How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author... and How to Avoid Them

Friday, February 27, 2015

DAY 14: How Big is a Million? (Patterns)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share
14 picture books in 14 days
The final countdown... Here's your sign (for Blogger blogs): <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.simply-linked.com/listwidget.aspx?l=C1202879-AFC0-41EB-A337-00EE9BD1DC6F" ></script>

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Welcome to DAY 14. Today's lesson is on...

How Big is a Million?
by Anna Milbourne
Title: How Big is a Million?
Author: Anna Milbourne
Illustrator: Serena Riglietti
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd.
Year: 2007
Word Count: 565
Top 10 Element: Patterns

Summary:
Little Pipkin wonders how big things are. He goes on an adventure to find one million of something. 
We have the pattern of questions and answers. We have the pattern of threes. And we have the pattern of counting. As well as repetition.

  1. How wide is the sea?
  2. How high is the sky?
  3. Is the moon made of cheese?
But the thing he wanted to know most of all was...how big is a million?
He counts his fish at breakfast...TEN.
"Ten's a big number of fish for breakfast," he said."But if ten's this big, how big is a million?"
To which, his mother replies, "A million's much, much more than ten." So off Pipkin goes.
He finds 100 penguins, and asks them,
"If a hundred's this big, how big is a million?" And they say, "A million's much, much bigger than a hundred."
They ask if he would like to stay and huddle to get toasty-warm, but he continues on his search.
Then he runs into a seal cub and they see a thousand snowflakes. He stays to play for a bit, but then continues on his search.



He goes back home disappointed that "he hadn't found a million of anything at all."

A pattern of 3 at the end again, because it really repeats the structure of the whole book:
  • TEN yummy fish, 
  • a HUNDRED warm penguins, 
  • a THOUSAND pretty snowflakes, and a brand new friend,
Then Mama says, "Here's your million, my little Pip. You can make a wish on every single one." And there's a little sign in the lower right hand corner of the page that says, "This way to see Pipkin's million" and you see... him and his mama looking at this...

This is actually the poster that came with the book, but the end papers are also covered with a million stars. My kids and I figured out that 1 million is a 10,000 sets of 100. OR 1,000 sets of 1,000. Wow.

Do you think one day we'll have a million books featured in PB 14:14? Great job everyone! Come back tomorrow to find out who will become the prize winners. And I'll update the book LIST soon too!

Anybody want to take a GUESS as to which element was featured the most this year? Last year, it was CHARACTER. I'm guessing, yes guessing (haven't tallied yet) that this year's will be either character or theme. What do you think?

Here's the link to add your own DAY 14 blog posts...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

DAY 13: The First Vision: The Prophet Joseph Smith's Own Account (Conflict)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, study, and Share
14 picture books in 14 days
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Welcome to DAY 13. Today's lesson is on CONFLICT.

Title: The First Vision: The Prophet Joseph Smith's Own Account
Illustrators: Cary Austin and Greg Newbold
Publisher: Bookcraft
Year: 2001
Word Count: 1000+ est.
Top 10 Element: Conflict

Summary:
This is the story of Joseph Smith, from Sharon, Vermont, born December 23, 1805 and how he prayed to God and received an answer to his prayer.
This book is a nonfiction picture book published in the religious market for 5 years olds to 105 year-olds. is very dear to my heart. It is told from Joseph Smith's own account. Joseph faced a life of conflict. When he was young, he moved a lot, especially according to times back then. Not uncommon, but still a conflict for a young child.


When he lived in Manchester, New York, the whole town "lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It became general in all the sects in that region of country."

Indeed, the different religious sects in the area began to stir up conflict upon themselves.
Great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people.
The respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted. Yet it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words.
This is Joseph's account some time after the events he later experienced. At the time, he was 14 years old. During this time, he distanced himself from all these parties. He was confused.
It was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
One day he read James 1:5...
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
He reflected on that passage again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, he did. After a long time, he finally decided that he must either remain in darkness and confusion, or do as James directed and ask of God. So he went to the woods to do so. He suffers great internal conflict up to this point.



As soon as he kneels to pray, another force of conflict ensues. The dark spirit tries to overcome him and doom him to destruction and make it where he could no longer speak aloud.
At the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.


Two Personages appeared to young Joseph.
One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other -- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
To summarize the ending, he was answered that he should join none of the churches, for they were all wrong. His own family belonged to multiple sects, at least two, maybe more. Joseph surely worried what they might think. They knew he didn't want to make a quick decision, not knowing for sure, which one he should join. Thus the reason for his prayer, to determine which to join.

Later in his life, he was persecuted, laughed at, questioned, tarred and feathered, beat and spit upon, cursed at, chased away, imprisoned, and more. He died a martyr in a jail house when a mob attacked. But he always held fast to what he knew to be true as an answer to his prayer that day. A testimony that what he read in the book of James was indeed true. If you ask God, in prayer, with sincerity, he will answer you.
I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.


Now there's some conflict for you! That was my "older" book for the PB 14:14 event. Tomorrow's book will be on a much lighter note. If you would like to read the full version of the account for which this book is based, you can read Joseph Smith -- History here.

Here's the link to add your own DAY 13 blog posts...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DAY 12: Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman (Beginnings and Endings)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share
14 picture books in 14 days
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Welcome to DAY 5. Today's lesson is on Beginnings and Endings

Looking at Lincoln
by Maira Kalman
Title: Looking at Lincoln
Author: Maira Kalman
Illustrator: Maira Kalman
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Year: 2012
Word Count: 1004
Top 10 Element: Beginnings/Endings

Summary:
A young girl is curious about Abraham Lincoln and tries to find out more about the life of the nation's sixteenth president.
You would think that this book would be feature the story element of character since Lincoln was indeed a great character. Or conflict. But I chose beginnings and endings. I'm sharing the opening 3 spreads and the final 3 spreads.

Opening Spread:


One day, while walking through the park on my way to breakfast I saw a very tall man. He reminded me of someone, but I could not think who.
Notice the pink sidewalks.

Spread 2:



Spread 3:



Just in case you can't read the "fine print" it says, "I could look at him forever."

And now for the final 3 spreads:
The news spread. People across the land wept with grief for their fallen leader. But a great man is never really gone.
Next to last:


Abraham Lincoln will live forever. and if you go to Washington, D.C. in the spring you can walk through the cherry blossoms and visit him.
The final spread:


And you can look into his beautiful eyes. Just look.
Need I say more? Again with the PINK. Those cherry blossoms...

Here's the link to add your own DAY 12 blog posts...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DAY 11: The Artist and the King by Julie Fortenberry (Theme)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share
14 picture books in 14 days
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The code for Wordpress blogs.


Welcome to DAY 11. Today's lesson is on THEME.

The Artist and the King
by Julie Fortenberry
Title: The Artist and the King
Author: Julie Fortenberry
Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry
Publisher: Alazar Press
Year: 2014
Word Count: 572 (if I counted correctly)
Top 10 Element: Theme

Summary:
A young, spirited girl brings new life and joy to her kingdom while experimenting with an unfamiliar and new art form.

When people hear "theme" they think of lots of things: thematic teaching units (a unit on math using vehicles, a language arts unit with farm animals, a science unit with a skeleton theme), birthday parties (pirates, princesses, legos, animals, Nerf, Pokemon, music, dancing, etc.), or maybe even "the theme of this year is..." (Let your light so shine, Do unto others as you want to be treated, The Blank Page, etc.).

But in books, theme is SO MUCH MORE THAN THE TOPIC. The theme is more than what the book is about on the surface. Theme is what it's about on a deeper level. The takeaway lesson. The "So what?" of the story. Theme is not to be confused with writing the unpopular moralistic or didactic "teaching" story. You can write a GREAT book and still get the theme across if done well. This book is an example of that. It is by utilizing character, conflict, plot, dialogue, beginnings and endings, that theme is able to come through.

While this book is also a good example of pacing and beginnings/endings, I believe it is THEME that made me purchase the book. It is such an endearing little book with a heartwarming theme told in a timeless way. When I read it aloud at the SCBWI bookstore, I instantly fell in love. Maybe because I heard the author speak. Maybe because it was the energy of SCBWI. Maybe because my sister is an artist. But, really it's because it spoke to me. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Nobody likes being rejected. Everyone needs love and acceptance. This book shares that exquisitely, and shows how forgiveness can bring people together and heal hurting hearts.

Daphne, a young artist, was drawing a mean picture of the king when the wind grabbed a hold of her paper and slapped it in the king's face. He yelled out and punished her by taking away her red artist's beret and replacing it with a dunce cap made of the very art she had created. Being the artist she was, she tried to make it look better, "less duncey."
Maybe if she wore it to one side. Or under her hair. She tried adding colorful decorations. And with a piece of fabric, the cap looked almost regal! With the right fabrics, it could match her different dresses. Soon she was getting compliments.
And she started selling her own.





But, of course the King noticed and wanted all the dunce wearers banished into the wilderness. He marched his army right into the town square.
And straight to his own daughter!"My dear girl, step aside or be banished with the others."The Princess threw down a cap.
And she "walked into the woods." I love that phrase "walked into the woods." Not only does it have great alliteration, but it is simple. Not stormed, trotted, ran, stomped. Simply walked. It shows how sad she was.

Daphne saw the King all alone and his spear hovering dangerously over her beautiful cap. She ran to rescue it, but noticed the King was crying. She apologized for the mean picture she drew. Then he apologized for being mean, even his own daughter had said he was. Do you feel the powerful emotions rising up within you yet? Daphne picked up the cap and handed it to the king.
"But your daughter loves you. Look!" said Daphne. ...For My Dear Father, with Love...Now the King was crying even harder.

"We can still bring everyone home." And so they did.


And the next day, even the villagers who had been exiled long ago were coming back home. And everyone shouted for Daphne, "Long live Daphne! Long live the artist!"

Now, THAT, my friends, is a good example of THEME.

Here's the link to add your own DAY 11 blog posts...

Monday, February 23, 2015

DAY 10: Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer (Patterns)

Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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Wordpress LINK code.


Welcome to DAY 10. Today's lesson is on...

Mostly Monsterly
by Tammi Sauer
Title: Mostly Monsterly
Author: Tammi Sauer
Illustrator: Scott Magoon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year: 2010
Word Count: 348
Top 10 Element: #8, Patterns

Summary:
On the outside, Bernadette is a lot like the other monsters in her class, but when she shows that she can be sweet, her classmates reject her until she finds a way to fit in again.
Opening Spread:


This book utilizes the patterns of THREES to structure the story.

  1. She lurched. 
  2. She growled. 
  3. She caused mayhem of all kinds.
"Sometimes when she was all by herself..."
  1. she liked to pick flowers.
  2. And pet kittens.
  3. And bake

When it was time to go to school, she was nervous.

  1. everyone lurched, except Bernadette (she wanted to hug)
  2. everyone growled, except Bernadette (she wanted to sing)
  3. everyone caused mayhem and destroyed buildings, except Bernadette (she built a "tinker toys" I Love You monster)
When she noticed she needed help, she pulled out her secret weapon, TREATS! The other monsters asked,
  1. Bug parts?
  2. Fried snail goo?
  3. Fish heads dipped in hot sauce?!
But the other monsters did not like her cupcakes with sprinkles, so they ran off to recess and acted like monsters.
  1. They stomped.
  2. They slobbered.
  3. They scared the leaves off the trees.
Then she got an idea...and made everyone a card.


Even the artist worked in threes. On one spread, it shows this card in the center and one on either side of it, with no other text.

And the ending?

Everyone DID finally give her a group hug. Most of the time, Bernadette did lurch and growl and cause mayhem. But sometimes...
She was just Bernadette. And that was okay too. (shows her watering a flower)
If one of your manuscripts isn't quite gelling, try using the pattern of threes, and see if it helps the story come alive or feel more structured. Grrrrr.... 

Keep on keepin' on...


Here's the link to add your own DAY 10 blog posts...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

DAY 9: Telephone by Mac Barnett (Dialogue)

Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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Wordpress LINK.


Welcome to DAY 9! Today's lesson is on...DIALOGUE.

Telephone by Mac Barnett
Title: Telephone
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jen Corace
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Year: 2014
Word Count: 130
Top 10 Element: Dialogue
Summary:
In this picture book a string of birds on a telephone wire play a game of telephone, with the usual mixed up results.
This book is pure dialogue. And so much fun. Anyone who's ever played this childhood game will want to read this book. Here's the first spread:

"Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner."
And the game ensues!
Hit pop flies and homers, Prop planes are for fliers, Put your wet socks in the dryer, and on and on it goes.

Today's lesson: PLAY with dialogue. Have FUN with it. See where it might lead you. In this book, it eventually leads Peter to fly back home for dinner. What about you?

Here's the link to add your own DAY 9 blog posts...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

[PB 14:14 in 2015] Guest Blogger #2: Heather Ayris Burnell; and DAY 8: Petunia Goes Wild by Paul Schmid (Character)

Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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Here's your LINK for Wordpress blogs.


Welcome to DAY 8!!! And our guest blog post #2 to kick off week 2. Please give a warm welcome to Heather Ayris Burnell! She's here to talk about how much she loves STUDYING PICTURE BOOKS!!! And since you're here, we know you love it too! Thanks so much, Heather, for taking the time to share your thoughts and be with us today.

Bedtime Monster
by Heather Ayris Burnell
          "I love studying picture books. What could possibly be more fun than going through huge stacks of illustrated stories?

One of my favorite things to do is pull all of the picture books I can find on a certain subject off of the library shelves. As a librarian I use themes to create fun book displays. As a writer I use them to learn about what’s out there.


Studying by theme can help you learn what authors have done with a certain type of character: princesses, pirates, trucks, robots, dogs, bugs, porcupines…. You can find virtually every sort of character when you start looking.

Want to see what's been done at on a specific emotion? Love, happiness, fear—you'll find it on the shelves. Concept books abound. You’ll get a real feel for what's out there when you read through a big stack of them.

My PhotoThere are so many books on subjects like friendship, going to school, and being yourself—all the parts of growing up. There are holiday books (I just love Halloween and Christmas books). Art books. Bilingual books. Books about people in the neighborhood. Retold tales! And there’s my personal favorite—books about the library.

What are your themes? Go check them out! Librarians love it when you check out lots of books. Just in case your library shelves looking a little thin or you can’t get out to the library, look up the collection online. You’ll have your card maxed out in no time.

Join the Club!
Heather Ayris Burnell is the author of Bedtime Monster.  She runsSub It Club writer and illustrator support group and curates the Monster List of Picture Book Agents on her blog. You can find her on twitter @heatherayris.




Petunia Goes Wild
by Paul Schmid
Title: Petunia Goes Wild
Author: Paul Schmid
Illustrator: Paul Scmid
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2012
Word Count: 313
Top 10 Element: Character
Summary:
Petunia decides to stop being a human child and start living the life of a wild animal, much to her parents' displeasure.
This is actually the second book in the Petunia "series," the first being A Pet for Petunia, which I have not read. I picked this book up at the bargain table somewhere.

So how do you study character in picture books? How does studying character help you write a picture book with a strong character? Example, example, example. Petunia is definitely a character.

On Monday, she eats her breakfast off the kitchen floor.

On Tuesday, she roars to everyone from her front yard.

On Wednesday, she takes a mud bath.

On Thursday, she told her parents she needed to live in a cave and they told her, "You are not an animal."
But Petunia felt that there had been some mistake.
Being human was too ... clean ... quiet ... too hafta.

So she asks her parents if she can be their pet instead. And they answer with a resounding, "No, you may NOT!....(a whole page full of adult explanations lasting nearly 100 words).
Petunia needed to escape.
That's just like an animal thing her character would think. If an animal felt trapped, it would escape too. So, why not Petunia? So she finds a box and writes "mail to Africa" on it and puts lots of stamps on it. She climbs in and waits, hoping for the moment when she can be "wild and free."

Then she hears her mom singing in the kitchen and realizes that tigers don't sing or tickle or tuck in at bedtime. So she climbs out and saves her box in her bedroom for other animal days and goes back to the kitchen to be with her mom.

In this particular book, we learn that sometimes a strong character may want to escape from who they are to explore life's boundaries. Maybe you too can create a character in one your picture book manuscripts in which he or she will try to escape from something. It's just one way to create Story Element #1, Character, into your own books.

Here's the link to add your own DAY 8 blog posts...

Friday, February 20, 2015

DAY 7: Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson (Plot)

Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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Welcome to DAY 7. Today's lesson is on PLOT.

Boris and the Wrong Shadow
by Leigh Hodgkinson
Title: Boris and the Wrong Shadow
Author: Leigh Hodgkinson
Illustrator: Leigh Hodgkinson
Publisher: Tiger Tales (orig. Orchard Books in Great Britain)
Year: 2009 (orig. 2008)
Word Count: 648
Top 10 Element: Plot

Summary:
Boris the cat wakes up from his catnap to discover that he has the wrong shadow, as Vernon has switch-swapped it and left him with a small (and embarrassing) mouse shadow.
First spread:
Boris has just woken up from his catnap. He smiles as he remembers his dream...swimming in a gigantic bowl of creeamy milk. Now that he is wide awake, Boris is feeling funny. Not funny ha ha but funny strange.
This book has lots of big bold curving text. Some word play too. It is written in present tense, which is unusual for a picture book. It is definitely a character book. But I decided to give a summary of the plot for each page.

Spread 2: decides to not let a silly thing like this ruin his day
Spread 3: But it actually does. Other cats snicker. The birds don't even look up.
Spread 4: Is Boris actually a mouse? Nope. Still 100% cat.
Spread 5: What if his shadow was something bigger?
Spread 6: He suddenly sees his own shadow walking past.
Spread 7: Did Vernon steal his shadow?
Spread 8: No. They switch-swapped.
Spread 9: Boris would like them to switch-swatch back. Vernon runs.
Spread 10: But, Vernon won't fit in his mouse house.
Spread 11: Boris wouldn't understand Vernon's plight, but he actually does.
Spread 12: Boris tries to help Vernon get his own shadow back so they can spend time together.
Spread 13: They pounce through the garden again and they both feel like superstars.
Spread 14: They curl up and take an afternoon nap together.


Hope you find this helpful to PACE your own PLOTS.

And here's another book about Boris.


Keep on keepin' on...


Here's the link to add your own DAY 7 blog posts...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

DAY 6: Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming (Dialogue)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, study, and share
14 picture books in 14 days
Happy Thursday . It's also the Lunar New Year. (Just in case you were wondering...) Today we have a special treat to hear about another one of Candace Fleming's great books.

UPDATE: YOU CAN USE ONE (1) BOOK OLDER THAN 10 YEARS. I'M USING ONE ON DAY 13 PUBLISHED IN 2001, SO THEREFORE YOU CAN TOO.

Commenter's Award: Here's the book you can WIN!!!

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Link to use for Wordpress blogs: right click this link (it's today's specific post).



Welcome to DAY 6. Today's lesson is on...

Imogene's Last Stand
by Candace Fleming
Title: Imogene's Last Stand
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Year: 2009
Word Count: 1502
Top 10 Element: Dialogue

Summary:
Enamored of history, young Imogene Tripp tries to save her town's historical society from being demolished in order to build a shoelace factory.
First Page:
Liddleville, New Hampshire, was small -- so mall it wasn't even a speck on teh state map. Still, Liddleville was home to a village green, a general store, a theree-legged cat, and a little girl named Imogene Tripp.

Although I really love this opening, I feel that Candace Fleming's strength in this book is yet again dialogue. Imogene's first words as a baby were, "Four score and seven years ago." Fun!!! The book goes through telling a great and fun story encouraging people to care more about history, basically. And since Imogene loves history, she quotes from lots of famous people from our rich history.

Part of Spread 3:
"What a mess," added her father.
Imogene shook her head. "This isn't a mess, Daddy," she declared. "This is history. And in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'We are made by history.'"

Spread 4:
When nobody came, she waited and waited and waited. But --
"In the immortal words of Davy Crockett," she sighed, "'Ain't nobody comin'.'"

When she heard the town wanted to tear down the "Liddleville Historical Society" she said, "But in the immortal words of William Morris, 'Old buildings do not belong to us; they belonged to our forefathers, and they will belong to our descendants.'" To which the workman shrugs and says, "Tell it to the mayor."

So she did. But Mayor I. M. Butz says, "Who cares about history? Shoelaces will put this town on the map." Imogene fumed, "I won't let it happen! In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, 'I have not yet begun to fight!'"

She goes on to quote Theodore Roosevelt, Chief Joseph, Vietnam War protestors, Abraham Lincoln (again), and President Martin Van Buren. I love it when she mimics the war protestors, and yells, "Heck no, we won't go!"

And of course when the president swoops in to save the day because of an email Imogene sent to the town's historian, Professor Pastmatters, the mayor changes his tune too. Somebody asks, "What about shoelaces?" To which, Mayor Butz replies, "Shoelaces? Who cares about shoelaces? Why, our town's history will put us on the map."

And the ending is cute and fun too. Imogene comes up with her own clever words. "In the immortal words of me, that was totally fun!"

Now go have some fun and read this book. Another great lesson in writing picture books. This one, again, can provide a serious study for you. Just break it down. Look for all the elements. You'll find 'em. Well, maybe not rhyme. But that's okay.

Keep on keepin' on...

Here's the link to add your own DAY 6 blog posts...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DAY 5: Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming (Dialogue)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share 
14 picture books in 14 days
You guys are rocking it out with the Valentine Vision! We are definitely reading, studying, and sharing all kinds of books with the world this week! Book Love ROCKS!!!

ATTENTION ALL VISITORS WHO LEAVE COMMENTS - There will be a Commenter's Award as well. Every comment will earn you a chance to win a special book. Damon Dean of Seven Acre Sky has graciously donated this book to the challenge this year. This is an effort to allow those who don't blog or who didn't get to sign up this year, to have a chance to participate and win a prize. So, get to hopping to those blogs. This is a blog hop event, after all.

If you can't get this link to work at the end of your post, then just add my link for today's post instead.

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Welcome to DAY 5. Today's lesson is on...DIALOGUE.
Papa's Mechanical Fish 
by Candace Fleming

Title: Papa's Mechanical Fish
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Year: 2013
Word Count: 1031
Top 10 Element: Dialogue

I absolutely LOVE this book. It is SO much fun to read! At 1,031 words long, it doesn't seem long at all. That's how awesome this book is. It has dialogue, character, plot, conflict (okay, EVERY book has character, plot, and conflict...), word play, patterns, pacing, and beginnings/endings. But the dialogue is what helps to bring it all together. So dialogue is the strength here.

Summary:
In the summer of 1851, with encouragement and ideas provided by his family, an inventor builds a working submarine and takes his family for a ride. Includes notes about Lodner Phillips, the real inventor on whom the story is based.
Spreads 1 and 2 have great voice and word play.

First spread of Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming via itunes

Dialogue doesn't enter until spread 3.

Spread 3 of Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

But not once has Papa invented anything that works perfectly. "I will someday," Papa tells me. "All I need is a fantastic idea." But fantastic ideas are not easy to come by. 
So Papa twiddles his tools and pulls his hair. He racks his brain, sighs, and stares until one day he throws down his screwdriver. "Enough thinking!" he cries. "Who wants to go fishing?"

And even then, it's not much. On spread 4, the PATTERN of dialogue is established.
"I do!" I holler.
"Me, too," says my brother, Cyril.
"Don't forget me," adds our sister Mary.
"My daa-daa!" squeals the baby, Wilhelmina.
"Woof!" barks our bulldog, Rex.
"I'm so glad I brought along these poles," says Mama.
On spread 5, they're all sitting there fishing at the pier and the main character, Virena, asks her papa, "Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a fish?"
"A fish?" he mutters. "A fish?"
"Uh-oh," squeals the baby.
It's even in the dialogue (how clever) that we learn the MC's name, Virena. And here's spread 7.


We keep our fingers crossed.
"Goodbye, Papa." We wave.
"Farewell, family." He waves back. (notice the alliteration)
Then the Whitefish is launched.
Sploosh!
But...
It almost worked. Virena asks, "Papa, how do fish move through the water?" It is this dialogue that propels the next course of action, the next plot point. And the answers give Papa ideas.
"With their tails?" says Cyril.
"With their fins?" adds Mary.
"Fishy go!" squeals the baby.
"Woof!" barks Rex.
"I'm so glad I brought along this towel," says Mama.
Spread 10 (notice the word play of onomatopoeia as a refrain):
Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirrrr! "Behold the Whitefish II."
In spread 11, it almost worked. Again with the suggestive dialogue to get Papa to thinking again. Whitefish III. Almost. "How do fish know where they're going?" He goes on to build the Whitefish IV as well.

Oh, I could go on and on with this book. I could write a separate blog post for EACH of its AMAZING ELEMENTS. Alas, I will leave it at that. You MUST read this one to truly get the full experience!!!

Here's the link to add your own DAY 6 blog posts...



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DAY 4: Quick, Slow, MANGO! by Anik McGrory (Character)

Good morning fellow picture book fanatics! Welcome to DAY 4 of the PB 14:14 challenge. Here is the code to go add to your blog post. Thanks.
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Today's TOP 10 ELEMENT I'll be sharing is that of CHARACTER. We've all heard the battle discussed among agents, editors, and writers about character-driven PBs vs. plot-driven PBs. It is also possible that a PB can have a strong character without necessarily being "character-driven." I'm not really here to discuss the difference between these two "driven" factors, but I am here today to talk about character in general. And Quick, Slow, MANGO! is a good example of that.

Quick, Slow, MANGO! by Anik McGrory
Title: Quick, Slow, MANGO!
Author: Anik McGrory
Illustrator: Anik McGrory
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year: 2011
Word Count: 619
Top 10 Element: Character

This is such a cute little book, a sequel actually, to the original Kidogo. Kidogo is the name of the little elephant, and it means "little" in Kiswahili (kee-DOE-go). That alone, screams "character"! But, it really is a good study on character. The second character in this book, the monkey, is named PolePole (POH-lay POH-lay) which means slowly, slowly.

Summary:
Kidogo the elephant's mother is always urging him to hurry up, while PolePole the monkey's mother cautions her to slow down, but together they learn that slow and fast can both be good.
This book wasn't my favorite when I first read it. It was cute. But the more I read it, the more I noticed how every intricate detail was placed just so. It's a good study on patterns, as well.

Spread 2:
Kidogo gathered his trunk and slipped slowly down the riverbank. On his way, he found 
a butterfly... 
...and a stick. 
He stretched his trunk. 
And said hello to a passing snail. 
"Hurry, hurry," his mama called again. "Drink up now, or else we might miss breakfast."
This gives a glimpse of what Kidogo's character is like. He takes his time and notices things.

Spread 4:
Then PolePole spotted mangoes in a tree nearby. She rushed to grab all the ones she could reach. But while she rushed, she didn't hold on well.  
And the mangoes slipped and fell. 
As more and more mangoes fell, PolePole scrambled to pick them faster and faster. 
but as she picked faster and faster, more and more mangoes fell!
And thus the conflict begins and the story ensues. The BEST books will have a 9 of the 10 elements in them (not all books rhyme), but usually one element will stand out as the strongest throughout the story.

The book then goes through several spreads of Kidogo's day showing all the ways he takes his time and is slow to follow his mama. Then later, PolePole "dashed at the very last mango. It flew through the air. And so did PolePole."

And then, on spread 10:
Kidogo watched the funny monkey bobbing down the river swiping at the mangoes. 
Slowly, slowly. He waded deeper. 
He found a stick. 
He stretched his trunk. 
He pretended he was a rock...
Kidogo "stops" all the mangoes and PolePole learns how to be slow and get the mangoes too. Finally their mamas find them and see that they have worked together to catch all the floating mangoes. And here's a hint at theme and the ending:
"Yes, Kidogo, sometimes slowly slowly can also be just right."
It really is a very cute book. No wonder Kidogo is so loveable! My daughter especially loves it because of the elephant and the monkey. The very nature of their characters plays straight into the plot line.

Here's the link to add your own DAY 4 blog posts...



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