Today I made one of my favorite annual trips – to the teeny, tiny library in the village where I grew up. Even though my kids are accustomed to a large county library with multiple branches, they love Bell Memorial Library too. The display of books in the children's room is always inviting and up to date and we can make ourselves comfy for an hour to browse and read in a building made of old stones that cast a that special library hush. While visiting, I picked up Word After Word After Word, by Patricia McLachlan from a new book display. The story is of a group of elementary school children transformed by the power of creative writing when a famous author visits their class to conduct a writing work shop. Little by little, each child in the group of friends "hears" the words they are supposed to hear to tell their story – in the form of poetry or essay or short story.
Word After Word After Word, a fictional story, is based on McLachlan's experiences as an author (1986 Newberry winner for Sarah Plain and Tall) who discusses stories and the craft of writing with young audiences. The poems shared by the characters in the story are refreshing and add depth to the story. The ending of the story is surprising and creative, one that brings a smile and a hooray from readers that also enjoy writing! This would be a super book to share with creative writers, especially girls, in grades three through six. There are lots of good ideas about where to get writing ideas from and how writing affects the author and their audience. I'm so glad that a trip to a far away but loved library led me to this lovely, lovely story.
McLachlan, P. Word After Word After Word (2010). New York. Katherine Tegan Books.