Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write.
With a head full of fabulous story ideas, the young hero of this story loves to write and create – but only at home. At school, his writing efforts come back covered in corrections – his teachers tell him his spelling is wrong, and they can’t understand his work. Then a new teacher arrives at school, and sees past the spelling to the creativity beneath. Mr Watson tells the boy – and the whole class – that ideas an creativity come first, and spelling can be fixed later.
My Storee is a delightful look at the importance of creativity, and the problems faced by many writers around spelling and grammar. the message is not that spelling never matters, but that creativity is needed too – and should be valued by creator and teacher alike. While being a good message for youngsters about taking risks, it is also a good reminder for teachers and parents that putting technical correctness ahead of creativity can stifle the latter and thus lead to students not writing at all.
As with the title, the text is riddled with ‘misspellings’, presented in a different font, so that readers can identify them, yet see that the meaning of the story remains clear. There are lots of learning opportunities here for students to practice editing, though it would be a shame to see the message of the story overshadowed by this. Illustrations are filled with whimsy, with words and story snippets scattered throughout.
My Storee, by Paul Russell & Aśka
EK Books, 2018
It was a quiet afternoon on the farm, when suddenly…
The animals of the farm are doing what animals do – the horse swishing his tail, the cow chewing her cud, the pig wallowing and sheep sheeping. So, when duck starts yelling ‘Duck!’ and interrupting the peace, the other animals are not impressed. They don’t understand why Duck keeps yelling her name. Rather than listening to the warning, they chastise Duck – until Duck realises, a little too late, that ‘Run!’ might have been a better warning.
Duck! is a humorous picture book story about word play and confusing messages. Young readers will love the silliness of Duck’s dilemma – and the other animals’ inability to heed the warning as a tornado bears down on them. Picture clues will let readers in on what is happening, and the digital and acrylic illustration are filled with enough humour to make the characters endearing and the situation amusing.
Lots of fun in a story that will be requested again and again.
Duck!, by Meg McKinlay & Nathaniel Eckstrom
Walker Books, 2018
A sudden gust of wind brushed the curtains aside, setting the candles on the dresses quivering, and sweeping around the feather into the centre of the star. It swirled to a halt, quill towards Emma. At the same time, the candle representing ‘Fire’ flared up, and the door rattled in its frame.
Emma is delighted when her Dad falls in love and proposes – until she realises that this means that Pip will be her stepsister. Emma and Pip do not see eye to eye about anything, and now they are going to be living together! Things don’t improve after the wedding, with Pip doing everything she can to make Emma’s life difficult. Then, when she drags Emma into her attempts to cast magic spells, something strange happens – it is Emma who can suddenly do magic. Emma has never wanted to be a witch, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to reverse the spell. In the meantime, can she use her powers to change the status quo?
Wyrd traces the challenges of blended families, friendship and bullying, in a story which uses just a touch of fantasy, with Pip’s fascination for magic seemingly unproductive until well into the story. Young readers will enjoy the challenges and moral dilemmas which Emma’s new skills create.
Suitable for middle primary aged readers.
Wyrd, by Cate Whittle
Omnibus Books, 2018