Saturday, March 25, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 24: Janie Reinart Unwraps a Reflection

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ReFoReMo taught me to unwrap a picture book like a gift.

Let's use Helen's Big World by Doreen Rappaport as an example. Doreen weaves a story for us

filled with poetic writing and quotes.

1. The Wrapping/Book Jacket 

What draws your eyes to the cover ? What is happening?
Where and when does it take place?

1. Soft Watercolor portrait. Title in Braille at top. Looks old fashioned.

2. The Tissue/ End Papers

 What do the end papers look like? What is the feeling or mood?

2. Joyfulness and hopefulness invite me in.
The quote suggests a positive focus.

2. The back paper is another invitation to practice the signs.

 3. The Gift/ Story

 What type of story structure does the plot follow? Circular, Linear, Parallel, Classic, etc?

 The first sentence of the story should draw you in.

 Helen gurgled and giggled in her crib.

 The last sentence should be satisfying. There should be a connection between the beginning and
 ending of the story.

She kept traveling and speaking, 
always saying what she thought was important, 
until she died at the age of eighty-seven.

I wear this gift of a story as inspiration for all the possibilities in a life time.

How do these three elements impact your mentor texts?

Janie Reinart has worn many hats--educator, author, theater major, professional puppeteer, interactive musical storyteller, a clown hat in a hospital’s gentle clowning ministry, and a poet's beret at an inner city school helping children find their voice. She lives in Ohio with
her husband. She's always up for a game, a song, or dress-up. Ask her thirteen grandchildren.

Friday, March 24, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 23: Editor Yolanda Scott talks Fairy Tales with Diversity Twists

By Yolanda Scott

My local school district is 24% Asian, 22% Hispanic, 21% Black, and 29% White. So why are the vast majority of fairy tales offered to these students presenting white, European characters? The origins of the most common fairy tales are often the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, but surely we can do better with our Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall. Children today deserve many more options for what it means to be a hero, a princess, or a little girl visiting her grandma. And even in school districts less diverse than mine, students need windows into other cultures. Here are a few picture books that tell a slightly different tale.

1. Snow White, by Chloe Perkins, Illustrated by Misa Saburi 

2. Little Roja Riding Hood, by Susan Middleton Elye, Illustrated by Susan Guevara

3. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong

4. Beauty and the Beast, by H. Chuku Lee, Illustrated  by Pat Cummings

5. Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion, by Alex T. Smith

Yolanda is giving away a copy of Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See, by Megan Dowd Lambert. With chapters on topics like trim size and orientation, jackets and covers, endpapers, typography, and more, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to enhance their understanding of the picture book form and appreciate its visual components. To be eligible, please comment on this post and make efforts to read mentor text regularly.
Thank you Yolanda!

Yolanda Scott is the associate publisher and editorial director at Charlesbridge, where she has edited nearly 200 titles since 1995. She has worked with authors and illustrators such as Eve Bunting, Tony Johnston, Kathryn Lasky, Rafael López, David McPhail, Wendell Minor, Linda Sue Park, Duncan Tonatiuh, and Jane Yolen. She is a co-founder of Children’s Books Boston and a board member of the Children’s Book Council, where she has also served on the CBC Diversity Committee. Twitter: @yoscottbooks

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 22: Jessixa Bagley Grows Stories Between Words

My current favorites are by author/illustrators who inspire me with their immaculate balance of words and pictures. Each has a unique way of letting the text say one thing and then allowing the images to breath life into a deeper aspect of book- creating subtle space for the story to grow in between the words and pictures. That is where the magic happens. The text is often minimal (some more than others); then with graphic compositions, they control how the reader moves through the book-not only with their eyes, but emotionally. What is not said is felt through the pictures.

Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis

Grandad's Island by Benji Davies

We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen

They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato

Jessica is giving away her newest book, Laundry Day, along with two bookmarks and a Before I Leave poster to one lucky winner at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. To be eligible for the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and strive to read mentor texts regularly.

Jessixa Bagley is a picture book author/illustrator. She currently has three picture books published with Roaring Brook Press: Boats for Papa, Before I Leave, and Laundry Day. Boats for Papa won the 2016 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award. Her next picture book, Vincent Comes Home (Winter 2018), is collaboration with her husband, Aaron Bagley. Jessixa loves both real and fake hamburgers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 21: Rebecca Hirsch Plays with Words and Sounds

I love to play with words and word sounds when writing science and nature stories. I’m inspired by picture books that use language in surprising ways to bring the natural world to life. The books below incorporate rhythm, alliteration, internal rhyme, and repetition. By playing with words, each author has created a tone or mood that suits their subject, whether it’s a fun twist on the water cycle, a dramatic look at a mysterious sea creature, or an exuberant celebration of the seasons. I hope these books inspire you to play with words and their sounds as you bring your own stories to life.

GIANT SQUID by Candace Fleming


RAINDROPS ROLL by April Pulley Sayre


WATER IS WATER by Miranda Paul

Lerner Publishing is giving away one copy of Plants Can’t Sit Still at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. To be eligible for this prize, please leave a comment and strive to read mentor texts regularly.

Rebecca Hirsch is the author of Plants Can’t Sit Still and dozens of science and nature books for children. When she’s not writing, you can find her growing plants and gardens at her home in central Pennsylvania, playing badminton (badly) with her family, hiking in the woods, or searching for the cup of coffee she put down somewhere.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 20: Vivian Kirkfield Shares Killer Opening Lines in Non-Fiction

by Vivian Kirkfield

Pssst. I’ve got a secret.
I’m having a love affair.
With picture books!

I can’t stop reading them. I always want more. And I’m especially drawn to nonfiction ones.

As a reader, the opening lines draw me in. As a writer, I’ve studied many in hopes they will help me write killer opening lines for my own stories. Here are five recent ones that helped me. I hope they help you, too.  

CLOTH LULLABY: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois

Written by Amy Novesky and Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Opening lines: Louise was raised by a river. Her family lived in a big house on the water that wove like a wool thread through everything.


Written by Tanya Lee Stone and Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Opening lines: I’ll bet you’ve met plenty of doctors in your life. And I’ll bet lots of them were women. Well, you may find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to become doctors.

      Written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

      Opening lines: In 1900, baseball was America’s national pastime. No other form of entertainment came close. Every boy owned a ball, a glove, and a dream.

Written by Laurie Wallmark and Illustrated by April Chu

Opening lines: Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination. Her mother, Lady Byron, had a passion for geometry. In fact, her nickname was “The Princess of Parallelograms.” But her famous father dominated the household. Beloved for his Romantic poems, Lord Byron was a celebrity throughout the world.

SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Opening lines: Sylvia had on her black shoes. They were shiny new. Her hair was perfectly parted in two long trenzas. It was her first day at the Westminster School. The halls were crowded with students. She was looking for her locker when a young white boy pointed at her and yelled, “Go back to the Mexican school! You don’t belong here!”

If you get a chance to read these, you’ll see one more element they have in common…they all start out with the protagonist when she is young. Word to self: editors like main characters that children can relate to.

Vivian is generously offering a picture book critique to one lucky participant at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. To be eligible, please comment on this post and make efforts to read mentor text regularly.
Vivian Kirkfield constantly takes leaps of faith. Although not fond of heights, she jumped from a perfectly good plane with her son, hiked to the summit of Pikes Peak with her husband, and parasailed over the Pacific Ocean with only the seagulls for company. A proud member of SCBWI, she presents literacy programs that entertain and engage parents, teachers and kids. When she’s not writing picture book manuscripts, Vivian gives feedback to her critique partners, plays epic games of Monopoly with her eight-year old grandson, and takes walks through the idyllic New England village of Amherst, New Hampshire where she currently resides.Her debut nonfiction picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, will be published by Creston Books November 1, 2017. You can find her on Twitter: @viviankirkfield and Facebook:, or visit her blog at Picture Books Help Kids Soar: