Prompts and resources:
Once upon a time in Albany, New York, Gregory Maguire was born. He grew up loving to read so much that he decided to not only write stories, but to study them, earning a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University. He wanted to make everyone aware of the significance of literature in the lives of children, so he founded Children's Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit educational organization and joined the board of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance (NCBLA).
Though he is best known as a fantasy writer, Mr. Maguire has also written picture books, science fiction, and realistic and historic fiction. He writes for adults as well as children, though many of his adult novels are re-imagined children's classics and fairy tales, such as Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
Gregory Maguire's success at repurposing old stories and timeless characters to tell imaginative new tales provide the inspiration for these Exquisite Prompts.
Prompt for Grades K-2 (Level I)
Have you ever lost a tooth? Not just lost it from your mouth, but really lost it and didn't have it to leave under your pillow for the tooth fairy? Imagine that you have lost your tooth, can't find it anywhere, and don't have it to put under your pillow. Write a letter to the tooth fairy explaining your situation and how your tooth got lost. See if you can persuade the tooth fairy to leave something under your pillow even though you have no tooth to place there. Include descriptive details about your tooth and where your tooth went missing — just in case the tooth fairy decides to look for it!
Prompt for Grades 3-5 (Level II)
Whether he's writing for adults or for children, a lot of Gregory Maguire's books have a fairy tale back-story. In his imaginative retellings, certain elements remain that help remind the reader of the original fairy tale. It's almost as if he has a catalog of fabulous fairy tale objects. What would you include in such a catalog? Write descriptive copy about a fairy tale object that you'd like to see in The Fairy Tale Catalog, such as glass slippers, ruby slippers, an enchanted mirror, a golden ball, magic harp, flying carpets, or seven-league boots. Describe your fairy tale object in great detail — what it is made from, its origin, how it works and what it does. You're not telling a story about your object, but you can include information about the story or stories where your object has played a role.
Prompt for Grades 6-8 (Level III)
What the Dickens? The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy actually started from a writing prompt that Gregory Maguire gave to some middle-school students. The assignment was to "write about the meeting between an impossible creature and an ordinary citizen." Maguire did the assignment, too, and came up with a tooth fairy that is mistaken for the Angel of Death by a very old lady who is confined to her bed. Eventually this sketch turned into a longer story and then finally What the Dickens? Explore for yourself what happens when an average person meets an improbable being and write a story about their encounter.
Prompt for Grades 9-12 (Level IV)
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, little information is offered about why the Wicked Witch of the West is so wicked. Gregory Maguire gives us her story in Wicked, along with a new perspective on her relationship with the Wizard and Dorothy. For this Exquisite Prompt, repurpose a well-known story to tell a new one. Take the point of view of someone who isn't in the story, but who must have been there — for example, a maid, serving boy, or footman — and share how that person's life was affected by or had an effect on the events of the original story.