The Plot Chickens (2009) by Mary Jane & Herman Auch was the cutest little book.I really liked it because it can be used during English/Language Arts time to help children with the writing process. The illustrations were a very colorful mixed media mishmash. They were quite enjoyable to look at. Now, on to the review.
The story begins with Henrietta Hen who loves to read. She loves to read so much, she’s read all the books on her farm. There’s nothing more to read. Now, she must go into town to the library to get more. She goes into the library & gets in line. As she gets to the counter, the librarian tells her that they have nothing for chickens there. Henrietta indignantly clucks at the top of her lungs. BUK, BUK, BUK!
“Well, why did you say so?” says the librarian as she hands Henrietta three books.
Henrietta’s four aunts love being read to. Every day she reads to them and returns to the library for more. Now, this is where one of my favorite parts come in. Henrietta loves reading so much, she wonders if writing them is as much fun. She does what anyone is serious does. She researches it. She finds a book, goes home and reads it, and promptly begins writing a book. I love, love, loved this part. This part reminds me so much of Phillise. She is a read-a-holic. She loved reading so much that she has decided to write her own stories. She is constantly writing her own stories. One of her favorite things to do is to cross popular stories. She wrote one entitled, Fancy Nancy Meets Junie B. Jones. She inserted her own pictures in it and everything. As I write this, she has another one on the backburner. I’m not going to tell the name of that one until she finishes writing it. I am so proud of my little girl. I encourage her to write her own original stories as well. I’m just happy that she enjoys reading & writing. But, I digress. On with the review.
While visiting the library, Henrietta comes across an excellent book about writing that has eight writing rules.
Rule #1: You need a main character.
Rule #2: You need to “hatch” a plot.
Rule #3: Give your main character a problem.
Rule #4: Develop your plot by asking “What if?”.
Rule #5: Write what you know.
Rule #6: Build suspense.
Rule #7: Make your story come alive by using all five senses.
Rule #8: The main character must solve her (or his) own problem.
So, with the help of her aunts, she writes a story. What do you think happens? Did Henrietta’s research pay off? Does her book become the #1 bestseller? Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it to find out for yourself. I know you will like this. Especially if you’re an elementary teacher.
I can think of a few ways this book can be used in a writing center, after I’ve used it for a read-aloud. I would begin by photocopying the middle of the book that explains how to write a story, along with its explanations & make it into a mini-book for the children to refer to. That is, as soon as I get another class.
What would you do with it? Drop me a comment and let me know.