Mentor Text Thursday: Voice
My husband picked up Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (Delacorte Press, 2010, Books for Young Readers is an imprint of the Random House Children’s Books Division of Random House) and read it the same day it arrived at our house. This is unusual. He is not a fiction reader. He is really not an intermediate chapter book fiction reader. And yet . . . he read it cover to cover. A few weeks later, I found myself in a session with Rob Buyea and heard the story of how Because of Mr. Terupt came to publication. It is a story of tenacity, as most books are. Rob is a teacher and shared how he wrote Because of Mr. Terupt with his own students in mind.
The thing that really stands out about Because of Mr. Terupt is how it is told through the voices of seven different students. Because they are vivid characters, the book is fun to read (and read aloud) and offers the opportunity for students to see and understand how voice comes alive in writing. It truly is a matter of showing students this concept instead of telling.
I also picked up Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Aflred Knopf, 2010, a Division of Random House) because I noticed it was written by two authors (collaboration between authors always intrigues me) and it is written through alternating perspectives. Even more interesting, was when I learned the authors didn’t really plan out the story, instead, they sent chapters back and forth to each other through email and allowed the story to lead the way.
The story is based on a shared red moleskin notebook that Dash and Lily pass back and forth to
each other, writing their thoughts and challenging one another. It is first found in a book store and then makes its way around New York City from there. It’s a fun read, with a strong contrast between Dash and Lily, but enough of a pull between the two to make you want to know what happens next. Not only did I learn more about voice, but also the way contrast between characters makes each one stronger. For example, Dash hates Christmas, but Lily loves it. These character traits become even more distinct as each adds his/her own thoughts and commentary on the subject.
Although this isn’t a book I would read aloud, it is one I would put in the classroom library of a high school class. Teaching voice is more about showing students than telling and the voices of Lily and Dash come out loud and strong in Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.
* Review copies for Because of Mr. Terupt and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares were generously provided by Random House.