Preparing to Assess a Mentor Text

Just the act of reading mentor texts improves our instincts when writing, but how do you approach the research aspect? I like to read as many books as I can on the topic of the manuscript I'm writing.  I also look for books that mimic the structure that I'm going for.  Am I writing a metafiction story?  Then Do Not Open This Book!  is the perfect mentor text.  Is my story a fractured fairy tale?  The Three Ninja Pigs is right up my alley.  Am I writing a cumulative story?  Your Alien is a good place for me to start.  

As I read each book, I ask myself these questions:  
1.  What do I like about this book?  What works?
2.  What don't I like?  What doesn't work?
3.  Do I want to read this again?  Why?
4.  Would kids relate to this?
5.  Would this make kids laugh?

​Once I've read as much as I can about my topic or structure, then I have a better idea of what works, what I like, and what has already been done.  My built-in panel of five children reminds me what it's like to be a kid and when I write, I tackle my story with my newfound knowledge and a fresh perspective!  

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