Response to Literature Genre: Sample Responses to Literature

These response to literature samples were all written by sixth grade students. These pieces are excellent examples of responses to literature, but as with all writing, even the most famous masterpieces, there is room for revision. Each piece does many things well, and any one piece may serve as a model or ignite ideas for your own responses to literature.

Stargirl, an Elusive Character and an Elegant Story

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow.” ~ Stargirl

And so she was.  Stargirl, a book by Jerry Spinelli, is an alluring, gratifying piece of writing to which anybody can relate.  Filled with humor and true-life facts, Stargirl tells a story about a mysterious girl named Stargirl and a boy named Leo.  This story mainly takes place in the Arizona desert and a lot of action is done in Mica High School.

In the novel, Leo, as junior in Mica High School had a problem.  A bizarre, sophomore girl named Stargirl transferred to Mica High.  Dressed as a pioneer, she dances in the rain, serenades people, knows everybody’s birthday, and can figure out a person’s personal information just by looking at him or her.  She quickly becomes the school’s most popular rising star.  However, this turns around when she starts to cheer for another school’s basketball team, and not Mica’s when Mica is slaughtering the other team. After that, students at Mica High ignore her as if she were air.  During this time, Leo and Stargirl form a relationship.  Leo, being accustomed to popularity and attention, also falls into being unpopular with Stargirl, because of how they are spending time together so much.  By this point, Leo understands that he must make a choice between whether to stay with Stargirl and abandon being well-regarded by his peers or to go with popularity and leave Stargirl.

In the story, Leo is a little too self-conscious, being always so concerned about what other people expect of him and think of him. Such relevant evidence of this is when he and Stargirl fell for each other and he couldn’t stop imagining what the other Mica High students would feel and think when they found out.  Leo even tried avoiding Stargirl and closing her out of his life after other students found out that they were “one.” Next, in order to regain the approval of his peers, he encouraged Stargirl to change and become more “normal,” forsaking everything that made her who she was.  Leo did all of this because he was overly concerned about the opinions of his peers. What Leo should have done was thought about what he wanted and what made him satisfied, not what made other people satisfied. Overall, rather than worrying about the approval of his peers, Leo should be more confident and follow his own mind about what is right or wrong, not acquiescing to what others want.

What if Stargirl was just like everybody else? If Stargirl was just similar to all the other girls who attended Mica High, the story would have been very different and maybe even pointless. If this was the case, though, I don’t think that Leo would have adored her so much because I believe that he loved her for her unique personality. He would never have liked her so much if she were just like any other girl who blended in seamlessly with the others. Near the end of the story, Stargirl even changed herself to Susan for a few weeks to please Leo. Susan was Stargirl’s real name, and as Susan, Stargirl was a whole different person, who was into preppy clothes, wore loads of make-up, and contained a boy-crazy brain. Leo wasn’t jubilant about this change, although he thought it was what he wanted, and he was a little sorrowful not to be with “Stargirl,” but instead with “Susan.”

In Stargirl, Leo is very self-conscious.  As much as I wish it weren’t true, I am often the same way.  There was a time on the first day of school when I was trying to figure out what to wear and how to act. All I could think about was what people would think of me, and this might not have been such a good thing. If I thought too much about this, I wouldn’t be able to be myself. Nevertheless, it was challenging to quiet my mind and be true to myself.

To conclude, Stargirl is a valuable book of very important life-long lessons.  It teaches about popularity and how it is never smooth and exact.  It also illustrates that being yourself is a must and that you shouldn’t change yourself unless it is something you want. These are just some of the countless examples of crucial lessons contained in the book. The many key elements of this novel are things we should all take to heart, young or old. This is a book that will stick in your mind, stay in your heart, and teach a lesson to your soul.

Stargirl, a Story to Remember

Have you ever met a girl who plays the ukulele, dresses like a pioneer, knows everyone’s birthday, and carries around her pet rat everywhere? If not, then you haven’t met Stargirl, the main character Stargirl, a fantastic novel written by Jerry Spinelli.  The story is about a teenage boy named Leo, whose life changes when Stargirl, a girl who is unusually friendly, transfers to Mica High, Arizona.  Because of all the extraordinary things Stargirl does, Leo and the others are unsure of what to make of her.  Everyone avoids Stargirl, but unlike the others, Leo starts to like her, finding her intriguing and charming.  She likes him, too, and they fall in love.  Leo, being used to attention, begins to realize that his peers are avoiding him because of his relationship with Stargirl.

Leo is very bothered by the problem, so he visits his old pal, Archie, a very wise, old man.  Leo states his problem and Archie answers with a question, “Whose affection do you value more, hers or theirs?”  This question charged at Leo like a tiger ready to pounce on its prey. It bothers Leo, keeping him up every night.  Leo refuses to answer this question for as long as possible, but then he is forced to choose.Leo is lucky to have someone he can go to for advice.  When Leo has a conflict, problem, or is put in a difficult situation, he goes to Archie for advice.  Archie is very wise, and he and Leo are closer than mashed potatoes and gravy.  In this case, Leo asks Archie what to do when everyone is shunning him because of his relationship with Stargirl.  Leo can trust Archie because Archie is filled with patience and will always answer in a calm, honest manner.

Because of Stargirl’s sudden disappearance at the end of the story, I predict that she and Leo will meet in the future when they are old.  They might be partners in something, maybe architecture (because of all the things they learned from Archie).  I think it might happen that Stargirl will know that her partner is Leo, but Leo doesn’t realize that his partner is Stargirl.  Leo will eventually find out, and he will be emotional when he remembers the past.  This second time around, he will be a better friend.

I can really relate to Leo.  Whenever I have a conflict, I go to my wonderful mom, just like Leo goes to Archie.  My mom is like the wise owl in fairy tales. She is a good advice giver who usually answers in a wise way.  Even though I haven’t had a major problem like Leo yet, my mom is still great to go to for smaller problems.

After reading this novel I realize the messages Jerry Spinelli sent to the readers.  Listen to your heart.  If you love someone or something, you shouldn’t care what other people think; you should love what you love in your heart.  Also, you shouldn’t change who you are for someone else.  You should have confidence in yourself and love who you are.

“Eleven,” a Short Story about Life

She’s eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one! In “Eleven”, a short story by Sandra Cisneros, Rachel is turning eleven today, but is still all of those ages before. It’s her eleventh birthday, but she still doesn’t know what to say when Sylvia Saldivar says that a disgusting sweater, which isn’t really hers, is Rachel’s. When she tries to tell the teacher, Mrs. Price, that it’s not hers, she only ends up having to put on that ugly, red, despicable sweater. Rachel is now three, not eleven, nor ten, nine, eight, seven, or six, Rachel is three. Rachel’s inner three starts to bawl, which leads to Rachel herself crying. Unwilling tears stream down her face, like a faucet in her eyes has sprung a leak. After the scene, Phyllis Lopez, another girl in Rachel’s class, speaks up and says that the sweater is really hers! Rachel takes off the sweater and gladly gives it to her. She’s eleven, it is her birthday, but she is also ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one!

On the other hand, I wonder if Mrs. Price is also all of the ages leading up to her current age because she seems to have a problem with Rachel. Mrs. Price must have a problem with Rachel because she claims that she saw Rachel wearing the jacket, when Rachel would have never even touched the jacket, much less put it on. Mrs. Price must also have a problem with Rachel because she won’t even let Rachel speak up to state that it is really not hers. Maybe Mrs. Price doesn’t like Rachel or the sweater because she seems happy when Phyllis Lopez declares it was really hers. Either way, I think that Mrs. Price should have been more forceful in determining to whom the sweater actually belonged and gotten a direct answer from everybody. Mrs. Price should learn a lesson from this: Don’t blame people without proof. Everybody should learn this lesson and take it into account.

Mrs. Price should have been persistent in finding the true owner of the disgusting red sweater and questioned everybody about it directly. If she did, an answer might have popped up sooner. She should have also just been more forceful. If she was more emphatic, Phyllis Lopez might have been more alert and claimed the sweater sooner. If Mrs. Price did one or both of these things, Rachel would have never had to put the sweater on and would not have felt compelled to cry. Teachers usually have the power to get the accurate answers out of people, but obviously, Mrs. Price does not. I am ashamed that she does not, because if she did, I am sure that Phyllis would have given an answer.

Surprisingly, I can relate to Mrs. Price. I can relate to the fact that she wanted that stinky, old, red sweater out of the coat room. There was this one time when I went into my second grade class, and there was this slimy, green, blob… thing, just sitting on my desk emitting a foul stench. I wouldn’t dare touch it! I tried to figure out whose it was, but no one confessed it was theirs. I plugged my nose and speedily sprinted like an Olympic Athlete to someone else’s desk. I knew it probably wasn’t theirs, but I still put it on that desk, like Mrs. Price gave the sweater to Rachel. I am sad I can relate to Mrs. Price, but I can.

To conclude, I rate this book a ten out of ten stars, which I can now say is nine stars, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one star too! I think that Sandra Cisneros is trying to tell me and all of the other readers that it is fine to act younger than your real age because somewhere inside of you exist all of the ages you have ever been.  The story also puts forth this message:  You should speak up and use responsibility if you are in Phyllis’ position. If you read this short story, “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros, you will learn that even you, yes, you, can act like you are still just a little boy/girl. I loved this short story by Sandra Cisneros, and hope you get the chance to read it, although, it was too short and too good to be true, so I hope you like short stories. Once again, I loved this book and hope you get the chance to read it.

“Eleven,” a Short Story about Birthdays

“Only today I wish I didn’t have only eleven years rattling inside me like pennies in a tin Band- Aid box.”
– Rachel

Sandra Cisneros short story “Eleven” is a unique story filled with distinctive thoughts and an interesting overall plot. Filled with exhilaration and humor, it depicts an eleven-year-old girl’s eleventh birthday. Yet, underneath the age of eleven, this girl believes she is still ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and even one! According to her, all your younger emotions are still in you as you grow older. For instance, sometimes you might cry and act as though you are three. But no matter what she thinks, she is turning eleven on the day described in the story.

Unluckily, Rachel landed on a bad day to turn eleven.  It started when her teacher, Miss Price, asked, “Whose is this?” She was holding up a loose, flowing, ugly red jacket that had been sitting in the classroom closet for nearly a month. Thanks to the stupid Sylvia Saldivar, the jacket was said to be Rachel’s. Miss Price placed it on Rachel’s desk and forcibly told her to put it on. However, Rachel jostled it away.

Embarrassed, Rachel tried denying the jacket was hers, but suddenly it was as though she was functioning in “mute-mode.” No one heard her words. As Rachel shoved the jacket to the periphery of her desk, Ms. Price got tense about her behavior. Soon enough, Rachel lost the battle and under her teacher’s watchful eyes, began putting on the jacket. Now was categorically the time she hoped she wasn’t eleven because as her hand skimmed the inside of the jacket’s sleeve, the three-year-old broke out of her. Tears exploded out as she continued to put on the jacket.

Yes, it was an astonishing birthday, although perhaps not the best you could ever have. Luckily, when Rachel returned home from school, there would be a cake that she and her family would eat. Candles and presents would be displayed, but nothing would fix her birthday in those decisive moments at school when she was compelled to wear that hideous sweater. Rachel was eleven, and yet, she was also all the other ages before that.

In the story, Sylvia Saldivar, Rachel’s classmate, is just malevolent. Shouting out that the jacket was Rachel’s, even when she knew it wasn’t hers was such impertinent, unkind behavior. Sylvia also didn’t even have the heart to apologize to Rachel, even when Phyllis Lopez claimed the jacket as hers. Miss Price is the same as Sylvia. When, Phyllis claimed the jacket, Miss Price acted like everything was fine, never realizing the emotional distress she had caused Rachel and never apologizing either, even after completely ruining Rachel’s eleventh birthday!

Imagine if Sylvia Saldivar was the complete opposite of stupid and malicious. What if she was pleasant? I envisage that if Sylvia had a heart, Rachel would be as contented as can be and take pleasure in her eleventh birthday celebration. Alas, since Sylvia is the character she is, she packed her mouth with a tactless lie and spit it out to the whole class. If that particular event hadn’t happened, this would have been an entirely different story.

In “Eleven,” Rachel is being blamed for her immaturity for fussing over the jacket. I can relate to that because one time at home, my sister came into my room and messed up everything on my desk and in my closet. When my dad strolled in, he yelled at me to clean it up. I told him that it wasn’t my mess, but his response was to tell me to clean it up anyway because it was my room and not my sister’s. When my dad went to go talk to my sister about not messing up my things she replied, “That was her mess!” I was the one who got in the most trouble, and I didn’t even have a part of it. I sense that I felt the similar way that Rachel felt after being challenged for acting foolish. After the way I felt about the messy room incident, I can relate to the way Rachel felt and can understand how she believes that you hold within you every age you have ever been.

To conclude, “Eleven” is a short story filled with the lessons of respect and trust. It distributes the lesson of how treating people callously with words can really mar them and cause greater problems. Along with that, it also explains that sometimes when someone blames someone for something, it’s not always true. Short but meaningful, “Eleven” is a story that you should definitely take to heart. Listen to the message inside because it is an important one.

A Bad Case of Stripes

What would you do if you were getting dressed on one ordinary day, and when you looked in the mirror, your skin was covered in stripes?  This is exactly what happens to the unsuspecting Camilla Cream.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon is a very creatively written book that tells the story of young Camilla Cream.  In the beginning, Camilla is busy trying on outfit after outfit in her room in preparation for the first day of school.  As she models a dress, she notices that her skin is now striped in the colors of the rainbow.  At her scream, her mother, Mrs. Cream, comes running.  Mrs. Cream is clueless as to what to do, so she calls Dr. Bumble.  The doctor announces Camilla doesn’t have any flu or cold symptoms, so he sends her off to school the next day, where all the kids call Camilla names, resulting in her changing colors.  This then sets off doctors of every kind, streaming in to try to cure the now famous Camilla Cream.  Camilla is poked and prodded, grows fungus, viruses, and all sorts of oddities until she is quite literally transformed into her room.  It turns out that Camilla just wasn’t being herself, and all she had to do was eat the lima beans she secretly loved to turn back to her normal self.

First off, I think that Camilla is much too worried about what other people think of her.  If she likes who she is, nothing else should matter.  Even though lima beans are her very favorite food in the world, she avoids eating them because all her friends think they are positively revolting!  Additionally, she tried on forty-two different outfits to decide which she looked best in for the first day of school.  Another example is when the plot almost took a nasty plunge when Camilla began to refuse the elderly lady’s offer to help by making her eat lima beans, but Camilla almost turned them down because she was too worried about other people’s opinion of her.  You can now see why not being yourself can be almost dangerous!

What if Camilla hadn’t been so hooked on making others approve of her?  If she hadn’t cared, she wouldn’t have had that bad case of stripes.  Since the bad case of stripes is the whole point of the story, there couldn’t really be a story anymore.  If Camilla had only never cared about fitting in, she wouldn’t have woken up with rainbow colored stripes running over her body because she would have eaten her fill of lima beans.  Just imagine all of that humiliation simply because of trying to hide a fondness for lima beans!

In this book, Camilla is very concerned about blending in with the crowd.  Out there in the world, there are many people like that.  Unfortunately for them, they don’t get striped head to toe in bright colors to remind them to be their own people.  They change according to popular clothing trends, music, and whatever is considered “cool” to do.  This is like Camilla taking all morning to decide what to wear and choosing not to eat her beloved lima beans because they are considered by many to be absolutely disgusting.  Maybe this quote could help Camilla, and others like her, to be themselves:  “What is popular is not always right; what is right is not always popular.”

In conclusion, this book is a great reminder to be your own person.  There is no one like you in the whole world.  The author states this creatively and folds it into the storyline.  I think David Shannon wanted to teach us to be our own selves, no matter what other people might think.  If you like who you are, nothing else should matter.  I am head over heels in love with this book, and for most of the reasons I stated above.  I believe being yourself is very important and that we all should have the right to be who we want to be.

A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon is like an orchestrated piece of music, with high notes and low notes, all resulting in a pleasant closing.  Through different bars in the piece, Camilla is trying to resolve the predicament she is in.  Whether being at school or her home, she can’t find a solution to her bad case of stripes.  The only problem besides her stripes is that Camilla will not eat lima beans, a food she relishes, because she wants to blend in with all the other children, who despise lima beans.

One morning, Camilla awoke engulfed in a rainbow of stripes.  Camilla loathed the thought of having to go to school; she would stand out like a red thumb, and Camilla wanted the exact opposite.  Since Camilla wasn’t under the weather, she was coerced to go to school because she was only blanketed in a pattern.  Shortly after Camilla arrived to school, all her peers began to badger her, behaving like laughing hyenas, and shouting out patterns to shift the design on Camilla.  Camilla was obliged to stay home from school since her stripes could be contagious.  Meanwhile, experts and specialists came, but neither the specialists nor the experts could find a remedy for Camilla’s bad case of stripes.  While Camilla has been transformed into the walls of her bedroom, an elderly woman comes to feed Camilla lima beans.  Once Camilla finally agrees to consume the lima beans, she turns back into her typical self.

Camilla wanted to assimilate to all the other children by not being true to herself.  Camilla was taking drastic measures to ensure that on the first day of school, she would dress to impress all her fellow classmates.  Camilla wouldn’t even eat lima beans, a food she loved, because all of her friends were disgusted by the beans. When Camilla first awoke in stripes, she was dreading going to school since too much attention would emerge upon her.  Instead of worrying about what the other kids thought, Camilla should have been her sincere self.

If the story continued, Camilla might be teased for eating lima beans, but people might start to like them.  Perhaps Camilla would start a lima bean trend if other students were as Camilla once was and wanted to be like all of their peers.  Conversely, Camilla could be pestered by the other children because nobody else enjoyed lima beans.  Although what would matter most was that Camilla was being herself so she wouldn’t have another bad case of stripes.

Camilla was diffident. I was also once a sheepish adolescent who wanted to be like twins with my friend.  I paid far too much attention to her likes when I should have been more attentive to myself.  For example, on the first day of school, I would fret about how if I didn’t dress like my friend, she might not like me anymore.  That is similar to how Camilla was making a great fuss about her outfit for the first day of school.  I would also worry about drawing attention to myself ion a negative way.  For instance, Camilla never wanted to stand out, only to mix in completely with all her peers.  Lastly, I would always listen to what my classmates told me and just stand there defenseless like Camilla only stood there when the children should patterns at her.

To conclude this melodious segment, the moral of the story is not to merge into a mold people create for you, but to be unique in your own way.  The sheets of music could be saying that if you keep trying to be like everyone else, you might lose yourself along with your own special melody.  The author could be teaching us about making our own music as we go along and reminding us not to follow a tune that was written for us.  The author could be telling us not to worry about what others think, but to be ourselves.  David Shannon could be saying that we need to dance like no one is watching.