Lemony Snicket’s 13 Words Writing Activity

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You know Lemony Snicket (aka. Daniel Handler) from his Series of Unfortunate Events. And, if you’ve read that series, you’ll be amply prepared for his new, zany picture book, 13 Words, with painted illustrations from the fabulous, Maira Kalman.

Imagine for a minute that you come upon thirteen words – any old thirteen. And then you make up a story using all thirteen words. That’s about the gist of Snicket’s 13 Words picture book. It’s  13 words woven into a loosely-sensible plot. And, I happen to think it’s fantastic.

The paintings illustrating each page pop out with bold colors. Visually, you’ll stop to absorb the images, details, and point of view.

I think 13 Words a GREAT book to use as to teach writing to young writers. Think of the possibilities — kids find their own 13 words and create a story. Kids use Snicket’s 13 words, reorder them, and make-up a new story. Or, you could notice word choice in a story . . . this book would be the perfect picture book to use. What other writing could be inspired from this book? Teachers? Writers? Thoughts?

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for . . .

The Thirteen Words:

1. Bird
2. Despondent
3. Cake
4. Dog
5. Busy
6. Convertible
7. Goat
8. Hat
9. Haberdashery
10. Scarlet
11. Baby
12. Panache
13. Mezzo-Soprano

Here’s a bit of what you can expect:

Word Number 6: Convertible

Outside is a glamorous green convertible

ready to take the dog into town.

Word Number 7: Goat

The driver of the convertible is a goat.

He is wearing a spiffy jacket.

13 Words Writing Activity

See if this book trailers helps you get even more of a sense of this book.

Book Trailer for 13 Words.

Really, 13 Words is to picture books as Monty Python is to movies.

COMMENT BELOW to win a copy of 13 Words!

Three winners will be selected!!!

Contest will end February 27, 2011. Winners will be selected at random.

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  1. says

    I love “Snicket’s” quirky sense of humor and Kalman’s illustrations. I’ve been a fan of hers since FIREBOAT. Fingers crossed that I win a copy! I think my kids will love it. (OK. Me too.)

  2. Linda Hepler says

    Lemony Snicket is wonderful! This book would be a great addition to my classroom library. Thank you for offering this giveaway, and sharing the lesson idea. We are going to be doing this!

  3. Suzanne says

    I’ve never heard of 13 words, but what a fun activity. It has so many possible applications for writing, speaking and just having fun with words.

  4. Jean-Marie says

    We coincidentally just picked up this book from the library, so we’re definitely going to give these great ideas a try! Thanks!

  5. says

    Wow. I had seen the absolutely delicious book before, but I had not seen that amazing trailer.

    WOW. It was really smart of someone to put those two creative minds together.

    As with all Maira Kalman’s books, I don’t think I’d ever tire of looking at this one.

  6. Stephanie M says

    I have not heard of this book, but I love his Series of Unfortunate Events and I think this is a great idea to use for writing centers in a classroom.

  7. donna chong says

    Well i have never heard of this author but what a great idea..it is sure to encourage older children to write their own stories using 13 words

  8. says

    My 6 year old son wanted to watch the video over and over again. He then called to his Dad to watch it with him for a 3rd time. Brilliant use of Audio-Visual tools to create interest in the book. I am logging on to buy the book. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. says

    I would love to get a copy of this book for my library! (I am a Children’s Librarian). I could do some wonderful programs based on this book. I adore Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman — what a dynamite combination!!

  10. says

    My fondest memories teaching came from my class begging to read the Snicket books. We sat for hours at recess discussing the mysterious Beatrice. I can only imagine this book will be just as wonderful and creative!

  11. Gail Tanner says

    Lemony Snickett is excruciatingly wonderful. He captures the interest of reluctant readers with his twisted sense of humor and using 13 Words for writing and vocabulary would definitely add panache to the curriculum. Despondent writers will enjoy putting on a new hat and begin taking baby steps toward becoming accomplished authors. A little bird told me that writing like this will be a piece of cake! :)

  12. Lauren @ Hobo Mama says

    I love Lemony Snicket! That sounds like such a fun and fabulous idea for writing a book — I might have to try it myself.

  13. Robin says

    13 words….hhhmmm….what words would I pick? I think I’ll throw it out to my class to see what they would pick. I love that the author uses both simple and complex words. Fitting for everyone!

  14. meme says

    This would be great for my grandson who loves to write very short stories. I think this would help him and encourage him to keep writing. I think he would really enjoy this book.

  15. says

    A dog in a convertible is as silly as a goat in a haberdashery, but a scarlet bird in the hat is worth a busy but despondent mezzo-soprano with pacache who says “Ni!” and wants to be a lumberjack jumping out of a cake with ganache.


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