RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 6
Today’s guest blogger is a very busy lady who I had the pleasure of meeting last summer at the L.A. SCBWI Conference. It was her 12 x 12 gathering I was heading to attend when some tricky stairs had another plan entirely. I am happy she is here to share her thoughts on figurative language.
Welcome Julie Hedlund!
As I sat down to write this post about using figurative language in rhyming picture books, I came across this handy image from writeworld.org. When we think of figurative language, the first examples that come to mind are simile and metaphor, but those are just two of the tools in a whole shed full of others.
Rhyming picture books (and indeed all poetry) are such fertile ground for figurative language. Mix in the fact that anything can happen in a children’s book and you’ve got a recipe for making writing fun.
Let’s begin with the most familiar…
SIMILE AND METAPHOR
Similes and metaphors are often used to show strong, complicated emotions—such as love—that are difficult to express.
For example, the book I LOVE YOU AS MUCH by Lauri Krauss Melmud uses similes throughout.
Said the mother horse to her child, I love you as much as a warm summer breeze.
Said the mother bear to her child, I love you as much as the forest has trees.
I make use of metaphors in my own book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN.
My love for you is the sun.
Rising in your tender heart,
It shines on you when we’re apart.
My use of metaphor vs. simile was deliberate. Even the youngest child knows the sun is a constant, powerful force, gives us warmth, and comes up every day. By saying my love IS the sun, the reader gets a sense of its power.
Each verse of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN also contains PERSONIFICATION. I’m giving human qualities to inanimate objects.
My love for you is a star.
Sparkling gemstone in the sky,
It keeps you under watchful eye.
Similes and metaphors aren’t only the domain of loving, quiet books, however. Debbie Diesen uses simile in the refrain of THE POUT-POUT FISH IN THE BIG-BIG DARK:
I’m fast as a sailfish,
I’m strong as a shark,
I’m smart as a dolphin …
But I’m scared of the dark.
Deb Lund makes use of simile, metaphor, AND invented words in ALL ABOARD THE DINOTRAIN:
The engine coughs and dinochugs.
The train moves like a line of slugs.
“We haven’t traveled very far.
Let’s dinopush each railroad car.”
IDIOM, CLICHÉ and SYMBOL
One of the lovely tricks of verse is that idioms and clichés can be made fresh when they’re used to interrupt expectations and/or add humor. Corey Rosen Schwartz does this with great mastery in THE THREE NINJA PIGS:
For months, she’d persisted in earnest
Until she had paid all her dues.
How happy she felt
When she earned her last belt.
“I’ll make that wolf shake in his shoes.”
In another verse…
The wolf looked quite shaken,
But hollered, “Yo, Bacon.
I’m not at all scared of your tricks.”
In this case, Bacon becomes a hilarious symbol for the pig, and also plays on the fact that pigs symbolize food to the wolf.
Phrases that exaggerate to make a point can also be used to great effect in rhyming books. Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen uses this technique in HAMPIRE.
As Duck raced Red to Pony’s stall,
They heard the Hampire screaming.
“I’m starved, of course—
I’d eat a horse!”
His pointy fangs were gleaming.
What makes this verse even funnier (and creepier too) is that there is an actual horse in the story, so it’s a double play on words with a dash of mystery. Is this a figure of speech, or does he really want to eat the horse?
It’s true that rhyming well requires a great deal of work—proper use of meter and scansion, not falling into the traps of easy rhyme and inverted sentence structures, etc.
Figurative language gives you the chance to take a break from the mechanics and step inside a sandbox to construct castles from words. Allow yourself to play with your words and language, and your writing will be the richer.
Julie is a monthly contributor on author/illustrator Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books children’s literature podcast, a PAL member of SCBWI, and a contributing editor on the subject of 21st Century Publishing for Children’s Book Insider.
Julie Hedlund is an award-winning children’s book author, founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, blogger, and a regular speaker at SCBWI and other industry events.
Her picture book, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013, first published as an interactive storybook app, was the recipient of the 2014 Independent Book Publisher’s Association Benjamin Franklin Digital Gold Award. Her storybook app, A SHIVER OF SHARKS, Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013, was a 2014 Digital Book Award winner. Her next book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, released in September 2014 from Little Bahalia.
RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt:6
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 write a poem using at least 2 of the figurative language choices above.*
Rhyming Critique Groups
If you are interested in joining a rhyming critique group go to the RhyPiBoMo Facebook group and add your name to the post concerning critique groups. Dawn Young will organize the groups and contact you once your group is formed and ready to go. We will need one person in each group to volunteer to be the Admin for the group so please state that you are interested in your comment on Facebook.
Thank you Dawn for organizing and running these groups!
We have several groups still going strong from last year!
We will not organize critique groups outside of Facebook this year. If you are interested in forming a critique group outside of Facebook, please comment about that in your reply to this post and add your name and email address so anyone else interested can contact you directly.
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!
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 YOR FIRST and LAST NAME to your comment!!!! = )
Official RhyPiBoMo 2015 Registration ends TODAY, 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.