Writing in Second Person… A Mentor Text by Hopkinson

I was delighted to happen upon Deborah Hopkinson, who was signing books in the NCTE Exhibit Hall, on Saturday afternoon. I’ve used books of hers, such as Saving Strawberry Farm and Shutting Out the Sky in Interactive Read Aloud with my students. So, when I saw was signing her 2006 book, Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, I knew I had to get one. Thankfully, Ms. Hopkinson was not only gracious enough to sign the book for me, but she also posed for a quick photograph.

I just finished reading the book and was delighted by the way Hopkinson created an excellent mentor text for me to use with students whose work I want to ramp-up by having them write with a different point-of-view. The book is written in the second person, which is totally wild since it’s rare to find a children’s book that does this well. However, Hopkinson, who I consider one of the best children’s authors out there, used the word “you” expertly as she told the tale of a boy who watched the Empire State Building go from nothing to a jewel in the sky in 1931. Surely this book can be used as a mentor text if you want to teach a student or a small group how to write a narrative in the second person.

Hopkinson’s words are complemented by James E. Ransome‘s oil painted illustrations. This book is an absolute gem for the reason I listed above, as well as for its rich historical significance.