The Fruit Bowl Project
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
eacher Ms. Vallis is a self-admitted
at West Side Middle School. She has loads of enthusiasm, a stick-up-for-the-student attitude, and a consistent '
Good morning, happy young people!
' start-of-the-day greeting (students are known to groan from the back of the room). Ms. Vallis is not seen as
, so when she announces that she has invited her husband's cousin to come to her 8th Grade Writers' Workshop, there are mixed emotions and questions - some students are excited, while others haven't a clue as to the identity of musical icon Nick Thompson.
he star arrives with an '
exuberant greeting of, "G'morning, tortured pawns of the New York City school system!"
' Nick catches students' attention when he speaks of his own writing as '
' and '
'. Ms. Vallis asks him the question, '
When you sit down to write, just as everyone in this class sits down to write ... what is it that makes a Nick Thompson song a Nick Thompson song?
' Nick's answer - '
A song's just a bowl of fruit, and I've just gotta figure out how to paint it ... words are to a writer what paint is to a painter.
' He gives them a writing assignment relating to a formula '
Bowl of Fruit - The Immutable Truth
', which he chalks on the board. Story contents are formed by an outline of words Nick is given by the eighth-graders, including '
School, 6th Grade, Reading Test, Pencil, Lunch, and Nose Milk.
' Students are given a two-week deadline to develop their own versions of '
The Fruit Bowl Project
he writing assignment gains momentum and passion. The project develops through stories in rap, screenplay, fairytale, comic strip, sonnet, puzzle-form, and more, each blossoming into a unique
. Some are long in prose, e.g. Cassie DiGiovanni's three-and-a-half pages of '
' - '
The funniest thing happened this morning at school! There were a lot of people - well, not really people, I mean kids, not that kids aren't people, but you know, younger ... I'm sorry, this is taking a really long time to tell ... wait! I'm almost done! Wait! ...
' Others are short as in '
Limerick by Corey Lewis / With thumbs that were barely Prehensile / An oafish young lad flipped a Pencil / When his nuggets got shot / With some chocolate milk snot / He cracked up like all sixth-grade gents'll.
' Even shorter is '
Haiku by Maeve Gillis / A pencil is dropped / Small sword in a small battle / Ending in nose milk
arah Durkee's first book offers a delightful, ingenious, and entertaining lesson in writing. Durkee is also an Emmy-winning children's television songwriter and scriptwriter, rock lyricist, playwright, poet, and comedy writer, all adding up to a winning combination in their own
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