Tuesday, December 11, 2018

ReFoReMo's Best Mentor Texts of 2018

Blink! Zip! Snap! 2018 is almost gone and what a wonderful year for mentor texts it was! In our standing annual tradition, our team shares our picks for the best mentor texts of the year. 

Without delay, we present...


Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall
By Hannah Holt, Illustrated by Jay Fleck
Published October 2, 2018

The right format is key to finding your way into a story. Inventiveness is woven into the fabric of two main character's parallel stories: A diamond in the earth and Tracey as he discovers how to make diamonds. Each main character is featured on their own page in a spread and described using the same words. She moves the story on with phrases like: Then one day… not yet…and then…This rock is… The page turns are brilliant. Lyrical, poetic, and scientific words are enhanced by bold illustrations, making this a moving, informative story. A piece of the author’s life is invested in this story as Tracy Hall (the boy) is actually Hannah’s grandfather. The story is one of resilience and creativity, and a must read for people of all ages.  It's a gem!


Carrie's Best

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Published June 19, 2018

From the first cover illustration and the title, we are clued into Penelope Rex's problem....we haven't even opened the book yet, but we must see what happens. Yes, I mean to say that the page turns happen right from the cover! As excellent as that is, we get it from the title page, as well, with a promise from Penelope that you will never be eaten by a T. rex. You can bet that I want to turn the page again. Higgins captures the T. rex in an unexpected adorableness, worrying about her problem right from the beginning. Amped up with tension and relatable heart with capitals T-H, this story has the 1-2 punch. (She even hugs her character-laden backpack as we all do prior to the first day of school.) I want to be her friend, I am interested in her problem, and I already want her to be okay (even with the impending doom of kid-eating in her future.) And humor unites it all. This is the stuff that ultimate picture books are made of. Read and learn, friends, read and learn.

Kirsti's Best

Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos and T.L. Macbeth
Published June 12, 2018
STEGOTHESAURUS is a great mentor text for humor, repetition, and unexpected twists.

"Hi," said a stegosaurus. "Hi," said another stegosaurus. "Hello! Greetings! Salutations!" said the stegothesaurus. He was a little different.

STEGOTHESAURUS's repetitive structure creates a great opportunity for humor and thwarted expectations.  This is the kind of read aloud, that you don't mind re-reading--plus who doesn't love to learn new words?

Janie's Best

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros and Dana Wulfekotte
Published August 28, 2018

This poignant picture book uses balloons as an extended metaphor for memories slipping away from James’ aging grandfather. The text is written in simple prose. The illustrations show text and art working hand in hand making the metaphor more concrete for young readers.  Most of the art is in black and white, while the “stories” in the memory balloons are in living color. The memories live on with James.

Keila's Best

Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin by Michelle Cusolito and Nicole Wong
Published May 22, 2018

The title alone invites readers to actively engage with the story. Written from the second person point of view makes the reader feel like they are piloting the deep-sea submersible, Alvin. From the very first sentence, Cusolito asks readers to imagine being the Alvin pilot in a space “barely big enough for three”. Tension rises by inviting kids to “investigate the site of deadly explosions” detailed overtime in one day’s dive. The illustrations depict the wonder and mystery of underwater life and exploration. Backmatter adds important details not included in the story, a glossary of scientific terms, and where to find more information for budding oceanographers.

Cindy's Best

Play This Book by Jessica Young and Daniel Wiseman
Published May 22, 2018

While I usually gravitate towards mentor texts that compliment my own work, I am aware that I need to stretch myself, as well. I have, therefore, chosen Play This Book by Jessica Young for it's brevity and interactive qualities. It is refreshing to see children (like my own grandsons) engrossed in simple, sweet text without quirky characters, hooks, or a complicated storyline.

This is the type of book I started out striving to write. Maybe it's time to dig back in to my roots.

And now, we prepare for a long winter's nap as we take our yearly blog break. We've prepared an incredible line up for the 5th-Annual ReFoReMo Picture Book Challenge. Stay tuned for announcements in the new year. With New Year's Day falling on our regular Tuesday posting day, our blog posts will resume on January 8. Enjoy your families and find time to relax and take a well-deserved break along with us!

Carrie, Kirsti, Janie, Keila, and Cindy
The ReFoReMo Team


  1. Love, love, love all of your mentor text 2018 best line up picks...but I know it was hard because there were so many awesome books this year. Sending wishes for the happiest of holidays to all of you, Carrie, Kristi, Janie, Cindy, and Keila ...and looking forward to all the amazing books that 2019 will bring!

  2. Thank you for all you've done this year. I look forward to next year and more new reviews and awesome new books.

  3. Awesome post of terrific mentor texts! Thank you ladies for wrapping up another incredible year of ReFoReMo! I would be lost without y'all :)

  4. Great list! I am still waiting for my library request of The Diamond and the Boy - it is a popular book! And a BIG thanks for the team and all you do to herd us along the path of mentor texts.

  5. Thanks for sharing your picks. Enjoy the holidays & see you in 2019!

  6. Awesome picks! Thanks for a great year! Happy Holidays! See you in 2019.

  7. Excellent round up for the year! Thanks again for all you do and the support and resources you share with all of us! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  8. Thank you all for another great year. Great new books to read and study.
    Enjoy the holidays.

  9. Thanks for sharing these great books. Happy holidays!