Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Word After Word After Word, by Patricia MacLachlan - reviewed by Miss Ami

"Every school day feels the same for fourth graders Lucy and Henry and Evie and Russell and May. Then Ms. Mirabel comes to their class—bringing magical words and a whole new way of seeing and understanding."
First let me point out that this is definitely NOT a "Retro" Tuesday, as this book is officially being published today. Fans of Patricia MacLachlan (and there are many) will be excited about a new release.

Unfortunately, this one just isn't up to par with "Sarah, Plain and Tall", or "The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt". I liked the premise, but as a former teacher, I had a very hard time believing this entire class of fourth graders remained exceptionally well-behaved for all of this author's visits, turning out poems that were just a little too mature and well-done to be realistic.

Don't get me wrong, I love fourth graders! They are just getting to be smart without getting to be smart, if you know what I mean. Fourth grade is where you would most likely find a few kids who could and would turn out some good, honest writing, but - all of them? And why does it all seem to be poetry, when the original examples given were mostly from stories? Also, while there were crises (a bit formulaic) in different children's lives, there was no clear building to a climax and satisfying resolution.

That is not to say it is without merit. Kids in this age group who already love to write, love to read, and love Patricia MacLachlan, willl melt into this book. With a reasonable suspension of disbelief, it is a very sweet story, quickly read. It's biggest value may be in its insight into MacLachlan's mind. I can see this being given to aspiring young writers, with an encouraging inscription on the inside cover, to be read and reread when the muse fails.

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