Each month, my friend Jen Vincent and I pick a book to discuss on my blog. This month it was Jen’s turn to pick. I was very exciting when she told me that we would be reading Fake Mustache. I am a big Tom Angleberger fan.
Check out our previous Fake Mustache discussions.
JEN: Colby! I am almost done with Fake Mustache which means I’m in the middle of the craziness! This book is just crazy! I mean, can you imagine being Lenny Flem Jr? Things are just so frustrating for him. He knows the truth but there aren’t many people he can trust. Even his own parents have been brainwashed by the mustache!
COLBY: Thank goodness for Jodie O’Rodeo. Did I ever tell you that I do a great Jodie O’Rodeo voice when I read aloud Fake Mustache. Last year my fourth graders went wild during her parts. It is quite fun to try and imitate a teen cowgirl.
JEN: I’m sure!!!! I would love to hear you yodel! Things just keep getting crazier as the book goes on. When you think fast food workers out to get you is bad enough, then come mimes and karate instructors. As I’ve been reading (and listening), I just keep shaking my head at the craziness. It’s almost as if someone challenged Tom Angleberger to write a book and include these things:
a fake mustache
a sticky hand
a yodeling pre-teen star
fast food workers
green goo booger slime
a bank robbery
there is also a presidential election going on!
If that doesn’t define craziness, I don’t know what does.
COLBY: That is a lot of awesomeness. Of all the things that you listed I think the “sticky hand” is my favorite. I loved talking about the sticky hand with my fourth graders at the end of the book.
JEN: Isn’t it amazing how all these things can be incorporated into one story? From the perspective of using Fake Mustache as a mentor text, I think it would be a fun activity to give kids a few completely random elements and then ask them to write a story. This would be great for brainstorming ideas or just a writing exercise. It might actually end up being a piece they would like to develop more. Look at how successful Tom was with Fake Mustache. Sometimes the most crazy and outlandish stories really are interesting and just what a reader needs.
What if this was a partner activity? If each student thought of 3-5 nouns (part of speech, yay!) – a person, a place, an event, a thing, and then their partner had to write a story that combines or at least in cludes all of those things.
COLBY: That would be super fun. The key for my students would be to make sure that even though they are writing a crazy story, they need to still be thinking about the things that they know how to do as a writer. We can write funny and crazy stuff, but we can’t forget the things makes good writing good. I think that is what is so awesome about Mr. Angleberger. Even though he is writing this crazy awesome story, he is doing it in a way that features some pretty rockin’ writing.
JEN: I’ve read interviews and seen video interviews of David Levithan talking about how he has collaborated with other authors to write a book. He shares how one person writes a chapter and then the next person writes a chapter. I remember he said that he and the other authors he has worked with would end up throwing twists at each other and challenging each other to respond to the chapters. I am so fascinated by this idea of writing with others and playing off of each other to write a novel.
COLBY: That sounds insane. Makes me think of the 39 Clues series a little bit.
JEN: Totally! I love the concept of the 39 Clues series. Some of my favorite books that are co-authored but they are all young adult. They are Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, and, more recently, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. I think it would be insanely fun and motivating to write with another writer. I feel like there would be a huge sense of responsibility to writing that is sometimes hard to develop independently. All of these are great books that I highly recommend!
COLBY: I have read none of those books. Isn’t that sad? Did you know that Tom Angleberger co-authored a book? It’s called Stonewall Hickleman & The Battle of Bull Run. He wrote it under his old pen name Sam Riddleburger.
JEN: It’s not sad, they are YA and you don’t read YA very often. I can’t think of many co-authored MG books – but you know Stonewall Hickleman. I haven’t read that one but am so curious now!
I’m wondering, could two writers in a class generate a bunch of ideas together and then take turns writing part of the story and adding in one idea/thing in their part before handing the story back? This seems like it would be an awesome way to also develop a culture of learning for students when they are both invested in the writing together.
Hmm….I’m actually thinking this would be cool as an option for students – not necessarily an assignment. Let’s face it, writing is a vulnerable activity, so maybe offering this as something for them to try either later in the year once they know each other better, or as an option if they know someone they are willing to write with. Oh, and maybe there would need to be parameters around this – setting up the plan for how to do this beforehand just to try and troubleshoot any problems that might pop up.
COLBY: I know one thing, a lot of my students would LOVE trying something like this.
JEN: Colby, if you ever want to co-author a crazy Fake-Mustache-style book, let me know! I’m in.
COLBY: I have zero desire to write a book. I’m going to stick to reading them:)
JEN: *sighs* Fine. (But I’m still here if you eeeeeeeeever want to. )