The Obstinate Pen & Writing Comics

In “Getting Student to Write Using Comics” by Mark Crilley the pull-out quote, “Drawing is easier for me, but writing is more important,” grabbed my attention because it reminded me of the last picture book I read, The Obstinate Pen. In Dormer's book, a stubborn pen refuses to write what its owner has in mind. In the end, the pen's intentions are to create visual art.
Crilley offers suggestions for using speech bubbles to get students to write. In one example, he even has two characters talking about a special pen and it's up to the student writer to describe why the pen is special. He illustrates ways to help students think about dialogue, intriguing conflict, and the story behind personal experience.  Is Crilley's advice new? Well, not really, but the way he presents it and its parallel to The Obstinate Pen makes it worth remembering for me.
What did I learn?
  • His web site offers a comic strip template I can use in classes.
  • I can use my lack of artistic talent to help students see it really is "all about the writing" (p. 29).
  • He gives me an explicit way to discuss what separates comics from picture books.

What about the picture book?
According to the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database, Marilyn Courtot, says of The Obstinate Pen, “The pen and watercolor illustration[s] are as amusing as the story and it will leave kids wondering where they can find such a magical pen.”

Want to read it?
Crilley , Mark (2009). “Getting Student to Write Using Comics.” Teacher Librarian, 36(1), 28-31.