Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 14: Cindy Williams Schrauben Focuses on the Forest


When writing in rhyme, it is easy to allow the verse and wordplay to take center stage and lose sight of the storyline. As they say… you can’t see the forest for the trees. In an attempt to avoid this pitfall, I have studied the following rhyming picture books for their ability to enchant with rhyme while maintaining a clear and concise storyline.


MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB by Sue Fliess and Petros Bouloubasis



ALBIE NEWTON by Josh Funk and Esther Garay












DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE by Laura Sassi and Rebecca Gerlings










THE DRAGON AND THE NIBBLESOME KNIGHT by Elli Woolland and Benji Davies










ZOG AND THE FLYING DOCTORS by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS By Diana Murray and Yuyi Chen












Cindy is offering a picture book critique to one lucky winner. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.


Cindy Schrauben contributes to our ReFoReMo Facebook Group and blog. As a former educator and magazine editor/writer, Cindy is consumed by a life-long passion for the written word. Her projects range from picture books to young adult novels as well as adult non-fiction. Writing for children provides her with a real excuse for spending so much time in the children's section of the bookstore. Cindy is a member of SCBWI and participates in many online writing communities. 








156 comments:

  1. Love your choices of rhyming mentor texts by some very talented authors. Thank you.

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  2. Story first! These are great examples of that! And really fun books!

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  3. Cindy, you are right about losing the story in the rhyme. Thanks for the recommendations.

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  4. This is an excellent topic. I recently realized that I was so fixed on writing a story in rhyme, that everything else went out the window as I tried to contort it to fit the rhyme scheme and meter. It is a much better story now that I have dropped the rhyme. I once heard Jane Yolen say that a story may come to you in rhyme, but that doesn't mean that it is supposed to be written in rhyme. I love it when a book is able to pull it off, like these examples.

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  5. Rhyme and a great story...the perfect combination!

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  6. All these rhyming books are so clever and polished, such a great outcome when rhyme is skillfully done.

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  7. Thank you for the reminder and list of books!

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  8. I love rhyme, but you are right that it certainly isn’t appropriate for every story.

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  9. Great mentor texts...rhyme has to tell a perfect story! (I love rhyme)

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  10. I have been told to write the story first and add the rhyme later. Sound advice. Rhyme scares the bejesus out of me so it's great to have some fabulous mentor texts.

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  11. This list of mentor texts is a gift for the tongue and ear. Thanks!

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  12. Good to see so many rhyming stories. It is very hard to do, and you've corralled many examples. Thanks, Cindy!

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  13. Thank for these rhyming titles. I love writing with rhythm and rhyme.

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  14. I love a good rhyming picture book! Thanks for the list.

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  15. Of this list I can only get hold of three, and of those The Dragon and The Nibblesome Knight I LOVE. The title is such a draw and the rhyme and story fit so well together. Thanks for these suggestions.

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  16. Hi, Cindy. You managed to dig up some titles here I haven't read! TY.

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  17. Reading tons of rhyming PBs and poetry really is the first step if you wish to write in rhyme. I also suggest - Kate Dopirak's TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE CAR, Karen Beaumont's PRETTY KITTY, and Linda Vander Hayden's HANNAH’s TALL ORDER.

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  18. Great examples of well done rhyme. Thanks!

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  19. Such a mad skill, rhyme is! Thank you for sharing these titles.

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  20. Thanks for these great examples. I admire picture book authors who pull off both the story and the rhyme well.

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  21. Thank you for your list. Unfortunately, my tri=county library system doesn't have any of these. I have enjoyed others by Julia Donaldson (Giant Jumperee and Gruffalo) and Josh Funk (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast). Some of my other favorite rhyming books include Grimelda the very messy witch by Diana Murray, Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, In the Trees Honeybees by Lori Mortensen, North Country Spring by Reeve Lindbergh, Watersong by Tim McCanna, A Rock Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas.

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  22. Thank you! Loved Mary Had a Little Lab and Zog and the Flying Doctors. The storyline was clear with both of them and the rhyme so well done. Thanks for some new rhyming titles!

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  23. Writing in rhyme seems to be so controversial, but I love rhyme and so do children. Thank you for sharing these examples.

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  24. You've chosen a forest full of great rhyming mentor texts here! Thank you!

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  25. Great mentor texts - Josh Funk has storytelling in rhyme down!

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  26. Thank you! Rhyming is so hard and it’s so helpful to have great mentor texts.

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  27. Great titles! I have finished a rhyming pb and I can't wait to see how these authors did it. :)

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  28. Great post, Cindy! Thank you for reminding us that rhyme isn’t appropriate for every story. Wonderful list of mentor texts... I can’t wait to read Mary Had a Little Lab, The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight, and Zog and the Flying Doctors

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  29. Thank you for the great examples! I love writing in rhyme, but it is a challenge to stay focused on the story first.

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  30. Thanks for sharing a charming selection of rhyming texts, Cindy.

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  31. That was my downfall when I first started writing also. Great mentor texts! Thanks!

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  32. Thank you for highlighting these titles!

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  33. Great reads and rereads -- thanks for sharing!

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  34. Thanks for a great list of titles. Looking forward to reading and rereading.

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  35. Writing in rhyme isn't for me, but I love reading them aloud! Thanks for these great examples, Cindy!

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  36. These are not just poetry with illustrations (which can be lovely, educational, thought provoking, etc) but true stories. Don’t forget Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama titles and Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On, etc. There’s nothing like reading rhyme if you want to write rhyme. Thank you, Cindy.

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  37. Thanks for these great mentor text suggestions where the author did not sacrifice the story for the rhyme.

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  38. What a fun day. Thanks for all the texts.

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  39. So fun and easy to read yet so hard to write!

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  40. I can't wait to read all of these!

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  41. I admire writers who can do rhyme that sounds so natural and doesn't detract from the story. Thanks for this great list, Cindy.

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  42. Thank you, Cindy! Great examples.

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  43. Rhyme and story lines are definitely a special talent and I envy those who can do it well. There are many books that force it. Thanks for selecting some that are examples of the good.

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  44. Excellent point about the forest and trees in connection to rhyme and story -- thanks for these mentor text suggestions, Cindy!

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  45. It is easy to let those trees take over! Thanks for the super selection of rhyming books that put the story first!

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  46. Such great rhyming mentor texts. Thanks Cindy!

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  47. Thanks, Cindy for your verse selections that tell the story first.

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  48. I find myself writing more in rhyme, and do sometimes lose sight of the forest. Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me to keep the trees in check. Great examples.

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  49. Rhyme is so difficult for me--I appreciate these wonderful mentor texts and the reminder that you can't just make a book of cute rhymes; you need to write a story as well! :)

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  50. I ordered one of these, and have read one more. Now it's time to devour the other three. I write in rhyme, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks for these stellar selections.

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  51. Thank you for your selections. I frequent the children's sections myself, but I'm trying to see what kids are interested in, sneaky me!

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  52. Thanks! I especially liked Mary had a little lab, and Albie Newton. When reading these books I also paid attention to meter (reading them aloud) and page turns.

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  53. Wonderful choices! I love rhyme and these are such fun stories.

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  54. Thank you, Cindy. These are great examples! Write on rhymers!

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  55. Funny you mention Mary Had a Little Lab because one of my favorite rhyming books is Mary Had a Little Lamp!

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  56. Thank you for the list of fun rhyming books!

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  57. The pitfall of rhyme driving story. Thanks for these wonderful rhyming mentor texts, Cindy

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  58. Fun! Thanks for finding books like these that keep to the story line as they share in rhyme!

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  59. Finding the balance can be tough! I am definitely guilty of sometimes getting so into the fun of wordplay that my story gets lost.

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  60. Thanks for the great rhyming recommendations. I love to write and rhyme and will really study the balance of the rhyme and the story!

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  61. Loved the early "do not steal" inscription in Doris the Bookasaurus.

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  62. Great mentor texts. I heard an editor say that while we often hear that agents and editors don't like rhyming picture books, the reality is that there is so much more to rhyming than just rhyming. As you said, the story must come first and the rhyme should add to the story. In addition to that, you have to get all the parts of rhyme right (Scansion, meter, and poetry style . . .). The key is to get it all right and find the right agents and editors who do understand rhyme and meter. I like how Zog . . . had a repetitive non-rhyming line mixed in for the arrival of the doctors giving little story arcs for each scenario within the bigger story.

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  63. Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight was so funny! Great points here. Thanks!

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  64. Cindy, I admire writers who successfully write a story in rhyme. These books are great for Read-aloud. Thank you for your recommendations. Thanks also to those who have added more great mentor texts we can explore.

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  65. Writing in rhyme is no easy task, & these PBs are great reminders of how easy it all looks (when we all know how hard it truly is!) Thx for the mentor texts

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  66. Love these mentor texts. Thank you!

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  67. Story first and then "...enchant with rhyme.." Love that.

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  68. It's so hard to rhyme and have a great story line. Thanks for sharing these titles!

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  69. What a fun selection of mentor texts. Thank you for the list.

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  70. Thank you. Great list, and a great reminder!

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  71. Many excellent titles to study the craft of rhyming. Thank you, Cindy.

    Suzy Leopold

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  72. Yes, story first. Great list, thank you...

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  73. Thanks for the post!

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  74. Cindy, you've offered us an inspiring list of mentor books with good rhyme AND good story. When I work in rhyme, I also write the story in prose, checking for what works and what doesn't. I really enjoy Josh Funk's and Diane Murray's talents to blend the two elements into a winning book.Thanks to you, I'll be spending library time enjoying good books with rhyme. With gratitude for supporting our research experience!

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  75. Thanks, Cindy! Nibblesome...great word, right? Wish I'd thought of it. ;-)

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  76. What a fun selection of rhyming books. Thanks!

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  77. Rhyme is still a mystery for me, but I appreciate these texts. Thank you, Cindy. Lyrical language is a must!

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  78. Thank you for the list of great titles!

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  79. Mary Had a Little Lab is my absolute favorite newer rhyming book. Love the story, and the rhyme is wonderfully written.

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  80. Love the choices! Rhyme is difficult. It's good to have mentor books to study. Thanks, Cindy!

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  81. It's great to look at rhymes that have done well. I have yet to attempt one, but I love the medium. Thanks for your post!

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  82. Such great examples of rhyme. Thanks!

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  83. I see how effective good rhyme can be when it has an engaging story. These were inspirational for me. Thanks.

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  84. Thanks for these examples of good rhyme. It always amazes me how many bad rhyming books actually get published!

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  85. The best rhyming books are the ones you don't even realize rhyme until you're well into the book. You chose excellent examples.

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  86. My favorite is THE DRAGON AND THE NIBBLESOME KNIGHT. The plot definitely comes first, then all the hard work to make the rhymes effortless. I'd like to know howm many drafts Elli Woollard had to write to get to what I read.

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  87. YAY RHYME! I love rhyme and write in rhyme most of the time (I refuse to believe the haters!) I agree that it is SO difficult not to let the rhymes drive the story and love all the books you've recommended here. The only one I have yet to hunt down is Albie Newton... but I've read all of Josh's other books and am a huge fan. Thanks for the great post!

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  88. Looks like some good rhyming books to get from the library.

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  89. Great examples, and such a hard thing to do with rhyme!

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  90. Great rhyme, great story, and a great message!

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  91. More mentor books to help me figure out rhyme and rhythm! Thanks!

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  92. I usually don't write in rhyme, but I love it when a story just comes out that way. Can't ever force it. And I usually try to write it in prose, too. But if the story dies in prose, and comes alive in rhyme, well, it's chosen the form on its own. Love these mentor texts. Donaldson is my rhyming idol, but MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB is inspired in so many ways. I think it's my favorite of these.

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  93. I love Mary Had a Little Lab! These books definitely exemplify how to tell a story using rhyme without getting caught up in the rhyme.

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  94. I love rhyme, especially when there is a good story too. Thanks for these recommendations and for offering a wonderful prize.

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  95. This is a great list of books. Thanks for sharing!

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  96. Even though I don't have a knack for writing in rhyme, I love to read it, especially out loud. Thank you for the list of mentor texts, you mentioned a couple that I haven't read yet.

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  97. Thanks for the post. I love to write in rhyme.

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  98. I’m always in awe of rhyming books!!

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  99. Thank you for the mentor texts that rhyme well and tell a story. Not a rhymer here but an appreciative reader.

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  100. Thanks for the reminder to keep story foremost, especially when writing in rhyme. I have been hesitant to attempt rhyme, but it appeals to me, so I appreciate the mentor texts to use as models.

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  101. I need to remember this - keep the story forefront first of all. Thanks for these mentoring texts. They look wonderful.

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  102. Thanks for the study suggestions!

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  103. There's nothing better than a good rhyming picture book. Writing one is both a dream and a goal for me. Thanks for these mentor text suggestions!!

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  104. Thanks for the reminder and the great examples.

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  105. I found MARY HAD A LITTLE LAB to be so impressively creative. This was a superb example of how the rhyme is just second to the phenomenal way the story was told. Such a genius idea told spectacularly, and the rhyme was just the icing on the cake!

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  106. Great mentor texts - the stories really came across and the rhyming just added to the pleasure of reading.

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  107. AH, my favorite post yet! As a writer of rhyme, I take particular interest in well-crafted rhyming PBs. I'll be sure to read all of the ones on this list!

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  108. I enjoyed these book recommendations. Thank you!

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  109. I enjoyed all these books. First time reading them all. My son enjoyed reading along as well. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  110. I love these mentor texts. Great examples!

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  111. Cindy, Thanks for pointing out a huge possible pitfall of writing in rhyme. Here's to wishing we all can see the forest AND the trees as we write.

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  112. I am trying to write a story in verse. Glad to have more books in verse to study.

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  113. I'm going to study these ones closely! Thanks!

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  114. Excellent mentor texts! I haven't attempted a text in rhyme yet, but I know to have a clear story first, thank you!

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  115. I love finding new favorites! Thank you.

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  116. My new titles, as well as those suggested by you, have been added to the list titled RHYMERS: mentor texts. As always, feel free to add to the list here:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/reforemo/rhymers/1648993835344964/

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  117. Thanks for these great examples of rhyme that works!

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  118. Such a useful resource for studying rhyme!

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  119. I loved the rhythm and language in Mary Had a Little Lab, and I thought Zog and the Flying Doctors was a very interesting and fresh story.

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  120. Thank you for this incredibly helpful list of books that study plot and rhyme!

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  121. Thank you for these wonderful examples - I will definitely use these when looking at my own rhyming work.

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  122. Thanks for the helpful suggestions for rhyming texts.

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  123. I absolutely love reading and writing in rhyme. I know I need to get better at it but it's fun practicing!

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  124. I love these books and wish I had this skill. Definitely something to work on.

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  125. Oh how I love me some rhyme! LOL Truly, there's something so rewarding about sticking with a rhyming pb until it's perfect! It's so challenging but so worth the effort! Thank you Cindy!

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  126. I appreciate your thoughtful selections! Thanks!

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  127. I love a book that has enchanting rhythm and rhyme while still telling a brilliant story, and these are great examples! I really enjoyed Doris the Bookasaurus for all the clever language and story-within-a-story, in addition to the excellent rhyming. Thank you for sharing these excellent mentor texts with us!

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  128. I didn't even notice that Zog was a rhyming book until I read your post.

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  129. I love all of these books! Writing in rhyme is something I've been afraid to try. Maybe I'll give it a shot to practice.

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  130. This is a terrific selection, Cindy. Thank you.

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  131. Great choices. It takes a special author to be able to write stories in rhyme.

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  132. I am always in awe of books like these that not only can master rhyme but carry a concise story line. Thanks for these great examples!

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  133. Thanks for sharing these mentor texts and the reminder on seeing the forest, not just the trees.

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  134. Mary Had a Little Lab was the only one my library had from this list, but it's a good study for this topic. It's my passion to study this as I continue writing in rhyme, to make it as sharp as can be!

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  135. Lovely titles. ZOG AND THE FLYING DOCTORS has become a new family favorite, thank you!

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  136. Thank you for this post about rhyming texts and concise storylines. I enjoyed seeing that in Albie Newton.

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  137. Yes, rhyme is hard! I love writing rhyme, but it's soooo easy to lose the story in favor of the words.

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  138. Thank you, Cindy. All these books were new to me. While we often hear that rhyme is a no-no from agents and publishers, I still always see them on the shelves. And that's because - rhyme is awesome when done well! Mary Had a Little Lab was cute.

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  139. Though I haven’t written a PB manuscript in rhyme (yet), reading a really good mentor text that utilizes this tool effectively is a sure-fire way to get me wanting to try. I had this reaction recently when listening to Karma Wilson’s narration of BEAR SNORES ON. I was remiss to find that my library system only had two of the titles listed above, but they were both quite enjoyable. I especially admired THE DRAGON AND THE NIBBLESOME KNIGHT, particularly for the fact that it’s such a word-heavy narration of a linear storyline (and Benji Davies’ charming Little Golden Book-styled illustrations). I wonder if one approach to verse is more “difficult” than the other when it comes to writing—the “traditional” approach exemplified by DRAGON… and BEAR… or the more ambiguous and ephemeral works like BEFORE MORNING. I’m sure that both schools of verse have their own unique challenges that make them equally vexing to the author!

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  140. I love the twist on Doris the Stegothesaurus. I also find Diva Dolores and the Opera House Mouse wonderful. All great mentor texts.

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  141. Frank Wilson McCollMarch 28, 2019 at 7:59 PM

    I love writing rhyme so really enjoyed these.

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  142. Writing in rhyme is not something I think I will ever feel confident doing. Great selections!

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  143. Thank you for sharing Cindy! I'm getting ready to try my hand at rhyme so I love reading these selections.

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  144. I enjoy writing in rhyme so I loved this list. Mary had a little lab- so brilliant! Thank you!

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  145. Writing a book in rhyme, something to think about. Read Doris The Bookasaurus and saw how well the writer kept the story moving.

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  146. Great examples of how to dance yet keep the story line integral to the rhythm.

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  147. These are great rhymers! Thank you for sharing!

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  148. These are fantastic mentor texts. Thank you for sharing!

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  149. I keep hearing the guidance about focusing on storyline before rhyme. I think one of the struggles (that lead so many of us to try rhyming) is that fabulous mentor texts like this just make it look so easy! I think I'm going to keep polishing my prose for now!

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