As Olivia and her younger brother Oscar are walking to school, Oscar trips but is saved from falling by the crossing guard. Days later they discover that the school board is making budget cuts and crossing guards will lose their jobs. When the siblings express their outrage, their father suggests they write a letter voicing their concerns to the school board. This short volume from the “Writing Builders” series presents a step-by-step guide to that writing process and includes a facsimile of their printed words on notebook paper. Their father guides them through writing an introduction to grab the reader and to present their opinion. Then they include reasons to support their ideas, as well as respond to likely opposing views. The conclusion restates their opinion. The complete letter is then illustrated. The children send their letter to the school board and receive a positive response. However, the real value of this short book lies in its approach to teaching the writing process. Words such as hook and transition appear in bold print and are defined in the glossary. The book ends with a list of ten clear steps to good writing and related source materials. Young readers will not only improve their writing skills from reading this colorful book, but they will also learn the importance of sharing their views. Like Olivia and Oscar, they may change their world for the better. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson; Ages 7 to 10.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In these titles, relatable fictional characters learn about writing through everyday experiences. For example, Olivia and Oscar pen an opinion piece to try to save the job of a crossing guard who is going to be let go. This approach makes the content engaging. Steps to accomplish a writing project and/or tips are included in list form in the back of each title, which is helpful for quick reference. While the characters' stories work well, the cartoonish illustrations are lackluster and do little to complement the texts. Digital Tools includes content that is too sophisticated for the lower range of the targeted age group, as the idea of creating a website is unrealistic for a young audience.—Lauren M. Sinacore, George M. Davis Elementary School, New Rochelle , NY