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Life on the Deckle Edge

Writing with Ms. Mirabel

Recent poetic adventures with fourth graders inspired me to read Patricia MacLachlan’s Word After Word After Word (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2010), about a visiting author’s time in Miss Cash’s fourth grade classroom. The characters find their way through personal problems by writing, especially poetry.

I was hooked with this early prose depiction of the visiting author:

Ms. Mirabel had long, troubled hair and a chest that pushed out in front of her like a grocery cart.

As narrator Lucy begins to examine her feelings about her mother’s cancer, she writes,



Sadness is
Steam rising,
Tears falling.
A breath you take in
But can’t let out
As hard as you try.



You’ll have to read the book to see how Lucy’s writing develops, along with that of the other students: Henry, Evie, Russell, and May. This deceptively simple story from a Newbery medalist and beloved author would be a welcome addition to any poetry lover’s bookshelf.

I included some fourth grade haiku in last week’s Poetry Friday post but was unable to access the Roundup. Feel free to take a peek, and be sure to check out this week’s hot-to-handle Roundup at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup!
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