapy, one had parents in the middle of a divorce, etc. At ages 4 and 6 years, I am not ready to push the difficult, emotional world on to their innocent shoulders. However, I did think that this was a good enough book to reassess in 3 years when my oldest is in 4th grade. It certainly inspires kids to find ways to deal with the emotional situations that plague their lives and to find support in each other.
Pros: The story weaves ideas for creative writing and friendship. These are well-written characters who offer lots of topics for discussion in a book group of fourth graders.
Cons: This is a very emotional story. Parents/teachers should definitely read through the whole book before selecting it for their children to determine if their children are ready to confront the emotional topics it broaches.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. It is worth a read, but may not be suitable for reading multiple times. Librarians might consider purchasing it for a school for book club reading.
Educational Themes: In addition to offering lessons about writing and creative writing as processes, the story shows how writing can be an intellectual and therapeutic pursuit. There are themes of friendship that would be great topics in a book club.
Notes: The publisher donated an advance review copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.