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Once upon a time, in pencil school, a teacher named Ms. 2 told her class, “Today we’re going to write a story!” So begins a story about writing a story.
Each pencil decides to choose a topic according to his pencil top. Little Red wants to go on a journey through the school, meet unusual characters, be brave, and save the day. Her teacher tells her that it is okay to wander a little bit but stick to her basic story. Don’t get lost.
This is great advice as children do tend to ramble on and go everywhere when writing stories. (I was a grade school teacher for thirty-two years and occasionally wanted to jump out a fifteen story window after reading meandering, pointless page after page of creative writing.) They will spent an entire page explaining how characters greet each other. Occasionally, beginning adult writers will do the same thing.
She learns it is important to get drawn quickly into the action. Some description is good, too much description is bad. Avoid run on sentences.
The story begins to parallel the traditional fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. A monstrous pencil sharpener takes the place of the Big Bad Wolf. Little Red is clever enough to escape his clutches but when she arrives at the principal’s office, there he is. Her cries for help attract Mr. Woodcutter, the janitor, but he faints at the sight of the monstrous pencil sharpener. Little Red uses her last red noun, dynamite, to save the day. All the pencils share their stories.
This would be a great book to read to a class that is about to write individual stories. It is probably not the kind of book a parent would read to a child, unless you are homeschooling.
The illustrations are done with watercolor, pencil and collage. It is an 11 x 8″ hardcover book filled with colored pictures. There are writing tips here and there throughout the text. Things could be pulled from the book and put on charts for students’access.
Little Red Writing is a clever way to introduce or review the topic of story writing. I do think, however, more guidelines could have been presented throughout the story or as an appendix.