by Gretchen Anderson, Grade 5
Haynes School, Sudbury, Massachusetts
Gretchen spent a year and a half working on a cookbook that combined vignettes of scenes from Little Women and Little Men with many authentic 19th century recipes for making the foods described in the novels. Cooking was Gretchen’s hobby and she became fascinated with the foods mentioned in the novels and learned how to recreate them. Because Gretchen believed that other youngsters would also be interested in these foods, she sent her book to Little Brown Company. The Louisa May Alcott Cookbook was accepted and became the first book contracted by them with a child author.
Teacher’s Role and Comments
Gretchen’s teacher, Elizabeth D. Beloff, reported that Gretchen’s enthusiasm for reading the books and researching the recipes could not sustain her through the writing of each scene and the incredible attention to detail necessary in creating the recipes.
Therefore, Ms. Beloff needed to complete the following steps to help Gretchen complete her project.
- Vary the assignments (e.g., text writing/research/recipe writing).
- Assign tasks that could be completed in one or two sessions.
- Break large segments into small parts.
- Use a system to record accomplishments (e.g., weekly or daily check sheet).
Gretchen’s teacher also indicated that Gretchen was always able to envision the book, but had a problem getting organized. She was able to help her by suggesting ways of organizing information. Particularly useful was a file box to keep recipes and notecards that recorded steps to be taken.