RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 22 Author Paul Czajak

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CONGRATULATIONS to the many participants of RhyPiBoMo 2016! We did it!


Grab this badge and proudly place it on your websites, blogs and social media pages!!!

You read the many wonderful blog posts, you commented daily, you read stacks and stacks of rhyming picture books and you shared your favorite’s on social media! This month of celebrating the genre that we love has been an amazing labor of love for us all. I always feel blessed to have so many supportive folks join me in April and many friendships have been formed through this event. Many critique groups and even some new RPBs have been published along the way! I thank you all for cheering me on as I grew weary in week 4. You have all been so uplifting and incredibly kind in your many comments, emails and messages and support through the auction and conference recording purchases!

I will be doing RhyPiBoMo in 2017 but I am letting you know that I will not be doing RhyPiBoMo in 2018 because…in it’s place, I will be hosting the 2nd RPB Revolution Conference in April of 2018! And Karma Wilson is coming too!!! It will most likely be in Florida and I will offer the option for extended stays to write on the beach afterwards. I will also offer a payment plan, requiring a deposit to hold your spot, as there will be a limited number of spots. Please follow our RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group to keep up to date on the details. I will be asking for names of people interested, to get an idea of how many to plan for.


I’m very excited about the future of RPBs and the message to writers of rhyme about how we can improve the quality and professionalism of the manuscripts submitted to editors and agents. A friend recently showed me an editor’s comment stating that the “Quality of rhyming picture books being received has improved.”  That makes me smile! That is good for us all!! Especially the parents, teachers and kids that we write for. So, I will see you here, same time next year and I will see you at the beach in 2018, where “The RPB Revolutionaries” will leave footprints in the sand! Bring your rhyming dictionaries and your sunblock!


imageI’m pleased

to introduce

Author Paul Czajak

Paul Czajak head shot.jpg


Writing Rhyming Stories That Sell


So I was given the task of blogging about how to write a rhyming picture book that sells. If that isn’t a loaded topic I don’t know what is! I hate to break it to you but, there is no secret formula. There is no all inclusive blog post that is going to give you the answer. If there was, every one of my rhyming picture books would have sold.

Let me tell you, they haven’t. Not even close.

So if you want to stop reading now because I can’t give you the perfect answer, then please do. Go and scour the internet until the end of days looking for the perfect answer, all the while getting zero writing done. Go I’ll wait.

OK, now that the pretend writers have left, and the true professionals have stuck around we can get down to business. I may not have a secret formula to help you sell that book you are working on, but I can give you some tips that helped me.

Number one, stop focusing on the rhyme, that’s not what is going to sell your book. What’s going to sell your book is the story. The story is the most important part of any book, whether it rhymes or not. If your story sucks, then I could care less that your meter and rhyme are perfect. Remember rhyme will not make a bad story good!

The Three Ninja Pigs, by Corey Rosen Shwartz,

Three Ninja Pigs image


Bats at the Ball Game, by Brian Lies,
Bats at the Ballgame image

Madaline, by Ludwig Bemelmans,

Madeline image

All three of these picture books are all rhyming books. But more importantly these are all great stories. If you’ve read these books (if you haven’t you should) I would be willing to bet your first reaction wasn’t, wow, what a great rhyme scheme. It was, I love this story! Their characters are engaging and memorable. Their stories are original, clever and not a one time read. Children can imagine themselves in place of the characters. As a writer, if you can pull that off, then the child will want to read it over and over again. It’s one of the reasons I never named the boy in my Monster&Me series. I wanted kids to be able to imagine themselves in place of the boy. So by removing that extra barrier, i.e. the name. I’m hoping children hearing the book become that much more engaged. Does it work? Only time will tell.

Number two, focus on the rhyme. I know, a bit confusing since I just told you not to. But once you have the story your rhyme and meter needs to be perfect. Remember poor rhyme can make a great story bad.

I am sure you have already heard the typical list of things to avoid:

Near rhyme

Backwards talk

Changing meter

Simple rhyme

Forced rhyme.

The reason you keep seeing these things to avoid, is because it’s that important to writing a good rhyming book.

Near rhyme, just wont do. Have a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary open when you are writing at all times. There are so many wonderful rhyming words out there, so there is no reason to settle.

Backwards talk, or speaking unnaturally just for the rhyme is lazy. Sometimes a rhyme isn’t going to work they way you want it to and your only alternative is to rewrite the stanza, maybe even rewrite the one before. Really, what ever it takes to make a natural sounding stanza is what you need to do. What I’m trying to say is, put in the work and write!

Changing your meter, next to having a crappy story, is probably the biggest culprit when it comes to a rhyming story not selling. When the meter keeps switching it makes it painful to read. Unfortunately we as writers become deaf to our own writing. To counter act this we need to have other people read our stories to us so that we can hear where people stumble. Stop counting syllables. What drives your meter is not the syllable count, but the stress on the word being used. If you have a difficult time hearing a stressed syllable and an unstressed syllable then try tapping it out. When your finger is in the air it’s an unstressed syllable, when it hits the table it’s stressed. If your meter is off, your reading will try to keep the rhythm, but your finger won’t be able to.

Simple rhyme is not a story killer. Every story is going to have its hat, bat rhyme. But what makes a story shine are rhymes like casserole and profiterole or procrastinating and negotiating. You’re a writer be a writer.

Forced rhyme, this is up there with backwards talk. You are just doing it for the rhyme. Please don’t. It’s another sign of being a lazy writer. You are better then that. How do I know? Because you are here still reading this post. You want to learn. You want to be the best writer you can possibly be. So be it.

Now that I’ve laid out the major no, no’s I’m going to confuse you all with the old saying, Rules Were Made to be Broken. This is where I feel you can make your story shine, when you break the rules. But, there has to be a reason you are doing it. For example let’s go back to Bats at the Ball Game. In this story the meter changes. “How dare he!” You say. “Burn him! Run him out of publishing!” OK, maybe not burn him, I got carried away. Actually I think Brian Lies should be applauded. Why you ask? Because it he did it on purpose and it works. He uses the change in meter to portray a shift in the story. Something like this will absolutely catch an editors eye, because it’s unusual and it stands out.

In one of my newer Monster books, Monster Needs A Hug, Monster is having such a bad day that he decides to do everything backwards to turn his day around. That means talking backwards. Again, another rule breaker but, done on purpose for the sake of the story.

So to sum up, writing in rhyme is just like writing in prose. You have to focus on the story first. Whether you are adhering to the rhyming rules or breaking them, it has to be all about the story. And remember,

Rhyme will never make a bad story good, but it can make a good story bad.



Paul Czajak got an F with the words “get a tutor” on his college writing paper and, after that, he never thought he’d become a writer. But after spending twenty years as a chemist, he knew his creativity could no longer be contained. Paul lives in New Jersey with his wife and two little monsters. In addition to the Monster & Me™ series, he’s also the author of Seaver the Weaver, and a contributor to The Huffington Post. Look for his newest book, Monster Needs To Go To School, out on the shelves September 2016!


TWITTER @pczajak

Monster Needs to go to School

Mighty Media Press

Thank You Paul!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced next week.




RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 21 Author Samantha Berger

Only 4 days left to shop!

RhyPiBOMo 2016 Auction Badge

RhyPiBoMo Auction


I was fortunate to meet today’s guest blogger last summer at the LA SCBWI Conference! Do you see why I attend conferences? How many of our bloggers did I meet at that event? Lots and lots!! Samantha is just as much fun in person as she appears on her social media! Full of energy, loves her job and life itself!  That comes through in all her wonderful books!! I can’t imagine anyone better to blog about humor.



I am pleased

to introduce

Author Samantha Berger

Samantha Berger

Author Samantha Berger
Photo credit by Leo Moreton



(Because there weren’t nearly enough letters in that acronym already)

by Samantha Berger

So, if you’re like me, the moment someone asks you how to be funny, your pendulum swings the opposite way, into NOT FUNNY AT ALL LAND.

You get serious.

You clam up.

You’re suddenly certain that you’ve never been funny a moment in your life.

But just at that moment, you fart, and it sounds like there’s a question mark on the end, and you laugh so hard, you forget all about the original question of how to be funny.

Because you just slayed yourself.

When it comes to humor (in rhyme, in life, in the bathroom), we all have the only thing we ever have—our own voice.

Yours will be different from mine, different from Jon Scieszka’s, different from Katie Beaton’s, different from Louis CK’s, Amy Schumer’s, and Fozzy Bear’s.

Yours will be different from everyone else on the planet.

And that’s good!

That’s what makes you YOU, your humor, YOUR humor, and your writing, YOUR writing.

But there are some universal things that do help with the funny factor.

And I wanna focus on three biggies here:


What was funny about that fart?

It caught me off guard. (it was unexpected).

I was thinking about not being funny (the timing).

There was a question mark on the end <frrrt?> (the specific).

Put those three together, and you just might have a nugget of comedy gold.

And there are some incredible rhyming picture books that do it so well.

guess again

One of the best books to use that winning combo is Guess Again by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex.

He steals carrots from the neighbor’s yard.
His hair is soft, his teeth are hard.
His floppy ears are long and funny.
Can you guess who? That’s right! My—-


[turn the page:]

Grandpa Ned.

What this book does so brilliantly is rely on the reader’s knowledge and expectation of rhyming books. Then misleads us, surprises and delights us.

The reveal is the unexpected.

The page turn is the timing.

The who it actually is, is very specific.

It’s not just Grandpa. It’s Grandpa Ned.

I can’t stress enough what a hilarious and genius book this is.

These guys got the unexpected, the comic timing, and the specifics just right.

When I went through my collection of favorite rhyming picture books, I found these three elements of comedy exist almost unanimously.

The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak, poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, various Dr. Seuss books.

 Intersteller Cinderella

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith, they all know how to take it to unexpected places, use the timing, and include a very specific “zoombroom” when necessary.

Even though they’re now second nature, I do try to keep these things in mind when I am writing.


In Snoozefest, a sloth going to a concert for the world’s greatest sleepers felt unexpected to me. And kinda funny.


In Junior Goes to School, spinning the wheel to see what absurd thing a pig would worry about, felt like good timing, And kinda funny.


In Boo-La-La Witch Spa, a witch getting a serpent spit spritzer at a spa felt very specific. And kinda funny.

So put them together and get some HA! into your RHYPIBOMO.

*And remember even a fart can inform your art.



Samantha Berger writes and writes and writes
She’s written cartoons for television. She’s written comic books and commercials.
She’s written movie trailers, theme songs, licensed-books, slogans, promos, articles, poems, and PSAs.

You name it, Sam’s written it.
And when she ISN’T writing, she’s doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs.
THEN, she writes about that, too!
Samantha splits her time between New York City and sunny California.


Twitter – @BergerBooks

Instagram – SamanthaBerger321

Facebook – Fans of Samantha Berger


Crankenstein Book Trailer I made:


Snoozefest Book Trailer I made


Crankenstein Valentine trailer I made





Thank You Samantha!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced next week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 20 Author Verla Kay

Happy Wednesday!

ONLY 5 days left to shop at the RhyPiBoMo Auction!!

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We have many autographed books, a few manuscript critiques, custom business cards, a customized curriculum guide for your picture book and 2 Author Skype visits for classrooms … so don’t wait or you will miss out on a great prize!

We are only $100.00 away from our goal!

Many thanks to all who have supported our auction!


SCBWI Midwest Conf logo 2

Art by Michael Kress-Russick

As I prepare to leave today for the Wild Wild Midwest Conference in Chicago I am excited about all the writer friends I will see! Many, I have met before and we will cherish the time together again. And some are friends through social media that I am SO excited to meet for the first time. This always feels like we have known each other for years because, in some says, we have. Our connection through writing is a tight bond.

One such friend, I met for the first time last summer at the LA SCBWI Conference and she is today’s guest blogger. It felt like Verla and I had known each other forever! She was so gracious to agree to participate this year and excited that I asked her about her rhyming non-fiction picture books! She said, “Everyone always wants to talk about the Blueboard,” which an amazing way for authors to connect. I have been a fan of Verla’s non-fiction books for many years and she has written a great blog post describing the challenges of combining two tough genres. When it’s done well…it’s simply magical!

image I’m pleased

to introduce

Author Verla Kay

Verla Kay

Author Verla Kay


Rhyming Non-Fiction Picture Books

by Verla Kay


After I became an adult I discovered there are fascinating stories and facts that are truly interesting and fun to learn about. It was the way those facts were presented to me in school that had turned me against non-fiction stories as a child. Now that I’m a writer, I can write things that kids ENJOY reading – exposing facts in a totally fun way.

Be forewarned, though. Rhyming non-fiction is an extremely difficult kind of writing. Just like prose, non-fiction books need a strong, solid, compelling beginning, a middle fraught with interesting situations, facts, and/or events, and they need a perfect, satisfying ending. But they also must be 100% factually accurate AND they need to have perfect rhythm and perfect rhyme!

It can take a long time to get a non-fiction rhyming picture book perfect enough to submit. Some of mine (250 – 350 words long, all written in my signature style that I call Cryptic Rhyme) have taken up to eleven years to write before they were ready to submit!




Beginnings are just as important in non-fiction as they are in prose. Here’s the evolution of my Gold Fever book beginning:

Moving westward,

Many miners.

People call them,


This was “okay,” but it didn’t reflect the flavor of the old west, didn’t tell how the miners were rushing to get out west before the gold was all gone and didn’t show how the people laughed at the miners. And I wanted all of that in the first verse. It took two years to find the “right” three words to make this verse work.

Dashing westward,

Many miners.

Townsfolk snicker,



What a difference those three words made in this beginning!


Every word must “sing” in a picture book, plus all your facts, your rhythm and your rhymes must be absolutely accurate when writing non-fiction rhyming picture books.

Rhythm & Facts


Rhythm in rhyming books of all kinds is where most rhyming books fail. If a sentence in your story doesn’t sound natural, like it would normally sound, then it shouldn’t be in your story. In Whatever Happened to the Pony Express? I had a horrible dilemma. My rhythm pattern for this story was:

DA da DA da,

da da DA.

DA da DA da,

da da DA.

No matter how I tried, I could NOT put the words, Pony Express, into my story, because the natural beat for them was: DA da da DA. (POny exPRESS). My solution? I put them into the title instead of the story.

In another of my books (Tattered Sails) I wrote about a family traveling from London to Boston in a 1600’s sailing ship. Here is the evolution of two verses in that story:

Crowded quarters,

Piled trunks.

Musty blankets,

Smelly bunks.

Piled is a tricky word. Is it pronounced with one or two syllables? This was my fix for it:

Crowded quarters,

Piles of trunks.

Musty blankets,

Smelly bunks.

But then… I discovered in my research that trunks were not in common usage on sailing ships until the 1700’s and my story took place in the 1600’s!  So… I had to change this verse yet once again and since trunks was my rhyming word in that verse, I had to change the final line, also. After my changes it read like this:

Crowded quarters,


Musty blankets,

Clothing, damp.

Rhythm & Making Words Sing

Foul water,

Slimy vats.

Wormy biscuits,

Lice and rats.

Again I had another tricky word to pronounce with the correct number of syllables – foul. This was my fix for it:

Tainted water,

Slimy vats.

Wormy biscuits,

Lice and rats.

Tainted is a two syllable word and it was a better, more descriptive and visual word than foul.


Broken Featherthe story of a Nez Perce boytook eleven years to write!

Checking Facts

Many of the verses in this story had to be radically changed or cut altogether after I had it “fact-checked” by the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho and many of those changes left gaps in the story – creating MUCH rewriting:

Some Words changed or eliminated were:

Tepees – the Nez Perce lived in lodges most of the year, only using tepees when traveling to hunt during the summer months

Chiefs – the Nez Perce called them headmen or leadmen

Tomahawks  & peace pipes – they weren’t “native” to the Nez Perce

The Ending of Broken Feather took 5 years to get “just right”


Barren, dry.

Broken Feather,

“Father, why?”

I loved this ending! But during fact checking I realized their reservation was not barren or dry, so it had to be changed.  I changed it to:


Anguished cry.

Broken Feather,

“Father, why?”

This was a great ending for adults.  Unfortunately, it did NOT work for kids! When I read it to a 5th grade class as a “test,” the children just sat there…waiting for the ending! So I added two more verses. The last one was the hardest of all to write.

Broken Feather,

Chanting loud.

We no give up,

Stand here proud.

As you can see, this is SO bad…. Although it was the “essence” of what I wanted to say in the last verse, the actual words are HORRIBLE and I would never have actually used them.

White clouds many,

Raindrops fall.

You stay proud, son,

Stand up tall.

This is a little better, but it still doesn’t do the job. The words are “okay” – but when writing picture books “okay” is just not good enough.

Broken Feather,

Standing tall.

We will bend — but —

Will not fall.

This is better. It’s much smoother and feels almost right, but again, “almost” is not perfect, and anything less than perfect is definitely not good enough.

Native warriors,

Chanting loud.

Broken Feather,

Standing proud.

This verse works! It says what I wanted to say using words that are powerful and evoke a strong image. It allows readers to “feel” what Broken Feather would have been feeling. This ending “sings.” Notice how closely it mirrors that first “bad” verse? Only two lines really changed – but what a difference those few words make in the story!

Broken Feather,

Chanting loud.

We no give up,

Stand here proud


Writing non-fiction rhyming picture books is truly an art and it cannot be rushed. Give it your all, make sure every single fact in your story is accurate, every beat is perfect, every line is filled with interesting facts and/or images, and every rhyme is perfect and you will have created something of which you can be extremely proud.



Verla Kay lives with her husband and two Himalayan cats in the state of Washington. She writes historical and non-fiction picture books in her own style of poetry she calls “cryptic rhyme.”  She has had a total of eleven picture books published.

Verla Kay’s website, which she designed and maintains herself, has twice been named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest.  She created and runs a message board, the Blueboard, which has become almost an “icon” for children’s writers and illustrators on the internet. In 2013, the Blueboard was acquired by SCBWI, but Verla still maintains it.

Verla is a former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature where she taught the basic “How to Write for Children” course.  Since retiring from ICL in 2009, she has been concentrating on doing what she loves best – writing award-winning picture books, running her website, critiquing other writer’s manuscripts, giving author talks at schools and conferences, and giving back to children’s writers and illustrators by continuing to keep the Blueboard running smoothly for SCBWI.



TWITTER  @VerlaKay



Buy it Here



Buy it Here



Buy it Here



Buy it Here

Thank You Verla!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Wednesday of next week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 19 Author Kwame Alexander and Mitch Karcher

Happy Tuesday!

Unfortunately, today’s guest blogger was unable to send her blog post, so I decided to share one of the most popular blog posts from last year. My youngest son Mitch interviewed author Kwame Alexander after he won the Newbury Award. We get to know him through 20 Questions for Kwame!


I’m pleased to

Introduce Author

Kwame Alexander




 Today’s guest blogger is a man of many talents.

One of them happens to be writing a Newbery Award Winning book for kids!


Newbery                the crossover

If you have not read THE CROSSOVER, go, right now and find it, if you can, and read it! It took me about 6 weeks to get my copy and I read it cover to cover the day I received it in the mail. As a mother of 2 teenage boys, a mother of 2 teenage girls who date boys, and as a friend of a family who recently lost their father much too soon…this book is moving, relevant and so, so powerful in it’s playfulness with words. This is a book that will bring teens to poetry for years to come. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Kwame in person this summer at the LA SCBWI Conference. I was one of the lucky few who got into his intensive and I will be sitting there, taking notes, listening to every single word and waiting patiently until I can give a proper hug to Kwame Alexander. His book, his integrity and his genuine care for children make me proud to be a children’s author! Plus I am so happy that his favorite word is…Yes!

As I contacted Kwame to be a guest blogger, honestly thinking that I wouldn’t get a response as he was nominated for The Newbery Award and so busy. I reached out via Facebook message, which by the way is how I snag most of my amazing guest bloggers, and he immediately responded. We agreed on a blog post topic and all was set.

Then he won.

He kindly messaged me at around 3:00 am two days later and very sweetly said, I haven’t slept, I’m not sure what town I’m in right now. I have barely eaten anything and I still want to help you but what can we do to simplify this?

As I am always on my toes, I said,” What if my 14 year old son Mitch comes up with 20 one word answer questions for you and we’ll call it 20 Questions with Kwame?


he said.

So, I am proud of my youngest son for enthusiastically coming up with some fun questions and am happy to say he was equally as enthusiastic to hear the responses, and…is reading The Crossover right now. Thank you Mitch! I’m pretty sure he did this whole thing without even one eye roll! = )

Kwame told me that another Newbery Award winner told him that the price of winning this award is a book. He will be speaking, touring, conferencing and honored at banquet after banquet for at least a full year. He tells me he still writes but it’s tough. Thank you Kwame Alexander for saying yes and for giving the youth of today a literal, literary hero to look up to!

20 Questions for Kwame

by Mitch Karcher

Mitch                  kwame 2

          Mitch Karcher         Kwame Alexander


Mitch: What is your favorite time of day?
Kwame: 6 am, when no one else is awake, and I can return emails, listen to jazz, and plan my day.


What is your junk food of choice?


Who inspires you?
My daughters. Students. The energy and innocence and freedom of youth.


What are you reading now?
These questions…Seriously.

I am reading Margarita Engle’s new memoir in verse. WOW!


What is your favorite sport?
To watch: Basketball
To play: Tennis


What do you order to eat/drink at Panera Bread?
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Large Lemonade. No ice.


Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?
The beach.


What book would you like to see made into a movie, besides The Crossover?
Ha! Very funny! My next one…


Are you a cat person or dog person?


Are you an early riser or a night owl?


If you weren’t a writer what career would you choose?
A pediatrician by day, stand-up comedian by night. (I have a friend who is a cardiologist and a country music star. Check out Cleve Francis)


Who was your favorite teacher?
Nikki Giovanni


What kind of music do you listen to?
Jazz. Country. Hip Hop. Soul. Classical. Everything else.


What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Double fudge chocolate


What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
Play Uno. Also, travel.


What is your favorite word?


What is your favorite dance move?
My wife teachers Zumba. Every move she does when she’s teaching. Pretty cool!


What is one piece of advice you have for kids?
Never listen to advice from people who make up stories for a living…Also READ a lot.


What country would you like to visit?
Antarctica. Is that a country?


Finish this sentence: If I had a million dollars I would:
buy a cupcakery.



cc factory

Here you go Kwame!



About Kwame:

Kwame Alexander is a poet and author of eighteen books, most recently THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children. His other works include the award-winning children’s picture book “Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band,” recently optioned as a children’s television show, and the Junior Library Selection, “He Said She Said,” a YA novel. Alexander believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his Book-in-a-Day literacy program which has created more than 3,000 student authors at 69 schools across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. A regular speaker and workshop presenter at conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Brazil, Italy, France, and Turkey). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded. The Kwame Alexander Papers, a collection of his writings, correspondence, and other professional and personal documents is held at the George Washington University Gelman Library. In 2015, Kwame will serve as Bank Street College of Education’s first writer-in-residence. Visit him at KwameAlexander.com.




Kwame’s latest novel in verse released April/2016


the crossover

Buy It Here


Buy It Here

he said

Buy It Here


Buy It Here


The Crossover: A Novel (2014)
He Said, She Said: A Novel (2013)
Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band (2011) (NAACP Image Award Nominee)
Indigo Blume and the Garden City (2010) (NAACP Image Award Nominee)
And Then You Know: New and Selected Poems (2008)
Family Pictures: Poems and Photographs Celebrating Our Loved Ones, ed. (2007)
Crush: Love Poems (2007)
The Way I Walk: short stories and poems for Young Adults, ed. (2006)
Dancing Naked on the Floor: poems and essays (2005)
Do The Write Thing: 7 Steps to Publishing Success (2002)
Kupenda: Love Poems (2000)
360°: A Revolution of Black Poets, ed. (1998)
Tough Love: Cultural Criticism and Familial Observations on the Life and Death of
Tupac Shakur, ed. (1996)
Just Us: Poems & Counterpoems, 1986-1995 (1995)
The Flow: New Black Poets in Motion, ed. (1994)



SCBWI Winter Conference (Keynote Speaker)
NCTE/ALAN (Keynote Speaker)
American Library Association (Featured Author)
Long Island Literacy Council (Keynote Speaker)
International Reading Association (Featured Presenter)
Arkansas Reading Association (Keynote Speaker)
New York State Reading Association (Keynote Speaker)
Virginia State Reading Association (Keynote Speaker)
Miss Ghana Tourism Pageant (Judge)
Florida Council of English Teachers Conference (Keynote Speaker)
Library of Congress “Afternoon Poetry Series” (Guest Poet)
Oscar Smith High School, Chesapeake, VA (Poet-in-Residence)
Cass Technical High School, Detroit High School (Book-in-a-Day)
New York State English Council Annual Conference (Keynote Speaker)
Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH (National Poetry Month Speaker)
Howard University, Washington, DC (Publishing Workshop)
Northern Virginia Community College (Poetry/Publishing Workshop)
Virginia Teachers of English, Annual Conference (Keynote Speaker)
Long Island City High School, Astoria, NY (Literacy Professional Development)
Stafford Middle School, Plattsburg, NY (Writer-in-Residence)
West Babylon Junior High School, Long Island, NY (Poet-in-Residence)
Crossland High School, Temple Hills, MD (Book-in-a-Day)
Great Bridge High School, Chesapeake, VA (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Great Bridge Intermediate, Chesapeake, VA (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, VA (Literacy Professional Development)
Washington & Lee High School, Arlington, VA (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Central High School, Little Rock, AK (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Duke Ellington School for the Arts, Washington, DC (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Wilson High School, Washington, DC (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Oyster School, Washington, DC (Poet-in-the-Schools)
Niskayuna High School, Niskayuna, NY (Poet-in-Residence)
South Carolina Library Association, Annual Conference (Keynote Speaker)
National Council for Teachers of English (Workshop Presenter)

Thank You Kwame and Mitch!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings for this week will be announced on Wednesday of next week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 18 Editor Emma D. Dryden & Author Karma Wilson

Happy Monday!

Can you believe this is our last week together?

It has gone by so fast!

fireworks 3

Week 3 Prize Winners

Monday-Day 12  Debbie McCue won an autographed copy of HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS? by Eve Bunting, Donated by Linda Sue Park

Tuesday-Day 13 Charlotte Dixon won an autographed copy of YOU NEST HERE WITH ME by Heidi Stemple

Wednesday-Day 14 Mary Lee Flannigan won an autographed copy of TINY RABBIT’S BIG WISH by Margarita Engle

Thursday-Day 15 David McMullin won a PB Manuscript Critique by Randi Sonenshine

Friday-Day 16 Stuart Carruthers won the RPB Revolution Conference Recording

Prize winners, please email (Angie.karcher@yahoo.com) or message me on Facebook with your contact information. Typically, the books will be mailed directly from the author, so please allow a few weeks. If you haven’t received your prize by the end of April, please let me know. 


Bear Snores On Hare

This is a blog post I have been looking forward to reading for many months! 

BEAR SNORES ON is the picture book I read to my own children over and over! I truly believe it is the book that brought me to writing rhyming manuscripts! The language is so rich and the rhythm frolics through the cave where the bear is sleeping. I actually brewed black tea after I read it! Seriously! LOL If you don’t own this book you MUST buy it! It is a gem that you too will read out loud over and over again. You will want to “pop white corn and brew black tea” too…Trust me! 

Bear Snores On - My Copy

This is the ragged copy of BEAR SNORES ON that I read to my own children over and over. Karma kindly signed it for me when we were together last December. It is very special to me!

I am blessed to know the two talented ladies who are guest blogging today. Both have been huge supporters of RhyPiBoMo and myself! I met Emma last summer at the LA SCBWI Conference. At Karma’s suggestion, I found Emma and asked her advice about planning our RPB Revolution Conference in New York City. She was so helpful with great suggestions and spent several hours chatting with me in the hotel lobby, as we paused frequently, for greetings and hugs from many in our industry who love and respect her as much as I do.  She generously donated a one hour phone consultation to our RhyPiBoMo 2016 auction. Thank you Emma! The other guest blogger today has been the number one supporter of RhyPiBoMo and she agreed to speak at our conference even before it was planned. She generously donated boxes of autographed books to sell in our auction to support the event. She is now a mentor and a friend. Thank you Karma! 

Bear Says Thanks

Gorgeous illustrations by Jane Chapman


The one thing I’ve learned through this process of planning events and networking is…

Don’t be afraid to ask!

If people can help, they generally will and if they can’t, they will graciously decline. People in the children’s literature business are very supportive and you must put yourself out there and connect to make things happen. Network with other writers in on-line writing groups, in person and on-line critique groups and meet authors, agents and editors at conferences – ALL IMPORTANT!

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, shake their hand, hand them your business card and get to know someone. This person may be the person that helps you succeed or teaches you something you didn’t know or connects you with your agent. Attending conferences is the best gift you can give yourself for these reasons. But, you need to make connections while you’re there. Both of these ladies have been supportive and genuinely wanted to help…fortunately, I wasn’t afraid to ask! 

Emma Dryden (credit Sonya Sones) 6

Editor Emma D. Dryden

  Photo credit ~ Sonya Sones


KarmaHeadshot (1)Author Karma Wilson

  Photo credit ~ Scott Wilson



THE RHYME AND REASON OF BEAR SNORES ON: An Author/Editor Collaboration

by Karma Wilson (Bear Snores On author) & Emma D. Dryden (editor)


KW: Selling Bear Snores On was one of the most exciting moments of my life! For one thing, my washing machine was broken and I had to somehow provide clean clothes for three small children on a very small family income. ACK! So when the call came in that my agent had sold the book I SCREAMED! And I cried. And I danced. And I asked him when I could buy a new washing machine. Ha-ha! I was very nervous because I’d never worked with a real editor before! But Emma was so very kind and encouraging…and most importantly enthusiastic. I can’t overstate how important that is to a new author. It gives them energy to write new things! And then the editing process began. Okay, Emma, your turn!

EDD: I had just been promoted to Editorial Director of McElderry Books when Karma’s manuscript Bear Snores On was submitted to the publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Books. She and I were in her apartment to strategize about the direction McElderry Books needed to take to meet new financial goals and she showed me Bear Snores On. I started immediately to read it aloud, and I ended up reading it aloud about five times! I fell in love. The rhyming verse was so polished—more polished and well-crafted than any manuscript I’d seen in a long time—and I wanted to know more about this author Karma Wilson. I also could immediately see the potential for Bear Snores On to be the start of something bigger than the one manuscript. When verse works well, when it feels flawless and comes lightly off the tongue, it has the potential to become a classic. We all respond well to rhymes and verse when they work so well you don’t even think about it. The rhythms, cadence, and musical flow of beautifully-crafted rhymes and verse help put a story deeply into our heads and memories—and when a story is imbedded in a reader like that, that’s when we know it’s a keeper.

I don’t know how many drafts Karma wrote of Bear Snores On before the draft that was submitted (how many drafts DID you write, Karma??) but I saw little in Karma’s manuscript that I felt needed to be changed or edited. I called Karma and left her a message telling her how much I loved the manuscript! That was one of the most fun phone calls I’ve ever made!

When editing began, I remember there wasn’t much actual editing to do But we talked about the cast of characters, and being absolutely certain that the dialogue was true to each character—and from there we tweaked words and phrases just enough to feel confident Hare sounded different from Mouse who sounded different from the narrator, and so on. And we talked about the importance of the essential change in rhythm that comes a bit past half-way through the story and the essential twist at the end of the story. All the while paying attention to syllables, meter, and beats, to be sure the manuscript would always pass the read-aloud test. What do you remember about the editing process, Karma?

KW: My memory is very similar to yours—for Bear Wants More (the second book in what was to become the Bear Snores On series) which required more extensive editing. For Bear Snores On I actually thought you edited the grammar only. Maybe I’m off on that! Maybe it’s a “fish story” of writing. However, the manuscript itself for Bear Snores On was edited beforehand by some of the top people in the industry today—at the time we were all new or barely published authors struggling along in a critique group. Bear Snores On owes some major thanks to the critique partners who helped me and I will forever be grateful. Good critique groups are very hard to come by, but at the time I was in one of the best one in the world. Dori Chaconas and Lisa Wheeler were in it, to name a few! The manuscript took two weeks to weeks to write from start to finish and was sent to a critique group two times if I remember correctly. Maybe three? It’s been some years! Ha-ha. I can’t say the draft count because I never save my first drafts (I know, I know) and edit and save as I go. But revision for me is an ongoing process. I write, read to myself, read aloud to check meter consistency, and then make tweaks. Wash, rinse, repeat about 5,000 times for each book! I do remember you, Emma, being the most encouraging, wonderful, amazing editor and feeling so lucky and happy to have a mentor who trusted my ability as a writer and respected me as a person. I was a bird taking her first flight, and Emma was the mother, pushing me gently and encouraging me to fly. It was amazing!!! (Emma, I know you would absolutely edit out two of those exclamation points.)

EDD: You’re right, Karma. I would edit out those extra exclamation points because less is more. I think what worked so well for us—starting with Bear Snores On and then through at least ten more books together—is the mutual respect we have not only for one another, but for poetry and rhyme and story. We also have a mutual respect for the creative process and the revision process. We always had fun with the work while also taking it very seriously. We trust ourselves and we trust in what we were doing together. That’s important for any manuscript, but especially so for poetry and particularly rhyming poetry. Rhyme needs to be precise and sharp while feeling casual and fluid—it’s hard to pull off. And when a master like Karma pulls it off, that’s how classics are made!

Watch Karma read BEAR SNORES ON thanks to KidLitTV!

Karma Read Aloud


Emma Dryden (credit Sonya Sones) 6     BIO

Emma D Dryden is the founder of the premier children’s book editorial and publishing consulting firm, drydenbks, through which she provides editorial and consultancy support to authors, illustrators, agents, foreign and domestic publishers, and eBook and app publishers. Her long children’s publishing career began at Viking and Random House, followed by a position with Margaret K. McElderry Books. After McElderry retired, Emma became VP, Editorial Director of McElderry Books, and then VP, Publisher of Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

            Throughout her career, Emma has edited hundreds of books for children, ranging from board books and picture books to poetry, novelties, non-fiction, MG, and YA fiction and fantasy.  As publisher, she oversaw the annual publication of over one-hundred hardcover and paperback titles. Authors and illustrators whom Emma has edited include Karma Wilson, Ellen Hopkins, Cornelia Funke, Susan Cooper, Alan Katz, Raul Colon, Lee Bennett Hopkins, David Diaz, E. B. Lewis, and Paul Zelinsky.

A highly sought-after speaker about craft and the digital landscape, Emma is on the Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators Board of Advisors. Her blog “Our Stories, Ourselves” explores the intertwined themes of life and writing and she encourages connection in the social network on Twitter (@drydenbks),  Facebook, and Pinterest

drydenbks - logo - JPEG


KarmaHeadshot (1)    Bio

Karma Wilson is an author making her home in beautiful NW Montana, where good coffee and bears are in abundance, which both spur her creativity. She’s been writing for 20 years and a published author for 16 years, which means it took her over three years of writing to sell her first book. That book was Bear Snores On which grew into the very successful Bear Books Series, published by Margaret K. McElderry. In addition to the Bear books, she’s published dozens of other titles and had 5 titles on the NYTs best sellers list. Several of Karma’s books have gone on to win prestigious national and state book awards, including the Oppenheim award, ALA Notable Book Award, Charlotte Picture Book honor award, and many more.

Aside from writing Karma enjoys cooking, enjoying nature, reading (duh), spending time with her family, and eating Moose Tracks ice cream (which inspired the title of her picture book, Moose Tracks and at least part of the need for new jeans).

You can learn more about Karma on her website,  or find her on Facebook (she’s also on Twitter @KarmaWilson and Instagram, which logs into like once a year).

Thank You Emma and Karma!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings for this final week will be announced on Wednesday, May 4th of next week as I will be out of town next weekend.




RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 17 Literary Agent Alexandra Penfold

SCBWI Midwest Conf logo

Art by  Michael Kress-Russick


SO…who is going to the

Wild Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016 – Sunday, May 01, 2016

It is next weekend near Chicago and I can’t wait!

If you are a RhyPiBoMoer and are attending please stop by our

RhyPiBoMojito Party on Saturday Night.


We will have “Kid Lit-friendly” Mojitos and

you can add Rum to yours, if you like.

For those who already know me…we will have plastic cups ONLY!  ; )

Stop by and say hello! I will post the place and time in the Facebook group so be watching for updated information.

Please RSVP in the Facebook Post so I can plan for snacks.

I can’t wait to meet you!

SCBWI Midwest Conf logo 2

Art by  Michael Kress-Russick


I met today’s Guest Blogger at the LA SCBWI Conference last summer. I attended her session on writing rhyming picture books…of course! We immediately connected over our love of RPBs and she kindly agreed to share an agent’s perspective on writing them.



I’m pleased to introduce

Literary Agent Alexandra Penfold

Alexandra Penfold photo by Donny Tsang

Alexandra Penfold photo by Donny Tsang


Rhyme can be fun! Rhyme can be funny! Rhyme can be playful and joyful and meaningful, too. But rhyme can also be dull and dry and boring. And when rhyme falls into those categories there are few things that are more tedious to read.


When you’re settled in at your computer and looking at a new draft on the screen, it’s important to ask yourself, “will this rhyme stand the test of time?” Because when you press send and share that manuscript with the world, that’s what an agent and editor are going to be asking.


If you’ve ever been to an SCBWI conference, you’ve probably heard editors say “Don’t send me rhyming picture book manuscripts.”


But if you go to the bookstore, you see books being published that are in rhyme. If no one is requesting rhyming texts, where are these picture books coming from? What gives?


I think the trouble is not the rhyming itself. It’s not an industry-wide distaste for poetry. It’s the abundance of bad rhyme that agents and editors see in their submissions that turns them off. Just like one apple can spoil the bunch, one bad rhymer can set an agent or editor’s eyes rolling and their mouse scrolling. Click, clack, delete.


As an agent, I’m looking for manuscripts that I think will stand the test of time. Ones that I know I’d have wanted to acquire when I sat on the editor’s side of the desk. Ones that I know readers would love to read again and again.


While rhyming picture books can break out, it’s important to consider why the manuscript is written in rhyme. Does this story need to be told in rhyme? Is rhyme the best vehicle for telling the story? Is the rhyme itself the reason for the story—i.e. sometimes a writer thinks of a rhyme and devises a plot around it. And this is where you need to be brutally honest with yourself, was that original rhyme so funny and so great that it deserves a story?


Rhyming text when not done well can be constraining your narrative voice. Even if you can maintain the story with the rhyming couplets, sometimes it might feel like the story has to meander a bit to get you that rhyme. With such a short and patterned text it can be hard to get a sense of a real voice. And that’s all the more challenging when you have meandering stanzas to hit all your beats.

 A Pig, a Fox, and a Box

Recently I’ve been utterly enchanted by Jonathan Fenske’s Geisel honor award winning book, A Pig, a Fox, and a Box.* With simple language and a buoyant rhyme scheme, not to mention spot on vocabulary for emerging readers, this deceptively simple early reader takes the reader through a rollicking rhyming story in three parts that begs for repeat reads. The front flap shows the titular, Fox with the text: “I have a box. I like to play. I think I will trick Pig today.” The set up and language are simple, but the humor and use of language are timeless. And most of all it’s joyful to read aloud. And that’s the sweet spot for any picture book.

*Mr. Fenske is not a client or acquaintance, so this is just unbiased fan gushing.




Alexandra Penfold is a Literary Agent at Upstart Crow Literary and has been working in publishing for over a decade. Formerly an Editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, she specializes in young picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult. Prior to becoming an editor, Alexandra was a children’s book publicist. She worked on media campaigns that appeared in USA Today,NewsweekUS News and World Report, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She’s the co-author of New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks and the author of three picture books: Eat, Sleep, Poop!, illustrated by Jane Massey, out this fall from Knopf Books for Young Readers, as well as the forthcoming We Are Brothers, We Are Friends illustrated by Eda Kaban, about the special relationship between two young brothers and Food Truck Fest, illustrated by Mike Dutton, her first rhyming(!) picture book text.

New York A La Cart

New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks 

Eat Sleep Poop

Eat, Sleep, Poop!, illustrated by Jane Massey

Twitter  @AgentPenfold

Upstart Crow Website

RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 16 Author & Teacher Randi Sonenshine

Happy Thursday!

RhyPiBoMo Rhyming Party

Our final Rhyming Party is this Friday! I hope you can join me for the mayhem! It is one hour of trivia questions about this week’s blog posts in our RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group. If you aren’t a member, request to join the over 600 folks who share our rhyming passion.  Everyone involved must type in rhyming phrases…SO funny! Don’t miss this last chance at 8:00 pm CST Friday night.


 Today’s guest blogger is a good friend who was also part of my RPB Revolution Conference “DREAM TEAM” Committee! I first met her on Facebook, when we both competed in the March Madness Poetry Tournament. She placed second last year, which is truly a dinosauric feat! The level of poets in that competition is stellar. Fortunately, we met in person last summer at a retreat and really hit it off. I’m so happy to say that she is now an agency mate as we both share Kendra Marcus as our agent at BookStop Literary! Obviously, I’m thrilled to have this talented lady on the calendar of bloggers this year!


 I’m pleased to introduce

Author & Teacher Randi Sonenshine

Randi Sonenshine Headshot

Author & Teacher Randi Sonenshine


Not Just for Circle Time: Rhyming Picture Books

in the Classroom

by Randi Sonenshine


I confess – I’m a picture book pusher.

As an instructional literacy coach, part of my job is to search for, recommend, and often purchase supplemental texts. Naturally, as a reading specialist and writer for children, picture books are at the top of my list. They are the perfect, bite-sized segue into many complex skills and concepts, not to mention a stand-alone literary treat.

Ten years ago, as the new (and only) literacy coach in the school system, it was hard enough to sell this idea to middle and high school English teachers. Luckily, with modeling and support, they quickly came around. But what about science, social studies, and math teachers? The first time I brought up picture books during a professional learning session, most of them looked at me like I had a third eye. Some even seemed to want to hurt me. Really.

In their defense, with only a vague statement about “reading across the curriculum,” in their standards, literacy was far from a priority; how could they see the connection between literacy and learning when the “experts” creating their curriculum made it an afterthought?

Thankfully, that’s far from the case today. Both the Next Generation Science Standards and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies weave literacy strands throughout the core concepts and across grade levels, and they both align with the Common Core Standards for ELA and Literacy. With those critical reading and writing skills embedded in the standards, content literacy is not merely a suggestion, but an expectation for all teachers.

The problem is that textbooks, especially science and social studies, haven’t caught up with these curriculum shifts. Most still contain dry, – well, textbook text, which is hardly the most engaging material, not to mention difficult for students with learning disabilities or limited English proficiency. That’s why many teachers are turning to online subscriptions like Newsela and TweenTribune, as well as classroom magazines, novels and picture books, for more interesting and accessible content-related texts.

While there seems to be a growing number of content-related picture books on the shelves, rhyming picture books are scarce among them, a surprising fact considering the strong link between rhyme and learning.

That’s where you come in! Add beautiful language, connections to content standards, and engaging illustrations, and your rhyming picture book will have a life well beyond Circle Time.

So, beyond the tips shared here by so many amazing industry professionals (Holy Cannoli, Batman – I’m in between Margarita Engle and Alexandra Penfold!), here are a few more from an educator’s perspective:

  • Establish a strong, rather than vague connection to the standard. To that end, familiarize yourself with the standards. As navigating these can be daunting, even for seasoned teachers, start by zooming in on overarching themes, like the Crosscutting Concepts in the NGSS, the Anchor Standards in the ELA Common Core, and the Ten Themes for the NCSS social studies standards.

  • Be diligent with your research, as content must be accurate and up-to-date. Provide bibliographic information and sources for further reading; teachers often use these to extend and enrich learning.

  • Create opportunities for readers to explore concepts more fully in the back matter or with non-fiction call-outs. Also consider adding sidebars, charts, graphs, and/or maps if appropriate; interpreting these text features is a critical skill across all subject areas, and a common task on state assessments.

  • When possible, use the academic language of the standards. Rhyming picture books, which naturally lend themselves to repeated readings, provide both context and multiple exposures to new words, which are necessary for word learning. If there isn’t sufficient context in the text for readers to infer the meaning, add a glossary as part of the back matter.

  • Consider emphasizing a particular organizational structure, such as cause-effect, chronological, comparison-contrast, cyclical, or problem-solution. Analyzing these patterns is another critical skill that crosses all disciplines.

  • Strive for multiple layers of meaning that provide opportunities for close reading, discussion, and debate for older students. For a good example, read Denise Fleming’s Where Once There Was a Wood or This is the Dream, by Diane Z. Shore, Jessica Alexander, and James Ransome.

  • Create some STEAM. The STEAM movement, which is quickly gaining momentum, grew out of STEM, (the push for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education.) The new platform infuses the Arts, such as music, dance, theater, visual arts, and design.

A Few of My Favorite Rhyming Picture Books for the Classroom:

A House is a House for Me

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman

An Island Grows

An Island Grows by Lola Schaefer, illustrated by Cathie Felstead

The Lorax

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss


Mojave by Diane Siebert, illustrated by Wendell Minor

Over in the Wetlands

Over in the Wetlands by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

This is the Dream        This is the Earth

This is the Dream and This is the Earth by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, illustrated by James Ransome.

This is the Sunflower

This is the Sunflower by Lola Schaefer, illustrated by Donald Crews

Water can be

Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Water is Water

Water is Water by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

Where Once there was a wood

Where Once There Was a Wood by Denise Fleming


Randi Sonenshine has been an educator and professional developer for over twenty years. An instructional literacy coach and member of the ELA Advisory Council for the Georgia Department of Education, she has taught high school English, middle school language arts, and college reading. As a children’s author, she is represented by Kendra Marcus at BookStop Literary.

She lives in northwest Georgia with her husband, two sons, a very sneaky schnauzer, and an immortal, shape-shifting goldfish.

You can find Randi at Facebook, theproseytree.blogspot.com or on Twitter as @rsonenshine.

Thank You Randi!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Saturday of each week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 15 Margarita Engle

RPB Badge - for blog

Our 2015 RPB Revolution Conference Badge

The RPB Revolution Conference Recording

 Last December, my aMaZing Best in Rhyme Award Committee and my aMaZing RPB Conference Committee and I planned the first Best in Rhyme Award Ceremony and the Rhyming Picture Book Revolution Conference in New York City, sponsored by KidLitTV.

Congratulations to Author Penny Parker Klostermann
and her award winning book

It was a last minute opportunity that we managed to pull off in 3 months time with the help and support of many. It takes a village of rhymers, for sure! Julie Gribble, of KidLitTV, generously hosted our conference as well as the Best in Rhyme 2015 Award Ceremony.

Julie Gribble Headshot with scarfKidLit TV logo - new

Our wonderful presenters were: Author Penny Parker Klostermann (2015 Best in Rhyme Award Winner), Author Lori Degman, Agent Kendra Marcus of BookStop Literary, Author Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Editor Rebecca Davis of WordSong/Boyds Mills Press, Author Karma Wilson and Editor Justin Chanda of Simon and Schuster. 

These generous folks donated their time, their wisdom and their support to our first conference and we are very grateful!  We, in turn, covered their flights, food and lodging. Hotels in Tribecca, NY in December are incredibly expensive, even with a group rate. ($350.00/night) This was the bulk of our expenses, plus the cost of renting chairs, tables and podium, appetizers and drinks for the award ceremony and a nice faculty dinner. We made tough decisions to cut costs and keep conference fees down. Many of the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Authors donated books for us to auction.  Karma Wilson and Rebecca Davis donated boxes full of books for us to auction. Justin Chanda and Simon and Schuster covered Karma’s expenses, to help us. Julie Gribble loaned us her studio, which is also her home, and recorded and edited the conference recording, HOURS of work, at no charge. Even my committee and I paid our own expenses to make this event happen. I’m explaining this because I want you to know how much passion there is from all involved to promote, support and write wonderful rhyming picture books! We felt that it was a great success with nearly 50 people attending the Best in Rhyme Award Ceremony, the Conference and the Books of Wonder book signing.

Were there bumps along the way? Absolutely! Did I learn a lot about hosting a conference? Absolutely! Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat!  ♥

Books of Wonder - with Penny 2

Author Penny Parker Klostermann and Author Angie Karcher at Books of Wonder Bookstore in NYC

Our presenters allowed Julie Gribble to record the conference, so we could sell it for 6 months following the event, to help pay the remaining bills. June 1st is the day the recording link expires, so that means that we have limited time to sell this OUTSTANDING conference recording! It is over 4 hours of information presented by talented authors, agents and editors!

And…those who purchase the recording will be invited to present a manuscript to Editor Justin Chanda, Editor Rebecca Davis and Agent Kendra Marcus! What? Really? YES!

All for the bargain price of $49.99!

The final sales of this recording, plus the auction sales, will make it possible for me to plan another book award ceremony and conference. I assure you that this was a non-profit event and anything you can do to support our efforts is greatly appreciated! 

Did I mention that I will have 3 in college this fall? = 0

Why am I offering this explanation? Because I continue to ask for your help and I felt like I should offer the explanation of where we are… RhyPiBoMo was never and will never be about making money.

It is about the love of the rhyme!

RPB Conference Group Pic

Here is the link:


Okay, taking my crumpled, car salesman hat off now!

Whew…the least favorite part of my job! 


I’m pleased to introduce

Author & Poet Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle Headshot

Author & Poet Margarita Engle



I’m so happy to be included in this fantastic collection of brief statements honoring rhymed picture books.  None of my own picture books actually rhyme in the traditional way, with metered lines and rhymes that appear at predictable intervals.  In fact, I tend toward free verse, partly because most of my picture books are intended for older children.  Only three of them, When You Wander, Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish, and Drum Dream Girl, incorporate a bit of rhyme.  In all three of these books, the rhythms emerge from the subject matter, rather than by counting syllables.  In all, at least some of the rhymes are widely scattered and often tend to be interior, occurring within lines, not just at the ends.

Tiny Rabbits Big Dream

People often ask me why I write the way I do, as if they find it unusual.  I can’t offer a logical answer, other than to say it feels natural, and the flowing effect makes me happy.  That’s really the key.  No matter how serious the subject, poetry has the innate ability to make writers—as well as readers and listeners—feel pleased in a physical, sonorous, sensory way.  Perhaps it’s our yearning to sing, even when we don’t have beautiful voices, or it could be the ancient link to verbal storytelling around a campfire, or chants repeated while planting and gathering crops, or lullabies dreamed up by mothers in an effort to soothe babies.  Whatever the source, poetry brings real pleasure in the form of lyrical, musical language.  The possibilities are endless.  Some natural sounds occur at regular intervals.  Cricket chirps, frog calls, and ocean waves bring to mind metered rhymes.  Other sounds found in nature are varied.  Mockingbirds, wind in treetops, thunder.  Writers are free to choose any combination.  Even the act of choosing is pleasurable, making the writing process a privilege, not a chore.

Drum Dream Girl

In my opinion, the most important characteristic of any story or poem is honesty.  Nonfiction, fiction, and fantasies all need emotional truth.  If I tried to write like a traditional balladeer, my counted syllables and forced rhymes would expose me as a fraud.  By letting rhythms, rhymes, and ideas flow naturally, I am being myself, a hybrid between a free verse poet and scientist.  For me, these mixtures work, while fixed forms would not.  When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story, needed to be very comforting, because the idea of getting lost is so scary.  Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish incorporated rhymes inspired by the hopping motions of a bunny. In Drum Dream Girl, How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, the dance like rhythms and scattered rhymes grew from Cuba’s wealth of percussion instruments  For me, this hybrid approach is natural, a balance between structure and flow.  It’s not something I do consciously, not a technique I could study or teach, just my own natural, variable, constantly changing approach.


Each seeker has to find her own way.  Some paths lead to the beautiful counted meters and patterned rhymes of traditional poetic forms, while others lead into a wilderness.  I happen to love exploring.



Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many verse books, including the Newbery Honor winner, The Surrender Tree, PEN USA Award winner, The Lightning Dreamer, and Walter Dean Myers Honor winner, Enchanted Air.  Her books have also received multiple Pura Belpré and Américas Awards, as well as a Jane Addams Award, International Reading Association Award, and many others.  Books for younger children include Mountain Dog, Summer Birds, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award winner, Drum Dream Girl.


Margarita’s 2016 books are Lion Island (Atheneum, August), and Morning Star Horse (HBE Publishers, autumn).  She lives in central California, where she enjoys helping her husband train his wilderness search and rescue dog.

Margarita’s WEBSITE




 Tiny Rabbits Big Dream



Drum Dream Girl


Thank You Margarita!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Saturday of each week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 14 Author Heidi E. Y. Stemple

Have you miss a few blog posts?

Here are links to all the blog posts for this year.

Click and read…so simple!

RhyPiBoMo 2016 Calendar

 I want to extend a huge “THANK YOU!” to all our guest bloggers! They have generously shared their knowledge, their time and donated the wonderful prizes for this year. Please “LIKE” them on Facebook, FOLLOW their websites and purchase their books!


I’m pleased to introduce

Author Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Heidi Stemple Headshot

Author Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Rhyming With a Partner

            I feel bad for writers who have to work hard to find a critique group.  My family is one big writer’s support group. Sometimes it feels like summer camp and sometimes it’s more like a twelve-step program, but, for better or worse, we all work in this business of children’s books and it’s our shared passion.  It’s no surprise that we all collaborate. My mother, author Jane Yolen, has written books with both my brothers and with me. We have all written one rather large book (Animal Stories, National Geographic Kids) together and are about to start on a second four-way collaboration.  It’s what we do. On any given day, there are dozens of family projects in the works.

You Nest Here With me

You Nest Here With Me

            So, how do we do it?  I can’t count the number of people who have said to me, “I could NEVER work with my mother.”  My easy answer is always, “but you could work with MY mother.”  And, it’s true.  My mother and I have been writing together for 22 years. We work on large projects and small.  We’ve written an adult collection together, close to 25 picture books, and numerous stories and even poems in collaboration. And, we manage this without killing each other. We banter and argue but we never leave angry.

Rhyming picture books are a special and delicate genre. You know we all love them when they’re done well. When all the elements line up, they are magic. But, we also love to hate the ones that just don’t work.  Yes, I admit to being a rhyming picture book snob.  When they are bad, they are awful.  It’s why we are discouraged by agents and editors from submitting rhymed manuscripts. Can you imagine having to read bad almost-but-not-quite-slant rhyme, mangled meter, and awkwardly flip-flopped sentence structure all day long?


Not All Princesses Dress In Pink

One way to prevent bad rhyme being sent out into the world is writing with a partner.  This provides you a built-in editor. One who isn’t afraid to (nicely or not) tell you that your rhyme isn’t working. What’s more, your partner has a real stake in it being fixed because his or her name will be on the cover right alongside yours.

My mother and I, working in collaboration, have written four rhymed picture books:  You Nest Here With Me, Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, Sleep Black Bear, Sleep, and Pretty Princess Pig.  All of them have been written by passing the manuscript back and forth.  One of us will begin and, when we come to a stopping spot, (which could be long sections or sometimes it’s even just a couple words at a time) we send the manuscript on to the other.  In all our works together, there are parts we have passed back and forth so many times we can’t remember who wrote what.  This back and forth is especially good for rhyming books because instead of having to figure out if your words read the way you intended, (or sounded in your head) you have a built-in fresh look at it every time.


Sleep Black Bear, Sleep

As in any critique situation, we try to be gentle.  Though, admittedly after a lifetime of knowing each other and so many years of writing together, we often forget our manners.  Phrases like, “that sucks,” or worse have made it into emails and sit-down sessions more than once.  But, since our shared purpose is a well-written rhyming read-aloud, we know that exacting critique is for the best.

Pretty Princess Pig

Pretty Princess Pig

The particular challenge with picture books is that there is no wiggle room. We have only 32 pages to play with.  We cannot waste words. The brevity and economy of the picture book does not make it easier to write—in fact– learning to work within the confines of the picture book rules makes it anything but!  When rhyming, this becomes even more of a challenge because of the additional puzzles of the rhyme, itself. Having a writing partner and built-in critique partner on board is one way to avoid some of the common mistakes rhyming writers can make.  But, really, the best reason to write your rhyming picture book with a partner is that writing can be a lonely business.  Sharing a project with a friend makes it a little less so.



Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published twenty books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.

Heidi, her two daughters, her mom, and a couple cats live in Massachusetts on a big old farm with two book-filled houses.




Twitter  @heidieys



You Nest Here With me






Pretty Princess Pig


Thank You Heidi!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Monday of each week.



RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 13 Author Linda Sue Park


Did you read and comment on all the blog posts last week?

These folks did! Congratulations!

Week 2 Prize Winners

Day 8-Winner: Deirdre Englehart

Monday: Autographed Copy of BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S by Anika Denise

Day 9-Winner: Aimee Haburjak

Tuesday: Autographed Copy of MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz

Day 10-Winner: Anne Iverson

Wednesday: Copy of WOULD A WORM GO ON A WALK by Hannah C. Hall Donated by Sally Apokedak


Day 11- Winner: Debbie Vidovich

Thursday: Autographed Copy of OUTER SPACE BEDTIME RACE by Rob Sanders


Day 12-Winner: Anne Bielby

Friday: RPB Revolution Conference Recording ($50.00 value)

Prize winners, please email (Angie.karcher@yahoo.com) or message me with your contact information. Typically, the books will be mailed directly from the author, so please allow a few weeks. If you haven’t received your prize by the end of April, please let me know. 


Rhyming Critique Groups

If you expressed interest in a critique group by the deadline and are registered for RhyPiBoMo 2016, then you have been assigned to a specific group.

PLEASE find your assigned group, click on the link to the FB page for that group and Dawn Young will approve you to join. Dawn is available for any questions.

We have several critique groups with members that have not joined in. Your group members are waiting on you so they can begin. If you have not joined your assigned group by Tuesday, April 19th at noon CST, you may be removed to allow space for another writer, as we have a waiting list for critique groups.

Thanks so much, Dawn Young, for organizing and keeping these groups running!

I know everyone participating will benefit from them!


I’m pleased to introduce

Author Linda Sue Park

 Linda Sue Park headshotAuthor Linda Sue Park


GENTLY: tension in rhyming picture books

by Linda Sue Park

The word ‘tension’ can be defined in a couple of different ways when discussing rhyming picture books. The first applies to any story: narrative tension. The stakes rise for the protagonist. Drama deepens. Word choice becomes sharper and more focused. (Bloated language can so easily dull a climactic moment.)

A writer must consider all of the above in a narrative picture book, and accomplish it in a few hundred words, at most. On top of that, you want to write it in rhyme?

Well, yes. As RhyPiBoMoers know, there are many wonderful reasons for writing in rhyme (because it’s fun, because it makes the text much more memorable, and for me, what is perhaps most important, because limitations can be liberating). For the purposes of this post, rhyme is a terrific tool for maintaining the second kind of tension, which I’ll call unifying tension. (I actually want to call it ‘integral tension,’ but that sounds lumpy.)

Because just as tension can cause things to fall apart—for our protagonist—it can also hold things together. The choice of a verse form combined with good rhyme and meter establishes a pattern that the reader can rely on, which unifies the text and thus aids the reading experience.

Good rhyme also enhances that experience by creating a subtle tension of its own. What rhyming word is coming next? What will the next set of rhymes be? As the story moves along and its narrative tension increases, how will the writer use the unity established by rhyme to create a climactic surprise or punch line?

Xander's Panda Party

There are as many ways to accomplish these goals as there are good rhyming picture books! One of the most popular is the cumulative story. (The classic example is ‘The House that Jack Built’. ) My book XANDER’S PANDA PARTY uses a cumulative story structure for narrative tension. The unifying tension is provided by unexpected rhymes, both end rhymes—‘invitation / conversation’—and internally—‘Koala hollered’—with the additional surprise of a non-stanzaic layout.

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks

Many rhyming stories are linear narratives. In HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS?, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, a little duck goes searching for his lost footwear. First he looks in his box. Then he asks Mr. Fox, who tells him to seek out the ox.

See the two kinds of tension at work here? The poor little duck is getting more desperate at each step (narrative tension). The rhymes are both pulling the story together (unifying tension), and creating their own interest (what will the next rhyming word be?).

Spoiler alert: The duck finally visits the peacocks. I love this choice for its surprise and illustrative possibilities (terrifically fulfilled by the illustrator). In an ideal world, I would have wished for a word in which the accent falls on the second syllable, as the metrics of ‘peacock’ are slightly off within the verses. But the overall package works so well that this small bump can be skated over.

What does bunny see

By contrast, most concept books lack a narrative arc. But writers of such books should still strive for some kind of narrative tension. In my own book WHAT DOES BUNNY SEE?, illustrated by Maggie Smith, a bunny hops through a garden learning colors and the names of flowers. Where will the bunny go next? When will I see my favorite color?

Although there’s no ‘story’, rhyme is used to create the tension that causes the reader to turn the page—literally.

In a cottage garden

Ears and whiskers clean

Bunny finds a patch of lawn

What she sees is . . . (page turn)


Once they’ve figured out the rhyme scheme, young readers can guess the upcoming color. The rhyming word is always a color (with one exception), which provides both unifying and narrative tension.

Dream Hop

Yet another way to create tension in a non-narrative book is the single rhyme. Julia Durango’s DREAM HOP emphasizes one rhyming sound—“-op”—which again unifies the text while also making the reader wonder what ‘op’ word will be next. Coincidentally, my book BEE-BIM BOP! uses the same end rhyme and many of the exact same words as Durango’s book—in a very different story!

Bee Bim Bopp

The rhyming picture book for young children might appear on the surface less probing or profound than novels written for middle-grade or YA audiences. But its concerns are no less important to its audience, who deserve your best effort to engage by using tension, rhyme, and meter effectively.



Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

This is the first thing she ever published—a haiku in a children’s magazine when she was nine years old:

In the green forest
A sparkling, bright blue pond hides.
And animals drink.

For this poem she was paid one whole dollar. She gave the check to her dad for Christmas. About a year later the company wrote to her asking her to cash the check! Linda Sue wrote back explaining that it was now framed and hung above her dad’s desk and was it okay if he kept it? The magazine said it was fine, and her dad still has that check.

During elementary school and high school, Linda Sue had several more poems published in magazines for children and young people. She went to Stanford University, competed for the gymnastics team, and graduated with a degree in English. Then she took a job as a public-relations writer for a major oil company. This was not exactly the kind of writing she wanted to do, but it did teach her to present her work professionally and that an interested writer can make any subject fascinating (well, almost any subject …).

In 1983, after two years with the oil company, Linda Sue left her job and moved to Dublin when a handsome Irishman swept her off her feet. She studied literature, moved to London, worked for an advertising agency, married that Irishman, had a baby, taught English as a second language to college students, worked as a food journalist, and had another baby. It was a busy time, and she never even thought about writing children’s books.

Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, including A Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newberry Medal.

A single shard

She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.

Bee Bim Bopp


Xander's Panda Party


What does bunny see




Twitter @LindaSuePark


Thank You Linda Sue!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Saturday of each week.