Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Taking a Long View of History by Gail Hartman


Guest Post/Review By Gail Hartman

I happened to read Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters shortly after reading New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Both books are written from a first person point of view (in Can I Touch Your Hair, two first persons’ points of view). They tackle the tough topic of race in a way that children can relate. New Shoes is the story of Ella Mae buying new shoes with her mother in the 1950s. Living in the Jim Crow era, she experiences discrimination and finds a way to do something positive, treating other black community members with respect and dignity. The story in Can I Touch Your Hair? is set in today’s time. It is made up of alternating poems written by two fifth grade characters, a white girl and a black boy. They describe their experience of being paired to work on a class project. Slowly, these two characters form a friendship, coming to know, understand, and appreciate each other.

New Shoes lets us look at a bright spot in a dark era, and the courage and self-respect these black characters maintained for themselves. We get only a glimpse of the character Mr. Johnson’s, the white owner of the shoe store, fixed in time. I can imagine reading this to an older child today, and the child asking why the characters acted the way they did. Meyer provides an explanation in back matter. In Can I Touch Your Hair?, the black and white characters are given time to get to know each other and change their views. Revealing history and current events are written into a some of the poems. What is the difference between the two time periods that shaped both of these stories?


The teacher in me sees a wonderful opportunity to trace the sensitive subject of race in this country’s history through such picture books as Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, New Shoes, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, and bring it into today’s time with Can I Touch Your Hair?.

While there are stories about tough issues I would not write about because they are not my stories to write, the writer in me thinks it Is not necessary to shy away from stories about other tough issues. I need to explore them through a child’s point of view, with experiences today’s children can relate to, and to take a long view of history.


I’m Gail Hartman. Since second grade, I have wanted to be a writer. As a former special education teacher, I fell in love with picture books during a children’s literature course. My published books include For Strawberry Jam or Fireflies,  For Sand Castles or Seashells, As the Crow Flies, and As the Roadrunner Runs, all with Bradbury Press. After writing, I went back into education as a school librarian assistant and then again as a special education teacher, falling in love with many picture books and students along the way. I have now retired from teaching, and I am an overjoyed grandma! I am loving my return to reading, researching, and writing picture books. It thrills me when someone I meet has read one of my picture books, and they tell me that they loved it! As the Crow Flies is still in print after 27 years.



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

ReFoReMo 2018 Bonus Winners & Final Submission Call

Over the years, we have shared our mentor text knowledge and practices. We have modeled how to dig deeper into the perspectives and mentor texts that are shared on our blog. While one can learn a lot simply by reading mentor texts, that is not what we are about. A regular reading habit is healthy, but our title suggests more. Reading for RESEARCH. When a presenter introduces an element, no matter how brief, we must open our eyes to that perspective and search for it, dissect it, and analyze alternate angles. Are you digging deep?
When you looked at Jenna Pocius's post, did you isolate the words "awareness, empathy, understanding" or "embrace diversity" when you researched? Each of these qualities presented new isolated ways to research the texts through multiple reads. When you read Andrea J. Loney's post, did you follow the "story" elements of each biography? Not all biographies do this. Did you compare and contrast the suggested mentor texts to other biographies that simply present facts?  When you read Baptiste Paul's post, did you interpret "words and word combinations" as you researched the recommendations? Did you look at how those word choices influenced the theme? You will get the most out of your reading experience if you look beyond what you favor and put yourself in the new perspective's shoes. It takes an open mind and a strong desire to absorb new knowledge.

Reading so many books in such a short period of time may not allow you enough time to dig as deep as you might like. What you received was a head start for a new research habit. Your new challenge over the next few weeks is to reexamine the mentor texts from new angles. Whether you brushed the surface or submerged yourself in each mentor text, you are a winner! We hope you know that, and also that you will continue to win big by researching deeper.

And now, our bonus winners! As you know, the 2018 team offered various prizes throughout the month. The drawing results are in and the winners have been emailed.

Congratulations to...

Mary Worley and Stephen Martin
Winners of Marcie Flinchum Atkins Mentor Texts for Writers eBook

Megan Whitaker
Winner of a 30 minute Skype with Matthew Winner

Jilanne Hoffmann
Winner of a 15-30 minute Skype with Baptiste Paul

Kristen Browning
Winner of You Nest Here with Me (by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple) from Heidi Stemple

Allison Alley
Winner of a cover letter of pitch critique from Keila Dawson

Gail Hartman
Winner of The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall by and from Kirsti Call

Carol Gordon Ekster
Winner of One Plastic Bag (by Miranda Paul) from Carrie Charley Brown

Moni Ritchie
Winner of Pick a Pine Tree by and from Patricia Toht

Pam Jones-Nill
Winner of I Have a Balloon by and from Ariel Berstein

Susan Johnston Taylor
Winner of Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by and from Andrea J. Loney

Manju Howard
Winner of Twilight Chant (by Holly Thompson/Jen Betton) from Janie Reinart

Jennifer Hunt
Winner of a Submission Pass from agent Jenna Pocius

Amanda Sincavage
Winner of an illustrator copy of Twilight Chant by and from Jen Betton

Jennifer Broedel
Winner of Maya Lin or Mela the Elephant by and from Dow Phumiruk

Susanne Whitehouse
Winner of a picture book critique from Cindy Schrauben

Anne Louise Mahoney
Winner of a 3-book package by and from Salina Yoon

Gloria Reichert
Winner of a picture book critique from editor Christina Pulles

Dee Knabb
Winner of Poppy's Best Paper and a clay illustrated book by and from Susan Eaddy

Angela De Groot
Winner of Aaron Becker's Trilogy and signed print from editor Mary Lee Donovan

Congratulations to all of the bonus prize winners and again to all participants for gaining new knowledge!

Final Call for Submissions
As mentioned in last week's check in post, we would love to feature your reviews and mentor text perspectives in the remaining weeks of April. Please send reviews no later than April 17. Our submissions address can be found here.

Our regular Tuesday blog schedule will start again in May:
Author Studies- Digging deep into takeaways behind an author's collective work 
Featured Guests- Authors. Illustrators, Editors, Agents
Monthly Challenge- We challenge you (like ReFoReMo) to explore a featured element each month.
THINK QUICK interviews with Authors/Illustrators- Focus on underlying book themes


Thanks again for your participation and support!



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Post ReFoReMo Check In

Congratulations again on your valiant efforts to take on the Reading for Research Challenge in March! We know that many of you are working at your own pace and we encourage that whole-heartedly. (That's what we are doing, too!)

For our check-in today, we wanted to remind you that today is the last day to enter the prize drawings. You will have until 11:59 p.m. tonight, April 3, to enter the drawing. To be eligible to enter, you had to register for the challenge by March 4, comment on every ReFoReMo 2018 post, and make efforts to read and research picture books consistently during this past month. You will find the Rafflecopter entry form in this post: http://www.reforemo.com/2018/03/reforemo-appreciation-day-rafflecopter.html  You will only enter the drawing one time to be eligible for all prizes. 

If you have not yet had a chance to watch the Facebook live wrap-up post, you will want to do that here. In the video, you will find that we would like to feature your mentor text reviews in April. Which mentor texts revealed the craft of writing or illustrating in a particularly eye-opening way and why? We'd love to feature reviews of the books you studied from our reading list or the books of our presenters first. However, if you utilized a different mentor text that you know will help your fellow kidlit creatives, feel free to send. You will find our submission addresses here. We request your .doc reviews, very brief bios, and .jpg headshots by April 10, if possible, but not later than April 17. 

To start you off, here is a review of a brand new picture book. We hope that you will attempt to keep up with the most recent releases as they tell you a lot about the current market.

Happy Book Birthday to Maria Gianferrari, a 2017 ReFoReMo presenter!

Terrific Tongues by Maria Gianferrai and Jia Liu


Facts and information are fun when presented in an interesting way. I have often thought that if nonfiction books had been as interesting as they are today, I would have been better at science and social studies as a kid. Without interest behind the facts, they are just facts. But Maria Gianferrari knows how to connect readers. Terrific tongues presents the tongue as other comparable objects: the straw, the sword, a party blower, a nose, a mop, a wash cloth, a whip, and so on.  And since the main character is a monkey, it creates an opportunity for some incredibly fun illustrations as it imagines itself with different types of tongues. Presenting information in this way is like creating a hook and a page turn for every object. The book becomes a trivia game, and kids cannot wait to turn the page to find out what kind of animal each tongue belongs to. 

As you work on your nonfiction manuscripts, are you presenting information in interesting ways? Are you thinking like a child? Do you know what interests a child? Are you consistently eliciting page turn opportunities and hooking the reader?  



Friday, March 30, 2018

ReFoReMo Appreciation Day & Rafflecopter


Reading for Research Month, or ReFoReMo, is a collaborative effort that would not be possible without teamwork. The many perspectives shared this month contributed to our dedicated mentor text study.

We are so thankful for every presenter that contributed to our 2018 ReFoReMo challenge!











We're additionally grateful to our ReFoReMo team members; Cindy's list-gathering efforts, Janie's Facebook Group welcoming/approval and sharing efforts, and Keila's sharing efforts.






And of course, Carrie and I are thankful for each other. This challenge is a labor of love for us and we are honored to have you, the participants share the experience with us!









Today is also a day of celebration: You completed ReFoReMo 2018! Please share your accomplishments with us in the comments below. Congratulations!

If you registered for ReFoReMo by March 4, commented on every post, and made efforts to read and research picture books consistently during this past month, then please feel free to enter the prize drawings below. To see the variety of prizes in this drawing, use the dots to scroll through. We are thankful to our presenters for going above and beyond to offer these extras! You will only enter the drawing Rafflecopter one time, but be sure to do it by April 4. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 29, 2018

ReFoReMo Day 21: ReFoReMo Coordinators Transpose Character Transformations


Like great resolutions, we must build and learn from our mistakes to make transformations in our writing or illustrating. Gaining new insight is part of that process and certainly, others influence that change. Like the characters from the pages of the picture books themselves, we are growing and changing as creatives. Character transformation is what makes resolutions sing. 

You may have heard publishing professionals say that characters need to make their own growth by solving the problem on their own. The following mentor texts allow the main character to be an independent problem solver:



Sometimes, a transformation must occur in order to achieve a newly realized desire.
Coming June 19th!















And sometimes, transformation comes to an entire group.
Coming June 19th!














The following characters rely on others to help them solve the problem:















Over the past twenty days, we have gathered perspectives from professionals, hoping to change our creations for the better.  Hats off to everyone as we transform and continue with our mentor text research.

Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call forged a writing partnership in January of 2013. Since then, they have critiqued and edited nearly every picture book (70+) that each has written. In 2016, they united to manage and coordinate the ReFoReMo challenge together. They are grateful for each other and the kidlit community.