Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Author Sue Lowell Gallion Talks Mentor Texts (Plus Giveaway!)

I love picture books that feature unlikely friends. Author Sue Lowell Gallion introduced Pug and Pig in September 2016 and they earned a starred review from Kirkus. Now they are back just in time for Halloween and they've earned starred reviews from BOTH Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. Hooray Pug and Pig! 

Welcome, Sue! Do you utilize picture books as mentor texts? 

I request a ton of picture books from the library. My local branch, bless them, stacks them all on one bottom shelf. I read a picture book both aloud and silently. If a book’s pacing particularly intrigues me, I handwrite the text with the page breaks in a notebook or type it out. I look for the heart of the book and try to evaluate what made that manuscript stand out.



When I’m wrestling with a certain element in a manuscript—such as a character searching for a meaningful plot—I study books for that specific element. I also have a healthy fear of rhyme and a great deal of respect for writers who do it well. I’m working on some rhyming manuscripts, so I study a lot of rhyming books.

Mentor texts are helpful in terms of positioning a manuscript as well. For example, if I’m working on a text with a hippo as a main character, it’s useful to search out and study other recent hippo picture books to be aware of the market.

Perhaps most importantly, when I get together with critique partners, we always bring books to share or trade. Some we simply read aloud together, admire, and enjoy. Others we discuss in depth.

And from the looks of the picture, you studied the character of pig with hands-on research! How has reading picture books helped you discover who you are as a writer?

I’ve been a volunteer reader with first and second-graders through a local literacy program, Lead to Read, for a number of years now. We’re paired one-on-one for the school year and are together with our student (and sometimes extras) for 30 minutes each week. A lot of these kids are struggling readers and so frustrated. A humorous picture book like MOO! by David LaRochelle, ill. by Mike Wohnoutka – which only uses five words—can get them reading and laughing and give them confidence.

So I’m always on the lookout for picture books that work as early readers but offer more, whether it’s intriguing illustrations (Brendan Wenzel’s THEY ALL SAW A CAT), an unusual perspective (ABC: THE ALPHABET FROM THE SKY by Benedikt Grob and Joey Lee) or humor (McTOAD MOWS TINY ISLAND by Tom Angleberger and John Hendrix, THE WATERMELON SEED by Greg Pizzoli, or QUACKERS by Liz Wong are some of my favorites.) I hope some of my work will meet this need, too.


Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you in the creation of PUG & PIG TRICK-OR-TREAT?

A mentor text that I used for PUG MEETS PIG, which came first, was Marla Frazee’s BOOT & SHOE. Both books have two main characters, no dialogue, and a straightforward voice.




I hadn’t planned to write a second Pug and Pig book, but a Halloween encounter with my dog and the dog next door inspired me to write PUG & PIG TRICK-OR-TREAT. As a companion book, the structure of the narrative was already established as well as the voice. I looked for mentor texts to study how others further developed characters. The CLICK, CLACK series by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, are great examples. Each book successfully stands alone, too.

Thanks for talking mentor texts with us, Sue!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat! (U.S. addresses; one entry per person.)






Sue Lowell Gallion is the author of Pug Meets Pig and Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat (Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books). She has two grown-up kids, one grandson, and a black lab mix named Tucker, who all provide writing inspiration. As a printer's daughter, she has a life-long love of type, paper, and the aroma of ink. She lives in Kansas City, KS. Visit Sue at suegallion.com, follow @SueLGallion on Twitter, and check out her kids' book recommendations at Goodreads.

Be sure to download the fun activity kit, complete with masks, cupcake toppers, a coloring sheet, and more! (The link also takes you to a Common Core-aligned discussion guide.)



46 comments:

  1. Thanks for the wonderful post! Can't wait to read Sue's second Pug and Pig book!

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    1. Thanks, Hope! Joyce Wan's take on Halloween is just adorable.

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  2. Thanks for all of your wonderful mentor text ideas! One of my favorites is Creepy Carrots. It is a mentor for the first graders in our school district as well. Thanks! Linda Chavez

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    1. I love Creepy Carrots, as well as Aaron Reynolds' new Creepy Pair of Underwear! Thank you for the suggestion!

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  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing your mentor texts for Pug and Pig. I look forward to their trick or treating adventures in your next book! Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! This one has been a ton of fun sharing at story times this fall.

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  4. I can't wait to read this newest PUG & PIG book. Love hearing about the myriad ways you use PBs as mentor texts.

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  5. I like to use NUGGET & FANG As a mentor book with struggling readers.

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    1. I'm a huge Tammi Sauer fan. I'll definitely add NUGGET & FANG to my Lead to Read stack, thanks.

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    2. That's a great mentor text, Julie, as are all of Tammi's books! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I love Pug & Pig and the Halloween sequel is sure to be a hit! Thanks for the post!

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  7. Adorable! Can't wait to read about Pug and Pig! I used APPLE FARMER ANNIE as a mentor book when I was writing a manuscript (still working on it). It seems that just about any picture book I read inspires me or teaches me something new, which I in turn try to internalize and have that new information ready to be pulled up and used on future projects. Mentor texts are important! Plus they give us good excuses to read picture books. Not that we need ANY excuse, right?

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    1. Exactly, Angie! I'll request Apple Farmer Annie from my library, that's a new one to me.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your mentor text and perspective, Angie!

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  8. It is very helpful to hear about the different ways you use mentor texts. Thank you! I can't wait to read Pug and Pig's latest adventure!

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. One of the libraries in my area has a section of What's New for picture books, which is so helpful.

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  9. I can't wait to read Pug and Pig. The title alone makes me smile. Thanks for all the mentor text tips. :)

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  10. Who wouldn't love a book titled "Pug and Pig"? Thanks for describing how you use mentor texts. It's always interesting to find new ideas. Cheers!

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  11. Can't wait to read Pub and Pig Trick-or-Treat! Lead to Read sounds intriguing too!

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    1. Lead to Read is an amazing program. I hope other locations have similar partnerships with urban schools. The volunteers get as much out of it as the students and the teachers appreciate it, too.

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  12. Congrats on the new Halloween Pug and Pig! Sounds like a delightful read for any season. Thank you for the mentor texts :)

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  13. Congrats on your new book and thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Aren't grandchildren a great reason to buy even more picture books??

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  15. What a great use of mentor texts. I look forward to spending more time with Pug and Pig.

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  16. Love using mentor texts. As someone who knows pigs I want to caution your readers to never leave a pig and dog alone together. Dogs are predators of pigs and a pigs squeal can drive a dog to do nasty acts.

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  17. Thank you for this great article packed full of guidance. I've requested your books, and all the others you mentioned, from the local library!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! ReFoReMo is hugely helpful, isn't it!

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  18. Such an adorable cover. Thanks for the advice!

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    1. Thanks, I love the cover, too! Cheers to Joyce Wan and the art director, Lauren Rille (plus editor Andrea Welch of course!)

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  19. Congrats! The new book looks great. I appreciate all the mentor text suggestions too.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Mary! Have fun with the new suggestions!

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  20. Looking forward to this new PIG AND PUG book! Thanks for the awesome advice on using mentor books, too.

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    1. Sue's advice is great. Thanks for reading, Elaine!

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  21. Thank you so much for your suggestions. They are always spot on!

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    1. Happy that ReFoReMo is helpful for you,Victoria!

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  22. I enjoyed reading about how you use mentor texts and your suggestions. I look forward to reading the newest Pug and Pig book.

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