Titanicat CoverJim is a cabin boy on the Titanic assigned to watch over a cat and her kittens. He sees the cat taking her kittens off the ship before it sails. As the “All ashore” is called there is one last kitten, so Jim takes it off and misses the ship. Based on a true story.

Marty Crisp, Scholastic, ©2008, ISBN 978-0-545-2880-2


Our cabin boy is saved from the Titanic because of the superstition that a cat leaving a ship is a sign of disaster. Show students the pictures on the Titanicat Superstitions PDF and have them describe what the luck is that the image is conveying (good or bad).

Cat Breeds

The ship’s cat is a tortoiseshell cat. This might be a good time to introduce students to the names and vocabulary of cat breeds, some of which are:

  • Ragdoll
  • Maine or coon cat
  • Bengal
  • Siamese
  • Manx
  • Persian
  • Abyssinian
  • Angora
  • Russian blue

For 10 creative writing ideas, click Titanicat to download.


The Diary of Hansel and Gretel

Diary of Hansel and GretelThe story of Hansel and Gretel as told by Gretel, in her own voice and with her point of view. A very clever pop-up story—and a potential model for student pieces.

Kees Moerbeek, ©2002, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-689-84602-9

Write a Point of View

Any of the fairy tales, or indeed a part of any novel, or a historic event, can be rewritten into the form of a diary of one of the characters. In this way, the character can be given his or her own peculiar qualities that can come our in the telling. In this story, Gretel is just a little acerbic. She doesn’t have much confidence, deservedly, in her brother Hansel but she loves him and saves him anyways.

Students can take a fairy tale and and rewrite it from the point of view of one of the characters. Cinderella;s story could be told from the point of view of one of the stepsisters, or one of the mice, to the fairy godmother. The fairy godmother, for example, might think that Cinderella is a little bit of a whiner—always calling for help and crying instead of helping herself.


Creating a Mock Newspaper

A mock newspaper story is a great time to teach how to write a newspaper story. Elements that matter are that the paragraphs are short with only one or two sentences. The lead paragraph contains the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the story. Quotes of in the middle. It should be able to cut from the bottom to fit in the newspaper.

Working in teams of 4–5, students can choose a fairy tale then write an entire front page of newspaper stories that might emerge from the fairy tale they have chosen.

For 5 writing ideas, click Diary of Hansel and Gretel to download.

Dear Mrs. LaRue

Dear_Mrs._LaRueIke is sent to Obedience School because he misbehaves. Read his heartrending letters to his master in this witty story. With each letter, see the luxury in which he is really living, with the black and white picture of what he is writing about. Ike eventually escapes, returns home, and rescues his owner.

Mark Teague, Scholastic, ©2002, ISBN 0-439-20663-4

Double Takes

In this story, Ike tells the heartrending stories (in black and white) of his sufferings, while the other side of the page (in full colour) shows the true luxury he is living in. Instead of using illustrations as is done in this picture book students could write a research paper in which on the left side of the page they report their research, and on the right side a narrator describes the “true” story of the endeavor.

For example, the research could be on a specific explorer, while the facing page describes the “truth” from the point of view of a sailor…scurvy, dysentery, weevils in the flour, salt herring, storms at sea, etc.

Envelope Books

The Jolly Postman and several other clever books in the same vein, advance the story through a series of letters. Students could do the same, and enjoy binding envelopes into a hand-made book, including a letter in each envelope.

For 6 writing ideas, click Dear Mrs. LaRue to download.