Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November Mentor Text Challenge: Buy Hyacinths and Feed Your Soul

By Janie Reinart
“If I had but two loaves of bread,
I would sell one and buy hyacinths,
for they would feed my soul.”

We need beauty in our lives. I am attracted to the beauty of words and images in a picture book. You’ve been there. You read a phrase, stop, and read the words again. Or stare at a picture on the page that makes you smile.

When that happens, I use these books as mentor texts. I end up purchasing “these books that feed my soul”. Here are a few of my favorites.

MOONDAY by Adam Rex

The moon follows a little boy home and stays in his back yard. The pictures glow.

“From Dad’s shoulders, I brushed the moon with my fingertips.”
“Morning had missed us. In darkness, the town awoke...”
“Hushed they shuffled through slush and dozed off at stoplights.”
“ Then I started a yawn that swayed up the block…and followed me home.”
“The tide came in, smooth and thin, and settled underneath our moon.”

Notice all the soft sounds matching the mood of the story.


In 1861, three escaped slaves made their way to a Union held fort and were granted protection.

“May moon gleams bright as Colonel’s buttons. Three slip out unseen.”
”Weathered skiff bobs in rustling rushes.”
“Oars dip, no sound, silver ripples.  Steal away now, away.”
“Glinting waves slap rotting wood. Whispers, low and shivery.”
“And still they come, in patches and tatters.”
“ Tears rain down and shouts rise up…”

The free verse story uses many poetic devices.

TOYS MEET SNOW by Emily Jenkins

Three toy friends suit up for the first snowfall.  The most practical toy, Plastic (red rubber ball) changes her outlook to a more poetic viewpoint. The story and pictures are charming and humorous.

“A snowflake is a tiny ballerina, says StingRay.
“No, it’s just really tiny frozen water,” says Plastic. “I read that too.”
A sunset: “It’s strawberry syrup pouring over the world to make it sweet before nightfall,” explains StringRay.
“I’m a strawberry –syrup sun in the snow!” cries Plastic.

The ending is perfect. “And yes, the world is sweet.”

This book starts with beauty in the end papers and is filled with quotes from Helen Keller throughout the book. The watercolor pictures match the vibrancy of the words.

When Annie Sullivan pumped water into Helen’s hand and spelled W-A-T-E-R, the quote from Helen is “That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, and set it free.”

“Annie took Helen walking in the forest, jumping in the salty ocean…sailing  in a boat.” Helen’s quote for the page, ”Our little boat swirled in the billows, only to be driven down with angry howl and hiss. Our hearts beat fast.”

The story focuses on what Helen could do.

Here is your challenge.

Start a special notebook to collect beautiful words and phrases.

Add sketches, magazine/catalogue pictures, and photos.

Identify the type of lyrical language that is used.

Share with us the beauty of your favorite picture books that feed your soul. 

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, hopscotch, or dress-up. Ask her thirteen grandchildren.


  1. Janie, feeding one's soul keeps writers ready to feed others with their words. Thank you for this post. One of my favorite newer PBs is COYOTE MOON, and a classic is FREDERICK.

    1. I agree, Kathy. I especially like the art in Coyote Moon. Frederick is sweet--mice, the arts, collage :) Thank you for your suggestions.

  2. So many amazingly beautiful lines in A POEM FOR PETER (The Story of Ezra Jack Keats...) by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Here's one stanza:
    "Snow doesn't know who's needy or dirty or greedy or nice.
    Snow doesn't choose where to fall.
    Snow doesn't pick a wealthy man's doorstep over a poor lady's stoop.
    That's Snow's magic."

    1. Lovely,Carol! Requesting A POEM FOR PETER from the library. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing the beautiful language from these books!

  4. Love this post, Janie :) These words fill my soul and I'm going to start that notebook!

    1. It is a soothing notebook to create! The quote is one of my favorites.

  5. Lovely Janie. We cannot underestimate the power of language. Thanks for reminding us through these examples.

    1. You are most welcome Kelia. How's Baby doing?