Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Art, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Michigan Author, Nature Smart, Print Motivation, Self Smart | 3 comments

ellieIt’s officially the first day of spring, and yes, we have snow in Michigan. *sigh* I need a good book to lift my spirits, and I’ve found the perfect one: Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel written and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw.

Usually I blog about picture books to use with students in preschool through third grade. This book is different; it’s what I call a “highly illustrated novel”, ideal for your second and third graders (also appropriate for those first grade super readers). If you’ve had kids clamoring for Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, give them Ellie. The Wimpy Kid is in middle school, and he’s not a particularly great role model (part of his appeal to the older crowd). Ellie McDoodle has all the cool doodles throughout the book like the Wimpy Kid books, but Ellie is an awesome chick. She’s into nature and drawing so she appeals to boys and girls, and she’s a good kid. This first book in the Ellie McDoodle series has Ellie off on a camping trip with her cousins and her little brother, Ben-Ben. She journals the ups and downs of it all in this book.

We just had Ruth McNally Barshaw come talk to 200 fifth graders who’d studied this book as part of our Battle of the Books. Ruth was phenomenal. Our fifth graders cheered like they were meeting a rock star! They loved this book and are quickly gobbling up the next three books in the series (Ellie McDoodle: New Girl in School, Ellie McDoodle: Best Friends Fur-Ever, Ellie McDoodle: Most Valuable Player – books 5 and 6 are in the works).

So share Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel with your students, especially the author’s note at the end where Ruth describes how to keep a sketch journal. Talking about the information found in the illustrations and how it supports the text is a way to hit the Common Core State Standard of Integrating Knowledge & Ideas. Give the kids paper to make their own mini-journals, and encourage them to doodle, write, and record events from their lives. Even reluctant writers and artists will be drawn in by Ruth’s fun doodle tips also found at the back of the book.

For more information about Ruth McNally Barshaw, please visit: ruthexpress.com.


  1. Yay for Ellie McDoodle! Ruth’s books became my daughter’s favorites when she was in 3rd grade, and she still enjoys re-reading them as a 5th grader.

    • I’m so glad your daughter found the Ellie McDoodle books, Kristin! (She must have a good mom!) Although Ellie is older than third grade, I think the kids in early elementary will enjoy her just as much as the older kids do.

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