Mary Had a Little Glam
by Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
2016 Best in Rhyme Award Top 10
See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016
Writing A Rhyming Picture Book Well
by Tammi Sauer
My first book, COWBOY CAMP, debuted in 2005. Since then, I’ve had sixteen other books hit the shelves, and I have another twelve under contract. Do you know how many of those books are written in rhyme? One.
I never planned to write a rhymer. This book snuck up on me and demanded to be written. I blame Linda Ashman.
While reading Linda’s writing resource, THE NUTS & BOLTS GUIDE TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS, one of the writing exercises caught my attention. It suggested writing a fresh take on a familiar song or rhyme such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Out of nowhere, the words MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM popped into my head. I knew I had to write Mary’s story. And, of course, since “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is written in rhyme, I knew my manuscript needed to follow suit.
This situation was equal parts exciting and flat-out scary.
Sure, I’d read hundreds and hundreds of rhyming picture books, but I’d never considered writing one. I knew a rhyming picture book needed to have all of the other important picture book components, plus it had to actually, you know, RHYME.
First and foremost, I knew I had to give Mary a story. That’s key. The manuscript couldn’t just be one cute and bouncy stanza after another. Each stanza needed to serve a purpose in pushing the story forward.
Once I uncovered Mary’s story, I read—and analyzed!—even more rhyming picture books. I also did a lot of research on writing rhyme. The best resource I have found for this, by the way, is Lane Fredrickson’s site rhymeweaver.com. I seriously cannot believe that goldmine of information is free.
Another thing that I did was go over the manuscript again and again in my head during my morning walks. I pounded out the story’s rhythm with each step. This helped me to make sure I had my accented syllables in the right spots.
Once I felt I had a solid draft that was full of story and fun language and void of inverted syntax and near rhymes, I shared it with my critique group as well as with a few of my other author friends who write in rhyme. I knew that if I was going to send a rhymer Out There, I wanted every word, phrase, and stanza to be as strong as possible.
All of that hard work paid off. MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM, illustrated by the oh-so-fabulous Vanessa Brantley-Newton, received a star from Kirkus. My favorite words in the review? “Sauer’s rhythm never falters.” Yes! My little rhymer also made the 2016 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List.
At the present time, I don’t have plans to write another rhymer, but, if I do, I will blame Linda Ashman.
Tammi Sauer is a full time children’s book author who also presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has sold 29 picture books to major publishing houses including Disney*Hyperion, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling. In addition to winning awards, Tammi’s books have gone on to do great things. CHICKEN DANCE: THE MUSICAL is currently on a national tour, NUGGET & FANG was a featured book at the 2015 Scholastic Book Fair, and YOUR ALIEN, an NPR Best Book of 2015, was recently released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. You can learn more about Tammi at www.tammisauer.com and can follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.
Week 1 Prize Winners
Monday – Maria Bostian – Copy of A FAIRY FRIEND by Sue Fliess
Tuesday – Judy Sobanski – Copy of TEENY TINY TOADY by Jill Esbaum
Wednesday – Elizabeth Saba – Copy of HENRY WANTS MORE by Linda Ashman
Thursday – Arin Wensley – Copy of TRAINBOTS by Miranda Paul
Friday – Maria Oka – Copy of RACE CAR DREAMS and swag – Sharon Chriscoe
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