Mentor Text Review: Blue, the Builder’s Dog

6 Traits in writing mentor text
  • Author: Jen Storer
  • llustrator: Andrew Joyner
  • Publisher: Penguin Australia

Blue, The Builder’s Dog, written by Jen Storer and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, is a humorous story about a dog who thinks he deserves more than he’s getting. He quits his job on the building site to go out on his own and soon realises he actually had it pretty good before he left.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: This story could be used to introduce persuasive writing. Students could investigate how the dog has gathered evidence to back his claim that he is a special Working Dog and his other claim that he isn’t given enough respect.

ORGANISATION: This is a classic full circle story. It contains an obvious lead, middle and conclusion. Some sequence words are used and could be a focus for study.

VOICE: The voice in this text is Blue’s. We can see the high sense of self-importance he has through the way the story is written (referring to himself as a ‘Working Dog’ with capital letters is an example of this).

The WORD CHOICE and SENTENCE FLUENCY are the standouts of this book. Highlight the powerful verbs with students (and consider using these for vocabulary instruction). Investigate all the places in the text where the author has used the ‘rule of 3’ to make the sentence and pages flow. (Where has the author repeated a sentence opening, given 3 lots of evidence, or repeated the same word three times over? What impact does this have on you as a reader?)

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

INFERRING: There are lots of opportunities to unpack the meaning of similes (‘the periscope popped like a cork’) and colloquial language (‘he cleaned up the pies and pasties’) in this text. A study of these language features, alongside a study of the powerful verbs, could help students draw inferences from the text (e.g., if he ‘curled up tight’, how might he be feeling? What makes you think this?).

Students could practise using PREDICTIONS as they read the text. They should update these predictions as they gather new information on each page.

SUMMARISING: Encourage students to summarise the text in no more than 20 words. Then challenge then to see if they can do it in 10 words. Imposing a word limit like this can help move them away from retelling every event in the book.