King-Murphy third-graders read their stories to a rapt audience

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Accomplished authors work hard to perfect their craft.

The third-graders in Annie Kucharcik’s class at King-Murphy Elementary School wrote and rewrote to perfect their stories for a book they published this month called “The IB Tales of Third Grade.”

On Friday, they read their stories to classmates, parents and friends. The event also was supposed to be a book signing, but a glitch at the printer means the books must be reprinted.

That didn’t mar the third-graders’ enthusiasm as they regaled the audience with tales of football games, ladybugs, foxes, turkeys and bunnies. They proudly displayed the pictures they drew to accompany the stories. After the readings, they ate a cake decorated to look like their book.

Kucharcik told the families at the event: “The third-graders are very excited. They rewrote and rewrote and rewrote again and again until they (probably) hated me.”

The stories come from the imaginations of the children but with an International Baccalaureate twist. Each is a profile of an attitude that is promoted as part of the IB curriculum: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

Kucharcik asked students to use colorful language, and she wanted them to show their originality and personality.

“That’s why some of the stories may have appeared a little awkward (when they read them out loud),” she said, “but I wanted the stories to have the feel that a third-grader wrote them. They were not heavily polished by the teacher.”

Take, for example, “The Tale of the Wondrous Peacock, a Profile in Caring” by Evelyn Allen. The story is about a peacock named Angila whose feathers were very colorful.

“She had these colors: red, lots of green (that’s her favorite color), blue, pink, indigo, purple and a pinch of black and gray,” the story goes. Angila lived in Asia, and on Christmas day, the sky became black, and Angila became fearful.

“Then a shadow fell from the sky and landed right in front of Angila. Then the blue sky reappeared.” That shadow was “a baby koala in a bamboo crib with a flower blanket.”

Angila took care of the baby koala and named her Smellie.

“Why that name?” Evelyn wrote. “Because she thought her day stank before the cute koala came her way.”

Evelyn, 8, explained while waiting in line for cake that she liked peacocks, and she once saw a male at the zoo trying to impress a female.

“I rewrote my story five times. It was really hard,” Evelyn said, adding that she generally enjoys writing.

Maryn McNeely wrote “The Delicious Dinner: A Profile of Thinkers and Risk-Takers.” Her story is about twin bunnies and their three monkey friends who smelled some delicious food while walking through the forest and fell into a trap outside the wolf’s front door. They manage to escape. 

“The next day, they all met up in their secret hiding spot in the forest,” Maryn wrote. “They said they should set a trap for the wolf. … (The bunnies) started baking a delicious apple pie, while the monkey brothers set up the trap by (the monkeys’) doorstep.”

They set the apple pie by the trap, and when the wolf grabbed the pie, he fell in. “That night, they had wolf pot pie for dinner,” she wrote.

Maryn said the difficult part for her was printing the story perfectly because students couldn’t erase on the final copy. Her inspiration came from the aroma of dinner in her house while she was thinking up story ideas. 

After the students had read their stories, Kucharcik asked them how many would like to be authors. Several raised their hands, while others said, “No way.”