Prompts and resources:
Steven Kellogg is an author and illustrator of picture books — many, many picture books! He's published about 110 books in the 45 years he's been writing and illustrating, many of which he's written himself. He's also illustrated a great many titles by other authors.
He has always loved to draw and the way that pictures can deepen and expand the text of a story — creating what he calls a "beautiful duet." Kellogg started building this connection as a child, "telling stories on paper" to his two younger sisters, making up fanciful stories, and creating quick illustrations one after another to accompany the tales.
To bring more stories to more children, Kellogg has traveled all over the country to thousands of schools in all 50 states during the last 40 years. He also serves as the vice-president of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, a national not-for-profit organization that advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries. He says, "I want the time that the reader shares with me and my work to be an enjoyable experience — one that will encourage an enthusiastic lifetime association with pictures, words, and books."
Prompt for Grades K-2 (Level I)
In Steven Kellogg's book Best Friends, best friends Kathy and Louise share and do everything together. Fun, secrets, happiness, and sorrows are all better when shared with a buddy or pal. Think about a special friend you have. What does your friend look like? What do you like to do together? Write a descriptive paragraph about your friend that includes three facts about your friend. Be sure to include an illustration of you and your friend having fun together!
Prompt for Grades 3-5 (Level II)
Steven Kellogg retells the classic tale sometimes known as Henny Penny or Chicken Licken in his book Chicken Little. In revitalizing this often told story about a chicken that gets hit by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling, Kellogg makes some exciting and interesting word choices to build tension and drama in his retelling. In his version, Chicken Little and her fowl friends never said "the sky is falling," but shrieked, cried, and squawked about it. Kellogg replaced the often overused word "said" with more descriptive synonyms. In fact, the word "said" doesn't appear in the entire book! There are really a great many words that are so tired or overused that they should be retired or considered "dead."
Let the dead words rest in peace when you write your own retelling of "The Three Bears." Your version can be very traditional or modernized, but you may not use any of these words:
big, funny, interesting, very, said, happy, like, important, stuff, cold, hot, beautiful
Prompt for Grades 6-8 (Level III)
In this video interview, Steven Kellogg told Reading Rockets, "One of the things I love about the tall tale drama in American literature is that the tall tale heroes are our mythology; they capture the spirit of the American imagination and American creativity." In the early history of our country, the telling of exaggerated and humorous stories helped many pioneers and settlers deal with the overwhelming odds they faced as they sought to live and thrive on the frontier.
Spin us a tall tale about a conquering hero or heroine on a new frontier — the moon! Even though a tall tale isn't true, the story should be told as if your hero's adventures really happened. Your setting is important since the specific exploits of your character could only take place there, so you'll want to do some research about the moon so you'll have some interesting facts to exaggerate!
Prompt for Grades 9-12 (Level IV)
"A Second Arm," Episode 11 of the Exquisite Corpse Adventure, takes us underwater with Joe who is trying to recover a lost key. Raised in a circus, Joe has had an unusual education that included on the required reading list a book by Houdini. Joe's recollection of Houdini's underwater survival tips helps him to stay alive during his visit to the sea floor where he does find the key (and much more)! Whether or not it's true, write an anecdote that tells us about a time where something you read really came in handy later. It could be something realistic — such as passing your driver's exam or winning a game show, or something fantastical — such as surviving an encounter with fairies.
More about Steven Kellogg
- Official Steven Kellogg Website
- A Video Interview with Steven Kellogg (Reading Rockets)
- Steven Kellogg: 2009 National Book Festival (Library of Congress)
- Educator Resources for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (The NCBLA)
More about friends
- Unity in the Community: Friends
- Recommended Books for Kids: Best Friends (Reading Rockets)
- The Art of Making and Keeping Friends (PBS Parents)
More about descriptive paragraphs
More about "dead" words
More about tall tales
- Tall Tales Checklist (ArtsEdge)
- Exploring American Tall Tales (ArtsEdge)
- Tall Tales and Humor (Library of Congress)
More about the moon
- World Book at NASA: Moon (NASA)
- Exploring the Moon (NASA)
- World Tales of the Moon (Universities Space Research Association)
- If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Steven Kellogg