Saturday, September 8, 2007

Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher

Marshfield Dreams:When I Was a Kid by one of my favorite writing gurus, Ralph Fletcher, is the perfect book for introducing memoir writing to my students. I read about this book earlier in the summer and I couldn't figure out how it got past me. Then I forgot about it again! Finally when I went to order Fletcher's Walking Trees I was reminded by Amazon to order Marshfield Dreams. I am so glad I did.
It is an incredibly easy read, taking me about an hour. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs of Ralph Fletcher's childhood and family. Fletcher takes us into his life as the oldest of nine children. He begins the book with a map of his neighborhood, which is a technique he teaches in A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer within You. Within the short chapters, Fletcher recounts the funny, touching, and interesting events which occurred during his childhood in Marshfield, Massachuestts.
Students will love the stories either on their own or read in total as a read aloud. You wouldn't necessarily need to read them in order or even all at once. Although I think on a whole, I would read it straight through letting students soak up Fletcher's life as it unfolds in the pages of the book.
I was going to mention one of my favorite stories in the book, but there are too many to decide which was my favorite. One problem I did have, however was Fletcher mentioned in the beginning of the book that he was one of nine, yet the book only talked about 8 kids including a picture in the chapter titled The First Team. I know the book wasn't his WHOLE life, so there must have been another child later, but that left me wanting to know more.
This will become a perfect part of my repertoire of mini lessons for Writing Workshop.

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