Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Word After Word After Word

Word After Word After Word. Patricia MacLachlan. 2010. HarperCollins. 128 pages.

Some things happen in fours. On the fourth day of the fourth month after the winter holiday vacation, a famous writer came to our fourth-grade class. Her name was Ms. Mirabel. She liked the Ms. a lot. She hissed "Ms." like Evie's cat, Looley, hissed. I looked over at Evie and she was smiling. She had thought of Looley, too.

Word After Word After Word is a book about how a group of kids respond to writing in the classroom. The focus is on a small group of friends: Lucy, Henry, Evie, Russell, and May. Each child has their own struggles: one has a mom with cancer, one has parents who are separated, one is still grieving the loss of a beloved dog, etc. One spring a visiting writer comes to their classroom. She's not there for one day--but for six weeks of instruction, of guidance. Ms. Mirabel tells Lucy, our narrator,
"You have a story in there, Lucy," she said, touching my head. "Or a character, a place, a poem, a moment in time. When you find it, you will write it. Word after word after word," she whispered." (20-21)
Through the weeks, each child finds joy, finds comfort, finds relief in writing. Readers see what each child writes. Here is one of Lucy's poems:
Sadness is
Steam rising,
Tears falling.
A breath you take in
But can't let out
As hard as you try. (27)
I'd also recommend Hate That Cat and Love That Dog--both by Sharon Creech.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers


  1. I just loved, loved, loved this book. I found that I wanted to read it slowly, even though it was quite short, to savor the characters and their emotional journey. Your review captures the essence of this book, and I especially liked the quotes you included.

    I'm curious if it will qualify for the Cybils short chapter book category. The guidelines have stated 120 pages, so perhaps this is a bit long.

    What ages do you think you'd recommend it for, either as a read-aloud or an independent read?

  2. If it doesn't qualify for the short chapter book category, it should qualify for the middle grade category. I think it would be a great book to nominate!

    As for ages, I'd guess 7 to 9?