Sunday, August 9, 2015

Amazing Grace  
by Mary Hoffman
Pictures by Caroline Binch

What a great picture book to share with your students as the school year gets started to send them the message that you believe in the potential of each and every one of them!  Each and every one of them can certainly have the confidence, imagination and ‘can-do’ attitude that Grace shows throughout the story.

Grace is amazing character with an incredibly beautiful imagination and with confidence that gives her foundation for her strong determination and belief in herself.

AND what a perfect mentor text to use for a Narrative Unit of Study—which, of course, should be the first writing unit of study of the year?  Amazing Grace should be a constant mentor text throughout your narrative unit of study of writing to demonstrate and model narrative, character development, grammar (dialogue)  and elaboration.    

Book  Talk                                                                                                                       
Readers meet Grace and learn immediately that she loves to listen to stories—stories that are being read to her or stories that are told or stories that  she made up herself.  She didn’t care, she allowed her imagination to her embrace the story. She often acted out the story with her stuffed animals.  She ALWAYS gave herself the most important character role to act out and to become.  Grace thrived as all the different characters that came into her life through story.  Readers see Grace as Joan of Arc, Anasi the spider, a pirate, a Trojan soldier, Hiawatha and name a few!

Some favorite lines: “ Grace was a girl who loved stories. She didn’t mind if they were read to her or told to her or made up in the own head. She didn’t care if they were in books or movies or out of Nana’s long memory. Grace just loved stories. After she heard them and sometimes when they were going on, Grace would act them out.”

One day at school, Grace’s teacher announced that the class will perform the play, Peter Pan. The students learn that they will be able to audition for the lead roles. When the class was asked who would be interested in auditioning for the role of Peter, Grace sat tall and raised her hand with confidence.  The main, most important character: that is who Grace wanted to be!!!

However, one classmate informed her that she cannot be Peter, because she is a girl. Another classmate told her that that she cannot be Peter, because Grace is black and Peter is white.

Grace is shocked and saddened that others would apply these ‘rules’ to her, when nothing has ever held her back before: She went home and shared her thoughts with the two women in her life who encouraged her the most: Ma and Grandma. They reassure Grace that she can do anything—there are no limits at all!

She decided to ignore her classmates comments and continued to plan to practice for the audition for the role of Peter. Grandma helps out by deciding to take Grace to a ballet—a ballet that starred a beautiful, talented and yes, black, prima ballerina in the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.  Grace was greatly inspired by the ballerina. The set Grace in a whirl practiced her moves and lines for the role of Peter all weekend long.

Grace aced the audition in front of her class and the class voted overwhelming for Grace to be Peter in their class play!

And in the class performance, Grace did an outstanding job as Peter, of course!!!

Some other favorite lines:
“The play was a big success and grace was an amazing Peter Pan.  
After it was all over, she said, :I feel as if I could fly all the way home!”
“You probably could, “ said Ma.
“Yes,” said Nana. “If Grace put her mind to it, she can do anything she wants.”

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop strategies: Questioning, Connecting, Inferring, Summarizing, Analyzing
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Narrative Writing, Character Development, Elaboration, Grammar (dialogue) Strong Lead, Character Development (strong female)

Mary Hoffman’s website:
Caroline Binch’s website:

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