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Book Review Inspired Writing

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List Articles Inspired Writing Unit of Study: Memoir This page is designed to share the book review pieces we have written in class as a result of our book review unit of study.  Our course text, Units of Study is based on the underlying framework that what we write should be inspired by what we read. From immersing ourselves in a variety of well-written book review texts and spending time in close study noticing author's craft, we have each tried our hands at writing our own book reviews.  Please post yours here and specifically address "What have you read that is like what you are trying to write?"  In other words, let us know your mentor text(s) and any author's craft you were intentional about implementing.   *Please add your first and last name and the title and author of your text with your post. 


Review Inspired Writing 

Written by Cathy Rode.  I recently purchased tickets from CheapTickets.com and had to fill out an on-line survey about my flights and trip to Las Vegas.  This is something that inspired me to create a review about CheapTickets.com.  Click here to read the review.http://www.cheaptickets.com/blog/2010/03/exclusive-sale-cheap-flights-to-hawaii/comment-page-1/#comment-3180  I will share this with my class to introduce a mini-lesson on how to write a positive review to help other people make wise decisions.


Cathy Rode

Review of Sandra Cisneros' s book  Carmello   Click on link to see the discussion and review. Sandra Cisneros Book Group Discussion I love this book, the chapters are short, the writing is full of imagery, and the nicknames the characters are called; The Awful Grandmother, Uncle Fat-Face, well that just makes you want to read more!  I learned that Latina writers use a hyphen instead of the quotation marks.  This made it different to read, but I like it.  Her memoir was appealing for many reasons, she begins her book with stating–"Tell me a story, even it it's a lie.". This book includes several themes which include:  truths, lies, history, and the gift of storytelling.  Cisneros writes with a mixture of English and Spanish vocabulary-which helps the reader experience life as she had at such a young age.  I noticed that the author's use of footnotes; different voices; repetition; Spanish language, songs, and poetry; as well as other stylistic devices are some of the creative styles that helpRon Rash Book Group Discussion  enforce the many themes throughout the text. 

This would be a useful tool in my 6th grade classroom because it is also muti-cultural and would be a wonderful book to study various author's craft.  I diffenately would give it 5 stars!


Written by Dawn Mitchell.  This is a product review I wrote about the baby bedding I recently purchased for our third baby, our first boy, Eli.  You can view the review through clicking on the word, JCPenney.


Written by students in Mrs. Evatt's first grade class at Anderson Mill.  This is a book review written with students during our reviews unit of study.  We used a book the students chose from last week's Dr. Seuss celebration.  All of the students were able to participate in the creation of this reveiw and we were able to model the common characteristics of a well-written review as we shared in this collaborative writing experience.  Click on Green Eggs and Ham to view the review.


Written by students in Mrs. Lowe's first grade class at Anderson Mill.  This is a book review written with students during our reviews unit of study.  We used a book, What Was I Scared Of?,  the students chose from last week's Dr. Seuss celebration.  All of the students were able to participate in the creation of this reveiw and we were able to model the common characteristics of a well-written review as we shared in this collaborative writing experience.  Click on What Was I Scared Of? to view the review.


Written by students in Mrs. Ashley's first grade class at Anderson Mill.  This is a book review written with students during our reviews unit of study.  We used a book, Hop on Pop, the students chose from last week's Dr. Seuss celebration.  All of the students were able to participate in the creation of this reveiw and we were able to model the common characteristics of a well-written review as we shared in this collaborative writing experience.  Click on Hop on Pop to view the review.


Written by students in Mrs. McDougald's first grade class at Anderson Mill.  This is a book review written with students during our reviews unit of study.  We used a book, Cat in the Hat, the students chose from last week's Dr. Seuss celebration.  All of the students were able to participate in the creation of this reveiw and we were able to model the common characteristics of a well-written review as we shared in this collaborative writing experience.  Click on Cat in the Hat to view the review. 


Written by Heather Yordy.  This is a book review of the picture book "Pelitos - Hairs" by Sandra Cisneros.  It is one of the many books I've had the opportunity to read for the book group and I just really enjoyed it.  I plan to use it in the upcoming unit on family to further discuss the diversity within and importance of family relations in Spanish-speaking culture.  Click here to see the review.


Written by Crystal Weathers. This is a book review of the picture book "My Mama Had a Dancing Heart". It was one of the mentor texts for our memoirt writing. My children loved it. They loved the compound adjectives- toe-tapping, and the alliteration in the book. It was a strong book to model circular endings. Just a wonderful book with beautiful language and illustrations. I plan to use it every year. Click https://www.alibris.com/review/submit/4538338 to see the review.


Written by Sarah. Stephanoff. This is a book review of Saints at the River by Ron Rash. This is my favorite of the Ron Rash books I have read for my book group. I highly recommend Ron Rash if you are looking for a new author to read! Click Favorite Ron Rash work to see the review.


Written by Jane Yolen, Armageddon was a book I recently read for my book group.  Here is my book review.  Kimberly Trott

Click on https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews



  Dog Heaven, recommended by Bonnie Cumbo I wrote a review of Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant on the Target store website.  I gave it a five out of five star rating.  Click on the title at the beginning of this paragraph that will take you to the Target site, then click on the book and then click on read review.



 The Ticky-Tacky Doll by Cynthia Rylant

by Cammie Price



   * * * * *  I give this book 5 stars! It's an easy read and easy to identify with the relationships and feelings in the story. I would recommend this book to any primary grades teacher or parents who have a child beginning school.


Cynthia Rylant writes about a little girl going off to school and she is missing her Ticky-Tacky doll, made by scraps from her grandmother, at home. The relationship between the girl and the doll is parallel with her relationship with her grandmother. The girl becomes withdrawn at school, which young students just beginning school will be able to identify with. The end story ends with the little girl happy to be at school with her smaller version of her Ticky-Tacky doll. Beautiful illustrations help to entice this reader in this book.


Armageddon book review by Kimberly Trott 

Armageddon by Jane Yolen is a wonderful read for teens.  The book opens up by presenting the chapters in an alternating format based on the two main characters who share the events in the story from their points of view.  Obviously you will notice that one is a teenage girl and one a teen age boy.  From here you start to wonder if they will end up falling in love.  The story is a fast paced but interesting series of events that show how people become involved in "religious fanaticism." The novel takes us from the separate lives of two families into the merging of the lives of the main characters.


The story is an end of the world story.  The Armageddon event is really used to develop the moral foundations of the characters.  Armageddon offers great insights into the actions of people when they believe that the world is going to end.   


The House on Mango Street book review

By Lori Milan

The House on Mango Street is a collection of Vignettes by Sandra Cisneros. The stories all seem to be random thoughts but each of them tell one story throughout the pages. When a reader reads this collection, they learn about the life of a family who lives in a separate part of the city. As Americans, we hear about China Town in each of the major cities. In one visit to New York, a person can also visit Italy. Until reading this story, I never knew Latinos had a cultures much like those too. The family described in the selection puts a picture with those people. The stories are life lessons that could be part of anyone’s life, no matter where they are from. The House on Mango Street is a book for all ages.


This is a book review of Ron Rash's book Chemistry and Other Short Stories. It is based on reviews I found from commonsense.org. By Amber Pitts

Chemistry and Other Stories by Ron Rash Published in 2007

Is It Any Good: 5/5 Stars

Is It Age Appropriate: 17 +

The Good Stuff:

Messages: People can prevail through all types of struggles and heartaches.

Role Models: In each of these story stories there is at least one strong character that people could see as a role model.

What to Watch Out For:

Violence: 4/5: There is a lot of violence and dark tones throughout this book. There are stories about death, injuries, and a soldier’s recollections of war

Sex: 1/5: There is discussion of sex and sexual talk in two of the stories

Language: 1/5: There are some curse words

Consumerism: Not an issue

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking: 4/5: Some of these short stories talk about drinking and smoking marijuana

Is It Any Good?

  The short stories in this book are well written and Rash has created a way to connect the old South and new South within this one book. His topics very widely, yet they all have the same depth of the characters and sometimes leave you hanging. You want to know more about the characters that you have built a connection with. One of the longer short stories, Pemberton’s Bride, has been turned into the novel Serena. It is a great recommendation for Ron Rash followers!

What Parents Need to Know:

   This story is for very mature young adults. These stories are a bit on the dark and gloomy side, but most of them end with the main character persevering.

What Parents Can Talk About:

Good Writing Traits: Rash uses a lot of imagery to describe the locations of these stories. In the story Blackberries in June the character talks about the Southern summer heat after she returns home from work “On August nights when no late-afternoon thunderstorms rinsed the heat and humidity from the air, not breeze stirred the cattails and willow oak leaves…(pg 53)”. Another characteristic Rash uses when writing his development of characters. He makes you feel that personal connection with each character and it makes you want to keep reading to see what happens to them.

Personal/Family Struggles:These stories are very diverse and cover topics from a woman losing her child, a son whose father dies, a young man and his father that struggle with drugs, and a veteran that struggles with flashbacks from war.


Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher: Book Cover



BOOK REVIEW:  recommended by Kim Sutherland.  This book I have been reading aloud to my 4th grade students and they really like it.  It is about a class that the substitute teacher doesn't show up one day and the class goes through the entire day without their teacher and the principal or office doesn't know.  It is written like a diary using the various times of the day to start each chapter.  It starts off sort of slow, but the kids are enjoying the dialogue the students in the class have and are connecting with their character within the book.  The characters personality and lines are becoming predictable as the story progresses.  We are about 3/4 of the way through it so not sure the ending yet.  My kids are enjoying the books we have read by Ralph Fletcher and they are checking his books out on their own in the library now.


Product DetailsBook Review for Ralph Fletcher's A Writing Kind of Day by Lindsay Blanton

Click on the link to read this customer review on Amazon.com


A Writing Kind of Day by Ralph Fletcher is a Must-Have Kind of Book!  Teachers will love adding this poetry book to their classroom library.  It is a great resource for teaching poetry and pulling out the author's craft in each particular poem.  The poems are school-themed and will grab the attention of any young writer.  My favorite poem is "Poetry Recipe" in which each stanza describes the struggle for beginning to sit down and write a poem.  It will make you want to pick up your pencil and open up your writer's notebook because it is A Writing Kind of Day!!



 Book Review for Jane Yolen's Armageddon Summer by Kimberly Barnette 


     I give this book * * * * * 5 Stars.  It is a great book for middle to junior high students.  The book is fast pace to make it easy for reading and full of different events throughout the book that keeps you interested.


Armageddon Summer is a novel that is told from two different view points, one viewpoint is from a girl named Marina and the other from a young boy named Jed.  The chapters go back and forth from their view of what is going on with their parents making them go up to the mountain with the other "believers".  This book is based on the theory that the world is coming to an end on July 27, 2000.  Marina's mom and Jed' father have been sucked in a christian cult because of certain events that have gone on in their families.  Students would be able to relate to the Marina and Jed characters, and of course to put another twist in the book these two end up falling in love which makes it more confusing for these two teens.  I think this is a great book to do a in-class novel with.  The short fast chapters and the interesteing dialouge that goes on would keep the studnets reading for more just like it did for me.


Product DetailsBook Review for Ron Rash's Burning Bright by Joan Green



            Burning Bright is Ron Rash’s latest collection of short stories.  The book’s title is the same as his story about a woman married to a silent man that she suspects is a pyromaniac.  We don’t actually know if it’s true.  We only know the fear that is in the mind of the suspect’s wife.  And that is what is so typical about Rash’s stories.  He takes us into the fearful minds of his characters.  In “The Woman Who Believed in Jaguars,” we get the impression that the character’s mind is teetering toward madness.

            This collection of stories will not brighten your day if you are in the need for “happy ever after.”  Rash takes us into the dark lives of his characters.  From the very beginning of each story, we know where we are.  He wastes no time in putting is into the setting.  The characters come to life almost immediately. Rash’s use of conversation carries us through his stories.  His use of dialect and sense of place are effective vehicles for moving us forward.

            I found the story, “The Ascent,” to be the most disturbing personally.  It is about a fifth grade boy whose parents have been overtaken by their craving for meth.  Jared tries to escape his sad, lonely life through fantasy.  His fantasy eventually leads him to his death.  This story made me wonder how many students pass through my classroom who aren’t being cared for as they should be. 

            Rash’s stories are not easy to dismiss once they have been read.  They evoke such complex emotions that after reading them, I find myself thinking about the characters and their stories days and weeks later.  I think this ability to make his characters and their stories so real is just one of the reasons Rash is such a tremendous storyteller.  I give this book **** 4 stars!


Inspried Writng by 5th grade students added by Renee Phillips

Review writing and rubric[1].pdf  


The Blue Hill Meadows by Cynthia Rylant

Recommended by Martha Vest

I read this complilation book by Cynthia Rylant and I totally recommend it for children of all ages, and adults who are in need of some gentle, homespun humor and endearing tales.  Rylant spins the scene of Willie Meadow and his family in Blue Hill, Virginia.  Four gentle stories are crafted about family life in rural Virginia in a simpler time.  My favorite is "A Much - Loved Dog", the recounting of a stray that wandered into their lives and soon into their hearts.  Willie treats her immediately like a baby and spoils her with icecream and ham trimmings and sneaking her into his bed.  Later we are treated to the retelling of Lady's first litter and the joy and excitement for the boys.  Rylant does it again in The Blue Hill Meadows.



Product DetailsSnow by Cynthia Rylant

Recommended by Bonnie Cumbo

Cynthia Rylant writes "The snow loves them back.  It gives them angels and new friends." (snowmen)  This book is all about the magical feeling we get when we see snow falling.  Snowfall brings a feeling of excitement.  Snowfall brings memories and fun with family and friends.  In this book the snow takes on it's own personality and characteristics.  There are many opportunities for a young reader to infer, predict,  and make connections within this text. 



Dog Heaven

 Product Details                      Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant



What a precious book!  Rylant has blessed countless children with her ideas about Dog Heaven.  This darling picture book is filled with gorgeous illustrations(done originally in acrylics) with short descriptions on each page. 

Rylant assures grieving children that their deceased puppy is alive and well with the Lord. She describes their dog playing with children and eating lots and lots of doggie biscuits.


She uses short descriptive sentences and humor.


"Ther are kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits, ice-cream biscuits and ham-sandwich biscuits."




Try this yummy book by Rylant.


Martha Vest


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