2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – DIANA MURRAY INTERVIEW BY MANJU HOWARD

2017 TOP 10 List

Grimelda

Written by Diana Murray

Illustrated by Heather Ross

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

I’m rolling out the Best of Rhyme carpet for Diana Murray and her picture book, Grimelda and the Spooktacular Pet Show. In Diana’s entertaining sequel, Grimelda’s spell book goes missing in her still very messy room. The young witch wants to find a spell to turn her typical cat named Wizzlewarts into a spooktacular pet, so she can win first prize in the pet show.
Manju:
After Grimelda the Very Messy Witch was published, you shared in an interview that you lose things like your young witch. Did you have any “spooktacular” pets to draw upon to create Grimelda and the Spooktacular Pet Show?
Diana:
Well, we’ve had snails and newts for pets, so there’s that. Am I the only one who thinks snails are super cute? They’re fun to watch, too. As for the newts, one of them escaped from its tank and I ended up finding it in a kitchen drawer. That was quite a Grimelda-like surprise!
Manju:
Once you brainstormed the concept for this sequel, did you go through a similar writing process as your first Grimelda book? What aspect of writing rhyming picture books do you find most challenging?
Diana:
Since it was a sequel, the process was pretty different (more collaboration with the publisher, etc.). As far as technical details, I kept the meter and rhyme scheme the same in the sequel and tried to mimic the original refrain. In the first one, there was a repetition of “Where’d I put that pickle root?” and in the second there is a repetition of “Not spooktacular enough!” So in terms of rhyming difficulties, it was a challenge to keep coming up with words that rhyme with “root” and “enough”, yet blend seemlessly into the story.
In general, I think there are two main difficulties when it comes to writing any story in rhyme:
  1. Making the language sound natural rather than forced.
  2. Taking control of the story and not letting the rhymes make you meander or take too long to get to the point.
Manju:
Did you include art notes in your Grimelda manuscripts? Did any of Heather Ross’s illustrations surprise you? What ended up being your favorite spread in the book?
Diana:
I made a few illustrator notes just for clarification. But yes, the final art was full of surprises for me! For example, the creatures at the pet show were unlike anything I had imagined. I think the pet show spread is probably my favorite. There are so many wonderful details to pore over. I wondered how Heather would  illustrate the “haunted snail”.  She made it float! And the frog who turns into a prince always gets a laugh when I read the book to kids.
Manju:
How are the Grimelda books marketed? Does having a series based on a witch give both books a longer shelf life than the Halloween season?
Diana:
Neither of the books explicitly mentions Halloween so they are technically suitable for any time of year (like the classic, “Room on the Broom”). But I still find they are mostly promoted at Halloween. They were in some Halloween bookstore displays, for example. But the marketing is not something I have much control over.
Manju:
How many polished manuscripts did you have when querying your agent? Did you have a website prior to publication? Do you use social media to promote your work?
Diana:
I queried my agent with GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH. When she expressed interest and asked what else I had, I sent her NED THE KNITTING PIRATE and one other manuscript (can’t remember which one). She was particularly interested in Grimelda and Ned and signed me up on the basis of those. They both sold fairly quickly. I had many, many other picture book manuscripts (maybe 25?) that I didn’t send to her originally. For example, I had already written CITY SHAPES, but I didn’t send her that till a year or two later.
I did have a website, but it was not as polished as the one I have now. It had a little background information and listed some of my poetry sales and awards. It was very simple.
I do use social media–mostly Twitter and Facebook. I mainly use them to stay in touch with others in the business, but I also post information about new book sales, releases, and contests and such.
Diana, Thank you for taking the time to share your writing world with us.
Thank you for the opportunity!

1 star

Buy It HERE

Diana Murray - Headshot

Bio:
Diana Murray grew up in New York City and still lives nearby with her husband, two daughters, and a spiky bearded dragon who loves listening to stories—especially about dinosaurs. Diana’s many picture books have been mentioned earlier, and her poems have appeared in magazines including Highlights, High Five, Hello, Spider, and Lady Bug. http://www.dianamurray.com.

 

Congratulations Diana

on having

GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW

on the 2017 Top 10 List

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 6:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

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2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – REVIEW OF SHERRI DUSKEY RINKER’S MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE BY DARLENE IVY

2017 TOP 10 List

Mighty Construction Site

MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE

by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

They’re back!
The five hardworking crew members from Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site,
written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, are back and gearing up for a new day and a new job.
But, in the new Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, the task is “a massive building, so
immense” that Cement mixer has to think fast. “He gives his horn a blaring blast” and five more
mighty trucks hear the call.
“Rolling, rumbling, revving hard,
ten big trucks meet in the yard.
A mighty, massive supercrew—
there is nothing they can’t do!”
As work begins, each crew member, both old and new, is quickly introduced and its job
explained.
“Skid Steer’s nimble, small, and quick.
She turns, she spins—she does a trick!”
Were you reading carefully? Did you notice that Skid is a girl truck? So is Flatbed Truck,
another new crew member. The illustrations don’t provide gender clues, so readers and listeners will have to pay attention to the text to notice this subtle nod to young female construction fans.
In this story of teamwork and hard work, an original crew member is paired with a new
crew member. When Crane is out of beams, he’s helpless without his new friend Flatbed!
“On site,
she rolls right to a stop,
with Crane’s supplies
all stacked on top.
Flatbed Truck’s
just saved the day!
Their work can get
back underway.”
“Rough and rugged all day long,
rolling, lifting, digging strong,
each truck has had a part to play
to help the work get done today.”
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site is a solid companion to Goodnight, Goodnight
Construction Site. This story ends with a reference to the previous book that fans will
understand, but the story stands alone and complete with plenty of action, fun word play and
rhyme, and solid information about the construction process. Near the conclusion, the pace of the text slows as the “tired, but strong and proud” trucks “roll to find their cozy beds, to cuddle up and rest their heads”, making Mighty, Mighty Construction Site a wonderful bedtime book.

1 star

Sherri Duskey Rinker

How This All Began

In 2008, in the midst of hectically trying to manage the demands of being a working mom in a career I no longer loved, I wroteConstruction Site, and it was picked up by the first publisher to whom it was sent (Thank you, Chronicle! It’s the literary equivalent of winning the lottery, I realize.) It’s been an unexpected and wonderful journey, and I’m deeply grateful.

Buy It HERE

Congratulations Sherri on

MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE

making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 6:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

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2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – JOSH FUNK INTERVIEW BY CATHY C. HALL

2017 TOP 10 List

Stinky Stench

THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH

by Josh Funk

Illustrated by Brendan Kearney  

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

 

There’s a stinky stench in the fridge–and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast–this fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids and adults alike!
Oh my flapjack-a-doodle, I loved this picture book! And I’m not just saying that because Josh Funk promised to name a character Cathy C. Hall in his next picture book!
Um…I’ve just been informed that Josh Funk did NOT promise to name a character Cathy C. Hall in his next picture book.
Fine.
But he did promise to answer all five of my questions, so let’s see what he has to say:
So Josh, here’s THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH in the Top Ten, showing up at Goodreads in its Best of list, and now you have another book coming out in this series! Did you ever imagine that breakfast foods could be so profitable for you?
Nope! In fact, when I was querying LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (the first book in the series) to agents, one of the common responses I received was “anthropomorphic foods don’t sell.” It just goes to show that breaking the rules is sometimes a good thing (especially because another common rule you hear is ‘don’t write in rhyme’ – which clearly I broke as well).
And of course, the third book in the series (MISSION: DEFROSTABLE, available 9.4.18) will also be in rhyme.
Speaking of your rhyming picture books, which comes first when you write: the rhyme or the story?
Story. Always story. Story is the most important part of a rhyming picture book. In fact, the second most important part of a rhyming picture book is the rhythm. Any first grader can rhyme – it’s the rhythm that takes a ton of work to get right.
Rhyme is actually the least important part of a rhyming picture book.
So there’s hope for me! Humor plays a big part in THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH, both in the characters and story. How did you come to write so comically?
Because picture books are a visual art form (and I am a terrible visual artist), I think of things I’d like to see illustrated. Funny things that I could never draw. Like a pancake and French toast racing through the fridge causing culinary chaos. It just lends itself to hilarity.
And Brendan Kearney, the book’s illustrator, just ran with it. He’s added so much visual humor to the story. Starting with the character design (whipped cream hairdo, strawberry hat – those were all his ideas) and spreading throughout the entire fridge setting.
I’m also a fan of the occasional, well-placed pun – like the literal red herring and tripping by Miss Steak (which I just sort of fell into).
And I think we’re all fans of your books, Josh! So what do you have coming out next year?
2018 is going to be a busy year! I have 4 books (3 that rhyme) coming out between May 1st and September 4th (a slim 125 day period – but who’s counting?).
The first is called ALBIE NEWTON (Sterling, 5.1.18), illustrated by Ester Garay. It’s about smart and creative boy who starts school, but doesn’t really have all the social skills down yet. His grand attempt to make friends causes lots of problems for his classmates, and – well, you’ll have to read it to find out how it ends. But I think lots of kids will relate to Albie Newton and the other kids in his class.
HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE (Viking/Penguin, 6.5.18), illustrated by Sara Palacios is being published in partnership with Girls Who Code – and I couldn’t be more excited about this one, even though it doesn’t rhyme! It’s the first in a series of informational fiction picture books about a girl named Pearl and her robot, Pascal. In this first book, they use fundamental coding concepts to construct the perfect beach day using sequences, loops, and if-then-else statements – but using them in real world situations.
Later in the summer, I’ve got another rhyming book called LOST IN THE LIBRARY: A STORY OF PATIENCE & FORTITUDE (Macmillan, 8.28.18), illustrated by Stevie Lewis. This is the first picture book about Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues that faithfully guard the New York Public Library (in fact, this book is published in partnership with the NYPL). When Patience goes missing, Fortitude realizes that Patience has ventured inside the library. So for the first time ever, Fortitude abandons his post to search for Patience before the sun rises and we, the readers, get to explore the library for the first time alongside Fortitude.
And lastly is the third book in the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series: MISSION DEFROSTABLE (Sterling, 9.4.18). In this action-packed adventure, the fridge is freezing over – and Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have to travel to parts of the
fridge they’ve never ventured … and need to enlist the help of one of their fiercest rivals. Dun. Dun. DUN!
Can’t wait to read ‘em all! And now my last question because we’re also about letting all those rhyming picture book writers out there know there’s hope. What’s the best advice you can give to them?
Great question. I have lots to say about this subject, but most importantly I think rhyming picture book writers should remember that ALL picture books (especially rhyming ones) are meant to be read aloud to children (usually by adults). It’s important that everyone who speaks the language can read and perform the book well. It has to work for people with all accents and from all regions – which means that you have to be very careful when using words that people pronounce differently – especially regarding the rhythm!
For example, think about the word ‘family’ – how many syllables does it have? The dictionary will tell you it has 3 – but many people pronounce it with 2. So putting the word family in the middle of a line could screw up the rhythm for some readers. Then think about how many words are just like that in your story. Every syllable matters.
So have your manuscripts read aloud TO you by everyone – especially the worst readers out there. Listen for places where they screw up – and then fix those spots.
Thanks so much for honoring The Case of the Stinky Stench with Best in Rhyme consideration and inviting me to answer some questions!
Thank you, Josh! And best of luck to you and THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH. (Even if you’re not putting me in one of your books.)

 Josh Funk

BIO:
Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books – such as the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series (including The Case of the Stinky Stenchand the upcoming Mission: Defrostable), It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, and the forthcoming Albie Newton, How to Code a Sandcastle (in conjunction with Girls Who Code), Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude (in conjunction with the New York Public Library), It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, and more coming soon!
Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.
Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts.
Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.
For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

1 star

Congratulations JOSH on

CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH

making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 6:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – ANGIE KARCHER INTERVIEW BY SUZY LEOPOLD

2017 TOP 10 List

Santa's Gift Cover - Final

SANTA’S GIFT

by Angie Karcher

Illustrated by Dana Karcher

 

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

What a delight it was to meet you, Angie. The year was 2015. Both you and I were attending the WOW [Week of Writing] Conference in Georgia. Since we both live in the Midwest, I feel a special connection to you. Just wish we lived closer, as you live in Indiana and I live in Illinois.
Congratulations, Angie, on your continued success with the Rhyming Picture Book Award and the Rhyming Picture Book Month/Rhyme Revolution. You’ve always been supportive of all writers who write in rhyme and prose.
Hip, hip, hooray for your recent publication, a picture book titled SANTA’S GIFT! The folks in Evansville, Indiana must be proud of your rhyming picture book about a historical landmark. The true story captures special family traditions and community spirit. How wonderful for everyone to come together to restore the 35 foot tall Santa. Once again, the beloved Santa waves to travelers with a twinkle in his blue eyes, wishing  a gift of safe travels.
Q:During the season of giving, you are sharing many read alouds of SANTA’S GIFT. Tell us about these gatherings with a variety audiences, including your Mom. What fun and joy for all.
Yes, it was quite a busy few weeks promoting this book! I recently looked back and counted all the book signings, readings, school visits, etc. and I did 25 events in 6 weeks, and many of them dressed as Mrs. Claus. It was so much fun to read this story to kids and adults alike. Those who are familiar with the Santa statue in my area often teared up, as many grew up with Santa waving to them as a child. Others who weren’t familiar with the statue now hope to visit it someday. It has been such a fun and heartwarming project. It was expecially fun reading the story to the residents of the nursing home where my mother lives. Those folks all knew about the statue and were telling me fun stories about Santa. It was a special day.
Q: Every writer has a unique journey along the writerly path of becoming published. Share some tips and advice for those who continue read, write, and submit.
My advice is never give up! If this is truly your passion, then keep at it. I’m a perfect example of how perserverence pays off. I’ve been writing for over 20 years off and on. I’ve been writing professionally for the past 6 years. When I say professionally, I mean that writing is my job. It’s my career. I regularly attend writing conferences, take classes, teach classes, do manuscript critiques for other writers and present at schools and conferences.
Create a writing platform that will bring you exposure as a writer and enable you to network with others. My suggestions is that you find a platform that will help others. Once you figure out what your platform is, then do everything you can to promote it, invite others to participate and celebrate writing!
Find a group of writers that are your “people.” This can be a critique group, a book club, a Facebook group…The main thing is that you can go to these folks for advice and sharing the good news as well as the rejections. These are people you can trust with your writing and your heart. Writing is an emotional business and we all need a support group.
Q:The illustrations in SANTA’S GIFT are bright, colorful, and delightful. Did you share illustration notes or your vision of the illustrations with Dana Karcher, illustrator?
Yes, I’m fortunate because Santa’s Gift was published by a regional publisher that is in the town where I live. Because they are a small publisher, Dana and I were given free reign to collaborate. This was her first picture book and my first illustrated picture book so…we worked very hard to get it right. We talked through every single page, making notes and sharing ideas. I’m a visual writer so I mentioned what I envisioned and then Dana enhanced that or came up with an even better illustration. It was so exciting to see the words come to life on the page. The day I read the finished book to myself was the highlight of my career. I absolutely love the art!
Q:What’s next for you, Angie? What is your current WIP? What projects are you working on?
I’m pleased to share that I’ve accepted the position of IN SCBWI ARA. I’m heading to the New York Conference next week and can’t wait to meet more of the SCBWI Team! I’ve been a member of SCBWI for over 15 years and am happy to help serve Indiana.
I am hosting a Rhyme Revolution Conference in New Harmony, IN in October. You can check out the details HERE. It’s going to be a long fall weekend with an amazing faculty, lots of great sessions, writing time, a hayride, bonfire and s’mores.
I am also starting a new position this year with KidLitTV hosting a craft segment called Ms. Angie’s Craft Time. Coming soon, my first craft goes with Leslie Helakoski’s adorable picture book HOOT AND HONK JUST CAN’T SLEEP.
Dana and I have two titles coming out this year with M.T. Publishing. The first picture book, NO TEARS IN BASEBALL is about a bat boy and is set at historic Bosse Field, the third oldest baseball field still in use in the U.S. Our second picture book, THE SIGNATURE SHIP, is set on The Landing Ship Tank, a WW II ship that was built in the shipyard in Evansville, IN.
I have more exciting news coming soon! Oh…it’s so hard for me to keep a secret! = )
Q:Do you have any hidden talents you’d like to share?
I am a closet illustrator. I love sketching and painting. I am taking some illustration classes and hopefully will be working on a portfolio this year. But, don’t tell anyone!
Thank you, Angie, for celebrating the love of reading with all readers—young and old. As Dr. Seuss said, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” SANTA’S GIFT is a delightful story to read. So sit back, relax and experience the magic of Christmas.

1 star

 

Mrs. Claus barn image

Mrs. Claus by the reindeer barn

Angie’s Bio:

Angie is the author of WHERE THE RIVER GRINS, 2012 M.T. Publishing, THE LEGENDARY R.A. COWBOY JONES 2014 M.T. and SANTA’S GIFT 2017 M.T. Publishing. Her poetry is included in the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Tribute to Poems and Songs. NO TEARS IN BASEBALL, M.T. Publishing, July 2018 and THE SIGNATURE SHIP, M.T. Publishing, November 2018

Angie is the founder of Rhyme Revolution, The Best in Rhyme Award and the Rhyme Revolution Conference. (October 2018, New Harmony, Indiana) She is available for school visits, conference presentations and readings. Please see her website for more information. https://rhymerev.com/

Buy It HERE

 

 

Congratulations ANGIE on

SANTA’S GIFT

making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – REBECCA COLBY INTERVIEW BY KENDA HENTHORN

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

2017 TOP 10 List

Captain Bling cover

CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER

by Rebecca Colby

Illustrated by Rob McClurkan

1 star

CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER by Rebecca Colby, Illustrated by Rob McClurkan:

Captain Bling and his merry crew set off to find treasure, but they get blown off course and end up at the North Pole. When they spy the elves carefully wrapping presents, the pirates think they have found the ultimate booty! They quickly steal the presents and make their way back to the ship. By the time Santa Claus catches up to them, the pirates are well on their way to escaping. But Santa has a surprise for Captain Bling and his crew!

1 star

What better Christmas gift than a rhyming picture book, combining pirates and the retelling of a classic Christmas poem? Author, Rebecca Colby had me hooked with her clever title, CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER, and her interesting rhymes moved this story merrily along with several unexpected twists from Santa for Captain Bling and his crew.

 

  • First, Rebecca, CONGRATULATIONS on being names as a Finalist for this year’s Best in Rhyme Award for CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PUNDER!! Combining Christmas and pirates is such a fun and unique mash-up!  How did this concept first come to you and what was your goal for this story?

 

I love humor, and over the years I’ve discovered that one way to ensure a book is funny is to put two things together that aren’t normally found together. The contrast between two normally opposing things fuels humor—in this case, pirates and Christmas.

 

Every year I participate in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (formerly PiBoIdMo). In 2014, when the event still took place in November, I decided to concentrate on coming up with as many mash-up ideas as I could. With it being the run-up to Christmas, holiday ideas featured heavily on my list.

 

My initial goal for the story was purely to write a humorous story. I knew from the beginning that the pirates would be naughty with a capital N, and seeking to steal Santa’s treasure of toys. But (spoiler alert here) I wanted the pirates to eventually have a change of heart. What I hadn’t worked out at that point was what the catalyst would be for their transformation.

 

  • Your love of rhyme is obvious!  How long have you been a rhymer and what has it taken to get both your rhythm and rhyme to this level of publishing perfection?

 

I seriously took to rhyme twelve years ago when my eldest child was a baby. I decided to embrace those long, sleepless nights she was gifting me with as an opportunity to write picture books and poetry.

 

When I first began writing in rhyme, my ex told me in no uncertain terms how bad my meter was. He suggested I either buy a metronome or give up on rhyme altogether.

 

Feeling confident in my rhyming skills, I refused to take on board his criticism until my local critique group told me the same thing, albeit in a more diplomatic manner.  That’s when I started studying meter and began asking people to read my work aloud, so I could hear where the rhythm was off. Within a few short months, I had developed a much better ear for meter.

 

I should add, however, that this was still not the point at which my work came to “a level of publishing perfection,” as I was still using predictable rhymes and slant rhymes. What helped me most was studying books by other PB rhymers like Julia Donaldson.

 

  • Also, how do you decide whether your story will be written in rhyme or not?

 

Good question! Very often I use traditional rhymes as patterns for my books, so I’ll have chosen a rhyme before I start to write. With Captain Bling, because I knew I was writing a Christmas story, I wanted to use the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem as my model. Had I not been able to make the story fit the rhyming pattern, I would have changed it to prose.

 

Before I get a reputation as only writing to traditional rhymes or songs, I should add that I’ve just sold a rhyming picture book that is not patterned after a traditional rhyme.

 

  • What advice could you give to new or interested writers in Angie Karcher’s Rhyme Revolution group regarding writing in rhyme?

 

First and foremost, find some trusted critique partners. Angie’s Rhyme Revolution attracts rhymers from all over the world and, if they wish to be, she kindly connects them into critique groups. I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of this opportunity, as well as following Angie’s thorough and helpful posts each April, and reading and studying as many rhyming picture books as you can. Also, put a good rhyming dictionary on the top of your Christmas wish list!

 

  • It’s exciting to see that you’ve traveled the world and currently live in the UK!  How has that effected your picture book writing and please tell us about any impacts it may have also had on your US publishing and promotional aspects, as well.

 

I don’t feel my traveling and residence in the UK has adversely impacted on my being published in the US. I tried for years to get UK agents and editors interested in my work, and it was only when I gave up on the UK market and began submitting to the US market, that I realized, actually, my writing ‘voice’ was better suited for the US anyway.

 

As to promotional aspects, it’s harder to get festival and school events here as most of the organizers have never heard of me. Having said that, I’m pretty good at putting myself forward for events. I also produce free teaching resources for my books and am able to promote myself on-line to US librarians and educators that way. The only disadvantage I see is that I’m still waiting to be sent on a US book tour, but, I think that’s a pipe dream for many US-based PB authors as well, unless they write a bestseller.

 

  • And finally, what’s next on your publishing path?

 

As mentioned above, I’ve just sold a further rhyming picture book, however, I’m not yet at liberty to disclose additional information about it. Other things I’m working on include a non-fiction book for adults, stand-up comedy sketches, and screenplays—none of which are in rhyme. Nothing may come of these other projects, but they keep me out of trouble and are allowing me to spread my writing wings, so to speak.

 

Thank you, Rebecca and much continued success!!

RebeccaColby - HEADSHOT

Rebecca Colby’s Website

Rebecca is a children’s picture book author, poet, and screenwriter. Her children’s books are represented by Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her fourth book, CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER, was published by Albert Whitman & Co., 2017.

Buy It HERE

Rebecca’s other books include:

MOTOR GOOSE (Feiwel & Friends, 2017),

IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS (Feiwel and Friends, 2015), and

THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE WHO SWALLOWED A MIDGIE (Floris Picture Kelpies, 2014)

Congratulations REBECCA on

CAPTAIN BLING’S

CHRISTMAS PLUNDER

making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

 

 

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – DENISE DOYEN INTERVIEW BY CATHY C. HALL

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

2017 TOP 10 List

Pom Witch Cover 110 KB

THE POMEGRANATE WITCH

by Denise Doyen

Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

1 star

 

 

When a scary old tree blooms with the most beautiful pomegranates ever seen, the neighborhood kids’ mouths water with anticipation. But the tree isn’t theirs—and it has a protector! So begins the Pomegranate War, a fun, rollicking, rhyming tale of a battle between the sly, plucky young rascals and their wry, witchy neighbor who may have more than one trick up her sleeve. 

1 star

 

Denise Doyen had me at witch. I love a good witch story! And a witch story that rhymes, too? Wicked cool. But I have to admit that I was a little surprised about…well…pomegranates. Possibly because I’m one of those people who didn’t know what a pomegranate was until 2001. And I didn’t actually taste a pomegranate until three years ago.

 

I know. It’s embarrassing. Because pomegranates are delicious! Still, I knew when Denise agreed to answer five questions for an interview that my first question would be pretty basic:

 

Why pomegranates, Denise? I feel like there must be a story there, in choosing such an unusual fruit! (It is a fruit, right?)

 

Hi Cathy, so nice to visit here.

 

Botanically, I’ve read it’s an overgrown berry. Why poms? This story came from a real childhood experience of, well, pilfering pomegranates. So, I guess that choice was made long ago when a group of us kids lusted after some ‘overgrown berries’. I might also have been influenced by the recent popularity of pomegranates (their antioxidant properties discovered.) Seeing pomegranate gems sprinkled on my salad or pom juice in fancy bottles kept bringing that childhood passion to mind. 

Then, trying to vividly recall that passion brought the language of delectable fruit into play. The summer I was working on this story, my older son, Paul, was writing a thesis for an advanced English Lit class. We’d head out to cafés together and work across the table on our respective projects. One evening, he mentioned an apropos poetic work he’d read in his class, “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44996/goblin-market

Pom Witch - End Papers

I was enchanted. I saw how Rossetti celebrated each tactile, flavorful, aromatic, colorful aspect of the fruit that her goblins seductively touted. I think we rhymers can get caught up in a running cadence–and let it gallop away with us. Studying Rossetti’s poem gave me the confidence to drastically change tempo, to slow down when I wanted the reader to covet and take notice as the Pomegranate Gang did―with childlike awe: “the big, red, round, ripe pomegranate fruits”.

 

I noticed that your first book, ONCE UPON A TWICE, is also a rhyming picture book. Do your stories always come to you in rhyme?

 

Seems like it. Actually, I search for my next story by recalling books I loved as a child, then I try to glean what it was about them that so captured my imagination. As a kid, I felt a real affection for Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. I recited it by heart. I loved the magical sounding nonsense words that still made sense. I enjoyed the brave boy’s adventure that unfolded like a miniature play, and yes, the end rhymes that wove it all together. So, I tried to incorporate those elements into my story about a bold, wayward mouse in Once Upon a Twice.

 

The qualities I wanted for The Pomegranate Witch came from ballad poems that I adored and memorized, like “Casey at the Bat”, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.”  Those classic-yarns and their air of nostalgia felt right for the tale I wanted to write about a spooky old farm house, an enchanted tree, the local ‘witch’ and the antics of children caught up in a neighborhood mystery. The meter of a ballad’s iambic heptameter offered a familiar yet dramatic pacing. I added some wordplay and strove to make the rhymes unique. Pondering this interview question, I realize that being able to memorize lovely language felt special and valuable to me as a kid. Rhyme is a great way to cue one’s mind to link: one line of text — to what comes next. Surely, that’s a reason I’m drawn to it. 

 

 

THE POMEGRANATE WITCH is centered on fall, harvest time, and Halloween. Is it harder to sell a seasonal book? And do you have any promotional tricks that will make it a treat to plan school events with a seasonal book?

 

Well, fortunately Halloween is a big book-selling holiday. I received photos from friends showing The Pomegranate Witch featured in their local bookstore’s festive fall windows or Halloween table displays. Illustrator Eliza Wheeler’s cover is so charming and evocative (ditto the entire book.) She added such thoughtful, imaginative layers and visual clues to the text. The pomegranate end papers are to die for. Actually, pomegranates themselves have proven one way to expand the niche of the book. At my book signings, I demonstrate how to open a pomegranate and get at the seeds without making a huge mess! The kids are fascinated (and parents and teachers, relieved.)  The town of Madera featured readings of the book on their Children’s Stage during their Annual Pomegranate Festival. Also, the book’s underlying themes are helpful; I’ve been very pleased to see several reviews noting that the childhood escapade and provocative questions about the mysterious neighbor make the story suitable for year-round readings. That wider storyline–about childhood invention and ‘not judging a book (or witch) by its cover’―were my intended focus, not Halloween.

 

RE: school visits. A favorite interaction: I have students recite the poem’s repeats with me. We practice first. I give them an easy visual cue (I hold up 3 fingers.) Then, at intervals kids can anticipate, the whole audience chants “The pomegranate, pomegranate, pomegranate witch!”

Pom Witch - Year to ear to hear...

What an interesting journey you’ve had to children’s publishing! What’s the best advice you ever received along the way, and what do you always tell those rhyming picture book writers when they’re first starting out?

 

Yes, I’ve sort of ricocheted through the Arts: studying design, a decade as a professional dancer/choreographer, film school, a director of children’s television, a graphic artist during The Mom Years and now, writing for children. I don’t think such branching of creative interests is unusual. I know so many writers who are also musicians, actors who paint, architects who sculpt, dancers who design costumes and clothes, illustrators who are accomplished chefs. Often diverse interests inform each other. For instance, I’m pretty sure my years of tap dancing lessons at Miss Isabel Christie’s Studio sensitized my ear to rhythm, syncopation, stressed/unstressed beats, anticipatory pauses, etc. I am a much better poet because a can tap it out and “feel the beat” in my feet, my bones, my heart.

 

Advice for new, brave, rhyming picture book writers? That old true chestnut: Always put word choices that truly enhance your story, your setting or your characters above your rhyme. And don’t fall to the temptation of overused couplets: tree/me, sky/high, blue/too. I always gather a ton of photographs showing the places, actions, plants, animals or people who I am trying to build my story around.  Sometimes just studying those pictures, looking with a poet’s exactness at all the colors, textures, elements, motions suggested by them, will conjure an original flash, a fresh take or cool description. One of my favorite phrases in The Pomegranate Witch came about this way. I was mulling over a photo of an ancient pomegranate tree, its crown, its bark, the earth beneath and I thought “Wow, those roots undulate like snakes.” Voila. The line in the story now reads, “…dirt ripplesnaked with roots.”

 

My mother (a retired kindergarten teacher) tells stories about how her little language learners used their small vocabularies in novel ways. One of my favorites is when someone knocked on the classroom door and a little girl said, “Teacher! The door is talking.” I mean, how great is that? We language masters need to trick or coach ourselves out of the ruts of everyday usage, look anew, because a flash thought like “the door is talking” is where poetry begins.

 Pom - pom prize

And finally, what’s Denise Doyen staying up way too late and working on these days?

So, as is my habit, I searched my fondest childhood reading moments to come up with an inspiration. I loved Madeline. I wanted to live in Paris, have eleven mirror-like roommates, see carousels, city rivers and stone bridges, and stroll through parks full of kites. I wanted to survive some brief, exciting Incident (that ended with a dollhouse.) So, I’m gathering up those childish wants and feelings, as well as Ludwig Bemelman’s simple, direct language and I’m applying them to a story called “Claire’s Stairs.”  I guess we’ll see what happens…

  

Thanks, Cathy for the interview and Rhyme Revolution for promoting books that rhyme.

 

Big congrats on THE POMEGRANATE WITCH being in the Top Ten list of Best In Rhyme 2017 books! Please go visit Denise’s wonderfully eerie website to read more. As for me, I’ve got a sudden hankering for a sweet treat.

You thought I was going to say pomegranate, didn’t you? But I’m off to find ONCE UPON A TWICE. And yep, a nice juicy pomegranate to go along with it!

 

DOYEN Denise, Headshot 2

WEBSITE 

Buy it HERE

Bio:

Denise Doyen studied creative writing and design at Stanford University (BA) and directing at the American Film Institute (Masters). For many years she worked in the world of children’s television where she directed the beloved Disney Channel series Welcome to Pooh Corner and Dumbos Circus as well as other productions for children including the video collection “The Mother Goose Treasury.”

Leaving show biz to raise her two boys, she embraced Mom-dom while working part-time as a graphic designer. However, her first love was writing. So, when her oldest son set off for college, Denise set off on a new creative career; she studied writing for children at UCLA. She joined SCBWI (Society for Children’s Writers & Illustrators), claimed a chair in Barbara Bottner’s Master Class and was a founding member of GOYA critique group. (GOYA: an Urdu word meaning “the suspension of disbelief that occurs in good storytelling”; it’s also a cheeky acronym for “Get Off Your Ass—and get writing!”) She loves amusing words, especially clever or elegant portmanteaus, and working late, late at night.

Her first book, Once Upon a Twice, a rousing mousey nonsense adventure, debuted in 2009 to starred reviews. It was a Junior Library Guild selection and included in several ‘best of’ lists including Kirkus Reviews “Best Children’s Books of 2009”. The book was awarded the 2010 “EB White Read Aloud Honor,” and Denise won the “2010 Ridgway Honor” for outstanding debut in the world of children’s picture books.

Her second book, The Pomegranate Witch, is loosely based on a childhood experience that she shared around a critique table one evening after Halloween, while the rest of the group was making its way through Los Angeles traffic. When she finished telling the story, her writer friends said, “That’s a book.” And now, it is.

Ms. Doyen lives with her husband, Michael, an attorney, (their young adult sons have flown the nest) and a Bengal cat, Zeek, in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Many thanks to 2017 Best in Rhyme Committee Member Cathy C. Hall for interviewing Denise Doyen about her fabulous new book

THE POMEGRANATE WITCH

 

Congratulations DENISE on THE POMEGRANATE WITCH

and making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List again!

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – DIANA MURRAY INTERVIEW BY SHERRI JONES RIVERS

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

2017 TOP 10 List

Doris cover

DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS

by Diana Murray

Illustrated by Yuyi Chen

1 star

“We shouldn’t have to beg or plead

To make our brothers want to read.”

Doris the Bookasaurus finds a way

to make reading fun for Max and TJ.

 

I first “met” the talented author Diana Murry in 2010 when I won a Letter of Merit from SCBWI’s Barbara Karlin Grant and she WON the award. I emailed to congratulate her and we corresponded off and on. I did an interview with her last year for the GROG about her book CITY SHAPES. I can honestly say I am a fan of hers, and I am pleased to get to interview her about her book DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS.  Diana is, by the way, the first author to have two books on the 10 Best in Rhyme List for a second year! Quite an accomplishment

Sherri:

It appears you started with poetry in magazines before publishing books. Do you recommend starting with poetry for magazines to build a resume and hone your craft?

Diana:

Yes. I had my first acceptance for a poem named “Mystery Dinner” from Spider Magazine. Shortly thereafter, I had a few acceptances from Highlights for Children. Since then I have sold many other poems, mostly to Highlights and High Five. I do recommend it. When agents or editors see that you have magazine credits, it helps to show you’re serious about your career (especially if you don’t have other publishing credits yet).

Sherri:

For those who are unfamiliar with your writing journey, can you give us a Reader’s Digest condensed version?

Diana:

I started writing seriously in 2007. That’s when I joined SCBWI. Three years later I sold my first couple of poems and won the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for a picture book work in progress. Two years after that in, 2012, I signed with my agent, Brianne Johnson at Writers House. In 2016 and 2017 I had my first six books release: CITY SHAPES (Little, Brown), GRIMELDA, THE VERY MESSY WITCH plus a sequel (Tegen/HarperCollins), NED, THE KNITTING PIRATE (Roaring Brook/MacMillan), GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE  (Sky Pony Press) and DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS (Imprint/MacMillan). I have seven more children’s books coming in 2018 and beyond. The next one, coming in February, will be an early reader, PIZZA PIG, with the Random House Step-Into-Reading series. (By the way, writing rebuses for Highlights helped me get the hang of writing early readers).

Sherri:

Kirkus says: “The scansion is excellent, making the verses both easy to read aloud and easy for pre-readers to eventually memorize.”  How did you manage the “excellent scansion”? And did you purposely use two different rhythmic schemes?

Diana:

DORIS is written in rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter. However, I use a lot of clipped, headless lines. In other words, instead of starting with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one (ba DUM ba DUM) I sometimes clip the first unstressed syllable of the sentence. Starting with a stressed syllable (DUM ba DUM) makes the lines feel a little bolder and I thought that captured Doris’ enthusiasm. In addition, when Doris reads from other books, that text is set in iambic 4/3 meter, sometimes referred to as “ballad” meter. When you have a text within a text, it is common to set it in a different meter in order to distinguish the two. As far as the scansion, that’s mainly a matter of practice.

Sherri:

I really like the color combinations and the art. What was your impression when you saw the illustrations? Did you have any art notes?

Diana:

I absolutely loved Yuyi Chen’s illustrations. I especially love the scene where they sail their ship into the pirate book.

Doris 1

That’s exactly what I pictured—except better. I inserted a few art notes for clarification. For example, when Doris is telling jokes and a “crowd” gathers, I noted that this would be her stuffed animals.

Sherri:

Such inventive language such as “dino-store”,  lounging in my “boulder bed” and “mega-dino-tastic.” Also, “stego Blocks” is too clever. And love the alliteration of “scurvy scaly pirate crew.” Do you think about word choice as you go, or go back and work on the lyrical language?

Doris 2

 

Diana: Thank you! Most of the time words just pop into my head as I’m going. But I do go back over the text to make sure I haven’t missed any opportunities.

Sherri:

What was the impetus for this book and how long did it take you to get to the finished product?

Diana:

This book started out in prose and actually went through tons of revisions. Wasn’t until I wrote it in verse that it sold. It took about three years from submitting to publications. The main inspiration was watching my kids play. I always loved it when they incorporated stories from books into their playtime. I started noticing how playing and reading went together more than people might think. I wanted to show how exciting and active books can be and also, what a good variety there is—from joke books to record books, to fantasy adventures—there’s truly something for everyone.

Sherri:

What advice do you have for rhyming writers?

Diana:

My advice for rhyming writers is, keep practicing, and make sure that you sometimes write just for pleasure. Write what moves you, even if you don’t think it will sell. Nothing you write will be wasted, even if it isn’t published. But, on the other hand, if you’re working on a picture book, don’t get stuck on one manuscript. If it’s not working, might be best to set it aside and work on something else. You may be able to save it when you look at it again in a few years (that’s happened to me before). And don’t be afraid to write a crappy first draft. That is, silence the inner critic at the beginning, or else it might stifle your creativity. Finally, a good critique group (or several partners) is a must!

 

Diana Murray - Headshot

WEBSITE 

Buy it HERE

Bio:

Diana Murray grew up in New York City and still lives nearby with her husband, two daughters, and a spiky bearded dragon who loves listening to stories—especially about dinosaurs. Diana’s many picture books have been mentioned earlier, and her poems have appeared in magazines including Highlights, High Five, Hello, Spider, and Lady Bug. http://www.dianamurray.com.

 

Many thanks to 2017 Best in Rhyme Committee Member Sherri Jones Rivers for interviewing Diana Murray about her fabulous new book

DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS!

 

Congratulations Diana on DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS

and making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List again!

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 BEST IN RHYME TOP 10 – COREY ROSEN SCHWARTZ INTERVIEW BY GAYLE C. KRAUSE

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

turkey

No rest for the weary rhymers!!!

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

TOP 10 List

 

Twinderella

TWINDERELLA
by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Illustrated by Deborah Marcero

 

 

Many thanks to 2017 Best in Rhyme Committee Member

Gayle C. Krause for interviewing Corey Rosen Schwartz

about her fabulous new book TWINDERELLA.

1 star

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE!

DOUBLE THE PUN!

TWO CINDERELLAS ARE TWICE AS MUCH FUN!

Gayle 

If you are a pre-school teacher or director of an early childhood education program, like I was in my previous career, you’ll love Corey Rosen Scwartz’s Twinderella, as much as I do. In fact, even high school math teachers can use Twinderella as a quirky, unique teaching tool. But I’m not speaking solely as a teacher, though I always read a picture book with an eye for the ‘teaching moment.’ Parents can invest themselves in the two-for-one story too—a  bedtime tale about a well-loved character and a lesson in pre-math skills.

WIN! WIN! TWIN! TWIN-DERELLA!

Now, let’s discover a bit about Corey’s writing process.

 Corey - spread 1

 

GAYLE:  How long have you been writing?

 

COREY: I’ve been writing picture books since 2001. I had heard that it takes seven years on average to make your first sale. I was lucky to get plucked from the slush in less than two.  Needless to say, I was very pleased with myself.  Then… it took six and half years before I sold another manuscript!  Serves me right for being cocky.  Ha!  

Corey - spread 2

 

GAYLE:  How long does it take you to write a rhyming picture book? How many revisions?

COREY: As all rhymers know, it can takes a LOT of work to get the rhyme and meter just right.   Once I have an idea I love, I usually get a first draft down in a couple of weeks.  It is really important to get the story right first. So I revise with an eye toward plot structure.  Does it have enough tension?  A satisfactory ending, etc.  Once, I feel confident that the story arc is totally working, that is when I focus on tweaking the rhyme and meter.  All in all, it generally takes about four or five months and roughly 25-30 drafts.

 

Corey - spread 3

GAYLE: Where do you get your ideas?

COREY: I get nearly all of my ideas from my kids!   They were constantly providing me with material when they were little. Now that they are both in middle school, I am having a tough time.  I can no longer rely on them to say things like “Mommy, come quick.  Josh is in the oven!”   

 

Grandkids cannot come soon enough!    

 

GAYLE: How many rhyming picture books have you written?

COREY: Maybe a better question is how many non-rhyming pictures have I written?  Uh, none.  Ha!  That is not totally true.  I have three or four manuscripts that I have attempted to write in prose, but I’m embarrassed to even show them to my agent. Rhyme is what I do best.   My stories are not character-driven or plot-driven.  They are language-driven.  I’ve sold eight rhyming picture books and I have about a dozen others that are polished, but have not yet found a publisher.

 

GAYLE: How did you find the inspiration for Twinderella?

Corey - spread 4

COREY: Every year, I participate in what is now called Storystorm.  It is Tara Lazar’s challenge to come up with 30 PB ideas in 30 days.   In 2009, I came up with dozens of Goldilocks variations.  Two of the ideas were as follows:

 

  • Goldilocks has a surprise twin sister?  (Brownilocks?   Tawnylocks?)
  • Goldilocks and the Three and a Half Bears-  use fairy tales to teach fractions

 

Neither idea went anywhere, but they both kept nagging at me.  Then during Storystorm 2010, it suddenly hit me.   There was a perfect way to combine the two.   

 

TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE

 

GAYLE: Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

 

COREY: Yes. I actually see myself in Twinderella. Math was always my favorite subject in school. Like Tinderella, I see math as a fun, challenging puzzle to be solved. I love how logical it is. I was even a math teacher for a while and in my first draft of Twinderella, Tin wound up teaching math too! 

 

From Kirkus Reviews:

Touting itself as a “fractioned fairy tale,” (LOVE THIS PITCH!) however, this take on “Cinderella” proclaims that readers familiar only with the original story “don’t know the half of it!” Breezy, pun-filled rhymes introduce Cinderella’s twin, Twinderella, who uses math to divide their wicked stepmother’s chore list in half. 

 

Corey Author Photo

WEBSITE 

Congratulations Corey on TWINDERELLA

and making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

Buy it HERE

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City.

KidLitTV Logo - NEW 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 – Matt Forrest Esenwine and FLASHLIGHT NIGHT Interview by Deborah Williams

2017-best-in-rhyme-award-logo.jpg

Top 10 List

 

Flashlight Night

 

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT

by Matt Forrest Esenwine

Illustrated by Fred Koehler

 

 

Many thanks to 2017 Best in Rhyme Committee Member
Deborah Williams for interviewing Matt Forrest Esenwine
about his fabulous new book FLASHLIGHT NIGHT!

1 star

Deb: Congratulations on the great reviews for Flashlight Night!  This is your first picture book, but have you had other rhyming work published?

Matt: Thanks, Deb! Yes, I’ve had numerous poems published over the years. My first was back when I was in high school – I sent a free verse poem to the local college’s literary magazine and they liked it enough to publish it! That set me on my path. Since then, several of my poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies.

Up until 2009 or so, I was only publishing poetry geared for adults – primarily free verse – but I had some children’s poetry I’d written and didn’t know what to do with. A friend told me about SCBWI, I joined a local critique group, and began studying the craft as well as the market (a hugely important and often underestimated aspect of writing for children). My first children’s poem, “First Tooth,” was published in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Lullaby & Kisses Sweet (Abrams Appleseed, 2015) and between that poem and all the others I have – or will have – published in books, online journals, and ‘Highlights’ magazine, the grand total comes to about 24! Granted, in publishing, the wheels turn slowly, but I’m extremely grateful I’ve been able to get this far so quickly.

Deb: Your voice talent background taught you to pay attention to how written words sound when read aloud. Was this helpful to you in writing picture books?

Matt: Yes, it was…but what was more important was my ability to write radio copy (e.g., commercials). When writing a 30-second or 60-second radio commercial, one needs to create interest on some type of emotional level; introduce a problem; offer a solution; and then conclude the message. Sound familiar?? It’s a story! So no matter whether it’s a commercial, a poem, a picture book, or a novel, the general structure is very often the same – it’s how one varies that structure and what one does with it that makes the difference.

Deb: Which do you find more challenging when writing, perfect rhyme or perfect meter?

Matt: Perfect rhyme, no question. Perfect meter can be difficult, yes, but if one is writing in accentual verse rather than syllabic, it’s the rhymes that are going to be front and center to the reader. As long as the text flows, make sure those rhymes are as good as they can be.

Deb: Rhyming books are often a hard sell, partly because they’re tough to translate for foreign markets. What would you say to encourage those of us who write in rhyme?

Matt: I know of a number of folk who’ve written rhyming picture books that have been translated into other languages, and they usually end up as non-rhyming picture books. This is another reason why having a solid, universal story – and text that can be appreciated even in prose –is so important.

Flashlight Night spread

Deb: Can you share some creative marketing ideas you’ve used with Flashlight Night?

Matt: One of my first book signings was at night, and we displayed the book on a projection screen so everyone could see. I talked about the book a little bit, then showed the kids some shadow puppets on the screen, and everyone left with a small flashlight of their own!

I also contacted a local hospital’s gift shop, because I felt ‘Flashlight’ was the kind of quiet adventure book a young child might enjoy while staying there. The manager loved the book and ordered a case, and we scheduled a book signing during the “lunch hour” (a very loose term when it comes to hospitals). Before the signing I visited the on-campus preschool and read to three groups of young children, and by the time the signing rolled around many of their parents were requesting copies! In fact, we sold out of all the books in an hour – and I’m hoping to get back there before Christmas for another go-round!

Deb: What’s the most fun you’ve had since your book came out?

Matt: I’ve really been enjoying the signings, actually. Eventually when I’m old and grizzled (which may not be too long from now) and have a wall of books to my name I’ll probably become haughty and supercilious…but for now, I’m having fun meeting people and chatting with them about the book, my contributions to various poetry collections, and children’s publishing in general.

Deb: What’s next for you in your writing career?  Will your next book be in rhyme, too?

Matt: This spring, I’ll have my name associated with two books! My second picture book, “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” (Pow! Kids Books), which I co-wrote with author Deb Bruss (“Book! Book! Book!”, “Big Box for Ben”), is scheduled for a March release. It’s about a couple of kids trying to put on a birthday party while their dinosaur friends – in the interest of helping – destroy everything. It includes a short glossary at the end so readers can learn more about the 14 different dinosaur species in the book…and yes, it’s rhyming!

I also am extremely grateful to Lee Bennett Hopkins for asking me to contribute a poem for his newest poetry anthology, “School People” (Boys Mills Press), which is being published by the same folks who published “Flashlight Night.” “School People is a collection of 15 poems about all the grown-ups that kids meet when they go to school: teachers, principals, the lunch crew, etc. Lee asked me to write a poem about the bus driver, so I’m really looking forward to seeing all my fellow friends’ and writers’ poems!

Deb; Thanks, Matt!  We’ll look forward to reading more of your writing and rhyming!

Matt: Thank YOU, Deb – and also thank you to Angie and everyone for including our little book in the Top 10!

2017 Top 10 Blogs - Mat Forrest

WEBSITE 

Congratulations Matt on FLASHLIGHT NIGHT

and making the 2017 Best in Rhyme Top 10 List!

Buy it HERE

1 star

Watch for the live, streaming

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Announcement

on February 4th at 7:00 pm ET

from the KidLitTV Studio in New York City. 

KidLit TV logo - new

2017 Best in Rhyme Award Top 10

2017 Best in Rhyme Award logo

Please take time to read these wonderful rhyming picture books!

Congratulations to the all the authors and illustrators!

Watch for weekly blog posts from the Best in Rhyme Committee Members about each of the Top 10 Best in Rhyme books

starting November 17th. 

Best in Rhyme 2017 Top 10

Here’s the official 2017 

Best in Rhyme Top 10 List

in no particular order

 

CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER by Rebecca Colby
DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS by Diana Murray
GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW by Diana Murray
FLASHLIGHT NIGHT by Matt Forest Esenwine
SANTA’S GIFT by Angie Karcher
THE POMEGRANATE WITCH by Denise Doyen
THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH by Josh Funk
MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE by Sherri Duskey Rinker
LITTLE EXCAVATOR by Anna Dewdney
TWINDERELLA by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Watch for The 2017 Best in Rhyme Award announced February 4th at 7:00 pm ET from the KidLit TV Studio!

KidLit TV blk-white logo

Thank you to Julie Gribble at KidLit TV

Take a peek at the Best in Rhyme Rubric

used for scoring.

The Best in Rhyme committee is a group of dedicated Rhyme Revolution members. They have been busy reading, reviewing and scoring the nominated rhyming picture books for 2017. Members of the Rhyme Revolution Group nominated books for consideration.

Many thanks to this wonderful committee!! ❤

Angie

 

The 2017 Best in Rhyme Award Committee:

Manju Howard

Debbie Vidovich

Sherri Rivers

Cathy C. Hall

Kenda Henthorn

Annie Bailey

Gayle C. Krause

Deb Williams

Darlene Ivy

Suzy Leopold

Jill Richards

 

Angie Karcher – Award Founder

 

*Due to the fact that Angie Karcher has a rhyming picture book nominated for this award, she has not been involved in the reading or scoring of any of the nominated books this year. The committee has been in charge of making the final decisions concerning the winner(s) of this award.