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Word After Word After Word Hardcover – May 18, 2010
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From School Library Journal
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More About the Author
In Her Own Words..."One thing I've learned with age and parenting is that life comes in circles. Recently, I was having a bad time writing. I felt disconnected. I had moved to a new home and didn't feel grounded. The house, the land was unfamiliar to me. There was no garden yet. Why had I sold my old comfortable 1793 home? The one with the snakes in the basement, mice everywhere, no closets. I would miss the cold winter air that came in through the electrical sockets."
"I had to go this day to talk to a fourth-grade class, and I banged around the house, complaining. Hard to believe, since I am so mild mannered and pleasant, isn't it? What did I have to say to them? I thought what I always think when I enter a room of children. What do I know?"
"I plunged down the hillside and into town, where a group of fourth-grade children waited for me in the library, freshly scrubbed, expectant. Should I be surprised that what usually happens did so? We began to talk about place, our living landscapes. And I showed them my little bag of prairie dirt from where I was born. Quite simply, we never got off the subject of place. Should I have been so surprised that these young children were so concerned with place, or with the lack of it, their displacement? Five children were foster children, disconnected from their homes. One little boy's house had burned down, everything gone. 'Photographs, too,' he said sadly. Another told me that he was moving the next day to place he'd never been. I turned and saw the librarian, tears coming down her face."
"'You know,' I said. 'Maybe I should take this bag of prairie dirt and toss it into my new yard. I'll never live on the prairie again. I live here now. The two places could mix together that way!' 'No!' cried a boy from the back. 'Maybe the prairie dirt will blow away!' And then a little girl raised her hand. 'I think you should put that prairie dirt in a glass bowl in your window so that when you write you can see it all the time. So you can always see what you knew first.'"
"When I left the library, I went home to write. What You Know First owes much to the children of the Jackson Street School: the ones who love place and will never leave it, the ones who lost everything and have to begin again. I hope for them life comes in circles, too."
Top Customer Reviews
This book is unique in that I think it will appeal to anyone grade 2-4. This one stands out as a big kid story told for smaller kids, and would be perfect as a class read aloud; especially if you were starting work on poetry. If you do family read alouds - this would be great because a wide variety of ages could take different things from it. A big recommend.
"The book, "Word After Word After Word" by Patricia Maclachlan is a great book for budding writers.
"When Ms. Mirabel visits Lucy, Henry, Evie, Russell and May in their fourth grade class, she brings with her a whole new way of using words to describe life, and as the kids learn to express their thoughts in words and poems, they find themselves looking at their own lives differently. From getting the kids to write about a new baby to them writing about a mom with cancer, this book is the perfect remedy to every writing problem.
"My favorite part was when Evie thinks of a fake name for her neighbor Sister Mary Grace in the middle of the book: Sister Sassy Demello - because I also enjoy making up names.
"My favorite poem was the one by Russell, about his dog who died, because my dog died, too, and I understand how his pain. Also, I enjoyed Patricia Maclachlan's detailed descriptions of Ms. Mirabel's colorful and funny clothes."
But this slight book read as inauthentic to me. The characters didn't seem like any of the fourth graders I've known, taught, and loved over the years, even my little ones who have wanted to bring their writer's notebooks out to recess each day. How the students in Miss Cash's class spoke and, especially, what they wrote, read more like the words of college educated adults, not real human children.
Beautiful poetry fills this book, but not for one minute did I think that the children in that class would have actually written those words.
There is value in this story. The language is lovely. The children are kind to each other. The spirit behind it is well-meaning as all get-out. And I will still read it to my class.
I just wish that Patricia MacLachlan had made this more about the real, and less about the unreal. (Read it and you'll get the reference.)
But try it, you might like it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This story centers on a group of 4th graders who learn the power of words through lessons from a famous writer. Read morePublished 5 months ago by FantasyGirl
This is a great book to read to students at the beginning of the year to get students excited about writing. I'll be reading it to my 4th graders for sure. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
A well known author, Ms. Mirabel, comes to a fourth grade classroom. She shares her love of writing with the students and inspires them to write. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Sunshine on a Rainy Day
Over the weekend, I received the unexpected present from a friend of Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan. My friend said the book looked like it belonged to me. Read morePublished 12 months ago by NebraskaIcebergs
I really liked this book and I am going to use it in my classroom.Published 17 months ago by Katie Hildreth
Good book I love it and it is a good book for all. She is a great author too. Love itPublished 22 months ago by c
I liked this book because of its simplicity and complexity all at the same time.
Words are powerful. To the writer of them and to the reader of them.
This book is unrealistic. The "4th graders" in the book act and write more like adults than children. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by AlyssaK