An earnest attempt, but readers will find both better guides to creative writing and better short stories, poems, etc.,...

THE CREATIVITY PROJECT

AN AWESOMETASTIC STORY COLLECTION

A guide that encourages young writers to experiment and create.

Well-known writers and illustrators here collaborate on a volume of writing prompts and the stories that result. Sharp invited contributors to submit creative prompts (“poems, photographs, drawings, anything”), and then each contributor used another’s prompt to create something—a story, a poem, a comic, an illustration. The experiment in “the way ideas can be story seeds that take root and blossom” must have been fun for the creators, but the fruits of their play have not yielded a collection that’s particularly useful to young writers. Many of the prompts are silly or vague, and the resulting stories, poems, and illustrations are, for the most part, lacking in substance. Kate DiCamillo leads off with a solid idea—using overheard dialogue for a short story told in dialogue. But Lemony Snicket’s response feels dashed off, a flip story likely to fall flat with readers. John Schu’s prompt, “My school librarian turned into a fly on the fifth day of fourth grade,” might sound Kafka-esque, but Sherman Alexie’s resultant poem feels like so much free association rather than a constructed work. A proliferation of exclamation points seemingly intended to boost enthusiasm may further act as a turnoff.

An earnest attempt, but readers will find both better guides to creative writing and better short stories, poems, etc., elsewhere. (contributor biographies, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-50781-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud.

THE NEWSPAPER CLUB

From the Newspaper Club series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Nellie’s investigative reporting leads her to solve a mystery, start a newspaper, and learn key lessons about growing up.

Nellie’s voice is frank and often funny—and always full of information about newspapers. She tells readers of the first meeting of her newspaper club and then says, “But maybe I’m burying the lede…what Dad calls it when a reporter puts the most interesting part…in the middle or toward the end.” (This and other journalism vocabulary is formally defined in a closing glossary.) She backtracks to earlier that summer, when she and her mother were newly moved into a house next to her mother’s best friend in rural Bear Creek, Maine. Nellie explains that the newspaper that employed both of her parents in “the city” had folded soon after her father left for business in Asia. When Bear Creek Park gets closed due to mysterious, petty crimes, Nellie feels compelled to investigate. She feels closest to her dad when on the park’s swings, and she is more comfortable interviewing adults than befriending peers. Getting to know a plethora of characters through Nellie’s eyes is as much fun as watching Nellie blossom. Although astute readers will have guessed the park’s vandalizers, they are rewarded by observing Nellie’s fact-checking process. A late revelation about Nellie’s father does not significantly detract from this fully realized story of a young girl adjusting admirably to new circumstances. Nellie and her mother present white; secondary characters are diverse.

Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9685-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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