Q and A with Susanna Leonard Hill about THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT. It RuMbLeS into bookstores on July 25th

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Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

 

SLH - Book Cover

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

 

I’m excited to share this fantastic new book with you! THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT is Susanna Leonard Hill’s newest picture book, coming out on July 25th.

She has been quite the busy lady as two of her other books came out in the past few weeks. Her blog hops have been so much fun to follow!  WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH both look terrific.

The blog hop shenanigans continue with a SPECIAL PRIZE to be raffled off among anyone who comments on every single blog tour stop, so don’t miss a single fascinating installment!

And don’t forget to share on social media.  The hashtag we are using to promote the book is #trucksontour.  Every time you share a post on Face Book, Twitter or Instagram using #trucksontour you will get an entry into a raffle where 3 winners will each get a $25 Merritt Bookstore and Toystore gift card.

Make sure you comment below to win a prize!!

I was lucky enough to catch Susanna for a moment to ask her a few questions about her book. Please enjoy this brief Q and A and make sure you stop by the book store and grab all of her books!

Q and A with Susanna:

Angie

Hi Susanna,

I thought of your wonderful, new picture book, THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT, as I was driving this summer and hit miles of road construction. What inspired you to write this book?

Susanna

Okay.  Call me nuts, but I have always been fascinated by heavy equipment! 😊 Seriously! I love the huge tires, the caterpillar tracks, the giant dumper beds, the buckets and claws and rock hammers and noise – not just the mighty roar of the engines, but that beepbeepbeep when they back up.  They look and sound so busy and important, always hard at work making something.  I am not kidding when I tell you that when I was three I was fully committed to a career driving a steam roller.  And call me nuttier, but I love the smell of hot asphalt… maybe because I grew up in New York City.  Anyway, along came my son who apparently inherited my love of big machines and for a couple years that was all he could talk about, and all he wanted to read about.  Since at that point a career in driving a steam roller seemed unlikely, I decided I’d like to write about road building even if I wasn’t actively participating in it 😊

 

Angie

You have obviously done lots of research on each type of truck. Did you find it challenging to add in facts, yet keep it fun and flowing for young readers?

Susanna

I think a lot of young readers, like me and my son, find big trucks inherently interesting!  Facts about them are fun by definition 😊 The main challenge I faced was selecting the most salient, age-appropriate facts to represent each vehicle while also keeping the story moving forward.  For example, it would have been very interesting to say exactly how much weight a bulldozer can shove… but it wouldn’t have fit the story as well as simply stating that its job is to shove stuff out of the way.  When choosing the facts, it’s a balancing act between what moves the story, which facts are age-appropriate (3 year olds can more easily comprehend that a bulldozer’s job is shoving things out of the way then that they can move however many tons of dirt and rock because the concept of specific weight is a little beyond them yet) and, in the case of a rhyming manuscript, what you can say and how you can say it and still fit the rhyme scheme and meter.

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Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

Angie

My two nephews will absolutely love this, as BIG trucks are all the rage at their playgroup. What is your target age for this book?

Susanna

In my mind, the target age was 2-5, and I think that came through pretty well, especially with Erica’s cute and friendly art.

 

Angie

My husband is a Civil Engineer in Indiana and has worked with all of these big trucks for years. How did you decide which trucks to include?

Susanna

I wanted to tell a story of trucks working together to build a road, so I chose trucks that would be involved.  Some machines, like bulldozers, work at a variety of jobs.  Other machines, like graders and paint markers, are much more specific to road building.  I wanted to include as many that were specific to road building as possible, while also including a few other important multi-dimensional vehicles that were necessary for building a road even if that was not all they were good for.  In addition, this manuscript is one of a series of three.  The others also rely on a number of heavy machines working together to create something.  I didn’t want to use the same machine twice, so they are divided between the three manuscripts.  That’s why, for example, there is no dump truck in this story… it’s in one of the others 😊 Whether or not the other two stories will see the light of day undoubtedly depends on whether or not this story sells well so… fingers crossed! 😊

 

Angie

The illustrations are so much fun! I love how the illustrator, Erica Sirotich, brought them to life with expressive faces. Did you get to collaborate with her on this process?

Susanna

No!  I didn’t get to collaborate with her at all!  I didn’t see the art until it was pretty much finished.  But I think it’s really cute!  I love the way the book came out.  My favorite things are the pink bulldozer with the flower in her exhaust pipe and the little construction-worker birds 😊

SLH - Book pages 2

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

Angie

This is a rhyming picture book. What challenges did you face with meter and rhyme?

Susanna

It was tricky!  Words like “bulldozer” are not made to fit easily into rhyme 😊 But I was basing my rhyme on the familiar House That Jack Built rhyme, so I had a framework to stay within.  Rhyming, to me, is a little like a puzzle – a word puzzle! – one of the reasons I like it so much.  I enjoy the challenge of playing with words until I get the right combination in the right order.  It’s important to keep the story moving forward without padding in extra lines just to make the rhymes work.

 

Angie

I know you have had two more books come out recently. Please tell us about them.

Susanna

So nice of you to ask 😊 Yes!  On July 11 WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH and WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES had their book birthdays.  LION is about a lion who does NOT want to take a bath.  ELEPHANT is about an elephant who gets the sniffles.  Both stories try to turn something that kids sometimes find unpleasant into something fun by putting the child in control and by making the whole situation silly.

 

Angie

What other books have you written and do you have any more truck books planned for the future?

Susanna

Aside from LION and ELEPHANT, other titles include:

THE HOUSE THAT MACK BUILT (Little Simon 2002)

TAXI! (Little Simon 2005)

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (Holiday House 2005)

NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE (Holiday House 2007)

NOT YET, ROSE (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers 2009)

AIRPLANE FLIGHT (Little Simon 2009)

FREIGHT TRAIN TRIP (Little Simon 2009)

CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP (Walker Books 2010)

APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS! (Holiday House 2011)

BEER IS ZO MOE (Veltman Uitgevers 2011 – Dutch only)

 

Forthcoming:

WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT (Little Simon January 2, 2018)

WHEN YOUR MONKEYS WON’T GO TO BED (Little Simon Fall 2018)

ALPHABEDTIME! (Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Books, Spring 2019)

MOON DREAMS (Sourcebooks Spring 2019)

 

As I mentioned above, I have more truck books planned for the future – 2 of them at the moment! – but I don’t know how the publisher feels about that! 😊

 

Angie

Thanks for sharing this fun info on THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT! We look forward to reading more of your books in the future!

Susanna

Thank you so much, Angie!  And thank you so much for having me here today!  I so appreciate it!

 

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Bio:

Susanna is the award-winning author of over a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner and an Itabashi Translation Award Finalist.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one forthcoming in Chinese.  Her newest books, When Your Lion Needs A BathWhen Your Elephant Has The Sniffles, and The Road That Trucks Built will be published by Little Simon in July 2017.  When Your Llama Needs A Haircut (Little Simon) and Alphabedtime! (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books) are forthcoming in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 respectively, with additional titles coming in 2018 and 2019.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

Links:

Website: http://www.susannahill.com/HOME.html

Blog: http://susannahill.blogspot.com

Face Book Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SusannaLeonardHill

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaLHill

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SLHill1

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=26268678&locale=en_US&trk=tyah&trkInfo=tas%3ASUSAN%2Cidx%3A2-1-2

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102248907287284628149/posts/p/pub

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/

Making Picture Book Magic (online picture book writing course):http://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/

Remember to use #trucksontour

 

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Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

2018 Rhyme Revolution Conference Registration is OPEN! Plus other fun stuff

RR Conference Badge updated

Rhyme Revolution has come to an end but the rhyming fun

and opportunities are just beginning!

But first,

If you participated in Rhyme Revolution 2017 copy and paste this badge and share it proudly on your website and on social media! Please add #rhymerevolution to your post.

Congratulations on completing another year of learning and rhyming fun!

THANK YOU everyone for another successful year!

Angie

First bit of  exciting news!!

I have been busy contacting a few agents and editors this month and have more submission opportunities for writers of rhyme!

Starting June 1st, my manuscript critiques will receive a star rating (from 1 – 5 stars) based on the quality. An author who receives a 5 star rating on a rhyming picture book manuscript will be invited to submit to a growing list of agents and editors interested in reading manuscripts with the Rhyme Revolution stars.

You can purchase a manuscript critique HERE.

*As I am receiving quite a lot of manuscript critique requests, I will only accept a limited number per month and then put you on a waiting list or bump you to the next month, so I can respond in a timely manner. As stated above, the rating system begins June first but you may purchase a critique now and it will qualify for this opportunity. 

This is SO exciting and will hopefully improve the reception and quality of rhyming manuscripts.

Interested agents and editors may contact me at Angie.karcher@yahoo.com.

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Second exciting opportunity…

Now that Rhyme Revolution is over, are you ready to focus on writing a rhyming picture book manuscript?

Registration is now open for The Rhyme Revolution Online Writing Classes.

The classes run June – November and fill up fast as I only accept 5-7 people per class. I’m offering less classes this year as I have several projects going on so, don’t delay if you want a spot!

I always bring in an accomplished author who writes rhyming picture books to do a Q and A the last week of class.

We do a weekly webinar on Google Hangout and you will receive daily lessons via a private Facebook group for the class. You can look at the lessons at your convenience so it works well for those with busy schedules.

I offer a private face-to-face critique to each class member that will include the starred rating system opportunity.

The classes often continue as a rhyming critique group after the month ends.

It is a fun, low key class yet packed full of tons of info and links to keep you reading for weeks if you follow up.

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Third opportunity…

Sign up for a rhyming critique group!

The deadline to comment is May 5th.

First, you must join the Rhyme Revolution Facebook Group. The post is pinned at the top of the feed. Comment there and you will be registered for a rhyming critique group!

Make sure we are friends on Facebook (If not, send me a friend request) and I will add you to a private Facebook critique group.

Once you are in the group you will see the guidelines and organize yourselves. Each group will need an organizer (so comment as well if you will volunteer to get things started) to keep everything organized. This position can rotate as you decide. Once this group is set, you are on your own to keep it going. We have had many successful rhyming critique groups and I am happy to facilitate these again this year!

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And finally…

What you’ve been waiting for…

RR Conference Badge updated

Registration for the Rhyme Revolution Conference

is open!

CLICK HERE for more information!

Limit of 50 people!

Pay in full or make bi-monthly payments.

An amazing faculty at this 4 day Rhyme Revolution Conference!

Lisa Wheeler

Jill Esbaum

Miranda Paul

Lori Mortensen

Agent Adria Goetz with Martin Literary Management

Editor – TBA very soon!

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Last, but not least…

Congratulations

Week 4 Prize Winners

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Week 4 

Monday – Katie Engen – THE STORY BOOK KNIGHT by Helen and Thomas Docherty

Tuesday – Maria Marshall – THE FRECKLE FAIRY by Bobbie Hinman

Wednesday – Sherry Howard – MONSTER TRUCKS – by Anika Denise

Thursday’s Winner – Maritza M. Mejia – OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS by JESSICA Petersen

Friday’s Winner – Jennifer Broedel – THE GIRL WHO THOUGHT IN PICTURES by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley

 

Thank you for reading the blog posts and commenting daily!!

Everything has been mailed out.

Thank you to the authors and publishers

for these generous book donations!!

 

Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 20 ~Asia Citro of The Innovation Press ~ Rhyming Picture Book Submission Request

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Thank you so much, Angie, for the opportunity to introduce

myself to everyone here!

I’m Asia, the publisher behind The Innovation Press, and I love rhyming books.

LOVE them.

As a parent, I love how engaging rhyming books are for children (hidden bonus: I don’t get tired of reading them 9023840384 times).  As an educator, I know how valuable they are to the development of language and reading skills.  Which is why, as a publisher, I actively seek rhyming submissions.  This year we have ten titles coming out and three of them are written in rhyme.   So far we have two more rhyming books slated for 2018…and there’s space for more.

All that to say, I am definitely excited to meet all of you!  I was thrilled to discover Angie’s event to teach the craft of rhyming.  Because it definitely is a craft!  Writing a children’s book is hard enough without the additional layer of making sure the rhyme and meter work perfectly without losing any of the content or character development in your story.

In terms of what I’m looking for in a submission — I love manuscripts that tell a creative and/or quirky story.  I am always really excited to see books that have an original approach that I haven’t seen before.  As a former teacher, I also value manuscripts that have some sort of learning involved (whether it be character learning or academic learning).  If you take a peek at our 2017 books, you’ll see I have a bit of a penchant for hybrid texts — books that combine non-fiction and fiction.  Oh and I also love manuscripts that make kids laugh.

Though we are a newer press, we have international distribution and foreign rights representation.  Our books are found in stores, shops, libraries, and schools all over the world and in several different languages.  We are also a member of the Children’s Book Council and we are an SCBWI PAL Publisher.

If you think you have something that would be a great fit for us, we’d love to see it!  You can find our submission guidelines on our website here.

And last, but definitely not least, I’m giving away two of our 2017 rhyming picture books.  OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS came out last month and is both written and illustrated by debut author (and SCBWI member) Jessica Petersen. THE GIRL WHO THOUGHT IN PICTURES is the first book in our new rhyming biography series, Amazing Scientists, that highlights the lives and achievements of amazing women scientists.

Thanks for so much for having me and HOORAY FOR RHYMING BOOKS!

Blue Stars

To participate in Rhyme Revolution:

Read the blog post and comment below

to be eligible for a prize. 

Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 19 ~ Bobbie Hinman ~ Self-Publishing a Rhyming Picture Book

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These award winning rhyming picture books

are written by Bobbie Hinman

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Self-Publishing a Rhyming Picture Book

by Author Bobbie Hinman

 

“What do you mean you’re going to start a publishing company?

You can’t do that!”

That’s what I heard when I announced to my friends and family that I was going into the publishing business. Let’s face it—self-published books are often held to a higher standard than those from traditional publishers. The market is flooded with indie books, many of which, I’m sad to say, are of inferior quality. Now, add to the equation the desire to write and publish a rhyming children’s book and the plot thickens (pun intended).

When writing a rhyming book, whichever way it is published, it’s important to remember that the major aspects of writing for children hold true no matter whether the stories are written in prose or in rhyme. However, if you choose to self-publish, you, and you alone, are responsible for overseeing every aspect of the creation and production. First, and of utmost importance: You must produce a quality book! But before you can do that, you must have a good story. Before that, you must have a good idea. And before that, you have to know what children like and how they learn. In other words, you have to think like a child and write like an adult. So, how do children think? Here are a few thoughts to guide you:

            Children are:

  • Excited when good things happen to the characters

  • Self-centered, enjoying stories that relate to them

  • Emotional, often falling in love with story characters

  • Living in the present, unable to relate to stories that span too long a time period

            Children love:

  • Illustrations with bright colors

  • Happy endings

  • Relatable descriptions, such as “soft as a kitten”

  • Adjectives, especially funny ones, such as “a hurly-burly monster”

            And:

  • Children love rhymes!

Yes! Children love rhyming books and are often able to memorize a rhyming story after hearing it just a few times. They also love to guess the last word of a rhyming line. Often, when reading to a class of kindergarten children, I will read a line from my book, such as “When evening comes and you turn off the light, it’s time to climb into bed for the ______.” I pause and let them fill in the word “night.” They are always very proud of themselves.

Remember: The basic story creation is the same whether you are writing in prose or in rhyme. After you have your idea, you need to create a character with whom children will identify and a compelling story that has a beginning (the character and situation are introduced), a middle (the storyline progresses) and an end (resolution to the situation). If these elements are missing, the story is incomplete. That is why I always write my story in prose first, then create the rhyme. If a rhyming book has lovely rhyming text, but no story, children won’t “get it.” However, on the other hand, if the story is wonderful, but the rhyming is “off,” that is just as bad. Poor rhymes can be as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard. The words must really rhyme; you can’t force it. If words don’t rhyme, they don’t rhyme! Then, there’s the rhythm. The rhythm pattern should be consistent throughout the book. A rhyme without rhythm doesn’t work. Sometimes simply adding or deleting one or two extra syllables can make a huge difference, but you really have to be able to feel it. If you are having difficulty with your own rhyming and rhythm, remember my advice: A story written in good prose is much better than one written in poor rhyme.

Do your homework first. Read lots of rhyming books. See what children are reading. Then think like a child, but write like an adult.

One blue star

Bobbie

Bobbie Hinman has a B.S. degree in Elementary Education. The combination of her teaching experience and time spent with her thirteen grandchildren has given her insight into the way children think and the stories they love to read. Bobbie has been a speaker and presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals all across the United States and in Canada. Her 5 rhyming picture books have received a combined total of 25 children’s book awards. In her new book, How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book, Bobbie tells you how she self-published and sold over 50,000 copies of her books. Her picture books are titled The Knot Fairy, The Sock Fairy, The Belly Button Fairy, The Fart Fairy and The Freckle Fairy. The premise of her books is simple: Who better to blame it on than a fairy? You can see more about Bobbie and her books at http://www.bestfairybooks.com

Bobbie 2

Buy it Now

Blue Stars

To participate in Rhyme Revolution:

Read the blog post and comment below

to be eligible for a prize. 

Rhyme Time with Angie ~ THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

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Today we are celebrating

 THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT

by Penny Parker Klostermann

Penny Parker Klostermann Image 3

This was the Best in Rhyme Award Winner for 2015!

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Spend a few minutes listening to Penny read this story

and then…learn how to make your own dragon game!

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Click HERE to hear Penny read

THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT

at the KidLitTV Studio!

 Penny ib KidLitTV

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Click HERE for the Rhyme Time craft

Dragon Craft

Make your own dragon game!

Dragon Game

Right click, copy, paste and print the template above.

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HERE are more ideas for dragon fun on Penny’s website.

Want to purchase this adorable book?

Dragon

Buy it Now!

 

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I’m excited to share some good news…

I’ve been offered a craft segment on KidLit TV called

KidLit Crafts with Ms. Angie! 

I’m so excited to work with Julie Gribble and the KidLit TV team!

Watch for more info coming soon!

 

KidLit TV logo - new

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Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 17 ~ Diana Murray ~ Revise Like a Pirate!

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Ned the Knitting Pirate image

Ned the Knitting Pirate

by Diana Murray

Illustrated by Leslie Lammle

2016 Best in Rhyme Award Honor Book

Grimelda

By Diana Murray

Illustrated by Heather Ross

2016 Best in Rhyme Award Top 10

Congratulations Diana!

2016-best-in-rhyme-logo

See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016

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Revise Like a Pirate!

By Diana Murray

So you’ve finished your rhyming picture book manuscript. The words seemed to pour out onto the page straight from your heart. Ah, what a magnificent draft. How you admire it. Tis’ a thing of beauty. Now…stop being a lilly-livered landlubber and get yer cutlass ready! Time to revise like a pirate!

Remember the Arrrrrr’s of a good story:

  1. Rhythm: Picture books are usually meant to be read out loud. One reason I like writing in meter is that it gives the text a song-like quality. When you set the meter, it gives the reader a nudge to read with a certain rhythm. Reading your own story out loud can help ensure your rhythm is smooth. As a second step, have someone else read your story out loud and see if anything trips him/her up. Rework problem spots until your story can set sail smoothly. For example, a couplet in NED THE KNITTING PIRATE originally read: “The pirates were a rugged lot—as fierce as they were strong./And one day, as they swabbed the deck, they sang this pirate song:”

My editor thought that sounded bumpy. When I read it myself, I put a lot of stress on “one”, so it sounded OK to me. But a few crit partners mentioned the issue as well and I didn’t want any pesky barnacles slowing down the story. So I simply changed it to: “The pirates were a rugged lot—as fierce as they were strong./And as they swabbed the deck one day, they sang this pirate song:” It was a small tweak, but it established the rhythm more clearly, keeping things moving along regardless of individual pronunciation.

PIRATES

Avast!

Just because you want the meter to scan clearly doesn’t mean you should let things get monotonous. Does every line end with a period in the same place? Are you using any enjambment? Are you varying the way you break up your lines? Using substitutions can also help. For example, even though NED is written in iambic meter (ba/DUM), I sometimes eliminate the first unstressed syllable, like this: “The whole crew turned and stared at Ned. The ship was deadly quiet./“Yarrrh,” said Ned. “I likes to knit. Ye might too if ye try it.”

One reason I think it works in this case is that the first line has a feminine ending. That is, it has an unstressed syllable at the end (“QUI/et”). So omitting an unstressed syllable before “Yarrrh” doesn’t feel jarring.

Having variation like this is a bit more of an advanced technique. You can just go with your gut and see what feels right. If you want to read more about the technicalities, here is a good article (I personally found it extremely helpful): http://learn.lexiconic.net/meter.html

Another way to vary the rhythm (although less common) is to include poems within poems. For example, in NED, the pirates sing sea shanties. I set these off in a different meter (anapestic, ba/ba/DUM) from the rest of the writing: “We’re pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea./We do what we likes, and we likes to be free.”

On a side note, these lines are also “headless”. That is, I omitted the first unstressed syllable at the start of the line, so that the rhythm is, ba/DUM ba/ba/DUM ba/ba/DUM. When I began writing many years ago, I always wondered why I was driven to eliminate the first unstressed syllable in anapestic meter. After some research, I discovered that it’s commonly done because it better mimics natural spoken language.

  1. Rhyme scheme: Pick a rhyme scheme and stick with it. But never let the rhymes commandeer your story! Story always comes first. You don’t want your rhymes to sound twisted or unnatural or to scream “mutiny”. Also, be aware of using only obvious rhymes. It’s fine to rhyme house with mouse and bee with tree, but including some surprising rhymes (or simply multi-syllabic rhymes) can add interest and punch to the story.

  1. Repetition and Refrain: It’s sometimes useful in a story to have an event/action happening over and over again. In NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, Ned keeps trying to change the words to the pirates’ sea shanty and is met with disapproval from the Captain each time–thus building tension. You can also consider using a refrain, a repeated phrase that children can join in on, thus enhancing potential for a fun read aloud. And just like rhythm, the refrain can have a bit of variation to keep things from getting boring. In my story the pirates keep singing a song but the lyrics change slightly.

  1. Rest: Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break from your manuscript. Why not throw down anchor for a while? Write something else, take a walk, drink some grog. I wrote a first draft of NED in 2010. I liked the concept, but the story didn’t feel quite right. There wasn’t enough conflict and the ending wasn’t satisfying. I couldn’t make it work. After some initial crits and attempts to revise, I finally set it aside. I didn’t look at that manuscript again for close to two years! With fresh eyes, suddenly everything was clear to me. It was almost like reading a manuscript that wasn’t my own. I started relentlessly revising without hesitation, making filler words, story tangents, and so-called “darlings” walk the plank!

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I hope this helps you revise like a pirate. Oh, and don’t forget to give your story a nice, strong hook! Yarrrrrrh!

One blue star

Diana Murray image

Diana Murray grew up in New York City and still lives nearby with her husband, two very messy children, and a motley crew of pets. Diana’s poems have appeared in children’s magazines such as Highlights, High Five, Spider, and Ladybug. Diana is the author of children’s books including CITY SHAPES, NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH, GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, and many more. http://www.dianamurray.com

 

Blue Stars

To participate in Rhyme Revolution:

Read the blog post and comment below

to be eligible for a prize. 

Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 16 ~ Helen Docherty ~ Rhyme Schemes

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The Storybook Knight

The Story Book Knight

Written and Illustrated by

Helen and Thomas Docherty

2016 Best in Rhyme Award Top 10

Congratulations Helen and Thomas!

2016-best-in-rhyme-logo

See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016

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Rhyme Schemes

By Helen Docherty, author of The Snatchabook

and The Storybook Knight

I’m going to start with a confession: I never actually set out to write in rhyme. The first stories I wrote were in prose. But when the idea for The Snatchabook came to me – and it came pretty much fully formed – the story itself seemed to dictate that it should be written in verse. I knew that I had to create an atmosphere of suspense and mystery, and to draw the reader in from the very beginning of the story. Writing in rhyme seemed an effective and natural way to achieve this.

Helen 1

One dark, dark night in Burrow Down,

A rabbit called Eliza Brown

Found a book and settled down…

When a Snatchabook flew into town.

This opening 4-line stanza is written in monorhyme (the last word in each line rhyming with all the other last words) for a specific purpose; to foreshadow the events of the story and to link the two main characters, Eliza and the Snatchabook (who will, of course, eventually become friends). The first and fourth lines introduce an element of suspense, suggesting to the reader that something scary is about to happen. The middle two lines, in contrast, present an image of cosy domesticity; however, the fact that they are enclosed by the first and fourth lines warns us that Eliza’s bedtime routine is about to be disrupted. Monorhyme should, in general, be used sparingly (to avoid becoming tedious), but it can be an effective device in the right place.

The rest of The Snatchabook follows the more conventional AABB rhyme scheme:

Helen 2

In every house, in every bed,

A bedtime book was being read.

Tales of dragons, spitting flames;

Witches, playing spooky games;

Pirates, on the seven seas;

Princesses, trying to sleep on peas.

From a personal perspective, I find this rhyme scheme (and meter) quite lulling – suitable for a bedtime story. It seems to encourage a slow reading, with each line being savoured. Of course, the pace can be upped for moments of high drama:

Helen 3

She threw the window open wide

And shouted to the Thing outside:

“Stop stealing all our books, right now!

Just give them back, I don’t care how!”

Within the constraints of a rhyme scheme, you can always try to surprise the reader with an unexpected rhyme. For example:

[And so, the Snatchabook began]

To give back all the books he’d picked.

Eliza Brown was very strict.

Incidentally, in the original (UK) version, I’d used ‘nicked’ – a colloquial British term for stolen – rather than ‘picked.’ Some words get (literally) lost in translation!

The Storybook Knight (which was in the 2016 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List) employs a different rhyme scheme (ABAB, or alternate rhyme):

Helen 4

Leo was a gentle knight

In thought and word and deed.

While other knights liked fighting,

Leo liked to sit and read.

I find this rhyme scheme more conversational and a little jauntier than AABB, so it felt more suitable for the story of Leo, forced to undertake a quest by his pushy parents. I particularly like the way that the final rhyme in each 4-line stanza can deliver a punchline, or subtly subvert the rest of the verse:

Helen 5

One morning, Leo’s parents said

They’d like to have a chat.

There was nothing wrong with reading,

But he couldn’t just do that!

They’d seen an ad that morning

In their favorite magazine.

A dragon needed taming!

Leo wasn’t very keen.

When I start writing a new story, there is often a particular rhyme (and not necessarily the first) that comes into my head, and which then dictates the rhyme scheme of the book. For example, when I had the idea for Abracazebra, the story of a goat who is jealous of the zebra who arrives in his sleepy village and starts performing magic shows (to everyone else’s delight), I started with just two lines:

Helen 6

Abracazebra? I smell a rat.

You can’t trust an animal with stripes like that!

As the story took shape, new lines grew around the original two, which actually come about two thirds of the way through the story:

So he started to whisper in people’s ears,

Conjuring up their darkest fears:

“Abracazebra? I smell a rat.

You can’t trust an animal with stripes like that!

You don’t see stripes on a pig or a cow…

…So why should we welcome stripes here now?”

Like The Snatchabook, Abracazebra follows the AABB rhyme scheme, but with more syllables in each line. Sometimes, it can be fun to add a twist to a rhyme scheme. My latest rhyming story, You Can Never Run Out of Love (out September 2017) is written in a simple ABAB rhyme scheme, but with a refrain that follows a different pattern, with an internal rhyme (call it CCD). Here is an example:

Helen 7

You can run out of time.

You can run out money.

You can run out of patience,

When things don’t seem funny.

BUT…

You can never (no never, not ever)

You can never run out of LOVE.

By breaking with the original rhyme scheme and introducing a refrain, the central message of the story is reinforced, and the key word (love) is given its own, un-rhymed status. When reading the story aloud to elementary school children, I’ve found that they naturally join in, saying the word ‘love’ at the end of each refrain; and I think that the rhyme scheme encourages them to do this.

Finding the right rhyme scheme for each story can be tricky, but it’s also fun and ultimately satisfying, as is finding the right words to rhyme. Good luck if you are writing your own rhyming story!

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Helen Docherty Head shot

Before becoming an author, Helen used to teach Spanish and French. She also has an MA in Film and Television Production. Helen has lived and worked in France, Spain, Cuba and Mexico, and now lives in Swansea, Wales, with her husband, the author and illustrator Thomas Docherty, and their two daughters.

Her first rhyming story, The Snatchabook (illustrated by Thomas Docherty), has been translated into 17 languages. In 2014 it won an award voted for by school children. It has also been staged as a play and even as an opera, by a school in Canada.

The Storybook Knight (2016) is Helen and Thomas’s latest book together. Helen’s next rhyming story, You Can Never Run Out of Love (illustrated by Ali Pye), is coming out in September 2017.

Twitter: @docherty_helen

Facebook: @HelenDochertyAuthor

 

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Congratulations

Week 3 Prize Winners

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Monday – Patti Richards – GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES by Deborah Underwood

Tuesday – September Cardiff – LEONARD’S BEARD by Nancy Cote

Wednesday – Mary Warth – THE RHINO WHO SWALLOWED A STORM by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Thursday – Susan Schade – ROCK-A-BYE ROMP by Linda Ashman

Friday – Linda Evans Hofke – SUN KISSES, MOON HUGS by Susan Schaefer Bernardo

 

Thank you for reading the blog posts and commenting daily!!

I will stick these in the mail next week. I have your addresses via registration.

Thank you to the authors and publishers

for these generous book donations!!

 

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Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 15 ~ Eric Ode ~ Repetition

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Too Many Tomatoes

By Eric Ode

Ilustrated by Kent Culotta

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I Will Repeat Them in a House. I Will Repeat Them with a Mouse.

by Author Eric Ode

It’s an off-balance feeling. That sensation that comes with international travel, when we’ve put ourselves in a place where the language, sights, and customs are unfamiliar. The street signs, the storefronts, the conversations on the sidewalk… Nothing looks or sounds quite like we expect. Then, when the familiar does come along – a Starbucks in Rome or an English-speaking pedestrian in Cusco – it jumps out with the intensity of a spotlight.

Familiarity grounds us. Comforts us. Gives us confidence. I think this helps explain why repetition is such a powerful and effective element in picture books – and in rhyming picture books especially. While a story’s vocabulary, setting, and characters might be new and confusing, repetition provides the child with something reassuring.

Think about that child you know who learned to “read” Green Eggs and Ham before they could read Green Eggs and Ham. It didn’t take many bedtimes with Sam and his floppy-eared friend before “I will not eat them with a…,” was tucked in that child’s back pocket like a shiny pebble.

Or consider the enthusiasm that erupts from the story time circle when the librarian shares Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The children know that line is coming. They expect and look forward to it. And when it does, they join in with pep rally enthusiasm.

Repetition works! Repetition, whether the child knows it or not, is often what makes one particular story a favorite, the book a child goes back to again and again until Daddy is ready to hide it under the couch.

So how and where do we put repetition to work in our own writing?

For starters, pages can open with a repeated line. Several pages in Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama begin with the book’s title.

Repetition can roll around someplace in the middle of the stanzas like in Ogden Nash’s The Adventures of Isabel. (“Isabel, Isabel didn’t worry, Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.”) This repetition builds a framework for the story, like the repeating beams of a skyscraper.

Of course lines of repetition can wrap up a page. (All together now! “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”) There’s Patricia Thomas’ “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” (“Oh, please. Don’t sneeze!”) Or one of my favorites, Reeve Lindbergh’s There’s a Cow in the Road. (“Then the cow looks at me, and the cow says, ‘Moo!’ And the next thing I know, there’s a ______ there too!”)

In their delightful I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, Janeen Brian and Ann James take the last line of each stanza and repeat it in a chant-like fashion.

I’m a dirty dinosaur

with a dirty snout.

I never wipe it clean.

I just sniff and snuff about.

SNIFF, SNIFF, SNUFF, SNUFF, SNIFF AND SNUFF ABOUT!

Placed at the end of a page, repetition can build anticipation. What’s going to happen next?

Repetition can be scattered about the story like splattered paint on canvas. My own Too Many Tomatoes repeats the title seven times over the course of the story, sometimes at the beginning of a stanza, other times in the middle or at the end.

Still other books – Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, for instance – are built almost entirely upon repetition.

Do you have a rhyming picture book manuscript that’s feeling less-than-grounded? Three words: Repetition, repetition, repetition. When it comes to picture books, familiarity does not breed contempt but contentment.

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Eric Ode is the author of ten picture books including the rhyming picture books Dan, the Taxi Man; Busy Trucks on the Go; and Too Many Tomatoes (Kane Miller Books) and Bigfoot Does Not Like Birthday Parties (Sasquatch/Little Bigfoot Books). A multiple award-winning songwriter for children and a former elementary teacher, Ode travels throughout the country sharing his stories, poetry, and music at schools, festivals, and education conferences. Visit www.ericode.com.

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Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 14 ~ Nancy Cote ~ Birth of a Story

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Leonard’s Beard

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Cote

2016 Best in Rhyme Award Top 20

Congratulations Nancy!

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See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016

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Birth of a Story

by Nancy Cote

Leonard’s Beard, was destined to be written in rhyme.  On the day the seed for the story was planted in my mind, the wind was blowing hard.  It was a beautiful, sunny, Fall afternoon and my husband had just come home from work.  He entered through the door in my studio.  The wind caught the door and slammed it against the wall.  A powerful gust of wind entered the room blowing my notebooks and folders to the floor.  My two dogs scrambled to get to them before I could.

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One of the folders that contained photos I had taken of my neighbor Leonard in his writing studio, spilled out under trampling dog feet.  As I distracted the dogs and gathered the pictures up from the floor, my husband asked if I’d gotten to rake any leaves in the yard.  I guiltily answered no, as I continued sorting the photos and placing them back into a folder titled “Leonard.”  Glancing once again at the photos, I started to smile and my mind began racing.  I thought about the leaves I hadn’t raked and mentioned to my husband with a laugh, that I didn’t have to rake.  The leaves would all find their way to the bottom of the hill and into Leonard’s yard anyway.  At that moment, the thought expanded.  I imagined if Leonard was standing outside in his yard, that whatever would blow downhill just might land in his beard.  Since my eccentric neighbor wore a large red beard, everything might get caught and trapped in that beard.  I literally felt the rhythm of the day bouncing in my head as the first line of the story was etched in my mind.  “Below a great hill, in a house by a bog, lived a writer named Leonard, his dogs, and a frog.”  It was the rhythm of the day, and in that moment, I didn’t choose a writing style as much as the rhyme chose itself.

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There was no question that this stormy story sang a song.  The story of a writer who loses his direction, then finds it due to a wind storm, blew into my imagination and was set free on the wings of rhyme.

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Leonard’s Beard, is essentially about living in the moment and not losing sight of what’s important to you.  Through joyful language and pictures it reminds us that it doesn’t have to take a wind storm  to be yourself, but sometimes it helps!

Nancy 3

I’ve written eight picture books and three of them were written in rhyme.  I believe that instinctually you know through the characters, subject matter and intent of the story, what style of writing will compliment that story.  Like a symphony, music is intended to convey a mood, and I believe writing style does the same.

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If you allow yourself to be free of overanalyzing and controlling, the expression will come naturally.  That is the magic.

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Nancy Cote, an award winning Children’s Book Author / Illustrator, has illustrated over forty picture books and has written eight of her own.

Her stories, illustrations, paintings and poems have been featured in many exhibits, collections and children’s magazines throughout the U.S.  She is currently earning International recognition for three picture books she illustrated for Ariella Books of Berlin, Germany.

She was featured at the University of Southern California Book Festival having illustrated the first three books of the ReadConmigo award winning series of bi-lingual books and is a full member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Currently she is being represented by the Liza Royce Agency in NYC.

Nancy earned a B.F.A. in Painting at U. Mass, Dartmouth and worked part-time in the children’s department of the Swansea Library for sixteen years, until she ventured out as a freelance author/illustrator with the encouragement of her husband Mike, and her family.  She works full-time from her home studio in the historic village of Somerset, MA.

www.nancycote.com

nancycote@blogspot.com

twitter @nancycote31

Facebook: Nancy Cote

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Rhyme Time with Angie ~ Ned, The Knitting Pirate by Diana Murray

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Today we are celebrating

NED, THE KNITTING PIRATE

by Diana Murray

Ned the Knitting Pirate image

Spend a few minutes listening to Angie read

NED, THE KNITTING PIRATE

Then…learn how to make your own pirate eye patch!

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Click HERE to hear 

NED, THE KITTING PIRATE

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Click HERE for the Rhyme Time craft

Make your own pirate eye patch!

Skull and Crossbones

Copy and paste above for the template or click HERE for the free clip art Skull and Cross bones.

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HERE are more ideas for pirate fun on Diana’s website.

 

Want to purchase a few of Diana’s books? 

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Watch for more Rhyme Time

every Wednesday in April.

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RR Classroom Challenge 2017

Check out more National Poetry Month Challenges for Libraries, Classrooms and Families HERE.

Librarians, teachers, parents and kids…please comment below

to be eligible to win a prize.

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