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.

Storytelling Games for Kids
Word Games for Kids
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Picture Books That Teach Grammar, Figurative Language, and Punctuation

57 Responses

  1. This book looks really neat! My students would love it!

  2. I took the survey, and would love to win this book,

  3. My son would love this one.
    rsgrandinetti@yahoo(DOT)com

  4. I know this book would inspire my 8-year-old nephew to create stories for his 2 younger brothers.

  5. I’d love to win this for my twin grandson and granddaughter — this would be perfect to read to them.

  6. This sounds like a wonderful book — I love, love, love Maira Kalman!

  7. 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.

  8. My daughter absolutely loves to read and write. This book would be fun and inspirational for her!

  9. what a fun book, my daughters are going to love it!

  10. Rebekah R says:

    This is absolutely FABULOUS! I love the Youtube advertisement. My kids are gonna love it =)

  11. My older two girls would love it!

  12. Suzanne DS says:

    This is great for my daughter! Love to win this for her 🙂
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway 🙂

  13. Please enter me in the contest! We would love this book!

  14. 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. Jackie J. says:

    There are so many educational applications for this book. I agree with Robin that it is fitting for everyone!

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  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. This book sounds fantastic. Not sure that I can wait to see if I win a copy, I might have to rush out and buy one now (but I’d still love to win one) 🙂

  20. Would love to win this book for my boys! I think they would really enjoy it.

  21. This books sounds like so much fun!

  22. Theresa N says:

    I can see some interesting results with this.

  23. I am crossing my fingers for this one! I am going to try the 13 Word Challenge with my class!

  24. This book is on my wish list, and I can’t wait to see the stories my boys come up with after reading it.

  25. 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! 🙂

  26. 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!

  27. 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!!

  28. Would love to win a copy! Very fun book trailer :o)

  29. I hope we will be new owners of this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  30. 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!

  31. Great pairing of words and art – I am a longtime fan of both of them and would love to share this book with young readers and writers at the library.

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. I’d love to win! One of my favorite holiday books is Lemony Snicket’s The Latke who couldn’t Stop Screaming.

  38. How cool!
    I love out-of-the-box creative thinking…!

  39. Love reading these books to the kids.

  40. We’re big fans of Lemony Snicket books. This book looks like something my kids would love!

  41. B Burkett says:

    What a wonderful, fun new book! Thank you for your ideas to encourage writing!

  42. 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!

  43. What a great book idea. My son loves to make up stories, I think he’d really like this book. Mom & Dad are huge fans of Lemony Snicket. 🙂

  44. 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.)

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