Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Read-4-Luck (PPBF): Story of a Cockroach

The other day, I had an epiphany on yet another way how running and writing are a lot alike.

I know that not everything you write will get published. This is a sad, but true fact. I've heard that only 10-20% of a writer's mss will be published, maybe even closer to 5%. If I write crap 80% of the time, will the 20% that's good be the percentage that gets published? Sorry, I don't think it works that way. 

When I realized that not every run is a race, I was like WHOA! Even in running! It's the SAME! You better not run like crap the other 80% of the time though, or your race will be crap too. 

So write like you mean it. Make it shine. Give your personal best. Your PR (personal record) is right around the corner. I just set a new PR for my 5k (31:23). And a new 2 miler PR (20:15). Gotta go write! Log those miles... I mean, words...

Book Review: Story of a Cockroach || writers who run | read for luck | children's book reviews | picture book recommendations

READ-4-LUCK acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers. This fun weekly feature began back in October 2010 with four books. It has since evolved into one book each week. In November 2011, I joined up with Susanna Leonard Hill and her Perfect Picture Book Fridays (PPBF).

 = Not bad. Might read twice.
 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Never tiresome for children, parents, teachers, or writers. May just have to buy it.

This week's pick is Story of a Cockroach by Carmen Gil and illustrated by Sonja Wimmer.

"This is the story of Anastasia, a cockroach who dreamed of being accepted and becoming famous and important like her distant relatives the Egyptian beetles, sacred insects that were treated like royalty. Transformed by a wave of the magic wand of Fairy Brunhilda, Anastasia was turned into a princess, then a rich and famous girl. When you finish the book, you will look at cockroaches in a different light…" 
Publisher: Cuento de Luz  
Year: 2011 (original title in Spanish)
Word Count: VERY long (but doesn't seem like it)
Book Level: 4.2 ?
Age: 4-8
Topic: animals, family, beetles, princesses
Theme: acceptance of oneself, helping others

First Lines:
My name is Anastasia and I'm a cockroach. Like everyone else of my species for the past three hundred thousand years, I like to live in nice, warm, safe places. Myself in particular, I prefer the cracks along the baseboards in the living room, the gaps in the kitchen cupboards or the bathroom pipes. But don't think my life is easy. It isn't!

Pretty long, but reads quickly. The funniest part is when Anastasia says, "I couldn't scratch my nose if it itched, I couldn't yawn and of course, I couldn't even think of passing gas." Perfect for girls (princesses) and boys (cockroaches)!

Could use as a jumping off point to respect all of God's creatures, if you felt so inclined. Personally, I do kill bugs if they are in my house, but never when found in nature (though as a teenager, I did save spiders).

Best suited as a writing lesson. Has some good vocabulary. Luxurious, broomophobia, night owl, Cucaracha, despite, academy, tristesse, rue, disadvantages, dynamic, tactfully, muddle, prevent, implement, transform, and more. 

Could incorporate with research on different kinds of insects. There are lots mentioned (crickets, beetles, fruit flies). Could research how cockroaches are viewed and/or used in different areas of the world, including different species of cockroaches. Could also use as part of a unit on self-acceptance. Possible writing prompts:  think of something that somebody could be afraid of. Give it a name (broomophobia). Write a story about it. Think of something you want to be when you grow up. Write about all the BAD stuff it might have as a part of that job.  

Originally written in Spanish, this is a wonderful translation! The humor is not lost at all. Lots of fun allusions to keep adults interested and amused. Since this book is not listed on my favorite database, I don't know how many words it has. A great exercise would be to type it up and get a word count. Then, study the pacing by summarizing each spread.

Be sure to visit other "perfect picture books" at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. Thanks for the running/writing tip!

    Oh, what a cool idea, a princess cockroach. Yeah!

  2. I enjoyed your review! The openng grabs your attention. Cockroaches get a bad wrap -- and I can't I'm a fan. But, in a story it looks like an imaginative read.

  3. Kind of makes you feel bad for cockroaches being so disliked... almost! :) Thank for sharing, Christie!

  4. Cockroach and lace...Ok...I have to read this one :-)

  5. This is the first book I've ever seen about a cockroach. I guess it's about time we humanized them. Thanks for this recommendation Christie. And congrats on your new PRs!

  6. What an original story. I've sure never seen one about a cockroach before. Thanks for sharing!

  7. so interesting! I am working on a story starring a beetle right now so I would love to take a look at this and see how the author handles it.

    And I'm a runner too, so I see the parallels between running and writing pretty much daily :-)

    Thanks, Christie!

  8. You had me at coackroach. It sounds like a creepy topic in very gentle terms. Congratulation on your new PRs. And very true about writing and running.

  9. Princess and cockroach - words that don't often go together. Sounds intriguing!

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  10. Susanna, the more you read it, the more "almost" it gets.

    Kirsten and Julie, This is actually the THIRD book about cockroaches that I've read. Okay, one merely includes cockroaches. AND I've blogged about all of them (yikes)! The first was Dumpster Diver. And the second was Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach.

    This book is illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, the same talented lady who illustrated The Word Collector.

    Penny and Sandi, The princess and move star for girls and the cockroach for boys. Oxymoron that they even exist in the same book, I know, right? So much fun!

    Amy and Stacy, Running and writing definitely have parallels for me. And they always FIGHT for my time and attention. I have yet to figure out a way to give both the attention they each deserve. It's a constant battle, but I'm sure I'll eventually figure it out.

  11. sounds pretty amazing story, I enjoyed your review.


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