RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 11
Pat Zietlow Miller
Today’s guest blogger is a writer that is on fire! Not unlike the Hunger Games heroine…trust me, when you get to the bottom of this post and see all the books she has coming out in 2015, 2016 and 2017 you will want to be Pat Miller! I love her picture book SOPHIE’S SQUASH and can’t wait to own the rest. There is something so magical about these heartwarming themes that her books have that make you want to go back and read them again and again. She has obviously figured out the magic potion to writing for kids and I am happy to have her sprinkle some of that
magic on all of us today!
I am pleased
Pat Zietlow Miller
Now is the Time for Humorous Rhyme
I’m in awe of well-done rhyming picture books. When the rhyme and plot and emotional arc are spot on, they are a work of art. In fact, when I read books like ALL THE WORLD, HURRY DOWN TO DERRY FAIR, BLUE ON BLUE and ONCE UPON A MEMORY, I hold them near to my heart.
Books like this were among the ones that inspired me to try my own hand at rhyming. I remember thinking, “Well, if it doesn’t work, I don’t have to show it to anyone.” And then, I spent months tapping the beat and counting syllables and reading my work out loud, trying to make things just as smooth and perfect as possible.
I know I didn’t achieve perfection, but I did sell two rhyming picture books – WHEREVER YOU GO (coming April 21 from Little, Brown) and SHARING THE BREAD: AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING STORY (coming Aug. 25 from Schwartz & Wade).
But one thing I have not yet attempted, much less mastered, is the art of a humorous rhyming picture book. Because if you can write awesome, heart-holding rhyme and also be funny, you are golden. Absolutely golden.
So let’s look at an author who glitters brightly, Jill Esbaum.
Jill has written several funny rhyming picture books – ESTELLE TAKES A BATH and TOM’S TWEET come to mind. I strongly suggest you read them at the first available opportunity. But today, we’re going to talk about I AM COW, HEAR ME MOO, which was published in 2014 by Dial Books.
It’s the story of a cow named Nadine who brags that she’s not scared of anything. When her friends call her bluff, Nadine finds herself in the woods at night. And she’s surprised to find it’s fascinating. Not scary at all, until she gets overconfident, loses her friends, thinks something is chasing her and runs straight off a cliff.
Here’s what makes this book a rhyming success story:
If your rhyming book is telling a story (as opposed to being a lyrical poem) it needs to have a plot just as strong as non-rhyming books. That means an initial incident, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. Jill’s book delivers.
Nadine and her friends explore the scary woods, get lost in a cave, discover bones, race through the woods, run right off a cliff and land in a pond before finally stumbling home.
A good way to see if your story has a plot is to write it out in prose. Yes, that takes extra time, but it’s worth it. Read your prose version and see if there’s enough action and intrigue to sustain a reader. If there isn’t, you have work to do.
Another tip is to write a one-sentence summary of each of your stanzas. Then read your summary sentences in order. Do a lot of them sound the same? Are they very vague and general? If so, you need to amp up your plot. Also, read your one-sentence summaries to see if your plot happens in the right order. It’s easy to get your stanzas out of order.
There’s a lot of cow humor in Jill’s rhyme. Nadine is so scared her milk curdles. Her friends tell her to “Moooove it!” and when Nadine is finally home safely she “fell on her brisket and kissed the barn floor.” Make no mistake, working in the humor into the story’s meter and rhyme scheme is no small feat.
Jill also slyly pokes fun at Nadine’s overconfidence:
“Not lightning?” asked Starla. “Loud noises? A rat?”
“I’m not scared,” Nadine boasted, “of any of that.”
“The woods?” asked Annette. “Cause that place scares me stiff.”
“Not me,” bragged Nadine with a proud little sniff.
Of course, we come to find out Nadine may not have been completely truthful.
The other awesome thing about Jill’s word choice is how well her verse flow. It reads very conversationally. The rhyme is so good, you almost forget it rhymes. You never have to read it a certain way to make it sound right.
I know Jill, and sometimes, I can hear her voice when I read her words. Here are two of my favorite stanzas that show inspired word choices that still read seamlessly and are spot-on with the meter.
Like a rocket, she shot over brambles and bumps,
galumphed over deadfalls and rotted-out stumps.
She thundered through thickets, deep gullies, tight squeezes,
and ragweed that triggered spectacular sneezes.
She took her sweet time checking out every nook.
This cranny? That corner? Nadine had to look.
Her tour of the cave-den was almost complete …
when a small pile of bones made her heart skip a beat.
“Ta-da!” Nadine sang. “Here I am, girls. Let’s go.”
Were her friends waiting there where she’d left them?
Now, writing like this is not something you can crank out without a lot of work.
Les Paul, a songwriter who helped pioneer the solid-body electric guitar, once said, “You can’t go to the store and buy a good ear and rhythm.” This is true. Some people have more of natural gift for how words sound than others. And Jill is certainly part of that group.
But anyone can get better by reading good rhyme, understanding why it works and then working to make their own as good as possible. So read on, write on and then … rhyme on.
Pat Zietlow Miller is the author of SOPHIE’S SQUASH (which does not rhyme) and WHEREVER YOU GO (which does). She’s won the Golden Kite Award and received the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor and the Charlotte Zolotow Honor. Pat has eight books under contact, two of which rhyme. You can learn more about her at http://www.patzietlowmiller.com.
Look at ALL these books!
SOPHIE’S SQUASH from Schwartz & Wade, available now
WHEREVER YOU GO coming from Little, Brown, April 21, 2015
SHARING THE BREAD coming from Schwartz & Wade, August 2015
SOPHIE’S SEEDS, coming from Schwartz & Wade fall 2016
THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE coming from Chronicle in 2016
MY BROTHER, THE DUCK, coming from Chronicle in 2017
WIDE-AWAKE BEAR coming from HarperCollins in 2017
BE KIND, coming from Roaring Book in 2017
RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt: 11
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 humorous rhyming poem.
The web that was spun by the spider so free,
was hung in a corner, not from sea to sea.
The mouse that ran through my house, oh, so quick,
he didn’t have buttons on top that you click.
The home that I knew was where I slept at night,
not the page that comes up with icons at right.
A snail and the mail were two separate things.
Now it’s something the mail lady brings.
When I was printing-on-line while at school,
my handwriting followed every rule.
The keyboard played music I practiced each day,
and surfing was done on a wave with a spray.
“Yahoo” I yelled, sledding down slopes so slick.
A virus was what made me puke and feel sick.
Software and boots were pjs and shoes.
A port was for docking the boat on a cruise.
Mosquitoes left mega bytes on both of my legs.
The menu I liked was with bacon and eggs.
Troubleshooting meant you had really bad aim,
and cd’s were letters which after B came.
The desktop I knew was piled high with my stuff,
and files were for filing a nail that was rough.
The Sunday drive we took every week,
was the chat that we had; we did actually speak!
I don’t know when everything got so confused.
The language I knew is forever abused.
These words will never have meanings the same.
I suspect that this thing with the screen is to blame.
© 2015 Angie Karcher
Golden Quill Poetry Contest
The Golden Quill Poetry Contest will accept entries STARTING April 13th and the deadline is April 25th midnight Central Time.
PLEASE make sure you read the contest rules and follow them exactly. Unfortunately, due to the number of poems we will receive, a poem will be disqualified if it does not follow the guidelines exactly. This is only fair to those who did follow the rules and is good practice for us as writers because editors expect those guidelines to be followed to the letter.
First and Last name included in the body of the email at the top left
Email address included in the body of the email at the top left
Phone number – top left
Space down 5 spaces
The Theme is: Freedom
Title of poem – centered with no by line or name here
8 line limit
Must be a rhyming poem
You will be judged on clever title, rhyme scheme, rhythm, scansion, perfect rhyming words, internal rhyme, alliteration, consonance, assonance, onomatopoeia, and clever ending.
Submit poems to
by April 25th midnight central time
Do you enjoy writing rhyming picture books?
Do you find rhyme challenging?
Do you want to pep up your prose with poetic techniques?
Then this is the class for you!
Writing in Rhyme to WOW! is a 4 week course,
M-F with daily lessons, writing prompts, rhyme journaling, creating tools you will use, group poetry readings, webinars and critique groups, and a one-on-one webinar critique with Angie.
Each class begins on the first Monday of the month and the weekly group webinars are on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, (Chicago Time) or at a time that best suits the group due to time zones of those involved.
There are only 2 spots left in May!
I am beginning to sign people up for June and July!
Contact Angie with questions.
Sign up now before the classes are full!
Click here for more information!
Need a critique?
Angie is now offering
rhyming picture book and poetry manuscript critiques.
She offers a One Time critique or a Twice Look critique.
See the tab above or click here for more information.