Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin

Elliott is a boy who likes to find things out and, one day, he stumbles across a machine. At first, he can't work out what the machine is for - it doesn't beep or buzz like all of his other machines and it doesn't have an ON/OFF button. Then, quite by accident, Elliott makes the machine work. The machine makes letters! Elliott thinks it must be a story machine but, sadly, Elliott isn't very good at letters and words. How can he make magical stories without them? But wait, some of the letters look like pictures. Elliott is good at pictures and, as he discovers, pictures make stories.

I received this copy from the publishers for an open and honest review.

Star Rating

Although this is a short and simple story, the illustrations are beautiful and make this a book worth purchasing. The illustrative style is reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers work and anyone who follows my blog will know that I love his picture books for this very reason.

This story is about a boy who paints pictures with words. Upon finding a strange machine, Elliott begins to make his own stories, however he soon finds out that he isn't very good with letters.  

"He did his best but he kept getting them all jumbled up." 

In all classes, you will always get a group of children who LOVE writing stories and those that don't. I was always one of those children who loved reading and writing stories, the skill of putting pen to paper coming fairly easily. As Tom Mclaughlin explains, it is important to point out to children that anyone can make stories, even if they use pictures instead of words. That is what the story machine is about: how you don't always have to use words to make stories. 

I chose not to read this story with my Year Two class as they are now at that stage where they can use letters and words to create imaginative and exciting stories. Therefore, I asked if it could be read to a Reception class of 4 and 5 year olds. It is important at this age to build a passion for reading and writing and for children to realise that even if you're "not very good at letters and words" you can still create magical stories.

The children in this class enjoyed the story, particularly when Elliott realised it wasn't the story machine making the pictures, it was him! One child commented on how old the story machine was (a typewriter being very different to iPads and Laptops young children see nowadays) and some had never seen a typewriter before with one child remarking that they thought it was a cash register! Some children decided they did not like this book as they were upset when Elliott poured water on his story machine, resulting in it not working!

With beautiful illustrations and a good message for young children, The Story Machine is...

 "A winner of a book about the power of drawing and storytelling." (Oliver Jeffers)

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