Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Mentor Text Author Study: David Michael Slater

David Michael Slater is a word whiz. When he isn’t teaching school aged tweens and teens, he’s writing picture books, chapter books, and books for the tween, teen, and adult market. This post looks at his books written for his youngest fans.


Puns, idioms, wordplay, oh my!


On the very first page of Battle of the Books, Jeff Ebbeler (Illustrator), Slater introduces a mystery novel and Paige, a romance novel both new to the library. The mystery book approaches Paige and says, “Wait till everyone checks you out!” On the next page a book dressed with tweed hat and pipe tells the newcomers, “I’m afraid this library is all booked up” and the reader knows this book will be filled with wordplay.

When One forgets how to count past six in Seven Ate Nine,
Zachary Trover (Illustrator), Seven bullies her and Nine comes to her defense. The other numbers start to argue. “They could be very negative numbers.” One takes off to be alone and saw Seven eat Nine. “Seven ate Nine” One screamed, but the other numbers ignore her until they meet the same fate.



Besides fun wordplay, kids take away important messages from Slater’s stories filled with humor and emotion.


Cheese Louise! Steve Cowden, (Illustrator).
Everyone deals with problems because “nobody is perfect.”

Jacques & Spock, Debbie Tilley (Illustrator).
When two sock brothers who are rarely "a foot away from each other" are separated they find each other again because "together is better".


Slater writes from a child’s point of view masterfully using imagination


How would a young nonreader treat a book?  In The Boy & the Book: [a wordless story], Bob Kolar (Illustrator), Slater’s character drags, tears, and tosses his favorite book at the library like a toy. Each time the boy returns the battered book hides from him. How does the character need to change, so he interacts appropriately with the book? He must learn what books are for.

In The Ring Bear: A Rascally Wedding Adventure, S. G. Brooks, (Illustrator), a young
boy with an active imagination has a close relationship with his single parent mother. He becomes anxious after hearing the news she is engaged. When his soon to be stepdad asks him to be the ring bearer at the ceremony, he hears ring bear and decides becoming a rascally bear is exactly what could put a stop to this marriage. The bear acts out up to the wedding day until his stepdad comforts him and he changes back to a boy.

More picture books by David Michael Slater:




Slater’s books are wonderful mentor texts to study how he uses language, theme, and character arc to write books that appeal to audiences of all ages.


  1. Well, I've never read ANY of these books. How have I missed all of them? Thanks for the heads up, Keila!

  2. Thanks for the feature, Keila! Some of these books are out of print, but available in interactive form at https://www.tinytap.it/store/course/46/.
    --David Michael Slater

    1. Welcome, love them. My library has most of your books. :)

  3. I love wordplay & look forward to reading these. Thanks, Keila, for another wonderful post!

    1. You will not be disappointed. David rocks wordplay!

  4. Thank you, Keila, for sharing these terrific titles!

  5. Love wordplay and puns. Harder to do than you'd think! Thx for these titles to check out.