Have you used this mentor text?

I’ve been toting around Those Shoes a lot when I’m conferring with my students lately. I’m teaching them things like how to vary sentence lengths and ways to incorporate precise language into their personal narratives by showing them multiple places in Boelts’ Text where she does these things.

However, late last week, when I was doing my minilesson on Friday, I realized that I need one more text for my kids to latch on to. Hence, I pulled out one of my favorite picture books, A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson. Here are we can teach kids to do by holding up Johnson’s Book as a mentor:

  • Ways to use points of ellipsis
  • How to write with sensory detail
  • Using symbolism throughout a text
  • The use of repetition
  • …and more.

    I’ll be working on a reading-writing connections document for A Sweet Smell of Roses, similar to the craft table I created for Those Shoes today. Here’s a peek at what I’ve done so far:

    CRAFT MOVE: Pronouns
    Why the Author Might Be Doing This… (Explaining the Craft Move): While Johnson refers to the narrator’s sister as Minnie throughout the text, she refers to Dr. King only once. Every subsequent reference to Dr. King, after he is initially introduced, Johnson refers to Dr. King as “him.” Therefore, once you clearly name a character, you can do is use a consistent pronoun to refer to that character throughout the rest of your text. This will only work if there’s just one “him” or just one “her” in your text. If you have multiple males or females, then you won’t be able to do this since your reader will get confused. However, if there’s just one man or woman, like in A Sweet Smell of Roses, and you don’t want to keep referring to him or her by name, then you can refer to that person as him or her just like Johnson did when she referred to Dr. King as “him” throughout her book.

    CRAFT MOVE: Symbolism
    Why the Author Might Be Doing This… (Explaining the Craft Move): The title of Johnson’s book is constantly repeated throughout the text. A sweet smell of roses permeates the air throughout the day that the two girls sneak out of their home to hear Dr. King march. The smell of the roses punctuates the text, coming on the first and last pages and on many pages in-between, almost as a promise of better times to come. The sweet smell of the roses follows the girls from the house and throughout the march, even when their safety is being threatened, until they come back home. You can choose to have a symbol that you repeat, in a meaningful way, throughout your story. Your symbol can be anything that you feel carries meaning or communicates a hidden message to your reader, just as scent of the roses carried a message for the hope for sweeter times ahead when marching for equal rights wouldn’t have to happen since everyone would be equal.