Genre: Picture Book
Author(s): Tad Hills
Illustrator(s): Tad Hills
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Release Date: 07/24/2012
Reading Level: 4-8
Read Aloud: 4
Read Alone: 4
Other Choices: Skippyjon Jones: Class Action, The New Bear at School, How Rocket Learned to Read - by Tad Hills
Synopsis: Dog gets excellent writing lesson from wise bird teacher.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that the picture book Rocket Writes a Story is the sequel to How Rocket Learned to Read, which is available as a book and an iPad app. Like the first book, this one both tells an entertaining story with appealing characters -- the curious, earnest dog Rocket and the little yellow bird who's his teacher -- and imparts a lesson. Here, Rocket learns the fundamentals of how to write a story and makes a new friend in the process.
- Families can talk about what it's like to write a story. Is it hard or easy for you? What do you do when you get stuck? Is it more fun if you add pictures?
- If you read the previous book, How Rocket Learned to Read, how do you think this one compares?
- Do you think it would be a good idea to collect new words like Rocket does?
What's the story?
Rocket, the cute and curious dog introduced in How Rocket Learned to Read, loves words and collects them to show his teacher, the tiny little yellow bird who taught him to read. "Now what should we do with all these splendid words?" she asks one day. Rocket thinks about it and gets an idea: "I'm going to write a story!" But when he finds he doesn't know what to write, the bird explains that he needs inspiration. So Rocket takes a walk and finds the idea for his story -- it will be about an owl he noticed in a nest up a pine tree. He works on it bit by bit, revising and rewriting along the way till he gets it right, and makes friends with the owl in the process.
Is it any good?
ROCKET WRITES A STORY not only has all the charm you could ask for in a picture book -- warm, irresistible characters portrayed in wonderful, bright illustrations; a kid-friendly gentle tone perfect for read-aloud; a story in which the characters grow and change and discover things -- but it also offers an astute lesson in the art of writing. The little bird teaches Rocket that writing a story is more than just using words you know. You need to ponder, observe, and ask yourself questions, such as, "Why do you think the owl wouldn't come down? What color is her beak? What does she do every day?" She's a great model of teachers everywhere, showing how to draw a student out rather than tell him what to do.
The Good Stuff
Messages: You can write a story if you just give it a go and try. Follow your inspiration and use your imagination until you've put words and observations together to create a story you like.
Educational Value: Celebrates learning new words and lays out the basics of writing a story: You need inspiration, observation, and words you know to get your story down, and then you'll probably do a bit of rewriting till you get it right.
Role Models: Rocket is curious, imaginative, determined, thoughtful, and hardworking. He loves words and collects them, then learns how to put them together to create a story. His teacher, the little yellow bird, guides and encourages him in his process, giving him clues to firing his imagination.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue