By: Joan Holub
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 17, 2013
Pencil school was the perfect place to learn how to become a writer and Ms. 2 was up for teaching everyone how to write. “Today,” she exclaimed, “we’re going to write a story.” Of course everyone was excited and Little Red was raring to go. Ms. 2 set out the outline of a story path on her blackboard for everyone to follow. All the student pencils had a story in mind. Naturally the birthday pencil, state pencil, and the basketball pencil were going to write about those easy peasy things they knew best, but Little Red had a different idea. “I want to write a story about bravery because red is the color of courage,” she said to herself. Hmmmm, but just how would she go about telling her story?
Ms. 2 gave Little Red a basket of nouns and reminded her to stick to her “basic story path” so she wouldn’t “get lost.” Little Red smiled as she took the basket and was on her way ... to writing a very, very boring story. Little Red wanted exciting and so she added a little “verb action” with some bouncing, a bit of boogie woogie, and cartwheeling. She had to watch those adjectives, had to clip a bit of the story, and watch those run-on sentences. Of course those adverbs were there to help, but soon Little Red found danger along her story path. “Greetings, little pencil. Grrrreat to see you,” growled out Principal Granny between those sharp teeth. Was Little Red so far off the beaten story path that someone or something was going to eat her up?
This is a charming retold story of Little Red Riding Hood, who took up a little writing. Naturally there is such a thing as a reluctant reader, but even more commonly we find those reluctant writers hiding out in classrooms. They have their sharpened pencils in hand, but simply don’t understand how to follow that story path and get where they are going. With a combination picture book, graphic novel, and instructional, Joan Holub charts out a storytelling map for them. The artwork, by Caldecott Honor winner, Melissa Sweet, is quite dynamic and vibrant as it invites the young reader to explore the “workings” of that story line. Undoubtedly this retold tale will be a hit with reluctant writers, homeschoolers, and classroom teachers everywhere.
Quill says: If you have reluctant writers who need a little nudging, this is the perfect book to jump start the writing process!