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The Fruit Bowl Project Hardcover – January 24, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 153 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732895
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–A new teacher who is an admitted dork reveals to her eighth-grade Writers' Workshop students that she is related to rock superstar Nick Thompson. Not much impresses these savvy New York City kids, but they are suitably wowed. Nick, a songwriter, is invited to teach the class. He contends that a song is like a bowl of fruit, and that he needs to figure out how to paint it, using words as colors. There are infinite ways to create the canvas, using style, voice, genre, and much more. He challenges the students to each write a piece based on only seven simple elements: school, sixth grade, a reading test, a dropped pencil, an angry girl, lunch, and milk out the nose. The balance of the novel consists of the students' 50 projects, ranging from rap to haiku, monologue, fairy tales, a screenplay, etc. Durkee captures the students' jargon and behavior but the plot and its many characters are undifferentiated and undeveloped. Teachers and aspiring writers will enjoy the many clever ways a story can be told, while readers more interested in character development or plot are likely to give up after a few selections.–Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. The writers in Ms. Vallas' eighth-grade writers' workshop are pretty blase, as one might expect from kids at a private school in Manhattan. But when Ms. Vallas announces that rock star-songwriter Nick Thompson is coming to talk to the class about writing, they are impressed. He explains that writing something is like painting a bowl of fruit: every artist will see things differently, use a different medium, and arrange the fruit in his or her own way. Nick gives the kids an assignment: write a story containing seven common elements--among them, a dropped pencil, chicken nuggets, a boy who tells a joke, and another boy who laughs so hard his drink spews out of his nose. The second half of Durkee's debut novel contains the fruit of the "Fruit Bowl Project": stories, poems, screenplays, and raps incorporating the elements. The idea is clever, but there are 50 finished offerings--that's at least 25 too many. The best are the limericks and haiku that capture the story points quickly, but some simply go on too long or are repetitive. Almost no one comes up with a joke funny enough to make a kid blow his drink. Still, this will be great inspiration for kids and teachers; it's a creativity wake-up call. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Sarah Durkee has sold skis, waited tables, been a singer and a magician's assistant, but writing is by far her favorite occupation and "The Fruit Bowl Project" the most fun she's ever had doing it. She started out as a mime (yes), then as a writer and performer in mildly offensive National Lampoon comedy revues, then moved on to writing songs for Meat Loaf. Her script and songwriting for kid's TV have earned her five Emmys (Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Dora, Arthur, Wonder Pets and others) and given her the opportunity to write for artists ranging from Kermit (brilliant frog) to Brian McKnight (brilliant human). She lives in New York City and is currently working with her husband, composer Paul Jacobs, on musical adaptations of Kate Feiffer's "My Mom is Trying to Ruin My Life!" and the Leo Lionni classic "Frederick", among other projects.



Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
The Musical This was clever!
the Bookinator
As an educator and parent, I highly recommend this book to students, parents and teachers.
Shelley Weinstock
Great concept well executed.
Paul Bartick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Middle grades will relish The Fruit Bowl Project, which focuses on different ways to tell the same story when students at a hip Manhattan school in a writer's workshop receive a special surprise. A song, Nick explains, is just a bowl of fruit - one must have to figure out how to paint it, and it's up to the students to take their literary bowl and run with it. A fascinating, modern story evolves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Rutenberg on March 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed "The Fruit Bowl Project" enormously. I found the concept interesting, unique and insightful. The stories were incredibly well written. Ms Durkee really captured the voice of the 8th grader in it in a way that was surprising and delightful.

I love the premise of this book and I think the idea of story being secondary to style an interesting and not often addressed area of literature for children.

So many adult books offer form and style over story and are feted for it, "The God of Small Things" the Booker Prize winner by Arandati Roy "The Bone People" by Kerri Hulme (another Booker Prize winner) to name just two.

It is exciting to contemplate what children might do if they give some thought to style and this book compels them to do just that.

As a 7th grade English teacher I would encourage any parent interested in inspiring their child to write or any teacher looking to do the same to get this book on your reading list!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bartick on February 7, 2006
Format: Library Binding
I read the Fruit Bowl Project last night in one fell swoop and it left me hungry for more. Forget that Fruit Bowl can be a great teaching and learning tool for middle schoolers and aspiring writers alike. What I liked the best is that it is laugh-out-loud funny. Don't believe me? Try getting through the "Chatty" entry without spewing drink out of your own nose. Durkee really knows how to tell a story and her feel for her middle-school audience is right on the mark. She has written a very playful book that made me feel like I was in the middle of the hubub that is an 8th grade class. Great concept well executed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By the Bookinator on February 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Fruit Bowl Project is a book like no other. Where i live a nasty stomache flu is goin' around and i caught it! I was lying on my couch for the 2nd day in a row when my mom came and starting reading this book. We are friends with Sarah Durkee and we wanted to read her book. We know how witty and funny she is so Mom and I expected the book to lift our spirits. And it did... no suprise. This story is witty, funny, and great anyone! (just not too young) It is a unique way to get kids to write... after rerading i wanted to write a story using those elements! It was a blast reading all the stories she came up with... and the best part is they all had a different theme! Horror, a screenplay, an instant message, a fairytale! it was great to hear some styles of writing i could never think of! At the end of every great book i read/listen to, i always think the same question... how in the world did she come up with this idea! its a great, wacky, fun plot that you when you are done you ask yourself why you cannot come up with ideas as good as these! Here are a few of the stories i reccommend...

1. Chatty This story is HILARIOUS! it had me laughing and laughing! when my dad read it he couldnt get through one sentence without cracking up!

2. Instant Message This was a cute one! it made you want to read it. you didnt have to start it to know it was good like some books. It's IMing! anyone can relate to it! a great way to grab the reader's attention!

3. The Musical This was clever! it shows the theme as a broadway musical! it even has songs! to take Sarahs fun and wild idea even farther, get some friends or family, or just you, and block out some of the scenes, or try to come up with a tune for the songs it's really, really fun when you try it!

I reccommend this book to adults, children, and anyone else who enjoys a fun, good read! Hope ya like The Fruit Bowl Project! I know you will!

Your Reviewer,

Kate
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Noni Dee on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If I had read this as a young teen, I would have probably become a writer. It's funny,imaginative,and completely original. Everyone's voice counts in this classroom, and they are all as different as fingerprints. Get it for a kid you know...especially one who doesn't think writing is cool.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on February 16, 2006
Format: Library Binding
A hot afternoon in a sixth grade classroom. A room full of students taking a test. A boy nudges a girl's arm and causes her to mark the test. She goes ballistic. Later, in the cafeteria, another boy tells a joke and the first boy laughs so hard milk comes out of his nose.

How would you tell this story?

When rock star Nick Thompson comes to visit the West Side Middle School, this is the writing assignment he sets the class. Take a simple, ordinary story and make it exciting. Find your own voice, he urges them, tell the story in your own way. And they do. From first-person narratives, to screenplays, to haikus; as aliens, as a psychic, as the teacher; even in measurements, each member of the class writes the same story but tells it in a different way. The result is a collection of intriguing essays and stories that highlight voice, style, perspective and language.

THE FRUIT BOWL PROJECT by Sarah Durkee is really unique in its exploration of writing. The same story, told over and over in so many different voices, begins to take on a life of its own, as well as revealing the personalities of the characters who wrote each entry. This would be a great book to use with a writing class in order to give students an indication of the wide range of the possibilities inherent in even the most basic ideas. In fact, while I was reading the novel, I kept wishing that there was a nonfiction book out there that encompassed this idea: set a classroom of kids to write about a scene in all different kinds of ways.

For me, the framework story about the students who wrote the pieces and their encounter with the rock star was unnecessary. Both the individual stories and the project as a whole were understandable without the framework.
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