Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook

Spilling Ink:  A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter is yet another wonderful book on the MG/YA Nonfiction shortlist for Cybils. Many adults are going to say they wish they had a copy of when they were young. It is fun, insightful and full of creative tips to get words on a page and then transform them into something special. The best part is that it is filled with laugh-out-loud humor and touching personal anecdotes. Who won’t respond to an author who thanks her son for diapering the dog?

Ironically, although this is a nonfiction book, it covers how to write fiction. The authors do a fabulous job of explaining the ins and outs of creating characters, plots, settings, and the process of writing. Anne writes that there are many ways to start writing a story. You can even make model out of jello, if that works for you. Wouldn’t it be great if every English/Language Arts teacher in the country picked up a copy of this book, backed off from the emphasis on plotting stories using graphic organizers and gave children big blobs of jello to work with instead?

With a young woman on the cover, and two women authors, is this a book for boys who want to write, too? The authors state right up front that it was their goal to appeal to boys as well as girls, and to their credit they’ve succeeded pretty well.  Most people who want to become a serious writer, or even simply a better writer, will find some useful messages in Spilling Ink.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Flash Point (March 30, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1596435143
ISBN-13: 978-1596435148

Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter have written some fantastic books. A personal family favorite is The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. Check Anne’s website and Ellen’s website for more information about the authors and their books, or see the lists below.


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