Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mentor Text Author Study: Doreen Cronin

by Keila V. Dawson


Doreen Cronin started writing when she was six years old. She was an extremely shy child and uncomfortable speaking so her first grade teacher encouraged her to write. Cronin's teacher told her she was a writer, and that's exactly what she thought. Cronin majored in journalism in college and after graduation, worked for an educational publisher. She wrote her first story Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type, but it didn't sell to a publisher until after she transitioned to a career in law. One day Click, Clack, Moo came to mind and she asked herself what could possibly make such a sound. A cow that types of course!

                                                              

The success of that story lead to her decision to give up practicing law and write for children full time. Although the focus of her first story was on the cows and Farmer Brown, kids wanted to know what that duck was going to do next. Duck's antics and expressions by illustrator Betsy Lewin made him an instant celebrity. A character that had a minor role in her first book became the main character in the series sequels.

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Formats:

In an interview, Cronin said she likes to write in different formats. One day she had an idea to write a book using a journal format. She decided to use an insignificant character who kept a diary. A worm turned out to be the perfect choice! With cartoonist Harry Bliss, Dairy of A Worm was created. Two books followed that featured Worm's friend Spider and Spider's friend Fly.

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Cronin started with some of the art from illustrator Scott Menchin to create their first concept book, Wiggle. Menchin wanted to create a book about wiggling using a dog character but it wasn't coming together for him. They both shared the same agent who got Cronin involved in the project. She created the rhyming text. Their collaboration continued to celebrate the joy of movement with the creation of sequels Bounce and Stretch.

           
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In Bloom, Doreen Cronin created an original fairy tale about a feisty female protagonist that includes a powerful message for girls. When their kingdom began to crumble, the king and queen sent an “ordinary” girl to convince Bloom to save it. Bloom refused. Unsure what to tell the king and queen after the girl learned how to accomplish something this extraordinary, Bloom said, “Tell them there is no such thing as an ordinary girl.” 

                                                           

Finding ideas

Authors are often asked, "Where do you find your ideas?" Cronin's idea for M.O.M (Mom Operating Manual) was inspired after reading an article on the internet. She was pregnant with her second child and had a sixteen-month-old at home. She found an article about what to do if you ever encounter a grizzly bear. For laughs, she printed the article, literally substituted the word mom for bear, and sent it to her agent who had three kids! They came up with the idea to write a manual about a ''malfunctioning mom".

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Cronin also writes chapter books, a testament to her versatility as an author. Her picture books are fun to read-aloud, score high on the re-readability scale, and are perfect mentor texts to study.

Which book is your favorite Doreen Cronin story?







21 comments:

  1. Gteat post. Thank you so.much. I liked the "Diary of the Worm." I'll need to find the other two.

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    1. So much fun learning all about Doreen Cronin. Welcome!

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  2. Great post! It's great to hear where some of her ideas came from -- her concepts are always fun and original.

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  4. Thanks Andrea. Her ideas are so clever and fun!

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  5. I think my favourite is still Click Clack Moo Cows that Type. I use this with all ages. I like the activist message in this and the power that words have.

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    1. And to think it started with sounds. 😀

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  6. I've always loved her Diary series. I used them with second graders to inspire researching and writing their own Diary of a [insert animal here]. The students came up with such clever ideas I actually considered sending them to her for inspiration on her next animal diary. I haven't seen M.O.M. yet, but it sounds wonderful!

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    1. I like how you use her Diary books with your students. M.O.M. is hilarious!

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  7. Very inspiring to read Doreen's backstory. I have read only Click Clack Moo Cows that Type and can't wait to read the other books!

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  8. Oh, how I love the statement, "Tell them there's no such thing as an ordinary girl!" Yes! Yes! Yes! I haven't seen Bloom. Am going to check it out right now!

    It's interesting to read about Cronin's personal journey. Thank you, Keila!

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    1. Welcome Jilanne. Isn't that the best line? So empowering.

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  9. I love all of her picture books. Onto the chapter books.

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  10. I love Doreen Cronin's work. Thank you so much for this informative head start, Keila! Happy research, everyone!

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  11. I am a HUGE fan of Doreen Cronin's work. My inner Doreen keeps trying to get out but, apparently, she's not quite ready. Click, Clack, Moo is a classic. Giggle, Giggle, Quack is hilarious. Ah, the power of a pencil and a quick mind. ;-) Love all of the diaries, too. Thanks for this post. (Mary McClellan)

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    1. Keep channeling Mary! You never know what day that perfect words will come, just like Click, Clack, Moo. :)

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  12. I adoreDoreen Cronin's books. Thanks for writing this incredible helpful post, Keila!

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  13. Welcome Kristi. It was fun to research her. :)

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  14. Click, Clack, Moo (and others in the series) are the first of Doreen Cronin's books that I read with my kids, and they're my favorites...but my 5-year-old has become a HUGE fan of the "Diary of a..." series. They're her favorites for sure!

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