Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman-monthly challenge

By Janie Reinart

I can't believe that 2016 marked the 30 year anniversary of the book, The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This darling interactive book has removable letters from different fairy tale characters in addition to the story text. My youngest daughter remembers this book fondly. Can you guess what your challenge is? Get your pen ready to write a story using the epistolary formant.

By Troy Cummings
This adoption story is told through letters by the dog, himself. Arfy is homeless and approaches everyone on Butternut Street. The surprise ending is very satisfying.

Dear People at Yellow House, 
Woof! Can I be your dog? I am potty trained and have my own squeaky bone.
Also: I love to play! I see you have a cat, but I am willing to work with you.
Whoooooos a good dog? I am !!!
P.S. I know every house on Butternut Street, but I asked you first.

By Josh Funk

George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when they finally meet?

Hello, students!
Our poetry and pen pal projects 
   this year are combined.
Upon your desks you'll see the pen pals
   that you've been assigned.
Please make sure the letters that you 
   write are all in rhyme.
Now open up your envelopes because
   it's pen pal time!

By Irene Latham

After she comes across a postcard, Agnes, a giant Pacific octopus, strikes up a correspondence with various other creatures below―and above―the waves. Readers will delight in this unlikely introduction to the octopus life cycle.

One day in the deep dark beneath the pier, an octopus found a large jar. She knew it would make the perfect home. But something was blocking her way. 

Dear Nobody,
Mom said I'm not allowed to call you a monster, even though that's what you are.So I'm writing it instead. MONSTER. Things were great until you came along.
Your nothing,

By Adam Rex

Ox is in love! A simple ox professes his love for the glamorous gazelle who thinks she doesn't like him. Or does she?

Dear Gazelle, 

For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers. 

I think that what I am trying to say is that I love you.

So no matter if you are writing to a pet or a princess--see where the story leads you. I'm sure the Jolly Postman would be happy to deliver the mail. Happy writing. Be sure to mention your favorite story told in letters in the comments.


  1. What a delightful challenge and a great way to develop voice, Janie! As a child, I treasured the notes that A.A. Milne's characters left each other in the 100 Acre Woods. During my teaching career, the Jolly Postman was always a class favorite.

    1. Carmela,
      So happy you like it. I just introduced some of my younger grandchildren to snail mail between us. They think is is "so cool'!

  2. I a m writing one of these right now, so Janie, this is a perfect post for me.

  3. I love this.Love this post. I have a WIP based on this. I can't wait to check out XO, Ox.

  4. Love CAN I BE YOUR DOG! I have two manuscripts that include letter writing! A great new one coming out in March is LOVE, SOPHIA ON THE MOON by Anica Mrose Rissi.

  5. I love these books! So clever and in perfect voice. I really want to try writing a story with letters. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Can I Be your Dog is a big favorite of me, and my four-legged kids. This challenge may be just what a current WIP needs! Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Janie,
    Just last weekend, one of my critique partners shared her PB draft that uses the epistolary format. (I forwarded your post to her.) I've not tried this format yet, but you've stirred up ideas. Since I've always been a letter-writer and promote the art of handwritten notes, this format is dear to me. So...challenge away, Janie! I'll whip on my Courage Cape and brainstorm. Sending you gratitude for your thoughts...

    1. Marsha,
      You made me giggle with "courage cape"! Can I borrow yours? I think we all need one. What color is yours?

  8. I love these books! And have been noodling around with something similar... thanks for sharing these today.

  9. I love books in this format. Dear Mrs. LaRue is another favorite.

  10. I loved the Jolly Postman! I used it for years with my 4th graders and had them do a letter writing activity when we did a unit on fairy tales. I will definitely try this genre! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Your 4th grade class sounds like a blast! You are welcome.

  11. Love the challenge, Janie. Gonna try it out :) Thank you for these fine examples!

  12. I'm partial, but I'm going to go with one that I've written myself. I had a couple letters in it, then my critique group encouraged me to add more. It's much better now! I just picked up Can I Be Your Dog? yesterday from the library.

  13. Enjoyed the post. I am working on one of these myself. Two characters, but I need to work on one character's voice to represent his personality. It needs to be quite different from the other letter writer's voice. I think kids like these kinds of books. Maybe it will spur them on to write their own letters.

    1. Sherri that would be great to have kids write letters "old-school."

  14. What an enjoyable form. Now to find the right story.

  15. What an inspiring post. I remember reading Dear Mr Henshaw when I was young.

  16. This sparked a new possibility for a story that's been stuck. Giving it a try! Thanks!