Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #31

Too much fun - that's what this next exercise is.  Grab a fairy tale or nursery rhyme and turn it on its ear.  Or head.  Or bum.  And just have fun.  Almost rhymes. :-)

Prompt: equitable, homely, canvas, chutzpah, unfair


Mary and her little lamb were given a raw deal.  She couldn't take the lamb to school and the lamb wouldn't go to pasture without her.  The establishment wouldn't allow them to do both - which would make Mary and her lamb extremely happy.  This was unjust, unfair and just plain mean.

Holly, Mary's homely friend, had chutzpah and brainstormed on Mary's behalf.  Holly was ahead of her time, wearing colorful shirts and beads.  Once, she even staged a sit in for Jack to be enrolled at the school even though he lived out of their district in the sky.

Mary was so thankful to have Holly on her side.  Mary gathered the two canvases Holly had asked for.  Provided with dyes and brushes, Holly got to work.

By the next day, Holly presented Mary with a painting of her lamb and gave the lamb a portrait of Mary.  Mary and her lamb were besides themselves.

Mary and Holly skipped to school and set up the lamb painting beside Mary's desk.  The lamb was contentedly grazing in the meadow with Mary's likeness watching over her.

And there wasn't a darn thing the establishment could complain about.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman (Schooled) offers another winner, starring surprisingly appealing antihero Donovan Curtis, a reckless eighth-grader with extremely poor impulse control.

Donovan can't resist "throwing darts at a pool float to test my sister's swimming skills, or spitting back at the llamas at the zoo." It gets worse. One day, Donovan uses a baseball bat to break the statue of Atlas on his middle school campus. He sends the globe flying into the gym doors, shattering them completely. But instead of Donovan getting expelled or arrested, a paperwork glitch sends him to the district's school for the gifted. There, hiding out from the superintendent, Donovan finds a way to fit in. He may not be gifted like the other students, but he brings them social skills and a sense of normalcy. He unites the robotics group, for instance, and gives their prized robot a name (Tin Man), then uses his video game experience to win the job of driving it. And he convinces his very pregnant sister to fill in for the Human Growth and Development class that the group missed, allowing them to graduate without summer school. But since the gym at his old school is still out of commission, the superintendent decides to move the spring dance to the gifted academy--and Donovan's worlds collide.

Korman demonstrates how many gifts one "ungifted" kid can bring to a classroom full of geniuses. This wacky yet well-crafted novel explores the fish-out-of-water theme with freshness and pizzazz. -- Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.  Review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.

Discover: A spot-on comedy about a middle school troublemaker who transforms, and is transformed by, a school for the gifted.