It’s Monday! What are you reading? Deborah Wiles once more

IMWAYRReading as a writer is tricky when you are such a story nut. I love story and fall deeply in love with most stories. I get lost in the images and the lives to the people so easily. I slip into their world and ride along on their adventure. It is a wonderful thing to do on a hot summers afternoon. But –   the but is I was reading to understand the skills of writing. I was reading to learn to be a better writer and I got lost in the story once again.

I was reading The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles (2007). This is the 51+FMpXLVSL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_last of her three books in Aurora County. There is Love, Ruby Lavender and each Little Bird that Sings whose characters overlap and meet up in interesting ways in each of these books. Reading The Aurora County All-Stars was like visiting home after having lived away for awhile. All your friends and neighbors were there to share a new story with you.

This is a sweet little book about facing what you find hard to do and taking action. It is about standing up for the truth about yourself and the people you know. It is about a community coming together to learn about their history and about how important it is to work together. It includes interesting facts about baseball history and quotes from Walt Whitman. What more could you ask for? – summer, secrets, baseball, literature – oh and there is a dog! A very lovable dog named Eudora Welty. (Those names may be lost on your 3rd, 4th and 5th graders but what a wonderful way to make connections to writers they will hopefully read as they get older.)

As a teacher this would make a great read aloud at the beginning of the school year when no one is ready to let go of summer. It is a story of that one last summer baseball game with families, friends and those you don’t realize are really your friends as well.

As a writer and a teacher of writing Wiles writes in a clear easy way. You can follow her thinking and see how she builds her story. She is a master at laying in the details that give us time and place. Her characters are people you care about and are concerned for. Her first chapter is a hook to the secrets that people hold from their past and make you want to keep going – you want to know more.

This is a book I will re read since I got lost on the story and forgot I was suppose to be reading for craft. It would make a good mentor text to share with young writers or not so young writers like myself.

To be read list:

  • I plan to return to Wiles books for author craftimgres
  •  My big job is to tackle Dead Wake by Erik Larson for my adult book group

This week will be a step into narrative nonfiction and thinking about what narrative nonfiction books are available for students. The first one that pops into my head is urlChasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson.  What other nonfiction narratives can you add?  Let’s start a list!

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Book Review, Reading and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It’s Monday! What are you reading? Deborah Wiles once more

  1. cmargocs says:

    I would have a hard time being an “objective reader” with a good story, too! As for another literary nonfiction–my fifth grade boys book club read Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin. It reads more like a spy novel than a nonfiction book in some places!

  2. Linda Baie says:

    I agree with the above, Bomb, like all Sheinkin books, is wonderful. And Joanne, your review today reminds me of all of Wiles’ wonderful books. I need to go back & re-read. It’s been a a long time since I read Love, Ruby Lavender, etc. She tells a great story, as you wrote. Thanks for the reminder! Also, I put Dead Wake on my adult wish list. I know I will enjoy it, & had not heard of it, so thanks again!

  3. vgpratt says:

    I completely understand your dilemma about getting lost in a great story– even when your intent is to read for a different purpose! I have the book Each Little Bird that Sings in my classroom library, but haven’t read it– I didn’t realize it was part of a series! I guess I’d better get the first book! As to narrative nonfiction, the comments above are right on– I was going to mention Sheinkin, too. I got so wrapped up in Bomb!, that I couldn’t put it down. Though they “look” like picture books because of the way they include so many photographs, books like Because They Marched (Freedman), The Mighty Mars Rovers (Rusch), and Freedom Summer (Rubin) are other books that have a narrative feel to them. I’d love to see a list if you end up compiling one! Thanks for sharing your thinking today!

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