Saturday, March 11, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 12: Kirsti Call Climbs the Writing Mountain


Do you ever feel like your writing journey is riddled with rocks and obstacles and a very steep incline?  Whenever I visit Utah, I pause as I admire the breathtaking beauty of the mountains.  Hiking to the top of a mountain isn’t easy, but the resulting view is more than worth the trouble.  

My mountain of picture books for ReFoRemo never fails to make me smile.  I’m always astounded by how much I learn by reading and re-reading stellar mentor texts.  The Reading for Research challenge makes me pause as I journey to the apex of my writing mountain.


Sometimes the mountain of books stares at me, daring me to dive in. It takes energy and time to read and study and really pay attention to a picture book.  Here are some questions I ask myself as I hike the rocky trail:


  • What do I like about this book?
  • What don’t I like about this book?
  • What feeling does this book evoke for me?  Anger? Love? Boredom? Excitement? 
  • What aspects of this book work and resonate for me?
  • What aspects of this book would I change if I were the author?  
  • Are there elements in this book that I can incorporate into my writing or in the revision of my manuscripts? 





Every day after I finish reading picture books to my kids, I ask them: “What did you like about this book?”  I’m almost always surprised and delighted by their answers.  


Whether I agree with them or not, it comes down to my own personal writing mountain. Will I create my own mountain of books that kids will want to climb?  Will I have the strength and persistence to climb the mountains of research and writing and revision and rejection that it takes to get my books into the world?  

I gaze at my mountain and take a deep breath.  Yes.  I will climb my mountain, asking questions at every incline. And when I reach the apex,  I will pause again....
and take in the breathtaking view.


Kirsti is giving away a copy of her book, THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN'T FALL.  To be eligible for the drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo, please comment on this post and strive to read mentor texts regularly. 
Kirsti Call reads, critiques and revises every day.  She is a member of various critique groups, and blogs for Writer's Rumpus.  As the author of The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall and a homeschool mom, Kirsti coaches revision for children ages 5-18.  Her school visits involve interactive writing, singing, and of course, reading for research! Kirsti contributed as a 2016 CYBILS Picture Book Fiction panelist, and is thrilled to be the 2017 ReFoReMo co-coordinator. You can follow her journey at www.kirsticall.com.


251 comments:

  1. I love the set of questions you ask yourself for each book. And I love the parallel you make to climbing a steep mountain, but having the journey be worth it, once you reach the summit. That's how I feel, too. I love that positive attitude! I'm on my own rocky climb- we all are. But I like to say I carpe every diem. Every single one. And the hard parts of our journeys are so satisfying when they're behind us. Thanks for co-leading us up this trek of book climbing!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I love the thought of carpe(ing) every diem. So fun! I'm glad you like the reflection questions and I hope they are helpful as you read and write.

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  2. Your post is beautiful and inspiring, the perfect way to end a busy week. I too will continue climbing my mountain …. but I’ll also enjoy having Sunday to catch up on a few books I missed this week! :)

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    1. Yes! I'm planning on catching up this weekend also. I can't wait to sit with my kids and read some of the gems on our list! I'm glad you like the post :)

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  3. Thanks for sharing those questions! I often ask my children what they like about a book also and invariably it's different from my own answer--which is all the more reason to ask. I think it helps us as writers think on more than one level and how to add elements that appeal to both children and adults. Great analogy and great food for thought here! Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome, Rebecca! It's funny how kids can surprise us with their opinions, isn't it?

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  4. Great photos and analogy. My mountain of books to read on the list gets higher and higher. Thank you!

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    1. My 13 year old daughter took the mountain photos :)

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  5. So happy to see my fellow Cybils Panelist here! It was fun getting to know you better there, and thanks for the recommendations here! XO

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    1. Oh! Hello Lynne Marie! Love connecting with you here too!

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  6. What a great analogy! Sometimes, while we're still on the climb, we forget the view from the top that we're trying to reach.

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    1. Thank you Sherry! I know it's definitely worth the climb.

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  7. I want to come to your house, Kirsti! I notice you were able to get some of the books my library system doesn't have : ) I like your list of questions! My husband got me a cute reading journal for Christmas. I'm going to make a copy of your questions to keep in the front. Yesterday it snowed all day here and I read picture books the entire day!!! Best day ever!

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    1. There's nothing more satisfying than reading all day during a snow storm! I'm glad you found the list of questions useful and will use them when you read/write. Yay!

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  8. Thanks for that great list of questions. And for the inspiration to keep climbing!

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  9. It IS a mountain, but one book, one manuscript at a time, and we will be rewarded. Ty for this great challenge!!!

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    1. So glad you're participating, Kathy!

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  10. Great questions! When I'm reviewing, I also ask what the librarians, teachers, and parents who help select the books want to know. What is this really about? What will kids get out of it? Is the theme something that needs to be discussed or can be explored further? Amazing how thought provoking good picture books are.

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    1. I love those questions, Sue. I'll be adding those to my list.

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  11. Your post is perfect. What great questions to keep in mind as I read. I have a mountain of books to return, and another mountain to pick up. My "to purchase" list is growing too.

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  12. Hi, Kirsti! My stack of books is a hill compared to your mountain. But I prefer to check out a dozen at a time, so that I'm not so rushed to read through them.

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    1. Glad you're not feeling rushed. I have no late fees at my library and no limit to how many I can take out. So lucky!!!

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  13. Great list of questions to keep in mind while reading. Thank you, Kristi! Love the photos, too. It's good to belong to a community that's always willing to lend a hand whenever you need help climbing up that mountain!!

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    1. So true, Judy. My 13 year old daughter took the pics :)

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  14. What a great controlling metaphor. It's hard work, we may not make it all the way, but the joy is in the journey!

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  15. Great questions to ask when reading. I also look at word count - how much text is on the page.

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  16. Kirsti, Great metaphor. We all have mountains to climb. Thanks for reminding us to persist in our climb of the mountains of research, writing, revision, and rejection.

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  17. Very inspirational post Kirsti! I need to ask myself those very questions each time I finish one of my stories! I so appreciate all the work that you and Carrie do to keep us all informed about writing for kids! This program is such a great start in understanding the dynamics and effectiveness of good writing! I love it!!! Thanks

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  18. I have copied you list of questions to keep by my side as I read. Thank you.

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad the questions are helpful!

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  19. I, too, often think of this writing journey like a mountain climb. Thanks for the inspiration and your helpful list of questions (for me and my kids!), Kirsti. And the reminder to keep going!

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    1. You're welcome, Robin. The journey may be arduous as writers, but so worth it!

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  20. Great questions ... to apply to the 66 books awaiting my perusal (3 cheers for the local library's liberal lending!). Wonderful metaphor to start the day. Thanks.

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  21. It's nice to know we're all in this together when climbing the mountain. Thanks, Kirsti, for giving us things to ponder when we read our stacks of picture books, and for giving us hope that we may someday reach the apex of our mountains, too!

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    1. I agree. I love the kidlit community and all the support we give each other.

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  22. Thank you for sharing! This sentence really rang true for me: "Will I have the strength and persistence to climb the mountains of research and writing and revision and rejection that it takes to get my books into the world?" Sometimes I am not really sure what a good next step would be in my journey. You (and this entire reforemo process) have reminded me that studying mentor texts is always a great next step. Your questions will definitely help guide me. Thank you!

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    1. I'm glad my post resonated with you. Mentor texts definitely are always a great next step.

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  23. I will keep your wonderful list of questions handy while reading and climbing!

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  24. I really liked your list of questions to ask about books we read. It's very helpful!

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  25. I like the mountains that surround our writing. Thank you.

    Ree

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  26. Climbing a mountain is a great analogy! It's also nice to have a writing village that supports you on the journey! Thank you for sharing those wonderful questions.

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    1. You're welcome, Lori. I love our kidlit community!

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  27. A new goal. Create a mountain of books that kids love. Thank you, Kirsti.

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  28. I regularly read a mountain of picture books every month, but March is made more special by the addition of ReFoReMo. Thanks for doing this!

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  29. I loved the mountain analogy! Thanks for this thoughtful post. :)

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    1. You're welcome, Rita. I'm glad you liked it.

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  30. Love this, mountain analogy now firmly in my brain

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  31. Thanks for the inspiring post Kirsti!

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  32. Currently climbing that mountain myself:> Thanks, Kristi!!

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  33. Very inspiring post, Kristi. Thank you. Our mountain is waiting, let's get on our way!

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  34. Thank you for this climbers list of questions. It has me thinking about how not all books are magic to all readers. I want to try to figure out what makes a book magic to me.

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    1. That the most important, isn't it. What make a book magical for you? Then you can write that book!

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  35. Thanks, Kirsti. Great post. Your list of questions will go straight to my bulletin board. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad my questions have a home in your home :)

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  36. I am grateful for the ReFoReMo inspiration. It's already day twelve and I continue to learn and grow.

    ~Suzy Leopold

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  37. After a late night watching basketball I actually slipped and fell on my mountain of books! It was a very ungraceful slide but I survived. Luckily I love them so no hard feelings. Thanks for another motivating post!

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  38. Thanks Kristi for sharing these great tips and your mountain analogy.

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  39. Great analogy and inspiration - thanks Kirsti!

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  40. Kirsti, What a great analogy. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  41. Inspiring post, Kirsti. The mountain is high, but we keep moving up. I do ask myself those questions and I keep adding to my mountain of mentor texts. Thank you and Carrie for the trail up ReFoReMo Mountain!

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  42. Good questions to ask when analyzing picture books. They're also a good reminder of how subjective all art is and that a given picture book will not be everyone's cup of tea. Thanks, Kirsti!

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    1. Yes, it's important to remember how subjective it is, especially when the rejections are pouring in!

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  43. Climbing a mountain is the perfect metaphor! Your questions are really useful too. I have printed them out and taped them inside my ReFoReMo notebook! Thanks, Kirsti.

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    1. I'm so glad the questions are helpful!

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  44. Great post, Kristi! I love your mountain of picture books photo…my mountain isn’t quite that large, but it's growing all the time. Thank you for sharing your list of wonderful questions to ask... I love your question: What aspects of this book would I change if I were the author?

    I really connected with: "Will I have the strength and persistence to climb the mountains of research and writing and revision and rejection that it takes to get my books into the world?”... and the answer is a resounding, YES!!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you connected with the post and that your answer is YES!!!

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  45. Wonderful post, Kirsti! It's inspiring and helpful.

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  46. Love the stack of books. Mountain indeed!

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  47. Great analogy - Reading for Research is a Mountainous Expedition!

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  48. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love your analogy of climbing a mountain. All these books feel like friends along the way. The questions that you shared are helpful, too.

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  49. Yep - the bigger my pile of REFOREMO the steeper the mound to publication looks! They are all so good! But one step at a time.....

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  50. Thank you Kirsti. Each word in this post is precious to me. I am glad I did not miss reading it.

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  51. I have a mountain of books on my bookshelf to get through. My kids are loving the challenge, though!

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    1. My kids are loving the challenge also!

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  52. Great post and lots of great questions. Isn't it interesting what kids like and dislike in a story? Sometimes the answers are so surprising. Thank you for the post!

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  53. There are miles to go before I sleep and many mountains to climb... I definitely feel that way some days.

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    1. You're quoting one of my favorite poems ever...and yes I feel that way sometimes also.

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  54. I'm working on my mountain of books...

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  55. Dear Kirsti,
    You have true gift for inspiring others. It is my great honor to climb this mountain side by side with you.

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    1. Thank you, Laura. I agree wholeheartedly. So glad we're on this writing journey together!

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  56. Great questions! That stack can be overwhelming...but so much fun!

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  57. Such a good inspiration today. Thank you for your insight!

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    1. You're welcome! Glad you're participating in ReFoReMo!

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  58. Thank you for these questions. I'm off to the library again.todays favorites are Infinity and Me and On a Beam of Light. I love reading these books!

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  59. So beautifully written and so very inspiring. Thank you, Kristi. I know I will be revisiting this post many times in my climbing.

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  60. Your mountain analogy really hit a nerve with me. When we lived in Colorado we did a lot of mountain climbing. My husband had the mantra when we were getting tired and wanted to turn around, "Just a little farther." More often than not, I got upset since I had been at my limit (or so I thought) long before that. Sure enough, we'd make it to the vista, and more often than not, I was so glad I did not turn around! Writing is so much like climbing a mountain. Keep at it fellow writers. Your summit is ahead! Thanks, Kristi!!

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  61. Great set of questions to ask after reading a picture book. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration, Kirsti!

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  62. Kristi, thanks for your post and great questions. It's easy to read a book and think "liked it" or "didn't like it" and toss it aside. Taking that next step to ID what worked and didn't makes the reading such a valuable learning experience. Continued success! (Mary McClellan)

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    1. Thank you Mary. Reading for Research is so much more valuable when we take the time to stop and think about and study the text.

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  63. Loved your questions, which will help me evaluate my own writing as I progress and also help me to evaluate each PB I read from now on.

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  64. KRISTI: I LOVE the physical mountain and "mountain" of books metaphor! The picture of one of Utah's many BEAUTIFUL mountains (of which I am BLESSED to be surrounded by every day!)and the picture of the "mountain" of books, said it all! I especially appreciate your PROBING questions: "Will I create my own mountain of books that kids will want to climb?  Will I have the strength and persistence to climb the mountains of research and writing and revision and rejection that it takes to get my books into the world?" I will be posting these where I will be able to reflect on them daily. THANK YOU! And THANK YOU for your hard work with bringing ReFoReMo to life!  

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    1. Oh! You live in Utah! All my siblings and parents live there. So BEAUTIFUL! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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  65. LOVE the writing mountain! Great post- really important questions. Especially the "What didn't I like about this book?" one. I usually spend time on what I do like about a book but I think flipping it would also be so helpful. Thanks, Kirsti!

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    1. You're welcome, Kim. I'm glad we are working on our writing mountains together in the Writer's Rumpus group :)

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  66. Kristi, love the metaphor. I find that like actual mountain climbing, pacing, persistence, and an acceptance of switch backs is required in the business. At times it can feel as though you're climbing a shale hillside, where you slide backward 2-3 steps for every one you go forward. I think your questions will help (much a walking stick) to navigate this trail. Thank you. :-)

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    1. Love your continuation of the mountain metaphor!

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  67. It's been a great week! Thanks for all the encouragement and the book suggestions!

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  68. Kirsti, thank-you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post. We often rush from one book to the next in our house, and I am going to try to slow down with my kids and ask them what they liked. If we're going to learn from kids, we need to take the time to ask their opinions! (I'm holding myself back from going up to pull them out of bed and ask them about the stories we read this evening... :-) )
    Liz Tipping

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    1. Ha! I know that I learn so MUCH from what my kids say about the books we read. I'm glad you liked the post.

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  69. I'm inspired by your mountaintop view! I am also happy with myself that I have read many of the books in your pile through ReFoReMo!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you've had access to so many from the pile!

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  70. Thanks for your post and for the helpful reflection questions. I need to start asking my daughter what she likes about the books we share. I bet her answers could help my writing!

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    1. Yes. And I'm sure your daughter would love to share her opinions also...

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  71. So inspiring, Kristi! There is something so beautiful about a "mountain" of PBs. I have snapped photos of mine too--glad I am not the only one! Thank you for the encouragement and the great questions to reflect on as I read them. I have been keeping track on an excel file with notes on each one-but the questions will give me a little better direction, I think. Up to 135 since February! (I started early before the challenge) Thanks again!

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    1. I agree. Just the sight of my mountain of PBs makes me smile. You should post your photos on the ReFoReMo FB page. I'd love to see them! Congrats on reading so MANY! Fabulous!

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  72. Kirsti, this was such an inspiring post! The more I learn about this journey, the more I see two things happening: 1. I have more doubts about whether I have what it takes to make it work; 2. I feel more determined to keep trying because the journey is so enriching! I have learned so much about myself and the way I see the world/what I have to offer, that the effort would be worth it if only for that bit of insight :-) Thank you so much for the encouragement and for all you have done to put ReFoReMo together. It has been a wonderful month!

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    1. I'm so glad you're persisting in the writing journey! It's tough, but definitely worth it.

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  73. Kristi, your list of questions is now pinned next to my computer. So helpful! As a former preschool teacher, I loved hearing what the children enjoyed most about a book. I even wrote down their responses. Now, if only I could locate those notes! Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Yipeeee! I'm glad the questions are helpful.

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  74. Was feeling as if my mountain was too hard to climb, but your post urged me to continue writing. Thanks so much!

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    1. This makes me happier than you can know. It's worth the arduous climb.

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  75. Great questions to ask as we read and study! Living in an RV, the mountains of books overwhelm me at times...no space, no space, no space. But still I go to the library to pick up my next shipment! Thank you!

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    1. Wow! I'm impressed you pile your books in such a small home. But isn't it lovely to be surrounded by books?

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    2. It is! I'm never happy without a stash of what to read next. I've also decided to pile them all on the little table and take a photo of them. LOL

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  76. Great questions, Kristi and I love your image of your personal "writing mountain". Much food for thought this weekend!

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  77. Those are some good questions to ask. Thank you!

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  78. Thanks for your inspiring post, Kirsti. I ask myself those same questions when I slow down and really study a PB.
    "Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it."

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  79. Thank you so much Kristi for the questions. We are all very different people. There are times when I don't like a book everyone else adores. Your questions make it okay not to like a certain book, or adore a book no one else likes. Examining why is the crucial aspect. Thank you so much for the post.

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  80. It has been quite a journey! I really like the questions you ask in this post and will return to them again and again- ReFoReMo has been so thoughtful and inspiring! Thanks very much!

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    1. I'm glad the questions are helpful! Yay!

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  81. Sometimes that first rock to huddle is the hardest. Thank you for a good set of questions. :)

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  82. This is a great set of questions to use as we read the mentor texts. Thank you for your post!

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    1. Glad to have you participate in ReFoReMo!

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  83. Kirsti, I love the mountain-climbing analogy. As in real life, I think the more climbing we do, the more we improve our bodies and our craft. Thank you, too, for sharing the questions you pose of the mentor texts. So insightful to learn what you ask as you read.

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    1. You're welcome...I hope the questions are helpful!

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  84. Thank you Kirsti for the beautiful visuals - the view is spectacular at the top!

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  85. Great questions for reading mentor texts. Thanks, Kirsti!

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  86. Oh the journey of traveling tough terrain up, down, and all around a mountain... What an ideal symbol for the PB writing path! Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, Kirsti, and for being such an inspiring mentor along the mountainous route of my PB path!

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    1. You're welcome, Meli. I'm glad you're part of the ReFoReMo family!

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  87. Thank you, Kristi. These are great questions to answer with each picture book I read. Sometimes, I love a book, but have difficulty putting my finger on exactly what it is about a PB that I like. These questions will help me zero in on what makes one work for me.

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  88. What a fabulous selection of mentor texts! I think I have learned something from each book, and comparing them to other texts is extremely educational... and entertaining, I must say.
    Step by step. Onward and upward. Thank you!

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  89. I love that you not only ask yourself those questions, but that you also ask your kids what they think.

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    1. Yes. Kids are so insightful without even trying to be.

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  90. Kirsti - thanks for all that you do for ReFoReMo! And for reminding us that as we all climb our personal mountains, we should continue to read, reflect, ask questions, and keep climbing!

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    1. You're very welcome, Melissa! Glad you're participating in the challenge!

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  91. Love your mountain, Kirsti! I love your suggestion to think of what we would change if we had been the author of the book we just read. I will try that with the next book I read for ReFoReMo. But right now I have a bunch of posts to catch up on. #50PreciousWords had me derailed for a bit. ;) Thanks for a great post! And a much needed challenge.

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    1. Vivian! I'm so impressed that you can do #50preciouswords and ReFoReMo at the same time. I wanted to do your challenge, but couldn't pull it together in time. I hope to next year! Thanks for participating and being part of the ReFoReMo family.

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  92. Great questions to consider about the books I read. I also love that you are intentional about getting feedback from your kids also. It is always fun to see something different through the eyes of a child.

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    1. Kids are so insightful, aren't they?

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  93. Thank you Kirsti what a great analogy to keep in mind. And thanks for reminding me to ask questions about the books I've read.

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  94. Thank you for a great list of questions to consider as I study my growing mountain of PBs! I am learning so much from this challenge.

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  95. I have been inspired by a particular mentor text from ReFoReMo and find myself seeking out mentor texts from a previous year for a specific example of executing something well. With all the commitments that fill our schedules, taking a challenging hike through the mountain of books is just the break I need.

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    1. I'm so glad you've been inspired by a mentor text from the challenge! That's what this is all about!

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  96. Thank you for the questions, I am challenged with the great mountains of reading/studying this challenges brings.

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  97. Thanks Kristi; keep climbing and thanks for inspiring us.

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    1. You're welcome, Mindy! Fun to climb with the kidlit community!

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  98. I have your Raindrop book and just love it. Thank you for the advise of how to break down the books by asking specific questions:)

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    1. Yay Joan! I'm thrilled you have my book and love it! Glad to have you here as part of the ReFoReMo family!

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