Tag Archives: personal narrative

The Power of Story

29 Aug

ARGH. I have to go to work today and I am close to finishing All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor.


I LOVE this book.

Here’s the summary:

Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.

When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

All book summaries leave out significant details. Sometimes that’s to keep surprise elements a surprise. Sometimes it is to lure a reader in.

What this summary doesn’t tell you is that Perry’s teacher assigns an assignment in which he has to write about how his family came to Surprise. Instead, considering the inmates his family, he embarks on an interview project of many inmates. As you read the stories, each inmate is humanized. I have to say, at this point in the story I really dislike the DA, Thomas VanLeer, and I hope I get to learn his story. He needs some humanizing.

A Boy and a Jaguar

6 Jun

I first heard Alan Rabinowitz tell his story in a radio broadcast of   The Moth. Rabinowitz tells how, as a young boy with a profound stutter, he made a vow to a jaguar in the Bronx zoo. Later, as an adult he was able to work with jaguars in Belize and fulfill his promise.

A new picture book tells Rabinowitz’s story for a younger audience. Written by Rabinowitz and beautifully illustrated by Catia Chen.


The story is a personal narrative and would be an excellent way to introduce students of all ages to writing their own personal narrative. It gives us a glimpse into the inner life of a child who feels broken but wants to be “fixed”. It is only with animals that he is able to speak without stuttering. As an adult he still felt the connection to the animal world and turned his weakness into a strength, becoming a jaguar researcher and advocate for endangered animals.

If you would like to hear Rabinowitz tell the story in his own voice, you can listen to it at:


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