Monday, May 20, 2013

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, by Nancy J. Cavanagh

To be totally honest, I picked this book up as a joke. I have a student who is mildly (er...severely) obsessed with saying the word "ratchet." If she doesn't like something, it's ratchet. When she does like something, it's ratchet. People can be ratchet. Pencils can be ratchet. I don't really get it. Anyway, one day I stumbled across this book, and I just had to buy it!

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet is about a girl named Rachel who's nicknamed "Ratchet" because she's always helping her dad with his work as a mechanic and is, as you would infer, very good with a ratchet. Ratchet is homeschooled by her father, who's extremely environmentally conscious and not at all concerned with what others think of him. His crazy appearance/rants and the fact that they move around a lot makes Ratchet a sort of outcast, and leads her to a couple missions for the current school year: to learn more about her mom (who died when she was very young), to make new friends, and to reinvent herself with a cooler, less 'that girl shops at Goodwill' image.

The story is told through her homeschool Language Arts journal and the various writings she must do in it. For example, descriptive poetry, list poetry, narrative essays, descriptive essays, persuasive essays, freewriting, etc. All come together to form the narrative of Ratchet's journey to understanding the loss of her mother, appreciation of her father, and reinventing herself.

I am really considering ways I could use this in the classroom - all of the different writing samples could serve as really powerful mentor texts to show students how you can write about the same event from so many different angles/genres.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Aimee,

    I'm so happy you enjoyed RATCHET - no matter what the reason was for you picking it up. :)
    There is an Educator's Guide available free of charge. The link is on the website. I will also have it available soon on my own website

    If you send me an email using the address on my website, I'd be happy to send the link for the Educator's Guide directly to you.

    Thanks for blogging about RATCHET!