Wednesday, June 7, 2017

AP English: Writing Your Own Children's Book

Part 1 of my favorite 2012 interview with Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are) with Stephen Colbert.

My lovely AP students, I was so moved yesterday when we went down to the library, pulled out some children's book and began to read. It felt like that day in elementary school and when your teacher says, "We're going to the library!" and every kid jumps up from their desk and says, "Yay!" As I looked around the library yesterday, you were all laughing and excited about the stories you were reading, and something suddenly became clear: some of our favorite books are not long, three-volume Victorian novels, but those written for children.

Today, we will be finishing step two of our Children's Book Project (assignment sheet here), making an outline of the story. I encourage you all to also finish step three, characters, so you are ready to jump into the rough draft tomorrow.

For today, we will warm-up by watching this 7-minute interview (Part 1) of Stephen Colbert's interview with children's book author Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, which was first published in 1963, and very much like Lewis Carroll's Alice stories, still resonates with us today.

When we are done, get with your partner and complete step 2 (and 3 if you can) from your assignment sheet. Post your answers in the comments section below to turn in your assignment.

Standard/Rubric for this Assignment (here)
W3, "I can write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences."


  1. Problem: Seal who likes to read and likes school, gets mocked for that

    Solution: He becomes smart and famous

    Adventure: Swimming around with his books, gets mocked by various sea creatures

    Learning: Reading is good for you and not to listen to negative comments

    Environmental/Social: Animals undersea don't like to read/learn


  2. #2)
    problem/solution: finding lobsters, listening to other lobstermen

    Adventure: fishing areas that don't work

    Learning something new: listening to friends

    Environmental issue: setting traps on land, quarry, shallow ocean

    Social issue: letting ego get in the way of success

  3. Problem/solution: Kids don't like to eat vegetables/ think they don't like vegetables.

    Adventure: The veggies try to make their way on to the kids plate at dinner time.

    Learning something new: That they (kids) actually do like vegetables.

    Environmental issue: The vegetables have to make their way from the fridge to the kids plate.

    Social issue: The kid thinks that vegetables are gross, because thats what all of their friends think.

  4. Conflict: A boy needs glasses
    Problem: Boy can't see things that will prevent him from doing daily activities
    Adventure: The adventure is going to be the boy's everyday routine that is difficult because he can't see.
    Learning Something New: 1. When kid tries to read the board and can't- realization of needing glasses. 2. When kid actually gets his glasses and can see clearly.
    Environmental Issues: Boy can't walk down stairs, can't eat breakfast (spills milk), can't buckle in the car, boy trips when getting out of the car, doesn't know which friend is who, can't read the board.
    Social Issue: Kid knows he needs glasses but is scared of judgement of having glasses so he makes up an excuse for all of his mistakes.

    12 pages of problems followed by boy excuses
    3 pages of going to the doctors and ending the day
    6 pages of the boy doing same activities successfully
    1 page resolution

  5. Problem: The Twins don't want to stat Kindergarten and they do a while bunch of mischief in school.

    Solution: They end up liking school; they don't want to back home with their parents.

    Social: The other students try to convince the twins to stay in school and have fun.

    Environmental: Other teachers and or students who could catch the twins trying to escape.

  6. Characters:

    Twins: Gabe and Rosie



  7. Characters:
    Sam the seal (main character/protagonist)
    Crab (antagonist)
    Turtle (antagonist)
    Orca (antagonist)

  8. Deja and Carolyn
    Problem: A boy goes to the zoo, but all the animals seem to be doing things that don't make sense
    Solution: He later realizes that he also does things that aren't logical.
    Adventure: Seeing and talking with all the animals
    Learning Something New: He learns where different types of animals live around the world.
    Environmental Issue: Where the different animals live, and why they are doing certain things in that environment
    Social Issue: Talking to all the animals

    1-2 pages: Logan goes to the zoo
    16ish pages: Logan meets all the animals
    2-4 pages: Logan realizes that he does some pointless things
    1-2 pages: closing

    -Logan's parents?
    -Animals (around 6-9 of them)

  9. Characters:
    Little Lee, Mom, Teacher, and Doctor, possibly a friend within an unknown name as of right now. Lee is the only main character.

  10. Main Characters: Mom, dad, kid, potato, brocoli, salt and pepper shaker

  11. #3)
    Young man starting his lobstering career doesn’t know much about it
    Gets advice from peer to set in water next to bluebell rock but wants to do it his own way

    sets trap on beach
    baits trap with blue cheese
    goes to check trap, no bugs

    gets advice from an aunt to set in water next to bluebell rock and use fresh fish for bait
    he only listens to a little bit of the aunts advice and sets on the rock
    this time he uses fresh cheese

    gets advice from an wise old man that says to haul next to bluebell rock in waters so deep that you can’t see the trap when you set it and to not use cheese, make sure to use fish
    He listens a little more by setting in the water and using fish but did not set it in deep enough water, only catching crabs

    Fred sees Tom going by in his boat with crates of lobsters and remembers the advice everyone tried to get him.

    So he listens to their advice this time and hauls next to bluebell rock but this time in deeper waters with fresh fish

    the next morning he went to haul his traps and to his surprise traps full of lobster
    He goes in to sell his catch and Tom, his aunt and the old man are there
    Fred shows them his catch and realized he should have listened to them all along and thanks them

    Characters: main; Fred & Tom, Aunt, old man

  12. 1. Read two children’s books and answers the questions in #2.

    2. Select a conflict. This should be something to which a child this age can relate. Relate this to a theme that is positive in nature. Don’t blurt out the theme. Let it emerge from the story. Don’t be preachy. If you must come out and say it, do so in dialogue, not in narration.

    Problem/solution: Clown has lost his balloons, must get to the top of the building to get them back.
    Adventure: Each floor has a different test for the clown (Vicious dog, sad kid, man with big feet.
    Learning something new: Clown learns to be selfless and caring.
    Environmental issue:
    Social issue:
    3. Plot and organize the story. *This will be handed in!
    Clown's balloons float away and get caught on a clothesline near the roof of a building.
    Clown enters building and encounters dog, throws nose to lure away dog.
    Clown reachs third floor, finds kid crying. Makes him balloon animal.
    Clown reachs fourth floor, finds man crying about having big feet. Gives shoes
    Clown reachs fifth floor, finds fire, puts it out with flower water gun.
    Clown reachs roof, finds cat stranded. Uses balloons to float cat to safety

  13. Plot and Organized the story:
    -Parents struggle to get twins out od the house
    -Twins arrive at school and are introduced to the other students
    -Twins go to the napping corner with no concern for teacher and students follow
    -The twins are punished for the misbehavior instead of listening to the teacher they run off into the halls.
    -The Twins run around the school and end up outside where they find they're classmates in recess.
    -They're classmates try to convince the twins to stay in school.
    -After the kids go inside the parents are there to pick the Twins and the rest of the students up but they don't want to leave because they love school.
    -The teacher reflects on his day and sits in his chair and all of a sudden scream in pain he sat on a tack that the twins had set earlier.


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