Book Review: Dancing With the Pen (A Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing) Edited by Dallas Woodburn

Dancing With the Pen Edited by Dallas Woodburn
Reading Level: Any
Source: Dallas Woodburn *for review*
Published January 2011

A lawyer for the Big Bad Wolf earnestly pleads his client’s innocence in court. Mother Earth and Father Sky give birth to a rebellious child whose fiery temper threatens to destroy the world. A teenage boy discovers the complexities of fame after his band’s first album skyrockets to the top of the charts. Tornado warnings turn a young girl’s routine babysitting job into a fight for survival.

These are just a few of the imaginative, daring, and thought-provoking stories found in these pages. Also included are dozens of poems and personal essays exploring everything from travel to friendship, love to loss, fear to hope. What makes this book truly unique is it was written entirely by kids and teenagers.

Dancing with the Pen features the work of more than sixty young writers in elementary school, middle school and high school. These authors come from all across the United States, from California to New York, from Kentucky to Michigan, as well as from abroad: Singapore, Canada, New Zealand. However, the themes and situations they explore transcend hometowns, backgrounds and cultures – they are familiar to us all.

Dancing with the Pen is a book for young writers and young readers – and the young at heart. Even if you are not normally a voracious reader, this book is still for you. Every piece within these covers is written by someone who understands what it is like to be a young person today. Maybe you will recognize yourself in these pages.

Perhaps you will even be inspired to pick up a pen, step out on the dance floor, and go for a whirl yourself.

Dancing With the Pen has stories, poems and essays from children of all ages, from elementary school through high school.  The pieces range from a paragraph to a few pages with none being very long.  Some are amazing stories that I only wished could have continued because a short {very short} story doesn’t quite give me enough time to feel a connection, but yet I saw the authors ability and vision.  The poetry was my favorite because that’s the best way to get emotion in to so few words.  
I was a compulsive  writer as a child and wrote my first novel in 2nd grade.  I was published in 8th grade and never again.  If I’d stuck with it like I’d been encouraged to as a kid then I may be an accomplished author by now!  But instead my teen years led me to different places and my writing was set aside.  My point here is that Dallas putting together this book with all these different pieces of writing is a great way to encourage them and show them what they can do.  And I suspect that in the future we’ll be seeing more of their work in longer forms, as they were clearly talented.
I read this book in little bits and pieces because it wasn’t something that really pulled me in just because of it being a collection of various stories and poetry.  But when I was reading I was enjoying it and some were better then others, as can be expected.  It’s rather difficult to really rate this one.  It hardly seems fair when some pieces I loved and others were just okay.  This is one that will likely appeal to younger readers who may be wishing to be published themselves.  
Find Dallas on her Blog

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

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