Patterson & Tebbetts-Middle School Series : Recipe For Success

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Since I’m a firm believer in analyzing what makes a book excellent and/ or popular, I chose to look at the Middle School series by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts illustrated by Laura Park. I will concentrate on the first of the series, “Middle School-the Worst Years of My Life”  where the story of sixth grader Rafael  (Rafe) Khatchadorian begins.

A successful series is dependent on a strong lead-off  book – in this case, “Middle School- The Worst Years of My Life.” Next in the series is Here“Middle School-Get Me Out of  Here”  which tells about Rafe’s experiences in a new school. The third book “How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli and Snake Hill” tells about summer camp followed by the “Save Rafe.” The overall themes deals with bullying and struggles to fit in. The mood is light and funny with a conversational style. Rafe is presented as a sympathetic character replete with charming personality flaws.

Let’s take a look at the recipe:

Collaborate: Combine two successful authors with complimentary skills.                  Organize: Have James Patterson write a specific chapter outline so Chris Tebbetts can write the story. Slowly add Patterson’s ideas and revisions.                                                  Point of View: First person; poke fun at teachers, administrators and school rules                      Characters With Catchy Names:  English teacher/ Detention Monitor – Ruthless Donatello;   Vice-principal- Ida Stricker;   Bully  – Miller the Killer;   Alter Ego/Imaginary Friend/ Brother-Leonardo the Silent  (notice shades of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)                                                                                                                               Chapter Length: 2-4 pages                                                                                                      Main character’s Motto: “Rules Are Made For Breaking”                                        Mysterious Character: Leonardo (Leo) – hints that he’s real, then an alter ego, then imaginary, then real but deceased                                                                                               Secret Ingredient: Don’t hint that Leo is imaginary until chapter 25 but state  in chapter 75 he’s in fact, Rafe’s deceased brother,  whose memory Rafe’s keeping alive                  Hook: Rafe is the author of this story while Leo is the illustrator; Leo sometimes controls the events according to what he decides to draw                                                             Fantasize: Share wild daydreams and fantasies ex. Rafe imagines he’s in prison while in the principal’s office  and uses prison jargon and analogies                                                                                                                       Add Visual Interest: Lots and lots and lots of hilarious illustrations with speech blurbs and sound effects                                                                                                                                   Sprinkle Colorful Fanciful Language: “The Dragon Lady’s eyes ( Ms. Donatello) turn yellow. A long stream of fire comes shooting out her nose. I dive over a burning desk, roll. and jump back onto my feet.”                                                                                                        Add: A mother Rafe can love and trust ;  his mother’s live-in boyfriend who Rafe can hate                                                        Add to Taste: name calling, shouting, conflict                                                                         Mix It Up: Use a variety of fonts, letter sizes, bold, italics, all caps, sound effects        Test: Add a pretend quiz to see if the reader is paying attention                                       Happy Ending: Rafe is expelled from school but is sent to Art school ( at the suggestion of the Dragon Lady, Ms. Donatello) where his talents can be developed  (hence, the second book in the series)                                                                                                                               Run a Contest: The winning  paragraph will appear at the beginning of the next book    Advertise: Tell about other available and upcoming books and include sample chapters

It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? So, how come we didn’t think of doing it?  It only goes to show that it’s as clear as the nose on your face, but everyone, obviously,  doesn’t see that nose in the same way. That’s where the genius comes in.

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be  reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

To experience life through Rafe’s eyes, watch this video.

Next week’s blog post…October 11, 2014 “The Name of This book Is Secret”; Synesthesia–The Colorful Smell of Numbers

 

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