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Author Study Project

About this Daily Classroom Special:
The Author Study Project lesson plans were written  by Teachers Network web mentor, Lisa Kihn, a math and language arts teacher at Nevin Platt Middle School in Boulder, Colorado. Lisa believes in project based learning and curriculum integration to actively involve students in their learning process. If you have questions or suggestions please feel free to e-mail Lisa.

Author’s Style

Use the following passages to have students guess which author wrote them. You may want to create a list of authors on the chalkboard from which to choose. Ask them how they knew which author wrote a given passage. Content and style should give students the clue. These selections have the following examples.

Content: Some authors tend to write in a certain genre. For example, the author may write fantasy or mysteries, or include information about court cases, etc.

Style: Some authors tend to make up funny words, add a lot of technical descriptions, use rhyme to create humor, focus on character development, use a lot of black English vernacular (BEV), use a lot of realistic dialogue, etc. 

Read the following passages aloud. You may choose to read three or more different passages from the same author and ask students if they think the same author wrote all three. Style issues should emerge.

Mildred Taylor: (Use of BEV in realistic dialogue. Usually tells stories through first person narrative)

Road to Memphis
“Clarence scowled across at his friends and mumbled, “Well, maybe it ain’t you, Stacey. Maybe it ain’t even Willie here. But one of y’all ‘sides me been messin’ with Sissy, and that’s the truth of it! She already done said so!” He glowered accusingly at Moe and Oliver. “Sissy got no reason to go lying on herself.”

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
“See fellows, there’s a system to getting out of work,” T.J. was expounding as I sat down. “Jus’ don’t be ‘round when it’s got to be done. Only thing is, you can’t let your folks know that’s what you’re doin’. See, you should do like me. Like this mornin’ when Mama wanted to bring back them scissors she borrow from Miz Logan, I ups and volunteers so she don’t have to make this long trip down here, she bein’ so busy and all. And naturally when I got here y’all wanted me to stay awhile and talk to y’all so what could I do?….” 

Katherine Paterson: (Creates realistic characters. Shows emotions with actions and descriptions. Uses “kid” terminology. Frequently uses limited omniscient point of view.)

Bridge to Terabithia
“The anger which had possessed him yesterday flared up again. Leslie, I’m just a dumb dodo and you know it! What am I supposed to do? The coldness inside of him had moved upward into his throat constricting it. He swallowed several times. It occurred to him that he probably had cancer of the throat. Wasn’t that one of the seven deadly signs? Difficulty in swallowing. He began to sweat. He didn’t want to die. Lord, he was just ten years old. He had hardly begun to live.”

The Great Gilly Hopkins
“Well, she would show that lard can a thing or two. She yanked open the left top drawer, pulling out a broken comb, which she viciously jerked through the wilderness on her head, only to be defeated by a patch of bubble gum. She ran into the bathroom and rummaged through the medicine chest until she found a pair of nail scissors with which to chop out the offending hair. When despite her assault by comb and scissors a few strands refused to lie down meekly, she soaked them mercilessly into submission. She’d show the world. She’s show them who Galadriel Hopkins was – she was not to be trifled with.”

Michael Crichton: (Technical descriptions of events – focuses on plot.)

Andromeda Strain
“The arguments and counter-arguments were complex, but boiled down to a simple substrate: whenever a worker would announce that he had found a fossil, or a proteinaceous hydrocarbon, or other indication of life within a meteorite, the critics would claim sloppy lab technique and contamination with earth-origin matter and organisms.”

Roald Dahl: (Uses funny names and makes up words. Creates silly situations for characters.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“When I went out there, I found the little Oompa-Loompas living in tree-houses. They had to live in tree-houses to escape from the whangdoodles and the hornswogglers and the snozzwangers.”

“I had sent away by post, you see, for this very powerful itching powder,” Hortensia said. “It costs 5p a packet and was called The Skinscorcher. The label said it was made from the powdered teeth of deadly snakes, and it was guaranteed to raise welts the size of walnuts on your skin. So I sprinkled this stuff inside every pair of knickers in the drawer and then folded them all up again carefully.” Hortensia paused to cram more crisps into her mouth.

Doctor Seuss (Uses rhyme. Makes up words and creates silly situations to add humor to stories.)

Yertle the Turtle
“And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the king of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell plunk in the pond.”

The Butter Battle Book
“For a while that worked fine.
All the Zooks stayed away 
And our country was safe.
Then one terrible day
A very rude Zook by the name of Van Itch
Snuck up and sling-shotted my Snick – Berry Snitch”

Natalie Babbitt: (Uses personification, similes and metaphors to create visual imagery.)

Tuck Everlasting
“The table with the drawer that housed the mouse was pushed off, also alone, into a far corner, and three arm chairs, and an elderly rocker stood about aimlessly, like strangers at a party, ignoring each other.”


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