RhyPiBoMo Day 20 Laura Purdie Salas

Welcome to

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 20

Laura Purdie Salas


  RPBM 15 Laura Purdie Salas

Today’s guest blogger is an award-winning author with over 120 children’s books published to date. She says her first love is poetry and several of her latest books are in rhyme. She and author, Lisa Bullard, offer critiques, consultations, and guide books for children’s writers at Mentors for Rent. We can all use a second opinion on our work so stop by and let them take a peek. I am also very excited about the latest book in their series for writers called RHYMING PICTURE BOOKS: THE WRITE WAY. I immediately bought it read it cover to cover. It is full of great information that is pertinent to why we are all here! Check it out!

Rhyme book

Buy It Here

I am so happy to introduce

today’s guest blogger,

Laura Purdie Salas.

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather



The rhyming picture books that are being published today most often target the younger edge of the picture book market. Occasionally there are nonfiction rhyming picture books that appeal to elementary-school readers, but the true sweet spot for most rhyming picture books is the preschool set.

A problem that often crops up when Mentors for Rent is critiquing rhyming verse manuscripts is that many of them actually target older readers, even upper elementary-aged readers. We usually have to advise the writer to revise their work so that it is a better fit for all those editors who seem to prefer preschool-appropriate picture books. Pieces in rhyming verse for an older elementary audience might work well as poems published in magazines that target these older readers, but they usually won’t work as well for picture books.

So when approaching your rhyming picture book, remember to shrink your vision to a time when you were knee-high in the world!

And don’t just shrink your vision—shrink your word count! Rhyming picture books, like picture books in general, are shrinking! Many new rhyming picture books are 100 words or less. It takes restraint and creativity to tell a story in so few words.
Some of my favorite rhyming picture books feature just four or five words per spread. What can you cover in so few words? A lot!

* Think Big, by Liz Garton Scanlon, follows kids putting on a show—in 61 words.
* An Island Grows, by Lola M. Schaefer, shows the formation of a new island in 119 words.
* Eight Days Gone, by Linda McReynolds, tells the true story of the Apollo 11 mission of 1969 (155 words).

So, you’re not off the hook for covering a lot of ground in a very short book. The key is to make every word count. Avoid filler words like “the” and “a” when you can. Delete useless words like “very” and “so.” We often see writers using these words just to make the rhythm work. But every single word needs to contribute to story and mood. It can’t just be short. It has to be short and evocative, specific, and meaningful!
Here’s a not-great quatrain:

Kids are singing very loud
Kids are singing very proud
Voices carry, sure and strong
Not a single note is wrong

That’s 21 words, and it does tell us information—that the kids are singing loud and singing well.

Here’s how Liz Garton Scanlon conveys that in Think Big:

Big voice
On pitch

Four words. That’s it. And “pitch” rhymes with “stitch” on the next page.

In Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s All Aboard, she describes trains whistling across prairies and through storms, always staying on schedule. You could write that in a boring way, like:

Across the dark and quiet plain
there goes a racing, whistling train.
Over prairies and mountains they climb.
Even through storms, they stay on time.

Not Dotlich. She writes:

Trains whistle through prairies,
a long, steel sweep.
Through thunder and wind,
they have schedules to keep.

Dotlich’s version is eight words shorter and more compelling and vivid!
Start out with a situation or topic that will either be familiar to preschoolers (or, at the oldest, primary grade students) or will fascinate them. Explore or celebrate your topic using few words, and make sure all your words are fabulous ones! Then you’ll be on your way to writing a fantastic rhyming picture book!

–Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard

The material in this post is excerpted from Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way, by Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard. Laura is the author of more than 120 books, including several rhyming picture books, such as A Rock Can Be…, Water Can Be…, and Move It! Work It! A Song About Simple Machines. Lisa Bullard is the author of more than 80 books for young readers, including her middle grade mystery novel Turn Left at the Cow. Her first published book was a rhyming picture book called Not Enough Beds! Laura and Lisa offer critiques, consultations, and guide books for children’s writers at Mentors for Rent.


About Laura:


As a kid, Laura Purdie Salas devoured books. Her big sisters, Gail, Patty, and Janet, taught her to read when she was 4, and she read for hours every day, despite constant orders from her parents to “Go outside and get some fresh air!” Since she grew up in Florida, she heard these dreaded words all year long. If she was forced outside, she climbed up to the treehouse or lay on the trampoline, reading.

Books were like pieces of magic, conjured up to entertain her, keep her company, and show her the whole world before disappearing into the library return drop as if they had never existed. It never occurred to her that real people actually wrote those books.

College was the first time she considered a career in the publishing field. After graduating with an English degree, she worked first as a magazine editor, and then as an 8th-grade English teacher. While teaching, she rediscovered her love for children’s literature. She began to focus on children’s writing, and she never looked back.

Laura has published more than 120 books for kids and teens. Although she’s written many nonfiction books, her first love is poetry. Her books include the award-winning BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS (Clarion, 2011—Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Book, Eureka! Gold Medal, and more), and the rhyming nonfiction books A LEAF CAN BE… (Millbrook, 2012–Bank Street Best Books, IRA Teachers’ Choice, Riverby Award for Nature Books for Young Readers, and more) and WATER CAN BE…. (Millbrook, 2014). She enjoys helping kids find poems they can relate to, no matter what their age, mood, and personality.

Laura and her family live in the Minneapolis areas, and she still devours books.
See more about Laura and her work at http://www.laurasalas.com


Buy Here

WATER CAN BE… (Millbrook Press, 2014 – STARRED reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly)



Buy Here

A LEAF CAN BE… (Millbrook Press, 2012)


Buy Here

and more than 100 nonfiction books for kids


RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt: 20

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 one of your rhyming manuscripts in 100 words or less. Next, try it in 75 words, and then in 50 words…

For example:

Deborah Underwood 2

Buy Here

 Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood




Congratulations to Week 4 Prize Winners

Monday      Manuscript Critique by Kristy Dempsey(Under 500 words)

Winner – Stephanie Salkin

Tuesday      Copy of BLUE ON BLUE Donated by Dianne White

Winner – Charlotte Dixon

Wednesday    Copy of A POETRY HANDBOOK Donated by Dianne White

Winner – Carrie Charley Brown

Thursday    Manuscript Critique by Lori Mortensen (under 1000 words)

Winner – Al Lane

Friday     Copy of The 20th CENTURY CHILDREN’S POETRY TREASURE Donated by Dianne White

Winner – Sherri Jones Rivers


Winners, PLEASE message me your information on Facebook

or email it to Angiekarcherrpbm@gmail.com





          A Friday night BIG Finale Rhyming Party!

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Rhyming Party




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 Rhyming Picture Book Critique?

Angie offers

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

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

You to be eligible for today’s prize!


130 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo Day 20 Laura Purdie Salas

  1. Appreciations from Jan Annino to Angie Karcher, Laura Purdie Salas & Lisa Bullard for this informative post that makes me want to wield an eraser or strikethru key immediately!

    Shorter version, here:

    for your attitude

    ~ J

    ps. so fun to begin to see weekly winners who i follow in social m!

    • That’s so nice of you to say, Catherine. If we write enough of it, we get some gems eventually, right? Rebecca Kai Dotlich was one of the first children’s poets whose work I totally fell in love with. She is a master at vivid images and concise writing!

  2. Patricia Toht
    Thanks for the specific examples, Laura. They really drive your points home. Your books are wonderful examples of saying a lot in a very short word count!

  3. Comment from Cynthia Cheng: Thanks for sharing your insights. A question for you…if I write a very short manuscript, is it advised to include illustration notes so that the editor and illustrator know what I’m envisioning? I’ve heard before that sometimes they like to envision the story themselves, but I also wonder if illustration notes might help them get it better. Thanks!

  4. Mary Warth
    Thanks Laura. i appreciate how you walked us through a few of the examples. Selecting the perfect words is the fun (and hard) part!

  5. You have shared great information, Laura. I especially like the *sweet spot* of writing rhyme for preschoolers. Teaching preschoolers is such a fun age. Sharing read alouds that rhyme with this age group help them to grow into emergent readers and writers. Thank you.
    ~Suzy Leopold

  6. Enjoyed your post. Timely reminder to keep whittling away at the word count. I’ve got a story that needs some chopping. — Annie Bailey

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