As you wade into the waters of an author study, it may take you a while before you are swimming. Come on in! The water’s fine.
Upon reading the first piece of an author’s work, you test the waters with just one toe. As you read more, the cool water tickles your ankles and you notice common strengths between multiple works. You quickly submerge deeper, motivated by your findings. Pretty soon, you are swimming! This author shines in several ways and the work may possess common themes.
Just as the summer sun prompts us to dive right in, Maria Gianferrari’s work is burning bright. Since July of 2015, she has released six books and today marks the release of her seventh. Happy Book Birthday, Hawk Rising!
Maria is not new to the Reading for Research blog, and for good reason. Her exemplary work leads by example, defining the very essence of what a mentor text is. Just by looking at the covers of her work, it’s easy to see that she is an animal lover, and many of her books feature dogs as important characters. But beyond her love for dogs and animals, we find a multitude of writing strengths to learn from.
Maria Gianferrari… Word Economizer
The economy of words is important in our world of 300-400 word picture books. Vivid verbs not only enhance visualizations and ignite interplay between text and pictures, but they also make language sing and promote action. Maria masters the economy of words in all of her work, and continues in her newest, Hawk Rising. A few of the verbs you’ll find:
Do you sense poetic value as these verbs are isolated? I see a picture of a hawk emerging in my mind! The verbs alone tell a story. It is not uncommon to see this in all of Maria’s picture books. Challenge yourself and your students to find poetry in verbs as you study her work.
Maria Gianferrari… Language Capitalizer
As touched on above, verbs are one way that Maria capitalizes on language. But consider the similes in Terrific Tongues:
“A tongue like a straw” or “A tongue like an air conditioner”
And Coyote Moon, which additionally features onomatopoeia:
“As quiet as a ghost” and “POUNCE!”
As well as sensory language, precisely placed amongst an already quiet, sneaky setting:
Or the use of metaphor in Hello Goodbye Dog, comparing a dog’s legs to vehicle’s brakes:
“Moose put on her brakes.”
Maria Gianferrari… Story Weaver
Growing up, I remember the stiff, emotionless nonfiction offerings that did not excite me to read or learn more. But when facts are infused with story, we become invested readers, not even realizing that we are learning at the same time. We are led by inquiry, through an innocent observer’s eyes.
In Hawk Rising and Coyote Moon, we want to follow the animals on their night journey and we wonder:
How do they hunt? Are they always successful? Will their babies starve? Will any creatures get in their way?
Whether fiction or nonfiction, Maria always weaves a story and inspires problem solving, too:
In Officer Katz and Houndini, it’s a problem-solving showdown between characters. Deputy Catbird designs traps and Houndini solves his way out.
In Penny & Jelly: The School Show, Penny problem solves her way to finding the perfect talent show act. And truly, it is no different for her nonfiction animal characters, who problem-solve their way to a family dinner. Every traditional story features a character failing multiple times, but finding a solution in the end. This is the mark of a great story.
Keep your eye out for more mentor text greatness from Maria, as Operation Rescue Dog comes out in September! And in the meantime, Roaring Brook Press is sponsoring a giveaway in celebration of Hawk Rising. U.S. Residents may enter below:
mariagianferrari.com, on Facebook or Instagram.
I love these examples of Maria's vibrant writing style, especially the fun action verbs and sensory language!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Tanya :)Delete
What a lovely mentor text study! I had not heard about Maria’s work, but now I am so excited to find these books and share them with my children! I can particularly see my 5 year old son being enthralled by all the amazing animals that Maria so clearly loves. THank you for sharing, and happy book birthday, Maria!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Ledys!! I hope your 5 yr old enjoys them :)Delete
Love the engaging verb language and use of animals.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the great post. I loved seeing the list of verbs. Makes me want to isolate verbs in some manuscripts to see where they can be beefed up too. Thanks.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed that too, Elizabeth :)Delete
There isn 't a book Maria has written that I don't fall in love with. Congrats on your newest, Maria. And I know I have strong verbs, but need to weave those facts more seamlessly into NF.ReplyDelete
You're too kind, Kathy--thanks for saying so <3!Delete
Wonderful post. I especially like those vivid verbs and want to read them in action. Can't wait to read Hawk Rising and Terrific Tongues!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Tracy!! I hope you'll like them :)Delete
Thanks so much, Carrie!! I am honored to be a featured author here on ReFo!! <3 <3ReplyDelete
Great post! and yes to more verbs. I love Maria's books and have Hawk Rising and Terrific Tongues in my reading basket.ReplyDelete
I hope you'll enjoy them, Sue!! My reading basket is bursting too :)Delete
This is wonderful, Carrie. I strive to write more like Maria. The examples are terrific.ReplyDelete
Thanks, David!! :)Delete
I saw elsewhere that you are a bird nerd too :)Delete
Happy book birthday! Congratulations! Great language!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Angie!! :)Delete
I love rhis. So excited to read Hawk Rising. I love nature and dogs as well. My sister and I count the Red Tails when we take trips too. Our best number was 9 in 25 miles.ReplyDelete
I love counting them too, Sarah!! :)Delete
Great post! I'm going to have to think and study more. One of my all time favorite animals in a picture book is the little bear in Blueberries for Sal. Love their interactions and their thought processes!ReplyDelete
I love Maria's books. I just got Coyote Moon, and I can't wait to read Hawk Rising. Thanks for the great information in this post!ReplyDelete
I hope that you'll enjoy them, Linda!Delete
Wonderful post! These are great mentor texts. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by, Cathy!Delete
I love playing with words! I guess that's why I love the art of picture books so much. Maybe one day, I'll actually get one published. Here's hoping!ReplyDelete
Don't give up, Carolyn & you'll get there! Happy writing!Delete
Lovely post! I agree with all the wonderful kudos!ReplyDelete
<3 <3 <3Delete
Terrific post about active verbs and their effect in showing emotion in your books, Maria :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Charlotte!Delete
I love her work and am excited for the chance to win a copy❤️ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Janie--good luck!!Delete
Happy book birthday to Hawk Rising! Congratulations, Maria!ReplyDelete
Many thanks, Carol!!Delete
Thank you for your explanations and use of verbs to show things. I have loved your stories that I can find and have Hello Goodbye Dog on my desk now. Your books are fun and informative. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks & I hope you'll enjoy Hello Goodbye Dog, Sheri :)Delete
What a great post! I agree that Maria and her work is perfect for a mentor text author study -- such a talent! Thanks for sharing, Carrie! :)ReplyDelete
Happy Book Birthday, Maria!
Full disclosure: Sheri is my friend and critique partner and a wonderfully funny PB writer <3 <3Delete
I have a special place in my heart for Hello, Goodbye Dog, so this book is my favorite animal picture book.ReplyDelete
You're the best, Danielle!! Thanks & hugs!! <3Delete
"Tell us about your favorite animal picture books or characters." The characters in Richard Scarry books! They're always busy!ReplyDelete
Fabulous post showcasing the multi-talented Maria! Can't wait to read Hawk Rising.ReplyDelete
Hmmm--is that you, Nancy??? Thanks! :)ReplyDelete
Love your books Maria. Can’t wait to read Hawk Rising. I’ll review and put my verbs on weights so they lift my drafts up high!ReplyDelete
Kind of you, Susan--thank you!!Delete
Great post, so much to absorb! Having fascinating non fiction stories that grab your attention is such an improvement over the old dry books I remember.ReplyDelete
Nonfiction is more engaging and fun than ever these days! Enjoy, Marty!Delete
Love this interview, Maria. I can't wait to read HAWK RISING!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kirsti <3Delete
I am so inspired by your post and great mentor text. I'm off to review my verbs! Thank youReplyDelete
I get my thing in action--VERB--that's what's happenin' (School House Rock rocks!)Delete
I can't wait to get my hands on this one...I LOVE hawks! You are truly on a roll Maria! Congratulations!ReplyDelete
Many thanks, Donna!! I love them too! I hope you'll like it!Delete
Thanks for reminding me, and everyone else, the importance of picking that just-right word!ReplyDelete
That's the art of the picture book :)Delete
Great info about Maria's writing. Great verbs from Hawk Rising! Looks gorgeous.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Tina!! Looking forward to reading Rice From Heaven when it releases :)!Delete
My favorite animals are zebras and giraffes.ReplyDelete
Magic happens when you make every word count, Maria...and you are a master kidlit magician!!ReplyDelete
Likewise, Vivian!! <3ReplyDelete
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