Friday, March 19, 2010

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan

A guest author inspires a classroom of 4th grade children to write. Think you’ve seen this book before? Not like this. It is so spare – this early chapter book (galley) has 113 pages and is full of dialogue. Yet much is packed into few words, and MacLachlan never shies away from sticky subjects. My favorite moment is when the class is discussing their dislike for their younger siblings, and the guest author, Ms. Mirabel, admits to disliking her younger brother as a child. A student assumes that Ms. Mirabel loves him now, but Ms. Mirabel communicates that no, she does not, and he is not a nice person. I so appreciated this honesty. MacLachlan clearly respects her young readers enough to write an adult character with layers.

What more can I say without spoiling this gem? There is a library on Long Island that has a collection of books that is called “skinny but good.” This is where that book belongs.

Oh, and Word After Word After Word is a dream for folks planning a Mock Newbery discussion! It will be fun to compare it to books for older readers or works of non-fiction in terms of the Newbery criteria.


joanna said...

Still haven't read this yet! It's sitting in my bag, patiently waiting. :)

Patti said...

That cover is luminous. Really beautiful.

joanna said...


Okay, I'll admit I didn't like it as much as you. I think it's a great book for a classroom, but I wonder how a kid would connect with it on his/her own. The poems the kids write are a-mazing and they are so darn insightful, which is part of my trouble with it. The last poem is a doozy and it walloped me (In a good way). And I had a hard time beliving that a 4th grader was carrying around a baby.