Mentor Text Review: How To Make A Bird

  • Author: Meg McKinlay
  • llustrator: Matt Ottley
  • Publisher: Walker Books Australia

How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinlay and Matt Ottley is an expert lesson on how to craft a stunningly beautiful, thought-provoking book. The text explores the tiny details that go in to creating your own bird, up until the last detail- its release into the world.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

This text is a perfect example of the fact that there is no ‘right and only’ way to write in a genre. Meg McKinlay’s text is part procedural writing, part explanation, part prose and part poetry. She has blurred the lines between several different genres to create a magical piece of writing. This could be a great introduction to an open writing cycle or multi genre project.

WORD CHOICE and SENTENCE FLUENCY should be highlighted when reading and rereading this text. How has the author created such rhythmic and flowing sentences? How has she ordered her words? What words have helped create the tone of this text?

Another element not to be left undiscussed: PRESENTATION. How have the sentences been broken up on the page and across pages? How does this influence the reading of this book? How do the illustrations contribute to or add to the text?

IDEAS: students could consider other items they could make and explain. What would be the important elements (beyond the obvious).

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

This book really needs to be read several times to experience the entire beauty of the text and the illustrations (it could even be used for a close reading).

INFERRING: What might this book be about? What makes you think that? Why does the author say you can’t rush the process? How does that contribute to the reader’s understanding of the bird?

MAKING CONNECTIONS- how is this similar or different to other procedural texts you have read? How is it similar or different to other poems?

QUESTIONING- Students should record their wonderings before, during and after reading. It would also be worth reading interviews with the author about the text (it took her 16 years to have this work published).

VISUALISING- there are plenty of examples of figurative language in this text.

Read my interview with author Meg McKinlay here.

The original Writing Traits Masterclass Series course opens on July 1st!

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