Mom Made Us Write This in the Summer
Author: Ali Maier
This is a cute book. It is written in journal style by Max and Maggie, 10 year old twins. Over the summer, their mother gives them a journal with specific rules--they can write about anything, but they must write a specific number of times and follow a few other instructions. According to Max and Maggie, the worst part is not that they have writing assignments during the summer . . . the worst part is that they have to SHARE their journal! They are allowed to respond to each other's journal entries, provided they follow mom's rule of being polite.
What ensues is a comical and creative retelling of their summer together. The fonts are different for each child, so you can easily tell who is currently writing. We learn why Max doesn't usually like zoos, why Maggie is not a good babysitter, how they feel about getting in trouble, and at the end, we learn what Max and Maggie learned from their writing experience over the summer.
There are some things that might make a parent cringe, like talk of bodily functions. (Though admittedly, it is in reference to zoo animals.) I know it's typical boy funnies, but it's the type of talk I discourage in our home. It's not a book I would assign for school reading, but it could work for free-reading. It certainly has kid-appeal, and looks perfect for approximately 3rd-5th graders.
I would suggest this book for independent reading, not as a read-aloud. The reason I say this is because Max and Maggie are constantly doodling and commenting on each other's entries, and the notes in the margin make it difficult to keep the flow of the story if you're trying to read those aloud. It is much better suited for independent free-reading, because the reader can follow the notes and drawings in a way that makes sense for them. Because of this, my kids aren't quite ready for the book.
Now, as far as the concept of a shared journal--I love it! I did this in middle school with a few of my close friends. We kept a spiral notebook, and we'd pass it back and forth on the school bus or in the halls, and it was just a fun way to keep up with each other! It's definitely a great idea for helping kids rediscover the lost art of writing for personal pleasure. For siblings, I definitely think it could be used to try to work out sibling rivalry issues and promote positive sibling relationships.
For more information about the author Ali Maier, to see the new releases or to purchase the book, check out the website Mom Made Us Write This or their Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest pages!
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