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Mentor Text Monday: Back to School, Part Two

[Art by Lorna Hussey, Hedgehog's 100th Day of School by Lynne Marie.]

As you may or may not know from my last post -- my very first published book was a Back-to-School book. And my second book was also a "school book." Of course, that was not my intention! I had other promising manuscripts as well, including a slew of punny farm animal books which I felt would surely sell! I wrote "School Bus Buddies" as part of an assignment for a kid-lit class at college in which we were to explore an emotion. I chose fear and featuring my pet Hedgehog, Nike as a main character, with his fear of travel and noises. It was just a school assignment, and yet, I threw myself into it and read my standard 50 - 100 related books. That's how I knew it was different from what was out there and just as good, and that's how I achieved success when sending it to Scholastic.

So with Back-to-School Mentor Texts being an important part of my own success, I want to continue to share them with you all for a few weeks so that you might learn/see what I learned. There are literally so many ways to tell a story! Do not settle on the first way -- do your reading and research and find the best way, or the way that hasn't been done before! And make sure the writing is solid too = excellent writing + great storytelling = success!

[Note: You may click on the Titles or the Covers to purchase the Books #Ad.]

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN by Derrick Barnes, Art by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Randomhouse, 2022.

Instilled with confidence from her parents, a young girl has a great first day of Kindergarten.

While it's true that a traditional story would have a problem and tension, I feel for this one, that there's tension enough in it being...THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!

So I love that the main character models a positive attitude and that woven into the story, as well as important rules: First, us queens brighten up every room we enter. Second, us queens are caring and kind. And third, the good ones are always helpful to others," she says.

Best, of all about this helpful book, this MC does not lack agency as she puts those royal rules to good use when navigating her first day! It's a great example as one of the few books that works without traditional story conventions. A wonderful book for parents or teachers to share on the first day of Kindergarten!

IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? by Audrey Vernick Art by Daniel Jennewein (Harper Collins / Balzer & Bray, 2010).

Your buffalo is growing up. He plays with friends. He shares his toys. But is he ready for kindergarten? (And is kindergarten ready for him?)

[This book] is a hilarious look at first-day-of-school jitters.

This book allows the child reader to step outside of themself and look at the first day jitters problem over a buffalo's shoulder. What's great about this is that they will connect with the main character in that it is going to kindergarten, but with enough distance as a buffalo for them to disconnect just a bit from their own first day jitters. This will allow them to be more open about the possibilities / concerns moving forward and remind them that they are not the only one in a humorous and effective way.

Writing about a never-before-covered animal or object in this situation can prove a fresh and new way to approach the event / issues, but make sure that it hasn't been done before and feels unique, like this book! Throughout the possible first day concerns, Vernick weaves in Buffalo concerns so the book is, at different times, accurate and funny!

*.*.*.* As I say every time, there's always something to be learned from any mentor text we read, whether excellent or poor, whether a comp to our current WIP or not. As a reminder, I don't always have the time to go into each book in-depth, but feel free to post any questions or discussion points in the comment section. COMMENTS: I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on these books! If you did please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. Feel free to click on the titles of the books to buy them! All proceeds go toward books for our Mentor Text Talk Book Chats on Sundays on Zoom - you can join us here: Mentor Text Talk by | Facebook! Happy reading and writing!

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