Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: Meanwhile by Jules Feiffer

Synopsis:

“Raymond, I want you!” Just when Raymond is in the middle of a comic book, his mother calls him. Not once but five times. “It's not fair!” Raymond thinks. Then he thinks: “What if I had my own MEANWHILE...?” Comic books always use MEANWHILE... to change the scene. So Raymond tries writing it on the wall behind his bed.

To his astonishment, Raymond discovers that he can MEANWHILE...from one perilous adventure to another'from pirates on the high seas, to Martians in outer space, to a posse and a mountain lion out West. Then, at the worst possible moment, Raymond's MEANWHILE... fails him, leaving him in a spot that spells certain doom! Unless . . .

The Elliott Review:

This book is the perfect mentor text for teaching students to use transitions in their writing. The continuous repetition of the word "Meanwhile..." stands as reminder of the concept of helping your story flow from one place to another - in a quite literal way.

My middle school students enjoy this story. The boys always have a lot to say about the scenes Raymond finds himself in. The pictures are humorously drawn and invite conversation.

After a while, students can predict what is going to happen next, and this predictability teaches text structure and gives way to critical thinking. As long as you have no problem with finding creative ways to repeat a phrase over and over (and over) again, this book can be a real classroom gem.

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