The Sloppy Copy Slipup
written and illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo
Chapter book, grades 2-5, Holiday House, 2006
- Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Nominee 2010-2011
- A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
- Garden State Children’s Book Award Master List 2008-09
- Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List 2008-09
- Young Hoosier Book Award Master List 2008-09
- Rhode Island State Book Award Master List 2008-09
- Great Stone Face Book Award Master List 2006-07
DiSalvo, best known for her picture books, offers a humorous chapter book about conquering writer’s block and finding stories in the everyday. Brian Higman (“Big Hig”) has once again arrived at school without his writing assignment: “The problem is that I never have anything exciting to write about.” He launches into a lengthy excuse to Miss Fromme and his class, describing why he couldn’t complete his work: his younger brother’s shenanigans; his older brother’s noisy band; the nail-biting disappearance of his life savings, preventing his long-awaited purchase of a guitar. His story is so compelling that the class begs to hear installments throughout the day, and after school, Miss Fromme helps Brian see that his ordinary life is the stuff of great stories. DiSalvo combines spot-on humor, vivid classroom scenes, and tension that builds from the first page, and Brian’s story, though not always seamlessly integrated, will keep children eagerly engaged. A list of writing tips and DiSalvo’s winning pencil drawings round out this appealing title for young readers and writers.
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Brian Higman, aka Big Hig, has a big problem. He doesn’t have the rough draft (sloppy copy) of his writing assignment ready to turn in. He has a reason, but his teacher brooks no excuses. What’s he going to do? In a straightforward narrative, Brian tells Miss Fromme and his classmates the story of his frenetic weekend, which involved one emergency after another, essentially creating a verbal sloppy copy. Sprinkled throughout the text are headlines and articles that Brian imagines he would use if he were writing for a newspaper. The tale is peppered with the funny antics of Brian’s pesky little brother and his dog, Patches. The plot is clever and original, though the narrator’s storytelling skills seem well above elementary level. The last chapter presents Big Hig’s ‘Facts’ for Writing, tips that could help any student with an assignment. Humorous black-and-white drawings appear throughout. The book’s storytelling aspects are reminiscent of those in Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Green (Houghton, 2002).
School Library Journal
Elaine Lesh Morgan, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
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