Using Mentor Texts: Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

I’ve been a big fan of Jeff Anderson’s book Mechanically Inclined for a couple years. Not only does the book have excellent teaching ideas, it is written with so much voice, it is just enjoyable to read. And in person, he is pretty darn funny.  As I’ve played with Jeff Anderson’s lessons, I’ve noticed that imitating sentence patterns makes a significant impact on the complexity and coherence of student writing. So if it works for kids, why not me? If I want to improve the quality of what I put on the paper, I need to work at it. So I made a stack of books I love and I started looking through them. I grabbed Eve Bunting's Fly Away Home. I marked pages, sentences, or paragraphs that I felt were powerful or I just liked the sound of when read aloud. Below is one section I marked as my mentor text and below that are sentences I generated as I worked at using some of Bunting's sentence patterns.

From, Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting (p. 16)
Once a little brown bird got into the main terminal and it couldn’t get out. It fluttered in the high, hollow spaces. It threw itself at the glass, fell panting on the floor, flew to a tall, metal girder, and perched there, exhausted.
                “Don’t stop trying,” I told it silently. “Don’t! You can get out!”
                For days the bird flew around, dragging one wing. And then it found the instant when a sliding door was open and slipped through. I watched it rise. Its wing seemed OK.
“Fly, bird,” I whispered. “Fly away home!”
                Though I couldn’t hear it, I knew it was singing. Nothing made me as happy as that bird.

Below is some of my work using Bunting's writing as a mentor text:
Though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was dancing. Nothing made me as happy as hearing the sound the Tele Tone taps made against the wood floor.
Though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was scared. Nothing made me as miserable as knowing her hand was just out of reach.
Though she didn’t seem to know my name, her eyes said she remembered my face.


  1. I like the choice of mentor text. Great exercise! What a nice start any of those sentences would make. Though she is using hers as an ending, yours would grab a reader at the start and could give you the nudge to a full fledged story. I am thinking I'd like to hear more story for any of these!

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