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YOU HAVE TO WRITE by Janet S. Wong


by Janet S. Wong & illustrated by Teresa Flavin

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83409-8
Publisher: McElderry

Coming up with new ideas is a common dilemma of many a writer, from budding elementary-school essayists to experienced novelists. Wong (Apple Pie, Fourth of July, p. 583, etc.) offers each young reader a personal idea portfolio of sorts in this poetic exploration of potential subjects for writing topics. Her story, written in second-person free verse, focuses on four upper-elementary students struggling with a writing assignment. The narrator’s encouraging voice urges the students to “Reach inside. Write about the dark times. . . . Write about the bright times.” Wong gracefully conveys that each writer has a unique family, childhood, and fears that are a rich source of writing subjects. She also works in a couple of ideas about revisions: using multiple drafts and moving pages of text around physically on the floor. Two separate poems written in the voices of the two boys in the class are also included. Flavin (Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman, 2001, etc.) contributes gouache paintings that complement the text well, although some of the children in her illustrations hold their pens or pencils at rather odd angles. Elementary teachers will find this unusual combination of poetry and advice a useful introduction to creative-writing assignments. (Poetry. 8-11)