Simile may not be a hard concept for students to grasp. However, coming up with inventive rather than tired or trite comparisons can be challenging for many young writers. Luckily, Hanoch Piven has created two amazing picture books to help jump start creative thinking.
In My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, Piven creates funny family portraits with everyday objects. On one page, Dad is described “as playful as a spinning top” and “as fun as a party favor.” The next spread shows a picture of Dad with a spinning top for a nose and a party favor for his right eye. Likewise, the family dog who is “as stinky as an onion” is humorously portrayed in a collage with onion eyes and a pepperoni nose.
At the back of the book, Piven challenges young readers to describe their own families, suggesting they make a list of ordinary objects that indicate “smart,” “soft,” “scratchy,” “strong,” etc. The use of objects provides a visual that should energize young writers wishing to provoke the same laughter Piven’s picture book does.
Piven tackles classroom portraits in My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil with the same hilarious results. Different members of the class are described as “quiet as a fish” or “happy as gummy worms.” An afterward explains how Piven has conducted workshops in object art around the world.
If these picture books don’t stimulate inventive similes and lots of laughter in your writing workshop, nothing will.
Ask your students to collect simple objects to describe themselves, family members, or classroom friends. Give them the opportunity to make a collage and write a story about it. Have fun!