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











OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner











RAINDROPS ROLL by April Pulley Sayre











RED SINGS FROM THE TREETOPS by Joyce Sidman











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.

142 comments:

  1. That's something I have been working on as well. Thank you for the post.

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  2. These techniques that you highlight are so satisfying to read, when they're done well, as in the examples you suggested for our reading list. I love "WATER IS WATER" and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of "GIANT SQUID." I haven't seen the others yet, but I hope to!

    I just completed a MS revision on a piece that makes use of alliteration, rhythm, and internal rhyme, and it felt SO GOOD to make strides with that piece. Those mechanisms just make books so fun to read, in my opinion. They're like seasoning and spices- what great flavor they bring!

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  3. I love the choices you have here for mentor texts. Anything by April Pulley Sayre makes my heart sing. Plants Can't Sit Still is one of my new favorite nonfiction books. In my biology classes I was able to borrow some cameras from a local university and my students made time lapse videos of their plant experiments. I'll never forget their wonder when they first watched and realized how much plants moved. I was so tickled when I discovered plants moving in a picture book.

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  4. Water is Water is such a fun book! Exciting page turns with unexpected twists. It is so inspiring to read. :) Over and Under the Snow inspired one of my kids' birthday parties one year, and so many other good titles here too! Thanks for the old and new favorites.

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  5. I love Water is Water and Over and Under the Snow. And I can't wait until Red Sings From the Treetops comes into my library. I appreciate the artistry of language that goes into the books. Thanks.

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  6. The only one of these I've read so far (and own) is Over and Under the Snow, which I love! Can't wait to track down the rest. (P.S. GIANT SQUID is just the kind of book I would have been eager to open as a child!) Thank you for the recommendations, Rebecca!

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  7. Picture books are like poetry, whether they rhyme or not, and word play is so important! I look forward to checking out these recommendations. Thanks, Rebecca!

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  8. Can't wait to dive into these. I am in awe of people who are awesome with their words. It is something to which I aspire. Thank you for these mentor texts.

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  9. What a helpful reminder! I often forget the positive impacts that can occur when additional sensory responses are triggered. I am a particular fan of alliteration, as I enjoy hearing such word sequences read aloud. So I can understand how adding similar touches (rhyme, rhythm, etc.) to already interesting picture books about science and/or nature can increase the impact and enjoyment. Thanks for making these points and for recommending these fabulous mentor text suggestions!

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  10. Playing with words is so much fun! Thanks for the post!

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  11. Inspired collection of books. Looking forward to diving in.

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  12. I have read and loved every one of these picture books, Rebecca:>) These--and your book--are such lovely examples of great language!

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  13. I love WATER IS WATER. I look forward to reading the rest of your list. Thanks for the great post!.

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  14. Would love to win PLANTS. I love to play w/words and sounds and you picked some real winners here, Rebecca.

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  15. Such great choices and a great post! Thanks Rebecca!

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  16. Rebecca thank you for sharing great mentor texts. I really enjoyed reading your new book plants can't sit still with great descriptive language.

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  17. Nicki JacobsmeyerMarch 22, 2017 at 7:34 AM

    Fun titles! Thank you for sharing Rebecca.

    Nicki Jacobsmeyer

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  18. Great choices of lyrically written non-fiction picture books. Thank you for sharing these, Rebecca,

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  19. Beautiful examples, Rebecca. Thank you!

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  20. Thanks so much for your post on words and word sounds, Rebecca. Your book 'Plants Can't Sit Still' is on order at the local library - can't wait for it to arrive here in Australia.

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    1. Plants Can't Sit Still and neither can I - your picture book has just been purchased by my local library and I received an email to say come and collect it.

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  21. Thanks for sharing! WATER IS WATER is beautifully written. I need to read RED SINGS FROM THE TREETOPS.

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  22. Thanks for your recommendations and look forward to reading your book. I garden also, it's true that plants can't sit still!

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  23. Next on my pile of books to read is WATER IS WATER. I'll be on the lookout for the techniques you mention here.

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  24. Thank you for your thoughts. I love WATER IS WATER, and my grandsons love OVER AND UNDER.

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  25. What an awesome group of books with fresh and vibrant language. I have two of these in my own private collection. Giant Squid is on my to-read list. Thanks, Rebecca, for your post. And I can't sit still waiting to see if I win a copy of your book.

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  26. Thank you for this lovely list of books! I need to encourage my local library to order these.

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  27. Don't put my name in for a copy of Plants Can't sit Still - because I already have one! Rebecca, great selection of books! Re-reading Raindrops Roll, I was once again struck with how just a handful of words (along with the photos) can set a mood, make us look closer.

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  28. I too love using words in various ways in my picture books, and all of your suggestions for mentor texts are perfect for that. Thanks!

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  29. Lovely examples of word play and sounds. Thanks for your post.

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  30. thanks for these suggestions! I'm obsessed with giant squids so can't wait to read Candace Flemings book.

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  31. So many books...so little time! Thanks for adding to the list!

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  32. Thanks for sharing great mentor texts. I have some new favorites now.

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  33. Non-fiction books about nature in he picture book section usually give me chills for the right reason. I love how they combine words with illustrations to bring a new nuance to nature. Your book choices are wonderful examples of this. Now you have a new NF nature book coming out, Rebecca and I have put it on my # list and probably will be a mentor text as well.!

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  34. Words and Sounds/The Sound of Words - when this is done right, it is amazing. I've read some of these texts before. Then, after reading your intro for today's post, I reread the books. Reading Over and Under the Snow with keeping this in mind, it read in a whole new way for me, and it was even more beautiful than the last time! Messner's choice of wordage and the way she glides us over the snow, and allows us to peek into the world underneath, is spectacular, in my opinion. Great mentor text.
    I had also read Water Is Water previously and found it brilliant. I watched the video posted today on the Reforemo page of this interpreted into song by Emily Arrow, and it was a great way to 'read' it for the second time. I finished the video and sat and thought, 'OK, how can I do this...'

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  35. I'm just starting out with my own NF ideas, but I'll take it as a good sign that the mentor texts you mention are already some of my favorites (except RED, which I don't know yet and will discover soon). I'd add your PLANTS CAN'T SIT STILL to that list for sure. My son and I found it at the library several months ago and we were both blown away. Thank you!

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  36. Like working on a giant puzzle and finding the perfect word! What a treasure. thank you.

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  37. Great inspiration in these posts!! I can't wait to get ahold of these mentor texts. I, too, love playing with words and sounds. Raised by a science teacher, I learned to find the whimsy and the respectable in nature.

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  38. Thank you for the great suggestions. These are such beautiful books!

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  39. Thanks! This is a great post. Running off to look up each of these books.

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  40. I love word play, too, Rebecca. Thanks for the great list of books to read! (I'm a fan of your book as well.)

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  41. Great post, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on reading books that deal with words and word sounds.
    I love nonfiction nature books. Water is Water and Over and Under the Snow are two of my favorites, and can’t wait to read Raindrops Roll!!

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  42. Huge fan of word play as well. These are wonderful mentor texts. Thank you for the great list!

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  43. These are my favorite kinds of books--thanks for sharing! I, too, can be found searching for my coffee or tea cup that I put down somewhere :)

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  44. I'm always enchanted by good word play!

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  45. What you've highlighted about these wonderful nature books is what writing is all about! Using language to bring a subject or a character to life is an integral part of being a picture book writer. Thanks for introducing me to some new titles! Best of luck with Plants Can't Sit Still! I'm going to my library now to hopefully check out a copy.

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  46. I love all these books! Thank you!

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  47. I adored science books as a child--still do--and strive for word magic on a regular basis. Thanks for this great post and for a list of books that I have not read.

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  48. Thanks for the inspiration, Rebecca!

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  49. I've been wanting to read GIANT SQUID and just found it through my library's e-books. This is a great mentor text for playing with language. I can't wait to read your book and look forward to reading/rereading your other recommendations. Thanks, so much for this inspiring post.

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  50. I love these books! Thank you for sharing.

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  51. I love the"hive mind" questions on 12x12 about what sound things make! Thwack!

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  52. Thank you for sharing these great books!

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  53. Thank you for this wonderful list of mentor texts that show how much fun it is to play with words and sounds. Shwish, shwoosh, as I turn their pages...

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  54. I love all of these books. Such great examples of writing.

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  55. I love these books! I strive to play with words in my writing, and these are perfect examples. Thank you!

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  56. A great list... I look forward to getting ahold of Giant Squid... what an enticing cover!

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  57. Thank you, Rebecca, for these tips and examples for using language in surprising ways to bring the natural world to life :) I've read these books and they are perfect :)

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  58. Rebecca,
    I've redad all the suggested texts and now will reread them looking at rhyming, alteration and internal and external? rhyme. Thanks for your reading list and post.

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  59. Rebecca, Thank you for your wonderful science choices that bring the natural world to life. Carole Calladine

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  60. Under and Over the Snow is a gorgeous book. It's quiet like a blanket of fresh snow, but packed with so much information and beautiful language.

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  61. This sounds like a great group of books to add to my reading list. Thanks for the post!

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  62. Even non-fiction should have beautiful language. Thank you, Rebecca.

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  63. I love to be enveloped by beautiful language. Thank you for the reading suggestions, Rebecca

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  64. Thank you, Rebecca, for your list of "lovely sounds" in picture books:>

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  65. Thanks for sharing your recommendations, Rebecca. My kids and I loved reading PLANTS CAN'T SIT STILL. And I am so in awe of Joyce Sidman's lyrical language when writing about the natural world.

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  66. I cannot wait to read these titles with the word plays. When I read Giant Squid the pictures captured me. I'll reread it again for the lyrical language. Picture books are more complex than they look.

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  67. Makes me want to go outside and play. And then come back in and write, of course!

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  68. I loved these choices in today's article, and finding Red Sings From Treetops was a real joy. I'll be buying a copy. Thank you!

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  69. Such beautiful book selections! Thank you for these. I've been re-reading them all day!

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  70. Giant Squid and Red Sings From the Treetops were new to me. I love Over and Under and since reading it the first time, I can't cross-country ski without thinking of what is under me. Raindrops Roll is exquisite and Water on Water pure joy to read. Thanks for great picks, Rebecca. Now I'll look for Plants Can't Sit Still.

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  71. The use of "over the snow" and "under the snow" in Over and Under the Snow worked very well - my young one reacted as expected to it and anticipated what what coming next! Thanks for the inspiration with these texts! Liz TIpping

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  72. Hi Rebecca, Words that dance off the page really sing to me. I can't wait to read these texts and immerse myself in their magic.

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  73. Such wonderful STEM mentor texts. Thank you!

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  74. Excellent choices! I haven't read one so I'll put it on my library request list. Also, your book PLANTS CAN'T SIT STILL is one of my favorites!

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  75. I've been meaning to snag a copy of Giant Squid...this post is giving me the boot in the butt to do that, Rebecca...I've read most of the others...but not Over and Under the Snow...will try to get a copy of that one also. ;)

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  76. I LOVE your choices! Sharing...Pronto!

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  77. Love these selections -- Water is Water is just gorgeous. Miranda Paul is so talented. Thanks!

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  78. Thanks for sharing these books. I love playing with words.

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  79. I enjoy books that play with words. Thank you for bringing these books to my attention.

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  80. Love Water is Water. Looking forward to reading the other selections.

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  81. Thank you for these recommendations. I love Water is Water, and I can't wait to read these other books you mentioned.

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  82. Love Water is Water. Looking forward to reading the other selections. Also looking forward to reading Plants Can't Sit Still.

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  83. Love the examples you've provided for wordplay texts. It's one of the things I've been working on in my own writing. Thanks for your post!

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  84. Love all these books! Such great language! Love Plants Can't Sit Still!! A wonderful selection!

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  85. I love mixing my love words with my love of science! These books are being added to my TBR this month. :)

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  86. Playing with words and sounds in my writing is a skill I want to work on, especially with NF works! Water is Water certainly described the water cycle in a most unusual and entertaining way! Thank you, Rebecca, for these PB suggestions.

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  87. The saying "it's not what you say, but how you say it", seems to really apply to these books. Thank you for this post and inspiration!

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  88. I've read 3/5 of these and look forward to reading the other two tonight. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  89. Great post Rebecca. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  90. Thank you Rebecca. I look forward to read these recommendations when available in my local library.

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  91. Looking forward to reading all of these, especially since it's spring!

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  92. Great recommendations. Water is Water is one of my all-time favorites.

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  93. Thanks for the great list, Rebecca. I haven't read Raindrops Roll yet. Love that title!

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  94. Thank you for sharing these lovely books. Red sings from the treetops is my new favorite! And they are all (well, I haven't read Giant Squid yet) inspiring and beautiful.

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  95. REBECCA: THANK YOU for these WONDERFUL book recommendations, and the inspiration to play with word sounds in our writing -- making it come ALVE! To further your study, Rhyme Revolution starts next month: a month-long study of rhyming pic books! https://rhymerev.com/

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  96. Thanks so much, Rebecca. There is so much to learn from these texts! One of my favorite genres and some of my favorite picture book writers.

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  97. Playing with language can be so fun! I look forward to reading your suggested texts to see how these authors bring their stories to life.

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  98. Thanks for your wonderful book choices.

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  99. The suggested titles are excellent mentor texts that depict word play and sound. I love your delightful book, PLANTS CAN'T SIT STILL, Rebecca.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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  100. Thanks for this amazing list of mentor texts!

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  101. Thanks Rebecca, for these great book suggestions. I really like Red Sings from Treetops, and Water is Water; looking forward to reading all of them.

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  102. Some great choices selected for today's reading. Thank you!

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  103. I haven't read any of these. I'm looking forward to it.

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  104. These are all great books! I love the blend of nature/science in PBs.

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  105. Looking forward to finding some of these picture books!

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  106. Great examples. Multiple readings of these texts is a pleasure with more to appreciate each time. Thanks!

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  107. I love the reality that nonfiction doesn't mean boring -- excellent examples of beautiful text to showcase great topics. Thanks, Rebecca!

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  109. This is not the nonfiction of my youth! I'm so happy that importance is placed on language and illustration and not just facts. Kids learn and remember things better this way! Great list of mentor texts!

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  110. Thank you for highlighting the ways words can creatively boost the experience of enjoying nature!

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  111. I loved your book, PLANTS CAN'T SIT STILL. Fantastic!

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  112. How wonderful that non-fiction picture books can be as fun and interesting as their fiction cousins in today's world. Thank you for sharing these books in you post.

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  113. I love word play and how words just sing off a page. I hope one day to take on the challenge of a nf picture book and infuse it with facts wrapped up in beautiful language.

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  114. These were so good! Thanks for this great list. Thanks also for pointing out how the word plays create a tone and/or mood that brings the natural world to life…. Giant Squid is a bit mysterious, Water is Water is flowy like water, etc.

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  115. I love these beautiful books! I hadn't read Giant Squid before--amazing creature, amazing book. I have reserved other books by Joyce Sidman from my library now.

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  116. Those were so much fun to read.
    Particularly like the typography of Red Sings from Treetops. Loved the playfulness of each color in the copy.

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  117. I love beautiful language and it's wonderful to find it in non-fiction! Thank you for the great mentor list!

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  118. Rebecca,
    Each of these sections had something to teach me. I'm typing up Over and Under the Snow, Raindrops Roll, Water is Water and Red. Each has the sound of music. Thanks for these recommendations.

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  119. Lovely reads and adding Plants Can't Sit Still to my to read list.

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  120. I love the way these texts combine lyricism, NF elements and story - great resources for how to do that well.

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  121. Thank you for the great recommendations!

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  122. There was once a time not so long ago when I thought lyrical writing and nonfiction did not belong together. I'm so thankful for wonderful books like these that smash that idea to smithereens. I'll be reading or rereading these with special attention to the elements of poetry they offer.

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  123. Great choices! I love how the illustrations follow the seasons in "Water is Water."

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  124. Thank you, Rebecca, for the encouragement to play with word sounds. I've been able to get all but one of these books, and I look forward to also reading Plants Can't Sit Still.

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  125. Definitely a great reminder. Playing with word sounds also makes books fun to read aloud! Thank you for this list and your post.

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  126. Fantastic reads all with beautiful language. Thanks!

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  127. Thanks for the list, Rebecca. I'm eager to read these with a keener awareness to the tone and the music. I'm longing to write a NF book that sings.

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  128. Water is Water inspired a different approach to a PB biography I wrote last year. I loved these recommendations! Thank you!

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  129. Rebecca – thanks so much for this post and for reminding me to play with words and sounds as the subject demands. Great mentor texts too!

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  130. Great books. I love nature, i love language, i love books... I think i like Red Sings from the Treetops the best but they're all great Choices!

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  131. I just took a picture book workshop on poetry and word play. These text seem like a perfect accompaniment to go along with what I have been considering since then. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  132. These books are very fun to read out loud! Thanks for the recs!

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