If you teach English and you’ve never read The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler, I recommend checking it out as soon as you finish this post that was inspired by it as a mentor text!

I am a HUGE fan of both this book and the use of mentor texts as a part of writing instruction. 


Spring is a girl in a yellow-flowered print dress.  Butterflies land in her flowing hair and delicately flap their wings, creating a breeze that just manages to kiss her cheeks. Her eyes are the blue of an afternoon sky washed out by sunlight. With a smile, she opens her mouth intending to sing aurias but discovers she prefers the sound of tweets and chirps.

The blush on her cheeks is the lightest dust of rose pollen, settled there after its journey on a gentle breeze.  She is single but wears new diamonds each morning and looks for love with each sunset, pushing the time further back each night as she roams in her quest.

Summer is a temperamental red-head with a hot, fiery attitude that crackles and singes a path of destruction in her long march through time. She blisters and storms- sometimes violently- before she calms.  When Summer wishes to speak, she gains the room’s attention with a clap of thunder, and when she is angry her words randomly roar about like a tornado, following no particular path.

Autumn wears long, flowing orange and red dresses that brush the ground. She is an advocate for boldness and change, so she goes from place to place opening and closing windows, hiding jackets and umbrellas, and pushing the sun down past the horizon a bit earlier each evening. She carries an artist’s palette everywhere she travels and sometimes flings calico patches of color onto the hillsides.

She envies her sister Winter’s ability to conceal things with snow, so she instead drops leaves.  It always disappoints her when the red, orange, and gold carpet she creates turns brown, although she loves to hear the crackle and crunch as small children walk on the leaves and then toss them into the air.

Autumn is a true middle child, neither cold nor hot, seeking attention but often being quietly disregarded because she is not as brash as her sisters.

Winter is a pink-cheeked child.  Sometimes in her innocence, she covers the world’s grays and browns with a sparkling fresh snow that reflects the sun and gives the illusion of a clean, new beginning.  She speaks in a hushed whisper and loves to bundle up in her puffy red coat and mittens so she can tiptoe out and see her puffs of breath.

She needs a nap occasionally, so her sisters Spring and Autumn come to watch over her and her space while she briefly rests.

Like her older sister, Summer, her temper can get the best of her at times, and she will howl in frustration, a blizzard of irrational, random, snowy thoughts clouding her vision. At other times she passive-aggressively freezes up so hard she won’t melt or thaw for even the sunniest disposition. When she gets that angry, it’s best to hide under a quilt until her storm passes.