Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Zinnia and Dot by Lisa Campbell Ernst


Zinnia and Dot, self-satisfied hens who bicker constantly about who lays better eggs, put aside their differences to protect a prime specimen from a marauding weasel.

The Elliott Review:

This is a simple story about enemies becoming friends through helping each other and joining together to fight a common enemy. The situational comedy is great - even middle school students get a kick out of two big, fat hens trying to sit on an egg.

This book is wonderful as a mentor text for vivid writing. Unlike many children's books, this one doesn't contain a massive number of what I call "dead" words such as "said" and "went." I could literally type the text of this book and encourage my students to imitate it. The verb choices are very interesting and make great examples. The narrative also contains examples of simile, hyperbole, and onomatopoeia. The dialogue flows brilliantly. Although there is a lot of dialogue, it is still easy (and fun) to read aloud.

In my classroom, I use this book as a springboard to a writing prompt about helping others. I can also use this as a wonderful way to explain the fact that every story has some sort of problem and some sort of solution. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the story of Zinnia and Dot.

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