Ralph Tells a Story

( 3 )


Nothing ever happens to Ralph. So every day when it’s time to write stories, Ralph thinks really hard. He stares at his paper. He stares at the ceiling. But he has no stories! With the help of his classmates, Ralph realizes that a great story can be about something very little . . . and that maybe he really does have some stories to tell. Debut author/illustrator Abby Hanlon’s endearing text and charming watercolor and colored pencil illustrations prove that writing can be fun! ...
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Nothing ever happens to Ralph. So every day when it’s time to write stories, Ralph thinks really hard. He stares at his paper. He stares at the ceiling. But he has no stories! With the help of his classmates, Ralph realizes that a great story can be about something very little . . . and that maybe he really does have some stories to tell. Debut author/illustrator Abby Hanlon’s endearing text and charming watercolor and colored pencil illustrations prove that writing can be fun!
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Stories are everywhere!" exclaims Ralph's teacher, and Hanlon proves it in her debut picture book. While Ralph's classmates eagerly scribble stories, he displays his creativity by finding excuses to leave the room. When Ralph complains that he can't write a story because "NOTHING happens to me," his friend Daisy replies, "Are you kidding?... I've written a ton of stories about you!" (one describes Ralph's nail-painting adventure: "then the teechr sed oooo no its prmanent marker!"). Eventually, Ralph finds inspiration in a memory of an encounter with an inchworm, and when it comes time to share his story, Ralph's classmates' questions prompt him to wildly embellish it, emphasizing the value of oral storytelling. Hanlon's loose, rudimentary watercolor and colored pencil cartoons are as authentically childlike as Ralph's voice; literary lions like Olivia and Babar decorate the walls of Ralph's classroom, speech bubbles provide humorous asides, and Ralph's wide, craggy line of a mouth easily conveys frustration, anger, nervousness, and confidence. A closing lineup of staple-bound books, among them When Milk Came Out of My Nose and The Smelly Band-Aid, prove that Ralph has left his writer's block behind. Ages 5–9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
All the classrooms that are using Lucy Caulkins' Writers' Workshop approach are likely to see that Ralph's teacher is one of their number. They probably have several "Ralph's" in their group who find it hard to know what to write about, even though other children seem to find something interesting. In this case, after lots of looking and help-seeking, Ralph realizes that a simple statement like "I was at the park. An inchworm crawled on my knee" can raise a lot of questions that lead a great "small moment" story that includes about the earthworm ending up and then escaping a baby's diaper. The illustrations are done in the style of Diary of Wimpy Kid, that adults somehow believe look like real kids' drawings. (It doesn't really.) Nor do I think this well-meaning book is likely to truly inspire a reluctant writer on its own—the inchworm in the diaper is obviously the work of an imaginative mind, who can get by with a "potty mouth" detail about diapers. It might be interesting, however, to have an open discussion after this read-aloud that asks the children themselves about how they relate to Ralph's experience. Or maybe the thing to do is to provide a story-starter like "An inchworm crawled on my knee..." and challenge everyone to come up with their own original extension. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
Kirkus Reviews
With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer's block in this engaging debut. Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher's assertion that "Stories are everywhere!" Ralph can't get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That's all he has, though, until his classmates' questions--"Did it feel squishy?" "Did your mom let you keep it?" "Did you name it?"--open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children's dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories ("When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti," "The Scariest Hamster," "When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me," etc.) on the back endpapers. An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Ralph's teacher says that stories are everywhere. His fellow students have no trouble finding them, telling them, and writing them down. However, Ralph's paper stays blank. Great storytelling examples surround him. Enticing bits of the other children's stories appear in speech bubbles around the room, while pieces of paper display their invented spelling. These are everyday occurrences, told and received enthusiastically. "Then Grandma gave me a cup of coffee and said, 'Don't tell your mother.'" "After that, I decided to hide my Halloween candy in my bed." Ralph's struggle comes to a climax when he's asked to tell the whole class his story. He drags himself to the front of the rug. His heart thumps. What happens next restores his self-confidence and introduces him to his own abundance of adventures. The watercolor and colored-pencil pictures are engaging, varied, and beautifully suited to the text. Ralph's tips and numerous book titles, found at the end of this story, are an inspiration. Pair this book with Tad Hills's Rocket Writes a Story (Random, 2012) for an excellent introduction to writing. A splendid debut.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761461807
  • Publisher: Amazon Childrens Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Sales rank: 82,235
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Abby Hanlon has a master’s degree in early childhood education from the City College of New York and bachelor’s from Barnard College. Abby has taught creative writing and first grade in the New York City public school system. Inspired by her student’s storytelling and drawings, Abby began to write her own stories for children. Determined to illustrate her stories, Abby taught herself to draw after not having drawn since childhood. Ralph Tells A Story is her first book. Abby lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and her two children. Learn more about the author: www.abbyhanlon.com
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2015

    I discovered this book in my local library. I was looking for a

    I discovered this book in my local library. I was looking for a book to encourage my first grade writers. My students and I absolutely adore this book!

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  • Posted February 3, 2015

    This wonderful, inspirational book by debut author/ illustrator,

    This wonderful, inspirational book by debut author/ illustrator, Abby Hanlon, is a must for every primary classroom.  When Ralph's teacher tells her class that stories are everywhere just waiting to be captured, all the kids in the class get on board and start to write...all the kids....except Ralph.  He tries, he really does try, to get inspired and is quite intimidated by his friend Daisy's thirteen page book which includes a lot of stories about him.  She proudly staples her masterpiece together leaving poor Ralph feeling quite overwhelmed. He starts looking outside the classroom into the hallways, wants to visit the lunchroom ladies, checks out the aquarium and everything around him for ideas, but finds nothing to trigger his story.  Finally despondent Ralph just crawls forlornly under his desk, ready to pack it all in, and label himself....hopeless.  As he is reflecting in his little hideaway he is reminded of going to the park and finding an inchworm.  That seems like an idea he can work with but alas he cannot create farther than that thought.  

    When his overzealous teacher calls all the writers forward to share their stories Ralph sits on his paper and tries to disappear into the carpet.  You guessed it.... the teacher calls on Ralph to share first.  Ever so slowly he heads to the front, dreading to tell his story.  He begins by introducing the kids to the inchworm and then ........ nothing.  His friend Daisy perks up and starts asking him questions, "Was it squishy Ralph?", others asked, " Did your mom let you keep it?" "Did you give it a name?" and on and on and on. Ralph's imagination gets sparked by the questions and he tells a tale that impresses the whole group.  Everyone cheers him on and asks to see his picture and from that moment on Ralph morphs into a writer extraordinaire.

    He puts pencil to paper and churns out story after story feeling confident enough about his skills to even give tips to others as to how to be a competent writer. 

    The illustrations are done in watercolour and coloured pencil and are soft and friendly.  The poses and faces of the kids tell it all and work perfectly with the text to visualize the words.  The book is written for kids ages 6-8.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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