Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 26: Jodell Sadler Talks about Poetic Pacing, Pause, & Delivery


My favorite picture books bring kids into a new experience.  Leo A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett presents a ghost but also shares what it feels like to be misunderstood as that character. Leo finds a new guest in his house and he brings a tray of food. He’s being a great host. The family sees this as a floating tray. There’s a great compare-contrast in this.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña was like this as well for me. Peña allows readers to travel by city bus to a soup kitchen, and they discover the likes of Nana and her unique worldview and personality. Hers is a world that includes trees that drink through straws, seeing the world with your ears, and seeing the beauty where others never think to look. That was huge for me and made me a huge fan in a snap.





We share a story through great pacing, genius page turns, and opening hooks like we see in these two giraffe (yes, a huge giraffe fan!) books: There’s A Giraffe in My Soup by Ross Burach and One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck. Burach surprises readers by setting up for one event and then delivering just to the left or right of that expectation. In this story, animals are delivered to the restaurant while food is delivered to the zoo. Kids see the waiter bring soup with eye’s poking out. They guess it’s a frog but the page turn flips to an alligator leaping! In One Word from Sophia, the book opens in stunning fashion:
   

Set up: “Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind—One True Desire and four problems.  Her One True Desire [much like mine] was to get a pet giraffe for her birthday.”
Unexpected: “The four problems were… Mother, who was a judge, Father, who was a businessman,…”
You see the fun in this and kids love it!
           


So, there’s no bars held to fiction for all this pacing greatness. Nonfiction is just as stellar. I love, love the opening of Brave Girl, Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909!  Experience just the opening:

Set up: “A steamship pulls into the harbor, carrying hundreds of immigrants—and a surprise for New York City.”
Unexpected: “The surprise is dirt poor, just five feet tall, and hardly speaks a word of English.”








There’s also those certain books that present poetic pause. These titles are playful and engaging, and keep a keen focus at the negative space of good writing. The author decides what to leave off the page, when to use contrary, or shares what something is not. They tend to steer just left or right of what’s obvious, and suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story.

These things cannot be underestimated. In crafting that story that comes to life for a reader, writers who pay attention to these things will craft better books. We see this in titles like Flight School by Lita Judge. This was my fastest pick up yet at a bookstore. Brilliant opening page offers great lyrical writing, heart, voice, and careful crafting that instantly connects reader to character. The first page of Flight School reads:

“I was hatched to fly,” said Penguin. “When do classes start?”
“But you, dear, are a penguin,” Teacher replied.
“Undeniable,” said Penguin, “but I have the soul of an eagle.”









These examples all present that “going far enough” in the editing process to include poetic pacing, great poetic devices: alliteration, repetition, vivid verbs, ousting adverbs and articles, while also weaving in pause to emotionally connect within their own certain rhythm of ‘just right words at those just right moment’ within a story.


 Jodell is generously giving away one entry into her Pacing Picture Books class! 


Jodell Sadler is a master pacing guru, founder of KidLit College, and editorial agent with Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.  She has served as an art director, marketing consultant, senior designer, MFA grad, professor, and teacher. Connect with her on twitter at @JodellSadler, @KidLitCollege and Join KidLit College’s 2nd Birthday Blog Bash - 30+ Day Gift-Away starts on March 25.


161 comments:

  1. Hey There. I found your blog just now. This is a really well written article.I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.I’ll definitely return. Check this essay writing service reviews

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    1. Hey, Kevin, thanks for your feedback and bookmarking this!

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  2. Thank you Jodell for this fascinating post. I love your examples of pacing and poetic pause - and that opening page of Flight School makes it a must-read for me!

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    1. Thank you, Joy. I absolutely love Flight School. Really well-crafted title and Lita is a true talent.

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  3. These books do have that special something - I've really enjoyed them and appreciate your analysis. Thank you, Jodell, for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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  4. Jodell, I love your evaluation and explanations on pacing and pause. I know all of your examples, except "There's A Giraffe in my Soup," and look forward to reading it. I look forward to using this evaluation on my favorite picture books. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. There's a Giraffe in my Soup was a great author-illustrator books. A lot of fun. Also a great example of how to start story visually before the text of your story begins. The young MC rides a big wheel to the restaurant. There's a visual prompts that are engaging prior to story. It was a nice touch and worked well with his style.

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  5. I can see why you bought FLIGHT SCHOOL after reading only the first page. Can't wait to read it now myself, as well as some of the other recommendations I wasn't familiar with. Thanks, Jodell!

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  6. Jodell, thanks for such a thoughtful and inspirational post. It really shows examples of books that aren't just good, but go a step (or more) beyond. Fabulous examples!!

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  7. Thanks for sharing some more examples of well paced books.

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  8. great post with lots of information and ideas. thank you.

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  9. thanks for the book recommendations. I haven't read Flight School yet but need to find it now.

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  10. What great examples. I'm a bit giraffe obsessed and those are both titles I haven't read so I'm thrilled to have some new ones to explore - especially ones that were written with such care. Thanks!

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  11. Thank you for the information and recommendations. I'm looking forward to reading your blog.

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  12. I'd never considered the negative space in the story before... at least not purposefully. I've enjoyed it's effects though.

    Excited to read Leo: A Ghost Story, too. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Getting all of those elements to writing down and creating an experience for the reader is both challenging and really fun. Thanks for these great examples on how to do it well.

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  14. Thank you, Jodell, for this helpful post. I especially like the journey and surprise of Last Stop on Market Street, and I look forward to reading the Flight School and There's a Giraffe in my Soup - books I hadn't known of before.
    I'm learning so much in this ReFoReMo.

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  15. Thanks, Jodell! I always enjoy hearing your reflections. I haven't read the Sophie/Giraffe book (ONE WORD FROM SOPHIE) yet and will pick it up asap!

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  16. I like the concept of just landing to the left or right of the expectation. Really adds to and builds the funny factor!

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    1. Absolutely! Love this one idea about funny, see that KidLitCollege.org is hosting Mary-Kate Gaudet and Heather Alexander on April 9 for "Hey, That's Funny! Getting the Humor Into, and Out of, Your Picture Book"
      Join us to learn what's so funny in picture books.

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  17. Thank you for your alwasys insdightful critiques. I've found a few new favorite mentor texts!

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  18. Thank you, Jodell, for your astute insights into the tools the writers of these mentor texts employed to capture & hold your attention. I especially like your observation to veer to the left or right of the obvious.

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    1. Thanks Patricia! Page Turns can do so many fun things to engage readers, surprise cannot be underestimated in picture books. If you have not read Flight School, you will trill with "Galump!"(Pretty sure that's the word.)

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  20. "They tend to steer just left or right of what’s obvious, and suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story." Thank you for stating my unstated goal in fiction picture books--a goal I'm not meeting right now. Helps just to define it so clearly!

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    1. Thanks, Laura! So fun to read your comment here. It's a fun, tough gig writing for those so young. We really have to bring the playground of our soul to a project.

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  21. Poetic pause is one of the best moments a picture book can have. I'm a big fan of that technique. <3

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  22. Look forward to reading your suggested titles and applying these concepts to my own writing.

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  23. I love these examples, and I love that picture books can offer kids such a wide range of experiences! Yay to picture book writers! Thanks for the thoughtful pointing out of strengths, Jodell!

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  24. Thank you, Jodell, for presenting Poetic Pacing, Pause, and Delivery of these fine picture books. And thank you for donating such a generous prize!

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  25. Thank you for sharing your list of books!

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  26. What a great list of mentor texts! The opening lines for Flight School are golden, I can't wait to read the whole thing. Thanks, Jodell!

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  27. Such a great group of books. Thank you!

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  28. You always have insight into where the heart lies in each story and pull out the page turns from the ms itself before it becomes a book. These are perfect tips for really enjoying a book to it's fullest and to get us writers on the right track for creating books children will love. Thank you Jodell!

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  29. Jodell, thank you for the amazing set of titles. Pure bliss!

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  30. There have been several times this month when I’ve thought, “Gosh, I wish I wrote that.” Today is one of those days! I especially liked "One Word from Sophia" and "Flight School". They truly are great examples of ‘just right words at just right moments’!

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  31. Great books with so much to offer. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  32. Thak you, Jodell, for explaining what hooks you in when reading picture books:>

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  33. Can't wait to dig in to these fine examples. Pausing is not something I've thought about applying before. Thanks for the post, Jodell.

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  34. Hi Jodell, wow, I absolutely loved this post and this exciting list. Flight School really caught my eye...now I'm crossing my fingers that my local library has it. Thanks for sharing this insight. :)

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  35. Excellent and eye-opening post, Jodell. You cover a broad spectrum of literary elements and give me, as a writer and reader, a new perspective on analyzing texts. Thank you!

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  36. wonderful post! I can't wait to read these books. Thank you

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  37. Can't wait to read Fligth School. Thanks for the list. And a Happy birthday KidLit College!

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  38. JODELL: THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom with us. SO MUCH speaks to me in this blog post, most especially: "There’s also those certain books that present poetic pause. These titles are playful and engaging, and keep a keen focus at the negative space of good writing. The author decides what to leave off the page, when to use contrary, or shares what something is not. They tend to steer just left or right of what’s obvious, and suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story." BRILLIANT!!! Truly one of the BEST blog posts EVER--and I've read quite a few! Full of inspiration on SO MANY levels! THANK YOU!!! And CONGRATS on Kidlit College's 2nd b-day!!!!

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  39. Thank you for the great list of suggestions!

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  40. Love your list of picture books that hook the reader in by setting up the unexpected. Thank you for reminding us how to pump in poetic pacing using pause and negative space. I often forget about these subtle attributes of picture books, but they are key in helping to "suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story."

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  41. Thank you, Jodell, for this wonderful list of mentor texts! They ARE superb examples of pacing, page turns and negative space in writing! Thank you for this insightful post!

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  42. Leo is just about the loveliest book. I'm crazy about how he and Jane drink mint tea and eat honey toast at the end of the book - the very same thing he tried to make earlier for the new house "guests." Perfection.

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  43. Pacing is essential and I love the way this posts demonstrates that! Thanks, Carrie and Jodell!

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  44. Jodell - you are the master of pacing! Thanks for a great post with excellent mentor texts. Looking forward to more fabulous KidLit College classes - happy 2nd birthday!

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  45. Great list of books! Some of my favorites. Thanks for the great post, also.

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  46. Thank you Jodell for an inspirational post.

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  47. Your post is just right with wonderful words at just the right moment! Thank you, Jodell.

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  48. Thank you Jodell for your in-depth analysis of your mentor texts, very helpful!

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  49. Thank you Jodell, for an insightful and helpful post!

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  50. What an inspiring list! You have set us up with a mini-course in pacing greatness, writing hooks and poetic pause. Thank you. I can't wait to study these.

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  52. I gotta check out Flight School! Thank you for the great post!

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  53. Love all your selections, looking forward to reading them. Would love to win your give away. Thanks for the post.

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  54. Absolutely love your post! The books you highlight are splendid and you make wonderful points about each books' structure, wording and story. I also think your post underscores the need for mystery but not confusion in books. Readers and audiences love the thrill of mystery but this is not the same as confusion! I would be especially excited to experience a class with you!!!
    -Jenna Feldman

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  55. Great insights - wonderful mentor texts. Thanks for sharing.

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  56. I love the books your mentioned today. I've read the first 4, but definitely going to look for the last 2. Thank you!

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  57. I love some of the books you've mentioned here, and I can't wait to read the rest! Thank you for your post.

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  59. Thanks Jodell for some great suggestions. Each story has such great exoeriences to engage in.

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  60. Love this list of books and what you've explained to help us see the pacing, pause, and delivery. Thank you, Jodell! Great picture books make us sigh and swoon with pleasure!

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  61. Hi Jodell! Great picks. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites. Carole Calladine

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  62. Hi, Jodell!! Actually, I am already enrolled in your class, and this teaser you've shared today (as well as a possible insight into why the course has GIRAFFE in its title) has me so excited! Thanks for sharing these books, and for all your thoughts about pacing. Particularly, your thoughts about "negative space" have me very intrigued, and I suspect I'll be thinking about this for a while. Thank you!

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  63. Jodell, Thanks for your insights. I am thinking about "surprises readers by setting up for one event and then delivering just to the left or right of that expectation." Clever!
    And, Happy Birthday to KidLit College!!!

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  64. Such an important post. I find that reading and writing poetry helps with these craft elements of writing PBs. Thanks, Jodell!

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  65. Thank you for these mentor text suggestions, Jodell. That first page of "Flight School" - brilliant! Happy Birthday KidLit College!

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  66. I love books that set up an expectation and then twist it for the reader. Not easy to do, but so satisfying to read. Thanks for including details for each of the titles. It's helpful to see what you consider the book's strengths.

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  67. Your choices are awesome examples of superb pacing. Thanks, Jodell.

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  68. Jodell,
    I enjoyed reading your selections. Seeing Christian Robinsons work in 2 entirely different books was most interesting. And yes you are correct that doing the unexpected while maintaining the craft of alliteration, vivid verbs, etc is a proven recipe for PB success!

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  69. Thank you, Jodell, for sharing titles which incorporate poetic pacing, pause, and delivery. I've got most of these titles on my book shelf and will get the other two that are missing.

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  70. Thanks Jodell for sharing picture books that showed their artistry and craft.

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  71. Thanks, Jodell. You've set the stage with your discussion of what you loved about these books. I can't wait to dive into them!

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  72. Thanks so much, Jodell, for providing a few quotes to show us concrete examples, since I'm not able to get all the titles here. (Still, I'm going to try to track down as many of the wonderful recommendations as possible!)

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  73. Thanks for the list! I loved reading There is a Giraffe in my Soup!

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  74. Excited to read each of these...some for the first time, some again and yet again!

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  75. Your post has me thinking a lot about word choice, plot, and pacing in the stories I read and the ones I write. Thank you, Jodell!

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  76. This was my first introduction to Flight School and Leo A Ghost Story-and oh I am so glad I now know these books! Great mentor texts for not only the pacing, poetic wording, and delivery, but also so much more!

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  77. Thanks for sharing what takes a good story to great. Your thoughts so helpful and your examples such excellent mentors for inspiration. Great post!!

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  78. Thanks for this insightful post, Jodell! I love your choices and I will read these again with your observations in mind.

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  79. Jodell, thanks so much! Your post is chocked full of so many goodies to savor. I love FLIGHT SCHOOL too and think it is a genius picture book. I'm looking forward to reading the giraffe books and BRAVE GIRL. You are wonderful to share your ideas with others. Thank-you for this post

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  80. I also love when picture books bring children into new experiences. What a great way to develop knowledge and empathy from a young age. I'll be studying pacing and plots as I read new to me books and old favorites from your list.

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  81. I can't wait to read these mentor texts. I am an avid advocate of lyrical writing that comes from the heart.
    I believe that children's worlds are full of soul, and I would love to help them maintain that connection!

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  82. Jodell, Thanks for sharing some of your favorite PBs. My favorites list overlaps with yours. I'm sure listening to your lectures on pacing had something to do with it. :)

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  83. Timing, surprise, a little laughter = good story

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  84. Leo is a charming book. It reminds me of one I loved as a child: Gus Was A Friendly Ghost, by Jane Thayer. There's nothing more I can add to the accolades for Last Stop on Market Street except count me in as a huge fan! One Word for Sophia is so clever, and Flight School is hilarious. I look forward to reading your other selections, Jodell. Thanks for posting!

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  85. Introducing children to new experiences, focusing on pacing, creating a great opening and tempting page turns - adding all these to my list of things to strive for in my pbs. Thank you, Jodell!! What a great selection of mentor texts!

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  86. It's the words I love -- sleek, smooth, suggestive and assuming kids have a brain. No wonder kids love these books.

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  87. I am excited to read these giraffe books!

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  88. Great books. I especially loved how One Word from Sophia was crafted.

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  89. Pacing is definitely something I struggle with. Thank you for these mentor texts and for such a generous prize!

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  90. Flight School is one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing your list. Pacing is hard!!

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  91. Thank you for your selection of picture books with great pacing and heart. I am a giraffe lover too so I can't wait to read There's a Giraffe in My Soup!

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  92. Thank you, Jodell. I definitely want to focus more on pacing in my writing. I look forward to studying these mentor text examples.

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  93. Jodell, thanks for this insightful post. I can't wait to read (and re-read) these PBs that "suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story."

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  94. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on pacing and choosing such great examples! I will be studying these ones.

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  95. All good mentor texts! It must have been hard to choose from so many!

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  96. I enjoyed each of these. Thank you!!

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  97. Thanks Jodell for providing us with some great examples on pacing. It's something that I definitely need more help with.

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  98. Thank you, Jodell. Some of these are on my favorites list. Great picks.

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  99. Thank you for posting about language and pacing. It strikes me that we picture book authors are so lucky to write one of very few book formats that people read aloud.

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  100. Great explanations on why there is so much to love about each of these PBs. Fabulous list--thanks!

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  101. Jodell, this is a marvelous post! Your explanations of the set up and unexpected are perfect. Great choice of books!

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  102. What a great post! I'm relatively new to PB's (have been working on MG for the last five years) — I love the way compressed & musical language combines with wide open spaces in my favorite PBs — I was a storyteller & puppeteer (hand puppets) for many years, and I was fascinated by the power of leaving so much out. Once I left Little Red Riding Hood drying on my dining table (I'd re-glued a loose lock of her hair) — and had to perform without her. Gus, the Clown, who introduced the show, told the audience that Riding Hood was out sick — measles — so Stage Hand (my bare hand — as a character, when she showed up to change the scenery, she didn't break the dream of the story) had to fill in. Stage Hand put on a little crown of cloth flowers, tried out a few voices, settled on the "right" one, and the show went on. I was amazed to find the kids in my audience even more engaged than usual. Afterwards, when they crowded around my stage for a behind-the-scenes-peek, I asked what they thought RH looked like — and was amazed again — by the wide array of different imaginings. My mistake taught me how important it is to leave plenty of room for an audience to "co-create" a story with you. It's struck me that the same principle applies to PB's — (probably to all writing) — every time I re-read "Last Stop on Market Street" I find more in it — I am delighted to add more titles to my exploring books that have wide open spaces in them. Thank you!

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  103. “Undeniable,” said Penguin, “but I have the soul of an eagle.” Yes!

    Thanks for this list and your insightful comments.

    Susan

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  104. Great post and I especially loved this part: "...while also weaving in pause to emotionally connect within their own certain rhythm of ‘just right words at those just right moment’ within a story."

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  105. Thank you for this new list of books to study! I, too, want to read those giraffe books and Flight School.

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  106. Thanks for your insight. I look forward to reading these titles again with your comments and their pacing in mind.

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  107. Thank you so much for the terrific post and suggestions. I LOVE giraffes as well!

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  108. Last Stop at Market Street will become a classic. The page turns, the lyric language, the illustrations, and the profound message captured my heart from page one. Thanks for sharing it here and for introducing me to other wonderful mentor texts!

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  109. Awesome mentor text suggestions! I'm looking forward to reading the ones that are new to me.

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  110. Thanks for the inspiring post!

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  111. Great mentor texts- both nonfiction and imaginative picture books. Sometimes it's the space between the words that allows space for the story.

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  112. I'm looking forward to rereading all of these books with pacing and lyrical language in mind. Thank you for the wonderful post.

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  113. Looking forward to reading these. Thank you for the post and the great selection.

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  114. I sadly haven't gotten to read ANY of these yet, but your glowing reviews have me waiting on pins and needles for my library to tell me that they're available! I think I'll have to buy some of them! I LOVE that feeling of "just the right words" being used at "just the right time!" Thanks for your recommendations and reflections!

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  115. I'm looking forward to reading this books that are highlighted to illustrate the "poetic pause". Seems like an interesting concept...

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  116. I love using poetic pause when I can. Sometimes it is just the thing the make the ms. stronger! Thanks for the great post!

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  117. thank you for an inspiring post and great mentor text suggestions! I can't wait to read Flight School.

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  118. Great examples! I need to get a hold of Flight School - sounds great.

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  119. Thanks for your informative post and what you look for in a PB.

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  120. Great examples of how various devices can be used to make PB text sing -- thanks Jodell!

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  121. Great post, thank you! I adored the opening to Brave Girl!

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  122. Thoughtful ideas for thinking about and improving my writing. Many thanks.

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  123. Hi, Jodell, As always, I appreciate your insights!

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  124. I loved Sophia's One Word. I'll reread it and study the pacing. Your defining and clarifying pacing helps immensely. Thank you.

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  125. Loved your post with so many great thoughts on some super picture books. I'm also excited to join the Birthday Bash for Kidlit College!

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  126. This post is perfect, thank you. Pacing is such a hard art to master.

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  127. I was having so much fun at the Birthday Bash on KidLit College, I forgot to comment here! Imagine my surprise when it's you, Jodell! :) Double-dose of amazing.

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  128. Brave Girl...one of my very favorite nonfiction mentor texts! Thanks so much, Jodell for a post that was well-paced...of course...and full of ideas that will help us bring our own manuscripts to their full potential. ;)

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  129. Thanks for a great post Jodell! Pacing is so challenging but equally important to a successful, satisfying PB.

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  130. Thanks for your post, Jodell! I always enjoy reading your perspective and get a great deal out of your comments, observations, and recommendations.

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  131. Love this post. I agree with you on the ones I've already read.

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  132. These are excellent suggestions... Undeniable! I cannot wait to get my hands on these books, so many thanks for sharing!

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  133. Another fabulous post.
    Great examples!

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  134. Thank you for these wonderful suggestions.

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  135. I love these books! Bringing kids into a new experience is a must. Thanks, Jodell!!

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  136. Thanks for the recommendations Jodell.

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  137. Hooray for giraffe books! Thank you, Jodell!

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  138. This post is tremendously insightful. I can't wait to look at these books again but with attention to the poetic pausing and pacing. Thank you!

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  139. I've just added these books to my hold list at the library. Cannot wait to read - Thank you for the inspiration!

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  140. These books are some of my favorites on my bookshelf and I love your perspective. Thank you so much for the inspiration! Will be reading them all again with new insight.

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  141. Thank you for the outstanding list of suggested titles. My favorite is ONE WORD SOPHIA. I shared it as a read aloud with my students this semester.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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  142. Thanks for sharing these wonderful titles. I especially enjoyed Leo! I'll be visiting KidLit College, too. Pacing can be so tricky--it helps to have some good examples.

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  143. You gave us lots to ponder, Jodell. Thank you!

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  144. Thank you for the recommendations :)

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  145. Leo, A Ghost Story gave just enough on each page to keep us turning and reading more. Fantastic! Liz Tipping

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  146. It never ceases to amaze me how much I will love a book and not have a clue why. Or how many times I read one and still miss something yummy. Thanks for the first two (more depth from loved books) and the intro to the 2nd two!

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  147. A very informative post, especially about the poetic pause. Thank you!

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  148. Great recommendations, thank you for this post Jodell.

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  149. Jodell, thank you so much for this. I found it very useful.

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