I read ( then purchased) the book, Wrapped in Love by Jan Johnson this summer as I was thinking about the work we do in the classroom with writing stories. (I also can't help but pick up stories about dogs as I know kids love them.) This book is about a pup named Snoozer and and the fears he has in the dark, dark, middle of the night. He hears many sounds like coyotes, owls and thunder. His parents come to calm him, hold him and remind him that he is wrapped in their love. By the end of the night, snoozer begins to soothe himself, more confident that everything is ok eventually falling asleep. As I read this book I began deciding why it might work in my mentor basket for story writing. Here is what I thinking :
1. The book is about feeling scared in the middle of the night and I think the idea for the book itself will help kids connect to a time they were scared.
2. It is narrative with repetitive language. The author uses the words: Late, late, late in the middle of the dark, dark night, Snoozer hears a sound. This language is repeated three times as Snoozer is scared by 3 unfamiliar noises. Being able to help kids notice this language might work to scaffold their stories about when they were scared of different things in the middle of the night.
3. I've noticed again and again that sometimes primary writers just jump into stories with out any kind of beginning. So, we spend time noticing ways authors begin stories. The beginning to this book is quite simple and effective for young writers: It is bedtime. Here, I can show kids how some beginnings tell about when the story is happening.
4. The illustrations a dark (we can talk about why) but simply drawn so kids could imitate them. After reading Katie Wood Ray's book, In Pictures and In Words ( A book about planning and studying illustrations with primary kids), I realized that there are a few pages where the illustrator shows two sides of physical space. One is the page where the owl noises are frightening Snoozer. There we see the outside of the window where the owl is who-o-ing and we see Snoozer snuggled in his Mother's arms inside of the house. So, I know this book will also help my students study illustrations.
5. This book is simple yet also contains layers that will scaffold stronger writers. I am thinking about the few lines of dialogue the mother and father dog have to explain what the noise is outside. The ending: Snoozer listens for awhile, then falls asleep. Shhhh... uses an ellipsis and we could talk about why she decided on it and what it means.