10 minutes before I pick my kids up from school each day, I take a moment to make sure that I am ready. Ready to clear my own thoughts and worries from my head, ready to listen, ready to engage with the rapid-fire of excitement or wonder or even disappointment that is sure to be released as they pile in the car. My kids circle and pounce on each pause in conversation, eager to fill the airspace with the details of their day. And while it is sometimes overwhelming to be bombarded with the every thought and emotion of 4 young children, the truth is that I really do love it. Each and every afternoon is filled with a new story. And yet, when we sit down and ask kids to write a story, they often find it difficult. These same kids, in whom story bubbles up and overflows each day, find it hard to put it down on paper. The innate story sensibility that we all have is not enough. There is a process and a method to writing a story that is not always as natural. And that, my friends, is where this book, a Perfect Picture Book called ROCKET WRITES A STORY, comes in.
ROCKET WRITES A STORY
- Written and Illustrated by: Tad Hills
- Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books, July 24, 2012
- Suitable for: Ages 4 and up
- Topics/Themes: Reading, Writing, Words, Books, Story, Friendship
- Opening:“Rocket loved books. He loved to read them to himself or to sit quietly by his teacher, the little yellow bird, as she read them aloud. Rocket even liked the way books smelled. When he opened a new book, it smelled like a place he’d never been to, like a friend he’d never met.”
- Synopsis: (from author’s website) Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story.
- Links to Resources: The possibilities for using this book are endless. The book takes you along Rocket’s path of writing a story, and you could easily follow the steps he takes to help your own kids write a story. You could start with something as simple as word collecting. In the beginning, Rocket collects words he finds interesting and puts them on his word tree. You could make this same word tree. Rocket then uses those words in his story. You could do the same. Another exercise you could steal from Rocket would help kids know how to develop story characters. Rocket asks questions such as, “What color is her beak?” and, “What does she do every day?” in order to understand his main character better. This book could be a jumping off point for a myriad of writing exercises! On top of all of that, if you are interested in learning more about the “real” Rocket, you can visit the website of Tad Hills and find an adorable picture, as well as a video.
- Why I Like this Book: As a writer, I found this book fascinating. Rocket’s writing process really does mirror my own! Panic as you stare down at that blank page? Check. Frustration as your story comes out only in bits and pieces over a long period of time? Check. Going for walks, roaming the land, in search of inspiration? Check. Who knew Rocket was a tortured artist? While my kids probably didn’t see the writerly nuances of the story, they still love it. Rocket is so adorable, as is his teacher, the yellow bird. And they make a new friend in this story…a shy owl whose lovely scent of feathers and pine needles provides just the inspiration Rocket is looking for. It is a fun read for all!