Thursday, October 18, 2012

Desk Stories

Title: Desk Stories
Author and Illustrator: Kevin O’Malley
Copyright Date: 2011
Genre: fiction (graphic novel)
Theme: desks, school, humor
Grades: 2-4
Awards: 2012 IRA-CBC Children's Choices


This book is made up of six separate stories, all about a different take on the school desk:

1). “History Man”---a humorous history of desks through the caveman times, the Middle Ages and today. What type of desks did they use in the past?
2). “Trapped!”---John, a very bored student finds himself being chased and then trapped by his desk. Will he be alright?
3). “It Came From Within”---Sara, a “perfect student” is good at everything in school and isn't afraid to rub it in. One day she feels something warm and furry in her desk and learns a very important lesson in humility. What was the thing living in her desk?
4). “Desk Time Jokes”---A collection of classic school themed jokes.
5). “Desktec”---Readers get unprecedented access to the secret plans of Desktec about new desk technology. What will the desk of the future be like?
6). “Sue Smallton: The Incredible Shrinking Supergirl”---Sue, our super-heroine must shrink down and explore her desk to return a barrette.  What dangers will she encounter?

Pre-reading Activity

It could be fun to have students have a guided thinking session. Have them think about their desks in ways they may not have thought before. Think about all of the things they do at it; work, read, play, draw, eat, etc. How important is it to you? What if your desk could talk. What do you think would it say? What would it do if it could move? Have them share a few answers for each question. Then explain that the book you are going to read looks at desks in an imaginative way and that it can be fun to think about things in different ways.

Post-reading Activity

After the book, students can have a chance to write their own creative stories, taking an ordinary object and looking at it in a different way. They can pick an object (book, a food, classroom pet, etc.) and then use prompts inspired by the stories:

What would happen if the subject were alive/could talk?
What would that object be like in the future?
What if you could shrink down and go inside/hang out with your object? What would happen?

This would students to be able to write a story that can be funny and of interest to them and they will probably would like to share it. (I later found that the publisher's website has a review of this book that also suggests using it as a model for creative writing. It's entirely a coincidence but I'll link their page here.)

Author and Illustrator

Along with Desk Stories, Kevin O'Malley has written and illustrated the similar style book, Backpack Stories, and worked a plethora of other books such as Slugs in Love, Humpty Dumpty Egg-splodes, and the Miss Malarky book series. He currently lives in Maryland. (Source: book jacket, here, and here.


This is a fun book with a variety of story styles to attract readers. These stories are short enough that a few could be shared during a story time, while also able to fill a lesson's worth of discussion in themselves. This can allow teachers to fill a whole week of read-alouds without changing books. This would definitely grab the attention of reluctant readers.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

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