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Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice
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Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  159 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Three Blind Mice. Three Blind Mice. See how they run? No. See how they can make all sorts of useful literary elements colorful and easy to understand!

Can one nursery rhyme explain the secrets of the universe? Well, not exactly—but it can help you understand the difference between bildungsroman, epigram, and epistolary.

From the absurd to the wish-I’d-thought-of-that clever,
ebook, 144 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Dan Domanski No. The book explains writing concepts such as "tour de force," "style" and "oxymoron" using the "Three Blind Mice" poem as a starting point. But it's…moreNo. The book explains writing concepts such as "tour de force," "style" and "oxymoron" using the "Three Blind Mice" poem as a starting point. But it's not a book of poems.(less)

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Lewis, C. (2013). Thrice told tales: Three mice full of writing advice. (Ill. by J. Swarte). New York: Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 144 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4169-5784-3. (Hardcover); $16.99.

Generally I do not read or even see other reviews of books until after my reviews are sent to MRJ. This review is exceedingly rare because I decided to review it AFTER reading the review in Horn Book (July 15, by J. Lu), which I think totally missed the point and the audience of this delightful dictionary of lit
Hannah Laurel Overstreet
Jul 24, 2013 Hannah Laurel Overstreet rated it really liked it
Thrice Told Tales was full of excellent writing advice, told extremely creatively and entirely through the medium of the old rhyme Three Blind Mice. Unlike other books which attempt to explain various English writing and literary terms, this guide was both interesting and to the point. The book is an excellent resource for writers to have on hand, as well as a quick source of ideas and story problem fixes.
Nayana Jain
Apr 02, 2015 Nayana Jain rated it liked it
This book wasn't what I thought. When I borrowed it, I didn't see the bit about writing advice.. But in saying that, it wasn't as boring as I thought a book like this would be. I liked the idea of using the nursery rhyme as a way to show writing tools and since there was still plot I found it fairly interesting.
Nov 16, 2015 Trinity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Karen Elizabeth Gordon
Hilarious, and definitely don't forget to read the appendix!
Ian Tymms
Great book. Lovely idea to use the telling of a story to introduce the conventions of writing. A great resource for teaching.
Kim Pocock
May 28, 2015 Kim Pocock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and hilarious at points! I think all high school English students should have this book (and I only say high school because there is some mature content). Loved it.
Juli Anna
May 16, 2017 Juli Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is a fantastic reference book for literary-minded teens. The premise is simple: the author has compiled an encyclopedia of literary terms and explained each of them using an extended version of the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice." Lewis's examples are clear and humorous, and she even tackles more collegiate terms like metafiction and intertextuality, which was delightfully surprising. Given the juvenility of the subject matter, i had expected this book to be appropriate for middle grade re ...more
Dan Domanski
Jul 19, 2017 Dan Domanski rated it really liked it
This book is a cross between writing advice and an encyclopedia of writing terms, most of which I've already heard of (style, plot, etc.) and some oddballs (bildungsroman). The use of "Three Blind Mice" to illustrate each writing concept is clever, although I don't feel compelled to buy any of Catherine Lewis' novels. I would, however, like to see more of Joost Swarte's other illustrations!

While it's not really a cover-to-cover kind of book, it was a fun read and I hope it will be a good referen
Mr. Dalsky
I had hoped that this might have a use in my classroom to help teach aspects of writing and literature, but it was kind of bizarre. I got tired of the continuation of the story with the three blind mice. I would recommend bypassing this book.
Jul 19, 2017 Emilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of different writing techniques and ways of writing briefly covered in this little book.
Jul 10, 2014 Travis rated it liked it
Thrice Told Tales is a creative twist on instructional books on the art of writing. The book begins with a simple story adapted from the old Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme: “Three blind mice ran after the farmer’s wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife.” The book explains that on its most basic level, these sentences are a sequence of events, or in another word, a story. Good writing, however, involves more than simply telling a sequence of events, and writer Catherine Lewis shows re ...more
Becky B
Using the tale of the Three Blind Mice, Catherine Lewis (with the help of illustrator Joost Swarte) explains writing tools, methods, and terms.

Quite a creative writer's advice book with illustrations more likely to stick in heads. The examples varied in their astounding quality, but for the most part were well done. This would be a nice resource in language arts classrooms. (It isn't meant to be read straight through, but to be more of a resource.) I do recommend it as a resource to help studen
Dec 31, 2014 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High School and beyond
This is a humorous nonfiction title for teens that discusses the DOs and DON'Ts of writing. I found it to be insightful, accurate, honest, and inspiring. Lewis takes us on a journey through a wide number of topics including transitions, expletives, sex in the story, subplots, the list literally goes on and on...

While I think that all the topics that get covered are necessary and helpful, there were several moments when I thought that the manner in which one was dealt with was a bit brash, consi
Aug 25, 2013 Ricki rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that is so clever, I am depressed that I didn't come up with the idea myself. Reading and writing teachers will adore the way this book is constructed and be excited to use it in their classrooms. A different writing term is creatively interpreted on each page within the context of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme. At the bottom of each page, Lewis gives an explanation of the writing term and how it can be employed in writing (see the flagged passage below). I loved ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Brianna rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those who are aspiring writers
This book is basically set out like this:
Example in the form of a mouse-ish story
Small definition and how to use it effectively

Since I got this book from the library, it wasn't really an option to keep it by my side as I wrote my story. It has some helpful hints and tips that are told creatively with some great examples, but when reading them in one sitting like I did I couldn't get the most out of it. Also, a lot of the time, I found myself not really caring
Using the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice" and delightful black and white cartoon-like drawings, Lewis humorously illustrates and defines literary terms and devices that English teachers everywhere want readers to know about, and that writers need to know about. The table of contents is two pages (4 columns) long because most chapters are only a single page. It includes terms such as story, plot, immediacy, irony, red herring, leitmotif, interior monologue, allegory, epigram, farce, intertextual ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Bethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fundamentally fascinating book! Not sure how I came upon it, but glad I did. A must read for writers, or readers interested in the art and craft of writing. The author takes a look at a variety of literary devices and then applies them to the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice. From easy topics like plot, cause/effect, character traits, POV, and figurative language that are commonly taught in elementary school to things that I had never heard of like bildungsroman and pathetic fallacy, this b ...more
Oct 21, 2013 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Using the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice" the author explains writing terms with clever examples.

Each term is presented in 1-2 pages with the story of the ill-fated mice taking twists and turns to model the idea and a summary concluding the main idea at the bottom of each page. Illustrations on each page add humor and help to incite interest in the subject. An appendix is included that goes provides more information about each writing concept should readers want to know more.

This author's work
Dec 08, 2014 Thorny rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've come across to recommend to young friends interested in writing better. So many books written to instruct writers, to educate, to enlighten, also involve unnecessarily academic terminology and frequently examples of writing with subject matter and language not advisable for young readers.
Thrice Told Tales receives my wholehearted endorsement as the perfect gift for young writers who want to learn basic techniques and terminology in the unique framework of the story of
Aug 30, 2013 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This came on my radar as a possible YA nonfiction purchase, and though I did buy it, I think it's too good to just limit to teens. In fact I think it might make a good college freshman comp supplementary text! It's SO funny. Sections are brief though pithy, and include topics like Metafiction; Immediacy; foreshadowing; etc., and all are told through the familiar tale of the three blind mice (here named Pee Wee, Oscar, and Mary, and they've regained some of their sight.)

The illustrations are grea
Leah Beecher
Feb 21, 2014 Leah Beecher rated it really liked it
I love libraries! Just picked up this new release. I plopped myself down and read the first two chapters and laughed a ton and picked up some great writing tips. If you have kids who are budding authors I recommend driving or walking or taking the bus to your library today.
Well, I didn't exactly finish this one. More of a pick up and read a chapter here or there kinda reference book on writing. When it comes to paperback I think I may purchase it. It is charming and in
Apr 06, 2015 Vaasanthi rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-comfort
Like what the title says, it is filled with writing advice. I am giving it 4 stars just because the actual content is quite boring. But...the way it is written with all the little mice cartoons made it look much more un to read. most of the tips that are given are what we already know but we can expand upon them. Such as Grammar and Punctuation. It really helped me in a way because now I know when to place my commas and where can I out more better vocabulary. Quick little book with lots of trick ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
This exceptionally witty writing manual explains literary devices, styles, and terms using the English nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice" as an exemplar for each. It's a funny and entertaining spin on what would otherwise be dry as toast (note the simile, the mice taught me that it's a type of metaphor, I always thought it was one or the other). I highly recommend this book to anyone taking or teaching a writing class. It would also be excellent for anyone thinking of becoming a writer. -- Alexis ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
Clearly written, short, goofy and slightly gory this is a step above many writing books. Taking the nursery rhyme and rewriting the story to illustrate the writing technique at hand was surprisingly effective even if I did get a little tired of tails getting chopped. (I read this in an afternoon when snowed in, so that might be my own fault.) Presenting information for a reader or writer to use instead of telling you how to use it, my main complaint is that I have had the There Blind Nice song s ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Nadine rated it really liked it
It's clever that's for sure. The nursery rhyme of "three blind mice" is told 117 times in every possible manner of writing. It's a quick read, but the problem is by about number 40 you start to tire of it a bit. And then by about 50 or so you just give up.

So yes, excellent as a reference work. Not as a work of fiction.

My biggest gripe is that the letters are so small! It makes everything seem so rushed and not as consequential as it ought to be. This would be a great book in A4 size with big le
Apr 26, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent and fun writing resource for young adults. Lewis uses the common nursery rhyme, "Three Blind Mice" to demonstrate an abundance of writing elements and vocabulary. The tale is expanded upon and altered in order to relate to every term. While it is a funny and rather quick read all the way through, it would be especially useful to have handy as a simple reference tool. And if the comical examples don't quite make sense to readers, the book also includes an appendix with more d ...more
Shanshad Whelan
Aug 08, 2013 Shanshad Whelan rated it really liked it
A really clever book of writing tools and tricks of the trade, all based around the story of the Three Blind Mice. The fact that the writing advice is based on a nursery rhyme, however, does not make it suitable for younger readers.

I'd been reading this with Middle Grade in mind, but now I'd say YA for certain. Beyond simply the topics of swearing and sex, there's the fact that nearly every other book or author referenced in this text is for adult or teen readers. A mention of Truman Capote's In
Lyen Krenz
Jan 09, 2015 Lyen Krenz rated it really liked it
Having my little impulse and passion for writing, and to see this book on sale at the local bookstore one day, well, you fit the pieces.

This was a very interestingly creative way to learn about certain (both basic and complex) grammatical and literary concepts. It's a great book for budding writers who need a little check on the terminologies, and it can be great help to anybody taking writing courses. The originality and wit of this book is ace. :)
Sep 20, 2013 Ramarie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
super clever way to explain literary terms! Lewis uses the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme as a means to explain each term, along with "snip of the tale" for a quick definition, and an interesting appendix with more detailed information on each term. I think I may understand the term metafiction now. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Sarah!
Jun 27, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
Fun writing reference book. I will use some of the ideas in my classroom, but the book is written for an adult audience (even though my city library put it in the junior section). It is clever and creative in the way it uses the Three Blind Mice to teach so many writing terms and ideas, but parts of it are too sophisticated for my middle school students.
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Catherine Lewis worked as an emergency medical technician and police officer while honing her writing skills. She now teaches creative writing at Purchase College and lives in New York City.

Her first novel, "Dry Fire," was for adults; "Postcards to Father Abraham" is her debut young adult novel.
More about Catherine Lewis...

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