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Mentor Text Magic- Pookie Aleera, A Verse Novel

The effective use of mentor texts is something worth sharing. Exposing impressionable young writers to exemplars and allowing the words of a trusted author to influence the writing student writers produce, is important in our work as teachers of writing, and teachers of writers.

Image result for pookie aleera is not my boyfriend

My friend and colleague, Leanne Hunter currently teaches Grade 3 at Toorak College, Mount Eliza in my home state of Victoria. Leanne choose to read a personal favourite of mine, 'Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend,' by Steven Herrick to her eager young learners. In this verse novel, award-winning author Steven Herrick presents a heart-warming tale about friendship, grief and the importance of baked goods. In a country town, in a school just like the schools you know, the kids in Class 6A tell their stories.  – it's honest, quirky, funny and frequently heartfelt. It is written from many characters' points of view - the cool kid, the funny kid, the bullied kid, the teacher, the school cleaner and even the police officer who visits the class to give a few speeches about safety. The characters are both relatable and endearing. The book was shortlisted in 2013 for the Australian Children's Book Awards.

Image result for pookie aleera is not my boyfriend

Leanne shared the text with her students before inviting them to write in the style of Steven Herrick. 'What can we do in our writing that is like Steven Herrick's writing?'

 The text was closely read and observations were recorded. The pieces these young writers have produced provide ample proof of the influence proficient authors can exert upon young writers. They are rich and varied in their focus.

In her writing workshops Leanne afforded much attention to ensuring writing voice came to the fore. Time and energy was given to revision, rereading and editing in order to take the writing from good to great. Consideration was given to specific detail, line breaks, whitespace and literary elements such as alliteration, simile. These Grade 3 writers were challenged apply their newly acquired knowledge and write in the style of Steven Herrick. 

The craft of writing is very much at the centre of this writing project. Leanne also encouraged every writer to draw on their own lives, their own worlds as a rich source for writing inspiration. The writing pieces produced by these Grade 3 authors has been published as an anthology.

Here are some extracts:

On the first day

of the new school year
I walk into my normal class
There was another girl there.
Not just any girl
-a girl with the exact same name!
And if that is not enough
we had the same initials
A.D and A.D!
Not to mention
-our Mums have the same name
-and our Mum's Dads as well!
I can tell this is going to be a
CRAZY year ahead!


3-2-1 let it rip
As  L-Drago
flew into the 

Go L-Drago!
Go Pegasus!
Go Capricorn!

Oscar Eddy and I
all cheer for our 
Beyblades as
they smash against
each other

It was like we
were controlling
our Beyblades as
they were flying
across the 

Ring, ring, ring
we all grumble 
that we can't 
have our 
ultimate champion

Lunch goes like
the blink of an
Lunch goes
so fast when we
play Beyblades
Beyblades are
so fun!
3-2-1 let it rip!


I think dance
is my miracle
Whenever I'm sad
it cheers me up
When the
comes out of the 
boring old 
it makes me feel 
But when it's
raining everyone
seems grumpy
So I 
try my hardest
to cheer them 

On Wednesday 
Mrs Hunter said
that we could write
our own 
whole stories.
Writing stories
is my 
While I was
powering through
my story
I came 
to a 


A thousand eyes staring
World War 1 was in my stomach
negative thoughts flowed through my head
I can't do this!
Five FULL minutes of speaking
But I can't stand there
I took a breath,
looked at my cue cards
and spoke.
Surprisingly I spoke quite fluently
Then, clapping began
- an indescribable feeling hit me.
As I floated on air back to my seat
the nerves slowly went away
I felt such relief
I couldn't believe it
I had done it
That speech is finally
-finally over.


The pouring rain
dripping down my sweating face
Muddy grass as brown and slick as chocolate icing
The opposition
in their red, blue and gold,
huddle down down for a pregame power up
The icy cold morning
has kept many would be supporters
in their cars
Chowing down
on hotdogs and cups of steaming coffee.

As soon as the siren goes
I come running onto the oval
practicing my handball and kicking
-not so much tackling
We are not allowed to tackle to the ground
if we practice it
we might hurt someone even before the game starts!



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