Tuesday, July 19, 2016

All the Places to Love   
by Patricia MacLachlan
Paintings by Mike Wimmer
Published: 1994

Awards: 1994 Booklist -- Starred Review (*) ; 1995 Book Sense Book of the Year Award -- Children's (Nominee)

Patricia Maclachlan’s style of writing is an outstanding example to share with student writers.  All the Places to Love is told in first person by Eli, the main character who is a young boy. The sentences are short, like a child would speak, but the short sentences create a calm, rhythmic cadence as one reads setting the tone of the story. Maclachlan’s use of sensory language and rich word choice definitely lights up one’s imagination.  

I would use All the Places to Love as a mentor text in writing workshop with older students to demonstrate the power of word choice as well as sentence structure that can create a rhythm in the story.  Maclachlan also does an excellent job with the craft move of 'movement of time and place'. Through Eli's descriptions , the reader is taken around the farm and learns about the Eli’s (and the family's) deep connection to each special locale. Maclachlan's word choice also gives readers a vivid description of the setting—another great example for writers.

Most importantly, her sentence length, rhythm, sensory words, movement of story as well as word choice in the setting description, all work together to create a writer’s voice that resonates with readers and is a model for writers.

Another possibility for using All the Places to Love in writing workshop would be as mentor text for personal narrative (for younger writers-Grades 2 or 3)  or even as a memoir (Grades 4 and up).

Book Talk:
Young Eli tells readers of life at the farm with his loving, devoted family by describing all the places he loves—and with whom he loves them.

Eli tells readers of the day he was born and the reaction of his grandmother and grandfather. He describes going to the meadow with his mother as a toddler, plowing the fields with grandfather when he was a little older and exploring and fishing at the river with his grandmother as a young boy.

Some Favorite lines:
“ My grandmother loved the river best of all the places to love.
'That sound, like a whisper,' she said.
Gathering in pools
Where trout flashed like jewels in the sunlight.
Grandmother sailed little bark boats downriver to me with messages.
'I Love You Eli,' one said.
We jumped from rock to rock to rock,
Across the river to where the woods began.
Under a beech tree was a soft, rounded bed where a deer had slept.
The bed was warm when I touched it.”

Near the end of the story, Eli’s little sister is born in the same farm bed that he was born in. Eli waits with Grandpa in the barn for the news of the new baby. When Grandma raises the baby to the window for them to see, they quietly celebrate by carving Sylvie’s name into the barn post with the rest of the family.

Eli tells readers that he looks forward to sharing with Sylvie all the places on the farm that he loves.

Suggested Uses As a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies: Adjust Words/Fluency, Making Connection, Inferring, Analyzing
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies:  Personal Narrative or Memoir,Word Choice, Movement of Time and Place, Rhythm/Cadence, Writer’s Voice

Mike Wimmer website: http://www.mikewimmer.com/

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