Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Ralph Tells a Story

Hanlon, Abby (Author/Illustrator)
Amazon 2012. 36 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9780761461807 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Ralph’s teacher insists with enthusiasm that: “Stories are everywhere!” But Ralph can’t find any. In fact, he does anything to avoid writing: he goes to the toilet, he visits the lunch ladies. One day he gets so desperate he crawls under his desk. There, he daydreams and remembers an encounter with an inchworm. With encouraging questions from his classmates, Ralph tells a riveting tale that unleashes the writer within. His writer’s block disappears.

Charming watercolour and pencil illustrations in a muted pastel palette are beautifully naïve and childlike. In pitch perfect strokes they capture the frustrations and joys of wrestling with writing assignments. The squiggly smiles of the children as they triumphantly find stories to tell contrast with Ralph’s blank pages and button-eyed looks of dismay. Images are often laid out in circular frames, honing in on specific details.

The writing is energetic and honest, told in Ralph’s intimate first-person voice, allowing us inside his frustration. “‘Ralph, why don’t you go first?’ said the teacher. I pretended that I had lost my paper. That didn’t work.” Font for the children’s speech in the illustrations is in a child’s print, as are the stories they write. Ralph’s writing tips at the back are particularly hilarious. Endpapers outline all his story titles, providing inspiration and delight for even the most reluctant writer.

  •  Compare the front and back endpapers. Make predictions about the story. Reflect on and revise your predictions as you read.
  •  Make text-to-self connections as you read. Discuss and sort the connections based on those that help you understand the big ideas in the book and the ones that are less helpful.
  •  

    With a partner or in a small group, write a story based on one of Ralph’s book covers pictured on the back endpapers.

  •  

    Examine the book cover and front endpapers. Discuss and identify the feelings related to writer’s block. What do you do when you get it?

  •  

    Choose your favourites from the many ideas for writing a story. In small groups, start with one idea and have each partner add ideas to create a cumulative story.

  •  

    Start a reader-writer’s notebook. List story ideas as they come to you. Choose one idea and, with a partner’s help, come up with questions that will help you enrich your story with more and richer details.

  •  

    Discuss Ralph's writing tips. Compare and contrast them with your current classroom writing strategies.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To solve problems
  • To use information