Friday, March 22, 2013

The Fourth Stall Part III by Chris Rylander

This sample journal entry is actually three entries in one. After the introduction paragraph, the following paragraphs were written to meet different expectations. Sixth grade is to explain how the author shows a character's perspective. Fifth grade explains how a character's perspective affects how story events are told. Finally, fourth grade is to tell how a story would change if it is told from a different character's perspective. Rather than post three sample journal entries on the library wall, which is getting quite full, this one entry includes all three, and each seems to naturally lead into the next.

Dear Mr. W,

I just finished The Fourth Stall Part III by Chris Rylander. It is the final book in the series. The main character is Mac. He and his partner Vince are now seventh graders. The problem-solving business they started in kindergarten is now closed, and life is simple. Mac talks about how awesome the word simple is. He loves it.

6th - The author helps readers understand a character’s perspective by showing the character’s words and actions. The Fourth Stall Part I is all about Mac trying to shut down a business like his own, run by an older kid named Staples. Mac and Staples have disagreements and arguments, threats are made, and some violence even occurs. In the end Mac thinks he won’t have to deal with Staples again. In the prologue of Part III, Mac explains how happy he is to not be running his business. He says, “School was a piece of cake when that was all that was on your plate and you didn't also run a huge business operation with multiple employees and a healthy cash flow.” But then Staples returns and wants to hire Mac, and Mac is not happy. First, he doesn't ever want to get involved with Staples again for any reason. Second, if Staples hires him, that means he’s back in the business. Staples wanting to hire Mac makes the two things he doesn't want - dealing with Staples and the business - to come back.

5th - Since we know how Mac feels, it’s easy to see how it influences how events are told. He is and always has been scared of Staples, and he describes Staples’ shadow as cold and enormous and says it engulfs him. He says that Staples “was so legendary that someone would have seen him lurking about and said something. Right? Right?!” That shows Mac’s panic at seeing Staples again. When Staples smiles, it’s a “smirk” and it’s “evil.” Staples’ eyes are dark, but Mac says they are “so black that even nighttime was afraid of them.” Mac even says that Staples eyebrows are mean. Finally, Mac gives a hint of what is to come. He says, “If I’d seen the warning lights right then, maybe I could have avoided some of the insanity that followed. Stuff like swimming pools full of blood, guts, and body parts, crazy third-grade Japanese assassins with precise, near-deadly hit man skills. . . Maybe I would have stolen a car, swung by Vince’s place, and gotten us both the heck out of town.” It’s easy to see that Mac is freaked out by the visit from Staples, and his feelings for Staples show up in Mac’s telling of the story.

4th - If Staples was telling this story, he would probably mention how he doesn’t want Mac to be scared of him. If Mac is scared of him, then Mac probably won’t help him. Staples thinks he needs to be nice and get on Mac’s good side so he’ll help him. In the scene where Staples puts his hand on his forehead, Mac thinks how scared he is of getting punched. Staples, on the other hand, is likely thinking, “Must stay under control! Don’t punch this punk! If I hurt him he won’t help me! I need Mac to see that I have changed.” If Staples narrated this scene, readers would see how much he cares for his sister and wants to help her, even though his past actions might not look like a helpful person. Staples said that he learned his lesson about behavior. He knows that punching Mac will land him in jail where he can’t do anything for his sister.

Sincerely,
Brian 4/5/6 Grader

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