Been There, Done That: Writing Stories From Real Life

, ed. 304p. Grosset & Dunlap. Nov. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780448486727.
Gr 4–7—A collection of short works from a wide variety of young adult and juvenile fiction writers. Each piece has two parts: actual events from the author's' life and the story that was inspired by that event. The book is organized into six thematic chapters such as "If Only…: Dealing with Regret, Guilt, and Sadness" and "Why or Why Not?: Asking Questions About the World Around You." Some of the works have identifiable flavors of the actual event while others merely use a kernel of truth for their story. One of the best is "Lemon Squeeze" by Caroline Starr Rose, based on stories she was told by her mother. Lemon Squeeze was a game played by her mother in the Little Nippers club, where each girl contributed an anonymous "suggestion" to another girl. Rose spins a story written in free verse poetry. Each girl has her own voice and tells her inner thoughts about the game and the hurt feelings that go along with criticism. Many of the stories feel like "works in progress" and read more like developmental practice. As a result, some of the creative stories may not stand well on their own. This collection will work best in a classroom setting, as the entries are solid mentor texts for "write what you know" exercises.
VERDICT A worthwhile purchase to fulfill a specific niche.

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