There aren’t too many children’s book writers who also are full-time teachers. Kate Messner is one. Making a splash with her first book, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by winning the E. B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers and many other accolades, Kate continues to steadily write books for a variety of ages (picture books, middle grade novels, chapter books, etc), is active online, does school visits, teaches middle school English, and enjoys her family. Count me as VERY impressed.
At some point not too long ago she mentioned that she was working on a book for Stenhouse, a publisher of professional books for teachers (who happened to have also published one of my books way back when). That book, Real Revision, is now all set to publish on June 22nd and you can get a complete sense of it today by reading an online version of it here.
I’ve read that online version and it is outstanding. Kate knows the realities of teaching writing in this time of tests and standards, knows middle school kids, and knows firsthand the ups and downs of writing. She does a remarkable job connecting this all in a style that is pleasant, practical, and frank. I love the way she takes on the familiar-to-any-classroom-teacher woes of young writers and gives practical suggestions as to how to address them. Say the plan-or-not-plan conundrum, the contrary student writer, and so much more that will strike anyone who has spent substantive time in a classroom as real, real, real. Additionally, she shows just how she is able to manage this sort of real revision while also managing the realities of teaching in a time of tests and standards. While the heart and soul of the book is Kate’s practical classroom material, there are many added touches such as quotes and suggestions from a range of published writers, a comprehensive appendix, and list of resources.
Kate Messner is the real thing and so’s this book. Highly recommended.