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Barron's Painless Junior Writing Review by Dena Wood

By Donna Christina Oliverio, M.S.
Barronn's Educational Series, Inc.
250 Wireless Blvd.
Hauppauge, New York 11788

In Painless Junior Writing, Sammy the Writing Octopus takes your student on a writing journey, promising "oceans of fun for everyone!" This cute and friendly book takes a non-threatening and fun approach to writing, assuring your child that writing is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, Sammy guarantees that "on your painless journey, there are no rules for writing, only coaching tips."

This book seems geared to children who may have difficulty and feel overwhelmed by the act of writing. Sammy assures the reader that there are a "gazillion" things to write about and proceeds to explain. While the tone is playful, the book still manages to cover such topics as purpose, audience, voice, outlining, the five W's, poetry, characters and setting, beginnings and endings, strong verbs and specific nouns, editing and publishing, and more.

Several topics are introduced by skits involving Sammy and his ocean friends; others are explained with silly stories or pictorial examples. The theme, however, is constant. From the "Isle of Poetry" to "Cleaning Up Marine Litter" (editing), you won't escape the ocean theme. In all honesty, I began to find it a bit tiresome after more than 160 pages. But my children were amused, and that's what matters!

This book offers good ideas for gathering writing topics as well as several helpful forms and methods for organizing your writing. It also does a good job of introducing several different concepts. I wouldn't consider it a writing curriculum in itself, but it is certainly a helpful tool for a child who is struggling or one you are preparing to introduce to writing. And at only $8.99, the price is right.

Product review by Dena Wood, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2007