Recently I picked up the book Strider by Beverly Cleary. This book follows Leigh Botts, of Dear Mr. Henshaw, through another big change in his life. The Mr. Henshaw in the letters is an author who encourages Leigh. In Strider, Leigh ends up with some writing advice, too.
Leigh’s English teacher announces to the class that there is “too much fat in their prose” so he is assigning the class a composition, and they must use ONLY nouns (pronouns allowed, too) and verbs. Leigh’s composition about running is a great mentor text.
I tried it for this post, and it’s not easy. You should definietely look for Strider– Beverly Cleary (as Leigh, near the end of the book) did a much better job! After you read Leigh’s composition, scan a little further to read his teacher’s reaction and Leigh’s conclusion about “nouns and verbs only.”
Sun shines. I teach. We read. We discuss. I assign. Students study, sigh, daydream. Playground beckons. Bell rings. Children hurry. “Walk!” I command.
We walk. Doors open. Children sprint. They grab balls, jumpropes. Thump! Thump! Basketballs bounce. Voices shout. Slap! Slap! Jumpropes hit blacktop. Voices sing. Swings fly. Laughter rings. Kids run, chase. Smiles spread. Joy reigns.
Tweet! Whistle blows. Bodies halt. Heads turn. Eyes plead. I shake head, gesture, “Come.” They come. Feet drag. Shoulders droop. Sweat drips. We walk. Doors open. Kids rush, gulp water. Students re-enter classroom, sit.
Read-aloud commences. Attention captured. Smiles reappear. Joy returns.