RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 5 Ann Whitford Paul

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RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 5

Ann Whitford Paul

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Guest Blogger Badge RPBM 15 Ann Whitford Paul


Today’s guest blogger is a picture book writing heroine of mine! For those who participated in RhyPiBoMo last year, you may recall how many times I referred to her wonderful book WRITING PICTURE BOOKS. It is book that I read every few months just to re-absorb it’s contents. If you haven’t read it…you must! I am so excited to have her as one of the guest bloggers this year so with a big smile, I introduce

Ann Whitford Paul.


*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather


Years ago I was working on a concept, picture book manuscript about all the things feet do—hop, skip, jump, leap, etc. The rhymes worked, but the story felt flat until . . . someone in my writing group suggested I have the child talk to her feet.

I tried it and the manuscript came alive, not only for me, but for my editor. The resulting book HELLO TOES! HELLO FEET! received fantastic reviews and sold well.


Unfortunately, as happens in this business DKInk, the publisher, went out of business, and my book went out-of-print.

Still I had learned my lesson. When a poem (or a prose piece) isn’t working, try telling it in a different voice.
The most commonly used voice is the narrative voice when an outside narrator tells the story, as in this poem:


Down falls the rain.
The droplets all drain
off Duck’s feathery coat.

It’s continues to pour
an inch, even more
on Duck’s rubbery feet.

If it floods for a year.
Duck has nothing to fear.
She’s her very own boat.

Not bad, but let’s experiment telling it in the lyrical, first-person voice where the narrator is a participant.

I watch Duck in the rain.
The small droplets all drain
off her feathery coat.
They soak into my skin.

I wear boots when it pours
an inch, even more.
Duck does just fine
with her rubbery feet.

If it rained for a year
Duck has nothing to fear
I’d need an ark,
but Duck’s her own boat.


This lyrical voice expands the original concept. The child’s comparison of herself to the duck adds an element of wonder and even some envy.

There are three more dramatic voices we can try. Let’s start with the mask voice where the poet puts herself inside an animal or object that can’t talk. Here I imagine how Duck might feel.


Let it cloud! Let it rain!
The small droplets all drain
off my feathery coat.

Let it shower or pour
an inch, even more
on my rubbery feet.

Let it flood for a year!
I have nothing to fear.
I’m my very own boat.

I love the self-confident voice here and see Duck’s personality evolving.
Then there’s the apostrophe voice which I used in my book HELLO TOES! HELLO FEET! where I talk to an animal or object that can’t talk back, in this case Duck.

Do you like being you?
Whenever it rains
the small droplets all drain
off your water-resistant
feathery coat.

Tell me, how do you feel
when it showers or pours.
Is an inch, even more,
no bother at all
to your rubbery feet?

And if a flood came,
lasting a year
would you have any fear
or just paddle along,
being your very own boat?


The last dramatic voice is a conversation where two people, or in this case one of them a talking duck, converse. Notice there are no attributions. Characters are differentiated by changes in the font.


Duck, come out of the rain.
It’s no bother to me.
The droplets all drain
Of my water-resistant feathery coat.

Look now! See it pour.
And you have no boots.
It’s an inch, even more.
No problem at all with my rubbery feet.

What if it floods for a year?
You cannot stay out.
I have nothing to fear.
I’ll stay afloat.
I’m my very own boat.


Experimenting with different voices can enlarge your vision of your poem or prose. It opens up your imagination and leads you to fun and unexpected places. Even if you decide your original voice is the right one, you’ll find your writing expanded. Editors aren’t looking for what’s been done before. They want unique. Give it to them.


Remember that book I mentioned at the start—HELLO TOES! HELLO FEET! I’m happy to announce, thanks to on-demand printing, it is reissued.


You can order it here.



About Ann:
I became inspired to write after years of bedtime reading to my four children. My publications include many award winning prose and rhymed, fiction and non-fiction, picture books, plus a collection of poetry and three early readers. Some of my recent titles include Tortuga in Trouble, Word Builder and If Animals Kissed Good Night. I’ve also published what has become a definitive craft book for adults titled WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-on Guide from Story Creation to Publication. For over ten years, I taught picture book writing through UCLA Extension and now give independent classes and workshops. When not writing or teaching, you will probably find me reading, quilting, knitting or cooking. I love watching spiders spin their webs, snails paint their trails and cats play with yarn.

RhyPiBoMo 2015 tiles with bird

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt:5

This is NOT part of the pledge. It is an option for a writing exercise for those interested. You will not publically share this as part of RhyPiBoMo but may keep a journal of your writing this month for your own review.

Today’s writing prompt is to choose a poem you have already written and go back and re-write it using several of the different voices Ann demonstrated above.

See Ann’s examples above.



The RhyPiBoMo 2015 Barnes and Noble BookFair is this Saturday, April 11th!

I have been asked to give a talk at my local Barnes and Noble in Evansville, Indiana on Maya Angelou during Educator’s Week. I combined my talk to include tidbits about Maya’s life and poetry with diversity in children’s books. What a wonderful opportunity to discuss poetry and diversity all in one talk! Thus, Barnes and Noble agreed to offer a BookFair all day on April 11th and 20% of all the sales that day will go to WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS for all who use this coupon. It is good for sales in store and on-line so PLEASE support this worthy non-profit and buy lots and lots of books! Pass out coupons to friends and family too! Let’s support poetry and diversity in children’s books!


B&N Coupon




Golden Quill Poetry Contest


The Golden Quill Poetry Contest will accept entries STARTING April 13th and the deadline is April 25th midnight Central Time.

For further details please visit the Golden Quill Poetry Contest tab above.



Once registration ends on Wednesday, we will share information

concerning rhyming critique groups.

*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather



Add both your FIRST and LAST names to your daily comment! This is what enables you to be eligible for a prize that day. Many people are forgetting!! I request this because the reply section doesn’t give me your name unless it’s a part of your email address. And even then sometimes it’s very hard for me to figure out the exact name.

How I choose daily winners…Late each Saturday night, I will go back to Monday’s comments and count how many there are. I then type that number into a randomizer program that choose a number for me. I count from the first post down to that number and that is the daily winner. If that post doesn’t have a first and last name listed it will not win. I will then go to the next post that has a first and last name listed. I will do this for each day of the week and announce the winners on the following Monday.

Please DO NOT go back now and add another comment now as I need each person to only comment one time to keep things fair. Thanks!

Good Luck and ADD YOUR FIRST and LAST NAME to your comment!!!! = )



Official RhyPiBoMo 2015 Registration ends on April 8th, Midnight Central Time

so register now!


If you are not officially registered you will not be able to participate in the Golden Quill Poetry Contest, in Rhyming Critique Groups or will not be eligible for daily prizes.


To see if you are registered go to the Master Registration List on the drop down menu under the RhyPiBoMo Blog tab above.


Registration Link:


*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Pledge

Please comment below. You MUST add your FIRST and LAST names

to be eligible for today’s prize!


164 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 5 Ann Whitford Paul

  1. Ann, your book on writing craft is indeed a mainstay of my writing resources – thank you for sharing your deep love and knowledge of picture book writing. 🙂 I appreciate your mini workshop in using different POV’s…quite startling how it changes the tone of the poem.
    Angie, I love today’s writing prompt…I do have a poem that my daughter-in-law illustrated – it would be fun to see how changing the POV would change the story. Best of luck with your presentation…you will WOW them!! 🙂
    Vivian Kirkfield

  2. Kathy Mazurowski
    Ann’s book was the recommended in the first writing workshop I attended. I always have it handy.

    Angie, I would love to visit Evansville this Saturday, but unfortunately it is a little too far away. My brother and his wife, author Margaret McMullan live there!

  3. Nancy Mindo- Great post! Love the different combinations of writing samples… really adds a little more perspective into the readers view and how a story can really come to life..

  4. Patricia Corcoran — Thank you for the definition of the mask voice. That is the voice I usually write in but never really had a name for it.

  5. Maria Oka- That was a fabulous exercise! I met Ann at an SCBWI Schmooze in LA and it was an honor. I love her picture books and her book Writing Picture Books as well. Thank you!!

  6. I, too, have read and re-read Ann’s wonderful book on writing picture books, and strongly recommend it to those of you who may not have checked it out yet. Thanks for the reminder about switching up the voice – as you’ve so wonderfully demonstrated, it can have a huge effect on the final story or poem.

  7. Ann, Your book was also the first resource I purchased. It has been an immense help.Thank you so very much for including the examples with the mini workshop on POV. Sometimes it sinks in better with examples to evaluate. I often switch up in my prose, have to remember to do the same in poetry.
    Thank you,
    Maria Marshall

  8. MaDonna Maurer
    Thanks so much for not just telling the different voices, but showing us examples. It was very helpful.

    • There are even more ways to turn a story upside down. Move it from the city to the country, move it from present tense to the early 1700’s, change animals to people and vice-versa and write as e-mails, texts. There’s no limit to the amount of playing around you can do.

  9. Maria Bostian: Loved reading the Duck poem in different voices. Gave me lots of inspiration.

    Angie – Would you like help promoting youe B&N Book Fair? I’d be glad to help share it!

  10. Patricia Toht: Thank you, Ann, for the very concrete examples of how we can change our work by using different voices. Like Angie, I regard you as a picture book writing guru — I go through your book on writing picture books when I finish a manuscript to remind myself of how to make it stronger.

  11. Lynne Marie Pisano — I was thrilled to have Ann Whitford Paul as a Mentor at the SCBWI Summer Conference some years ago. So glad to see her here! Thanks for another fabulous Paul’s Post, Ann!

  12. Peggy Archer–I love how you have such fun experimenting with the different voices! My favorite was the ‘mask’ voice. 🙂

  13. Linda K. Bridges–Anne, thank you for this great article on working with a poem that isn’t ‘working’. Your idea of telling it in a different voice was a great one that I intend to try out right away. I loved your examples.

  14. Oh my goodness! Thank you for this. I can’t wait to try on a story I have written to see what more can come of it. Wonderful post!

  15. This is my favorite post so far. I enjoyed reading how the same poem became so different by changing the voices. Thank you for the detailed examples. Danielle Hammelef

  16. I like the idea of playing around with the voice with the same piece – going to give it a shot Thanksfor the post

  17. This post was so thoughtfully constructed and fully explained. I was quite enthusiastic about all the possibilities for story telling a change in voice creates Great post! Thank you. Marianne Gage

  18. Ann Magee–Well, there’s certainly a lot to think about here and in your book, Ann. It is a valuable guide for us writers. Thanks so much for the advice.

  19. Here is my silly attempt to craft a rhyme:
    Moving along with RhyPiBoMo posts, I am behind as you can clearly see.
    My writer’s toolbox includes a special book, Writing Picture Books. It is such a masterpiece.
    I thought the book by Ann Whitford Paul was all I need.
    Now this very post encourages the writerly voice in me.
    I look forward to reading the reissued book, Hello Toes! Hello Feet?
    Thank you, Ann. Thank you Angie.
    ~Suzy Leopold

  20. Thank you for the different voices! I’ve already experimented and been pleased with the process and the results!
    Darlene Ivy

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