• From the Mixed-Up Files... > For Kids > Kids' Writing Activities > The Secret Language of Stories (SLOS) by Carolee Dean
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    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
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    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
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    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

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The Secret Language of Stories (SLOS) by Carolee Dean

Activities, Authors, For Kids, Inspiration, Kids' Writing Activities, Librarians, Parents, Teachers

Hi everybody! Your long-time MUF member, Kimberley, here with today’s fantastic post!

carolee dean pics

Author Carolee Dean

I’m thrilled to introduce you to The Secret Language of Stories, created by my good friend and writing/critique partner, Carolee Dean. As you will see below she has oodles of experience doing this in the public school system as well as in classes and workshops around the country. She’s a brilliant writer, teacher and story analyst, with a terrific plan of fun writing activities to do with your students based on the 12-step Hero’s Journey. If you’re a home-school parent, substitute teacher, or writer yourself – jump right in – and enjoy! LOTS more details at the links below. Take it away, Carolee . . .

OVERVIEW

The Secret Language of Stories (SLOS) is a twelve-step story analysis I created based upon The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell as well as The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler. Though I love both of these texts, I was looking for symbols a little more concrete for the students I work with, and terms that brought images easily to mind for them.

I use this method both to create my own novels and to teach writing to kids of all ages as well as adults. As a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, I serve students elementary through high school of all ability levels. Understanding the structure of narratives gives kids a framework not just for understanding the stories they hear and read, but also for telling the stories of their lives.

Carolee Dean pic

Carolee with one of her students

SLOS is broken down into twelve basic parts. Stories don’t necessarily contain all of the components, and they don’t always occur in the order given here. In longer stories, many of the elements are repeated. Subplots may have their own story threads and novels may include endless repetitions of the Plan, Attempt, Response sequence found in the middle section of the story. The purpose of this analysis is not to micro analyze every element of a story, but rather to help students and other writers recognize what is going on in stories and to begin to think like authors.

I like to find magazine images depicting each of these story elements and then ask student to first talk about the pictures and then write sentences or paragraphs about them. Struggling writers may also be struggling speakers and thinkers. Since written language builds upon oral language, I always try to start with a conversation.

1)      Old World – Setting and characters are introduced.

luke skywalker

Our Hero!

2)      Call and Response – This may occur during or after the inciting incident. The Hero receives a call to adventure. Sometimes he eagerly undertakes this challenge, but more often there is a period of reluctance or even refusal as the dangers of the adventure are weighed against possible benefits.

3)      Mentors, Guides, and Gifts – A mentor appears to encourage the hero to accept the challenge of the call and gifts are often given to help him on his way.

4)      Crossing – The hero decides to act and crosses over into the New World.

5)      New World – The hero faces small challenges as she learns to function in the New World.

6)      Problems, Prizes, and Plans – A clear story goal is established and the hero makes plans for how it will be attained.

7)      Midpoint Challenge: Going for the Prize – An attempt is made to attain the Prize. A shift in the story occurs.

8)      Downtime – This section shows the hero’s response to what happened during the attempt. It may be a time of celebration, recovery, healing, regrouping or sulking, depending on what happened during the attempt to attain the Prize.

(Note: In longer stories or novels, endless cycles of the plan, attempt, response sequencing continue to build momentum.)

9)      Chase – A twist sends the hero off in a new direction. Something is being pursued. The hero may be pursuing the prize or the villain, or the villain may be pursuing the hero.

10)   Death and Transformation –

Hero's Journey and Character Arc

The Hero’s Journey PLUS Character ARC

This is the point in the story where it appears that the hero will lose whatever is of highest value. Often someone dies at this point in the narrative.

11)   Showdown: The Final Test – The hero must face one final challenge to demonstrate whether the changes that have occurred are lasting or only temporary; internal or merely external.

12)   Reward -  The hero gets what she has earned. If she has passed the final test, it may be a reward. If not, there may be other consequences. Often there is a celebration and the return of the hero to the group.

This is a very brief overview of the twelve steps. For more information visit my blog at http://caroleedeanbooks.blogspot.com/ and check out the tab entitled The Secret Language of Stories. If you have questions or if you are interested in writing workshops for your staff or students, please feel free to contact me at my email (caroleedean@yahoo.com)

I also have a monthly column called The Secret Language of Stories focusing specifically on story analysis at SPELLBINDERS BOOK NEWS. To read my analysis of Cassandra Clare’s City of  Bones go to my April post at http://spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com/2013/04/city-of-bones-story-analysis-by-carolee.html.

CAROLEE DEAN BIO: Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/librarian conferences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, a master’s degree in communicative disorder and has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist.

Her first novel, Comfort (Houghton Mifflin), received an IRA notable citation. Take Me There (Simon Pulse) is a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. It follows the journey of a budding young poet who cannot read or write, but dreams of using words to escape a life of crime and deprivation. Forget Me Not (Simon Pulse) is a verse novel exploring suicide and the effects of cyber-bullying.

Follow her on Facebook at Carolee DeanM, Twitter @CaroleeJDean, www.caroleedean.com

Kimberley Griffiths Little is the author of three magical realism novels with Scholastic, THE HEALING SPELL, CIRCLE OF SECRETS, and WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME (2013). Forthcoming: THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES (Scholastic, 2014) and her Young Adult debut of FORBIDDEN with Harpercollins (Fall 2014). When she’s not writing you can find her reading/daydreaming in her Victorian cottage and eating chocolate chip cookies with a hit of Dr. Pepper.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jill  •  Sep 4, 2013 @7:02 pm

    From the Mixed Up Files have really been giving great, fun, and informative posts lately (thanks). This interview is great – admittedly a bit over my head :) Must visit the author’s site….oh, so many things to learn!