RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 17 Miranda Paul

Welcome to

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 17

Miranda Paul

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Guest Blogger Badge  Miranda_Paul_Headshot_2015


Today’s guest blogger is a friend with whom I had the pleasure of meeting last summer at Kristen Fulton’s WOW Retreat in Georgia. It was the best week of my writing life as I met SO many of my virtual writing friends in person and signed with my wonderful agent Kenda Marcus of BookStop Literary! Mirada taught an amazing session that week and it was full of great ideas, motivating writing tips and loads of resources. I am so happy she is here to help us celebrate Non-Fiction and Earth Day with her environmentally friendly books!

I am pleased

to introduce

Miranda Paul

*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather

The Science of Poetry: A Look at

Rhythmic Nonfiction


The craft of writing books for children straddles the line between science and art. When I’m working on a nonfiction manuscript, it feels like I’m alternating between a paint-by-number kit and a laboratory experiment—with an outcome I can’t fully predict.

If you haven’t immersed yourself in newer nonfiction for young readers, you’re missing out. Today’s rhythmic and rhyming nonfiction picture books and poetry collections are quite remarkable. Here are five things I’ve noticed about some of my favorite titles.

1. Clear format or pattern
When working with a nonfiction concept or historically-based story, bending and twisting facts to change the plot isn’t an option. But establishing a different way to tell the story is an option.

If you’re exploring a concept that’s been done already, you might find a fresh, new format or pattern to use. For example, I chose a very unique stanza rhythm for my forthcoming book, Water is Water, which involves a concept (the water cycle) that’s been written about many times over.

Bus 1 copy


Bus 2 copy


Art from Water is Water © Jason Chin 2015. http://www.jasonchin.net


If you’re dealing with subject matter that is unique or unfamiliar to your audience, the opposite strategy may apply. Choosing an established format or pattern might balance the scales. Example: The Mangrove Tree by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth is about an environmentalist that many children will not recognize. Although it is not a rhyming book, they use a familiar pattern (The House that Jack Built / cumulative style) to make the text itself recognizable and/or predictable.

Mangrove copy

2. Consideration of audience
Along the lines of #1, some of my favorite nonfiction titles are brilliant in the way that they take a complex subject and make it engaging for children, or bring depth and wonder to a seemingly simple topic.

We often choose our subjects based on what we’re interested in—at least, I know I do. But the key for me is to take that concept or subject and ask what I’d be interested in about that topic if I were between the ages of four and eight. I also consider what I would already know, and what I wouldn’t.

Some books that find the balance between simplifying the complex and layering the simple in ways that engage children are:

rock copy

A Rock Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Eggs copy

Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Betsy Thompson

African Animals copy

African Animals ABC by Philippa-Alys Browne

Nest copy

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins



3. Re-Readability
This is my favorite quality of well-written rhyming books or poetry. The ease with which a child can memorize a text are part of what render a story successful, at least to me.

While things such as illustrations and an adult-child bond will inevitably contribute toward whether a book gets re-read, there are other factors that help a book’s chances of being loved until it’s spine is worn.

-Economy of words
If you can say something in fewer words, do.

Green copy

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

-Impeccable rhythm
Make the adult reader a rock star with meter and rhyme that’s obvious, infectious, and smooth.

Do you know copy

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea

-Forward motion

Consider page breaks and the order of concepts/events to build anticipation.

Island copy

An Island Grows by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Cathie Felstead

Conscientious writers take care with details, making the story appreciated more and more over time. Word choice, back matter, and the overall presentation elevate a simple story to one that touches readers, reaches wider audiences, or invites further study.

Cookies copy

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon, illustrated by Julie Paschkis


What do you think? Can any nonfiction subject be explored through poetry? Written about in rhyme? What other elements have made nonfiction picture books successful? Which titles are your favorites?

Feel free to leave a comment below!



About Miranda:

Miranda Paul is a children’s writer who is passionate about creating stories for young readers that inspire, entertain, and broaden horizons. In addition to more than 50 short stories for magazines and digital markets, Miranda is the author of several forthcoming picture books from imprints of Lerner, Macmillan, and Random House. Her debut, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, and her second book, Water is Water were both named Junior Library Guild selections. She is the Executive VP of Outreach for We Need Diverse Books™ (www.diversebooks.org) and the administrator of RateYourStory.org, a site for aspiring writers. Miranda believes in working hard, having fun, and being kind.


One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – illus. Elizabeth Zunon – Lerner, now available

Water is Water – illus. Jason Chin – Macmillan, May 26, 2015

Helping Hands – illus. Luciana Navarro Powell – Lerner, Spring 2016

10 Little Ninjas – illus. Nate Wragg – Knopf/Random House, August 2016

Are We Pears Yet? – illus. Carin Berger – Macmillan, Spring 2017

Learn more at http://www.mirandapaul.com.

Water is water                  One plastic bag

Buy Here                 Buy Here




RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt: 17

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 rhyming poem about a non-fiction subject.

For example:


Une Soldier de France


The visions came of victory sought.

When seventeen, he bravely fought.

Though never trained to ride a horse,

his knowledge brought strategic force.

His battle standards fit quite loose

and led France to an English truce.

He proudly stood to honor France

but hadn’t learned their song and dance.

The French Commander asked to see

the George who set French captives free.

His ‘nom de plume,’ George Sand appeared.

His physique was small and sans un beard?

None could deny he’d left his mark.

Then proudly said, “I’m Joan of Arc.”

She spoke with courage beyond her years,

convincing all to calm their fears.

France had been saved by this young lass

who was born beneath their higher class.

How could George be a soldier girl?

The French folk’s oyster’s magic pearl.

With her little education learned

this saintly soldier soon got burned.

The commander shamed by a female’s grace

praised her to save his royal face.

Some said her mysterious, witchy, ways

would bring France shame in future days.

They questioned her with sneaky hooks

and demanded answers with tortured looks.

The flames erased her sketchy past.

T’was too late…when her name was cleared, at last.

Joan sacrificed to help her fellow man

who couldn’t do what a woman can!

© 2012 Angie Karcher



RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather

Congratulations to Week 3 Prize Winners


Monday Copy of THE BOAT OF MANY ROOMS Donated by J. Patrick Lewis
Winner – Ann Magee

Tuesday Copy of GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA (Dec/2015) Donated by Kristen Remenar
Winner – Aimee Haburjak

Wednesday Manuscript Critique by Kristen Remenar
Winner – Kenda Henthorn

Thursday Manuscript Critique by Iza Trapani
Winner – Kristi Veitenheimer

Friday Manuscript Critique by Tim McCanna
Winner – Caroline Twomey


Winners, PLEASE message me your information on Facebook

or email it to Angiekarcherrpbm@gmail.com




Golden Quill Poetry Contest

The Golden Quill Poetry Contest is open for submissions.

The deadline is this Saturday, April 25th midnight Central Time.

And…did I mention the prizes?

1st place – A Manuscript Critique by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

2nd place – A Scholarship for Non-Fiction Archeology by Kristen Fulton

3rd place – A Scholarship for Pacing Picture Books to WOW! Class by Agent Jodell Sadler


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.


Contest Rules:

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.

Email poems to Angiekarcherrpbm@gmail.com

by April 25th midnight central time




Writing in Rhyme to WOW! class logo

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.

I am beginning to sign people up for June and July!

If you register now for June or July, I will give you the $99.00 price!

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.

A One Time critique is ($25.00) or a Twice Look critique is ($35.00)

See the tab above or click here for more information.



RhyPiBoMo Gift Shop is Open!

Cafepress notebook


Please stop by and see what’s available this year. There are notebooks, mugs, buttons and more. All proceeds will go to WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS!

Thank you Tanja Bauerle for these gorgeous images!!!



Official RhyPiBoMo 2015 Registration ended on April 8th.

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 registered in time go to the Master Registration List on the drop down menu under the RhyPiBoMo Blog tab above.

*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Pledge

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

to be eligible for today’s prize!


85 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 17 Miranda Paul

  1. This has got me thinking more about nonfiction, which I hadn’t thought would interest me before. The lines from the book on water are witty, darling and work so well!

  2. Thank you Miranda! Such a thoughtful, helpful post. Wonderfully written. Can’t wait to read Water is Water! Just those two spreads made me fall in love. Thank you! – Maria Oka

  3. Thank you Miranda for such a wonderful list of nonfiction rhyming texts. I loved your One Plastic Bag and look forward to reading Water is Water. The first two pages are very tantalizing! I can’t wait. Maria Marshall

  4. Elaine Hillson – Thank you Miranda for sharing a new perspective on writing non-fiction picture books and of course for providing a new selection of books for my collection.

  5. Thank you Miranda. I haven’t really delved into non fiction, so thank you for providing some recommendations
    Clark Haaland.

  6. Manju Howard: Thank you, Miranda! I love how your words flow in Water is Water. Nonfiction is much more appealing to read and write in its current form.
    Angie, I enjoyed read your poem. Especially the last line – Joan sacrificed to help her fellow man who couldn’t do what a woman can!

    • Thx Manju! I honestly forgot I had written it as I searched to find a non-fiction poem in my laptop…It was lots of fun to research. Years ago it almost got picked up by a BIG magazine and then, after rejection it quietly retreated into hiding in my collection. It does have a Mighty Girl ending! Right? lol

  7. “…I’m alternating between a paint-by-number kit and a laboratory experiment…” I love that! Great post and wonderful list of books- including yours, Miranda! I’m dying to know what rain isn’t!

  8. Miranda,

    Very inspiring post. I love nonfiction and truly never thought about using rhyme to tell the story. Thanks for the list of books to read. Best of luck with your books due out soon.

  9. I love your insight: simplifying the complex and layering the simple. Beautifully put! Thanks, Miranda. Val McCammon

  10. Patricia Toht: Oh my gosh, Miranda, I can’t believe how many books you have coming out! You are on fire!! Like you, I am a huge fan of books that intersect poetry and nonfiction. Your observation about “the ease with which a child can learn the text” struck me — the idea of nonfiction facts resonating and sticking with a learner through poetry is an important plus of these books, I think.

  11. Aimee Haburjak
    ~ thank you Miranda! I am loving the diversity I hear in NF writing. My interest is even more piqued:)

  12. Cindy Argentine
    This post is music to my ears! I love non-fiction — reading it and writing it. I started my publishing career by writing about environmental law, moved into writing articles for teens about science, and am currently working on picture books about nature. There is much joy and wonder to present to young readers using this form. I appreciate your specific tips and great examples. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Charlotte Dixon
    Good to see you here, Miranda. Thank you for the inspiration and the 5 points with examples for improving our writing. I have WATER IS WATER on pre-order and I treasure my copy of ONE PLASTIC BAG. I look forward to your other works and their arrival 🙂

    Angie-love the Joan of Arc poem-you rocked it!

  14. Happy Earth Day, everyone. Hope you get to go outside and play in the sunshine. Thanks, Miranda.
    I hope to take the non-fiction trail to PB publication, and your insights brought some clarity to the journey.
    – Marianne Gage

  15. Kathy Mazurowski
    Thank you for wonderful examples of poetic devices in non-fiction. Can wait to read Water Is Water.

  16. I love the analogy, the blend of science and art that is indeed nonfiction. What I love most about writing it is exactly what you mention–the freedom to experiment with form–presenting the information in a wholly new and clever, yet kid-friendly way.

    Maria Gianferrari

  17. Rachel Hamby
    Thanks, Miranda. I look forward to exploring more nonfiction titles. I recently read (and loved) Mama Built a Little Nest. You’d given me a lot of new books to add to my list.

  18. I’m never sorry when I read any post written by you, Miranda. They are always chock full of golden nuggets…and this one was a gem! Thank you for the list of all the ways we can insure our story is a winning rhyme. 🙂
    Vivian Kirkfield

  19. Melanie Ellsworth – Miranda, I look forward to reading your books that are out now and those that are coming later. A recent favorite nonfiction rhyming PB for me is SOME BUGS by Angela Diterlizzi, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. Thanks for all the terrific examples to go with each of your tips above. I like your point about how using a familiar pattern might be better for kids when dealing with an unfamiliar subject. I’m going to pass that suggestion along to a critique group member who is writing a PB that falls into this category.

  20. Lori Mozdzierz:

    You prove time and again that perserverance prevails. Congrats on your book successes!
    Enjoyed this post on nonfiction.

  21. Congratulations, Miranda, on your forth coming books!
    I know just the person who will appreciate this post on NF picture books.
    Natasha Garnett

  22. Mona Pease Miranda, Thanks so much for your post. And, as usual, Angie, love your poems and challenges. I haven’t done all of them, but non fiction is my pet! I’ll tackle this one. And, another “and”, are you two going to WOW conference again this year?

  23. Thank you so much for these thought-provoking points. I especially enjoy pondering about re-readability and what would a child of 4-8 years want to read/know. Super helpful post!

    Karen Nordseth Roos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s