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.




84 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 15 Margarita Engle

  1. Shelley Kinder

    Thank you, Margarita, for this post. I am SO going to go and check out all your books now. I’m intrigued. I love what you said about your writing being your own approach, not something you could study or teach. It seems to just flow out of you…such a gift!

    I bought the conference recording! WooHoo! Can’t wait to watch!

  2. Beautiful post that reveals trusting our own internal rhythm and the focus of the story to guide our use of rhyme. I love how you describe yourself as “free verse poet and scientist” – two beautiful traits that aid in weaving together your beautiful stories.
    thank you,
    Aimee Haburjak

  3. Cathy Lentes
    Like Margarita, I love the music of words heard, words on the page. If we try to force the story to fit a form that’s not natural, then it shows. I always find that if I’m patient, the story or poem will show me the way, let me hear its innate music.

  4. How have I missed Margarita Engle??? Checking her books out now! Thank you, Angie, for this wonderful waterfall of writers–and I love exploring, too, Margarita, particularly in my library and bookstore! 🙂

  5. I love the wilderness, too,Margarita! And I love that you emphasize HONESTY in our writing..rhyme or prose, we need to be authentic! Thank you for the post…and for your wonderful books!

  6. Judy Sobanski – Margarita, thank you for sharing your thoughts about free verse vs. traditional rhyme. I think it is important for one to write in a way that comes naturally and instinctively. I love exploring all the different ways to express poetry.

  7. Anita Jones
    What a beautiful post! There was so much poetry in the information provided! I loved reading all the various analogies; “Storytelling around the campfire, chants while planting and gathering crops, lullabies dreamed up by mothers”….cricket chirps, frog calls, ocean waves, mockingbirds, wind in treetops……absolutely lovely and incredibly inspiring! Thank you for sharing Margarita!!!

  8. Thanks for your inspirational post, Margarita! I am looking forward to reading your books. The sound wonderful.

    Debbie McCue

  9. NATALIE LYNN TANNER: Margarita, I TRULY enjoyed your post! I, too, am more of a free-verse kind of gal. I appreciate your wisdom: “By letting rhythms, rhymes, and ideas flow naturally, I am being myself.” BEAUTIFUL!!!! I LOVE how you incorporate the sounds and rhythms of nature in your writing, for they are the truest poets of all. And KUDOS to you and your husband for the WONDERFUL work you do training search and rescue dogs, and incorporating that passion into your writing. THANK YOU!!!

  10. Ann Magee
    Thank you, Margarita, for your lovely post and for your lovely books. “In my opinion, the most important characteristic of any story or poem is honesty. Nonfiction, fiction, and fantasies all need emotional truth.” This is exactly how I feel as well, especially about my free-verse poems. You are a treasure!

  11. Loved the humorous “bent” on loch mess monsters! It was exciting to learn that the drum dreamer was crafted around a real girl.

  12. Chris Clayson – Thank you, Margarita Engle! I too, feel very satisfied when creating rhyme. I am reminded of my mythology teacher after reading your statement. Thank you for the lovely connection.

  13. JeanJames
    Margarita your post was beautiful to read, I can only imagine how wonderful your books are (off to go get some). I have to agree coming from someone who is terribly tone deaf, writing in rhyme is like creating a song without me actually having to sing it. You captured the feeling of poetry so well. Thanks for such and amazing post!

  14. Melinda Kinsman – Thanks for sharing an interesting post on your own alternative rhyming “wilderness”, Margarita.

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