Mentor Text Review: Toy Mountain

6 Traits Writing Mentor Text Toy Mountain
  • Author: Stef Gemmill
  • llustrator: Katharine Hall
  • Publisher: EK Books

Toy Mountain by Stef Gemmill and Katharine Hall is a clever book about a boy who is tired of playing with his old toys and wants some new ones. He becomes a toy tester for the local toy factory and soon finds himself surrounded by a pile of plastic toys that don’t bring him any joy. This would be a great text for a unit of study  on sustainability, recycling and/or consumerism.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS: The idea for this story is tight and manageable- it’s about a boy who wants more toys. Students could use the ‘someone, wanted, but, so, then’ summarising framework on this story before creating their own idea using the same framework.

ORGANISATION: This text contains clear sequencing words (including ‘that night,’ and ‘all of a sudden’). It follows a circular story structure, where the main character returns to their original state after going through a trial/problem.

WORD CHOICE: Stef Gemmill’s word choice is always a standout in her books. Strong tier 2 verbs abound (towered, rumbled, grumbled, ripped, teetered, tottered), as do examples of onomatopoeia (ding-dong, Plink! Plonk! Beep).

SENTENCE FLUENCY: This book is full of beautifully rhythmic sentences. These have been created through Stef Gemmill’s use of a mixture of sentence lengths, alliteration and the rule of 3 (e.g., ‘Max pulled. Grandma pulled. Sam pulled. The toy mountain teetered and tottered…’ ).

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

INFERRING: In addition to discussing the overall themes or lessons in this book, students could look at the detail in the images and look for further information from the story. (How is Grandma feeling when Mum tells Sam about the toy testing job? What makes you think that?)

MAKING CONNECTIONS: If you use this book for a study on sustainability / consumerism it would make a great compare and contrast book with Michael Speechley’s ‘The All New Must Have Orange 430.’ How are these books similar or different (perhaps use a Venn diagram for this). How have they conveyed their message? How are the main characters similar or different?

SUMMARISING: Students can practise summarising using the ‘someone, wanted, but, so, then’ framework.