Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee

The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee is a fabulous idea. It concerns a grade 8 writing class that has a famous rock star visit them (he's related to the grade 8 writing teacher). He compares writing to painting a bowl of fruit, suggesting that every artist would have a different take, use different forms, lighting, mediums, etc. To him, writing songs isn't much different than other sorts of writing. This makes writing seem relevant to the kids which is really cool. He explains what makes one story stand out over another is what the writer brings to it. Before he leaves, he gives the kids an assignment. They are to use 7 common elements to create a story. The elements are the same for every kid, but what they do with those elements is what will make their story unique.

It is such a neat concept. I started out very hopeful, but the first part of the book is a little too much of a lesson for my taste. Still, I really enjoyed, the last half of the book, which is the stories, poems, raps, screenplays, comic strips, puzzles, etc. that each of the kids in the class comes up with. They are interesting, creative, and very different from each other stylistically. Durkee also managed to create individual pieces that reflect the different abilities and personalities that you would typically find in a classroom. Considering this is Durkee's first novel, I'd say she is worth watching for. I imagine that this is one of those books that adults will like more than kids though. Good intentions but when it comes to the execution, I'd prefer a real story, and I think that most kids will too. The cover is illustrated by David Weisman, who is fabulous as usual.

Reviewed from the advance reader's copy.

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