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. Hi Ann, thanks for a very enlightening post. I’ve learned how to write children’s poetry by reading a lot – so now have names for some of the techniques I use when voicing my poems. Looking forward to experimenting now that I have the tools. – Nadine Cranenburgh

  2. Lori Mozdzierz:

    Ann, enjoyed the post! Always fun to try out new voices. Amazing things can happen. Writing Picture Books is a wonderful tool I have recommended to so many.

    Conversation voice: You said the speaker is denoted by change in font. Is this how we should present when submitting a poem written in this voice? Do we need to add note to clarify who is speaking when not called out in story? For instance, who is speaking to Duck? Or, do we leave it for the reader to decide?

    • I usually use the same font, but do one voice in italics and the other in normal when submitting. I don’t think you need to clarify who is speaking–the dialog should make it clear. Check out the beautiful picture book KNOTS ON A COUNTING ROPE for a great example of an entire picture book told in the conversation voice.
      PS. I’m glad you’ve found WRITING PICTURE BOOKS helpful.

  3. I just bought a copy of Ann Whitman Paul’s Writing Picture Books and will give it to a friend this month. I have my own copy and plan to review it before seeing her. We can compare notes after she reads it. Looking forward to it.

    I love the examples of different voices to consider in writing. Very helpful. Thanks to you both, Ann and Angie.

  4. Rebecca Trembula — That’s a good revision idea for prose stories too. Useful for when you can’t seem to get it right and need to kind of turn it on its head to get a handle on it again.

  5. A few points of view I had considered before, I’ll have to go back over some of my in finished poems & see if I can improve them.
    Marla Lesage

  6. Manju Howard: Currently, I am rereading my copy of WRITING PICTURE BOOKS. Ann Whitford Paul, thank you for being a mentor to me.

  7. Iza Trapani
    Very clear and helpful info! And a nice coincidence- just yesterday I picked up Ann’s book, IF ANIMALS KISSED GOODNIGHT for a friend’s little one! 🙂

  8. Excellent advice regarding trying different voices, and I appreciate the primer on the voices to try! Thank you, Ann. Val McCammon

  9. Elaine Hillson – A great post Ann and thank you for some exceptionally clear examples of how to approach writing in different voices. A different angle can change the whole feel of a story. Thanks again.

    • In addition to the different voices, you can get a new outlook on your picture book manuscript if you change the setting, the time period or perhaps even turn your people into animals or vice versa. All fun ways to reimagine your writing.

  10. Pat Haapaniemi – What a great post! I love the idea of changing around the POV. Will definitely try this with my writing!

  11. Ann, I loved this post and it reminded me of how much I love WRITING PICTURE BOOKS! I’ll have to re-read it:) Thanks again for an informative and inspiring post!

  12. Appreciations to Angie Karcher & Ann Whitford Paul. Ann is one of my role models too, Angie. I’ve just pulled down from the shelf one of her masterworks – ALL BY HERSELF, with illus. by Michael Steirnagle. This collection is actually 14 poem bios of real girl, artfully told, in one beautiful volume.
    I don’t know how she did it, but I’m beginning to get an idea, readying today’s article by Ann. I especially liked learning about the young Golda Mabovicth – in Milwaukee, who became the Israel’s & the World’s incredible, Golda Meir.

  13. Thank you, Ann & Angie for the great post! Experimenting in different voices changes the whole feel of the manuscript! Good luck with your presentation, Angie! I wish I were local so I could stop by the book fair!

    Michele Katz

  14. (Ellen Izenson)

    Another thoughtful and helpful post! Thank you Ann! My goal for the week is to get my hands on a copy of your writing guide. (And to play with voice in my stories.)

  15. Cindy Argentine
    Thank you, Ann, for this insightful post! In a concise and specific way, you demonstrated how changing voice can change the emphasis, mood, and tone of a poem.

  16. Tanja Bauerle –
    I have WRITING PICTURE BOOKS on my desk within reach at all times. 🙂 It is an incredible helpful tool. Thank you for your wonderful posts. Changing the POV in a story brings a completely different feel to the story. I need to do that more often. T.

  17. Ginger Weddle – Ann, Thank you for this wonderful lesson on voice! I am new to the practice of writing picture books. Your book was the first that I read specifically about children’s books. I love it! My copy is already well worn, high-lighted, with notecards full of notes tucked between its pages. Thank you!!! I find changing voice difficult- I’m practicing, rewriting as you suggest. Is it an easy, almost automatic process for you? Does it become truly simple with practice? I so enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • Ginger, I love hearing how you’re using my book. Thank you! Everything is difficult in the beginning, but it does get easier with practice. It’s like learning how to read–first we stumble over words, then all at once, it clicks in and off we go reading sentences, chapters, whole books. You can do it.

  18. So true! I do it for prose but hadn’t considered changing the POV in my rhyming books yet. Thank you for a great tip and some very helpful examples!

  19. Elizabeth Saba

    Thank you for the helpful post. I enjoy reading from different voices and will try that in some of my writing as well. Thanks.

  20. Ann, Thanks for sharing the concept of multiple voice applications. When a story doesn’t quite work, another voice can give it a new life. – judy Rubin

  21. Sandy Powell — Thank you for the different examples of how to write with a different voice. It really helps me understand the difference. I also want to thank you for writing, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS. I have referred back to it many times, and it has helped me become a better writer.

  22. Melanie Ellsworth – Ann, buying and reading your Writing Picture Books was one of the first things I did when I started writing for children. Thank you for that, and thanks for the refresher (and terrific examples) on the different voices that writers use. I have a board book manuscript that I’m going to revisit today; maybe trying out some of those different voices will give more energy to my story.

      • I started by trying out apostrophe voice – definitely an improvement. I’m thinking about trying conversation voice too because the girl’s mother plays a role in the story and I’d like to hear what she’s thinking. Thanks for the tips to get my story moving again!

      • Oh, Thank you Ann. I’m thrilled to be reading all these comments and not surprised that others love your post and books as much as I do! Thanks again for being part of my little contribution to the writing world!

  23. Thanks for the great post, Ann! I love Writing Picture Books–it’s my go-to guide!

    Congrats on Hello Toes! Hello Feet! being reissued too!

    Maria Gianferrari

  24. Rita Allmon– Ann, thanks for this very informative post… and for WRITING PICTURE BOOKS! I really appreciate you sharing that lesson regarding a “different voice.” So glad that HELLO TOES! HELLO FEET! did not say goodbye forever!

  25. Jill Proctor Thank you, Ann, for such an inspiring post! I can’t wait to change some manuscripts around. It was nice to meet you!

  26. Melinda Kinsman – Thanks for offering another point for us to ponder upon. I just wrote my latest picture book in the first person, and was a bit worried that it wasn’t “correct” for me to do so for younger children. I now feel empowered to make my own choice as each story demands.

  27. Susan Schade- Thanks Ann! I love how you broke down the different voices. I look forward to experimenting with some of my own pieces.

  28. Thank you Ann and Angie. Writing Picture Books is one of my favorites- clear, logical, helpful, practical- really great!

  29. Sarah Harroff

    Thank you for the suggestion, Ann. I have a work in progress that I think will greatly benefit from putting this idea into practice. Angie, thank you for the B&N coupon! I’ll be putting it to good use very soon. 🙂

  30. This is wonderful, mind-expanding info. thank you! Separately, the theme for the RhyPiBoMo Golden Quill is forcing me to think a new way, too. At first I was totally blank–such a sobering subject. But I have written two different poems already. Didn’t think I could do it.

  31. Terry Pierce– Thank you, Ann! I always love seeing how you write the same poem in different perspectives. And congrats on Hello Toes! Hello Feet! being re-released!

  32. What a great challenge to write the same poem with a different voice. It will help me find my best. Gail Cartee

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