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. Appreciations from Jan Annino for Angie Karcher’s Joan of Arc poem – that was a feat! –
    And more appreciations for the goodness here from talented & prolific Miranda Paul.
    I’m glad to be reminded of titles & to hear about new ones. I love Laura Purdie Salas’ IS series.
    And thanks for sharing the eye-catching spreads & poetry of the forthcoming WATER IS WATER.
    I expect to be looking for that & other titles you recommend with little ones as a volunteer BookPALS reader.
    Since you asked MIranda – some n.f. p.b. titles I love to share (besides yours) & not all of my faves because I can’t list that many!
    THE GREAT BIG GREEN – Peggy Gifford/Lisa Desimini
    GOING ROUND THE SUN: SOME PLANETARY FUN – Marianne Berkes/Janeen Mason (rhymed)
    SIT IN- How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down – Andrea Davis Pinkney/Brian Pinkney (lyrical)
    ALIENS ARE COMING! – Meghan McCarthy, author & illustrator
    THE LIBRARIAN of BASRA – Jeanette Winter, author & illustrator
    14 COWS FOR AMERICAN – Carmen Agra Deedy/ Thomas Gonzalez
    ME, JANE – Patrick McDonnell, author & illustrator
    JUST BEING AUDREY – Margaret Cardillo/Julia Denos

  2. Looks like I will be diving into the non-fiction section of my library today! Thanks for the suggestions and a wonderful and inspiring post 🙂 Karen Affholter

  3. A lot of the poetry I’ve written has come from my desire to put science concepts into words that my students would remember. I’ll definitely be looking up the suggested books and taking notes!

  4. Jill Proctor – Thank you, Miranda. Your post was very inspiring. The small slice you shared of Water is Water is wonderful! To write so concisely…and fun-ly! Love your writings!

  5. Lynn Alpert
    Thanks Miranda, for the great examples of non-fiction poetry books! I just got back from the library with a couple of your examples.

  6. Thanks, Miranda! Lovely group of books–a few of my favorites, plus some new to me ones. I can’t wait to read your WATER IS WATER! And I love that you listed AN ISLAND GROWS, which was one of two rhyming nonfiction books (CASTLES, CAVES, AND HONEYCOMBS, by Linda Asher, is the other) that inspired me to want to try the genre!

  7. Ann magee– Miranda, thanks for the great list of books to look at and learn from. Enjoyed meeting you at the WOW retreat last summer. Congrats on your success!

  8. Thanks for sharing these great nonfiction examples, Miranda. I can’t wait to read Water is Water. It looks and sounds beautiful! And Angie, fantastic poem on Joan of Arc!

    Sarah Harroff

  9. What a great stack of books were waiting for me at the library today. I got almost all the books you mentioned and I’m looking forward to wonderful weekend of reading. Thank you for all the references!
    Darlene Ivy

  10. Your words of wisdom are appreciated, Miranda. I especially like #3 Re-Readability. One Plastic Bag is an amazing story and I am certain your upcoming books will also fit the amazing description.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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