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Karleen Bradford

Toronto, Scholastic-TAB, 1988. 64pp, paper. $3.95
ISBN 0-590-73175-0. CIP

Grades 4 to 6/Ages 9 to 11
Reviewed by David H. Elias.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

This "how to" book for children introduces young writers to the basic components of story writing. The text is written at a level most children ages nine and up can comprehend. Individual chapters deal with topics ranging from character and plot development to writer's block.

In order to illustrate these various components, the author relies heavily on personal anecdote and gives students concrete examples of the different aspects of story writing. There is a great abundance of passages such as the following:

With this dog story, by the time I'd finished the outline and started writing, I knew it would end with the dog winning, but I didn't know at that point how the dog would win. I just knew it was going to have to be something special.

The result, unfortunately, is that we learn not so much how kids can write a story as about how Karleen Bradford went about writing some of her stories. How much students can learn about story writing from this approach is debatable. Also (perhaps by necessity) many important ideas seem oversimplified or understated. In general, I found the tone of the book to be somewhere between light-hearted and half-hearted.

Still, the cause is a noble one. All the basics are covered, and there are some practical ideas young writers might use to make their stories better.

David H. Elias, Bernie Wolfe School, Winnipeg. Man.
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