Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Digging for Gold Challenge

By Janie Reinart

Nikki Grimes has done it again. Her new book, One Last Word, finds inspiration from poets of the Harlem Renaissance.  

The form Nikki Grimes used to create her latest book is called the Golden Shovel. To start, you need a line from a story, poem, or words in a song. The words are so striking, that you have to reread, sing, or write them down.  

  • Take a "striking" line
  • This line becomes the end words in your new story idea or poem
  • Write the words in the right margin in order. These words become your ending words.
  • Give credit to the poet, author, lyricist who originally wrote the line

I read the story, My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison. The line that made me tear up was

My new idea using the golden shovel.

Crystal Butterfly

The glasswing flutters and
her stained glass beauty camouflages her.
No need for clothes
when you are
mystery to birds, so little.
One with the light, you are clearly snuggish.

Your challenge is to find a striking line. Use your golden shovel.  Please share your new creations in the commentsHappy digging.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mentor Text Author Study: Susanna Hill

Susanna Hill believes in the magic of storytelling. Her stories are magical because they are meaningful to children. In her books, she builds worlds where her young audiences come to laugh, to learn, to satisfy a curiosity, or seek comfort in times of uncertainty. 

Growing up, Susanna always wanted to be a writer but once considered becoming a fire fighter. She’s published over a dozen books, won multiple literary awards, and have numerous titles translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, and coming soon - Chinese. Susanna’s books are written in prose and rhyme. Her body of work includes novelty books for ages 2-5, picture books for ages 4-8, and an easy reader for ages 6-9. Susanna is also a well-known blogger and writing teacher.

An author is often asked where their ideas come from. The topics and themes reflected in Susanna’s stories are often drawn from her own childhood and life raising five children. The research conducted on topics she writes about appears in some of her books as nonfiction back matter.    

What to look for in her books:

Story structure - These books are examples of how to structure informational board books for very young children ages 2-5 and picture books for ages 4-7:                                                  

THE HOUSE THAT MACK BUILT (Preschool Pop-Ups), FREIGHT TRAIN TRIP! A Lift-The-Flap Adventure and AIRPLANE FLIGHT! A Lift-The-Flap Adventure are novelty board books with interactive components written in rhyme.

THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT is a clever adaptation of the nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built” that explains how roads are built and what vehicles are used to build them. This picture book has an interactive spinning wheel cover design. (releases July 25, 2017)

Escalation - These books are examples of classic story arc loaded with tension.

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS and APRIL FOOL,PHYLLIS! are character-driven books with a strong confident female protagonist and detail oriented plots. Perfect for Groundhog Day and April Fools’ Day, both include curriculum based nonfiction back matter for extended study at home or school.

Problem - In these books find clearly stated & universal problems kids face in early childhood.

CAN'T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP and NOT YET, ROSE are stories that address two common childhood dilemmas - falling asleep and the anxiety associated with becoming an older sibling.

Structure & Problem - These books show how choosing the right structure with a universal problem can open the door to the creation of a series.                                          

WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH and WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES are part of Susanna’s WHEN YOUR board book series. Written in prose, both books take a humorous approach to helping kids cope with common early childhood experiences they often object to…dealing with illness and bathtime. 

In addition to writing for children, Susanna built a successful author platform that reaches out to librarians, teachers, parents, and other writers.

On Mondays, look for her weekly advice column, Oh Susanna! where she answers questions posted to her blog about reading, writing, and teaching writing.

On Wednesdays, look for Would You Read It? when writers send in pitches on
their works-in-progress for input from Susanna and her followers. Each month or so a pitch is selected by popular vote then read and edited by an actual editor
On Fridays, bloggers link their book reviews to her weekly Perfect Picture Book Friday page. She feathers hundreds of picture books on her site categorized by theme.

Making Picture Book Magic is a 4-week online writing course Susanna teaches to introduce and reinforce the foundations of picture book writing.
      The Valentiny Writing Contest is held the 2nd week of February
      Halloweensie Writing Contest is held the last week of October
      Holiday Writing Contest is held the 1st or 2nd week of December

It’s been a pleasure to be included in Susanna’s When Your Books Go On A Blog Tour for her three 2017 summer releases and study her craft. Check out the schedule on her blog to read other posts on her virtual tour. While there, take a look at Susanna’s website and all she has to offer. 

Read her books and let me know the ones that resonate and why. I believe you will find her stories are filled with magic and are excellent mentor texts to study.

Keila Dawson is a ReFoReMo Contributor. She’s hiked the rice terraces in the Philippines, climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan, and Mt. Sinai in Egypt. Keila finds adventures in picture books too. When she isn’t traveling, reading or digging in genealogical archives, she’s writing and visiting schools. Keila enjoys sharing her love of Louisiana and world cultures. Her debut picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY, released in 2015, by Pelican Publishing Co., Inc.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

Happy summer to our entire ReFoReMo family!

Now that summer is in full swing, it's time to think about books for the fall! The Teacher's Pet, by Anica Mrose Rissi, and Zachariah Ohora and Fall is for School by Robert Neubecker are both incredible back to school books.  

The Teacher's Pet will evoke discussion about science experiments gone awry, and what really happens in the classroom.  The idea of an inappropriate classroom pet is hilarious. This book is filled with surprises in the text and the colorful illustrations enhance the fun of the story. The title is a clever word play that makes perfect sense, yet will make parents chuckle. I especially love the diverse cast of children, animals, and of course, the oblivious adult. I love how the kids are the characters in the book that understand the truth of the situation and know how to deal with it, whereas the teacher is absolutley clueless. People of every age will love this rollicking read aloud.

Fall is for School does a great job of showing a conversation between a sister who is excited about school, and a brother who is not! Periodically, the rhyming text is appropriately interrupted by the brother which adds to the humor of the story. For example: 

Recess is for playing games:
We'll run and jump and climb!
Let's go right now and join the fun.
You really must not whine!


The illustrations are darling, using a fall palette that helps us get excited for the upcoming school year.   The endpapers feature a tree at different seasons, and different colored texts show us who is talking.  As the sister eventually gets her brother excited about school, the illustrations show the kids' imaginations coming to life.  

This story will resonate with all types of children and learners and may even help the un-enthusiastic kids laugh about their trepidation, and process how they're feeling.   

Each of these stories is a great way to get excited about and prepared for a new school year!

What are you favorite back to school books?