An Undone Fairy Tale

An undone fairy taleOur illustrator is racing through the book trying to tell the story of a pie-loving king who has imprisoned his stepdaughter.  He will only release her when a suitor kills the dragon.  We, “the readers”, are  reading too fast for the illustrator to keep up.  This results in emergency art substations that detour our plot.

Ian Lendler, Simon and Schuster, ©2005, 0-689-86677-1

Writing to the Model
Students could imitate the model of this book. In this story, as it proceeds, the reader catches up to the illustrator who has to compromise and thus affects the story. The author increasingly frantically begs the reader to slow down, to no avail. The separation between what the author is writing and what the author is saying is made by a change of font. When the students are writing, it could be accomplished by highlighting what the author says to the reader in yellow – which can easily be read through, but shows that the author is speaking in his/her “real” voice. The student plot cannot depend on illustrations, but rather on interruptions due to “fast reading.”

A good idea is to start by brainstorming the kinds of problems an author/illustrator could have in writing;

  • running out of ink.
  • can’t write as fast as you can read.
  • including conversation really slows down the writing.
  • writer’s block.
  • writer’s cramp, etc.

The next step is for students to outline the real story they want to tell, because they will be interrupting themselves and will want to remember where they are going. The final step is to start to write. The teaching ideas PDF contains a sample for students of the beginnings of a story.

Journal Ideas
It’s always valuable to use a picture book as a prompt to journal writing. Try to have at least three choices so that students can select the one about which they think they can write the most, or if they run out of steam, can write on a second topic as well. Some possibilities are:

  • times you have been interrupted when you are trying to do something.
  • speaking to a group.
  • a time when a project did not go well.

For 4 creative writing ideas, click  An Undone Fairy Tale to download.


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