Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Little Red Writing 
by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Published: 2013

A fun,fun,fun,must-have book for your writing workshop toolkit!!!

Little Red Writing is a hilarious, fractured fairytale that will inspire writers in many grades and on many levels!

I would definitely use Little Red Writing to launch Writing Workshop at the beginning of the school year to motivate and excite writers—-BUT the book would be at my fingertips for many other mini-lessons and teaching points throughout the school year, especially when introducing grammar/parts of speech.

Little Red Writing weaves a fun grammar emphasis ( parts of speech and punctuation), amusing literacy puns about writing that the students will love and elements of the writing process together that will have your students begging for re-read after re-read.

The story is loaded with side comments, writing that travels over the page and, especially… entertaining illustrations, so use your document camera as you are reading this book so that every bit of fun will be captured and enjoyed by your students.

*** Please make a point of noting the unusual style of illustrations to help carry the story.  It will appeal to some of your writers and even motivate some reluctant just never know!!!

Book Talk
A fun spin-off of the traditional tale, Little Red Writing centers around a student named Little Red (actually a red pencil) at Pencilvania School who receives a writing assignment from her teacher (Ms. 2). 

After thinking about the ‘story path’ she would like to take, Little Red decides to write a story about bravery because ‘red is the color of courage’.  Just as she is beginning to take a journey around the school to help with story ideas, Ms. 2 gives Little Red a basket fill with fifteen nouns to help her out, if needed. 

Little Red begins her story, but decides right away that she needs some help jazzing up her word choice. In the school gym, she comes across some very exciting verbs that she decides to use. She continues her journey past the school library, where Little Red meets up with some very interesting descriptive words (adjectives, of course)  that help her add pizzazz to her story. She soon runs into “Conjunction Glue’ who playfully explains the role of conjunctions in sentences in a humorous way. Before she knows it, she meets many adverbs that also amusingly prove to her their worth in making a story interesting.  

Punctuation is not to be left out and she learns how, why and what punctuation she should use. (again, humor abounds-especially in the accompanying illustrations.)

All of a sudden, Little Red spies a long, suspicious tail and cautiously follows it—-to discover that it is a WOLF 3000 pencil sharpener—-who is pretending to take the place of the beloved school principal, Principal Granny. 

Some favorite lines:
“I’d like to report hearing a growly voice. And you know what? It sounded kind of like yours.” said Little Red.
“The betterr to be hearrd on the school intercom,” said Principal Granny.
“I’d also like to report that I saw a long tangly tail. I can’t help noticing you have a tangly tail, too,” said Little Red.
“The betterr to get charrrged up for my school duties when my batterrries are rrrunning low,”said Principal Granny. 
“I’d also like to report I have just noticed what big sharp teeth you have!” said Little Red.
“The better to CHOMP little pencils and grrrind them up!” growled Principal Granny..who in reality was the WOLF 3000!

The janitor, named Mr. Woodcutter, of course, steps in and helps to save that day and the WOLF 3000 is destroyed. Principal Granny is found (although sharpened down very small).  

Little Red finishes writing her story and returns to class to share it with her classmates.

Suggested Uses As a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Fairytale (Fractured)
Reading Workshop Strategies: Predicting, Inferring, Analyzing, Critique, Synthesizing
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies: Fairytale, Narrative Writing, Grammar-parts of speech and punctuation, Inspiring Writers

Joan Holub's website:
Melissa Sweet's website:


  1. Wow! This site is a great resource! Thanks for organizing! I will refer to it often this year.

  2. Thanks so much, @TinaCassidy, for your great feedback! I really appreciate it! Feel free to share my blog with your colleagues!
    Thanks! Patty