A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Your kids will enjoy the 12 books I have recommended for learning about story plot.
The Plot Chickens. Mary Jane and Herm Auch. Holiday House, 2009.
Henrietta the chicken loves to read and decides to write a book. When she finally gets it published, she is devastated by the bad reviews. Loaded with insights into the writing process. Picture Book.
Billy and Milly, Short and Silly. Eve B. Feldman. Putnam, 2009.
Thirteen short rhyming stories, consisting of four words each. Illustrations enhance the humor. Picture Book.
A Book. Mordicai Gerstein. Roaring Brook Press, 2009.
Imagine being the only member of a family that lives inside a book who doesn’t have a story. She never finds her place in the story, but she does discover what a “reader” is.
Chester’s Masterpiece. Melanie Watt. Kids Can Press, 2010.
Chester the cat hijacks the author’s red felt pen and attempts to create his own story. The author keeps interrupting with yellow sticky notes to explain what Chester is overlooking. When the pen runs out of ink, the author finally regains control. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humor. Useful for seeing how genre, setting, plot, heroes and endings must work together. Picture Book.
Epossumondas Saves the Day. Coleen Salley. Harcourt, 2006.
In this version of the Southern folktale, Sody Sallyraytus, Epoossumondas has to rescue all of his birthday guests who have been swallowed by the huge, ugly snapping turtle. Rollicking fun, rich with language and priceless illustrations. Picture Book.
Jack and the Beanstalk. E. Nesbit. Candlewick, 2006.
This traditional telling of the tale is rich with detail and character development as well as the stunning pencil and watercolor illustrations. There is no “fe-fi- fo- fum” in this version, but there is a fairy who tells Jack the story of what happened to his father.
Long picture book.
The Little Red Hen. Jerry Pinkney. Dial, 2006.
This is the classic version of the fable with Pinkney’s incredibly expressive watercolors.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Chris van Allsburg. Houghton Mifflin, 1984.
A series of loosely related drawings, each with a title and caption, leaving the reader to make up their own story. Picture Book.
Pancakes for Supper. Anne Isaacs. Scholastic, 2006.
This very amusing American tall tale takes place in the backwoods of New England, in which Toby falls off the back of her parents’ wagon and meets up with a series of wild animals. She trades items of clothing for her safety. The illustrations enhance and capture the spirit of this irresistible picture book.
Peggony-Po : A Whale of a Tale. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Hyperion, 2006.
Peggony-Po is a wooden boy who comes to life as his father, Galleon, carves him from driftwood. He promises to catch Cetus, the whale who bit off his daddy’s leg. This is a rollicking whale of a tale–think Moby Dick and Pinocchio. Picture Book.
The Six Fools. Zora Neale Hurston. Adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas. HarperCollins, 2006.
A Young man will not marry unless he finds three people more foolish than his fiance and her parents. Vibrant retro oil illustrations. Picture Book.
Teeny Weeny Bop. Margaret Read MacDonald. Whitman, 2006.
An old woman finds a gold coin and trades it for a series of unsatisfactory pets, starting with a pig and ending with a slug. Then she finds a silver coin…. Picture Book.