My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson
|My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very clever volume, which leads by the best example to open up a world of creative writing and imaginative invention.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: British Library Board|
If you happen to have two children, born five years apart, you can count on having to live through practically four full years of school holidays – and that doesn't include Bank Holidays or teacher training. Weather permitting, that's well over 1,400 days where the impetus is on to take them somewhere, or spend money. So what better and cheaper place to take them than their own imagination? And if you can't quite unlock the door that leads there, we can certainly suggest this book.
There certainly are other books for young readers to teach them creative writing, but none are quite like this. Certainly, this is the most visually appealing one I know of – at least from the adult point of view it looks gorgeous. The USP however is in the writing, for this book like none other has gone right back to the experts. Using very familiar influences – Narnia, Hogwarts, treasure islands and other classics of children's literature – we get a full-on choice of tasks to do, and ideas for our own stories. Here's space for a tale of the unexpected, with room for the world's map as well, here's the job to do a prequel to Treasure Island concerning Long John Silver's parrot's back-story, here's where we complete Mowgli's school journal. We rewrite Jules Verne for a new journey of our own, draw a two-page graphic novel, and design a character and write dialogue for Robinson Crusoe finding someone else's footprints. The respite of a word-search and a general knowledge crossword is perhaps needed, for these pages are not particularly busy, but the book's user certainly will be.
Which is why you may need to bear in mind the same author's companion volume. It has the subtitle Write Your Own Shakespearean Tales, and it's pretty much that, only not quite how you'd expect. I went into it thinking it a sequel too far, something too restrictive and constrained by going back so far to Shakespeare. Instead it's really quite open, and the stimuli here still ask all the right things of the young. It carries love letters, poetry of the paranormal, and the history plays mean we are asked for a right royal sports team talk, and not what Henry V usually delivers. You're not permanently immersed in the world of Elizabethan drama, but allowed to use that all-important open mind to write things that the modern audience for these books and their friends will be interested in.
You might perhaps want for that immersion to be stronger, for these books aren't quite as brilliantly educational as others. You learn a few Shakespearean terms and elements, but only rarely do you get anything defined, or taught anything beyond what the gentle look at quotes from our sources gives us. Some times the page could be better designed – too often to my mind the 'top tips' come at the foot, way after you've rushed into writing your masterpiece. The books aren't perhaps as universally in tune to please all educationalists – the first one here hardly gets more exotic than Neverland, and Michael Morpurgo setting a novel in rural Australia. If anything there was not quite enough old Will in the second book to read to learn from, so I'd give it four strong stars on its own. For the lead title, I did feel almost like knocking a touch off for the old-school, canonical style when it could have had a more exotic flavour. But like I say, the artwork seems more geared to the teacher and adult than perhaps the target audience, so this has a Reithian quality that is one more thing you might not expect. As it is, I would easily imagine people turning to these quite regularly for writing their own vivid, engaging tales courtesy of some of the world's best ready-made vivid, engaging tales, and so the highest commendation stands. The author's social media suggests there will be at least four of these at some point in time, and long may they continue to be this quality.
I must thank the publishers for my review copies. We also have a review of My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Myths by Deborah Patterson.
How to Write your Best Story Ever! by Christopher Edge is a strong rival volume, with many more of the terms your teachers use defined.
My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson is in the Top Ten Children's Non-Fiction Books of 2016.
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You can read more book reviews or buy My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson at Amazon.com.
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