My summer schedule gave me a chance to visit @justonemorepage to hear Kate Messner speak about reading, writing and her newest book, Breakout.
|Messner, Kate. Breakout. New York. Bloomsbury. 2018. print.|
Breakout is a novel in documents based on a real-life prison-break at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Donnemara, New York in 2015.
What does, Breakout, have to do with poetry?
Kate described writing several versions of a Breakout manuscript. Her challenge was telling a story of the prison-break for kids from many perspectives. Poetry offers ways of doing that. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson is a perfect example of how possible poetry makes such a challenge.
At one point, Breakout was a manuscript entirely in verse. In her talk, Kate described the puzzle-solving of how to tell a story...and it had to be a different way that included lots and lots of stuff the way a kid would do. She shared pictures of massive hand-made looking spreadsheets. But, when it came down to it, the story drove the method of telling...and the published book we see today is not in verse.
Poetry remains, however. One of the main characters, Elidee, is a new kid in town. She's also a poet. She brings not only her love of reading poetry of famous poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Jaqueline Woodson to the story but also some of her writing. It's a wonderful way of allowing poetry to shine in a book for kids without the book being "a" poetry book. I love it.
Below is a page in Elidee's voice in which she uses a Nikki Giovanni poem as a mentor text. There are many of these throughout the book.
|Learning from Nikki Giovanni p. 27|
The current version of Breakout makes for a perfect genre-bending middle-grade adventure-mystery with non-fiction elements novel in documents. As a librarian for kids....I'm thrilled with the wide audience Breakout meets.
But wait....there's more for writers too!
Kate published a 23 blog post series about the writing of Breakout. The posts match 23 days all of Upstate New York was looking for the escapees and living in fear of two murderers on the lamb in the woods of the Adirondacks. One of her posts focuses on Elidee's poetry She writes lullabies for where she's from and where she's arrived.
Furthermore, each of Kate's 23 posts includes a writing assignment, an invitation to write or revise. These 23 posts are like a mini writer's course. I highly recommend reading them.
I'm now enjoying some of my summertime writing lullabies for where I am from and where I live now. Someday, I'll share.
How about you? Do you have a lullaby for a place? What would it sound like?