Mom Made Us Write This In The Summer is a unique diary style book by Ali Maier. Written as Book One in a series about 10 year old twins Max and Maggie, it is set up as a writing assignment by their mother. It opens with a letter from mom to Max and Maggie instructing them that she is giving them a journal. They must each take turns writing in it over the summer (at least 12 times) and they are to each write on every topic either of them chose. The motivation seems to be an opportunity to earn extra allowance when they use exceptional vocabulary. The text looks handwritten with notes and stick figure drawings on the pages similar to what you might find in a student’s notebook.
I know many kids love these kind of books. They have a looser style and fun drawings which is engaging particularly to those that may not enjoy normal books. Over the course of the summer, Max and Maggie choose to write about things like going to the zoo, getting in trouble, ice cream, hotels and a theme park. It sounds like things my kids would write about and that many students would relate to.
Overall, however, I found the whole book very difficult to follow. If it were shorter, that would perhaps be easier, but it is nearly 200 pages of journal-type writing, with notes written in the columns and elements scattered through out, like postcards and other mementos. It’s like reading a diary. If I had a child ages 8-12 who did not enjoy reading, I would try this book, as the mixture of character drawings and non-traditional writing is engaging. At some level, it is important to get kids to read anything if they haven’t developed a strong interest. In that sense, I find this book to fall into a semi-comic book style. However, those who appreciate a really good story or have developed interests in a particular genre may find this lacking, as it is mostly observations on single events or experiences without a central storyline.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Erie Island Media. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.