Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cliché… a once lovely phrase now worn out from use.

I was following #tctela on twitter this weekend. It was the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts conference. Teri Lesesne (@ProfessorNana) was presenting, and though I was 1,500 miles away, I was hoping to learn from a distance.

I was following Donalyn Miller's tweets (@donalynbooks) of professor nana's slides when she tweeted:

Excited about Once, Twice, Thrice Told Tales. Writing advice for young writers.

So, of course I had to order Once, Twice, Thrice Told Tales by Catherine Lewis.

It is not exactly a writing manual, but Lewis tells the story of the three blind mice in the most creative and educational ways. It's amazingly clever and every middle school and high school needs to own this book. 

Once, Twice, Thrice Told Tales is a crafty, artful retelling of the familiar nursery rhyme. It ingeniously teaches readers about literary terms which are then defined in a brief “snip of the tale.”

The APPENDIX alone is worth the price of the book.

Some of my favorite parts were the retelling under STYLE:
Dickens Mouse… They were the best of mice, they were the worst of mice, they lived in a cage of despair, they lived in an age of wisdom, they had everything before them in the lab, they had nothing before them in the wild, they were all going to survive, they were all not going to - in short, their lives were so far like the present period of our own.
Homer Mouse… Sing to me of the mice, Muse, the mice of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once they had torched the Love Labs of Inc.
Hemingway Mouse… Three mice. Woman with knife. No tails.
The Snip of the Tale… It's not just the idea, but the author's way of putting it. Style begins on the level of the sentence, including things like vocabulary, imagery, word order, and length.

I also loved the bit on SENTENCE DIAGRAM. The Snip of the Tale declared: 
Depending on your optic, diagramming sentences is an old form of torture or a delightful way to play with language.

I have always found diagramming sentences delightful... #nerd.

It would be a wonderful idea for every Language Arts / English teacher to use pieces and parts of this book. Not only will students be learning something – they’ll also be laughing as they enjoy learning something.

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